5 Things Martinez Must Do To Turn Around This Season

Everton's season continues to go from bad to worse with tough games to come in the coming weeks. What can Roberto Martinez to do arrest the slide and stave off a relegation battle that was unthinkable just a month ago?
After watching Everton go down without so much as a whimper at Hull, it would be easy to assume that things can't get much worse for Roberto Martinez and his sorry squad this season.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Four defeats on the spin is bad, but with games against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all within the next two months, there's every chance that the Blues could be firmly in a relegation battle come the beginning of March, if not earlier.

That seems unthinkable after the success of the previous campaign, where a record Premier League points haul and a sustained top four challenge left me and the majority of supporters optimistic that Roberto's revolution would continue into 2015 and beyond.

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It's not the manager's fault that we've made 11 individual errors leading directly to goals this season, or that some players seem to have forgotten how to play football during their summer break.

But, although he's reliant on the players showing more fight, desire and quality in the second half of the season, Martinez can also do better himself.

Here's five things the Spaniard must do to help turn Everton's disastrous season around before it's too late.

1. Stick with a settled side

A spate of injuries hasn't helped but Martinez is yet to name an unchanged starting XI in the Premier League this season. How are we supposed to find any consistency when different players are lacing up their boots each weekend?

Last season he managed to name the same team on just seven occasions but that was when we were doing well and rotating players particularly in the wide areas made sense to keep things fresh.

I'm all for rotation when the games are coming thick and fast, or when a player is clearly out of form, but we need to have a side who play together week in, week out.

Martinez seems unsure of his best team unlike Jose Mourinho at Chelsea or Ronald Koeman at Southampton and that is a worry more than four months into the season.

2. Up the tempo and develop a Plan B

The School of Science was reopened by Martinez last season but it appears to have been shut down again after some dodgy Ofsted reviews.

Believe it or not, our passing and possession statistics are actually better than 2013-14. It's just a shame we've been far less effective in creating chances and scoring goals.

We're averaging more possession per game (55%), completing a greater percentage of our passes (85) and completing more passes every 90 minutes (434 compared to 394).

But we've been too slow in our play and too easy predict. Teams can sit back, soak up pressure and hit us on the counter attack a style of play which we'd be wise to consider employing, at least in certain fixtures.

Martinez's devotion to passing football is admirable but he is risking becoming too stubborn and inflexible. Up the pace, play on the counter, go long to Arouna Kone, start practising corners just try something different.

3. Play players in their best positions

A personal bugbear has been Martinez's use of Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith out wide, despite neither being comfortable away from the centre of the pitch.

Although they have completely different styles, both are most at home in the No 10 position behind a lone striker. In other words, there's only room for one of them in the starting XI.

Barkley showed against QPR that he is capable of playing in a more traditional, box-to-box central midfield role and, given the form of Gareth Barry, moving him back there is a viable option.

Whatever Martinez decides to do, he cannot keep shunting one or both of them to the wings. They are ineffective and leave one side of the team unbalanced, assuming Kevin Mirallas is on the opposite flank.

Play players in their best positions and you'll often find that's where they put in their best performances. It's not rocket science.

4. Sign a new goalkeeper

No need to dwell on this one too much, it's obvious to anyone who has watched Tim Howard and Joel Robles 'goalkeeping' this season.

The American has been in abysmal form, conceding an average of 1.56 goals per game and making just 1.27 saves for every strike he has allowed into the back of his net.

The calf injury he picked up against Stoke on Boxing Day might have been a blessing in disguise if our back-up stopper wasn't similarly poor in between the sticks.

Robles conceded three at Newcastle, failed to dive for Hull's opener on Thursday and then decided to drop to his knees as Nikica Jelavic lobbed him for the Tigers' second.

Get your chequebook out Bill, we need a new No 1 (and a centre-half and a winger) this month.

5. Make better use of substitutions

Rewind 12 months and Martinez was being lauded for his use of substitutions to win points. Think Steven Pienaar's winner against Hull at Goodison, Gerard Deulofeu's equaliser at the Emirates and Leon Osman's decisive cameo at Aston Villa.

However it's been a different story this season, with a number of baffling decisions doing nothing to help boost the Toffees' embarrassing points total.

Failing to make a change at Southampton, with the team 2-0 down and struggling for width, was not only frustrating, it was downright foolish.

When most of the squad is fit we'll always have at least two or three decent attacking options on the bench, yet we haven't taken advantage of this.

Martinez must make better decisions, leave his best players on the pitch and not ask his team to quickly adjust to a new formation like he did at the KC Stadium when chasing the game.