Naismith: I'm learning all the time
Published 05/04/2014 | 17:47
For Everton forward Steven Naismith, every day is a school day under manager Roberto Martinez.
The 27-year-old may have played more than 250 senior matches and 28 internationals for Scotland, but he admits he is learning more than ever thanks to the guidance of the Spaniard.
It has even got to the stage where Naismith is doing "homework" when watching matches on television, just in case his manager should ask him a question about it the next day.
"He has opened my eyes to a totally new way of playing football," Naismith told Press Association Sport.
"I am really interested in it, so when he does talk to you about things which may have happened in a game the night before it will be something you have learned off him in terms of watching to see how teams work.
"He will say 'did you notice this?' and it is not something you just say 'oh aye' just for the sake of it, you have a conversation with him.
"It is kind of being like at school, you are learning all the time.
"Sometimes you find yourself watching games and you think 'the manager might come and talk to me about this' so you end up taking note of what's happening."
Naismith came off the bench at Fulham at half-time last weekend to turn the game, creating one goal and scoring another, and he admitted afterwards he had watched the first half carefully to see where he could make an impact.
That is something else which he has learned to do over time.
"It's funny because there are so many different aspects to being on the bench - from being peed off you're not playing to just thinking so many different things that your mind could not be on working out how you can improve the team," he added.
"Nowadays it is a squad game and the few games I have come on and had a good impact you understand that it is about the squad and the manager has made that clear here.
"As I've got older I have learned to watch where I'm likely to come on and you do pick up things and see things that happen.
"I definitely pick up things like how I can get a chance on goal or cause problems to the other team's defence: styles of play, the formations - so much goes on in games that you can capitalise on these things."
Naismith has made just seven league starts (compared to 17 substitute appearances this season) but has scored three goals and every one of those has been in an Everton victory.
Everton host Arsenal on Sunday in what is being billed a Champions League qualification decider, with the Toffees just four points behind their fourth-placed opponents with a match in hand.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta says Arsenal have the required mentality to come through a first test of their renewed character.
Arsenal travel to Merseyside on the back of a morale-boosting 1-1 draw with Manchester City, which went some way to exorcising the ghost of the nightmare 6-0 trashing at Chelsea which ruined manager Arsene Wenger's 1,000th match in charge.
The Gunners also suffered the disappointment of conceding a last-minute own-goal in their 2-2 draw with Swansea.
Arsenal are, however, only four points ahead of fifth-placed Everton, who have a game in hand - and with the small matter of an FA Cup semi-final against Wigan on the horizon, Arteta knows how important building momentum will be.
"Mentally, it will be a big boost if we win, and hard to take if you don't so it will be important," Arteta said.
"Some of the performances we have put in away from home in the big games have touched in a bad way the season we have had so far.
"We made mistakes and did not perform when we should have done, but we have to take it.
"Overall we have been really consistent and considering the injuries we have had, things have gone well and we have stepped up a long way from last season."
Arteta, 32, left Everton for Arsenal in August 2011, the former Rangers man having become an integral part of the David Moyes' squad following his move from Real Sociedad.
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