It has been a difficult season to defend Roberto Martinez, there is no doubt about that. I felt compelled to write something in his defense though as I believe our mid season form rather than being the end point of the Martinez experiment, the ultimate Wiganification of Everton if you like, was rather a very large bump in the road with numerous contributing factors behind it. An avoidable bump, one that Martinez should have reacted better to, but a temporary state of affairs, not a horrible state of existence that we will find ourselves in until Martinez is relieved of his duties.

To make this point, I will look at the requirements of most Everton fans when Martinez took over, how we operated last season, and what has gone wrong (and is now perhaps slowly getting better) this season, and finally reasons to be hopeful and stay with Roberto.

As soon as it was confirmed Moyes was off to Man Utd, thoughts (undoubtedly influenced by the context of the exit of our former manager) turned to what fans would like to see changed under our next manager. Strangely, league position and trophies didn't feature in much of the conversation; the main talking points were: mentality in away games at big sides, better derby performances, a better style of football, adoption of different ways of playing, younger players being given more of a chance, and crucially no self-imposed limitation on league position due to spending (the so-called "glass ceiling" phenomenon).

It seemed in Roberto's first season that he had fulfilled quite a few of these requirements. Our record Premier League points total, good performances home and away against Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea, a new style of football, and the use of alternative formations and counterattacking tactics. All of this was based on a team that had a spine containing Stones, McCarthy, Barkley and Lukaku, two of which Moyes had not played as much as he should have.

Last season's achievements have been retrospectively derided by pundits and critics as Martinez just adding a little extra to the foundations Moyes had built – the logical conclusion being a bit of both of them was better than either of them in their totality. I have never believed these types of arguments; teams adapt very quickly to new managers: Chelsea with Mourinho, and Palace with Pulis being two examples from last season of immediate increased form. Besides that, though, when you actually analyse the football we played last season, the argument doesn't really stack up either.

Martinez bases his team around the back seven. In a match, he is loathe to rotate any member of the back five or his two holding midfielders. The principle is quite simple. The ball retention of the back seven will ensure a good defense; you can then use your variety in the attacking options of the front four to win the game. Martinez is not interested in creativity from central midfield. His midfield purchases at both clubs for these positions indicate this: McArthur, Watson, McCarthy, Barry, Besic – not one ball player between them. Osman Gibson and Barkley, probably our three most creative deep lying centre midielders, have not been given much of a run there at all.

Last season, he had this model working perfectly. Countless games we'd get to half time or 60 minutes 0-0. We'd then win the game from the bench with Osman, Pienaar, Deulofeu or Naismith coming on to make the telling blow. Aston Villa away was a perfect example of this. Barkley bludgeoned away at Villa without reward for 60 mins. Osman came on and the variety of attacking play undid Villa and we won a tough away game 2-0. In our best form (the 7 wins a row), some of the football was seemingly dire but our ability to keep a clean sheet (Sunderland away, for example) meant that any breakthrough at the other end resulted in a win. Was this Moyes's defensive solidity showing through? No; last season would have been even better if the usual culprits of Distin and Howard hadn't messed Martinez's formula up. Wins turned to draws and draws to losses when individual errors allowed goals to be conceded. It was no surprise that our 7-game winning streak arrived with Stones in the team.

So that is the Martinez machine, often mindless ball retention to ensure defensive solidity, then attacks from wide areas with a variety of options to win the game. So what has gone wrong this season?

Injuries and loss of form in the back 7. Had Stones and McCarthy stayed fit all season we'd still be challenging for Europa positions no question. Sadly they both got injured at the same period for a long stretch of time. Step forward Distin Howard and Barry. They all dropped their form at a similar moment and suddenly our defensive prowess from last season was gone. McCarthy who had shielded Barry was now gone and teams were running through the middle of us onto a defense that was positionally all over the show with the Jags Distin partnership ahead of an increasingly wobbly Howard. Leicester, Arsenal, and Palace at home, all games thrown away by individual errors and shoddy defending.

We now come to the attack. Whereas last season Martinez could start an attacking three of Mirallas, Barkley and Pienaar behind Lukaku (all fit and in form) with Osman Naismith Deulofeu and McGeady waiting on the bench, he has not been able to do that this year. Lukaku spent half a season working back to fitness, as did Barkley, Pienaar has missed the whole season, Mirallas missed a huge chunk (and has some transfer issues seemingly), so now is Osman, and Deulofeu has gone with no replacement brought in. That means in a match when Martinez is starting with Mirallas Barkley and Naismith, when he looks to the bench McGeady is his only option. The attacking variety is not there any more.

So, from winning games from 0-0 after 60 mins last season, we are now one or two down with no way to change our attacking options even to get back into it.

In the last few games, however, we have seen Martinez's cogs of last season's machine starting to return. Stones is back and all of a sudden we are unbeaten in 5 (including Man City and Liverpool), three of which are clean sheets. McCarthy is now back and for the first derby in a long time we never looked in danger. So we have stemmed the losses and got back to draws. The defensive foundations have been rebuilt. Now Roberto needs to add the attacking options. In the next few weeks Roberto could have Pienaar, Kone, Atsu and Lennon to choose from in addition to what he's got so far. If Osman returned that would be another. He's not really had the choice to use many of them this season. Undoubtedly we are missing attacking options of the quality of Deulofeu (a return to form of the full backs would be nice as well) but potentially we could see more variety in the attacking third in the last third of the season than we have the whole season so far.

Not conceding goals + greater variety of attacking options = winning more games. We had this formula throughout the entirety of last season. We've not had it at all this season due to injury and loss of form.

So the reasons to stick with Martinez. It is sort of what we asked for. How else do you smash the glass ceiling? Liverpool could not win the title in 2008-09 or 2013-14 even with world class players because they were out-gunned by teams who could horde goalscorers. We can never do this. We can collect all the creative players we want in midfield but they will always be dwarfed by someone else. For every Arteta and Barkley we get, Man City can buy superiority in Silva and Toure. If we get one Lukaku, Man Utd can field Ronaldo Rooney Tevez and Berbatov in the same lineup. Martinez is approaching it a different way. We have seen his Everton strangle top teams, literally limiting top sides like Man City and Liverpool to barely any chances. If we had the other attacking piece to Martinez's jigsaw we could have feasibly won both games. Had we been confident then we could have seen a repeat of last season's performances at home to Man Utd and Arsenal.

It is not pretty to watch, but it works. When Martinez has Stones and McCarthy he can create a defensive machine that can nullify top sides. He's now added in Robles who has improved our keeping. If Besic replaces Barry next season and we add quality to our wide attack that will be improvements again up front, and when you're keeping clean sheets against top sides you only need one chance (Coleman v Liverpool) to win it. That essentially was the formula that won him the FA cup.

I don't like the style of play, I don't like that Barry starts every match, I don't like a refusal to work on set pieces, I don't like that the model falls apart when injuries strike and Martinez won't change it, and I don't like performances that we saw against Liverpool.

What I do know however is that Moyes had Arteta, Pienaar, Osman, Cahill and Yakubu (some of our best ever Premier League players) in their pomp and despite the creativity of that side we still got bullied and outgunned in big games by sides who could just throw money at the problem. Rodgers has paid big bucks for Coutinho, Sturridge, Lallana, Markovic likewise Pochettino for Eriksen Soldado etc. They are the creative talents a tier below the very top. Both sides are residing outside the top 4. They will never match up to Silva Nasri Toure Fabregas Hazard Sanchez Ozil, Di Maria, Mata. Over the course of a season the extra quality that 10s of millions of pounds more gets you shows.

