"Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York" is a phrase that in Shakespeare at least suggests that the time of unhappiness is in the past.

In more modern times, however, that same phrase has been used in very different circumstances. Most notably the winter of 1978, where under James Callaghan's Labour government the country of Britain literally stopped... That was for the worst series of strikes to take place since the General Strike of 1926.

Now, I'm not saying that things at Everton Football Club are that bad but that same phrase used to describe one of the darkest periods of British Political history has been used to brand our bleak and dismal festive period. That's not good.

Our back-to-back defeats to Southampton and Stoke were our third and fourth defeats in six, to a club on a five-game losing streak and another without a clean sheet in 12. But it's not that we lost that's so concerning to me, but the manner in which we lost each game.

The Southampton game in particular highlighted some major problems we have at the moment: no desire, no energy and no Plan B.

When things started to go sour at St Mary's and the goals started to go in, we looked dumbfounded – it's like we had no response on the pitch – or indeed off it. Going into the last 20 minutes at 2-0 down, we needed to show the "character" that Martinez describes in every post-match interview; but we didn't. We didn't try change our playing style in an attempt to get something out of the game; we didn't even send on a single solitary substitute to try and change the outcome. Instead, we just stuck to ticki-tacka football on the edge of the Saints box that got us nowhere.

It's like, when our passing football gets found out, Martinez refuses to change it; like a stubborn pensioner who refuses to get rid of his typewriter and get with modern technology. Passing football is nice to watch but, after a while, when the opposition realises how to play against it, it's pointless.

This development can be linked with the Spanish national team especially. A couple of years ago, they looked invincible, winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships with the World Cup in between. In Brazil 2014. however. they found out the hard way that football had indeed moved on and that pretty possession play didn't have the effect it once had. Spain exited in the group stages following a 5-1 defeat to Holland, who's efficient counter attacking play completely obliterated the reining World Champions.

Spanish dominance had well and truly come to an end.

Parallels can be drawn from the Spanish demise to us under the Catalan. In pretty much every game we have played this season, we have always won the possession battle, yet we have only won five Premier League games. Against Southampton, for example, we had 56% possession with four shots on target and no goals. Southampton, however – with 44% possession – mustered three attempts on target and produced three goals... thus highlighting another problem we have had all season: awful finishing in front of goal.

We encountered the exact same problems against Stoke: after dominating the game with 62% possession, we managed to lose the game again. Yes, we lost to a penalty that, let's face it, wasn't a penalty. (Huge thanks to Lee Mason, by the way... but, again, the manner in which we responded to the goal was not like us.)

Last season, we breezed past Stoke 4-0 with Gerard Deulofeu having a MotM performance. Now, although I would love to see the Spaniard return to Goodison, I don't believe he is the answer to our problems. Yes, he would inject a little more pace into the team... but I don't think that is where our problems lie.

Our problem at the moment is confidence. Our players look scared at taking the game to the opposition and are lacking courage with the ball and in front of goal. Which again draws me back to the worrying form of Romelu Lukaku, who, like the majority of the team, looks deflated. Is the price tag getting to him? Or does he and the rest of the team simply need a lift? –something I do believe bringing Deulofeu in would do.

Whether the Spaniard returns or not, however, is not important; what is important is that our players regain their confidence and start playing like they did last season. Again, however, this is something easier said than done... but will have to be addressed by Martinez and his coaching staff.

Which leads me on to something that has to be addressed.

Sacking Martinez is NOT the answer. Many people have called for Martinez's head, which is frankly ridiculous.

Let's not forget that it was Martinez who led us to our highest points tally and most ever wins in a Premier League season last campaign – that was no fluke. This is Martinez's first bad patch in charge of Everton, which was always going to come.

Others bring up the ridiculous argument that David Moyes never would have lost that game. Well, I could name numerous occasions we lost in much worse circumstances. Losing 4-1 at home to Blackburn comes to mind...

Anyway, Moyes aside, we have to credit what Martinez has done for our football club; not only has he changed our playing style but also our mentality so that, now, when we go into a game against the "big guns", we always expect to get something out of the game.

The only thing that will annoy Everton fans is the fact that he will never admit to a dreadful performance and that he and his tactics were off.

Instead, like James Callaghan once did, he will claim that nothing is wrong: "Crisis?, what crisis?" – When things are obviously not right.

