When Roberto Martinez was appointed as Everton manager in the summer of 2013, Kevin Mirallas must have been delighted.
The Belgium international had just enjoyed a prosperous debut term in the Premier League, bagging a brilliant brace on the final day of the season against West Ham United. It prompted sky-high expectations, especially with the Catalan's cavalier attacking style seemingly a perfect fit for Mirallas's rampaging wing play.
Three years on, Mirallas is a player scarred and he stands at a precarious point in his Everton career. Indeed, new manager Ronald Koeman faces an intriguing quandary when he considers quite what to do with his № 11.
The freedom many expected to enrich his game under Martinez ultimately manifested as a lack of discipline. Red cards came against Swansea City and, most infamously, West Ham United last season; the latter contributed to a jaded Everton surrendering a two-goal lead late on.
Before that, in the 2014-15 campaign, Mirallas grabbed the ball off regular penalty taker Leighton Baines against West Bromwich Albion. He missed, was withdrawn at half-time and Everton drew 0-0. And while some Toffees choose to revere it, his reckless challenge on Luis Suarez in 2013 could have cost his team again.
All these incidents were underpinned by slumps of the shoulders, inconsistent performances, and releases of frustration. He was a shadow of the sharp, refreshing presence who added a dash of flair to Moyes's XI in his first year on Merseyside.
As a manager, Martinez had many flaws. But his grounds for not having full faith in Mirallas have credence. Yet, given his natural talent, gift for goalscoring and edginess — a huge asset when appropriately harnessed — plenty tied to the Toffees have preserved a faith in the player.
Those hopes have been fuelled by a new manager and a fine free-kick from the Belgian in pre-season against Barnsley. Mirallas himself, based on what we've seen so far under Koeman, seems much more at ease with life at Goodison Park again.
“For me it's great because I'm from Belgium, so it's very close [to Holland], and we speak the same,” said the man himself. “All the fans know the players and now they want to see the best manager for Everton.”
Koeman may well be the coach Mirallas needs to channel his talents. Most significantly of all, the shackles will be back on the player. Martinez's seeming disinterest in pressing, defensive cohesion and work-rate is not shared by Koeman; if Mirallas wants to feature, he'll have to graft hard and subdue his temper. If he can do so, there will surely be an important position for him in the squad.
Koeman seems to like players of Mirallas's style; his Southampton side used versatile forwards. Not only did the likes of Sadio Mane, Shane Long and Dusan Tadic all fulfil different positions at different times with the Saints, they all progressed in his two years at the club. Increased application, more consistency, and a greater tactical awareness are now hallmarks of their game.
They're areas Mirallas will need to sharpen up if he's going to become a regular feature in the Everton side. He's a player who comes alive in bursts and can be decisive in those spells. But Koeman commands greater involvement from his attackers; whether making key contributions in the final third or not, the aforementioned Saints men are always in the game.
Even so, this won't be an automatic process for Mirallas. It's time for a player who has long got away with not taking responsibility to buck that trend.
Because, if he doesn't buy into the principles of the new manager, Mirallas's Everton career could quickly come to an end, especially with other options in the wide positions and a huge transfer budget burning a hole in the pocket of major investor Farhad Moshiri. Under this new regime, a player who showed the same flaws he did under Martinez would quickly become dispensable.
But a player who can be stationed in various roles, conjure key goals, and excite supporters, would be extremely useful to the new man. Mirallas, in the right environment, can become that player.
Longstanding sympathy for him will surely wane should things fail to improve this season, though. Mirallas may have had poor fortune with injuries, may have jarred with Martinez, and may have good intentions blemished by his frustration. Nevertheless, there comes a point when the excuses must run out for this enigmatic footballer.
Koeman has shown a precedent for assisting players of Mirallas's ilk and can add the functional base to the winger's skill-set that was lacking under his predecessor. But, for a player who has so many natural gifts, the time has come for him to seize control of his own destiny at Goodison Park.