Martinez is approaching it a different way. It's not pretty but his formula produced 7 wins on the spin last season (title winning form) and kept the number of losses to a very low level. It's hit a bump this season but with key figures returning his principles are beginning to show through again: very tough in defense, very hard to beat. Improvements in the defensive and attacking areas and players returning to form could see his equation redress itself in a positive aspect (as it is beginning to do so)and we could potentially be looking at a team next season that has a lot of the ball, rarely concedes, and has the attacking options to make use of that much possession. That is a winning formula. That is why I believe Martinez is worth sticking with. Once you start winning then the confidence and momentum flows and you get last season – our first proper assault on the top 4 since 2005.

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Ross Edwards
1 Posted 09/02/2015 at 14:31:01
So the best we can hope for is reducing Liverpool and City to barely any chances. If being hard to beat and tight at the back is what we all want from Martinez, why donÂ’t we just bring Moyes back, or get someone like Allardyce in?

We want entertainment. Last season saw us play sensational football, this season has seen us play some tedious football at times. Moyes era type football is returning with each passing game. The derby was a game that summed up this regression.

Last season we had the right balance.

Now weÂ’re becoming solid at the back again but attacking wise weÂ’re like a Swiss Army knife without the knife. Useless.

Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 09/02/2015 at 14:34:19
Lots of good points there. James, but we can only go so far, I donÂ’t think, under present the owner, we will ever have a big enough squad to make these plans work. Then again, if Martinez gets long enough to bring all his ideas into practice and a few young players start emerging, it could take off.
James Martin
3 Posted 09/02/2015 at 14:50:12
Ross, I’m not saying the best we can hope for is the displays against Man City and Liverpool. I’m saying that is one half of the equation – the defensive stability has returned with Stones and now McCarthy coming back into the team. We need to layer the attacking side on top of that.

That is what did so well last season when we had both attack and defense working in tandem. Both have failed this season but there are signs that a good defense is returning. Now Roberto needs to get his attacking options back fit and in form.

Clive Mitchell
4 Posted 09/02/2015 at 14:32:13
I agree with more or less all of that, James. I hope you’re proved right – that Martinez is worth sticking with. Personally I feel the loss of Pienaar at anything close to the height of his powers is the biggest hit we’ve faced. And one doubt about RM is his judgement of a player – eg, that McGeady could do a job.

Right now, IÂ’m looking for Martinez to act on the fact that Robles does not deserve to be dropped and Howard does not deserve to be selected, and to continue easing Ross back into confidence and form.

Ross Edwards
5 Posted 09/02/2015 at 14:53:50
Very true, James, I have to say I misunderstood that particular point so apologies for that. We have to improve attacking wise, weÂ’re too slow and predictable, not helped by LukakuÂ’s poor first touch obviously. We need to be more direct and get the wingers and full backs running at defenders rather than trying to walk it in.

No point in having a 㿈m striker if you give him no service.

Nick Entwistle
6 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:03:56
Many good and interesting points, and certainly a defence of Martinez.

When people were asking for a new manager who can bring a more attractive style of play to the club, the mindset was bordering on, for want of a better word, arrogance. We are PL paupers. 4 windows without a cash signing, average 9th in the wages, and still on the CL coat tails: going by league record alone Moyes was undeniably delivering. And people were talking of Martinez coming in and winning the FA Cup like he farts them out every season.

I donÂ’t know how much of last seasonÂ’s half Moyes/ half Martinez argument is true or false, who can say, but this second season has delivered every worry that Martinez threatened. Philosophy over effectiveness, over fight, over getting the basics right or more to the point drilled into them and this mid-table blather served up is all very as expected. All very Wigan.

And thatÂ’s another point: teams down the table donÂ’t play Â’good footballÂ’. By nature. Because you lose when you donÂ’t play good football. ItÂ’s OK for every Laudrup to come along and put on an early season run and play okay but jeez, when Swansea went shit they were no longer great to watch. Wigan never did either, no matter how many passes they attempted. And if you donÂ’t play good football, Â’having a goÂ’ can be equally exciting but that seems to be non-existent either.

Of course, under Moyes, itÂ’s not like he didnÂ’t have his injuries, but neither was it a case of being water tight when he had a full team to select from. There were agonising lapses in concentration or doing the basics and points squandered were his downfall. So itÂ’s not the injuries that have let slip goals this season and now weÂ’re amazingly solid with the return of players in the last couple of games.

Where this to be any proof, itÂ’s more this season the PL have, as people say, sussed Everton out. They were easy to suss last season, only not many did. But play deep, Lukaku is nullified, hit on break. Rinse and repeat. Teams made a mistake of coming out fighting last season and we were rampant. Not this time round. And thatÂ’s where and when we need intensity, not passing it about the back four.

Yes, Moyes had some great players in their pomp, but thatÂ’s his job as manager to go out and find them. We end up with a couple of good signings in McCarthy and Besic, all the rest are completely forgettable. Oh, and Lukaku, great player but easily marked out the game and to play in a way that doesnÂ’t bring out his best makes it all the more un-Moyeslike to spend every last penny on this guy. Unbelievable.

People may say, forget Moyes, heÂ’s in the past, which is silly. Man Utd fans will compare Moyes and Van Gaal to Ferguson, and see where running a club well differs to those who struggle in comparison. So itÂ’s not a bad thing. But this Martinez is going about things in a new way, this Â’donÂ’t need money to qualify for top 4Â’ way is actually just Martinez doing what he does. Nothing special.

This season we won’t get relegated. But the inevitable is happening like we have seen with Kevin: once the possibility of top 4 goes, the best players want to leave. Lukaku next? Barkley? How long (or are we there now) before we go from that team who were guaranteed to finish among the monied clubs, and become what the bottom 13 were from the opening game of the season – relegation candidates?

James Martin
7 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:02:54
Clive, I firmly believe Martinez views his attacking players as those who can last 90 mins, those who can do 60 mins and those who can only impact in a 20-minute burst. I think he firmly views Lukaku as a 90-minute player and, when fully fit and in form, Barkley and Pienaar too. Others like McGeady, Naismith, Atsu, Osman, Lacina Traore, Kone I think he considers 30-minute players to come on and make an impact when the first 11 has slugged it out for 60 mins.

To that purpose, McGeady fits the bill; he was cheap and has that unpredictability to come on and do something different to try and win the game. Injuries have meant though that players like Naismith and McGeady are starting and having to play 90 mins. They are just not consistent enough to do that. They therefore start to look like bad buys.

I think if Mirallas and Pienaar were fully fit and Barkley in form, thereÂ’s no way Martinez would play McGeady or Naismith from the start (just like he kept them on the bench last season).

Bill Griffiths
8 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:03:26
Great post, James, I agree with everything you have said.
Dan Parker
9 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:06:46
Some excellent points in there. However, IÂ’m still pondering how Southampton can sell a whole first 11 and still be challenging for a Champions League spot.
James Stewart
10 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:03:25
Quite a read. I agree with some of it but certainly not all of it and a lot of your argument hinges on highly subjective opinions. You highlight most of MartinezÂ’s failings yet still believe he can break the glass ceiling? To be honest I donÂ’t think anyone could defend Martinez very well at all this season so you had an impossible task to begin with.

This season has been shameful and two recent clean sheets isnÂ’t going to change that IÂ’m afraid. I could go on all day about where Martinez tactically goes wrong time and time again but that has been done to death already on here.

The main point I want to make in response to this post is that, under Martinez, I fear we are sleepwalking into a relegation fighting club again. The team at present is far worse than the one which he inherited from Moyes. A lot of that is down to tactics more than personnel.

His signings have been highly questionable and that is something that is not possible to get wrong on our budget. Robles, Kone, Alcaraz etc Are these really Everton players? Not for me. I didnÂ’t want him in the first place and I just canÂ’t see him being pragmatic enough to be a success.

