As Evertonians, we are more than aware of one of our famous mottos. "We do not choose we are chosen". Roberto has also been chosen. Chosen to lead our famous and cherished football club and be paid very handsomely for the privilege. I say privilege because as Evertonians you couldn’t begin to put into words what it would mean to put on the royal blue jersey let alone the chance to manage the club.
In the summer Martinez was offered a new 5-year deal, a surprise to some including myself. No doubt he was tied into his first contract he signed in June 2013 which meant he received improved terms if we achieved a certain league position. As well as improving his terms it was also to warn off Tottenham, who were sniffing around after sacking Sherwood. But looking back now, I bet Blue Bill regrets that contract as much as we do. Martinez is currently nine months into that new deal, which is rumoured to be worth £3 million a year. There is absolutely no way Bill is going to sack him. It’d cost Bill an arm and a leg to get rid of him, let alone looking at possible compensation and salary for another manager.
So, cast your mind back to summer 2014. It was a great time to be an Evertonian. We had just finished 5th, guaranteed our place in Europe again, got to the FA Cup Quarter Final (beaten by eventual winners, again!), plus we spent £28 million on a striker! Everything looked rosy in the Everton garden again. But unbeknownst to us it would, in fact, be one of the worst summers in our recent history.
It all started with Martinez agreeing to go over to Brazil and work for ESPN, something he is entitled to do in his time off. That is his right, but not at the expense of his job at Everton. He had just signed a new 5-year deal, he didn’t need to do it for the money. Some said it was so he could scout players. That is all well and good, go over and scout players in your own time but not if it effects the planning and build up to our pre-season. So Martinez returned back late from Brazil as did our players who represented their respective countries.
Pre-season was an absolute farce. Last year’s pre-season was well planned and structured (organised by David Moyes and previous regime). This year it was so obvious very little thought or planning was ever implemented with fixtures not being announced until last minute. Our form in pre-season reflected its planning, with no wins and very little positives. This obviously had a massive effect when it came to fitness. After the conclusion of our first two league fixtures it was clear that the players weren’t fit enough. We were getting to about seventy minutes and looking dead on our feet. It is no coincidence that we threw away leads in both games, and if we had won them both just think of the confidence we would’ve gained from them. I truly believe that we wouldn’t be in the position we are now. As the famous Benjamin Franklin quote goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.
Our pre-season in a nutshell!
As they say, you are where you deserve to be. Most seasons I would disagree, as my Dad and I are always saying, ‘we could’ve got a point there, deserved two more there’. We could still do that this year but I don’t believe we ‘deserved’ many more. Our league position reflects not only where we are currently but how we have performed as a team. It’s not rocket science but we’ve not scored enough goals and we’ve shipped too many at the other end. A recipe for disaster!
It’s no coincidence that when we have been successful down the years, it’s because we have had a solid defensive unit. If you keep clean sheets then you have a solid foundation to build a winning side with. This year we have conceded far too many, so far conceding forty-one goals. Only four sides have conceded more. Compare that to last season where we had only conceded twenty-seven at the same stage. I honestly believe this is down to the poor form of players, the way we are set up and individual mistakes.
Timothy Matthew Howard has been a great servant for our club but I think his time is coming if not come to an end. To say his form has been sporadic is being kind to him. The blessing in disguise of him being injured for two months was Martinez’s get out of jail free card! Joel came in during difficult circumstances during late December and January and started to show the potential I’ve always believed he’s had. He just needs games and for the players in front of him to believe in him. He was fantastic at West Ham in the Cup and subsequently kept three clean sheets, including the priceless 1-0 win at Palace. God knows where we’d be without that win!
What I don’t understand though is as soon as Howard is fit again Martinez puts him straight back into the side.We had finally discovered the solid defensive unit we’ve been crying out for and then Martinez put back in Hapless Howard. Martinez lost the little respect I still had for him during that time. Since Howard's return we haven’t kept a clean sheet and lost three of the four games. With Howard being at fault for at least four of the seven goals we’ve concede in this time.
