I was lucky enough to meet Roberto Martinez in November 2013. It was surreal to be able to talk one-to-one to the Manager of the Club I have supported all my life. The only previous time I’d had this privilege was in 1995 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel. Paul Rideout had scored the winner in the FA Cup Final, and we had managed to crash the Team party. Standing at the bar talking gibberish to “big” Joe Royle, he even introduced me to his Dad. BlueNose Big Dunc was about to serve his time at Barlinnie Prison, and Bill Kenwright presented Peter Johnson with a framed shirt signed by captain, Dave Watson. A lot of blue water has flowed down the Mersey since that last trophy win.

After speaking to one manager in their native tongue, obviously, it was a real thrill, having studied Spanish, to be able to do so again, at least in part, with Roberto. Like most people who meet him, I was impressed and charmed in equal measure. He said the right thing; he talked a good game. His knowledge of football was impressive, but he seemed to really “get” Everton: the history, the tradition and the whole Nil Satis Nisi Optimum / Solo Lo Mejor piece.

I must admit to bombarding him a bit with questions, in my state of teenage excitement. He told me that technically the best footballer at the Club was Gareth Barry (hmm..); he said he had indeed turned down the chance to manage Liverpool (big tick in box); he told me how Kevin Mirallas has talked to Lukaku in a Scottish hotel room, whilst on international duty together, to convince him to join Everton on loan, rather than going back to the Hawthorns. He asked me a few questions too about favourite players, past games etc; so much so that, when asked later in front of the 500 strong audience who was the best ever Everton player, he repeated verbatim one of my answers. “The greatest of them all was little curly Alan Ball” he said, which was met with thunderous applause.

That thunderous applause was repeated time and time again in his first season at the Goodison helm. The School of Science was open for business once more (with Ross in attack); we won at Old Trafford thanks to Oviedo Baby, then beat them again at home to condemn the much-maligned Moyes (remember him?) to the sack. A 5th-place finish and the summer record signing of ex-loanee Lukaku; everything in the Everton garden was rosy.

Roberto has been very clever – canny if you will – to immerse himself in the Club’s history. Photos on the Finch Farm balcony with Howard Kendall, bringing Joe Royle back and giving Rhino, Sheeds and Big Dunc prominent roles in the Martinez regime. His branding, his own self-marketing, brown shoes and all, have been exemplary, or should we say 'incredible'.... Roberto is an interviewer’s dream and became, especially last season, something of a Media darling. Everyone wanted to hear his views, his analysis, his thoughts.

That is all very well and good when results are going your way. However, we sit here in March 2015 with only 6 League wins all season in 14th spot on 28 points from 28 games. We are just 6 points above the bottom three and a massive 23 points behind Liverpool in 5th. 10 games to go including four six-pointers v QPR, Burnley, Aston Villa and Sunderland, all currently below us. A spine of Howard, Jagielka, Ross, Lukaku has turned to jelly; our attacking wing backs can’t press forward and we pass the ball sideways and backwards six times for every one pass forward. We are winning the battle for possession but not the war for goals and points. Few players can take much personal pride from this campaign, perhaps Naismith, Stones, McCarthy and Besic.

And yet in Europe we are 7 wins (or 4 and a couple of draws or narrow defeats) away from glory in Warsaw and a place in the Champions League. Roberto’s football language is still talking the talk on the Continent.

The last two defeats to Arsenal and Stoke City, possibly because of the worryingly predictable way we surrendered with a whimper, have seen a Social Media meltdown. Why did Roberto bring back Howard when Robles was keeping clean sheets? Why do we only play the ball to Lukaku with his back to goal? Why does Roberto have no Plan B? Why does he never sub Barry? Above all, where is the pride in the Royal Blue Jersey?

It seems that fans are divided in their view on Roberto; many of my mates, a narrow majority I would say, are convinced his number is up, and he was a one-season wonder. Others are convinced he is the right man to lead us to the promised land. Personally, I really hope he can adapt, shake things up tactically and turn our League form around, making some brave decisions and offering a more honest assessment after matches.

However we see it, and however we express it, Evertonians all just want the best for our Club; none of us really expect Bill to wield the axe before the end of the season and probably expect the season to end with mid-table mediocrity and a narrow European defeat in this round or the next. We hope for more, of course, but as Evertonians we also fear the worst (that is in our blood).

So it is time for the talking to stop, the clichés, the one-liners, the tactical semantics. We can all, like Roberto, talk a good game. At the end of the day, the players need to do the talking on the pitch; show pride in the shirt and in the Club. As supporters we need to cheer them on because Everton FC is about all of us and much bigger than the sum of all the parts.

