A replay against West Ham is the last thing I wanted with a manager who loves to keep changing the team!
The Bowie song Changes should replace Z Cars, such is the manager's belief that he can keep changing the team for each game, without bad affect.

This and not fielding a balanced team is the source of nearly all our problems. Most of our problems could easily be resolved by fielding our strongest balanced team and sticking with it, injuries aside.

I’ve been going the game for 45 years and all of Everton’s best times were when the manager played a settled team and no one will persuade me otherwise. Keeping an unchanged team is my first fundamental rule of football.

All the criticisms of the team at the moment, loss of form to key players, defensive mistakes, poor marking, slow passing are all the symptoms of a team being constantly changed.

For the first half of last season Martinez had more or less won me over. I liked the Barry and McCarthy signings and from the Chelsea game onwards we just got better and better. Lukaku looked the business and the only irritation was the occasional resting of Barkley for Osman which caused the unnecessary and irritating Boxing Day defeat at home to Sunderland. But overall the football played in the first half of last season was a breath of fresh air and because few changes were ever made to the team the passing was getting faster and crisper and the team as a unit looked solid. By the time we beat Fulham 4-1 I was thinking there was no limit to what the team could do.

After the Sunderland defeat I never thought we were the same again. I was hoping we could get a pacey tricky goal scorer in the January window to help push us on further but we didn’t and I was starting to think Lukaku was a one trick pony – ball at his feet facing goal he was dangerous – controlling and holding up the ball with his back to goal he was ponderous at best.

Injuries kicked in and we had a bad Derby defeat, not managed well in my book, a very scary game, and then as the injuries cleared our manger started his rotation system with Mirallas and Barkley continually rested for Osman, McGeady and Duelofeau causing all these players to be inconsistent as they weren’t getting regular games. But the momentum that was built in the first half of the season was enough to keep us going and to gain 5th place although I was left thinking that had our manager stuck with Barkley (after returning from injury) and Mirallas we could have gained a top 4 finish. The team that played so well to beat Arsenal 3-0 should have been left alone from then on and should have been the team that played Palace at home. But it wasn’t and the manager should have learnt from this mistake!

At the start of this season the picture was a bit worrying. I didn’t like the look of the first few fixtures, we had too many players coming back from the world cup and I had a bad vibe about the Europa distraction. I would have loved to have played Manu at home instead of Chelsea who were on fire. But you hope your manager will be on it. After the Chelsea game I knew the manager had to settle things down.

We easily beat West Brom and had a good win against Wolfsburg. Great I thought now we just need to keep the same team and keep things going. I was astonished when walking to the Crystal Palace game to hear Martinez had made changes to the team and can honestly say I thought we wouldn’t win the game. I haven’t checked but I wouldn’t be surprised if Martinez has picked a different team for each game ever since.

Jags, Distin, Barry and others have come in for some unmerciful stick this season but their games have suffered due to the constant changing around. Poor Jags is constantly having to start a new partnership with either Distin, Stones or Alcaraz(no pace not for me) while trying to implement the managers passing from the back game, and also getting rushed back after injury. The Hull game was a great example of how our manager couldn’t resist making changes when bringing Stones back too early which completely messed up the defence. This caused a very disjointed performance with the suspicion that McCarthy was also brought back too early and of course both Jags and Howard got injured, and Stones aggravated his. Sticking with Distin (for the time being at least) who had started to settle down would have been much more sensible.

As I said earlier Martinez rested Barkley last season for the Sunderland home game after scoring that great goal away to Swansea. We got beat by Sunderland and two weeks later Barkley was injured.

So why doesn’t Martinez see the sense in playing someone while he is on form until he gets injured? This season he rested Mirallas for the Palace game, we got beat and then Mirallas got injured in The Derby so clearly resting a player when fit doesn’t work.

What baffles me further is that Mr Rotation then plays Barry when not fit away to Sunderland, McCarthy who was having hamstring problems away to Wolfsburg (totally unnecessarily) and as I said earlier brings stones back into the team for too quickly.