One thing is certain, however: if things don't pick up, then Martinez may well receive a vote of no confidence from the fans – and indeed the Board. But let's hope not... because I, for one, don't want to go back to the dark days of playing 4-5-1 at home.

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Reader Comments (64)

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Dick Fearon
1 Posted 03/01/2015 at 23:28:33
A quote from a much earlier tome than Shakespeare is Â’Do unto othersÂ’.

With almost our entire team over the halfway line, we have been hammered by long bombs. We should for a change be more defensive minded to entice opponents entrenched defenders.

David Cornmell
2 Posted 03/01/2015 at 23:42:28
WeÂ’re a possession-based team who canÂ’t retain the ball under any decent pressure. The last four games when watched look more like one long game with shirt changes during them. We try and play the exact same way - bizarre personnel changes seem to be MartinezÂ’s tactical outer limit. And we get beaten exactly the same way.

Teams allow us possession in safe areas and camp behind the ball. Our lack of pace makes us vulnerable to out balls, particularly when our possession has drawn us out. That said, even simple balls from wide areas have caused our back five conniptions this season.

When teams want the ball back, they know to press when the back four has it and either wait for a Howard hoof or an individual error. Without changes, Martinez is fast running out of time. To be honest, his Wigan team that won the cup and went down were playing far better football than we are and went down. He knows how deep in it we are.

David Hallwood
3 Posted 04/01/2015 at 00:09:17
Good, well balanced article Cam and a respite from the relentless negativity that’s taken over TW (albeit with some justification). Like you I don’t believe in sacking managers after a sticky patch – that’s the Palace/WBA etc etc option and look where it’s got them.

Having said that, there are worrying trends which need to be addressed ASAP. How did we go from the team with the best defensive record in the calendar year 2013, to the shambles that weÂ’re witnessing? I read somewhere that this season Howard has conceded a goal for every 1.7 shots, which a Sunday league keeper would be dropped for. But it isnÂ’t just him, because as you pointed out the opposition isnÂ’t creating chance after chance but every time a team puts pressure on the defence it caves in.

But good players donÂ’t go bad overnight and some of the comments about Lukaku, Coleman et al have been downright silly. Nevertheless they need to show some professional pride, dig in and start winning games by hook or by crook; it needs to be more "Once more unto the breach, dear friends" than "I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares more is none."

We need winners and fighters in our hour of need.

John Daley
4 Posted 04/01/2015 at 00:17:50
"..not only has he changed our play style but also our mentality so that now when we go into a game against the "big guns" we always expect to get something out of the game". — Even if you accept that was ever true in the first place, you can’t claim such a mentality shift has stuck.

Right now, I’m struggling to see us putting anyone to the sword, no matter what their size. David and Goliath or David and Gordon the fucking Gopher — it doesn’t make a difference at the moment.

I went into both the Newcastle and Hull games half-expecting horror shows and thatÂ’s exactly what was served up. The players certainly donÂ’t look like they believe they can hold onto a lead or overcome a deficit irrespective of the quality of opposition.

IÂ’m hoping an against-all-odds victory against Man City will magically turn things around but thereÂ’s not a shred of expectancy about it.

Daniel Joseph
5 Posted 04/01/2015 at 00:39:11
Every pundit on Soccer Saturday said the same today - weÂ’ve been found out.

Too much passing through the back 3 - 4. Forwards are not going to score if they donÂ’t see the ball. Le Tiss said we have too much quality, to go down, but when pressed and reminded who the 5 wins have come against this season, he looked to be questioning himself.

I donÂ’t think we will, but by the same token I donÂ’t think Mr Martinez is the answer.

The other answer I donÂ’t have is, who is?

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 04/01/2015 at 00:51:46
Cam; IÂ’ll give you another quote from 1978...Â’Crisis, what CrisisÂ’ - Jim Callaghan.

Also, as Harold Wilson said...Â’A week is a long time in PoliticsÂ’.

Things will either stay the same, get better or get worse... ( I wonÂ’t be betting on option 2 )

Harold Matthews
8 Posted 04/01/2015 at 02:07:33
"Eyes that look with partial vision will not see the hole till theyÂ’re in it." (Mr Magoo.)
Duncan McDine
9 Posted 04/01/2015 at 08:40:12
"wax on, wax off" (mr miyagi). very apt.