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Reader Comments (45)

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Phil Walling
1 Posted 10/03/2015 at 17:04:05
A case of better to have 'a nice bloke' near the bottom of the table than a miserable bugger in seventh, eh, Rodger?
Gavin Johnson
2 Posted 10/03/2015 at 17:36:37
Rodger, I totally agree with your sentiment that what's most important is to get behind the team right now. We've got Roberto until the end of the season so let's all do our bit in the home games and get behind the team.
Ian Brandes
3 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:23:50
Martinez cannot win at the moment. If he experiments, and we lose, we all say he is a screw up. If he doesn't, and we keep on this suicidal track to Premier League oblivion, we condemn him anyway.

Nothing wrong with that, because it is his fault. I am now sure, like many on here, that last season was a false dawn. We need to get shut asap, or we may end up in the Championship, and, on our form, we will struggle to get out!

Phil Walling
4 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:34:49
You don't think he reads what we say about him, do you?
Steve Woods
5 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:35:10
I agree entirely Ian you captured it entirely in both your first sentence and final sentences.
Steve Woods
6 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:40:15
I'll try again!

I agree entirely Ian @ 3 you captured it in your first and final sentences.

Mike Childs
7 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:31:56
Not for me Phil. Fool me once shame on you (RM last year) fool me twice shame on me (RM this year).
Paul Hewitt
8 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:43:53
If only he had decided to manage the RS they may now be in the mess we are?
Steve Woods
9 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:03:34
Paul Hewitt @ 8 do you really believe that Martinez turned the RS down?

Or do you think it is perhaps more likely that they saw through his bullshit at the interview whilst also perusing his PL record....

Kev Thomas
10 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:46:40
Why did you not post this anecdote in 2013 then? It could go either way: now your quote looks like he's a big talker, last year it appeared that the School of Science had been reopened.

At the end of the day, Roberto Martinez talked to you about Everton. It's hardly the biggest nail in his coffin; most managers at least try to make it look like they have an understanding of the club they are managing. I don't understand why you've waited for 18 months to prove Martinez will say whatever is most palatable to the audience.

Dick Fearon
11 Posted 10/03/2015 at 19:54:23
Paul, 8, Had Martinez picked the RS, they would not be in the same mess or at least not for long. There would be riots and demonstrations from the kopites. Directors would be physically assaulted, CDs created, pipes and drums with banners leading massed marches in the city centre, thousands of protest T shirts would be worn and the entire Redshite media industry would be baying for blood.

Meanwhile, at dear old Goodison, we indulge in a few boos as BK and RM treat us like idiots. It's all a bit apathetic really.

Patrick Murphy
12 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:09:11
Steve - Nobody knows for sure whether Roberto did in fact turn the other lot down or whether they were ever going to hire him, however, if he did turn them down the underlying reasons as to why he did would be interesting to know.

If it was because he wouldn’t have overall control of transfers etc then that may be understandable if however if he felt that it was too big a step in his career at that time he seriously underestimated the pressure that the Goodison faithful can put on any manager if results aren’t going well.

We’ll probably never know the truth of the matter - but as things stand at the minute, it gives the other crowd a good laugh at our expense either way.

John Gee
13 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:19:41
There is always the thought in the darkest recess of my mind that they used Martinez to smoke out their number one target (who turned them down before they approached RM).

However, the darkest recess of my mind is not to be trusted and I only ever listen to what goes on back there as a last resort. Screaming and crying, mostly.

Andy Meighan
14 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:27:50
I'm a nice fella, Rodger. Not my words by the way but I haven't got the credentials to manage Everton even if I think I could.

Neither has Martinez. He's way out of his depth. That line got me: Barry's technically the best footballer at the club? God help us – he's more deluded than I thought.

Sid Logan
15 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:12:20
Undoubtedly there's an element of TWebbers going around in circles right now. But what else are we going to talk about?

Everything pales into insignificance compared to the plight we find ourselves in and very real possibility of being dragged into a relegation fight. I think many of us have little faith that if we were to get in to become embroiled in such a fight Martinez would be incapable of organising the battle that would be needed to escape it!

I'm someone who believes that teams in the Europa League have afforded us more room and time than we ever get in the Premier League. Our efforts and success there, as good as it is, might effectively be on another planet. That's not to say we wouldn't rejoice like never before if we won it – providing we stayed up! That is still a dream worth dreaming!

We've all played the 'next 2 or 3 results will be decisive' game but I think we may well have actually arrived at that make-or-break position. Lose against Dynamo Kiev on Thursday, then again against Newcastle at home on Sunday, and even BK may call for the screens and a nurse before psyching himself up for some major decision-making.

I know I'm not adding to the debate with this post but the bottom line is that, until the next 2 or 3 games are done, we are only doing our best to ease our frazzled nerves through the outlet offered by TWeb.

One of the things that pisses me off is people who come on this site and tell us to get behind the team and show we're true supporters or something similar. What the fuck do they think we've been doing our best to do all season in the face of an overall lack of a reciprocal effort by the manager and team in so many games???