Kevin Tully
11 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:05:33
Despite our injuries, we should really be in a far better position than we currently find ourselves. I have to say, Everton have ruined my weekends this season, I couldnÂ’t even bear to watch MotD over the Christmas period. The lack of fight, individual mistakes and goals flying into our net every time we stepped onto the pitch have made for a painful season.

Why stick with Martinez then? Well, we will see a new Everton side next season for one. I would imagine there will only be Jagielka, Coleman and Baines left from the Moyes era as first team starters. We will see a couple of new additions on top of that.

ItÂ’s probably fair that we judge Martinez when his own team are out on the pitch. I also think itÂ’s fair to say that Martinez will have faced difficulties asking older players to change the way they approach the game, after 10 years of the same manager. These arenÂ’t just rumours of dressing room unrest, some have been causing trouble for the manager.

He wonÂ’t see the end of this season though if he doesnÂ’t get some wins under his belt. To be totally honest, I couldnÂ’t blame anyone for wanting him out of the club if we carry on the way we have been playing the past couple of months. My only hope is that this period will prove to be a very steep learning curve for our manager. I couldnÂ’t bear to watch another 3 months of the crap we have had to endure.

I imagine it’s all down to whether or not the players believe in the man and his methods – if not, it’s adios to any manager who cannot get the playing staff to run their collective bollocks off during a bad spell such as this. Thankfully, I can see tiny green shoots at present.

David Pearl
12 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:33:22
Very well written as usual, James, and I do agree with what you are saying.

However, there are doubts. You can't explain away the pre-season shambles can you? In our preparation, how many pre-season games we played to find fitness? Maybe this could of contributed to the amount of injuries sustained?

Even at the start of last season, players adopting the managers new tactics looked like they were playing on ice. There is flexibility in the system he wants to play but he has failed to adapt to the fit players he had available. The players stopped moving up the field as a unit. Anyway, time will tell very quickly over the next few games, especially with Stones and McCarthy back and the addition of Lennon.

Helen Mallon
13 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:30:56
Dan Parker (10) Southampton spent 㿯.9M on 8 players, all of good quality. Plus they have a manager that won’t be there next season – he will be with Barcelona, winning Titles with them.
Tom R Owen
14 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:47:17
Once again, the buck stops with our Chairman and the pathetic board that pander to him. Under their administration we appear to be good at "Work in the community" and that is all.
Tony Marsh
15 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:48:36
There is no doubt that this season has been woefully shambolic. The pissing about with the Barkley substitution on Saturday being a prime example of the disarray surrounding the team. The pre-season debacle may’ve been down to Bill’s penny-pinching rather than Martinez picking useless opponents.

Last season, everything about Martinez was first class yet he has thrown it all away just as quickly as he built his image. The selection of certain players this season is based on performances last season. Barry, Naismith, Howard, all terrible so far yet automatic choices when fit?

Naismith, even when concussed, was allowed to decide if he came off or not in the Derby. That can’t be right, can it?

In defence of RM, I donÂ’t think he was backed in the summer considering where we finished in the table the previous season... Liverpool, Spurs, Southampton, Man Utd etc all spent fortunes. We bought Lukaku on the drip but pulled in massive amounts from earlier sales of Jelavic, Anichebe. Fellaini plus the Leroy Fer millions that were never spent. So where was the backing for a manager who broke our points tally record in his first season?

I donÂ’t think it will get any better or worse this season, I just think we will drift about not really going anywhere. If we donÂ’t get knocked out of Europe in this round on the artificial pitch in Switzerland we will defo go out in the next when we can draw the big guns.

Watching Martinez the past few months has been painfull it’s been so like the worst days of the Moyes era. Poor tactics, favouring out-of-form players, clueless set pieces and corners, rolling over and playing dead in certain games... I donÂ’t have any answers either. I just cant work out why it’s gone so wrong?

Tony Hill
16 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:36:22
I am now a sceptic I am afraid. Something fundamental has gone out of the team this season, especially since December, and despite the factors we can all recite about form, tactics and injuries, I think it's a failure of trust and belief among the players and between the players and the manager.

It's difficult to know why this has happened and what lies behind it but it's unmistakeable in my opinion and you can sense it when you go to matches.

The problem is that Everton operate on tight margins for our comparative success and we cannot afford to lose team spirit, that is what has seen us through recent years and it was what underpinned last season too. Once it goes it doesn't return easily - especially, I am afraid, with temperaments like RM's and Jagielka's in charge, not to mention the vacuum in the boardroom. There are stories to be written about the collapse from last season and I think we will find that the absence of a true leader in the dressing room will be key.

Sorry to be downbeat but some strengthening of the defence - still to be properly tested in my view (we owed much to Man City's woeful finishing and Liverpool were listless) - and some general hope that things will click in attack won't be enough to address our deficiencies.

There are big questions swirling around all this about the ability of clubs like ours truly to compete in the PL as is fairly noted, but the biggest thing of all is that we have to recover serious conviction within the team and management. As Kevin Tully says, it doesn't matter about Martinez's vision if no-one else shares it / is willing to support it.

Jimmy Kelly
17 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:49:04
Some good points there I think James, but I can't help feeling there's a few leaps in there which aren't necessarily backed up by facts.

You say that Lukaku had to play his way to fitness for half the season, but where is the evidence of that? I know Martinez made a couple of references to a toe injury early on, but you can't play your way to fitness with that sort of thing. It heals with time,and playing is only like to make it worse.

Similarly, it is easy to say that all our problems are solved when McCarthy is fit and in the midfield, but this ignores the fact that he was right there, being walked past by Chelsea players, when we conceded six goals at home. He was also in the side that conceded 3 at home to Palace and 2 to Arsenal and Leicester. It's also worth noting that Stones was available for those games, but was either on the bench or at right back - nothing to do with injury.

Finally you say that Naismith would not be playing if it were not for injuries, but if you look back over the last 12 months he's been in the side pretty much whenever he's fit. Looking at the back end of last season, he was certainly in the side for games against United and Arsenal during our good run. I'm pretty sure you'll find that Osman, Barkley, Deulofeu and McGeady were available in those games but Naismith was picked ahead of them. He was also in the team for the first 3 games of this season while Osman, Mirallas, Eto'o, Atsu, McGeady etc took turns on the bench.

I said last season and again this season that I don't believe Roberto's favoured system works. I think there is a lack of balance and a lack of craft in the side. Playing passing football does not suit fast wingers, nor does it suit Lukaku. Two defensive midfielders is fine, but one of them needs to be able to pick a pass, and ours can't. Last season we were baled out in games by individual moments of magic but you can't rely on that in the long term. Your right back is not going to get 8-10 goals a season on a regular basis, and we'll probably never score as many direct free kicks as we did last year ever again. Football is decided on fine margins, last year we won a fair few tight games and this year we've drawn or even lost them. It's easy to put that down to bad luck this year, but you can just as easily say it was good luck last year.

Jay Wood
18 Posted 09/02/2015 at 16:41:15
A well-presented piece, but flawed in its arguments and conclusions for me.

There is no radical difference between the squad of last season and this season. I refute the claim that injuries this season have been extreme in contrast to our own injuries last season, or if compared to other teams this season. IMO, we have not been overly exposed because of injuries.

James rightly says teams can adapt very quickly to a new manager’s methods, as Everton did under Roberto last season. Indeed, he specifically stated this saying our squad made the change to his ’philosophy’ in 5-6 games, whereas it took nearly a whole season at his previous clubs at Swansea and Wigan.

He also explicitly stated he believed there were alternative paths to breaking the top 4 other than the ’bank rolled approach from rich owners. After his debut season I think the majority of Evertonians bought into this and wanted to believe it.

