Leighton Baines says Everton’s approach in Sunday’s friendly against Austria Vienna was an early indication of how they are looking to evolve their playing style under Roberto Martinez.
The Blues slipped to a narrow 2-1 defeat in their pre-season opener but a more patient, possession-based method of play was clearly evident in the new manager’s first game in charge.
Baines and his Toffees teammates spent their week-long stay in Austria putting in the hard yards to build their base levels of fitness.
But the defender says their time on the continent has also allowed the players to grasp the new tactical system desired by Spaniard Martinez.
“It’s a work in progress at the moment,” Baines told evertontv. “There’s a change in style of play and the way that we’re going to play this year.
“The week was all about the work load we could get in. We’ve been doing three sessions a day, everyone played 45 minutes today [Sunday] and it was just about capping off the week’s work and getting ready for games.
“We’ve got to start to adapt now to the way the manager wants us to play so that’s what today [Sunday] was about.
“We were a little bit behind with Vienna being ready to start their season. We’re just starting our pre-season so there’s a little difference in that. I thought it was a good workout in the end and something good to start off on.”
Next on the pre-season agenda is a visit to the Store First Stadium to play League Two Accrington Stanley on Wednesday – another chance for Everton to ramp up their preparations, both tactically and physically.
A second trip to Lancashire – this time to Blackburn Rovers – is scheduled on Saturday 27 July before the Blues embark on their three-game tour of America at the end of the month.
Baines continued: “Wednesday is another opportunity for us to work on our shape and our style of play. They’re never easy games these pre-season games.
“Hopefully we can start to improve game-by-game and there are some tough games out in the States which everyone is excited about as well. The more game time we get the better we’ll get.”
Baines played every minute of the Club’s 38 Premier League fixtures last season – the second time he had completed the feat.
Now in his seventh pre-season as an Everton player, the left-back attributes the hard work at this stage of the year as a key reason behind his past ever-present achievements.
“I always enjoy training and pre-season – I’m a bit sick like that,” he added. “I enjoy the hard work and running around and the sun is normally out so pre-season is always a good time.
“You do it for yourself because you want to reap the rewards when the season starts. It’s about being in the best possible shape you can and being ready to go.”