However, I'm going to say I fully accept that we are at the stage where we can't afford to become precious about the way we might be inclined react to the crap we've had to put up with for most of this season. None of it helped by the Manager's apparent tentative grasp on the reality of our situation.

Here I'm entirely with Eugene Ruanne (and several others) particularly in respect of our upcoming Premier League games. Purely from the point of view of ensuring that we don't go down – and leaving aside the debate on who will manage us next season – I hope we can massively become the team's 12th man for as long as it takes.

We must do whatever from our point of view to ensure we're safe regardless of whether, what we are seeing on the pitch actually merits it. Anything less would only be a cause for massive regret on our part and we probably all know that!

Patrick Murphy
16 Posted 10/03/2015 at 20:59:58
Sid - There is little doubt that we would all regret not giving our best support to the team in the last six home games of the Premier League season and of course that won’t be easy. Everybody should think that these games may – god forbid they aren’t – be our last in the top-flight for a long time and treat them as such until such time as we are mathematically safe.

Thursday night is a good point to begin a more positive outlook even if the team isn’t playing well or looking laboured during the game – let’s try and show the team that we really do want them to do well and we don’t enjoy being negative as much as they don’t enjoy getting a negative reception.

John Gee
17 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:01:11
Sid 15, it's the only logical choice. We have to be pragmatic. It's easy to cheer and give encouragement when things are going well, it's harder to give that support when the chips are down.

But the club needs it. Don't do it for RM, don't do it for BK or the players. Do it for Everton Football Club, do it for us.

Come on you blue supporters, let's make a difference. HAVE IT!

nb: I'm available for corporate seminars at a reasonable ١,000 per day.

Rodger Armstrong
18 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:07:50
Kev (#10): I post this now in the context of the current season & how different/worse it is to the last. As I said at the time, I was charmed and impressed by RM; now... I'm not so sure, but I do hope he turns it around. Actions speak louder than words.
Sid Logan
19 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:09:20

I suspect there'll be virtually universal support because essentially we have no choice. Good luck to you and good luck to me and everyone else!

Rodger Armstrong
20 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:24:52
Sid, Patrick, John,

Agree completely; as I wrote we supporters have to cheer the team on.

John, Raise your day rate!

Gavin Johnson
21 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:19:50
Getting behind the team is all we can do. Patrick, puts it perfectly by saying, we would all regret it if we felt we hadn't given our best support in the remaining home games.

Sue Brown
22 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:28:14
There's an interesting thread over on GOT at the moment "the fans want him sacked", initial parallels certainly to this season. Worth a look if only to watch the clip and dream!!
Lyndon Lloyd
23 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:39:15
Agreed, it's a great clip, Sue (22). We have it in our Video section.
Patrick Murphy
24 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:38:55
Sue - That video is also on TW entitled "Miracle of Merseyside" - we can only hope that somehow our fortunes turn for the better. Howard Kendall made a good point in the video when he said that he had a few players of special character who would produce something for the team even when they were playing badly and somehow win a match when the odds were against it.

We have a couple of players who can do that, ability-wise... but can they do it when the chips are down? Let’s hope they can.

Bill Gall
25 Posted 10/03/2015 at 21:47:09
Just finished watching Real Madrid's game and hearing about a quote from their manager, C Ancelloti who, despite being second in the league, and through to the quarter-finals of the Champion League, is under fire from the supporters. He is alleged to have said, "Yes, the team are playing bad and the only man to blame is the manager." And there is our manager saying we are not playing bad – we have just lost confidence and have been unlucky.
Ian Smitham
26 Posted 10/03/2015 at 22:07:25
Mr Armstrong, at the OP. Sir, I am one of only a few that can verify your story; the other two are Solicitors. You omit to recall how we got in, the pre-match planning, the post-match planning, and further details of that momentous evening, which ended somewhere in north London.

Probably the greatest blag of our lives, and once we got in, well words fail me... Maybe one of us should post an article on here of our reflections of that night. Maybe the TW people would not allow it.

As for the rest of your submission, well done, I enjoyed it.

We do not see each other much, but last Monday just confirmed, we are friends for life, along with being Blues for life. Respect.

Sam Rangle
28 Posted 10/03/2015 at 23:35:39
Dick Fearon (11). Nail. Hammer. Head. End of.

I have been saying this for years to my mates and gotten a lot of "Dunno's". Everton is a soft touch through and through. Not just the players, not just the absentee Board, not just the owner, but the fans as well. We are just as culpable for this mess as the Board.

We as fans, have let the rot set in over the course of 15 years without merely a whimper. Completely let down... and when/if we all go down together, then what? I doubt we have it in us to fight to get back up. It's sadly taken 15 years of this for people to even wake up. And most still haven't.