But I’m afraid to say, Martinez has completely failed to build on last seasonÂ’s success. The football has largely been dire and the results reflect this. The verve and swift counter attacking of last season has been too easily nullified by the opposition, with no apparent solution coming from Roberto to counter this counter.

And all the while there was an apparent public denial from Roberto about the poor performances and results. Even before the squad headed off to the warm weather training, in response to questions about our defence frailties, he replied that Everton was not set up to prioritise NOT conceding goals.

For many, given the genuine relegation form we were displaying at the time as the gap to the relegation trapdoor narrowed dramatically, this was a disturbing statement. Thankfully, whilst away, Martinez finally woke up and publicly admitted we were at risk of relegation if results did not improve.

Some are saying the recent string of defensive shut outs is evidence we have turned a corner. I don’t agree. We have merely stopped the very considerable rot that was the sinking ship Everton.

I personally am happy for that. The performances are still dire, but there is a greater pragmatism that I and others called for. The performances from now until the end of the season are secondary. The result is all important Â… and that newly discovered pragmatism has rewarded us with 6 points in our last four games.

However, the numbers are still stark. Yes, we have kept 3 consecutive clean sheets. Goood! Long overdue. But in our last 10 league games, we have:

* failed to score in SIX of them

* failed to score in 3 of 5 home games

* scored only SEVEN goals in those 10 games

* and FIVE of those seven goals came in just 2 games – the 3-1 win over QPR and the 2-3 defeat at Newcastle

Evidently, the prime objective of a football match – scoring goals – is extremely challenging for Everton at this time. The restoration of greater defensive solidity now gives us a more sporting chance of eking out results, but even so, another stark fact exposes another vulnerability of Everton:

It is more than a year – 1st February 2014 – since Everton recovered from losing the first goal to win a game of football – the 2-1 PL victory over Villa. Conclusion: score first against Everton, and the worst you’re looking at is a draw.

So, whilst I’m relieved we have stopped the rot and steadied the ship, the performances are still poor and we still struggle to win games. We are a long, LONG way from James’ ’winning formula’ he believes Martinez can still deliver.

William Cartwright
19 Posted 09/02/2015 at 15:55:44
Will the real Roberto please stand up? I am totally bemused like everyone else. Last season he couldnÂ’t put a foot wrong... until the Crystal Palace game. Then I recall he gave his first pre-match interview and talked about how good the opposition were... whereas, up to then, all the talk had been focussed on Everton and they were the subject. What changed at precisely that date and time?

Beyond me. No logic of second season syndrome or bad luck, bad injuries or bad refereeing et al can justify what we have had to endure this season. Consider the following 20 indicators of lack of managerial quality:-

1. Always talking up the opposition beforehand;

2. Always giving the ridiculously positive salesmanÂ’s spin on the most dire of performances (it only works when you win, Bobby boy);

3. Constantly playing good players out of position (not every armchair analyst on ToffeeWeb can be wrong);

4. Constantly bad timing. or ineffective or downright negative substitutions;

5. Pandering to the ego of unsettling influences – Kevin Mirallas should’ve been granted his wish and moved to Spurs, at least Lennon would feel wanted, if that would help;

6. Shocking mismanagement of players returning from injury, which started off against the Redshites last season, and carried on with key medical staff leaving but the erstwhile qualified but not practicing physiotherapist remains;

7. Contradictory and inconsistent by nature by building up the hopes of the youngsters but then shutting down the progress (eg; Browning strange, whatever happened to him, Garbut criminally wasteful);

8. Promoting the bygone potential of senior players on long contracts at the expense of youthful endeavour;

9. Mr Nice Guy persona, which I loved last season, but taken to extremes this year and it has backfired horribly;

10. Spent money wisely on Lukaku but then insists on trying to get him to play against his natural strengths;

11. Ross Barkley ditto point 10 above, but even worse, against the Redshites leaving him on the subs bench because Naismith wanted to stay on;

12. Alienating sections of the support by referencing Â’properÂ’ and by implication Â’improperÂ’ Evertonians (Get a speech-writer for Gods; sake);

13. Guilty of self-aggrandizement with big murals (donÂ’t think we will see that again soon);

14. Guilty of mismanaging the pre-season;

15. Succumbs to the cult of personal favoritism eg; Barry versus Besic;

16. Point 15 will be repeated soon in Howard versus Robles (he is so bad we can even predict it);

17. Cannot, simply cannot adapt to the reality of change when necessary, unless pressed into doing so by the background very senior management staff and players;

18. Susceptible to stress with resultant weird body language, eye movement, and verbage during pre-match interviews;

19. Wastes opportunities to explore his contacts in the industry (forget Barcelona what about McMannaman from Wigan? As he was an Everton supporter then that would kill any deal stone dead;

20. Stubbornly follows dead leads in the industry (Cleverley etc?).

Summary: Football is an industry. The captain of our particular industry, EFC, has been guilty of so much core mismanagement during the past 10 months he has crippled the club and should be summarily dismissed. No further debate is necessary.

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 09/02/2015 at 16:38:59

A valiant effort in trying to defend the indefensible, and as for your assertion that RM views attackers as 90 minute or 60 minute or 30 minute impact players as ludicrous. This is some of the worst football I have witnessed in over 60 years watching Everton. He spent 㿌 million in the summer so the board certainly backed him financially. His track record as a prem manager was poor and before everyone starts saying he managed Wigan who had no money. Well have a look at what Steve Bruce achieved at Wigan with a similar budget

Martinez is a very average manager who should never have been given the Everton job, and the sooner we get safe and ship him out the better.

Adam Smith
21 Posted 09/02/2015 at 17:21:13
Well argued James; I agree with the vast majority of it.

We need to give Roberto time to build his team – he’s not perfect and makes some big mistakes but all managers do. To hear some Man Utd fans I knew, you would certainly doubt Alex Ferguson’s decision-making abilities.

On the whole, I have seen enough to make me think he is the right man but I do think this season has been an utter abomination!

A few points:

Martinez needs to get us pressing the ball better, higher up the pitch if we are going to play this system. Barcelona in their pomp were unrelenting if they lost the ball and all swarmed to get it back. If, as Martinez does, you rely on combative holding mids and defenders to press, you invite the opposition on to you far too much. It seems to me that he believes that attacking players should almost have ’free roles’ to roam around doing whatever they want and that their magic may win a game for us. They should only be conserving energy and relying on defensive players to press if we played a counter-attacking game – his bizarre hybrid of the two needs changing.

Football is not a complicated game – pace changes matches. Moyes rarely bought any and it showed and we often struggled. Not the case last year, but now we need pace again desperately (even though I don’t think they’re the most complete players, Atsu and Lennon should help rectify this). Our direct running tends to come from our full-backs, but with no-one pressing or helping in front (see above), we have invited opposition on to us – keeping our FBs pegged back or the opposition barricade the way during our ponderous build-up play and our FBs have no space to run into.

Also, I have concerns over Martinez’s scouting. Kone, Joel, Besic, Lukaku and McCarthy are all good players in my opinion. However (Besic excluded) they were not exactly the most obscure players to pick up. Southampton have done so well because they have found bargains from unfancied leagues. We NEED to be doing this, otherwise we will always be paying over the odds. When you factor in the amount of rebuilding that we have to do over the next few years and our paltry budget, we simply have to be scouting these leagues.

These in my opinion, are his biggest issues, if he can address them, we will have a very good manager on our hands. If he doesn’t we will struggle. I still believe he has done enough to be given the time to build something for next year. It has been said time and time again that our team has a good young spine; he needs to build a better squad. I know many believed that this is the best squad we’ve had but I certainly felt we had too many aging players; when you factor in shite form and bad injuries there just isn’t anywhere near enough quality. Although I felt we needed several more players over the summer, I must admit I to have been surprised at just how bad we’ve been this year.