I have a theory on why we are struggling. Some of the players arenÂ’t getting their 8 hours sleep (as suggested by Bedtime Bobby) and are trying to catch up with the odd power nap during match-time.

James Joseph
10 Posted 04/01/2015 at 09:40:00
"not only has he changed our playing style but also our mentality so that, now, when we go into a game against the "big guns", we always expect to get something out of the game. "

DonÂ’t know if you were at the Etihad a few weeks ago, Cam, but that day I witnessed as timid a performance as any I had the misfortune to see when Moyes was in charge. It reminded me of the times we went to Old Trafford when United were in their prime, only this was against a City team devoid of Silva and Kompany and who were visibly shaken by the loss of Aguero in just the 2nd minute. It wasnÂ’t until Barkley came on that we showed any attacking intent despite being a goal behind.

Now it might be the players who were to blame and not Martinez, but letÂ’s not forget that our only win on a ground where Moyes failed to win was at Old Trafford at a time when they were losing to the likes of West Brom. At the moment, of course, winning on one of those grounds is but a distant dream when weÂ’d all settle for a stuffy 1-0 win over anyone. In our current condition, playing West Ham in the cup is probably better than having to face an uppity lower division team with nothing to lose.

Peter Carpenter
11 Posted 04/01/2015 at 11:47:05
"Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war!"

More advice from Shakespeare.

Peter Carpenter
15 Posted 04/01/2015 at 11:59:10
"But, for my own part, it was Greek to me."

Gareth Barry on his defending v Hull.

Peter Carpenter
17 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:04:27
"For you and I are past our dancing days"

Distin to Howard.

Brian Denton
18 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:10:03
" A coward dies a thousand times...."
Michael Penley
19 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:00:15
"And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse."
Derek Thomas
20 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:04:36
Â’Fuck this for a game of SoldiersÂ’ possibly attributed to Coleman, Distin, McCarthy, Besic, Oviedo, Barkley, Mirallas... but not, sadly, Barry, Gibson, Howard, Robles, to name a few. Last but not least Martinez, and his bitch Kenwright, the devil and all his works... that covers it.
Cindy Cole
21 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:35:55
"You can do anything but lay off of my brown brogue shoes"...Martinez
Brent Stephens
22 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:42:09
"I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member" – Karl (or was it Groucho) Marx.
Phil Walling
23 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:39:13
"I haven’t got a fucking clue what to do next!" – Roberto Martinez, 2015.
Derek Thomas
24 Posted 04/01/2015 at 12:55:26
Bill Kenwright... Â’neither have IÂ’.

The entire Everton Squad... *shruggs* Â’Not a clue here either...Â’

Shaun Laycock
25 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:14:29
Cam, good post which is choc full of stats (I love a good stat). I have been wondering what the percentage of shots on target have led to goals for opposing teams vs our percentage conversion rate. Saints was 100% to our 0%. Is this a trend? How does this reflect on our GKs and our forwards?
Peter Carpenter
26 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:23:13
Oh, come on... Groucho Marx? Stick to Shakespeare, please.
Brent Stephens
29 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:34:17
Peter - it was Karl, wasnÂ’t it? He who also said "history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce" - Wigan was the tragedy...
Colin Glassar
30 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:33:54
Is Tuesday St CrispinÂ’s? If it is Roberto should quote from Henry V, "Into the breech one more time lads........".
Peter Carpenter
33 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:43:44
"Things won are done; joyÂ’s soul lies in the doing."

I hope not.

Peter Carpenter
34 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:45:07
Â’Follow your spirit, and upon this charge Cry Â’God for Bobby, Everton, and Saint Bill.Â’

A chant for Tuesday?

John Daley
36 Posted 04/01/2015 at 13:45:30
"I guarantee you itÂ’s gonna be the biggest goddamn comeback any of yÂ’all have ever seen. ThereÂ’s going to be people cheering and screaming and spotlights and fireworks. I wouldnÂ’t even doubt if thereÂ’s a couple of chicks showing their fucking pussies off. How do you say pussy in Spanish??Panocha? I wouldnÂ’t doubt if some of the Â’muchachasÂ’ show their Â’panochasÂ’ off. They might show their panochas off. They might be waving their panochas all over the place.

"What I donÂ’t want to happen, is to be looking around when everybodyÂ’s fucking screaming and cheering and celebrating me, and see all my teammates pouting and being jealous little bitches, dude. Okay?

