Kevin Campbell says the “wonderful” Bernard provides Everton with a “creative spark” – and expects the Brazilian to become a key figure at Goodison Park.
Bernard’s flair and vision were instrumental to the Blues’ irresistible display in their 2-1 victory at Leicester City a fortnight ago.
Crystal Palace are due at Goodison on Sunday and former Everton striker Campbell is excited about the prospect of his old team’s battery of attacking talent picking up where they left off in the East Midlands.
Bernard set the tone for a Toffees performance laced with thrust and intent – which left Campbell marvelling over Everton’s “cohesive football and winning mentality” – when he skilfully manufactured his side’s opening goal.
The consistent quality of the South American's contribution against Leicester was all the more impressive for the fact Bernard was making his full Premier League debut – four days after starting for the first time following his transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk in the Carabao Cup tie with Southampton.
“Bernard is a wonderful player, I watched him quite a bit in the Champions League for Shakhtar so knew about his ability,” Campbell told evertonfc.com.
“He is that creative spark and can provide an important bridge between midfield and attack. The top teams have those players who help you get out of your defensive shape and up the field when you have the ball – and are capable of picking a telling pass.
“I thought it was a very good move from Marco Silva to play Bernard against Southampton. He needed minutes on the pitch to develop his match fitness and to learn the system and more about his teammates.
“What a player he is. And I believe the best is yet to come from Bernard, I really do.”
Richarlison was the beneficiary of Bernard’s creativity when he converted his compatriot’s precise cross at Leicester – with Gylfi Sigurdsson stepping up to hit a glorious winning strike following the home team’s leveller.
The fourth member of Everton’s forward quartet, Theo Walcott, who has already directly contributed to five goals this season, turned in a performance packed with his customary pace and punch.
Walcott joined in January after 12 years with Arsenal and Campbell – who was a Gunners trainee and spent a decade at the north London club – believes the England international is a perfect fit for Everton manager Silva’s high-energy model.
“The timing of Theo’s move was perfect for everyone and he knew he was joining a big club,” said Campbell.
“He is fit and playing every week and someone with Theo’s ability will thrive on regular football. And it is key for him that he has a manager who believes in his ability.
“He is going to be a very important player for Everton and I am very positive about what the next few years might hold for him.”
More immediately, Campbell wants Everton to replicate their bold approach on the road when they host Roy Hodgson’s Palace this weekend.
Silva’s men had to employ a degree of patience on their most recent home outing against Fulham but after Sigurdsson made a second-half breakthrough ran out 3-0 winners.
“You cannot afford to be one step off the pace in the Premier League and Everton are at their best when they play with intensity,” added Campbell.
“We have seen teams come to Goodison and sit back this season.
“The management will get across to the players that we have to be on the front foot at home.
“Then you bring the crowd into it and everyone knows when Goodison is bouncing, there is no harder ground for an away team in the country.
“It is important Everton continue to adopt that aggressive mentality and aim to make their own stadium a fortress.”