People always talk about ’what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and ’learning from your mistakes’. I would say that Martinez probably needed a wake-up call this year as this club is far bigger and demands far more than anything that he will have ever experienced. That doesn’t mean he’s not up to it, but he needs to learn from this season. I know it is difficult to allow people to learn on the job when it is our beloved club that he may drag under but there is still time for him to get us back where we need to be next season!

Denis Richardson
22 Posted 09/02/2015 at 17:03:11
Some decent points there James and I certainly agree with you that Martinez deserves full credit for last season. The pundits and other TWers are simply wrong imo to say that part of it was down to Moyes somehow.

At the end of the day, Barry, McCarthy, Lukaku and Delboy weren’t there under Moyes and Martinez played Barkley, Stones and Oviedo a hell of a lot more than Moyes ever did – these 7 players combined made a huge contribution to getting 5th place last season. Nevermind the fact we played a different system. Yes the likes of Baines, Coleman, Jagielka were there from Moyes’s times, but give credit where it’s due. Martinez was the manager and the spine of the team was his players.

However... moving on: whilst I accept that injuries have played some part in this season’s shambles, every single team in the league has injuries at some point and it’s the job of the manager to ensure we have adequate cover. Losing a CB and/or a CDM shouldn’t suddenly throw everything out of whack. Add to that the fitness issues of the players and the strange mass of hamstring injuries and you’ve got to think that something in the set up isn’t right.

Personally, I believe the lack of balance in midfield in so many of our starting line-ups had a big part to play, especially in the disastrous December. Starting so many games with effectively 3 forwards in the 3 AML roles or central players playing out wide meant our FBs had too little cover and also couldn’t attack as much – hence more pressure on our defence leading inevitably to errors and goals. The loss of Pienaar and Osman has been significant but Martinez should have played midfielders in the AML roles rather than the likes of Eto’o and Naismith out wide.

Also the tactics of trying to get 100% possession by passing in slow triangles in your own half is obviously a non-starter. No one could have predicted both Pienaar and Osman would get injured but given they’re both getting to the ends of their careers, I would have expected the manager to sign another attacking midfielder in the summer (not just Atsu on loan).

Last year, Baines had Pienaar in front and Coleman had Mirallas/Delboy in front. We looked to move the ball much faster down the flanks getting the FBs involved and the wide AML covered the FB – this simply hasn’t happened this year and has nullified Baines and Coleman and taken away a significant source of goals for us. This was our main play last year and, although other sides knew about it, it was hard to defend if played at pace. This season, we don’t have a regular real threat to goal and no-one really knows where the goals are going to come from – it’s almost out of luck we seem to score sometimes (Jags in the derby, Lukaku at Palace, Baines v Sunderland spring to mind).

Our regular CDMs are simply not able to link defence with attack well enough so without proper midfielders in the AML positions and little attack from the FBs, we’re completely blunt as an attacking force, relying on individual moments from Mirallas or errors by the opposition defence to score.

I am not convinced we’ve turned any kind of corner yet. It’s pleasing to get 3 clean sheets in a row but on closer inspection, let’s be honest, we haven’t really improved.

1) West Brom came to park the bus and made virtually no attempt to score against us.

2) Against Palace we were very lucky to keep a clean sheet, nevermind get 3 points via a jammy deflection

3) Against Liverpool we played with 8 defenders from the off, at home, and our defence and GK still had to be alert on many occasions.

I’ll believe we’ve turned the corner when we get back to playing with less than 8 defenders AND manage to get some attacking play back into our side.

Lennon will help out Coleman on the right and if Mirallas can link up with Baines/Oviedo on the left, then we’ll be looking much better. Especially if Barkley gets his zip back and replaces Naismith in the middle.

Chelsea game won’t show this as this will be another backs to the wall display but I expect a lot better against Leicester.

As for Martinez – I’m still on the fence and if rumours of dressing room discontent are true, then I’m not sure what the future holds to be honest. The players have to at least respect the manager or it doesn’t work.

Let’s get safe first and cross that bridge come the summer. Hopefully the EL will keep us entertained and dreaming of what might be, for a while anyway.

Bill Gall
23 Posted 09/02/2015 at 17:41:19
With long articles like this there are always comments that you agree on and there are always comments you disagree on.

Regarding last season, our central defensive pairing was usually Jagielka & Distin; Stones was used mainly as a backup, so I don't agree that his injury was responsible for poor defensives displays this season.

As far as James McCarthy goes, yes it is good to have him back but he still played for over three months from the start of the season with his last game in late December. As he was first injured in November do you think RM ignored his medical staff and brought him back to quick?

On previous comments I have made going back to mid-December, I said that RM should go back to basics and even bring in an Italian defensive coach that was able to organise a defense to work within his philosophy and style. But I also said that I believed RM was too stubborn to admit that he was wrong by doing that.

While myself and I think most other supporters agree that he has changed the system to a more defensive set up to stop the rot... Why did he wait for so long? Did he suddenly realize that we were getting close to the relegation zone and realise he had to change? Was it as some rumours have surfaced that the players demanded a meeting requesting a change?

We have seen both the positives and the negatives of RM over the past season and this season but the only one who will decide his future is BK.

Darren Hind
25 Posted 09/02/2015 at 18:51:56
I’ve never advocated sacking Martinez mid season but have him in charge next season? You have got to be kidding.

This idea that Martinez will revolutionize the club by bringing in his own players is utter bollocks. He doesn’t even trust the players he’s brought in now.

Besic has been sat on more than one occasion after being Man of the Match; Kone wouldn’t get a game if Lukaku turned up on one leg, and Robles has already been told he’s out as soon as Spoonfeet is 100%.... And as for Alcaraz? I forgot he was still here until that truely bizzarre substitution on Saturday.

If Osman and Howard were fit, they would deffo be playing. Let’s be clear here: Martinez trusts Moyes’s signings more than he trusts his own! The fact that Mirallas is still getting a game after repeatedly giving him the finger proves that.

Build a new side? I wouldn’t trust this guy to build a Garden Shed!!!

Phil Walling
26 Posted 09/02/2015 at 19:17:24
Let's face it , James. The man's a fecking genius. But he's the only manager whose players get injured and lose form. His tactical acumen is beyond comprehension but BK's lack of money stops us reaching the stars. We are blessed, indeed. Now next season............
Colin Glassar
27 Posted 09/02/2015 at 19:29:25
Great post James and very brave. Well done sir.
David Hallwood
28 Posted 09/02/2015 at 19:30:49
Good, well written article and I agree with most of it. To put my twopenneth worth in, IMO, the difference between last season is momentum. Last season we got off to a flyer and it was a case of success breeding success.

At the start of this season our nearest rivals for CL spot (hollow laugh all 'round) were Spurs, RS, Man Utd & The Arse (The Zillionaires being nailed on). If we take Spurs and Man Utd, early doors they were playing as bad as we are (in fact if anyone saw Man Utd yesterday, vintage they ain't). To my mind, the difference between them and us has been Harry Kane and De Gea; both players have been worth at least 12 points to their respective teams, which has enabled the teams to build up confidence that wins give you.

But we've had negative game changers in Howard & Barry. To my mind Howard has cost us at least 8 pts, with Barry not as expensive but guilty of some howlers, notably being dispossessed in killer areas. Factor in poor fitness levels early doors, some piss poor refereeing decisions and injuries to key players has seen confidence deflate like a punctured balloon.

So back to the topic, should Martinez be given the chance to build his side, I go along with that because I think changing managers as often as your boxers historically has been proved counter-productive. We've seen enough good football albeit in patches to know that there's a decent team in there struggling to get out, and like it or not Martinez is the man with the job in hand.

