Why Roberto Martinez's Style of Play Will Make Everton an EPL Threat
Three points from three favourable Premier League games don't yet support this rather oddly timed revelation, but Martinez is already laying down the foundations to make this a little more plausible over time.
He's committed himself to a long term project at Everton and while the early parts may prove a little inconsistent, there are already promising signs for the Toffees' future.
In his opening three games, Martinez has made radical alterations to his new side's style, primarily focusing on ball retention in an effort to make the Toffees a more imposing force on the field.
Everton have dominated possession and territory, which has coincided with a barrage of chances and shots—although they are yet to translate this into points.
Obviously that final part is the key to success, but so far they have doubled their opponents' shot tally in every game, amassing 55 to just 19, which is a promising early sign.
Overall, this approach gives them far more control during matches and, once their confidence improves from a few wins, making their supremacy count should become more of a routine.
Under Martinez, Everton currently average more possession (64 percent) than any other Premier League side and average the most shots (18.3). As a result, the Toffees have significantly reduced their opponents' time on the ball to around 30 minutes per match, which naturally limits their chances.
Last season's top seven generally feature highly in these categories—which emphasises its value— although clearly the right players must be in the system to enforce it properly.
What's held Everton back so far has been a mixture of wayward shooting, some hesitant, predictable passing and a bit of poor fortune. None of that is to do with Martinez's style but more so with the personnel applying it. Two of those issues will improve following transfer deadline day.
James McCarthy and Gareth Barry are two of the more metronomic passers in the Premier League, in terms of speed and volume. They will be far more comfortable executing Martinez's desired approach, taking fewer touches in midfield and moving the ball on faster.
That's not to say they are better players than Marouane Fellaini and Leon Osman (who they will replace), but that they are simply more comfortable in this chosen system.
A slicker passing game should then create better chances for the forwards; and with Romelu Lukaku recruited, Everton now have far more of a threat up front to convert this stream of chances.
Where will Everton finish this season?
The Toffees' deadline day recruiting will certainly benefit them this season, and the fact that they are in transition means sides won't be as familiar with how to play them best. However, the emphasis is very much on the long-term for Martinez and Everton.
Right now, he needs to lay a platform on which to build from. He must give glimpses of his new side's potential, maintain and develop this approach and make Everton an enticing, progressive project from the outside.
In James McCarthy, he's added a player that will remain central to his philosophy. As long as the board can back him, McCarthy will gradually be joined by one or two more signings specifically suited to this style.
Everton have remained a top eight side for the past seven seasons, so making distinct progress will take time, especially considering David Moyes had them playing his own particular way over the past decade.
Top four is almost certainly out of the question this year, and while Europe would be an impressive accomplishment, it's not an essential target immediately. If Martinez perseveres with this approach and continues to add a few stylistic fits, his methods should soon see Everton return to the top seven. A bit of savvy recruitment and he may just fulfill his promise to Kenwright.
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