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Why Aiden McGeady Will Begin the Season Playing a Key Role for Everton

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Aiden McGeady of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on February 1, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images
Matt CheethamCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2016

Everton are yet to see the best of Aiden McGeady.

Signed in January, without competitive football in seven weeks, the Ireland international was thrust into a fierce scrap for the Champions League.

Short of fitness and void of any Premier League experience, this equated to short cameos from the bench during a punctuated first five months.

In his second season, however, Everton fans should expect a more prolonged impact, especially early on.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - JUNE 07:  Aiden McGeady of the Republic of Ireland battles with Suni Olsen of the Faroe Islands during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier between Republic of Ireland and the Faroe Islands at the Aviva Stadium on June 7, 2013 in Dublin, Ir
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

McGeady's first taste of English football will serve him well. He now knows the pace of the game and is familiar with Roberto Martinez's possession ethos; next comes the chance to fully express himself.

Throughout his career, the Irishman has been used to playing an important role and will want to replicate that responsibility at Everton.

He was a key player at Celtic, and while he ultimately fell out of favour in Russia, he had a close affinity with Spartak Moscow supporters.

Pace and trickery will forever appeal, but more important is McGeady's ability to supply regular end product.

According to transfermarkt.co.uk, the Irishman scored 13 goals and registered 28 assists in his 93 appearances in Russia. That's direct involvement in a goal almost every other game.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 29: Aiden McGeady (R) and Evgeni Makeev of FC Spartak Moscow celebrate after scoring a goal during the Russian Premier League match between FC Spartak Moscow and FC Volga Nizhny Novgorod at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 29, 2012 in Mo
Dmitry Korotayev/Getty Images

At Celtic, his return was similar, with 29 goals and 47 assists in 184 games. That ratio will presumably drop off in England, but only Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku contributed better involvement at Everton last season.

Given the fact he's returned one assist in 18 appearances for the Toffees, fans can certainly expect his production to rise next season—and Martinez will want it to rise immediately.

The Catalan has preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation at Everton. Of his three attacking midfielders, each has an important but differing role to play.

The first wide player—mainly Leon Osman or Steven Pienaaris often tasked with dropping back into midfield. He looks for combinations and overloads while tracking back off the ball.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Kevin Mirallas (C) of Everton celebrates with his team-mates Aiden McGeady (L) and Steven Naismith (R) after scoring their second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa a
Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

The central player—Ross Barkley or Steven Naismith—is used to find space and support the striker, and the second wide midfielder—last season Mirallas or Gerard Deulofeu—is viewed as Martinez's explosive option.

He is encouraged to remain forward, passing off defensive responsibilities in favour of moments of individual brilliance in attack.

SWANSEA, WALES - DECEMBER 22:  Roberto Martinez the Everton manager speaks with Kevin Mirallas of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Everton at the Liberty Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by R
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

While he can perhaps be frustrating, he is essentially Martinez's match-winner—a key role which McGeady will now begin challenging for.

An example of Martinez's dedication to these roles is the fact Deulofeu and Mirallas were on the pitch for less than 180 minutes together last season and were in a starting XI just twice in the Premier League.

McGeady will be competing with one of Martinez's key players in Mirallas, but the Belgian faces a shortened pre-season after an extended summer break.

Following his exploits in Brazil and a relentless 12 months, the Belgian may well begin the season slowly, potentially experiencing a World Cup hangover.

There is no Deulofeu, and any new signings will take a while to bed in and accommodate their new manager's demands. Early on, this will leave the stage free for McGeady.

The Irishman has a full pre-season to further acclimatise and, with a bumper card of games this season, he will be one of Martinez's main options out wide.

To remain a Champions League contender, the Toffees must start the season with a bang.

While Mirallas gains full fitness and potential new signings settle in, Everton will initially find themselves relying on McGeady.

 

Statistics via WhoScored.com and Squawka.

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