Blues boss: "I think the rewards are going to be there for the next 10 months"
Roberto Martinez has been encouraged by the speed at which his Everton squad have embraced his flexible tactical approach – as the Goodison manager prepared to begin his tenure in earnest.
Martinez will take charge of his first competitive game since replacing David Moyes when Everton open their Premier League campaign at Norwich City on Saturday.
The Spaniard has looked to impose a more refined style of play on his new charges throughout pre-season.
And the 40-year-old believes his ideas are already beginning to take hold to give Everton the chance of hitting the ground running this season.
“I’ve been most pleased with the quality we have got in the dressing room and the attitude of the players to try to understand different concepts, different ways of doing things and to be flexible in that respect has been very pleasing,” said Martinez.
“Remember, that experience we have and talent we have in the dressing room allows us to work on those principles quite quickly. The surprising aspect for me is how quickly we have been able to work in different aspects of the game and that will make us all-rounded and make us very flexible in the next 10 months of competition.”
Everton visited Austria and the United States as part of a pre-season programme that saw them tested against established opposition such as Austria Vienna, Juventus, Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Betis.
And Martinez added: “I’m really happy with the amount of work we’ve been able to put in. The players had a terrific attitude and we put in a lot of time and effort and I think the rewards are going to be there for the next 10 months.
“Overall, it has been a real success provided we can get through the international break without any injuries.”
Martinez is sweating on the fitness of Darron Gibson with the midfielder rated as “touch and go” having suffered a knee injury during last Sunday’s win over Betis.
Everton have long since sold out their 2,400 allocation for the trip to Carrow Road, and Martinez said: “The away support has been one of the talking points of pre-season so far from our point of view.
"To see so many fans following us around and supporting the team has been impressive. I can only hope and imagine what it will be like in an official game.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the Evertonians at Norwich and giving us a warm feeling at the start of the season.”
Grant Holt, Norwich have bolstered their attack with the signing of Gary Hooper and club record acquisition Ricky van Wolfswinkel.
And Martinez expects a difficult game at a venue where Everton have won only one of their last 10 visits and were beaten 2-1 back in February.
“It’s going to be an important season for them,” said the Spaniard. “Once you get promoted into the Premier League you have to stay there and then that gives you a different outlook and way of working with your budget.
“I think they have done that really well and have brought good players into the side, some of those with experience of European football and good, young potential.
“Carrow Road is always a difficult place to go and get a result and I don’t think that is going to be any different.
“If anything, you are going to have a new side that are looking for higher heights than to avoid relegation, and that’s going to make it a tough but exciting game.”