Over the last few weeks, Roberto Martinez has spoken on a number of occasions about the disastrous start we had to the season causing a total loss of confidence, from which the players have never recovered. Losing leads at Leicester and against Arsenal at Goodison, followed by the Chelsea drubbing, hit the players and I suspect Martinez and staff so hard that they have never been able to put together the two or three wins on the bounce you need to get self-belief, belief in your teammates and belief in the Martinez system. I think during this period Martinez also lost belief in his defence, in his centre halves and their relationship with their goalkeeper and in our full backs' ability to stop crosses coming in.

Since that period we have put one or two good performances together but always followed by two or three disastrous performances, culminating in that Christmas period with four losses on the bounce. Other than at Hull and today at Arsenal, Martinez hasn’t deviated from his preferred 4-2-3-1 shape. I think he is more open to change than we give him credit for, but he just hasn’t trusted the defence since that August start and he has gone out in all games to first and foremost protect the defence.

The Hull game was one where he tried a 3-5-2 shape which totally failed; today was a 4-3-3 shape which worked well to be fair, but was slow and ponderous and gave no support to the attack.

Another issue he has had to face has been a major inability to defend set pieces. I don’t know how many goals we have conceded from set pieces, but it must be in double numbers at least, and just to rub it in his goalkeeper has decided to have his worse season ever with us.

Put this all together and we have a manager, staff and team really not having a clue what type of performance they are going to deliver, a team without any self-confidence or confidence in their mates. Making it worse is our complete lack of inventiveness, creativity largely caused by slow passing, no attacking support, no risks being taken, and missing the key players who can make things happen: Osman, Pienaar, and Gibson. It’s really has been a bit too much for Barkley, he has just lost his way in the sea of mediocrity around him. Our Europa League form, whilst better than the Premier League, was still a bit iffy with some luck against Krasnodar, and particularly in both games against Wolfsburg.

I’m absolutely sure the players like the fans are driven mad by Martinez’s media conferences and excuses, but he is the type where his glass is always half-full and no-one is ever going to change him. This almost total disregard for the truth has caused further pressure on the team and the fans reaction at Goodison has made it reach a point that frankly the players are almost scared stiff to try anything at Goodison. If today’s game would have been at Goodison, the crowd would have gone ballistic after 20 minutes of the 1st half.

No matter how we feel, there is improvement in our performances since that Xmas/New Year period. I do believe that it’s so important to stay alive in the Europa League; to lose out against Dinamo Kyiv will only cause further mistrust, disbelief in the team and staff, and that’s the last thing we need. Can we turn our Premier League form around to take major steps away from the relegation zone? I doubt it, there are just too many obstacles ahead of us with games against Southampton, Swansea City due shortly, and somehow I think lucky Manchester United might just continue with their wretched but winning form and get revenge against us, from last season’s double over them.

Something inside me says we will survive... although not very prettily, but we have to have belief that we can do it. It’s all about belief.

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David Hallwood
1 Posted 02/03/2015 at 17:09:05
A good read Mike, but football is all about opinions and I don't buy some of your assertions. Firstly, Everton wasn't the only side that started poorly, our nearest and dearest and Spurs to name two started as shaky as us. but good players will always turn it around.

Secondly, you refer to a sea of mediocrity surrounding Barkley; well all I can say you obviously haven't been supporting Everton that long. Now Carl Tiler, Gareth Farrelly, John Spencer et al-now that WAS mediocrity. We have a talented squad, with at least six of them linked to 'big' clubs; in fact this is the most talented squad since the 80's.

More disturbingly are the stats that we've made more defensive errors than any other team and we've lost more points from a winning positions, points to a lack of leadership and character within the squad. Too good to go down? Let's hope so.

Phil Gardner
2 Posted 02/03/2015 at 17:26:46
Barkley is nowhere near ready for the Messiah role I'm afraid. He's far too erratic and I think his character will always becalled into question...he's a very quiet, timid individual by nature and that reflects in his form. Quite simply, when the going gets tough he's a lost little boy. He cant handle the Goodison groans and rather than rolling up his sleeves he goes into his shell...21yrs old or not. A fully fit Gibson (really?) would make a huge difference to this side, and Lukaku...as would a Naismith who was 2 yards quicker. Martinez needs to be much more flexible and bolder I believe. We have had some shocking poor luck this season with injuries/decisions but you have to get past that...it's Everton and Goodison must have been built on an Aboriginal sacred burial ground or summat....we all know that we very seldom get the 'rub of the green' as far as Lady Luck goes. There are buffoons in the boardroom so don't look for any help from that area. The test is for RM.....he's got 6 weeks I reckon because a burst of form/inspiration from Sherwood will see us staring down the barrel...its a good job QPR/Leicester are backpedalling because in our current guise we are simply not equipped for anykind of rough and tumble dogfight for survival...and we most certainly wont bounce straight back, stronger...from the Championship!!
Brian Hill
3 Posted 02/03/2015 at 17:43:19
Today, "was a 4-3-3 shape which worked well to be fair, but was slow and ponderous and gave no support to the attack."

