In the Premier League, it seems impossible to break into the top four or challenge established clubs like Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea on a structural basis.
In recent years, the Premier League’s four Champions League places have gone to any of those five teams, with only Tottenham Hotspur able to pose a little bit of a threat to the traditional hierarchy.
Consequently, clubs from outside the top five, usually on much lower budgets than the financial giants, must look at more creative and long-term strategies to challenge the status quo.
Following their promotion the year before, Southampton managed to finish eighth last season, demonstrating how effective a focus on youth, well-considered transfers—such as Dejan Lovren—and a courageous manager—in the form of Mauricio Pochettino—can be.
A couple of months later, however, Southampton was plundered, and their best and most talented players have all left for clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal, leaving the club in an almost apocalyptic state.
At Everton, a club similar with a similar low budget and status—relative to the traditional powerhouses—the situation is wholly different. There, an unfolding master plan will be able to reach the second phase next season.
For the blue side of Liverpool, a new narrative began when David Moyes, who had managed Everton for more than 10 years, left to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and former Swansea and Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was appointed.
With the appointment of Martinez, the club went for a new philosophy, more progressive and audacious on the pitch than the relatively conservative and careful style of football often propagated by Moyes.
Some clever signings were made, including loan deals for Barcelona’s winger and attacking midfielder Gerard Deulofeu and Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.
These two players would become constitutive members of the Everton side that finished the season in fifth place. While Deulofeu has had to return to Barcelona, Lukaku is now signed on a five-year deal.
It was this context, this nurturing and progressive framework, that allowed Kevin Mirallas, who had signed for Everton in 2012, to shine in the Premier League last year. Since Everton, unlike Southampton, seems able to build on last year’s success, it may also spur him on next year.
It is sometimes difficult for talented but raw players to develop during times of unrest and chaos. But the leadership of Martinez and the progressive long-term vision in play at Everton provide players like Lukaku and Mirallas with clarity and confidence.
It will be hard, if not impossible, for Everton to actually surpass last season’s success and break into the top four. But as a forward-thinking club, they will continue to strive for upwards mobility.
In the 2013-14 season, Mirallas scored eight goals in 32 appearances. As per Squawka, he also created a total of 61 chances, more than any other Everton player.
It’s clear that the Belgian winger can play a crucial role in this.