Kevin Mirallas Must Take Responsibility for his Own Everton Future

Ronald 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.

Matt Jones 26/07/2016 38comments  |  Jump to last

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.

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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 He missed, was withdrawn at half-time and Everton drew 0-0.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.

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Reader Comments (38)

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Gerry Quinn
1 Posted 26/07/2016 at 21:49:13
...and avoids getting sent off with those reckless tackles!
Jay Harris
2 Posted 26/07/2016 at 21:50:14
Mirallas is potentially one of the most important players we have. Not a traditional centre forward but capable of a double-digit goal tally every season.

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.

Nick Armitage
3 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:04:01
Best finisher at the club, no doubt Koeman will stick a rocket up his arse, it's up to Mirallas whether he allows it to be lit.
Trevor Lynes
4 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:12:07
Lukaku and Mirallas when both are playing well are our best scoring options. Both need to play otherwise Lukaku can be marked out of the game as he is our only real goal threat when Mirallas is not playing.

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.

John Pierce
5 Posted 26/07/2016 at 22:26:49
Matt, good to spotlight a player with charisma. He is one of a few that can get people off their seats. Too often the very skillful bit is followed by the jawdroppingly awful.

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.

Christine Foster
6 Posted 27/07/2016 at 00:31:47
Got to say it, I am surprised he is still at the club. But I am glad he is. RM treated him badly and conversly KM found everything getting to hard. He was often overlooked or given 10 min here and there. But he hung in there and didn't throw his toys out the pram.
It's a wonderful clean slate for him and a few others, I hope he makes full use of it.
Mike Gaynes
8 Posted 27/07/2016 at 02:50:40
Christine, I don't think he was badly treated at all. Even when he was fully healthy, which wasn't often, RM saw him as I did -- mercurial, inconsistent, sometimes lazy, and catastrophically undisciplined. Those reds were disasters.

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.

Jay Harris
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.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 27/07/2016 at 06:06:01
Jay, you have no way of knowing whether RM "ignored" Kev because you have no idea what was going on behind the scenes. Neither do I. All we know is that he left him on the bench, but what I saw of Kev on the pitch was a player who did not deserve to be there, who was often coasting on his talent and acting like a complete ass when called upon. Kev got what was coming to him, and I hope he learned his lesson. He'd better have, because if he pulls that stuff this season, RK is going to kick his butt into Row XX.

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.

Tony Draper
11 Posted 27/07/2016 at 07:00:45
A good, well reasoned article.

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.

John Codling
12 Posted 27/07/2016 at 07:44:14
Another Peter Beagrie, great skill but thinks it should all just happen for him; no discipline or work ethic. Like Peter, he thinks he knows better than everybody around him. I fear another wasted talent.
Peter Gorman
13 Posted 27/07/2016 at 08:26:17
Mike, respectfully I disagree for one very simple reason; if Martinez was correct to marginalise Mirallas for all the reasons laid out in the OP then Martinez shouldn't have even had a starting eleven.

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.

Jason Pullen
14 Posted 27/07/2016 at 10:49:10
Sorry Mike but it's not Roberto's fault that Kev was no good last year (in the few mins he played), but if he is good this year Ronald gets the credit? You can't just have it one way. He did fine under Moyes so if he does well under Koeman, I think that speaks volumes about our previous manager. I'm pretty sure I know the answer already.
Matt Williams
15 Posted 27/07/2016 at 11:27:13
I've got to agree with Peter @13. Bottom line, Martinez was a shit manager who fucked everybody up and made all the players look worse than they actually are. Some, like Mirallas, suffered worse than others at his hands.

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.

Kieran Fitzgerald
16 Posted 27/07/2016 at 11:45:41
Unless proven otherwise, Mirallas should be a starter on the left side of midfield. It's his natural position and he is one of our most talented and creative players. It's up to Mirallas in pre-season to show the new manager that he has the temperament to warrant that starting place.

Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 27/07/2016 at 12:01:48
The comments already show us what kind of player Mirallas his, and the kind of player he can be. Think the pros and cons have been put forward well, but have to agree with what I think Mike is trying to say.

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.

Mike Allison
18 Posted 27/07/2016 at 12:14:06
A nice assessment of a potentially important player.

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.

Stan Schofield
19 Posted 27/07/2016 at 13:20:30
If he doesn't prosper under the firm and disciplined management of someone like Koeman (who can also lead him by example, as evidenced by last week's 'masterclass' on taking free kicks), then he probably would never prosper.

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.

Amit Vithlani
20 Posted 27/07/2016 at 19:17:28
"But his grounds for not having full faith in Mirallas have credence."

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.