Reader Comments (38)
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1 Posted 26/07/2016 at 21:49:13
2 Posted 26/07/2016 at 21:50:14
With the dearth of goalscoring midfield players especially at Everton, we need a motivated Mirallas and, for all the shit thrown at him this last couple of years, including injuries, that could only happen under Martinez, he still wants to get out there and produce.
3 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:04:01
4 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:12:07
Strangely enough Naismith was our third best goal threat and he was allowed to leave without a replacement. At present our squad is pretty poor and question marks are against both Stones and possibly Lukaku on whether they will stay at the club.
5 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:26:49
Don't buy he's the best finisher we have, but will acknowledge he's more likely to snipe one from a crazy angle than tap one in.
Love to see if hes plays poorly & is dropped what his attitude becomes.
Definitely an issue with his character, he sees himself as a starter, better than most, but needs to back it up with the work rate & calmness when things don't go his way.
Everton have too many passengers without the ball. Lukaku can get away with it based on his goal record only, Kev lad you cannot.
6 Posted 27/07/2016 at 00:31:47
It's a wonderful clean slate for him and a few others, I hope he makes full use of it.
8 Posted 27/07/2016 at 02:50:40
I don't blame RM one bit for preferring players like Lennon and Cleverley to Mirallas. As Matt says, the only one responsible for Kev's problems was Kev... and he's the only one who can turn things around. I think he will.
9 Posted 27/07/2016 at 03:44:46
a blind man could see how badly Martinez treated KM.
To tell him how important he was and then totally ignore him for 6 months is the worst form of man management.
In addition it is no coincidence that Kev came down with the dreaded "Martinez hamstring" syndrome.
Lets see how he blossoms under a proper manager and then comment.
10 Posted 27/07/2016 at 06:06:01
That said, I agree Koeman is twice the manager Martinez was, and I think he'll straighten Kev out and help him realize his potential.
But please don't tell me Kev's last season was anybody's fault but his own. It's a woefully flimsy excuse for the crap he pulled.
11 Posted 27/07/2016 at 07:00:45
Like many, I just want Kev to focus upon the vital stuff and not become entangled in matters which don't enhance his reputation as talented and effective footballer.
Much the same hopes for RB, GD and RL, if RK can "fix" 2 or 3 of these 4 lads (and I believe that he can and will) then the net effect will be immense.
Conversely, the ramifications for the 1 or 2 who don't respond is to be moved on and replaced.
On a different tack, what a great time for Tom Davies to be emerging ? The conditions seem ideal for his current promise to be cultivated fully, here's hoping.
12 Posted 27/07/2016 at 07:44:14
13 Posted 27/07/2016 at 08:26:17
Why was it so criminal for Mirallas to be inconsistent yet donkeys like Kone could be consistently awful in his favoured position? And what about Geri, the darling, inconsistency personified? Or hot and cold Barkley?
If we can't agree on Martinez chronic underuse of Mirallas being criminal then surely we agree it was stupid. Mirallas still remains our most talented player and our most likely goal threat behind Lukaku. In my opinion, one of the few players to emerge with credit last season on the basis he didn't play.
For the record, I also vehemently disagree with this general opinion he doesn't track back or work hard for the team. He clearly does, Moyes made him with little problem and at least one of the sendings off mentioned occurred outside our own box (where you know he attempted to win the ball after tracking back and working hard etc.)
Mirallas problems last season were very much of Martinez making and we saw Kone, Cleverley, Ross and even Besic feature on the left ahead of Mirallas and we all know how that panned out.
14 Posted 27/07/2016 at 10:49:10
15 Posted 27/07/2016 at 11:27:13
I think his recklessness might stem from his desire to win. Nothing wrong with a player showing a bit of fight, he just needs to reign it occasionally.
16 Posted 27/07/2016 at 11:45:41
17 Posted 27/07/2016 at 12:01:48
Honestly think that, on talent alone, Kevin Mirallas would easily be in the top twenty players in the league. The fact that he's not will most probably be down to application because, when he wants to play, he's got a bit of everything.
