Roberto Martinez’s mantras have become muddled and it’s time for a change at Everton

By Matt Jones 27/04/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

Should Roberto Martinez be slipped his P45 and be ushered out of the Goodison Park exit door, as is anticipated in the coming weeks, there will be a lot of rejoicing within the Everton supporters.

As the sun sets on a season of occasional promise, opportunities relinquished and many painful moments endured, that's understandable. The statistics intertwined with this term are a damning indictment of this regime and with the crutch of a potential cup triumph kicked away so brutally in Saturday's last-gasp loss to Manchester United, a taste for change is festering in fans.

This writer will greet Martinez's departure with mixed emotions, though. Not because a new figurehead isn't needed to push the football club forward – it is – nor because the 42-year-old is an amicable and engaging person, but because having been one of many swept up in the man's utopian vision, it's now inevitable it won't come to fruition.

Going to the game had become stale under David Moyes, which was natural after 11 years in charge. And the enthusiasm, positivity and, most significantly, ambition Martinez professed was a welcome shot to the arm of supporters who had been accustomed to settling for their lot.

Going toe-to-toe in a derby with Liverpool, rocking up at Old Trafford and the Emirates Stadium with a swagger; they were shows of backbone supporters had been craving for years. Martinez embraced the club's silver-laden past and made no secrets of his willingness to add to it.

"Not many football clubs have done that [win the title nine times], and not many players here would have realised that." he said in 2014 in an interview with the Daily Mail's Matt Lawton, in which it was revealed the Catalan had left a blank canvas at the top of a staircase adorned with the club's former glories to motivate the current crop. "I hope it inspires everyone here to want to win it again."

The vision was clear: build a young team, grow as a football club and push on to win things. It was a galvanising plan and one which was easy to be enchanted by, as there was a steadfast belief in the process.

Yet three years on, while it's a blueprint in which the outlines have faded significantly, Martinez himself, despite being accused of being stubborn and unmoving when it comes to his principles, has lost track of that initial, uplifting outlook.

Perhaps it's a product of poor results, but now the bigger picture is something to be embraced, according to the former Wigan boss.  Any soaring ambitions have been clipped, with points towards a long-term vision. 

"I just want to believe that with the work I have done for the last three years there are signs there that we are getting close to challenge for silverware and where Everton should be," said Martinez after the semi-final loss.

Of course, Everton aren't going to be rid of their inferiority complex and transformed into serial winners overnight, but the climb to the summit seemed clear and attainable in the beginning when Martinez strode into Goodison donning his brown shoes. Now it looks a treacherous and unconquerable route.

That's been reflected in performances the last two terms. In 2013-14 there was a daring streak to Everton's football and a total certitude in the methods being implemented. Plans for matches were concise, diverse and tailored. This term has been the antithesis of that.

Systems have been tweaked peculiarly, personnel shuffled aimlessly and standards in-game have fluctuated wildly. Consistency has become foreign to Martinez, with the manager showing all the hallmarks of a coach with a cluttered mind. The second half of Everton's surrender against Arsenal at Goodison Park and the 4-0 capitulation in the Anfield derby were tangible manifestations of these woes.

So while the supporters and the players look to have almost unanimously lost faith in the notion that the Martinez method will be a long-term and prosperous one, the belief the man himself had in it seems to have waned too.

Those few who still watch the manager's weekly press conference will attest to the fact that, for the majority of his tenure he's spoken with an unmoving faith in methods and opinions, often to the point where he's accused of plain delusion. Lately that staunch self-trust has trickled away.

Speaking in between and either side of the losses to Liverpool and Manchester United, Martinez emitted the aura of a man who has lost his way. His comments in the post-match press conference of the semi-final, when he took a thinly veiled shot at his predecessor David Moyes for "10 years of mediocrity", seemed born out of desperation.

There are other flaws to his management style which have also contributed to this desperate campaign for the Toffees, including an unwillingness to make tough decisions, address longstanding flaws and instil vital foundations before any flourishes. 

It's a flyaway style of coaching which can work on any given day, but the basis for it needs to be conviction in the model. Sadly for Martinez, it seems any trace of belief in this vision from the players and fans is long gone. When the same can be said for the manager himself, a new outlook is surely inevitable.

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