What The Papers Say - 22 August
Our Belgian pair dominate the day's Blues-related paper talk.
The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
HE COULD have been in Portugal preparing for life at a Champions League club, or at the Emirates stadium helping Arsene Wenger's side crack the same prestigious competition - but instead Kevin Mirallas chose a route less glamorous because it just felt right.
The 24-year-old attacker admitted he had offers to join Porto and Arsenal, but in the end it was Everton FC's renowned reputation as a family club which convinced him to head to Merseyside.
Mirallas accepts he has gone against the grain of modern football logic by opting against playing in Europe's lucrative top-tier club competition, but the smile on his face just 24 hours after watching his new club beat Manchester United suggests he is not in the slightest bit concerned what people may think.
"It wasn't just Arsenal that were after me," says the Belgian international who completed a £5.3m move to Goodison on Sunday.
"There were other clubs as well. Discussions were fairly well down the line with them. Porto were interested and so were one or two other English clubs. But after speaking to my agent, we knew we had made the right choice coming to Everton.
"I was aware that Everton had been following my progress for some time. I am very much a family person, so when I make a decision, I do it with my partner and my parents as well.
"Having spoken with David Moyes and Marouane Fellaini, we realised that this is a family club. To progress as an individual and to flourish in that family environment was something that attracted me.
We discussed the move in great detail as a family and I am convinced, definitely, that we have made the right choice."
European football may not be on the immediate horizon for the former Olympiakos and St Etienne forward, but he senses that could change for the 2013/14 season.
In the meantime he is simply thrilled at the prospect of stepping up to the Premier League after spells in France and Greece.
"I just felt from a sporting point of view that it was the right time to come and play in the Premier League," he explains. "This is a good enough step for me at this stage of my career. This is a fantastic competition, possibly the best league in the world, missing out on Europe is not such an important thing when you consider the quality of football I will be playing.
"It is a good challenge for me at the moment. We all share the belief that we will qualify for Europe this season."
The Liege-born player is the practical sort too - accepting that part of his thinking in signing for the Blues was based on his desire to play more games.
"I was convinced that what was important for me at this stage of my career, embarking on a new league, is to get plenty of time on the field," he says.
"I had a possibility of playing more games and longer periods with Everton. From the word go I was really impressed by the extent to which the manager wanted me here.
"Firstly he has been here for a good number of years and has a solid base so there is stability at the club."
An indication of the quality of player Everton have signed can be found in his 28 caps for a Belgian national team which is considered a growing force in world football; containing players such as Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Steven Defour and of course Fellaini.
Mirallas admits it's hard to explain why Marc Wilmots' side is suddenly so blessed in talent - but believes his move to England is another step forward for its future fluency.
"I don't know what it is. We just have an excellent crop of players around," he says. "We are all a similar age and we are all seemingly choosing to come and play in the Premier League.
"It is good that we are all here, we are playing together or against each other, so that will be a positive thing for the national team.
"I didn't speak specifically with Eden Hazard about coming to the Premier League but I have always had this dream to play here and I am delighted I have had the chance to make the dream come true.
"It is a coincidence - a happy coincidence - that so many of my compatriots are playing here at the same time."
As for his own impact on a league he is eager to play in, the multi-talented attacker would rather let his feet do the talking. Beginning, he hopes, on Saturday at Villa Park.
"I don't like to make comparisons, as I have got my own style," he says.
"Hold on until Saturday and you will see what my style is."
MAROUANE FELLAINI has been dubbed Everton's new ‘Big Dunc'.
And that is by the man who was on the receiving end the last time the Goodison legend terrorised Manchester United.
Tim Howard was in goal for United seven years ago when Duncan Ferguson produced an unplayable display and bagged the winner.
On Monday, 6ft 4in Belgian Fellaini served up a replica performance which United could not handle, capped by his 57th-minute headed winner.
The American keeper insisted: "It was the best here against them since Duncan.
"It was dominant - classy in a lot of ways but some of it was determination and real grit too.
"Duncan had the same make-up in terms of being able to dominate someone for 90 minutes. I was happy to be on the right end of it this time.
"United just couldn't cope with him.
"There's a certain point at which you say it's impossible to defend against him because he's so tall, and takes up such good positions you either have to come through the back of him and concede a foul, or stop him controlling it with his chest, which is hard.
"He was so fantastic for us on Monday and it allowed us to get up the park and play it up to him."
Howard was breaking Liverpool No 1 Pepe Reina's record of 183 successive Premier League games for a single club as Everton wrecked Robin Van Persie's debut and got their own campaign off to a real flier.
