They’ve a new manager, new players, and it would seem a new way to start a season at Everton this season.
Traditionally slow starters under the leadership of the now-departed David Moyes, Roberto Martinez’s men have proven themselves to be unexpectedly solid at the back, with an unbeaten start that continued with their impressive win over Chelsea on Saturday.
Following the swashbuckling, if at times kamikaze, style of football that Martinez was associated with at Wigan, Everton’s third clean sheet in as many games has surprised the many who expected a similar mindset at his new club.
But while Everton secured a new boss and several additions to their playing staff this summer, much of their early success, and ability to retain the ball in key areas, has been down to the form of the latest graduate from the youth system.
Much has been made of Ross Barkley’s impressive maturity given his 19 years, and although he was somewhat overshadowed by the experience of Gareth Barry in a tight encounter at Goodison, those watching could not have helped but be impressed again at Barkley’s smart retention and use of the ball in tight areas. Especially the watching opposition manager Jose Mourinho.
Reports today suggest that, after making a tentative enquiry in the summer, Mourinho may make a move for the midfielder as early as January. Everton are braced to rebuff any offers for their highly-rated England international until at least the summer, knowing that Barkley’s former boss David Moyes is also keenly interested.
Indeed it is thought that Barkley has long been on the Old Trafford radar, with Sir Alex Ferguson having asked about the Liverpool-born lad when he was just 17.
Bids in excess of £20million will be expected, and while Martinez and Everton will be reluctant to let him go, they’ll remember well a similar scenario with Wayne Rooney nearly a decade ago.
Given that Barkley’s departure is almost inevitable once the Premier League giants come calling, the Toffees will know that the enxt best scenario will be to spark a bidding war between United and Chelsea.