Biggest Surprises for Everton This Season
Prior to the summer, Everton fans were fully accustomed to the methods of David Moyes, following his 11-year stint as manager.
His rituals became ingrained in the club, reducing the element of surprise.
With Moyes departing the scene, Roberto Martinez is suddenly steering the Toffees in a new direction, and new management has prompted several unexpected turns along the way.
Here's a look at the most surprising aspects of Everton's brief season so far.
Away from the playing side, transfer deadline day was one of Everton's more turbulent days in recent memory.
Sadly, the Chelsea striker only arrived on a loan deal, but his signing came completely out of the blue and excited all Evertonians.
Effective Shift in Style
Martinez is renowned for favouring a possession-absorbing, short-passing system, which was never going to marry well with Moyes' reactive, more direct methods.
Everton's style would clearly evolve under new leadership, but few could have predicted such a seamless transition.
The Toffees have already accumulated vastly different numbers to last season, with similar lineups. They have dominated possession, passed from the back, taken fewer touches and controlled long periods of games.
There's still substantial room for improvement, but the ease with which Everton have amended their style has been both sudden and effective.
Martinez's Instant Impact
Stepping into the well-worn shoes of David Moyes, many expected Roberto Martinez to take several months acclimatising to his new role.
He is, after all, altering methods that were applied a certain way for 11 years, while commanding a squad almost entirely tuned in to Moyes. He's also in charge of a side looking to feature in the top six, which creates a vastly different dynamic from that at Wigan.
However, 15 points from eight games represents an excellent start for Martinez.
He's taken three points more compared to last seasons's fixtures, and the fact there's currently so little focus on him highlights how well he's done.
Winning Without Baines
Quite simply, Leighton Baines was Everton's offence last season. The diminutive left-back created 116 chances, more than anyone else in the Premier League, and influenced the majority of Everton's attacks.
With Martinez at the helm, Baines has still been a factor, but has been more focused on his defensive duties. Without their left-back being so prominent, the Toffees have continued scoring and winning.
Admittedly, Baines struck a pair of stunning free-kicks against West Ham, but creatively he's registered just 11 chances this season—and only one in his last five games—as Everton have attacked with a more varied offence.
At this stage last year, he had already created 33 chances. That's three times as many as this season.
Barkley's Rapid Rise
From a seldom-used substitute to a full England international, Ross Barkley's surge toward national acclaim has been swift, to say the least.
Many Evertonians will insist this hasn't been a surprise. He's certainly been championed for a considerable amount of time, but Barkley started just four Premier League games in the past two seasons and struggled to make an impression.
Suddenly, he's a key player for the Toffees, playing every minute (bar two) of this current campaign and dribbling past defenders for fun. In fact, only the Spurs duo of Andros Townsend and Mousa Dembele have beaten more opponents in the Premier League.
Barkley's already seen as an integral part of Everton's present and future, and now has a genuine chance of travelling to the 2014 World Cup—something few would have anticipated in May.
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