Everywhere across the team, there is urgency. Yannick Bolasie sets the tone early on by shoving Ben Gibson off the pitch and then shrugging as if he doesn’t know what he’s done when the referee approaches. He is magnificent, particularly in the first half. He links up nicely with Lukaku in the eighth minute, playing the ball back to Seamus Coleman and then running on so that when the right-back chips the ball up to the Belgian, he’s accelerating ahead of him for the knock down. Everton might even have taken the lead after quarter of an hour when he smartly turns Daniel Ayala inside out, but then overhits what might have been a wonderful through-ball to Lukaku. Bolasie was considered a bit of a gamble, given his varying performances at Crystal Palace, but if he keeps playing like this he’ll be adored.
It’s Lukaku again who runs backwards to play a smart pass into Seamus Coleman for his outstanding goal and then the Belgian just about gets a toe on Bolasie’s cross to put the game beyond Boro. He’s been rejuvenated under Koeman. And there’s never any sense that Everton are going to relinquish their lead in the second half. They may not be quite as expressive and cavalier as they were in the past, but Everton’s supporters are more than happy to see games shut down and points claimed.
Bournemouth are up next for the Toffees and, given that they’re conceding at the rate of nearly two a game since they arrived in the Premier League, you do fear for them. It’s too early to say that Everton are challengers, and all concerned would do well to remember how well Martinez did in his first season, but all the signs are encouraging.
Last week, Gareth Barry, imperious here, compared Koeman to a strict headmaster taking over a failing school. It’s a good comparison. Every player is playing as if they’re terrified of being singled out at the front of the class, as Ross Barkley when he was hauled off against Sunderland. But Barkley was far better here, far more disciplined on the ball. We await Everton’s end of term report with interest.