This is beyond my comprehension. How is a football system which "works well", "slow and ponderous and gave no support to the attack"?

Paul Ellam
4 Posted 02/03/2015 at 18:10:56
I believe.
I believe there are 3 worse teams than us and we will stay up.
The very fact I have just written that sentence and the subject of relegation is up for discussion though, is heart breaking.
What has happened this season?
We need a big turnaround in the summer, players out and players in.

Joe Foster
5 Posted 02/03/2015 at 18:30:31
I dare not even think about what kind of mess we will be in the summer. Disgraceful
Wayne Smyth
6 Posted 02/03/2015 at 18:32:53
My impressions during and after the weekend game was that the performance was actually ok and we were unlucky to lose. From what I've read here, there seems near universal condemnation for another 3 points dropped.

Now, unless someone is going to correct me, I don't think we have ever fared well against Arsenal away. In fact the last Premier League game they lost there was against Man Utd about 5 months ago.

The thing which annoyed me the most, other than the loss, was that Lukaku didn't make the most of the contact with Ospina in the first half. He should've been down like a sack of spuds when Ospina put his arm out and we'd have had a pen and maybe a game versus 10 men. That's the difference between winning teams and us over the years. We just don't want to win as much and play far too nice.

It was a similar story against Chelsea a few weeks ago. They relied on a sending off and a deflection to beat us in the last minutes and a ref without the balls to send off Ivanovich.

I guess my point is that, since the diabolical showings against Hull, Southampton and Newcastle, the performances have actually improved... even if the results have not.

It's also clear that the team have no confidence, and this is a problem when half the team is made up of players with very limited top flight experience. The strange thing is that the worst performers have been the old guard. Jags, Howard, Distin. God knows how many points those players are directly responsible for us losing.

I think there are (thankfully) 3 worse teams than us this season. I think we will survive and I can't see BK having the balls to sack Martinez if that happens. Next season will be interesting, with Martinez having the summer to understand what he thinks he needs to do to turn it around.

It wouldn't surprise me if the same team that looks like they have two left feet now, reverts next season to winning games for fun as we saw last season. Equally you wouldn't put it past us starting off as we did this season and ending up in the shit....in which case you would hope BK would find the backbone to get shot of Martinez sooner rather than later.

I read this article today which I thought was very well balanced and made for better reading than some of the stuff I read here:

http://www.sos1878.co.uk/Everton-news/Martinez-losing-arsenal-unacceptable/

As the author states, it's important that we as fans get behind the team for the 90 minutes they are on the pitch and not make Goodison a hostile place to play for our own players.

Patrick Murphy
7 Posted 02/03/2015 at 19:03:57
The fans at Goodison have been giving their opinion on what they have witnessed since the beginning of the season, first they tried the silent treatment - nobody listened, then they tried when Everton were actually winning a match - nobody listened, recently they have been more vociferous in their disdain and still nobody listened.

It seems strange to me that Evertonians who have seen their heroes put in some really really poor results and half-hearted performances are somehow being unfaithful to the Club. I watched Manchester United take on Sunderland at the Weekend and the Old Trafford fans twice gave the team the bird for faffing about at the back - one situation was justified the other not, but has anybody had a go at their supporters anywhere in the media?

I'm a sick and tired of hearing about how Evertonians should and should not behave, especially when the supporters of other clubs are lauded by the media for their passion even when they overstep the mark and even go as far as to threaten the lives of whoever they happen to be disenchanted with this week.

Our fans watch the same football as the rest of the country they attend football matches all over the UK and Europe and should be listened to rather than dismissed by some sanctimonious writer on an Everton related website.

Every Evertonian with any sense of the club's affairs will know that most of the 'bile' that has been seen this weekend had little to do with being beaten by Arsenal and a lot more to do with the realisation that the team are not dying for the cause - notice not a single booking yesterday for Everton, not the usual trait of a team battling for survival.

Craig Mills
8 Posted 02/03/2015 at 19:36:00
It's all about belief - the problem is Mike, the fans are fast losing the belief.....

