And so begins the Roberto Martinez era... It seems like most Evertonians are quite encouraged by the start hes made you can count me in with those who are optimistic.

Much has been said about the new system that Martinez will bring to the Blues, but the system we used against Juventus was almost exactly the same as the one that Moyes used to better effect against West Brom in February.

As an exiled Blue in California, Im not able to see the boys play in person, and as a coach Im always interested in formations and training. So it was ironic that the first game I saw Everton play in over a decade was the West Brom game and the only other game I saw in person was Juventus. Only by being at the game in person can you really see how a team is playing so I cant argue with what anyone may say about how we played in other games.

The 3-4-2-1 formation we used in these two games worked okay, but not great. Even with the caveat of the Juventus game being pre-season, there was still plenty to take in from how the players reacted to it. The use of the wingbacks worked well enough; the back three were okay (I liked the promise of John Stones), but the midfield was poor. I know that Gibson and Fellaini are both accomplished international players, and it would be unfair to do so, but, if you judged Gibson and Fellaini on these two games, you would wonder how they ever got a contract.

Neither one looked comfortable, frequently unable to connect the movement of the ball from defence to the forwards and constantly mis-placing passes this isnt just in the Juventus game, but both of these two games. Ive seen the dynamic Fellaini on TV games before, but the defensive midfielder version of Fellaini was disappointing.

Gibson did better against West Brom in this system but was out of sync against Juve. The front three (Pienaar, Anichebe and Mirallas) did okay but the system employed against Juve did them no favors as having Mirallas isolated out wide limits the time the ball is at his feet, when he is able to drift inside more he starts to make a big difference.

Victor as a target-man looks like a good bet, but he does struggle to control and distribute the ball from that position and you wonder if he wouldnt be better off with someone running the channels with him. An interesting wrinkle that Moyes deployed was a more frequent rotation of the front three and an open invitation for the wide players to come inside and support the attack.

So whats my point? Its not the system that will dictate how good we may become. Any decent coach evaluates the players that he has and develops a system that works with the players that he has.

Compare how Real Madrid (or Valencia) passed the ball around at the back versus how Everton did the same thing. Every Everton player has to take at least two touches and invariably ends up moving the ball backwards, Madrid passed it around with easy one touch passes and looked to move the ball forward incisively. Its not the system that is the problem here; the players we have are not primarily one-touch passing players.

If you put our current squad into an intricate passing system well get burned more often than any of us would like. Sadly this technique is difficult to teach; its a skill that is more intuitive than learned. While we will become effective with practice, mastery will take some new faces.

Personally I wouldnt get too excited (just yet) about the Roberto passing extravaganza. I am a little worried about the defensive liability we showed against Juve, Madrid and Valencia as Martinez doesnt seem to be as tight on defensive set-up as Moyes certainly was. (Maybe thats why Wigan always had a huge negative goal difference?) Lets hope we have someone on the posts on defensive corners against Stoke for example.

Even if we end up selling Baines and Fellaini, we have youngsters who Martinez seems to be willing to give a chance to and well have a bit of cash to spend. There are still many reasons for optimism.

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Greg Dawson
1 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:01:38
Btw - The West Brom game was January 30th - and while Darron Gibson didn't start he came on later in the game.
Jay Harris
2 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:05:13
good to read your thoughts but at the end of the day it is the system that counts.

World class players that Real Madrid and Barcelona have can play pass the ball all day long and rarely lose it but we don't have a 500 million plus squad and the Premiership is too fast and high pressure to mess around with possession in your own half.

I am not suggesting hoofball or percentage football but simply moving the ball forward quicker and basing our style of play on players strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Jags and Gibbo's long range passing is pretty good and spreads the play but neither are suited to sitting on the ball waiting for other players to show for short passes which also invites more pressure on the ball from the opposition.

While I think Roberto can speak positively his system of playing may well undo the players confidence rather than improve it.

