Ossie: "This is two seasons in a row now that we have got up and running so hopefully we can kick on from here"
Leon Osman admits Everton cannot bask in the plaudits of their impressive start to the season – and believes the squad still have much to learn under Roberto Martinez.
Osman came off the bench to set up one goal and score another to earn the Goodison outfit a hard-fought 2-0 win at Aston Villa on Saturday.
It kept Martinez’s men just four points adrift of leaders Arsenal, with their total of 18 points from nine games having only once before been surpassed by the Everton since the introduction of three points for a win in 1981.
Such form has seen them already touted as being capable of improving on last season’s sixth-place finish.
And while warning against complacency, Osman is convinced there remains plenty of room for improvement.
In pictures: Villa 0 Everton 2
“I suppose it’s a compliment people aren’t surprised we are doing so well,” said the 32-year-old.
“But we can’t sit back on what people are saying and looking at the table thinking we have done well.
“Under David Moyes last season we started quickly. So this is two seasons in a row now that we have got up and running so hopefully we can kick on from here.
“We have a lot of good players in our squad and if we were under-performing we wouldn’t be happy with ourselves. It’s just about learning about the new manager and the way he wants us to play our football.
“Every team has a transition period when a new manager comes in. We learnt a lot during pre-season, a different method of playing and we took to it quite well. There’s still a lot for us to learn about new ways to play.”
Osman, dropped to the bench for the first time in the Premier League under Martinez, was introduced on the hour and created the opener for Romelu Lukaku on 68 minutes before netting himself nine minutes from time.
And the midfielder said: “I felt like I got into it quite quickly and I was back where I wanted to be.
“I couldn’t have asked for much more. I was involved in the first goal and I scored the second, so it’s pleasing when games go like that.
“To come in with a clean sheet at half-time we were very pleased because to have conceded a penalty and they had some really good chances.
“Tim Howard made some fantastic saves. But Villa used up a lot of energy to do that and the longer the game went on, the more we came into it.
“Villa put in an incredible effort. It’s difficult to keep that going. The longer the game went on, the more I felt we’d get something.”
Howard’s best save came when he kept out Christian Benteke’s eighth-minute penalty after the Villa striker was fouled by Seamus Coleman.
Asked how important the stop was, Osman said: “It would have left us with a mountain to climb. It was a game-changing moment. It could have been completely different.
“But that’s what Tim is capable of doing. It kept the clean sheet and it laid the foundation for us to go on and win the game.”
England manager Roy Hodgson was at Villa Park to watch the game. And Osman has not given up hope of adding to his two caps with the World Cup on the horizon next summer.
“If the call came I’d be delighted but I’m not going to get too carried with things aren’t taking place on the pitch,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I’d be satisfied with just two caps. You want to get as many caps as you can. I’m still playing in the top-flight, in the Premier League and there’s a big competition coming in the summer.
“And if there’s a chance for you to go then you are going to try and take it.”