Kunal Desai
29 Posted 09/02/2015 at 19:42:55
Summer will be interesting because we need at minimum 5 first teamers. A solid keeper whom Robles can challenge. For me, Howard needs to be moved on. He makes far too many ricketts.

A centre back to replace Distin and will challenge Stone and Jagielka.

We have sorely missed a creative midfielder/playmaker this season. Another wide player to replace Pienaar and another striker.

Unfortunately it will yet again end in heartache for all Evertonians as Kenwright won't provide any significant funds so in my opinion whether Martinez is the manager or not come the summer, it won't make the slightest of difference. We will never get top 4 unless we spend a huge wedge.

Paul Tran
30 Posted 09/02/2015 at 20:54:52
Brave stuff, James. I'm torn on this one. I think there's a good manager in Martinez, but he's made plenty of fundamental errors this season, regardless of injuries.

I'm concerned at a qualified physio who consistently brings injured players back too early and has players looking tired/unfit.

I'm concerned at his insistence on playing out of form players and would echo Darren's point about him not playing his own signings.

If he was one of my staff, I'd want an explanation of the differences between this and last season. I'd want to know his plans for preseason and next season. I'd also speak to the senior pros. If he didn't convince me, he'd be fired.

It's too simplistic to dismiss one good season and cite one poor season as the norm. How likely is Martinez to learn and rectify this season's mistakes? That's the question for Bill.

Colin Glassar
31 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:23:30
Paul, he's not on your staff he's on BK's. We can only hope our beloved chairman asks those very same questions as we all want to know the answers.

He will be given another season to rectify. Of that I'm sure.

Andy Meighan
32 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:24:52
No coincidence results have picked up since Eto'o did one. Just a thought, like...
Andy Crooks
33 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:14:37
An interesting article, James, which makes some reasonable points. However, I disagree with opinions that you pass as facts. For example,"The ball retention of the back seven will ensure a good defence". It seems to me, that attempts to retain the ball have been a major cause of lapses and panic.

The difference that McCarthy and Stones would have made can only be conjecture.Why did Lukaku spend "half a season working back to fitness"? The lack of fitness of the players can not just be passed over.It is an indictment of the training methods overseen by our coach.

Also, I just do not accept the argument that Liverpool failed to win the league last season because other clubs hoarded strikers. I agree with you about the importance of confidence and I like your reasoned arguments. Fundamentally I disagree with your theory. The thought of Martinez only being judged when he has been allowed to assemble his own team is terrifying. This man, given enough time will, in my view, get us relegated.

Ross Edwards
34 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:44:26
I think Southampton are last season's Everton, Helen and Dan. I think it won't be long before some teams work them out.

As for Koeman and the Barca link, we were all there when Roberto was linked weren't we? I think Koeman is last season's Martinez. Can do nothing wrong, good footballing side etc. If they struggle next season will the media jump on him like they have with our Bobby?

Dave Lynch
35 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:48:36
Bollox to all this 'grey area' shite.

He's not up to the job end of, never was and never will be.

Clive Rogers
36 Posted 09/02/2015 at 22:05:15
Personally, I feel we will be in big trouble next season unless there are some really good signings in the summer. As the season has progressed the area which needs addressing most has changed from the defense to advanced midfield and in particular scoring goals. This will become worse assuming Mirallas goes in the summer. Whatever his faults, he is our second top scorer. The pressure on Martinez to land someone who can put the ball in the net will be intense.

Looking at our squad it is difficult to see where our goals will come from apart from Lukaku, who himself may not be that prolific. Barry, McCarthy, Besic and Barkley have 1 goal between them this season. Barry rarely makes it to the oppositions box any more. Baines' goals have dried up, just 2, both pens I think. Naismith has 5 in total, but only two since August, both headers, not surprising as he never gets a shot in that the goalie has to save. He doesn't provide assists either, 3 in 3 seasons. If Lennon signs, he averages 1 goal in 10 games, none from 18 this season. Coleman who is returning to form should get about 4, and Jags usually chips in with 2 or 3. The only other option is Kone who seems to be out of favor at present, but he will be 32 next season and probably made one start in two years. If Cleverley is our main target as we are led to believe, he has 20 goals in 7 seasons, and none in 20 for Villa this season.

All in all, Martinez has a massive task in the summer. He must bring in a proven goalscorer to replace Mirallas in addition to replacing other ageing squad members. I am not confident he is capable of doing this, nor that sufficient funds will be available.

James Martin
37 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:51:28
Andy, some of those points I said were what I believe Roberto's philosophy to be – not facts. I think he believes if the back 7 monopolise possession, it will ensure a good defense. It worked last season, it obviously hasn't worked this season. Roberto must think it though otherwise why would he keep doing it and keep playing two sometimes three defensive mids?

Lukaku was working his way back from a broken foot. Should Martinez have played him? Probably not. Were the replacements good enough, a 35-year-old Eto'o and Naismith already covering for the injured Barkley? Again probably not.

You only have to look at the record of the team when Stones and McCarthy play (in the correct positions). We've not lost when Stones has partnered Jagielka, and the results improve when McCarthy plays. I cannot prove results would have been better had they been fit but it would have been very likely we'd at least be a couple of points better off now.

I'd also slightly disagree with you on not allowing Martinez time to put together his best team. McCarthy and Besic are two of our top players both now worth over 㿀 mill each. Lukaku will be the best Premier League striker in our history. We can argue with the performances all we like but the numbers tell their own story. He will get you 15 goals a season minimum. Robles seems to be an improvement on Howard. Deulofeu was a good loan as Lennon will be probably. So, apart form a few low price punts on McGeady and Alcaraz that haven't come off, I don't see what the problem is with Roberto's transfer policy.

Gavin McGarvey
38 Posted 09/02/2015 at 21:41:07
I'm concerned at his signings too: Kone, Alcaraz, Robles, Besic, Lukaku, Deulofeu, and Barry. Three are reasonable prospects, one was being developed for Barca rather than us, and we will need to replace the other three sooner rather than later.

I think this will weigh heavily on the mind of the board when they decide whether to give him another year. He needs to get us playing well before the summer if they are going to have confidence in him. Also the drop down the league will result in less prize money leaving us less able to compete on wages etc...

While Pienaar and Osman have come in for a fair amount of abuse on here over the last couple of years, I think the article is right in point out how we have suffered in their absence. Pienaar was really important to keeping the ball on the left and Osman was an able deputy across the midfield, particularly in attacking areas. Now it seems like they may both need replacing, and it may not be easy to find creative midfielders to replace them.

I'm not sure which way we should go with Martinez. On the plus side at least he has started to sort things out now. On the other hand he seemed to really lose the respect of the playing staff, and his own confidence earlier this season. He needs to rebuild that confidence.

Andy Crooks
39 Posted 09/02/2015 at 22:07:41
James, I've read your piece again and I see that you are in fact describing the Martinez philosophy. In my view, we haven't got and can't afford the players to Implement it successfully.

I do agree with you about Lukaku I believe the faults he has can be eradicated and in the right system will be top class. I actually don't see his transfer dealings as a problem but I suppose that, If you don't rate Lukaku, then the transfer policy looks poor.

As a matter of interest, James, you have put up a valiant defence of Martinez but at what point would you say enough?

Anthony Jones
40 Posted 09/02/2015 at 22:40:04
If you waffle for long enough you will most likely get something right.

If the system that Martinez strives for is indeed that we keep the ball for long periods and occasionally release the 3-4 attacking players then we are back playing dull percentage football just under new branding. Hardly a case for sticking with him in the long term, unless you enjoy being bored rigid.

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 09/02/2015 at 22:27:08
Hate long posts, nearly as much as I hated the game on Saturday.