Is there still belief in Martinez - NO
Is there belief in our style of play - NO
On current form, is there belief this group of players can get the points required for PL safety - NO

Is there really 3 worse teams than Everton.......because I'm not sure there is

John Cartwright
9 Posted 02/03/2015 at 19:51:34
Wayne #6
I read the article on SOS. I think it was very complacent to say the least. I don't want to wait through the summer and onto Christmas. We need to start winning now!!
Wayne Smyth
10 Posted 02/03/2015 at 19:47:28
Patrick, do you think booing Jags for a backpass when 3-1 up is going to have the desired effect? How about giving a 20 year old verbal because he tried something that didn't come off? Hasn't worked has it? We're still not doing any better. Probably made you feel better, though, and I understand that.

How many people were giving Lukaku shit earlier this season and not one of them had a fucking clue he was playing injured? People get annoyed with Barkley for not working hard enough, but how do we know he's not under specific orders to save his energy for forward runs?

But you're right, people pay their money and have the right to say what they want and to whom they want, but personally, I doubt that giving players shit during a match is likely to make Everton more likely to win. If anything it will give the opposition a massive lift.

I'm not saying the players have shown the right kind of effort, or the manager hasn't made mistakes, but I am saying that the team is not going to play any better when they are getting shit from all sides. Your choice what you do. The players and management are transient and probably don't give a shit about the club, either. They still get paid.

I also think comparisons with Man Utd are way off mark. That is probably a £500M squad with the highest wage bill in the country. They spent £30M+ on a one season loan for fucks sake because Rooney, Van Persie, Mata and Di Maria were not quite enough.

If we were reliant on an established world-class front line, instead of Barkley, Naismith and Lukaku I somehow think that we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Tim Michael
11 Posted 02/03/2015 at 19:53:40
Mike, I'm not sure where your argument is going to. You mention about the early season results affecting performance but as previously said in comment, this has long gone and should not be relevant to the position we are in today. Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal have all recovered from indifferent starts so why not EFC? Also to say that RM has no confidence in his defence is puzzling to say the least. There is no doubt that the return of Stones has been a bonus for RM but the re-instatement of Howard would not happened if he had been unhappy with his defence. He must have seen that Howard was well out of form. Also Sylvain Distin has disappeared off the radar. Now lets get something straight about Sylvain. EFC have brought his demise on themselves. Over the years, they've pressed him onto service for 40 odd games a season and this season its caught up with him. Along with Howard he's suffered but Martinez continued to insist early in the season that they were the first choice guardians. Didn't look as if he was distrusting of them then!

Allocation for Stoke (A) has been sold out plus don't be surprised if Newcastle (H) is sold out. The fans are doing their bit by turning up, its about time the manager and the players did.

Steve Davies
12 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:12:17
Apparently players will come to Everton because of our style of play says the great one. Well they won't come for the results will they?

They won't come if we get relegated. I just wish RM would just shut up for once. If EFC actually win a few games then I may listen to him again. As it is I turn him off now when he is on TV. He has run out of excuses.......has anybody ever told him you make your own luck in this world!

If he was a half competent manager with the right tactics, with this squad we wouldn't need luck......

Pete Edwards
13 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:32:27
Complaining because we had no bookings in a game Patrick....what next!
Derek Thomas
14 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:37:10
Roberto believes, almost everybody else doesn't, not any more...Oh and maybe Bill, he does...and sadly, that's what counts
Patrick Murphy
15 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:24:32
No Wayne - I'm not saying that booing any of our players is justified even when they are having a mare and yes of course there will always be supporters inside any stadium giving it loads to players they don't like for one reason or another, there are some United fans who thought Bobby Charlton was over-rated, I bet there are even some Blues who thought Bally was too selfish and not a team player.

BTW I was at the QPR game and I was astounded by the reaction of the crowd especially from the Lower Gwladys Street. I also acknowledge that people who are on minimum wage and who spend a good portion of their wages on visiting Goodison or any other ground to watch Everton are there to see their team entertain them and hopefully win, if they fail to do either then some people will give out the brick-bats with some justification.

It could be argued, that the reaction by some supporters in that QPR game, has led directly to the poor results since, but that would be even more shameful if true, because professional sportsmen shouldn't be so easily swayed by an adverse crowd reaction it should in fact have made them even more determined to give of their best. Perhaps the crowd reaction that night also gave our neigbours a boost as that win took Everton above them on goal difference with both teams on 21 points.

As for how much certain clubs have spent on transfers I don't think that matters one jot, football is part of the entertainment industry and most people go to the match to be entertained. I don't go to the cinema and think to myself well this film should be crap because it is a low-budget film, likewise I wouldn't be more critical of a Hollywood blockbuster because it cost x amount to produce, the admission price will be the same for both.