18 Posted 27/07/2016 at 12:14:06
In terms of the 'debate', the Baines penalty incident was pretty much unforgivable. It was a huge sign of a player who cared far more about himself than the team.
That was a while ago now, hopefully he's learnt from it as I think he has a lot to offer us under the right system.
19 Posted 27/07/2016 at 13:20:30
I hope (and believe) he'll excel this season, and things like the penalty incident with Baines will be a thing of the past. Can't see Koeman tolerating that kind of thing.
20 Posted 27/07/2016 at 19:17:28
Are you serious?
Mirallas was fully fit for much of last season, but had to sit on the bench whilst others started even though they lost form (Deulofeu, Lennon) or could not play wide (Barkley, Cleverley).
Martinez lost the plot with Mirallas. Yes, he was stupid with his antics. But he should have been sold if Martinez lost faith. Not left to fester on the bench.
Watch the away Watford game. Geri was patently useless for the whole game. Kev did more in the final 15 minutes and, had he started, I think we would have won.
History will show Martinez was undone by players losing faith in him, not the other way around.
21 Posted 27/07/2016 at 19:21:47
RM made strange decisions galore and one was giving penalties to Rom who never convinced and cost us dearly possibly in the semi final. Baines had a marvellous record and should always take them.
Agree Kev could have a very big impact this season and it depends on how much he wants it.
22 Posted 27/07/2016 at 21:08:56
Jason #14, no, that's not what I said. I've made clear that it's on Kev, and only Kev, to make things right. I do believe he has a better chance to succeed under Koeman, but I won't credit Koeman for his successes any more than I blame RM for his failures.
Peter #13, Lord no, I am not defending the Kone/Besic/Ross fiasco on the left, nor am I excusing Ross and Geri for their inconsistency or RM for his frequent lineup blunders. But when a player as talented as Kev is beaten out for his spot by a guy with half the talent but twice the heart and three times the consistency (Cleverley), Kev himself has to accept the responsibility. It sounds like he has every intention of doing that, and if he does, he can make himself the star he should be.
FWIW, I've always considered Mirallas' best position to be supporting striker rather than out on the left. One change I expect from RK is a lot more two-forward alignments, and Kev will benefit from that.
23 Posted 27/07/2016 at 21:49:39
24 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:06:08
He once had a good understanding with Rom. but these days his confidence is shot.
Yesterday, his poor miss with only the keeper to beat was indicative of his form and although he still has a good free-kick in his arsenal his all around play hasn't been good enough.
I would like to think the new manager can change that but have my doubts.
One might also point fingers at Lennon and Delboy but Lennon has a great work ethic and Delboy has great speed both of which could be an asset this coming season under a new strategy.
The next few warm-up games could be the key to the manager's mindset on this issue.
25 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:07:46
Yes he's petulant, injury prone and his attitude can stink. But we don't know what happens behind closed doors, and given some of the deadwood we've had on the books for the last couple of years, he doesn't head my list of transfer outs either.
Too many right wingers on the books for me, but McGeady and Lennon would head my list out. Lennon will have some fans for his work rate, but he needs that as his final product is more bottom 6, than top 6. 3rd choice right winger with no other position, I'd move him on. I won't even comment on McGeady, his performance last night actually made me laugh.
26 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:10:36
I'm itching to see Kev this year in a real game. I don't think he's ever lacked effort. Even last year he gave everything when he was on the pitch. On occasion he took it too far.
He just needs to get his focus and discipline right. A manager making his role clear to him will help in that regard.
27 Posted 28/07/2016 at 04:43:54
Mirallas the last couple of seasons was perhaps the most specific demonstration of Martinez's failings; he allowed a player to indulge his worst proclivities for laziness and indiscipline, thus undermining the positive things he can bring to the side.
28 Posted 28/07/2016 at 09:07:58
Losing at half-time, it was Kevin Mirallas who took the game by the proverbial scruff and turned it around. Then Geri finished the job.
