Garry Monk has made a highly promising start to his fledgling managerial career, but pitting his wits against his old mentor this afternoon represents the toughest test yet for Swansea City's new head coach.
Monk has known Roberto Martinez as a team-mate and manager, and it was the Spaniard – manager of today's FA Cup fifth-round opponents Everton – who made him Swansea captain when Martinez returned to take charge at the Liberty Stadium in 2007.
Now they come face to face in opposing dugouts, but according to Lee Trundle, Monk's old Swansea team-mate and now ambassador for the South Wales club, the 34-year-old managerial novice is more than ready for the test.
Trundle remains close to Monk and praises the impact made by him since taking the reins – temporarily for now – from the sacked Michael Laudrup. "I know it has only been the two games but you can tell a difference in them," Trundle, who will travel to Goodison with the Swansea squad, told The Independent on Sunday. "I am not disrespecting Michael Laudrup – we won the [Capital One] Cup with Michael and finished ninth in the League – but over the past couple of months, results had not gone our way and we had looked flat as a team.
"Garry has come in and has freshened that right up. You can see the lads have got that bit of belief back and are hungry going into games again."
A rousing derby win over Cardiff City and a creditable draw at Stoke City represent a bright start for Monk, who prepared his players for the South Wales derby by making them watch a documentary of Swansea's rise. After a decade at the club, Monk is the perfect person to reconnect the squad with the Swansea way, but his methods go beyond inspirational videos.
There is a greater urgency to Swansea's play and, befitting a central defender, better attention to set-pieces, while off the pitch Monk immediately spoke individually with a number of players, including Chico Flores, the Spanish defender with whom he had a much-publicised training-ground row before Laudrup's dismissal. Flores responded by scoring the equalising goal at Stoke.
According to Trundle, Monk is a "thinker" about the game – a point underlined by the fact that away from the Liberty Stadium he has been developing with his brother an online player-analysis tool, Soccer Profile, designed for youth and grass-roots footballers.
Speaking to The Independent on Sunday before Christmas, he explained that he had already taken it up to show Martinez at Everton and try it out on the Merseyside club's academy players.
It is also an indication of the friendship Monk retains with Martinez. As team-mates they helped Swansea climb out of League Two; then as captain and manager they reached the Championship.
"They were close friends while they were at Swansea," said Trundle. "I would imagine they speak to each other now. As a young manager you would be stupid not to take bits from [Martinez]. Garry took some bits from Brendan Rodgers as well but he is his own man. He has stepped in and started changing things straight away."
Monk is likely to remain in temporary charge until the season's end, and Trundle's hope is that he will follow in Martinez's footsteps as Swansea manager. "It all goes on results, but I would love to see him there as the manager for real," he said. "With Swansea City we love to keep one of our own in as the manager because he knows the club, he cares about the club and if he was manager, you wouldn't be worried about him looking to get away in a year or two."
If that was a concern about Laudrup, Monk would be relied on to keep faith in Swansea.
Everton v Swansea City is on ITV1 today, kick-off 1.30pmReuse content