The American Sectary of Defence isn’t the only one at fault though, Martinez keeps picking him but there are plenty of other players who have flattered to deceive this season.We have conceded far too many goals from individual errors. From the moment Howard and Distin got out jumped by Giroud against Arsenal in August we’ve been a catalogue of defensively individual errors. Besic, Howard and Jagielka v Chelsea H, Barry v Spurs A, Howard v Palace H, Leicester H, Chelsea A, Stoke A, Stones v Young Boys A. These are the ones that spring to mind off the top of my head, I could probably go on all day but it clearly highlights the issues we have defensively as a team. Individual errors will always occur, at the end of the day the players are human but the fact we have had so many this season is very worrying and suggests a deeper laying problem.
A problem which stems from the way the manager sets us up as a team. I use the term team very loosely as we are anything but a team this year. We resemble a collection of individuals who on a match day have been thrown together at the last minute and are expected to get a result. It’s so obvious Martinez doesn’t work on a defensive shape only how many times we can pass the ball sideways, as long as we win the passing we will be phenomenal, his words not mine!
Defensively we don’t press the ball, we drop off and allow teams far too much time and space and allow far too many shots at our goal. In a nutshell we don’t work hard enough for results. We expect to be able to have time and space to pass the ball around but unfortunately for us teams, especially in the league have now found us out. Teams press us high up to start with only allowing our CB’s time on the ball, with our Full backs pushing on to give us the only width we have, teams then counter on us and in general get a goal on the break or from a set piece.
Don’t get me started on our corners! It is the butt of much social media jokes but I’ve finally lost the plot with them. The moment he came out and stated that they weren’t a proper goal is laughable. Even more so now we are absolutely useless at them. My frustration is even more exasperated knowing the only fact he’s managing us is due to his then Wigan side winning the FA cup from a Ben Watson goal, from a blinking corner!
Last Wednesday at Stoke was the final straw for me. Finally he decides to play with two strikers, the time he does he takes off our only recognised winger and replaces him with another midfielder. It was so obvious at 1-0 that Stoke were going to sit in and frustrate us and look to counter attack against us. So what do we do instead of stretching teams out wide? He blocks up an already congested area with more players, making it impossible to play through. Martinez has got to understand that his brand of football is not only boring but it’s taking us backwards. His methods are simply not working. I’d love to know what he says to the players before they go out onto the pitch. How he expects his teams to play, what’s the game plan?
Love or loathe David Moyes but from 2007 – 2013 we knew in the main how we would unlock teams, we got the ball from the defence to the forwards quickly and then got it down and brought Pienaar and Baines into play and created opportunities down out left for Cahill, Fellaini, Saha, Yakubu et al. We got the ball into the box and flooded it with runners. This season I can’t see any direction in the way we play. Apart from the obvious pass, pass, pass but what does it lead to? A pass is only useful if it has an effect on the play.
So how do we change things? For one we need to get the ball forwards quicker, I’m not advocating long ball, but a long pass occasionally. Let’s get Lukaku running towards the opposition’s box not with his back to goal. As we’ve found in Europe this year Lukaku running at full pelt towards their box is a thing of beauty. Returning six goals and currently joint top goal scorer in Europe for us. We must also start getting crosses in the box, funny how against Young Boys away we got the ball wide three times first half, put three crosses in a scored three goals. We can do it but we choose to come back inside. The width is there but we come inside and take the easy option far too often.
Play with genuine wingers not forwards or central midfielders out wide. It doesn’t work. Ross Barkley’s form this year is due to him being asked to play a role that isn’t suited to him. As such his confidence is completely shot. Steven Naismith has now been asked to play that role out wide left. He’s never a winger or wide midfielder in a million years. He’s probably our best finisher so play him where he’s going to be most effective.
We need to get a balance formation in order to get the best out of us defensively and offensively. When Mourinho first game to Chelsea he wanted to find a way in which he could give Frank Lampard more freedom. He felt 4-4-2 limited his affectedness going forwards as he had to cover back defensively. Mourinho built a 4-3-3 around Lampard and gave him license to get forwards whenever possible. We need to do the same with Barkley. Play a flat back four with James McCarthy in the Makelele role shielding the defence and moving the ball onto Gibson and Barkley with Mirallas and Lennon wide with Lukaku up front.