"Roberto, you gave us back our pride, and then forgot how you did it."

Play Lennon and Mirallas out wide. Besic and McCarthy in midfield, and Barkley behind Lukaku. Play to win, and you do this by scoring goals. If we do this then confidence will return, and nobody in the world can tell me that these players cannot make a very good team.

James Martin
42 Posted 09/02/2015 at 22:39:07
Andy, I would say that if we finish the season in decent form with a fit squad then he deserves at least to start next season. Next season would be make or break, it would be his squad with 5 transfer windows behind him, the players used to the style and some of the younger players more established. If it's another train wreck then he has to go. Personally I think if we started to tank every game from now until the end of the season then he should go at the end of this one.

For all the excuses I've listed above, Roberto is now getting his key players back from injury, he's got a settled defense, and his attacking options are starting to come back. I'd like to see some evidence that he can get us back into some good form before the season is out and carry it over into the start of next season. If he does this then we can maybe put this mid season slump down to a horrible coinciding of unfortunate factors, bad decisions, and the effects of loss of confidence.

If he can't then its clearly an indicator of what our longer term future would look like under Martinez and that is unpalatable to most Evertonians including me.

Harold Matthews
43 Posted 10/02/2015 at 00:23:46
5th place in his first season raised expectations but Martinez has always looked to 2yrs plus. He quietly said so when BK mouthed off about Champions League.

Personally I can't moan about recent performances because I've been crying out for a few ugly points to stop the rot.

The system set-up is certainly not my cup of tea. 7 at the back and 4 up front with a massive gap in between. No goal threat from midfield and no-one getting into the box.

Martinez seems to prefer the bags of effort and no skill of Naismith to the bags of skill and no effort of Barkley. Maybe we should flog them both and bring in a skilled attacking worker. Or perhaps we could try Kone.

As for Lukaku. I've seldom seen a professional footballer with less technical ability but the lad is always a handful and a threat. Let's hope he comes good.

I thought bringing on Alcaraz and allowing Stones to float forward was a very clever move but would have preferred Barry to make way as the RS were hitting him with pace. Maybe the Besic yellow had something to do with it but I doubt it. He always gets pulled off. Barry's role is a very specialized one and Martinez obviously doesn't trust anyone else to do it.

Oviedo endured a spell when he was completely exposed to a quick, skilful young rightback but Baines and Garbutt would have fared no better. Where the hell was our winger and left-sided DM?

Talking about Garbutt. I hope we don't mess up with this very good player.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. Martinez promised we'd be fine from February on and I hope he's right.

Brent Stephens
44 Posted 10/02/2015 at 06:25:11
Harold, your usual calm, considered and perceptive views. You pick out things that I "see" but don't see, if you know what I mean! e.g. your point about why Alcaraz was brought on – to allow Stones to surge forward more.

What do you see as the specialised Barry role which is different from the McCarthy or Besic role? Do you mean his coming deep to take the ball from our CBs and then using it?

Ciaran Duff
45 Posted 10/02/2015 at 08:19:29
Well reasoned article, James. I too think that RM should be given a decent chance (3 years). Last year was like a "novelty year" and this year is "second season syndrome". Next year we should be able to make a true judgement of how RM is going.

I am happy that he seems to have weathered the recent crisis (hope I am not speaking too early) which is a good sign in a team and a manager. I hope we continue to improve to end the season well.

In terms of tactics, I believe that 4-3-3 is a better system. It is far more flexible and fluid. It also shares the load better.

With our current system, I think that we are badly lacking a creative player in the № 10. We are missing Osman in that role and I don't think that Barkley really fits the bill (not at the moment anyway). So, I think that we should be looking to pick someone up in the summer.

Phil Walling
46 Posted 10/02/2015 at 08:52:26
I'm just wishing Roberto 'all the best' from now until the end of the season. Everton's future is more important than his. I know what I think of his skill-set but points are all that matter now.
Paul Thompson
47 Posted 10/02/2015 at 09:16:14
Well argued, but the detailed judgements – some of which I agree with, others I don’t – the bigger picture is obscured. We have been dire from pre-season: unbalanced, predictable, lacking energy. Worse, Martinez has shown no tactical or motivational capacity to deal with the problems.

As many media and TW commentators argue, we have been found out – other managers sussed out his first season game plan, but he’s not been able to respond effectively. Perhaps it is not an accident that our best performances have been in the Europa, where this does not apply to the same extent.

What Martinez finally learned in the past few games is how to shut up shop. Good, but that will not necessarily save us from relegation, let alone be a platform for the future. The phrase that amused me in the article is "It may not be pretty to watch, but it works". I seem to have heard that before in defence of Moyes on these pages. But in that case it was true or at least true.

Nigel Gregson
48 Posted 10/02/2015 at 11:54:17
Outstanding analysis, Harold (#45).

Henrik Lyngsie
49 Posted 10/02/2015 at 12:09:53
Interesting thread, thanks, James. And thank you Harold for your usual wise words.

I agree on Barry: when he is his normal self, his distribution from the DM is outstanding. Neither McCarthy nor Besic have got the same skills. But Barry has been really poor this season.

I was at Goodison first time this season for the derby and was surprised how slow Barry looks these days. He was always slow but these days he seems even slower than myself. It is a great shame since he was fantastic in his role last season and I don't see McCarthy or Besic replacing his distribution skills.

In fact, James (#39), you mention Besic is worth more than 㿀 million. It seems Besic is becoming a big hero so I am sure many will disagree with me. I love his passion and his heart but to me football wise he is not a top PL player. I don't see him going for 㿀 million or anywhere near. His forward passing and distribution is just not good enough. I love him for his passion and commitment but I think he is overhyped here on ToffeeWeb.

It is a little bit like Coleman who got this fantastic passion and commitment and is loved for this. I know he had a really good season last year when everything looked easy. This year were everyone is struggling he really looks ordinary. I like Besic and Coleman but when people talk about selling them for 㿀M plus, I would say sell immediately. And when they have failed badly for whoever could afford buying at these prices, we buy them back for 㿨k.

Tommy Coleman
50 Posted 10/02/2015 at 12:29:01
Well said, James Martin – The exact causes of our loss of form this season.
Scott Robinson
51 Posted 10/02/2015 at 13:46:09
The saddest thing about this season (whether you are RM fan or not) is that Everton have been reduced to mid-table fodder when we were previously consistently challenging the top 4. The risk is that we now remain there (think Villa).

This would not be tolerated at other clubs in a similar position. The loan of Lennon was the icing on the cake – Spurs would not let a player go to a club competing with them for the upper echelons of the PL....

Nick Entwistle
52 Posted 10/02/2015 at 14:11:17
No, the saddest thing about this season was being in the pub before Christmas and a Fulham fan of all people said "I like Everton, they play good football but they're not a threat to anyone". He was half right.

Sean Patton
53 Posted 10/02/2015 at 14:01:00
I just think the team are in transition perhaps one season after we all thought would be the case. It is the old Moyes boys that have let us down this season: Howard and Distin have been abysmal, the goal at Swansea where Distin attempts to head the ball at knee height instead of using his right foot is frankly one of the worst goals I can ever remember Everton conceding.

The squad is not as good as many think... so, when injuries hit, as James points out, the inferior players come in and the performances and results drop. Hopefully in the summer any money can be more evenly distributed and not spent on one area in the team.

Jay Harris
54 Posted 10/02/2015 at 14:21:38
James and other posters make some good points but nobody can deny or defend:

1. The worst preseason preparations in the history of the club.

2. A total lack of fitness and motivation of the whole squad

3. Backroom unrest resulting in the departure of one of the most highly rated fitness coaches in the game.

4. Extremely poor standard of signings.

5. Totally bizarre team selections and tactics.

6. Poor substitutions.

7.No training on defending nor attacking set pieces.

