Goals from Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Steven Naismith secured Everton a comfortable 3-0 Europa League home win over Lille on Thursday night, as Roberto Martinez’s side stay undefeated at the top of Group H with two games remaining
Several Toffees players stood out over the course of the 90 minutes, but it was James McCarthy who was arguably the team’s most impressive performer, proving a tireless presence at the heart of the hosts’ midfield with both his defensive efforts and crisp passing.
It was a showing which was not lost on former club favourite Kevin Ratcliffe, who was a guest in the ITV 4 studio for the match, and was full of praise for the Irishman.
"I think he’s the go-between for Barry and Lukaku – he’s always there or thereabouts, on the edge of the 18-yard box or back defending in his own area," he said.
"He’s got terrific energy and is a great footballer as well, one that you only realise how good they are when they’re not there. He is one of those unnoticed players sometimes, but obviously his fellow professionals see it."
Martinez echoed those sentiments in his post-match interview when asked how impressed he had been by McCathy, but the Spanish boss also added that he wasn’t at all surprised at his level of performance.
"Yes and no. Yes, because obviously he played really well but, in terms of seeing James McCarthy, that’s the level that he gives week in, week out," he said.
"It was an outstanding performance but it’s the level that he gives all the time."
Fans were seemingly just as impressed by the former Wigan Athletic man’s display, with many taking to Twitter to hail is contribution to another successful European night.
James McCarthy has just concluded his warm down by reaching Carr Mill Dam. #efc— Everton Facts (@evertonfakts) November 6, 2014
If you get chance. Watch James McCarthy's tackle in the first half. Again. And again. And again. #EFC— Charlie Maines (@CharlieMaines) November 6, 2014
Couldn't have asked for more tonight. Thoroughly professional performance. McCarthy MOTM, absolutely everywhere that lad. #efc— Sean Rothwell (@sean_efc31) November 6, 2014
James McCarthy is trending. The lad is pure class. Everton play a different style now but he'd have thrived in a Moyes team, too. #EFC— Ell Bretland (@EllBretland) November 6, 2014
McCarthy was outstanding tonight, man of the match for sure #efc— Craig (@DavidCraigLewis) November 6, 2014
McCarthy MOM again. Looking like a great bit of business. #efc— Russell Jones (@caehoward) November 6, 2014
James McCarthy is just magnificent,superb player who'd fit into any starting XI in the Premier League outside of Chelsea's for my money #efc— Jack Rathborn (@jackrathborn) November 6, 2014