Timothy Sebastian
3 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:12:49
I saw all 3 games against Juve, Real and Valencia. I do worry about whether the new system will suit us. We did seem like a Wigan upgrade. Certainly better all round quality, but with the same over elaboration and no end product of the older model Wigan.

I'm also concerned with Martinez's ability to buy well. Of the 4 new signings, Kone has looked decidedly ordinary, Delofoeu's inexperience was exposed against Valencia's seasoned defenders, Alcaraz is a sick note, and only Robles has shown some promise. 1 good signing out of 4 is indeed troubling.

Maybe after Moyes gets sacked from Utd, we should re-employ him as Everton's chief scout.I think Martinez will need someone who has an eye for talent.

James Martin
4 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:41:56
The Everton of Moyes or Martinez wouldn't have won all three of those pre-season games so there's very little to be taken from the results. The team we had out for the Madrid game in particular was nothing like our suspected first 11 and was up against a very strong Madrid team.

On the contrary I think its quite encouraging that despite some bad performances by key midfield players/ bad refereeing/ and pre-season rustiness we didn't concede that many goals. It will take time for the defenders to adapt but they're nto suddenly going to forget how to defend in formation just because they're asked to pass it around a bit. Contrary to what some of the revisionists think they did this for large chunks of last season.

Under Moyes Howard would often have nothing to do but pick the ball out of the net after the one chance the opposition created went in. Howard is now being worked but then again that is the keepers role and if the team is playing better and the ball is still only ending up in the net once a game then is this a bad thing?

As ever the proof will come in the results of the premier league games.

Kevin Tully
5 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:37:48
With you all the way Greg. There was a very good interview with Sir Trevor Brooking on the radio today, concerning the future of grass roots roots football in this country, and the England set-up.

He was basically saying we are still 20 years behind the way kids in Europe are now taught the game. It was all about passing through 'the thirds' on the pitch, and being comfortable on the ball. He said the Italian national teams at all age levels, are teaching the goalies never to kick the ball out, and give away possession.

A real bugbear the last season or two for me was the amount of hoofing we resorted to at times. We really did out-hoof lower League teams in the Cups, and just gave away possession to Premier League sides, over and over and over.

Some may say OFM's teams played decent enough football, I thought it was mostly industrial, down the channels, unimaginative, percentage 1980's rubbish - but it got results, no argument from me on that point.

As long as our players are comfortable with the ball at their feet, we will be fine under any system we play. I think Jagielka may struggle the most to be honest.

Bill Gall
6 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:44:57
Glad to see someone else not to happy with our new signings, my comment at the time was none of the new players entering the club would have got into the first team last year.

Another comment is with all the knowledge the new manager was suppossed to have on other European leagues we sign players from a relagated club and still have made no move for a quality midfielder to open up opposition defences for our foreward players.

Phil Sammon
7 Posted 08/08/2013 at 21:57:08

'Of the 4 new signings, Kone has looked decidedly ordinary, Delofoeu's inexperience was exposed against Valencia's seasoned defenders, Alcaraz is a sick note, and only Robles has shown some promise. 1 good signing out of 4 is indeed troubling.'

Bloody hell, you miserable sod!

Kone and Deulofeu have hardly had a sniff. The latter is the the most promising youth prospect to come out of Barca in years. Can we give the lad a chance? Kone has been average. He's played knack all football and joined up with the squad late. He's also been fasting during daylight hours which can't have helped his game.

Alcaraz actually looked alright when he played. A free transfer, let's hope he gets fit.

It's really not that bad is it?

Peter Laing
8 Posted 08/08/2013 at 22:14:08
Interesting to read your comments Kevin @432 regarding Brooking's pearls of wisdom that the English game is 20 years behind its European counterparts - the irony seen as this 'yes-man' has been knighted for his services to football and has allegedly been involved at promoting grass roots football. London centric the lot of them, the facilities at St George's down South being the proof of the pudding. The next fella on the gravy train will be Beckham as we marvel for the next ten years at the very ordinary Jack Wilshire eat al.