I think the constant changing of the team is problem number one followed by unbalanced team selections, Martinez needs to be sensible or brave enough to play either Barkley or Naismith just behind the striker and leave the other on the bench and stop playing one of them wide.

And his tactics have to be questioned. They are too obvious and rigid, there needs to be more variation in the passing game. The fullbacks are too often too far up the field, great when the going is good but when it isn’t this is a liability leaving the central defensive pair far too exposed. Baines needs to strike up his partnership with Pienaar again or with Oviedo. Coleman needs to strike up a partnership with either Mirallas or McGeady.

I also think Barry is asked to do far too much and his constant running to our penalty area to start a move with an opponent right by him is a recipe for trouble. He is still a good player if left to play to his strengths. The only other worry for me is Lukaku. He will always score a few but for 28m his all round game is not good enough. I also think his work rate is not good enough and that goes for the other flair players too.

There has been some good performances this season but with the constant changing of the team and Europa League away legs no momentum has been built up and if the changes keep coming we are in danger of going into meltdown.

It’s so frustrating that our problems can be cured fairly easily (with a bit of good luck with injuries). Question is why doesn’t our manager know: Is our manager thick or does he just have a blind spot/spots? Is there no one at the club who can point this flaw out to him? And I hope he doesn’t think he can start messing about with new formations. And with the transfer window still open and the Europa resuming soon it’s very worrying times, the management needs to wake up.

We need a settled team in the League until the end of the season and until we are safe in the league a second string team in the Europa League away games would be preferred purely on the grounds of the travelling hangover.

We all know roughly what our best balanced team would be. Mine would be close to the one that played for most of the first half of last season when we were winning!

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Reader Comments (13)

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David Ellis
1 Posted 08/01/2015 at 02:00:49
This is a tricky one. Your proposition is that a settled team will outperform the same squad that uses regular squad rotation. I am not sure there is clear evidence either way and maybe it depends on the quality of the squad.

The top teams - City, Chelsea etc rotate like crazy and it seems to work for them. Our squad this year looks very strong (with a few well documented weaknesses in the winger dept and the suitablity of our centre backs for the current system)so I would have thought rotation was the best way to go to minimise the injuries and fatigue that I believe would typically pull apart the "settled team" strategy in any event.

Maybe some academic has done a study to compare the success of the two approaches? It's not a theory that can be easily proved through personal anecdote.

Paul Ferry
2 Posted 08/01/2015 at 02:17:09
David (1) — Man City and Chelsea do not ’rotate like crazy’.

As of today, Chelsea have used 23 players this season and Man City have used 26. Van GaalÂ’s boys top this chart with 37 and bottom are Southampton with 18.

We, by the way, have used 24 players so far and this puts us in the middle belt: eight teams have used more players. So, unfortunately, your assumption is a tad off-kilter and we have not been radically out-of-pace when it comes to rotation.

Also, totting up injuries, we are currently the second unluckiest club which I think adds some force to your point: i.e. injuries are behind a fair bit of our Â’rotationÂ’.

But in more than one way and quite frankly a good chunk of what the OP calls Â’changes, changes, and more changesÂ’ have been forced and necessary. The OP looks a little less emphatic and a little less on-the-ball given our relative record of Â’changesÂ’ up to now.

Martinez (we) are neither remarkable rotators or remarkably solid when it comes to selection. IÂ’ve heard many people on these boards baying about he keeps changing this and he keeps changing that and he is never this or never that but the actual numbers are not necessarily on the side of this rant and rave.

For what itÂ’s worth, I prefer less rotation than more and a steady ship but, in this crock season of all crock seasons, that has simply not been possible.

Derek Thomas
3 Posted 08/01/2015 at 02:58:44
One of the keys to last season was Barry. He came to us 3 games in fresh and had had the benefit of ( I presume ) a decent pre-season with City.

This season we know what happened, or in our case didn't happen...maybe not all of the story, but some of it.

