Roberto Martinez was officially installed as the new Everton manager this week, following David Moyes’ move to Manchester United, and the ex-Wigan Athletic boss appears to be lining up transfers that would see him re-united with two Latics veterans, Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz.
The Kone move was all-but-confirmed by Martinez’s replace at Wigan, Owen Coyle, who told BBC
If these were Moyes’ moves then speculating as to how Kone and Alcaraz would slot into the manager’s system would be fairly straight-forward. Kone is a striker – a poacher really – and since Moyes spent almost a decade playing generally the same system – a bank of midfielders with one lone centre-forward – Kone’s likely role would be clear – he would be competing with Nikica Jelavic and Victor Anichebe for that single spot.
The same is true of Alcaraz – the amount of times Moyes deviated from playing a flat back four in his 11-year Everton tenure can be counted on the fingers of one hand; it happened only once last season, at home to Stoke City. But Martinez regularly shifted between a back three and a back four and that throws into question Alcaraz’s role. If Martinez prefers a back four at Everton then the Paraguayan will struggle to dislodge either Sylvain Distin or Phil Jagielka; if he plumps for a back three then Alacraz could be a regular in the starting XI. The future of John Heitinga is another issue clouding matters.
At this point second guessing what Martinez will do – and why he is targeting certain players – is largely pointless; the emphasis is very much on the word guessing. It’s a situation Everton have not been in since Moyes’ first pre-season, way back in 2002, but even then there was the benefit of seeing Moyes take charge of the final month-and-a-half of the season. His Everton had already started to take shape by this point in the summer, with the end of the campaign offering an insight into his thinking. Martinez though is a blank canvas.
There are two aspects that are undeniable, though. First, Everton could do with centre-back cover – Jagielka, Distin and Heitinga are the only central defenders at the club with Premier League experience – Shane Duffy has been waiting in the wings for a while – and Heitinga has now entered the last year of his contract, bringing his future into question. Martinez clearly knows Alcaraz well and feels he is a player he upon whom he can rely.
Second, Jelavic had a truly torrid season and goals were a factor in Everton falling short of the European places – every team that finished above the Toffees scored significantly more goals, and a more prolific Jelavic would have turned a few of Everton’s many draws into wins and closed the gap on the top four. Kone netted 13 times last season, more than any Everton player and five more times than Jelavic, suggesting that the Ivorian may be a smart first piece of business for the new man in the Goodison Park dugout.
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