We need a root and branch analysis of coaching standards in the UK and do what has been done in other sports such as Rugby and Athletics and make the decision that if the likes of Brooking aren't up to the job then bring the expertise in from overseas.

James Martin
9 Posted 08/08/2013 at 22:19:36
Kevin some of the best football of the Moyes era was last season. Some of the link up play between Baines Pienaar Coleman Mirallas, Osman and Fellaini was fantastic at times. There was a couple of bad performances but there were other times when we were far and away superior to a lot of premier league teams in our style of football (although because they werent 5-0 wins they won't get any credit on here). In a lot of the games we had more possession than the opposition so how you can say that we gave away possession over and over again is beyond me. Every team gives away the ball Kevin.

I don't understand industrial or down the channels either. to me that would suggest a long ball hoofed into the corner of the pitch that a big striker would run onto and then try and build from there. On the contrary we used to try and build from our left back and then bring the other midfielders into play. Sometimes we would go long to Fellaini's chest for variety and then play from there. The continuous hoof and chase to a big man up front that you and some others like to imagine was the modus operandi for all 11 years was just not the case last season.

Kevin Tully
10 Posted 08/08/2013 at 22:56:43
James, if he couldn't produce a team to play SOME good football after 11 years and no pressure to win anything, then he wouldn't get a job at Southport.

After 11 years, and missing about 5 of those games at home, I didn't witness the football you did - sorry. We can have different views on what constitutes good football, but he always got results when it mattered.

Ed Fitzgerald
11 Posted 08/08/2013 at 22:59:53

I cant agree with you about Jags and his distribution, its poor he does blast the odd crossfield pass a la Stubbs and just like Stubbs they mostly go flying out of play or are hit so hard and fast they take the midfielders head off.

James for around a third of last season what you say is true and I was happy to give credit for it, however and it is a big however we still displayed far too much caution in many matches and lost points as a result- the reason has to be the manager. If you think we have tried to play attractive football for even 50% of the Ginger ones tenure, you have not been watching the matches I have been.

Wayne Smyth
13 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:09:21
Before we slag off RM's ideas too much, against valencia we played a back 4(not a 3) and we also put out a weakened side.

I want to see how a passing style with retained possession works with our best 11 against teams that don't pass it about and retain possession well(i.e. most of our league competition), before making judgements.

Not too long to find out...

Phil Sammon
14 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:17:53
It's interesting, and really surprising to me, that Martinez hasn't started anything that could be construed as his strongest eleven in pre-season.

I understand that he's trying to see what players are capable of, but I thought he might have tried to find a settled side over the course of the friendlies.

John Ford
15 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:09:51
I agree with James. I'd have been delighted to have seen us playing the whole season the way we did the first three months. It was as good as anyone the league. Over a full season we may have ended up with a few more points , but who knows. We played nowhere near as well later on but we did get decent results.

I'm interested to see how Martinez manages the change, and would certainly give the bloke two seasons, irrespective of results (unless relegation was a threat). Moyes spent wisely, if infuriatingly hesitant at times but he knew the value of a sound defence and we always had at least one top centre half. I hope we don't go to a back three, we have a decent attacking threat from both sides, with aggressive full back play and good link ups to wide players, so why change it?

Brent Stephens
16 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:25:00
Phil, yes, probably hos strongest side aint started yet, and you might have expected that against one of the three opponents in the US of A. Or perhaps he's still not sure. Or giving everybody a fair chance to show what they can do (and with eg Nais, Oviedo, Stones, that might be paying dividends).

I expect Sunday against Betis will be what he sees as his strongest side, so can't wait to get to that.