8. A record number of goals against similar to Wigan's last season in the Prem.

9. A player's revolt against the tactics.

Do you all really want a manager like this for Everton?

James Martin
57 Posted 10/02/2015 at 15:47:51
Jay, I agree with most of your points as absolutely unacceptable. How much are they specific to Martinez though?

1) We actually started the season okayish. Moyes had preseason planned to a tee yet the one time we had a good start was when the Java Cup fell through.

3) We’ve always had a lot of injuries, they debilitated Moyes and potentially cost us fourth last season. Meanwhile, Liverpool and Spurs seem to fare much better. Donnachie was here when we were getting injuries under Moyes and all the injuries this season. The medical department needed a reshake.

4) Besic, McCarthy, Lukaku all first team regulars. Robles looks a decent keeper, Kone potentially useful as well. Deulofeu, Lennon (probably) and Barry decent loans. It’s only McGeady, Atsu, Alcaraz and Traore you could question... and how much did they cost between them?

6) Fans mostly hate managers’ subs, we all hated Moyes’s. Martinez’s were good last season; not so much this one. You are right but he’s hardly been overflowing with options.

I’d agree with the rest though.

Ged Dwyer
58 Posted 10/02/2015 at 16:18:30
The easy summing up of Martinez is that he has good football principles but cannot back it up with common sense and I have no confidence in him adapting to situations as they occur. I can see him making the same mistakes for the Leicester home game after playing in Europe as he did for the Palace home game after playing in midweek against Wolfsburg – and his substitutions have become ridiculous.

And the signing of Lukaku is a disaster. Seven league goals and very little else from him in the Premier League. His derby performance summed up his weaknesses: poor control, lack of effort and awful positional sense. (How many times was he caught offside?)

Other teams have strikers who make things happen out of nothing, we have a striker who ends most attacks. There is no chance of him being dropped or substituted and it is killing us.

To think we could have signed Wellbeck and Long for 㿈M... It is typical of Everton, we had the chance to really do something this season and we blew it again.

Richard Reeves
59 Posted 10/02/2015 at 15:41:39
There’s no pleasure without pain, people. We’re Evertonians so firstly we have to suffer a little... and, to have success, we have to suffer a little more.
Fredrick Parchment
60 Posted 10/02/2015 at 16:41:06
To support James’s article to some degree, I read somewhere that when Stones and Jags are linked up for 90 mins (the article mentioned that has occurred 11 times) we have never lost a game.

So injuries in this case have been crippling for us.

Harold Matthews
61 Posted 10/02/2015 at 17:28:07
Brent. It probably requires someone with intelligence and anticipation who can read the game and not wander off.

Most managers like a strong athlete but Claude Makelele was tiny and Martinez converted diminutive Swansea winger Britton into his main DM. Brains before brawn.

Andy Crooks
62 Posted 10/02/2015 at 18:22:41
Harold if you keep posting this reasonable stuff you are only going to encourage reasonable debate . Stop it.

This has been a good thread demonstrating what is good about the site.

However, Martinez out!!

Mike Allison
63 Posted 10/02/2015 at 21:06:07
Haven’t got time to read all the comments yet but the OP is at the very least a well thought out alternative view to a lot of the criticism that has been on ToffeeWeb over the last few months (including from myself). I certainly hope you’re right James and the last few games have had me considering writing something similar. If you look at Moyes’s record, his second full season we ended up 17th, then consistently jumped into the 5-8 positions for almost all of his other seasons.

Martinez has lots of flaws, and we’ve all started to recognise them, I just want to believe that he is willing to recognise them and work on them. If so, then I feel there’s hope yet.

One nit-pick, you mention that Deulofeu wasn’t replaced. Well he was, with international superstar Christian Atsu (no that’s not sarcasm) who was just awarded Player of the Tournament and Goal of the Tournament in the Africa Cup of Nations, but who hasn’t had a chance in our side this season.

Simon Temme
64 Posted 10/02/2015 at 22:10:10

I do agree with a lot of your views however, I just wanted to thank you for starting quite probably one of the most incisive, intellegent and articulate threads I have read on TW for a long time.

Keep up the good work all.

Peter Gorman
65 Posted 10/02/2015 at 18:25:19
Brave article indeed but there is little substance to this defense of Martinez. It is as plain as the league table and stats from OPTA that the man is not up to the job so I would be gutted if he is not dismissed before the start of next season.

I wanted Moyes out probably as much as the next fan after it became obvious his head had been turned but it is disingenuous for some to praise Martinez for being ’un-Moyes’ like when the latter barely finished outside the top 8 with Everton. As bad as performances could be, I never remember a season this bad, even before Rooney left.

Lastly, nobody can defend the sheer dereliction of duty during the pre-season and the glib statements during the opening months from him that we simply had no energy. All points to the fact that he is out of his depth. And really lastly, the continual insults to everyone’s intelligence. Embarrassing stuff. I don’t want to be embarrassed being a fan but that is how it mostly is these days.

Mike Dolan
66 Posted 11/02/2015 at 07:33:49
We are dreadful when we are losing. We are brilliant when we are winning. We are Evertonians we expect to win Always Keep the faith.

Colin Glassar
67 Posted 11/02/2015 at 08:26:07
Despite my support for Roberto, I expect us to lose tonight and so I can only imagine the battering he will receive later on.

Rome wasn't built in a day and his rebuilding of EFC will take some time but he will get there despite the occasional drubbing by the likes of super rich Chelsea.

Ian Burns
69 Posted 11/02/2015 at 13:54:19
I have to admit that I am sharpening my pen for RM tonight. I have lost all faith in that man – at least Inspector Clouseau was funny.
Brian Waring
70 Posted 11/02/2015 at 14:12:56
"I have to admit that I am sharpening my pen for RM tonight"

I take it then Ian that if we get something out of the game you will be sharpening that pen to offer some praise?

Mike Allison
71 Posted 13/02/2015 at 23:31:17
The thing is Colin, Everton didn't need building, it was in a strong position when Martinez started. It needed a few tweaks maybe, but we've gone a long way backward this season, and it's hard to keep that faith that we will be going back to where we were, let alone beyond it.
Phillip Yensen
72 Posted 15/02/2015 at 00:41:46
I would like to pass on my thoughts to other bewildered, bothered and baffled blue noses. Why are we so bad this season, here is some food for thought.

We played some great football under Moyes. Aggression, skill, teamwork and great team spirit. All of which Martinez inherited, so a mixture of play from both managers was apparent last season. Like the two managers are different so are our styles of play. Moyes used to prowl his technical area barking out orders and giving the evil eye to those who fell short. Martinez, cardboard cut-out on a little track arms folded going from side to side. One team with balls and bravado. The other banal and boring.

Watching Lukaku make run after run for a logical pass that could have made a goal scoring opportunity or create space, only for the pass to go squarely across the park or backwards. Eventually the ball launched from 40 yards away at him or for him to chase. After 4 or 5 sprints seeking a pass and wasting vital energy, especially as a permanent solo striker with two hairy arsed centrehalf hacking at him. We seem to be leg weary or unfit but I think heartless and passionless is the answer.

Our saviour Barkley comes on and the cheer goes round the stadium, but which Barkley has come on? The usual Barkley is "I'll graft if I feel like it, or pass and move if I feel like it, or chase back and defend if I feel like it..." Or the young gun, swashbuckling and hungry. He is for Ross Barkley, not Everton.

Ultimately the selection, style, passion and heart is inspired and driven by the head coach and staff; possession football does not work

Robert Moyes or Davey Martinez if only! Give us some passion back, Roberto, or leave.

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