Tuesday 24 April 2018

Coleman and Oviedo accept Martinez licence to thrill for high-flying Toffees

Everton 4 Stoke City 0

Everton's Seamus Coleman
Everton's Seamus Coleman
Seamus Coleman

Si Hughes

A LITTLE bit of history was achieved at Goodison Park on Saturday. Never before had two Everton full-backs scored in the same league game.

That fact says much about this team's evolution under Roberto Martinez.

Seamus Coleman and Bryan Oviedo pushed so high at times, there were six attackers swarming. Stoke could not deal with it. They were bullied by possession. They were bullied by movement. Most significantly, they were bullied by numbers.

There is no doubt there has been a positive stylistic shift at Goodison Park. Sure, Leighton Baines has long been considered one of Everton's greatest threats going forward.

Last season, David Moyes facilitated the emergence of Coleman on the other side of the defence and he was allowed to raid, too. Yet the pair were rarely afforded the chance to function in the same way simultaneously. If one went, the other stayed. It is not the case now.

Baines was not even available for this match due to injury. His replacement had not started a league game under Martinez.

Oviedo, though, understood his role. After ripping a 20-yard shot in off the post, the Costa Rican set up Romelu Lukaku's fourth. Before that, the outstanding Gerard Deulofeu marked his full league debut with the opener before helping set up Coleman for the second.

"It has been surprising how the players have been so open to listening to different things and to try to do those things on the pitch," Martinez said. "They're very conscientious."

Everton really went for it. With better finishing, Stoke City could have been subjected to a considerably worse defeat, with teenager Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, outstanding.

"He is one of the most talented footballers in Spanish football, he is quite a unique talent," said Martinez.

"There was a long list trying to take Gerard on loan and the fact he wanted to come to Everton was a fantastic feeling, and you can see why we worked so hard to attract him to the club."

"We had too many players not at the levels they are capable of hitting," lamented Stoke manager Mark Hughes. "We can't carry anyone. We are not good enough to do that."

There has been no revolution under Hughes. Claims that Stoke had emerged as a passing team in the aftermath of Tony Pulis' exit were foolish. There is a lack of identity: just drab, nothing football. On this viewing, they should be concerned about their top-flight existence.

Everton's change is genuine. Next they travel to Manchester United on Wednesday night; appropriate opponents to illustrate just how much progression has been made.

Under 11 years of Moyes' reign at Everton, they did not win at Old Trafford. They did not win at Anfield. They did not win at Highbury or the Emirates Stadium.

Aside from a penalty shoot-out victory in the FA Cup, they did not win at Stamford Bridge. In fact, in 43 games away at United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, Everton lost 27, drew 16 and won zip.

There appeared to be a mental block, a lack of courage at crucial moments. It led to a recessive pattern on the pitch and on the terraces: if it felt like it was going to go wrong for Everton, it usually did.

This is Martinez's opportunity to alter that mindset in one hit.

A victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday might release that tension. With Moyes now in the other dug-out, the coincidence would be delicious. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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