Something is either entertaining or it isn't and for the most part, watching Everton this season has been as far from entertainment as I could imagine given the quality of the players in the squad.

Tony McNulty
16 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:44:57
Steve (12) I agree that a period of silence from RM would now be welcome (apologies to Attlee). The trouble is that Sky and others now insist on these ludicrous post match and other interviews (I think it is even part of the contract).

Most of what gets said during these interviews is content-free or patent nonsense (and it's not just RM). I guess RM could happily do without having to talk interminable nonsense in order to fill vacant slots on Sky news and elsewhere (or does he actually enjoy this part of the job?) Certainly we learn very little when the latest pearls of wisdom are doled out, and some of the content is quite irritating.

Phil Gardner
17 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:57:34
I live in Newcastle...surrounded by six fingered won-nowt Coalyokels of the Wonga Arcade. Theyve been silent for years. The telling (frightening) comment from several of their more intelligent contigent (who don't partake in inter-family coital relationships) is that there are only two teams in the league that they are confident of getting three points against....that is QPR and Everton. That comment was made around Xmas time and is far more accurate now. These are very worrying times Gents.
Oliver Molloy
18 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:57:16
Wayne @ 10
Barkley gives the ball away time and time again,loses possession time and time again and just stands and watches. I don't believe for one minute that Martinez has given him his blessing that this is acceptable.

He is 21 years old and is a big lad and should be well capable of holding his own, the fact is he doesn't do it.
He has no bottle and if there is 50-50 challenge,well the less said the better, and that really says it all.
As I said yesterday, I wouldn't have him in the team again unless absolutely necessary.
30 million, even 50 million were figures mentioned for this player, I must be missing something that,s all I can say!

Barry Stevens
19 Posted 02/03/2015 at 21:16:40
Just a little side note on this Barkley the lazy so and so. In yesterday's game he covered more ground than any other player in our team. Fact
Oliver Molloy
20 Posted 02/03/2015 at 21:27:15
Big deal Barry. Fact!
Jamie Barlow
21 Posted 02/03/2015 at 21:32:12
Running away from the ball was he?
Barry Stevens
22 Posted 02/03/2015 at 21:44:05
Oliver. Just pointing out he can't be standing around that much can he if stats say otherwise.

Jamie. Good one. Made me chuckle that

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 02/03/2015 at 20:58:33
Football is generally all about yourselves, and you should really only have to change things if you are playing against a very good team.

Martinez, has constantly changed it, and has nowhere near concentrated on his own team enough. He has rarely selected the right formation this season, and prefers to play, players out of position, rather than do this. This has left the team struggling for momentum, and the fans struggling to enjoy it.

HeÂ’s looked too far ahead, instead of game by game, and it has resulted in him getting totally lost. LetÂ’s face it wouldnÂ’t we have been better playing a more defensive game yesterday, and attacking with purpose, when the chance arose? We looked ponderous and lacking in ideas, against an Arsenal team, that wasnÂ’t to dissimilar.

ItÂ’s confusing to me because when I saw the team play in Switzerland, it was full of attacking intent, and although Arsenal might be a better team, why was our tactics so different?
How can the belief that was so evident against Young Boys, be lacking so much just ten days later? Staggering really when you consider we hadnÂ’t lost a game, and had scored nine goals in those previous three games!

John Keating
24 Posted 02/03/2015 at 22:18:43
I canÂ’t believe folk who say we shouldnÂ’t boo or call the players everything under the sun if theyÂ’re playing shite and putting zero effort in.
Bollocks to them !
I personally donÂ’t give a shit. This is my club theyÂ’re taking the piss out of !
Every single one of us would give anything to play for Everton. These cowboys get that chance and take the piss.
Sorry lads if IÂ’m at the match and I see crap then IÂ’ll let them know.
If IÂ’m away and have to watch it on the box or the computer....well IÂ’ll still give them stick and go and replace the broken laptop.
Every club without exception has been giving their players stick since I can remember - 1960 - so whatÂ’s changed ?
Michael Penn
25 Posted 03/03/2015 at 02:14:27
Mike described the play perfectly – slow and ponderous. I counted numerous times against Arsenal when Coleman had acres of space to run into yet seemed to go no further than the halfway line. That's completely different to last year when he would fearlessly bomb down the wing. Last season, the two CB's would split and cover the area behind the fullbacks, with Barry and McCarthy filling in defensively. Why isn't that happening this season? Lack of confidence in defense? Tiredness?