James Martin
17 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:43:42
Kevin perhaps Alex Ferguson also has different views to you on what constitutes good football then. You can't expect scintillating football every week for 11 years. no one has ever said its been like that whereas some have equally ridiculously claimed that its been nothing but hoofball for 11 years. Like John said some of the stuff we saw last season was great some of it wasn't so much. Man U won a title without ever playing scintillating football. Swansea passed their way to a mid table finish. You can split hairs over what constitues good football or not but the league table doesn't lie. Whatever your views on how you think the game should be played Man u played the best football last season. We played the 6th best football in the premier league last season. Don't patronise it with subjective words like 'effective' or 'functional' it was simply better than 14 other teams in the prem including the purists lovechildren Liverpool and Swansea.
Kevin Tully
18 Posted 08/08/2013 at 23:45:51
Pete # 441 - my thoughts exactly, jobs for the boys. Why they couldn't build a centre for excellence in the North is beyond me - I bet we have produced more Internationals than the South of the country.

This is why I am so excited to see Martinez at Everton to be honest, it's the only way to partly bridge the growing gap between us, and the moneyed elite.

Dennis Stevens
19 Posted 09/08/2013 at 01:03:10
Eh? Burton's down south now?
Derek Thomas
20 Posted 09/08/2013 at 07:02:52
Kevin #456 ' he always got results when it mattered ' that is except in KO / sudden death / must win / at the business end of FA, League, Europa Cups / CL qualifiers / away to the old sky 4 / Vs teams who park the bus...have I missed any out
Raymond Fox
21 Posted 09/08/2013 at 07:39:41
James, Moyes isn't our manager anymore he chose to leave, we could have employed a Moyes clone, but the men above choose a different tack, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Moyes more defensive style of play took us as high as we could go, the only chance we have to gain some honours as a money poor club, relative to the rich perennial top 5 or 6 clubs is to try a different system and also develop our youth system more and attempt to be the best club in that regard.
Whether it will work we will have to wait and see
Unfortunately the Prem. seems to be as always, who has the most money eg Man City from also rans to champs!
As to the buys Martinez has made, last year Kone scored 11 times in the league and 2 in the cup, hes only played 48 mins I think, hit the bar, so give the guy a chance.
Alcaraz looked very decent in the game he played, Robles also looks a bargain to me, while Delofoeu will improve as he settles in, total cost a princely 7m .
A number of our regular first team players are getting towards the end of their careers,
and will need replacing soon,
lets hope we can find suitable players to fill the gaps.

James Martin
22 Posted 09/08/2013 at 09:21:56
Raymond I have never said anywhere that I would not give Martinez a chance. I actually like what he's doing to the team. I continue to defend some of the football Moyes' Everton played because it does not match some of the revisionist rubbish that is continually pedalled on here at any opportunity even on a Martinez thread. If you believed it all you would think that all we ever did was hoof it from back to front every single match every single time. Back in the real world though, we had the league's best left back, a midfield at times containing the creative talents of Arteta Pienaar Fellaini Mirallas Donovan and Osman, and our manager was handpicked by the greatest ever manager to succeed him. Amazing how that midfield flourished despite the ball always being launched over their heads wasn't it, amazing how Sir Alex watched Moyes over an extended peirod of time and just loved the hoofball so much that he entrusted his life's work to him. Amazing how our top players have gone for big money to big clubs despite only ever playing hoofball.

We've seen a handful of pre-seaosn games under Martinez. In all honesty they could have been under Moyes because not that much was notably different at times. I'm sure over the course of the season we will see a changing style but you can only say its for the better if it is reflected in the league table - which I hope it is. There's been plenty of hoofs in this preseason much as people might like to pretend there has'nt been and there was plenty of good football under Moyes (much as people like to pretend there wasn't).

Raymond Fox
23 Posted 09/08/2013 at 12:01:41
James, I think Moyes chose a safety first approach, and he saw that, as the way to combat teams that had superior individual players, nobody can argue against the results he produced doing so.
I also agree there were periods of good football mixed in there.
Dare I say though, it was time for a fresh face with a fresh plan to re -invigorate the club, Martinez seems the right man to me.