(sorry in advance ) back around 1986 it came out that a Mr K Daglish, while doing the full preseason sweat work, did not do any hard training in the actual season, just loosened up with whoever was coming back from Injury in between games...and It was shock-horror all around.

Then Bobby Charlton came out with ( it didn't get all that much publicity but I saw it ) Well actually, he might be on to something. If I'd done and been allowed to do what he did I could've played on for 2,3,4, more years. Instead all I was doing was chasing 18 year olds round the training pitch...which is were I left all my fitness.

Phil Walling
4 Posted 08/01/2015 at 11:24:49
Paul, I sort of admire your ongoing faith in Martinez. As we all know, this is a game of opinions and ToffeeWeb is a great vehicle on which to air and reinforce them.

But is that faith based on a belief that he really is the expert manager he appeared to be last season and which our club needs and deserves ? Or is it because you see change, in itself, to be a bad thing ?

Either way will you support him all the way down to the Championship ?

Jimmy Kelly
5 Posted 08/01/2015 at 12:16:52
Paul, I think that's a little simplistic to be honest.

We may have only used 24 players but it's been like the hokey cokey with players being in the side, then out, then in again. Barkley's played in the hole, out wide, in the middle and been on the bench over the past month. On every occasion there have been other options which would allow him to stay in one place.

Against West Ham in the league we had no Baines so went for Hibbert at left back with Garbutt on the bench, against Newcastle we opted for Garbutt with Oviedo on the bench, a week later in the cup game it's Oviedo with Garbutt on the bench. There appears to be very little reason for the changes as far as I can see.

Yes injuries have played a part but they always do, for every team.

Ged Dwyer
6 Posted 08/01/2015 at 14:41:30
’The Hull game was a great example of how our manager couldn't resist making changes when bringing Stones back too early’
Apologies for this error it should have read ’Stoke game’
Colin Williams
7 Posted 08/01/2015 at 13:26:20
The players! know when the gaffa is out of his depth! And our manager" is treading water" very quickly and gasping for AIR!!

Much of his" weird" decision making this season concerning all things Everton have been shocking! Not bothering to work on many defending sessions! IÂ’ve never heard that from any pro manager before.

The players must have been visually shocked to hear that! The players do pick up on this type of behavior from the management team and "I believe" our players "HAVE" picked up on this.

When certain players donÂ’t believe in the manager and his philosophy, it can festa to all areaÂ’s of squad! ( players talk) then you have major problems!!

All our players would have been "drilled "throughout
the years" into defending in all areaÂ’s of the pitch. When going through the youth system or being part of the first team squad. So when a manager doesnÂ’t believe in many basic defending principles, "players" would talk about it and question it!.." because, itÂ’s been fundamental in their football development throughout their academy years"

Team defending/ individual defending can win you!
football games! also Trophies! "NOW" that would be nice!!

All management teams in all areaÂ’s of club would have worked on a club defending coaching syllabus! ItÂ’s essential to work on these principles to deliver team success!! ( just look At Chelsea/ City......

We have so many talented players within this squad! These problems shouldnÂ’t happen!

Also, IMO... itÂ’s nothing to do with injuries!! (Weak excuse) we have the squad to deal with that. It comes down to partly the managers "defensive" Philosophy! A belief that defending is very little to do with team success? WIERD!!

Jim Lloyd
8 Posted 08/01/2015 at 15:15:11
I think its unfair criticism of Martinez that's going on here. Changes have been made this season partially, if not mainly, due to the horrendous injury list we've had I understand that Martinez likes to use the whole squad on occasions but I think it has been more to due with what has been forced on us so far.

As for our defence. Well, we have two Centre halfs who are not particularly good at marking their men in the box. Their heading, if they get to a ball, usually goes straight to the opposition and has done for years. How on earth people can throw the defensive frailties onto the manager, when the two centre halfs have been playing together for years.? The only real change in defence in the past 4-5 years has been the introduction of Seamus for Tony Hibbert.

I think our defence has been dodgy for years and as soon as we get the young lads in, the better. We've had horrible defencive under Moyes. Arseal 6-2 and 7-1 displays against Liverpool, which were embarrassing as was the Cup Final. Benfica, Dynamo Bucharest and plenty more. And Moyes was much more defensively minded than Martinez.