In my opinion the lack of pace, directness and service for Lukaku starts at the back: A lack of confidence in Howard and lack of confidence in our ability to defend. Lack of confidence in the 'keeper is making Stones and Jagielka much more cautious in their play.

As Mike said, there's not much to do but believe we can get through this nightmare season, ditch Howard in the summer and hope we don't lose too many other players. Removing Howard isn't the whole answer, but it will go a long way in my view.

Mohammed Horoub
26 Posted 03/03/2015 at 05:18:03
Ross Barkley's Premier League stats:

66 Games,
44 Starts,
4000+ minutes,
7 Goals,
1 Assist,
80 shots (30 on target).

He had 1 shot on Sunday which went for a throw in (I'm not sure if that even qualifies as 'off target'). Sorry, I couldn't find how many kms he ran in those 66 games because, like the rest of the world, no one cares...

Fabregas has 30 assists in his last 66 Premier League games. He cost 㿏 million. El Delusional thinks our gem is (was) worth 㿨 million. Pressure usually produces diamonds but it seems in this case it has crushed our gem.

What stats can't reflect is heart and desire and from what I have seen Barkley has Zero. Right now, he is the only guy I wouldn't mind seeing come on as Bobby's phenomenal 85th minute sub. He needs to be removed from the spotlight a little and hope no long-term damage has been done.

With regards to the team, I agree with most of what's been said on here the last few days. Until it happens, I will express my views with a 'fuck off' list:

1) Roberto Martinez and his whole staff;
2) Tim Howard;
3) Kevin Mirallas;
4) Gareth Barry;
5) Tim Howard (just in case).

Distin, Pienaar, Hibbert and Osman have been great servants but need to be replaced this summer. We need 8-10 points to get to safety. Hopefully we can get them ASAP and put this season to rest.

The only problem with sacking Bobby is that, based on Kenwright's hiring criteria, we will get either Monk or Allardyce because he seems to be impressed with that particular achievement. Regardless, I will breathe easier when Martinez has taken his philosophy to Spain or Italy.

Hoping we can collect 5 pts in the next 3 games...

Mike Gwyer
27 Posted 03/03/2015 at 06:02:43

Tim Michael #11.

Solid post and true to the bone regarding Distin. The older you get the more you seem to realise "you know what, what your saying is total bollox" and I believe Distin basically had had enough of RM's philosophy of football. Distin is still picking up his weekly wage but my betting is that he couldn't give a fuck as to what RM is asking his players to do. Sad.

Mike Oates, you seem to be making excuses for RM when the players are only doing what they are told to do. Jags and Stones are a solid CB pairing but time after time either one of them will fuck up with this pass, pass, pass shite that we continually play from the back. For me, its an odds on bet that you will see at least one error per game and with EPL forwards, a goal opportunity usually results from one of our fuck-ups.

Do the players have belief in RM?? For me who cares really, not many people I know like their boss but they all do as they are told, it's part of the work process, here's the plan now do the work. Or do you think it's Jags out and a Stones type CB in?? If that's the case RM should of done that last summer or definitely during the last transfer window, because now its Jags and Stones who will have to get us over the finishing line. Alcaraz is a crab passing snail paced donkey, actually he's just fucking shite and Distin is probably out enjoying himself.

Lastly, I don't agree that we have improved since xmas, as a matter of fact I don't think we have improved, as a team, this whole campaign. We are still playing the same ball retention, fucking crab passing shite that is driving me up the wall. Being totally honest, I have no idea what RM is trying to do, no idea at all. Is he trying to bore the shit out of the opposition?? Then we do what exactly, get the good stats award for finally achieving over 80 percent ball possession. I fully understand "if we have the ball then you can't score" but someone needs to tell RM that we have to score.

Basically Mike, this is Everton and RM has finally gone a club to far.

Steve Pugh
28 Posted 03/03/2015 at 10:19:16
It has nothing to do with belief, it is all about doing what you are good at. In Europe we are at our best because teams come at us and we can pass our way around them on the break and score. In the Prem teams sit back and we can't break them down.

Solution, give their defence the ball and make them play, especially teams like Arsenal at their ground. How many times have we "played like the home team" because the opposition know that we will play it around the back and lose it? If we, dare I say it, hoof the ball forward instead of passing it around at the back and then pressure them like we do in Europe then we might see some results.

Now I am no football manager but this looks so obvious to me and if Martinez can't see (accept) it then he has to go. I don't mind him having a long term philosophy but he needs a short term bit of common sense.

Christine Foster
29 Posted 03/03/2015 at 10:19:00
Defensive errors continue to cost us dearly and one has to ask why are we so prone? Tactically there is an old saying in football: "Don't play around with it at the back... get it out of the danger area before you try to play football."