Its probably the time to take more risks, for a greater reward!

Jim Potter
24 Posted 09/08/2013 at 12:54:06
FFS - it's pre season and the knives are out already.

I've seen nothing to be pessimistic about - but lots to feel cautiously optimistic about.

Bobby has tried to give everyone (who's fit) a game and has tried different styles to see how the players handle them and adapt.

The signings have to be judged at least over one season if not longer - not on the odd couple of minutes of a pre season game.

He has purchased players he knows and trusts.

He looks truly enthused to be at our helm and seems a man full of honesty, integrity and a smile.

He has taken the time to study our history and to know what our fans want to see - and how passionate and special we are.

Part of that iniqueness as Everton fans should be that we give such a man our full backing and a fair chance.

I liked and admired Moyes. He's gone. He's nothing to me now apart from a potential preditor with a big cheque book.

Bobby is now our manager - and I'll back him till he isn't.

If we lose 0-6 to Betis (internally I'll be terrified) but ultimately it won't mean anything.

Norwich - that means something.

COY(Bobby) Blues.

Drew O'Neall
25 Posted 09/08/2013 at 19:13:56
I'm gutted we missed out on Bielsa to be honest.. I really hope Martinez is the next best thing.

Bielsa's system was a bit like what I remember being the best bits of Everton in their 80's hay day, getting the ball forward fast and long with wingers and powerful centre forward play.

Bielsa's formation would be something like this:


Jags Gibson (quarterback) Distin

Coleman Fellaini Baines


Mirallas Jelavic Pienaar

Drew O'Neall
26 Posted 09/08/2013 at 19:26:51
Given we don't have Bielsa and RM isn't going to employ the Bielsa methodology, I personally like this formation:


Coleman Jags Distin Baines

Osman Pienaar
Kone Mirallas

Having Fellaini and Gibson front and back gives a lot of phase 2 room for Pienaar and Osman to create.

Accurate long balls from Gibson would be smashed up to speed merchants out wide opening it up for Fellaini to arrive in the box for crosses with Osman and Pienaar following in.

Get out balls from the defenders would be brought down by Fellaini allowing Pienaar and Osman to create and full backs to join in.

Having two wide forwards and the fullbacks in traditional 'back' positions allows them lots of space to run in to and attack, rather than being nullified by receiving the ball too far up the pitch as they do in the wingbacks system.

Drew O'Neall
27 Posted 09/08/2013 at 19:36:17
It's cocked my spacing up.. Mirallas and Kone are supposed to be out wide with Gibson Pienaar, Osman and Fellaini in a diamond with Osman and Pienaar the traditional CM's... There's loads of width from the wingers and fullbacks and the CB's are close to Gibson for long accurate distribution.....That's what I think anyway..
David Hallwood
28 Posted 09/08/2013 at 20:54:58
Not a fan of 3 at the back, when a team's under the cosh it quickly becomes 5 at the back and a non-existent midfield, with gaps appearing all over the shop and the team gets overrun. But apart from that agree with most of the posters, that it's pre-season and even if we had beaten Real by a cricket score it counts for nothing.
Ross Edwards
29 Posted 09/08/2013 at 22:43:51
The system does count. You don't win by running round like headless chickens.
Harold Matthews
30 Posted 10/08/2013 at 02:17:32
I'll be interested to see how Jags and Distin fare against Betis. .In the Valencia game they looked static and lost because team-mates didn't make themselves available for a pass. I hope this is sorted out or sides which press high up the pitch will take us to the cleaners.
Arthur Westhead
31 Posted 10/08/2013 at 19:21:30
It's an interesting debate on Martinez 'system'. But as has already been said, it's pre season and he has been experimenting with different players in different systems. So until we see exactly how we are going to play it's daft to be critical at this stage.

I expect the Betis game to show how he wants us to play - and then we can pick over the bones! It really should be the team he wants to play at Norwich.

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