One man was at the forefront of everything good for the Toffees on Sunday and he scored the winner in the 2-1 victory – and that man’s name was Ross Barkley. How great is it seeing such a young, hungry and talented footballer blossoming in our team? What it makes it even better is that he is Everton too; an Evertonian and a lad who has been at the Club since he was just a boy, and Barkley is now well and truly establishing himself as one of the brightest young talents of the English game.
He has been refreshing to see; the signs were there when he scored that great strike at Norwich. Since then he has got better and better. Some criticised his failure to ‘do too much’ and not pass the ball when he had the chance, but it appears he is already learning from some of those small mistakes and turning them in his favour. It is still very early days in terms of his senior career at Goodison Park but this player could go on to be a top, top talent and his performance against Swansea was the latest in an impressive season so far.
His 84th minute goal pretty much sums him up. He took the ball off Lukaku, another young, talented footballer, who probably had more of a right to take the set piece because of the side it was on, and hit a simply superb, unstoppable free kick past the sprawling Swansea ‘keeper and into the net. He then proceeded to slide in front of our excellent travelling support, kissing the badge in the process. That goal represents all Barkley stands for; he will try new, different things, a free kick, fancy flick, nutmeg, effective dribble – he just does everything he can to unlock the opposition. He glides past players, literally strides away from them leaving them chasing shadows or attempting to bring him down. His ability with both feet is incredible for such a young lad, and the confidence he has shown under Martinez has been amazing. He is now physically built well enough to handle the rigours of the Premier League too and he is still growing and developing which can only benefit him further. He isn’t shy of a shot and after years of willing our midfielders to shoot it is a joy to see someone is more than happy to have a pop at the first sight of goal. Barkley possesses a bit of pace too, which adds to his dribbling ability, he can cut through defences and break away at speed, and he reads the game well, linking up with his team mates and always being available to take possession. Ross’ first touch is clever, and his quick feet allow him to sidestep an opponent at the blink of an eye – overall his qualities are outstanding.
All of the talk in the press has been about Barkley going to Brazil with England next year and I’d be very surprised if he didn’t, but as Bobby has said recently, Ross needs to focus on continuing his form for Everton and I just hope that’s where he sees his future. Obviously the media hype up any English prospect and the typical links with United/Chelsea will be a constant but ideally we will continue to watch Barkley grow at Everton FC and become one of our greatest ever players. All too often we have seen young prospects leave Goodison Park for a healthy fee as our financial plight and the modern day habit of selling our better players rears it’s ugly head once more. But in this instance, Everton must keep hold of this player – there is no reason why he can’t go on to achieve things here, in Martinez he has a manager who has faith in him and under his guidance he can only get better and better. Barkley obviously loves the Club but unfortunately money talks these days and I already feel sick just contemplating losing him, and I suppose I can only hope that Everton would dig their heels in if any of the big-spenders came calling and fend off any advances for Ross.
In my opinion, if Barkley does stay at Everton the early signs are that he could go on to be as influential, and as good as, Steven Gerrard of Liverpool. Yes I hate the miserable f*cker but nobody can deny he is a quality footballer, and in Barkley we could have our own home grown star who can be at the forefront of this exciting new era at our Club. Barkley’s fearless attitude and wealth of attributes have certainly got Evertonians buzzing and he can inspire Everton to go on to achieve things – I have every faith in him and our brilliant manager. Sunday was the latest example of Barkley showing us what he can do and I am excited to see what else he can offer during the next six months of the season and beyond. We’ve had some fantastic footballers at Everton over the years but for a lad like me who is just seven years older than the subject of this piece, I firmly believe in Ross Barkley we have someone who can go on to be head and shoulders above any of our modern-day talents and prove to be one of Everton’s best. No pressure then Ross lad, you just stay here and you’ll be loved.
Up the Toffees