Everton have hit the ground running this season thanks largely to the smooth transition of their summer signings, Steve Rounds, the assistant manager, said yesterday on a pain-free deadline day at Goodison Park.
After two Premier League victories, including a win against Manchester United, followed by the midweek League Cup thrashing of Leyton Orient, Everton are defying their tag of slow starters. They travel to West Bromwich today knowing a win would constitute their best start to a season since 1993, but more importantly after a relatively quiet deadline day, unlike last year's late loss of Mikel Arteta to Arsenal, Everton have the platform to challenge for the upper end of the Premier League.
Round believes that has been made possible because new recruits such as Steven Naismith and Steven Pienaar haven't needed any time bedding themselves in at the club – the latter back in familiar surroundings following previous successful spells – while also pointing out that manager David Moyes hasn't lost what he describes as a "star name", even though Tim Cahill moved to the New York Red Bulls in July.
Naismith was overshadowed by the arrival of Kevin Mirallas against Orient, as the Belgian scored twice and assisted for two on his debut following a £5.3m move from Olympiakos. But Round thinks 25-year-old Naismith, signed on a free transfer from Rangers, could be one of the best bits of pre-season business.
"A player of that standard who has slotted so quickly into the Everton way, I think it was tremendous business," Round said. "He knits things together, he's intelligent with his runs and movement. Technically, he looks a top player.
"Above all, his character, personality and work ethic made him fit in straight away with the things that happen here. Very early on we realised he would settle in quickly. In the dressing room the lads took to him. He's a good conscientious professional who does his work and fits in without any problems."
Round was taking the weekly press conference because Moyes had travelled to London for a work permit hearing with FC Copenhagen's Bryan Oviedo ahead of a move. Everton paid £1.2m, rather than the reported £5m, for the left-back. Fears on Merseyside that the Costa Rica international is to replace Leighton Baines are unfounded after the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, curbed his interest a fortnight ago.
Keeping the likes of Baines and Marouane Fellaini, as well as the signings, have been crucial in building from a promising end to last season. Round added: "The two signings we made early on settled everyone down. You could sense that in the dressing room, they could see the club was showing some ambition."Reuse content