This season has been particularly hard for us with long term injuries to McCarthy, Pienaar, Barkeley, Miralles, Oviedo and Baines and Stones.

Without the major attacking routes and the major midfield defensive cover of McCarthy (especially him,) Barkeley, Pienaar and Miralles, we see Barry, Jagielka and Distin vulnerable. Martinez likes to play a more expansive game but I do think he needs to adapt his tactics to suit us when we've been battered by injuries.

But his record last season, when we had much less of an injury problem than we have has so far, was excellent. When he gets his injured players back, then lets have a look at what happens.

My own view of how we play is that we need to mix and match to take on whoever we're playing. I'd like to see us get right in the other teams faces, right from the start, learn to use the through ball more for Lukaku to run on to but it's the word Aggression that should be on every player's lips and get stuck into the opposition.

I'm not sureif it was Howard Kendal or not but the saying "you've got to earn the right to play football by winning the battle" is very apt.

I was lucky to see great players like Young Vernon, Collins Gabriel, Parker, Ring and Tony Kay (unfortunately, all to briefly( and the football, well I think they were "The School of Science"

However, if the other side wanted to mix it, then Gabriel, Parker, Brian Harris Labby and especially our Captain Bobby Collins, would be right in their face.

That's another thing I'd like to see. A captain who would not act like a school prefect but more like a proper snarler.

Jerome Shields
9 Posted 08/01/2015 at 18:42:07
I just think that Martinez tactics , have been found out, and he can't revert to defence tactics to steady the ship. The players have lost confidence as a result.
Danny Broderick
10 Posted 08/01/2015 at 20:42:07
Football has changed. Rotation is part of the modern game. The players today run faster and further than ever before. The fitness of the players has to be managed. There are positions where this isn't always true - centre halves, for example. But generally speaking, midfielders and attackers do so much running at speed that you have to manage their game time, so that they are at their peak when they play.

I think, generally speaking, our better players will always play. If they are fit, we know that Howard, Coleman, Baines and Jags will play at the back. In front of them, it will generally be Barry and McCarthy, although Besic is pushing hard for a place. We also know that Lukaku will generally play up front.

That means a place is up for grabs at centre half. When fit, I'm hoping Stones will nail down this place. The other places up for grabs are the creative 3 players playing behind Lukaku.

To be honest, none of these players (apart from Naismith) has stood out for me this year. Mirallas has been good in patches, but he has also been injured. Pienaar, Osman, Barkley, McGeady, Etoo etc have been far too inconsistent. The manager has been chopping and changing mainly these players, and I can't blame him for that, because none of them have done enough to nail down a place.

Clive Rogers
11 Posted 08/01/2015 at 21:06:18
Danny #10

Naismith has got 1 league goal since August and none since the beginning of October. A dreadful return for our 2nd striker behind Lukaku. His performances in the last few home games have been dreadful.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 08/01/2015 at 21:19:50
I don’t rate him.

I don’t want him!

Ged Dwyer
13 Posted 09/01/2015 at 08:44:16
Hi Danny

Football has changed. Rotation is part of the modern game

It is a bit of a myth this. The wise managers do not use rotation. Mourinho picks the same team each week if he can. Ferguson always kept the same team for the League and Champions League and only rested players for the two cups he wasn't bothered about. It's the naive managers who fall for the rotation nonsense.

And you can't tell me that the modern players run any further than Reid and Bracewell did, when the game was much more physical. But if our manager believes in the rotation system it beggars belief that he played Barry and McCarthy when not fit. McCarthy has paid a high price by not being rested properly when he first got injured.

The wise manager knows that the longer the team remains unchanged the more the team knits together, the more the understanding grows and the more partnerships develop across the team like the Baines - Pienaar one, Injuries or changes destroys all this.

The secret of Southampton's great start was that they played the same team each week. Football is a simple game but the problem with some managers is they like to complicate things.

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