Dave Williams
21 Posted 27/07/2016 at 19:21:47
I thought the penalty incident was overblown to be honest. So many players say in interviews that the player in form or who wants to take it should do so. Kev felt on song and clearly very confident and the fault lay with the skipper who should have sorted it out there and then. The mistake Kev made was that he didn't score!
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.
Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 27/07/2016 at 21:08:56
Stan #19, spot on.

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.

Rick Tarleton
23 Posted 27/07/2016 at 21:49:39
I don't see where he fits in. Does he take the place of Deolefeu or Lennon? Are we ditching our two defensive mid-fielders to make room for an extra wide man on the left? Mirallas's role is now probably as an impact substitute.
Tom Bowers
24 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:06:08
I like Mirallas but am the first to admit he isn't the player he used to be.
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.
Ian Bennett
25 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:07:46
A consistent goal scorer and threat. Any manager who puts Lennon, McGeady, Cleverley, Niasse or Kone on ahead of him on a regular basis must be nuts. He's not a left winger for me as he's far more effective on the right working with Coleman rather than against Baines.

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.

Ernie Baywood
26 Posted 27/07/2016 at 22:10:36
The penalty incident was a symptom of a team that wasn't on the same page. It should be absolutely clear who is taking penalties and clear that you don't mess with it. The fact that all of Baines, Jags and Kev allowed that to happen shows that it wasn't 100% clear.

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.

Robin Cannon
27 Posted 28/07/2016 at 04:43:54
A disciplined and motivated Mirallas could be something special.

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.

Peter Gorman
28 Posted 28/07/2016 at 09:07:58
One of the earliest signs last season that we were in for a nightmare was away to Barnsley in the cup.

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.

Christine Foster
29 Posted 28/07/2016 at 14:02:04
I think KM actual could not please Roberto no matter what he did, I think there was a personal falling out and Kev dug his heels in, worked hard and gave RM two fingers. There was no way he was going to get decent playing time and I think he knew all he had to do was wait for Roberto to self implode which he did. In the end its clear neither party had any faith in the other. The result was a mixed bag of unhappiness and frustration. No form because no playing time or no playing time, no form?
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.
Barry Jones
30 Posted 28/07/2016 at 17:57:13
Christine, great assessment, totally agree with you. He just needs a chance.
Mark Pierpoint
31 Posted 28/07/2016 at 18:27:16
A good assessment by Matt in the original article and several other fans.

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.

Rick Tarleton
32 Posted 28/07/2016 at 18:47:16
There's one phrase in your assessment that troubles me. "worked hard"? How do you know this, where's the proof? Mirallas struck me (the penalty incident) as an ego out of control. For the one game when he looks like Ronaldo, there are the ten games when he looks like Ronald McDonald. I agree with what you say about Cleverley (N.B. the third e) and Lennon, not sure about what is said about Deolofeu.
Impact sub remains the best place for the ego that hasn't landed.
Christine Foster
33 Posted 28/07/2016 at 20:04:34
Rick, apologies for the third e like most things I tend not to sweat the small stuff, but I cleverly decided not to worry too much about such things but automatic spell check on ipads can be annoying. How do we know he worked hard? He was fit and sharp on the limited times he was used, looked dangerous and in your own estimation, made an impact as a sub.
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.
Rick Tarleton
34 Posted 28/07/2016 at 21:04:16
Sorry, a tad pedantic as ever, ex English teacher, agree about Cleverley and Lennon, Christine. Deolofeu is an annoying player and there's a sound theory that Barcelona don't let anyone go who's got it. But he does things that no-one else can do. Perhaps if Everton played a 4-4-2 Mirallas could partner Lukaku up front, but I have my doubts if either would ever lay it off or play the other through. Mirallas does have talent, but I'm not sure he has a brain that goes with his feet.
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.
Christine Foster
35 Posted 29/07/2016 at 06:26:54
I agree Martinez managed to upset a lot of players, but many of those left the club as a result or suffered from a lose of form as well. Baines is a good case in point, several players who should have been automatic starters for the Euros never made the plane, or the starting line ups. It was referred to in the media specifically as the Martinez effect or to players being "Martinezed"
Mike Gaynes
36 Posted 29/07/2016 at 07:28:58
Christine, guess we'll have to agree to disagree again. Lennon is class, the best player we had for one 7-game stretch last season, and he makes us better at both ends of the pitch.

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.

Tony Draper
37 Posted 31/07/2016 at 09:10:10
Christine, I'm certain that KM and a number of others (most likely the younger contingent) became not just disenchanted but dispirited too under RM.

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).

Paul Hay
38 Posted 31/07/2016 at 12:00:45
I tend to lean towards the positive with Kevin Mirallas. I think some of the criticisms here apply more to players who still had greater opportunities to play than Kevin.

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.

Tim Sharpe
39 Posted 05/08/2016 at 16:35:51
Mirallas can be reviewed with 2 West Ham games.

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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