Loans pay off for Martinez
EVERTON 4 STOKE CITY 0
Economists have produced evidence of the dangers of borrowing. Evertonians can testify to its benefits.
Roberto Martinez has used the loan market to great effect this season and, if Romelu Lukaku's goals have rendered him their headline act this season, another short-term signing took on the mantle of match-winner yesterday.
Gerard Deulofeu's first Premier League start was a spectacular success.
The 19-year-old Spaniard scored one goal and helped provide two more and yet, impressive as the statistics were, they only hinted at the full extent of his contribution. But for the excellent Asmir Begovic, he might have had a hat-trick. Stoke were tormented, unable to match his acceleration and bewitched by his trickery. The winger from Barcelona provided the stepovers as Everton leapfrogged the Manchester clubs and Southampton to return to the top four.
In the process, he rewarded Martinez for one of the bolder managerial decisions. Everton's other Spaniard had omitted Kevin Mirallas, a goalscorer in last week's Merseyside derby, to promote Deulofeu, following his catalytic cameo against Liverpool.
"He is a quite unique talent," said Martinez. "He is a different type of footballer, an old-fashioned type of winger who enjoys taking people on. Every time he gets on the ball, the whole crowd gets excited. You can see why we worked so hard to bring him in. We were one of the clubs on a long list to take him on loan."
Another, Mark Hughes subsequently confirmed, were Stoke. "Unfortunately, he came here," the City manager said. His misfortune was compounded when Deulofeu stylishly put his suitors to the sword.
His goal illustrated both his individual ability and the Barcelona-esque passing football Martinez is attempting to implement on Merseyside. Veering in from the left wing and adding incision with his sheer speed, Deulofeu exchanged passes with first Steven Pienaar and then Gareth Barry before beating Begovic. "His quality is sublime," Martinez added. "His goal was sensational, the moment of the match."
It was also the pivotal point for Hughes. "The key moments are either side of half-time," said the Stoke manager, lamenting the goals that sandwiched the interval. Deulofeu and Barry, the third member of Everton's on-loan contingent, were the common denominators. Having begun the game on the right, the Spaniard's change of flanks proved productive.
His speedy surge along the left touchline led to the decisive second. Deulofeu picked out Barry with his cross and, while the midfielder's touch was uncharacteristically poor, the ball broke for Seamus Coleman to finish, rewarding the right-back for a long break to get in the Stoke box.
If it is unusual that one full-back scores, it is rarer still two register a goal in the same game. After Deulofeu cut a corner back to the edge of the area, Bryan Oviedo drilled in his first Everton goal via the inside of the post. Scorer turned supplier when Oviedo, deputising for the injured Leighton Baines, set up Lukaku for his eighth goal of the campaign.
The striker had suggested he would be willing to return to Goodison Park if Everton are playing Champions League football. "That puts pressure on himself," Martinez grinned. "He needs to score between 25 and 30 goals to get us there. It's great he feels like that."
Just as this was Everton's biggest win under Martinez, it was Hughes's heaviest defeat. "We were poor on the day," the Welshman said. But for Begovic, who made a magnificent double stop to deny Deulofeu and Lukaku, the scoreline would have been still more emphatic.
"Credit to Everton," Hughes said. "They have done really well in terms of the ones they have bought and the ones they have brought in on loan."
The only problem is when their parent clubs want them back. Barcelona are due to recall Deulofeu in the summer. Martinez smiled: "I hope not."