More than a few cursory glances greeted the news that Everton had spent the princely sum of £13 million on James McCarthy. Questions surrounded the transfer policy as Roberto Martinez added another player to the ranks with ties to his recently relegated former club.
Doubts may exist over the other one-time Wigan purchases, but McCarthy has quickly dispelled any of the question marks accompanying him to Merseyside. Eased into the first team picture by a manager who knows his abilities inside out, the midfielder has grown in both stature and influence since his debut against Chelsea.
Introduced for the final 24 minutes to shore up the midfield, McCarthy won each of his two tackles against Jose Mourinho’s men. Featuring for 45 minutes against West Ham, and one of the key reasons for victory along with Romelu Lukaku, McCarthy won 3/3 tackles – only Gareth Barry (4/4) and Leighton Baines (5/5), who both played the full 90 minutes, posted better figures.
Handed his first start against Newcastle, the midfield man built on his aforementioned cameos. Only Seamus Coleman (7/7) won more tackles (4/4), while McCarthy also demonstrated his distribution quality.
Midfield partner Gareth Barry attempted more passes (76) and had more touches (81), though McCarthy was a close second on passes (58) and touches (75), while the completion of 51/58 passes gave the new signing an economical 88% accuracy.
Nonetheless, whilst steady if unspectacular prior to this weekend, the deadline day arrival reserved his best for Saturday against Manchester City. A key component in a strong first half performance, McCarthy shone brightest after the interval when his teammates crumbled around him.
Overrun, as City players seemingly invaded the visiting final third at will, there was one man doing his upmost to stop the home cavalry. Nobody attempted more tackles, with McCarthy winning 4/5, and this typified his all-action showing. Only Sylvain Distin (48) attempted more passes (46) – McCarthy completed 41 of his 46 for 87% accuracy.
Although already preoccupied with quelling City attacks, and often accused of playing it safe in possession, McCarthy still managed to address such concerns on Saturday. Twenty-five of his 48 passes were in the opposing half – no Everton player attempted more passes in City territory – and the midfielder tied with Leighton Baines (9) for most passes into the final third.
Delivering a passing accuracy above the team average in each of the three playing thirds, McCarthy also created the most chances of anybody in royal blue (2). Two successful interceptions – only Phil Jagielka (4) returned more – and 62 touches rounded off a defiant, industrious display.
In spite of his meagre playing time, with just 249 minutes under his belt this season, the newcomer is already beginning to top categories. Attempting a tackle every 17.79 minutes and winning a tackle every 19.15 minutes, McCarthy is the most frequent, most accurate tackler in the squad.
Winning 13/14 tackles (93%) sees McCarthy above his teammates (85%). Furthermore, 19/29 ground 50-50s (66%) is also above the team average of 54%, and 120/141 passes (85%) ensures the midfielder outperforms the slick team average of 84%.
McCarthy also excels in a category not considered his forte. Six chances created at a rate of one every 41.5 minutes positions McCarthy atop the creativity charts. Although Kevin Mirallas + Ross Barkley (8), Seamus Coleman (10) and Leighton Baines (11) have fashioned more chances, none of the above can improve upon the 41.5 minutes per chance ratio.
Impressing across numerous areas, McCarthy is quickly settling into this progressive Everton side. Accomplished in possession, strong in the tackle, boasting seemingly never-ending stamina, it is easy to see why Martinez fought to make McCarthy his marquee signing in the summer window.