When Roberto Martinez was announced as the new Everton boss around this time last year, we all knew that stylistically Everton would never be the same. What we did not know and I presume many of us did not expect, was how quickly Everton would assimilate to the orders of the new boss.
Many, and I include myself in this, thought this season would be a bedding in period, that differences between Martinez's tactics and those deployed by David Moyes was day and night, and that without a reshaping of the team, Everton would not be able to match their recent exploits.
As it turned out, the 72 points the Martinez managed Everton achieved this season was far greater than Moyes's highest total of 65 set in 2008. In only a one season Martinez has raised the bar far beyond Moyes was ever able to do and he did it with largely the same squad.
Central to Everton's improvement was Martinez's superior man management tactical skills. He was able to coax Everton into playing possession based football by simply having faith in them. It sounds simple but Moyes would deter his side from being expansive and without the tactical nous of Jose Mourinho or Diego Simeone, this would leave with an inferiority complex.
Tactically, Martinez would make sure he was one step ahead of the opposition by constantly rejigging starting line up. On many occasions you could not tell if Romelu Lukaku was playing up front or on the wings, or if Kevin Mirallas or Steven Naismith were playing as false nine's. Furthermore, with Ross Barkley charging around like a mad man in a free role and the likes of Baines (or Oviedo), Coleman and even centre back John Stones stepping into the middle, teams were left flummoxed by the energy of Everton.
Add in Martinez's ability to switch from the favoured 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 at the drop of a hat, as well as the positive manner Martinez always talked up Everton's performances to the media, it gave Everton hope and a sense of belief they could challenge with the big boys.
Compare that with the dour and predictable way Moyes relied on a crossing tactic and had men stuck behind the ball, only changing it for a full on aerial bombardment to Fellaini, Jelavic and Anichebe (who all incidentally left Everton under Martinez), then it is clear to see why there was an improvement from a team happy with a top 10 finish, to a team desperate to finish in the top 4.
In an season of so many positives, the only downside is that so much of Everton's success came from loanees. The likes of Lukaku and Deulofeu will not be back at Goodison Park, whilst Gareth Barry's wage is problematic for Everton. Securing Champions League football may have seen all three return on permanent deals, though I will not bet against Martinez unearthing the next European superstar, or resurrecting a career seemingly on the drop.
Grade: A -