5 Areas for Everton to Improve Further Under Roberto Martinez
Roberto Martinez has begun his time at Everton in impressive fashion.
He's collected 12 points from seven games, overseen impressive victories against Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle and introduced a new, attractive style.
His side were also the last to suffer a defeat in the Premier League and several of his new charges have flourished in his attacking system.
However, even the top sides have aspects to improve upon and this is certainly the case for Everton, especially with a new manager at the helm.
As most of his squad depart for another painfully long international break, here's a few of those areas Martinez will be looking to address.
At their best, Everton have looked an exciting, dangerous unit capable of troubling the Premier League's very best.
However, that best has only lasted for a small proportion of matches so far. Despite losing just the once, and enduring a pair of 0-0 draws, the Toffees have lost a half in four out of the seven matches played.
The first half against West Ham, the second period against Newcastle and most of what happened after scoring first at Manchester City are examples of when their intensity has slumped far too low.
Two of those instances were masked by a stunning spell either before or after the lull, but Martinez will be keen to ensure his side extend their dominant spells and make sure they remain more competitive when not at their best.
Keep the Style Progressing
Everton's change to a short-passing, possession-absorbing approach will take time to fully adjust to.
After a slow start, there are already noticeable improvements, with players more familiar in their roles and certain exchanges becoming more instinctive. The additions of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy, two ideal stylistic fits, have also helped things become slicker.
However, Martinez will know his side are far from the finished article. They must be faster still, take fewer touches and, as they draw sides onto them, must be more intelligent with their movement.
The second half against Newcastle was an example of the Toffees still familiarising themselves with this formula. With a 3-0 lead, the game really should have been controlled, the tempo slowed and the opposition left completely frustrated.
As Newcastle surged forward to claim possession, Everton should have been able to pass their way through and seal an emphatic win. These changes will all take time to master but Martinez must continue enforcing his methods.
Defend as a Unit
Everton's defence started the season in impressive form. They conceded two fortuitous strikes against Norwich and then shut up shop, producing three clean sheets on the bounce.
Since then, however, things have become a little unstuck, with 10 goals conceded in the past four matches.
Martinez was renowned for his rather porous defence at Wigan and will become an easy target if the goals continue to fly into Tim Howard's net.
The Spaniard's approach certainly relies on his back four winning their own battles and there have been far too many individual lapses in the past few games. Rather than this being attributed to his style, for the moment the issue seems to be about finding better cohesion at the back.
Don't Forget Leighton Baines
In Leighton Baines, Everton possess one of the most creative full-backs in world football, although he's yet to show that during this current campaign.
A combination of opponents shadowing him and more of a focus on his defensive duties have, thus far, seen his production and influence dwindle.
Last season he was the Premier League's most creative player, fashioning out 116 chances and, with seven games gone, he had already amassed 30. This season, surprisingly, he's only created 11 chances.
While games against Chelsea and Manchester City are understandable instances of when Baines will be primarily required to defend, Martinez must identity ways of unleashing his left-back.
His reduced input hasn't lessened his side's offence, and with a more spread production Everton should be a more potent unit; however, Baines hasn't yet been as prominent as his talent should be.
Ruffle a Few Feathers
Martinez has remained consistent with his selections so far, refraining from making too many bold decisions.
That's certainly understandable while his side absorb certain stylistic changes, but he mustn't fear the need to make a bold statement or two.
Despite being one of the Toffees' most dangerous weapons, Kevin Mirallas has been hugely frustrating this season, hovering around the fringes of games. Gerard Deulofeu has looked hugely exciting in his brief cameos, and giving him a run in Mirallas' position would certainly send a message to the inconsistent Belgian.
Leon Osman is another yet to find his best form and, with the emergence of Ross Barkley and the arrival of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, he's no longer an automatic selection.
Martinez actually has far more depth than David Moyes ever had at Everton, and the time will come to make some big calls on his team-sheet.
Moyes was perhaps guilty of remaining too loyal to certain players, and Martinez must be strong enough to shuffle his pack and occasionally leave out the odd big name.
Keeping everyone on their toes by showing that no place is assured will only intensify competition and raise the standards at the club.
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