"Remember, there is no Â’IÂ’ in team, but there is a Â’UÂ’ in cunt, so donÂ’t be little jealous cuntÂ’s, okay? Let me get the praise and just be satisfied with the fact that you will get.... the runoff panocha".

Sylvain Distin... rallying the troops in readiness for the West Ham game...

(...or Kenny Powers in Eastbound and Down).

Paul Washington
38 Posted 04/01/2015 at 15:02:35
They came at us in the same old way... and we beat them in the same old way.

Wellington after Waterloo... or every manager whose played us recently .

Peter Carpenter
39 Posted 04/01/2015 at 15:13:48
’Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing’ – aside from all this fooling, maybe there’s some truth in some of it. Maybe RM is such an incurable football romantic that the joy really does lie in the ’doing’, the style rather than the result.

Of course, he doesnÂ’t want to play pretty football and lose but he believes the style will eventually bring results. Hence, we donÂ’t score from corners, not very pretty all that grappling in the penalty area. We donÂ’t defend well, again not pretty that. Over-simplistic maybe but thereÂ’s something missing right now. The pass-pass-pass is lacking the pass-move-pass-move factor.

Casting my mind back to the Liverpool side of the 70s, they passed and passed but they also moved. Wide players hugged the touchline and the likes of McDermott (average player) made simple passes and moved into space. How many times have we watched a ball played to Naismith, in that gap between midfield and defence, who then plays it back out again to the same player who gave it to him, in the same place on the field?

Back to the sideways passing from the back four. No movement. It’s not progressive, keep a tight line and we will play the ball away from goal for you. Roberto – Pick mobile players... PASS and MOVE! Get crosses into the box. It’s not that complicated.

Peter Carpenter
40 Posted 04/01/2015 at 15:28:53
I am now done with Shakespeare - my quotes website has crashed.
Peter Carpenter
41 Posted 04/01/2015 at 16:18:19
Like that one - Wellington after Waterloo by Washington.
Phil Walling
42 Posted 04/01/2015 at 18:24:08
"We are not about to sacrifice our principles for the sake of a few results. Some fans would be happy if we just threw the ball in to get a result!"

Which goalkeeping legend said that? HeÂ’ s bought into the philosophy, anyway!

Joe Clitherow
43 Posted 04/01/2015 at 18:39:57
My guess would be Mike Walker Phil....
Chris Leyland
44 Posted 04/01/2015 at 19:11:47
"We are shite. Sack the clown" - Chris Leyland January 2015
Mike Hughes
45 Posted 04/01/2015 at 19:18:01
"They laughed when I told them I wanted to be a comedian. Well, theyÂ’re not laughing now."

The late, great Bob Monkhouse.

James Stewart
46 Posted 04/01/2015 at 19:30:56
This piece is all over the place. You correctly identify the problem then state that sacking Martinez is not the answer. Martinez plays one way and he couldn't be any clearer on that.

How many times do people calling for him to adopt some sort of pragmatism/Plan B approach need to hear it? He WILL NOT change the current style of play and has stated this time and time again. The system is one that is about 3 years behind the times as you rightly point out Spain and Barcelona's recent failings with it.

So my point would be this... If Spain and Barcelona can't succeed with that system anymore, then what flipping hope have the likes of Alcaraz and Distin with it!? Martinez is King Canute, desperately trying to cling to an ideology that is no longer even at the races.

John Keating
47 Posted 04/01/2015 at 20:32:49
Cam, – "first bad patch"... 20 games and no sign of improvement! Are you joking???

Martinez has changed our mentality for sure. This season we are terrified of everyone!!

Regarding 4-5-1 at home... well, I'd take that if we can get a point out of it cos, sure as anything, whatever formation Martinez is playing is getting us no points!!

Right now, we badly need points on the board and unless this clown and his players change – and quickly – we are in trouble.

Declan Brown
48 Posted 04/01/2015 at 21:46:14
The Toon Army one was the best I've heard in ages, I recommend it for Tuesday night at the final whistle if we lose; they sung:

"WE'RE SHITE, AND WE'RE SICK OF IT, WE'RE SHITE AND WE'RE SICK OF IT."

How would you like that Roberto and Bill?

Dave Lynch
49 Posted 04/01/2015 at 21:51:00
"On paper we should beat them but footballs not played on paper, it's played on grass."