Why is this pertinent? Well it's because defensive players are not known for agility, speed or skill; they are blockers and not creators. Agreed there are some very good and skillful defensive players but ball control and nouse just isn't in their kitbag.

Asking our players to knock a ball around sideways is an invitation to disaster. We are not Barcelona, Chelsea or even Man Utd... we are not blessed with a centre-back pairing of brilliant skill of a Ballack, nope we have Jags... Have you ever noticed BTW how many deflected goals come off his body? It seems like every second game. I shudder when I see him dive in to block a shot... Howard must cringe in fear!

So, no-one is advocating hoofball... but the opposition cannot score from their penalty area, but they can from ours... especially if we keep making mistakes. A good forward will just have to sit and wait; he won't even have to run very far when we stuff it up..

Get it out of the danger area quick. (I wonder what the fabulous possession stats would make of our possession in the attacking of defensive halves? Now that would tell the real story...)

Victor Jones
31 Posted 03/03/2015 at 14:57:58
Good one Mohammed, putting Tim Howard on your list twice.

I agree with comments on here that Martinez should now refrain from making any more post-match comments. My grandson talks more sense. How about letting Mr G Jones make a few comments. Lets hear what he has to say. By the way, what does he look like, so I will be able to recognise him?

As for blaming the poor start to the season for everything. What a load of nonsense. How come it has not affected the European campaign? It might also make Mr Martinez pay more attention to pre-season build up. Get his players fit. Fit to actually start a campaign flying. Not this fit for fuck all nonsense that we are now enduring. Pardon my French.

Tony Rutherford
32 Posted 03/03/2015 at 15:21:40
Mike, great article; while I don’t agree with all the points, I think the title says it all.

My view is that defensively we had started to look a lot better after Christmas and we had started to concede fewer goals, but then the master tactician brought in Tim Howard when he didn’t really need to. Robles could have been kept in for the Chelsea game and if things didn’t go well then he would have had an opportunity to bring Howard in anyway.

In terms of belief this is where Martinez has really let himself down... and it’s criminal that he doesn’t seem to instill the confidence in players and get them revved up for must-win games at home. Stoke / West Brom and Leicester being the prime examples, where we have spent the first 30 mins playing the turtle-paced possession game that really bores the pants off me.

Why don’t they come out of the traps quickly and really put the opposition under pressure and have a go? This will help getting the crowd behind them and you never know, we may actually score!! It’s the same at the beginning of the second half generally as well.

To me, it’s not about the winning away at Arsenal – it’s more about winning at home against teams with inferior squads than us, which is where the criticism should be aimed at Martinez. It’s not worth sacking him now; I agree with a number of posters who say he should be given until Christmas to see whether he can really turn it around.

My big concern is, while there are definitely three teams worse than us in the Premier League, one thing they are doing is battling a lot harder than we are; if we do get sucked in further, I haven’t seen anything so far that is indicating that we can roll up our sleeves when we need to. This is so frustrating when you see the performances in Europe.

Do me a favour, Roberto: pick the best team of in-form players and the ones that really will have a go and give them a rocket before they go out. Let’s go for it in the last 11 games. I love the blues don’t you dare sell them down the river for a Philosophy!!

Victor Jones
33 Posted 03/03/2015 at 15:42:15
It's all about belief. Sorry, but I thought that it was all putting the ball in the onion bag. Bang. Bang. Bang. Three goals and three points. Move on to the next match. Thank you very much.

I would have thought that after the relatively good season last year, that this team would have had all the belief that was necessary. But no... our resident genius had other ideas.

And some of our internationals this season must have played their way out of their national teams. But TBH I don't really care about that.

Let's try and do the right things against Stoke. And fingers crossed, we can get a result. COYBs.

Jim Hardin
35 Posted 03/03/2015 at 19:51:07
Mike #25,
The defense actually looked more confident and pushed more when Howard returned. There is little confidence that Robles has a clue or the actual ability to know when to come out and when to stay as evidenced by the Liverpool game. Robles is a puncher instead of a catching keeper and that will only create more chances for the opposition to keep pinging the ball at the net. Howard, statistically regarding saves per attempts, and distribution distance and percentage is better.

You guys keep wanting Robles but the problem isn't the keeper it is the lack of defending and practicing at defending especially with the number of player changes RM makes. With Robles in, Jags didn't try to get too far forward to gamble on breaking up a pass. With Howard , he plays higher and gets to those balls more often before they get to the box.