Whatever way you believe we should line up or play is subjective. The most important thing at present is results. What annoyed me more than the performance on Wednesday evening, was the perceived lack of fight or will from the players. I hate referring back to previous regimes but the players would’ve run through brick walls for the manager. You can’t say the same for the current crop. Probably the most talented of squads we’ve had for many a year. But also the most gutless and heartless too.
Where are the senior players standing up and being counted when we need them most? I genuinely feel sorry for Luke Garbutt, being thrown in. He’s been brilliant but where is his protection on Wednesday night. He didn’t cover himself in glory on Moses goal but surely the point in playing Naismith is to give him greater protection and cover when defending crosses. I don’t even want to think what Stones/Jags and Howard were supposed to be doing?!
They say the players are always a reflection of their manager. That is no truer than us at present. We have a manager who talks a good game and is too nice bar far. Where are those players who would break bones for the cause? Where is our manager who makes positive changes to effect games? As fans we will accept many things, lack of quality, even defeat but what we will never accept is a lack of effort or will to wear the badge with pride. There aren’t many that can stand up and say they’ve put in a shift this year and played well.
Management and players combined you have ten games to save us from the unthinkable. We need to be united now more than ever. Remember, Roberto, WE didn’t choose, WE were chosen and WE’LL still be here in August regardless. Shame I can’t say the same for you!
Reader Comments (12)
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1 Posted 12/03/2015 at 08:02:03
In the 80s we had Derek Mountfield and Kevin Ratcliffe who would give Olympic sprinters a run for their money. In those days, I was concerned our four backs were in a line across the field or playing square. I thought we were wide open to through balls and fast opposition strikers. My concern became fact in the FA Cup final vs the Redshite. Early in the piece such a through ball resulted in us going a goal down. After that we never recovered.
A succession of soft tissue injuries resulted in the break up that excellent back four. Over the years, other clubs experimented with a flat back four without any real success.
3 Posted 12/03/2015 at 09:02:05
4 Posted 12/03/2015 at 09:39:43
Martinez is a nice chap so will never be able to instil a dark, gritty earthiness to his players, not only because he obviously doesn't believe in that mentality but he doesn't know how to make it happen. Players like McCarthy, Naismith & Gibson have it in them but it seems to be worn out of them and anyway they can't effect the team by themselves.
I hate seeing our team so gutless; we had/have the opportunity to blend real steel with fluent and creative play Â– this opportunity is being missed in every game and either Martinez doesn't know how to get the mix right or refuses to change or both!!
I find it amazing that a man in Martinez's position can't even see how best to use his prized striker?!
There are so many unanswered questions, no solutions, it could all amount to a season of under-performing depressive regretful football that not even Mike Walker would be proud of.
A win tonight might just shine a glimpse of light on this torrid car-crash of a season but will not cover the gaping cracks that threaten to leave this beautiful club ripped to pieces and discarded in a pile of 'phenomenal' rubble.
5 Posted 12/03/2015 at 10:19:38
Dick #1 what are you saying? We need a sweeper.
6 Posted 12/03/2015 at 11:48:36
I would prefer McCarthy to play a similar role to Carsley in front of Jags and Stones and not be drawn out wide.
7 Posted 12/03/2015 at 12:19:29
8 Posted 12/03/2015 at 15:05:19
Coleman Stones Jagielka Garbutt
Mirallas McCarthy Gibson Baines
10 Posted 12/03/2015 at 15:45:48
11 Posted 13/03/2015 at 02:33:25
John Keating, I agree with that side except for Kone who I don't believe has 90 Premier League minutes in him. I would have Mr 100% Naismith who also has a good eye for goal.
Other than that, I love your team.
12 Posted 13/03/2015 at 03:58:02
A bit of poetic licence there I think Jamie? More like we got the ball in the box and only had 2 players in there to battle against half a dozen defenders.
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