Phil Walling
29 Posted 11/03/2015 at 09:07:07
For all these calls to 'show the boys we care', the truth is that if, during the next two games, they play well, they will get fulsome praise. (Barring Howard, of course, who in the absence of Ossie has become the new devil incarnate!) If they are crap, they will incur our displeasure.

It's how football supporters behave. And it's because we care. To suffer in silence is to say we don't give a stuff. Like watching Marine.

Jay Harris
30 Posted 11/03/2015 at 14:09:53
Interesting to note that when fans were calling for Kendall's head we had 28 points from 23 games.

We currently have 28 points from 28 games so we should have been calling for his head 5 games ago.

Patrick Murphy
31 Posted 11/03/2015 at 14:15:06
Jay, Plus the fact that in those days the league campaign was over 42 matches so there were still 57 points to play for in Kendall’s time. Using that criterion, the 19-game mark should have been the start of the disquiet to begin – although, to be fair, some people did start questioning things at that point this season.

Andrew Ellams
32 Posted 11/03/2015 at 14:16:31
Jay, plenty were calling for his head 5 games ago.
Nick Page
33 Posted 11/03/2015 at 14:48:10
Steve #9, no I think he saw through their (masses of) bullshit. Anyway, he's too nice to manage them. You have to be a proper snide cunt. That's why they fucked off Woy so quickly (although according to them they back every manager). Fucking shower of lying twats.
Jimmi James
34 Posted 11/03/2015 at 15:01:05
Yeah Nick but they fuckin seem to get what they want don't they? And by any means, fair or foul, we get screwed over but yeah lads we do have to stick together or we might as well just pack it all in.
Nick Page
35 Posted 11/03/2015 at 15:07:16
They haven't won the league for 25 years, Jimmi despite the media protestations etc etc. So no, not always. Anyway, I'd rather keep my dignity than behave like them, cos we're better than that.
Jimmi James
37 Posted 11/03/2015 at 15:33:08
Yes, Nick, all true, mate, just seems they will fuckin' protest anything and get what they want. Not winning the league? Ha! yeah, sound and we are better than that... but it gets us nowhere and doesn't force change when it's seriously needed. I get it about the media, media darlings like a couple of others.
Tony J Williams
38 Posted 11/03/2015 at 15:40:16
Those stupid twats protesting have nothing to do with whether a manager is kept or sacked.

The board will always make the decision. Those dozy pricks think they were the reason the last Yanks were ousted, not the fact that they were forced to sell by the banks etc.

Protest all you want but it makes no difference and anyone blaming fans for this shit season we are in deserves a kick in the balls, players included.

It's a football game, you kick the ball, you head the ball, you pass/shoot/save/block the ball.

Feckin get on with it and do it better than what you have so far this season.

Get behind them? Give us a reason then!

Mike Hughes
39 Posted 11/03/2015 at 16:59:34
Come on, lads.

If our talented but delicate players read this they will be very, very upset. So upset that they might even cry. And fret. And sulk. And stuff.

They're like china, our lot - or weren't you aware? Breaks my heart just thinking about it.

In fact, if we concede, why not write something nice about the opponent's goal rather than something horrible and nasty about our defence?

Andrew Laird
40 Posted 11/03/2015 at 16:49:23
Well said, Tony J.
Jay Harris
41 Posted 11/03/2015 at 20:04:20
Andrew #32

Yes, but not masses around the ground shouting "Martinez Out!"

I never wanted him in the first place but lazy Arse Bill found it an "easy" appointment to make especially being able to quote RM and his famous "I will get you in the CL" promise.

Mike Hughes
42 Posted 11/03/2015 at 20:14:35
I agree there, Jay. There's a difference between what happens at the ground and what happens on-line.

The match is a two-way street, though. Fans can do their part but if it's like watching paint dry there's only so much passion we can generate.

Jay Harris
43 Posted 12/03/2015 at 03:38:44
I think the problem is we fans have become anesthetized after so many let downs since the magnificent 80s.

And the all seating arrangement makes fans a bit less volatile too, as did the removal of matchday cushions.

Oh for a return to a less tolerant fan base that would not accept this crap at a time when the Prem is awash with money and no-marks like Chelsea and Man City are becoming worldwide brands while we languish as a support act in L4.

Jimmi James
44 Posted 12/03/2015 at 08:46:35
Tony J #38

Everything you say is right apart from the last line, we don't need a reason to get behind the team, just the fact we are blues is enough but I agree we have to vent our frustrations somehow so we do it here.

Tony J Williams
45 Posted 12/03/2015 at 12:46:12
To be fair Jimmi, I agree with you but all my frustrations were coming out in that post so I ranted on.

I will be cheering those overpaid feckers on no doubt from my seat but it's hard when the atmosphere is dead and I don't believe half-hearted attempts at "It's a Grand Old Team" will be sufficient to raise these players out of their malaise.

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