The problem with the outside backs getting forward is they have to trust in the mids. Barry yes, McCarthy, yes, but Besic is simply awful at picking and staying in a defensive position. Coleman didn't start going forward until Besic got moved farther away from goal in the three mid system. He adds little to the attack. My son put on a Besic jersey and started passing backwards and sideways!

When the outside backs know that a mid is likely to be caught to highup the field and not going to be in position, they hold back. Now you add Garbutt to the mix and Barry will be dropping and staying deeper and so will Coleman due to Garbutt only knowing really how to attack (A good player mind you but defensively naive). Hope Gibbo starts so we can get Lukaku facing goal and running down some through balls.

Alan Bodell
36 Posted 03/03/2015 at 20:40:11
Well I'm watching Villa/WBA now and it's halftime and believe me Villa are fighting so I only hope Martinez is watching and not actually believing those now below us are going to just fold up.
Scary times.
Ian Bennett
37 Posted 03/03/2015 at 20:35:35
Jim 35 - get ready to get slaughtered. Most of that post is pish.

Howard has the lowest save ratio in the premiership, whilst Robles kept 3 clean sheets in a row. The devil is in the detail. Whether you are a statto, just watch the game or listen to commentators the conclusion is the same. Howard is a liability, and like Distin is well past his sell by date.

What I don’t work out is Martinez ditched Distin, but stands by the flapper who gets nailed with ease most weeks. Having to score 3 goals a game to win is a crime. Bobby just never learns...

Andy Crooks
38 Posted 03/03/2015 at 20:50:54
Jim, have you watched Howard lately? Have you missed the incredible howlers?
Dave Abrahams
39 Posted 03/03/2015 at 20:33:08
Jim. (35) did you go to the games when Robles got a real chance in the team, he wasn't punching the ball at all, he was catching the ball moving yards out of his goal to make these catches, something Howard rarely does.

I didn't think the defence looked more confident when Howard came back it looked exactly the reverse to me.

You like Howard I prefer Robles at the moment, but if Robles gets back in he has lost his momentum and has to start all over again.

John Daley
40 Posted 03/03/2015 at 20:48:28
"My son put on a Besic jersey and started passing backwards and sideways!"

My arl grandad put on a shirt with no name, started making a beeping noise like a bin lorry reversing, ambled about a bit like he was in the bathroom with his kecks around his ankles looking for some bog roll, stopped, clutched his lower back, then looked bewildered as fuck as he tried to fathom out why there wasn't actually a ball at his feet.

 "Gareth Barry!!", we all cried in unison.

Andy Crooks
41 Posted 03/03/2015 at 21:39:25
John, I needed a laugh. That is as good as it gets, brilliant stuff.
David Harrison
42 Posted 03/03/2015 at 21:44:53
Points for Hull, Sunderland and Villa tonight. The fact I am even bothered is worrying but I just don't think our manager gets it at all. It's like he is in a vacuum. We are deep in the brown stuff now and the finishing line is too many games away. Is anybody so confident we will stay up now?
Paul Tran
43 Posted 03/03/2015 at 21:50:31
I'm with Victor on this one. We'll get momentum by creating chances, having shots and scoring goals. In all my years of watching EFC, I've never seen a side that creates so few chances.

It's not bad luck when you create little or nothing, you don't make anything happen and then the other team, which tries to make things happen, has a bit of pace and has shots, finally manages to score a goal or two.

Paul Hewitt
44 Posted 03/03/2015 at 21:58:12
David @42 until the players relies that we are in a relegation scrap(they don't think we are) then results wont change.
David Cromwell
45 Posted 03/03/2015 at 21:36:33
Howard would have to be, on form, the luckiest player in the Premier League, Jim Hardin. I've seen goalkeepers ride the bench – and never make it back – for less howlers than our (ahem) "custodian" has put together this season. You could make a compilation, an A to Z of clangers.

Bizarre, Howard had a good World Cup, culminating in the Belgium game. Funnily enough, I watched it and remember thinking when Rom scored that I hoped they'd both have more memorable moments in the coming season.

To be honest, I reckon one of the gaffer's biggest problems is his team selection. It seems almost as if he's got this notion of squad management, and the need to rotate them constantly – for the "gruelling" schedule no doubt – than picking a team on form, or that fits the gameplan. It's become an end in itself.

I knew he'd start Lennon over Mirallas versus Leicester because the loanee is cup-tied in Europe, and he wanted to save Mirallas for midweek. For me this is crazy, and purely for the reason that Mirallas really combines well with Lukaku, I would have started both Belgians. As it turned out, they played together in Europe, and scored all three Everton goals in the game. In a tie we led 4-1.