Nobody really remembers things like that because his reward was being dropped immediately after. Unbelievable and phenomenal mismanagement.
29 Posted 28/07/2016 at 14:02:04
An impact sub? please, he is more direct than Lennon, more spark/ skill than Cleverly and Geri is only able to flutter in and out of games. Just imagine if he had a manager who encouraged him..
The most direct player we have, runs at defence and not afraid to have a go.
30 Posted 28/07/2016 at 17:57:13
31 Posted 28/07/2016 at 18:27:16
For me it is simple, he is one of our most important players, I think if Koeman sees a resurgence in this team then Kevin Mirallas will be a significant part of it. Out of our current wide players I think he is the most complete. Geri has potential, but positionally and tactically he is still learning. He needs to get to grips with his defensive role and his off the ball role as well. Cleverly and Lennon are good, conservative options, but will never come close to the goal or assist tally that Mirallas will have. When he is on the teamsheet there I bet there is a moment in the opposition dressing room where they think 'must keep an eye on him' I don't think you get that with the other two.
32 Posted 28/07/2016 at 18:47:16
Impact sub remains the best place for the ego that hasn't landed.
33 Posted 28/07/2016 at 20:04:34
When you are consistently overlooked for poorer players who are not even playing in their preferred position, you loose heart, confidence and sharpness, unless you put significant work in on the training ground.
The oft spoken of penalty incident also spoke of his confidence, he missed so that's now explained as arrogance.
Would have him in the team ahead of Lennon, Geri or Cleverly any day.
34 Posted 28/07/2016 at 21:04:16
As ever it's a matter of opinion. probably , it's better to agree to disagree about Mirallas. I do agree that Martinez managed to make him thoroughly pissed off, but he managed that with most players and all Evertonians.
35 Posted 29/07/2016 at 06:26:54
36 Posted 29/07/2016 at 07:28:58
And if RK does go with 4-4-2 or some variation with two forwards, Kev and Lennon won't be an either/or proposition... both would be among our best 11 as the team stands now, with Kev up front and Lennon the clear best choice on right wing. In that scenario it's likely Macca who loses out.
Of course if Gueye is coming aboard as rumored, that changes everything and the 4-4-2 becomes far less likely than the 4-2-3-1 IMO. But it's all blind speculation until RK completes his player moves.
37 Posted 31/07/2016 at 09:10:10
He'd become much like my ex at parties as our relationship was becoming terminal. I'd look across at her and she was still lovely to look at, but I'd keep thinking "You're talking bloody nonsense again, would you please, please, just shut the fuck up !". But, more drivel begat more drivel and eventually people either drifted away shaking their heads or stood around trapped, bewildered and looking into empty space.
Fast forward to present, and these "Skill and Belief" players (hopefully) aren't being drowned in oceans of meaningless, disconnected, bullshit.
Personally, having seen our build up so far, I think that starting KM & GD as our front 2 could work really well. They both need "tuning in", but bloody hell they'd offer great skill at high pace. Quite a different threat to anything posed by any other EPL side.
(The BIG "if", here is "IF", they can be tuned in. Two "Maverick" players, but also, seemingly, close teammates).
38 Posted 31/07/2016 at 12:00:45
I am sure that the new manager will have a more pragmatic approach and allow the player the opportunity to really build on the platform of his unquestionable talent.
It's good to be able to say that, for the first time in a few years, I am looking forward to progression this coming season. I am confident that, as the transfers materialize, the new Chairman and Manager will give us all something to be pleased with.
39 Posted 05/08/2016 at 16:35:51
The cup game where he came on, scored a great freekick, then did a neat fandango around half the West Ham defenders to set up Lukaku for the second after McGeady got sent off.
Then the other one where he got sent off when we were winning and we ended up losing the game.
Undoubtedly a great player, and capable of winning matches IF he can remain focused and calm. It that if to big is the question.
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