Jun 292014

IT was the first day of a new Premier League season and you just knew.

You knew there was something different about Seamus Coleman.

There was an air of confidence in him that perhaps had not been there before and there was a freedom in his game.

In that opening match of the campaign in the 2-2 with Norwich, Coleman was outstanding.

The defender scored and set up Ross Barkley’s equaliser in a performance that got the heart pumping.

But it did not end there.

It wasn’t just a spike that would soon see a dip, it was a sign of things to come.

From that game on, the only way for both Coleman and Everton FC was up.

It’s been a season of growth for Irishman and a breakthrough campaign that leaves the mouths salivating ahead of the new term.

It has not always been that way for Coleman, though.

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Everton FC’s 2013/14 season in pictures

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There have been struggles along the way. Stagnating form and defensive slip ups will tell you that but without struggle there is no progress.

And in recent years the Blues have had struggles of their own – particularly when it comes to keeping on to their top assets.

Some of the brightest talents have swept in to Goodison Park and left for the so called bigger clubs leaving behind an air of disappointment as they exited.

Not anymore though.

Times have changed from when the star quality would see better projects on the horizon from the so called bigger clubs when offers from sides like Arsenal or Manchester City would come calling.

Just think, it was only two years ago Mikel Arteta left for the Gunners and five when Joleon Lescott left for City.

But when the same sides show an interest now the Blues can stave of those challenges.

No better example comes from the recent contract extension of Coleman.

He follows in the footsteps of boss Roberto Martinez, who signed a five-year contract earlier this month, while Tim Howard, Leighton Baines and Sylvain Distin have all agreed extended deals.

At 25, though, and a new five-year deal signed, Everton will have a player in Coleman who, although is still in the developmental stage of his career, can only get better.

There was interest from Arsenal but there was no intent from the player to leave.

This is a club on the up under Martinez.

Having finished seventh and sixth in David Moyes’ final two season, the Catalan was able to continue the upward curve while also doing the double over his predecessor.

Finishing in fifth with the clubs record Premier League points tally, European football beckons next season and there are exciting times ahead.

Coleman is a player who’s own development has correlated with Everton’s sharp rise.

It’s a sign of how far you have come when you’re the subject of a conversation on an American chat show.

And not just any chat show either.

On the David Lettermen show recently, Coleman was the topic of discussion with A-List actor Paul Rudd.

The Hollywood actor had been on a trip to Coleman’s home town of Killybegs and was the victim of a practical joke with the Blues defender’s Dad.

That says it all really and it is a good point of reference for Coleman’s success of late.

It has been some season for the Irishman.

In fact what a journey it has been.

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Everton FC’s 2014/15 Premier League fixtures in pictures

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From a player who appeared to be stagnating at the Blues, to a member of the PFA Team of the Year in a little over 18 months.

It’s one of the extraordinary tales of the Premier League season and, unsurprisingly few argued against him being named as Everton’s standout player this year.

Coleman swept the board at the club’s end of season awards.

From that very first weekend of the season against the Canaries, Coleman has excelled.

A constant menace on the right flank, his runs from deep worried opposition defences consistently throughout the campaign, with Roberto Martinez’s liberating style of play allowing him to drive in to the final third time and time again.

Coleman’s attacking prowess was reflected in his goal tally, scoring eight goals in all competitions for the Toffees.

There is still room for improvement, though.

His delivery still lags behind that of his left-sided colleague Leighton Baines, his all around forward play has, though, seen marked improvement.

Coleman seems an altogether calmer presence at in defence as well.

It is easy to forget he was responsible for giving away two penalties earlier in the season.

And was fortunate not to have made it three, for rash challenges against Manchester City and Aston Villa.

But the recklessness and naiveté to which he was occasionally prone appear now to have all but vanished from his game.

Indeed, this is perhaps Coleman’s greatest development over the course of the last 18 months; the addition of a solid defensive component to his always threatening attacking game.

Still only 25, the right back will be hoping to improve again next season, but in truth there are few aspects of his game that stand out as areas for improvement.

So long as Coleman maintains the hunger, desire and professionalism that has powered him throughout the last ten months there will be few complaints from the Goodison faithful.

In the meantime, the journey continues but it’s only right he be recognised for a phenomenal year in royal blue with this new contract.

A contract that now sees him rake him more a week than his initial £60,000 transfer fee from Sligo Rovers five years ago.

If that doesn’t demonstrate the defenders rise than nothing else will.

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