I'm starting to think that Roberto is as daft as a brush really, not a good place to be. Does anyone else see a fella who lives, breathes and eats football, knows the game backwards and forwards, yet hasn't really got any common sense?

Villa just scored a last minute penalty to take three points. It's on around us, will we wake up in time to drag ourselves above the mire?

Darren Hind
46 Posted 03/03/2015 at 22:01:00
Agreed Paul

We haven't had great luck, but we haven't earned any

Trevor Peers
47 Posted 03/03/2015 at 22:04:44
Results went our went again tonight. It's all set up for us to get a result tomorrow against lesser opposition than Arsenal; I believe we can get a result especially if we can grab an early goal.

It will leave a bitter taste if we don't get something out of the game. It's gone way beyond our feelings about the manager we just need to win!

Bill Gall
48 Posted 03/03/2015 at 22:35:25
Paul, If the players do not realize that they are in a relegation fight by now, I am afraid they never will.
Victor Jones
49 Posted 03/03/2015 at 23:04:30
Hear, hear, Paul. You only win football matches by scoring goals. Why are we not scoring? Well that has to be down to the fact that we mainly play our nervous tippy tappy nonsense in our own half. Most of the players, when in an attacking position, stop , turn and then proceed to pass backwards. Teams can defend against that all day long. And can our player not shoot anymore? And were are the goals that we could always rely on from the likes of Coleman, Baines, our midfielders and our wingers. If it was not for Lukaku, and to an extent Naismith, We would be in even more trouble. This is a team game, and it is time they started playing like one. Even the great Dixie Dean, and Bob Latchford would struggle to score in this team.

I have watched some very negative football at GP over the years. And a few away matches as well. But this is close to being the worst ever. Martinez looks like he is now setting up to not concede. That's good. But he is now neglecting the attacking side of things. Why else does he refuse to play Kone alongside Lukaku. I think that that might just pay dividends. Play 4-4-2. With two positive midfielders. The wing play does not for now work. We have no quality wingers. Let the wingback bomb forward. Let the wingback have the freedom to actually put in a few crosses. Just like Garbutt has been doing recently.

Anyhow, this is all conjecture. Because Martinez will have none of it. Dare I say it. But this is the way he had Wigan playing. Scared and shackled and clueless. I don't agree that results went our way tonight. We do not want Villa picking up wins and points.

Last point: I heard Sherwood in his post-match interview saying that Villa will not go down. He went on to say that he will get the four or five wins that they need. That they will fight everyone in their way. Real spirited talk there. It might work, it might not. But compare that to our clown...

He praises our opponents. FFS I remember him saying how phenomenal Hull City are. He said the same about WBA. And West Ham. And Stoke City, before they beat us at GP. Just imagine Sherwood, or Pulls, or Hughes, or any other manager calling the opposition phenomenal. The man is a laughing stock. If I wanted our club turned into a joke, then I would have given Ken Dodd the managers job. Now there's a thought!!!

Rant over. Need to check the old blood pressure.

Mike Childs
51 Posted 04/03/2015 at 14:28:48
A for effort Mike. It's that lack of confidence that will bring us down. How can any of our outfield players find that confidence when their GK is the worst in the league and with a manager who's lost in a clouds of his own self belief.

The thing we miss most from the switch at GK besides the clean sheets is Robles' distribution with his feet. Doesn't waste time on the ball and when he puts a foot into the ball that ball is back in play in under two seconds? I can go the fridge and make a sandwich in the time it takes one of laughing boy's moon balls to come back to earth.

Toss in the fact that they lack direction the opponents have all day to get high and tight on the receiver who is still in our half of the pitch so when they do steal it they haven't got very far to go. At least Robles can kick it past the halfway line & generally near our players.

I may have been snowed over by RM thinking he was the real deal but never laughing boy. Funny how his best year in Blue was a contract year just like Mr Barry.

Phil Walling
52 Posted 04/03/2015 at 17:59:48
Obviously, Tim is today's 'player we love most to hate' – why doesn't Ossie come back so normal service can be resumed and, anyway, I thought we were 'all onto' Mirallas these days!

Be that as it may, I'd bet on a 'two-niller' tonight. Either way!

Andy Meighan
53 Posted 04/03/2015 at 18:28:32
Improved since Xmas? Yeah... right. The Leicester game was highly entertaining, wasn't it. Ffs
Robert Miller
54 Posted 04/03/2015 at 19:11:44
It's all about belief.

I see 24 more points from the remaining fixtures.

Believe. COYB

Jay Harris
55 Posted 04/03/2015 at 22:12:25
It IS all about belief.

I believe Martinez must go ASAP.


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