And he admitted the way Everton had bagged two late goals at Old Trafford in April to grab a 4-4 draw had inspired the Blues to glory this time.
Howard added: "The way we played in attack there did give us confidence - plus the fact it was the first game of the season and there was so much excitement."
Sir Alex Ferguson was trying to explain Manchester United's frustrating start to the season when Marouane Fellaini's name cropped up in his post-game debrief.
'He is a handful,' Ferguson remarked. 'He is a big, tall, gangly lad. Everton just lumped the ball forward to him. That's all they did. They worked from that base all the time and they got their goal, so it was justified.'
The clearest sign of how effective an opposition player has been against United is that Ferguson makes barbed comments, and the fact that he referred to Fellaini on Monday in less than sophisticated terms provided final confirmation: Everton's powerhouse had got under his skin.
Bursting with muscular aggression and brimming with talent, Fellaini's development into one of the Barclays Premier League's most influential midfielders mirrors the rise of his nation's footballing prowess.
Belgians are popping up all over this country and the English top flight is all the richer for their presence.
From Vincent Kompany, who led Manchester City with such distinction on their march to the title last season, to Arsenal club captain Thomas Vermaelen and Chelsea's £32million man Eden Hazard, the secret that Belgium have produced an outstanding generation of footballers is well and truly out. 'I don't know what it is,' said Everton's Kevin Mirallas, the latest Belgian to arrive on these shores.
'We just have an excellent crop of players. We are all a similar age and we are all choosing to come and play in the Premier League.
'It is good that we are all here. We are playing together or against each other, so that will be a positive thing for the national team.
Romelu Lukaku, on loan to West Bromwich Albion from Chelsea, scored his team's third goal against Liverpool on Saturday
Chelsea's new signing Eden Hazard had a hand in both his team's goals at Wigan on Sunday.
'It is a coincidence - a happy coincidence - that so many of us are playing here at the same time.'
Belgium once had a fine tradition - they were runners-up in the 1980 European Championship and reached the 1986 World Cup semi-final, when they were beaten by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina - but performances since have not been quite so impressive.
Their last appearance at the European Championship was in 2000, when they were co-hosts with Holland, and they have not been to a World Cup since exiting in the second round in 2002, which led to the Belgium Football Association taking action.
A project was started that meant national team coaches could not run sides if they did not have coaching degrees, and the total football influence of their neighbours Holland means Belgium's national sides all play a 4-3-3 system.
Thomas Vermaelen was named Arsenal's new captain following the departure of Robin van Persie
Scouts, unsurprisingly, are now making Belgium one of their first ports of call and already they are monitoring Dennis Praet, an 18-year-old striker from Anderlecht, and Genk's 16-year-old forward Siebe Schrijvers.
It is no accident, then, that Belgian talent is crossing the Channel. With the standard of academies in Belgium leaving something to be desired, many of the players who have broken through now left the country to aid their development.
Hazard flourished in France at Lille's academy, as did Mirallas; Vermaelen and Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen developed in Holland at Ajax.
A wider audience may have been alerted to Fellaini's talents after he bullied United into submission on Monday but Everton regulars will tell you he has been performing to such levels for the past year, most notably when dominating a spectacular game at Old Trafford which ended 4-4 in April.
His statistics from last season merely add weight to how much of an influence he has been. No Everton player covered more distance than the 209.63 kilometres Fellaini pounded between August and May.
No Everton player completed more passes (821) or made more tackles (87).
Coming hot on the heels of Hazard's illuminating display against Wigan at the DW Stadium, the old cliched dinner party question about 'name a famous Belgian' has quickly been replaced by 'how many Belgians playing in the Premier League can you name?'
Simon Mignolet, Sunderland's goalkeeper, kept a clean sheet at the Emirates on Saturday; Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, scored on his West Bromwich Albion debut against Liverpool and now the focus will be on Mirallas to see if he can uphold the form.
Like his compatriots, he has arrived with a fine pedigree - he was the top scorer in Greece last season with Olympiakos and Player of the Year - and Mirallas, 24, turned down Champions League football to link up with Fellaini again.
'It wasn't just Arsenal who were after me,' said Mirallas. 'There were other clubs too. Discussions were fairly well down the line with them.
Porto were interested and so were one or two other English clubs. 'But, after speaking to my agent, we knew we had made the right choice.
'I was aware that Everton had been following my progress. I'm very much a family person, so when I make a decision, I do it with my partner and my parents as well.
'After I spoke with David Moyes and Marouane, we realised this is a family club. To progress as an individual and to flourish in that family environment was something that attracted me. I am convinced, definitely, we have made the right choice.'