Three reasons why Everton will reap reward of tight team bond
Trevor Murray takes a look at three reasons why Everton will taste success as Roberto Martinez grows team spirit
McGeady, Coleman, McCarthy – the Irish trio
Forming a togetherness in any squad is one of the fundamental aspects of maximising one’s chances of victory. And for Everton FC, a club that don’t have the finances or lavish financial backing to rival some other English clubs, that is more true than most. Undoubtedly, The Toffees’ most enduring spell of success came in the mid-80s when they experienced domestic and European joy under the stewardship of manager Howard Kendall, the pinnacle of which was a European Cup Winners’ Cup win against Rapid Wien on a score-line of 3-1. That squad had a rather highly concentrated pool of nationalities all pulling together in search of glory, something that the present squad is doing its best to mirror. Back then, five English men started the final against the Austrian club, two Scottish strikers led the line and three Welsh alongside one Irish star completed the collection. Right now, if you look at the Irish triumvirate of Aiden McGeady, Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy, there’s potential for a real understanding and a spirit to evolve in a short space of time between all three individuals. With each one heavily involved in Martin O’Neill’s plans for the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers, they’ll be playing together more and more frequently as the months tick by and as a result, as long as injuries don’t plague them, they should play a major role in this season’s journey. Add to this the high amount of English talent present in their makeup with Leighton Baines, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry and Leon Osman, among others, the opportunity to induce a genuine, uplifting spirit of like-minded players with a real connection is certainly there for the taking.
Lukaku has shown faith in returning
Baffled by Jose Mourinho’s indifference towards Romelu Lukaku, Everton fans wasted no time in welcoming him to the blue half of Merseyside – they already knew exactly what he had to offer after a season that saw the goals rain in for the Belgian star. But aside from showing faith in his own ability to once more lead the line for The Toffees, the forward with the imposing figure and the deft touch has also demonstrated his belief in the club’s trajectory. By siding with Roberto Martinez’s charges, he’s shown an affinity with the club, a personal interest in their affairs and he’s endeared himself to the fans, a move that has already seen himself earn the affectionate nickname ‘Big Rom’. At the end of the day, Everton are a team that intend to make it on the big stage once again. But they don’t just want one last hurrah, they intend to sow the seeds of success now, build a team up from its roots and push for sustained improvements over an extended period of time. Yet there’s no reason they won’t get some massively enticing rewards back in the short run, and a thrilling ride in the Europa League or, indeed, the FA Cup would certainly whet their appetite. Provided he can build on the 15 league goals he managed last season, the 21-year-old offensive marauder will once again become the perfect spearhead for their attack, and he’ll also continue to move up the steep learning curve he currently finds himself on – something his dispiriting spell at Chelsea offered him no chance of achieving. After all, he’s nowhere near his peak, which is a really tantalising prospect when you look at it like that – and it’s also a frightening realisation for defences up and down the country.
Martinez believes in his team
Far from insistent, Everton fans would have been forgiven for thinking before last weekend’s Merseyside derby that they had a great chance of recording their first Anfield victory in 15 years. Unfortunately, there was to be no record-breaking victory as it took a late, late winner from Jagielka for them to claw their way back into it to earn a point. Brought somewhat back down to earth with the 1-1 draw, it would be regrettable if their own post-match enquiry focused too much on the result; their ability to fight on until the final whistle is something they, and their rivals for the European places, would do well to remember, and it’s something Martinez was keen to point out in his own discussion about the match. Fighting not only for the pride of the derby day spoils, these players have already shown time and again that they are ready to fight for each other, something the Spanish coach has worked tirelessly on implementing. Having one another’s backs is certainly a key characteristic champions and expert team players tend to possess, and it’s something they seem to have by the bucket load at the moment – and it could well help them get out of their early-season slump that sees them further down the table than they’d like.