Bill Shankley (sometime in the 70s)

Ben Dyke
50 Posted 04/01/2015 at 22:30:03
I admire those who have the guts to say stick with Martinez and I understand that changing manager can backfire. I know under Moyes we had that dreadful season and it paid off backing him.

The problem I have is that during the recent defeats there wasn't even a semblance of a game plan or cohesion, or team spirit or individual qualities. It has just been absolutely dreadful!

Last season, we would get in front and then keeping possession to see out games looked wonderful! Now it looks ineffective, indirect, and painfully slow. Lukaku is turning into a white albatross round Martinez's neck too and the players look scared. Not at all happy!

Jay Harris
51 Posted 04/01/2015 at 22:45:59
I have just a few words:

Players bought
Fitness
Preparation
Motivation
Team spirit
Team selection
Tactics

Bye Roberto

Douglas McClenaghan
52 Posted 04/01/2015 at 23:18:16
"Let slip the dogs of war."
Nick Page
53 Posted 04/01/2015 at 23:27:45
Real Sociedad 1-0 Barcelona

27% possession

.......!

Bob Parrington
54 Posted 05/01/2015 at 05:28:29
"Never make long term decisions based on short term situations".

This is a good business rule.

But, what is a short term situation when it comes to 38 games and needing about 40 points to survive? and when you have only 21 points out of 20 games?

RM's philosophy might be - even if we go down for a season or two, we can rebuild and come back fighting. I THINK NONE OF US WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. Not with the income lost by dropping out of EPL!

Something has to change and PDQ!

When does the transfer window open?

Cindy Cole
55 Posted 05/01/2015 at 13:36:59
"Roberto, if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs, and blaming it on you."

Ray Roche
56 Posted 05/01/2015 at 14:00:19
"There was a young girl in a punt"

what? WHAT?

Mike Corcoran
57 Posted 05/01/2015 at 15:27:10
6 stages of Robertos demise

Shock
When you first realise Roberto has pulled the wool your first reaction is shock. You don't want to believe it. You don't know how to react. You become confused and disoriented.

Denial
The second stage of grief is denial. During this stage, you try to pretend that the problem doesn't exist. You say to yourself, "This is really not happening to Everton," or you close your eyes and say, "This is all a mistake. When I open my eyes, Everton will be back in 6th-ish and defending like lions."

Anger
Once you begin to accept the truth of the situation, you go from denial to anger. During this stage, you experience feelings of hostility over the lack of control you have. You may find yourself taking your anger out on Roberto, even though deep down you know he has no control of the situation, or the skill or ability to change.

Bargaining
Even if you never believed in Roberto, you may find yourself trying to bargain with him via forums and the like. You might start praying and telling yourself that you will be a better person if Roberto undoes the problem.

Grieving
You may find yourself going into a deep depression during this fifth stage of the demise. You might discover you experience extreme mood shifts. This stage can last over an extended period of time. Don't be afraid to seek out help from a professional grief counselor or therapist. It's also important to understand that every club reacts differently. Don't try to compare Everton to Wigan who have been through a similar situation, even if we do have a lot of their staff.

Acceptance
Once you have reached this final stage, you will be able to do what is necessary to live in the present and look to the future. For people who have accepted Roberto is clueless, this is the stage in which they can tie up lose ends before he gets Everton relegated.

Ray Said
58 Posted 05/01/2015 at 15:51:37
"The problem with incompetence is its inability to recognize itself." — Orrin Woodward.

Richard Knights
59 Posted 05/01/2015 at 17:26:28
Phil Neville? Tim Cahill?
Mike Childs
60 Posted 05/01/2015 at 18:29:17
Touché Mike C. #57. God help me because I've reached stage 6.
Adam Luszniak
61 Posted 05/01/2015 at 21:01:03
Both sides of the argument have made me laugh here. Some fantastic quotes!
Harold Matthews
62 Posted 06/01/2015 at 04:12:07
Mike Co #57. Yes, I guess I'm trying to deny that I supported Martinez, Lukaku and the system with so much fervour. I even argued endlessly on the virtues of Robles, Barry and McGeady. Woe is me. Yet another lost soul up the creek without a paddle and not too happy about it.
Paul Tran
64 Posted 06/01/2015 at 16:41:17
Now now, Mike, I used the Kubler-Ross curve on here last season and was called pretentious by Mr Kenrick.

Just as applicable now, though!


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