A corner turned – but Everton still have miles to go

As the classic song from a bygone era states: ‘What a difference a day makes’.

Well, how about seven days instead?

A little over a week ago, optimism surrounding Everton Football Club had fallen to another familiar low.

Knocked out of the Capital One Cup in controversial circumstances by Manchester City and languishing in 12th position in the Barclays Premier League, a potential banana skin of a FA Cup tie away to Carlisle United and two tough league matches were lying in wait for an underachieving squad.

It might come as no surprise, given the Toffees’ topsy-turvy nature, that they passed all three tricky fixtures with flying colours.

A 3-0 victory at Brunton Park was quickly followed up with two further triumphs over Newcastle United and Stoke City by the same scoreline.

Passage to the fifth round of the world famous cup competition, six points from six to climb to eighth in the league and nine goals without reply.

A job well done then.

But the Blues are not home and dry by any stretch of the imagination just yet.

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Manager Roberto Martinez has endured mounting pressure in recent weeks from fans and media alike, with many calling for his head as he struggled to get the best out of an assembled squad packed full of talent, style, potential and experience.

And much like last season, as well as his time as Wigan Athletic boss, the Spaniard has managed to conjure up a system that balances free-flowing, attacking flair with new-found defensive resolve.

The return to full fitness of club captain Phil Jagielka, midfielder James McCarthy and full back Seamus Coleman, the inclusion of tireless widemen of Aaron Lennon and Tom Cleverley and the opportunity afforded to backup keeper Joel Robles – in the absence of the injured Tim Howard – has seen a marked improvement in Everton’s resiliency at the back.

But it will take more than a temporary change of personnel and tactics for Evertonians to truly believe that Martinez is the man to take them forward.

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The former Swansea City manager was rightly questioned when he reinstated Howard in place of Robles last season, despite the Toffees’ number two keeping three clean sheets on the bounce in the American’s absence – a feat that the 25 year old has accomplished again in the past week.

Martinez too will have to be wary about upsetting a back four that has looked sturdier without the undoubtedly talented John Stones taking unnecessary chances in the Blues’ final third.

And he will have to change a mindset that, while applaudable in theory, has seen Everton throw away precious leads, victories and points away due to a lack of game management and a porous rearguard.

It has been somewhat of a blessing that this season’s Premier League table is so congested that stringing just two wins together has given Everton’s league standing a much rosier outlook.

But it is only a slight corner which has been turned.

A tough home encounter against West Bromwich Albion is quickly followed by a cup tie away to Bournemouth are up next for Everton – and both sides will pose different tests for the men in Blue.

Martinez would do well to continue steering his side in the right direction if he still harbours ambitions of taking the Toffees back the glory days of the 80s.

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