Martinez Rediscovers His Mojo

The Catalan played Louis van Gaal and his charges like a fiddle in the Merseyside sunshine today as Everton ran out 3-0 winners.

Lyndon Lloyd 27/04/2015 47comments  |  Jump to last

(PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Everton 3 - 0 Manchester United

Evertonians have been a little perplexed at the disappearance of the swaggering outfit that played its way to fifth place in the Premier League last year on the back of some brilliantly orchestrated performances against some of the top sides. In the midsts of a torrid run of winter results that sent Everton into freefall towards the relegation places, handsome wins like those over Arsenal and Manchester United at Goodison Park in Roberto Martinez's first season seemed a world away.

This season may be over in terms of trophies and Europe but, with their appetite for salvaging some pride over the run-in clearly intact, the Blues evoked a little of that 2013-14 spirit with another comprehensive victory over Manchester United. It was their fourth in a row at home and their third successive win over United at Goodison, and while it comes regretfully late in terms of a disappointing campaign, it offers hope that the manager can rediscover the formula that had fans lauding his appointment.

Louis van Gaal's tenure at Old Trafford may have started in a very Moyesian vein but the Dutchman has steadily got to grips with life in the Premier League over the last few months. There were times when it felt as though United should almost be embarrassed by their place in the top-four given how ordinary they have been for much of the season but there is no question they came into the his match with the air of returning Champions League qualifiers. By the full-time whistle, the shell-shocked Van Gaal was facing a post-mortem of his team's second successive defeat and his club's biggest reverse against Everton since the inaugural season of the Premier League in 1992.

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Martinez played him and his charges like a fiddle in the Merseyside sunshine today. Ceding 75% of the possession to the visitors, the Catalan set his side up to defend tigerishly as a unit, collapse the space on United in the defensive third and then exploit the space behind by hitting them on the counter-attack. It was a strategy that stopped cold United's rapid start to the contest, one that bore the hallmarks of a local derby in the opening minutes, with a magnificent sucker punch in just the fifth minute.

Mindful of United's attacking threat, Martinez had elected to start the more defensive-minded Leon Osman instead of Kevin Mirallas, but as Antonio Valencia raced away from the veteran in the fourth minute and Leighton Baines was forced into a sliding challenge to stop the wingback's cross, you wondered if the Everton were going to be in for a long afternoon.

From that corner, however, Romelu Lukaku out-muscled Valencia and knocked Gareth Barry's initial clearance to James McCarthy. With his manager's instructions to get foward more no doubt ringing in his ears, the Irishman set Seamus Coleman away down the right with a pass and continued his bursting run to collect the ball as it deflected into his path off Paddy McNair. With McNair and Daley Blind falling back in retreat, McCarthy charged between them and managed to keep his feet and his composure to tuck the ball under David de Gea's leg.

By the time John Stones had doubled the lead with his first goal for Everton, a superb glancing header off a corner with 10 minutes left in the half, Van Gaal's side were betraying a frustration and futility in their play exemplified by Marouane Fellaini.

Making his first appearance in a red jersey at Goodison since leaving 18 months ago, the Belgian blazed a chance to equalise almost immediately over the crossbar and was booked for the second of two poor tackles when he hacked Ross Barkley down unceremoniously on front of referee Andre Marriner. When the teams emerged for the second half, his manager had decided not to leave him out on the tightrope any longer, opting for the potential of more firepower in the form of Radamel Falcao.

As it turned out, the Colombian was able to make little impact beyond a looping header after fellow substitute Angel di Maria had sprung the offside trap with a ball over the top but Tim Howard was alive to it and caught it under his crossbar. It was the third save required of the American who had an excellent display against his old club by charging off his line to deny Luke Shaw in the first half and then Wayne Rooney in similar fashion early in the second.

For all the visitors' possession, however, they carved out few clear-cut chances and often Everton's problems were of their own making with occasional stray passes out of defence and midfield creating needless extra pressure. With Phil Jagielka and John Stones otherwise in imperious form and Barry and McCarthy in particular brilliant at stifling the opposition any time they got near the area, United were never given an avenue back into the game.

And when the Blues picked their moments to surge forward, they intermittently threatened to extend their lead. Lukaku, who had fired too close to De Gea in the first half, showed great feet in the 57th minute to glide away from Valencia in the box but there was no one the centre to convert his cross as it fizzed across the face of goal. Barkley then sent a tame shot into the goalkeeper's arms and Coleman's attempt to find Lukaku from the byline was cut out by Smalling.

It was the timely introduction of Kevin Mirallas for Osman with a little of a quarter of an hour to go that allowed Everton to kill the game, though. The Belgian forward had only been on the field five minutes when Lukaku, aware he was in an offside position, slowed up from chasing Barkley's chipped ball over the defence allowing Mirallas to capitalise as the United defenders hesitated. He ran on to a one-on-one dual with De Gea, deceived him by shaping to shoot for the far corner and then stroked it into the other side of the goal.

With the Red Devils a beaten side, Mirallas almost put the cherry on the cake with a teriffic shot from 20-plus yards but the goalkeeper made an excellent stop to palm it over the bar.

No wins against any of the top six before today told its own story of how far the Blues have fallen this term but this was a wonderful reminder of just how good the Blues can be under Martinez. It's too little too late for this season but, as a welcome act of partial redemption, it offered a sign that the manager has re-energised the dressing room and hasn't lost the ability to execute a perfect gameplan.

The first half was evocative of that first home game against Arsenal back in August, but eight months on, measurably wiser and a good deal fitter, this time the Blues finished the job in the way we all expected they would in what back then ended up being another damaging 2-2 draw.

The key now is to buy the kind of quality that can find a way past even the most entrenched of parked buses, to carry this re-found consistency into next season, and to ensure that this kind of performance is repeated against the rest of those clubs who will finish in the top five places this term.

Only then will we know if Roberto has his mojo back for good.

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Reader Comments (47)

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Brian Harrison
1 Posted 27/04/2015 at 09:26:02

I would be very careful suggesting that RM has his mojo back. I tend to think that the senior players decided some months back that his style didn't suit and changed their game which has resulted in the upturn of results.

Certainly the inane passing at the back has greatly diminished, we have stopped playing two holding defensive midfield players for a more attacking 4-1-4-1 system. Now some may say that the change is down to RM but I don't buy it; he said some months back that he wouldn't change his style – but the team has changed its style.

Paul Kennedy
2 Posted 27/04/2015 at 10:12:28
It is so typical of us Blues: instead of reveling in a great victory, we go looking for the downside!!!

It was a result I did not expect but boy did I enjoy it. Let's do Villa in next week (a team I have always disliked since they beat us in the replay in Manchester to win the League Cup) to keep the run going. Come on, you Blues!!!!

Barry Pearce
3 Posted 27/04/2015 at 10:18:08
Absolutely agree with Brian. More down to the players than Martinez getting his mojo back.
David Ellis
4 Posted 27/04/2015 at 10:18:13

You may be right... it may have been player power that caused the change in style. But it's hard for Martinez to defend himself. His public comments are (1) he has not changed his philosophy and (2) he cannot discuss tactics publicly.

Either way Martinez has allowed the change of style to take place and I think he is unlikely to fully revert to full-on tikka tacca, at least until he has players that can execute it better.

A few wins does not make him a hero anymore than the bumpy season makes him a villain. However, I am hopeful he will come out of this season wiser and one step closer to building a trophy-winning side. Maybe we can scramble our way up to 8th... reminds me of 1984 when we were around the relegation zone at Christmas, held firm, did not sack Kendall, and eventually finished 9th. And the following season moved up a further 9 places.

Adam Luszniak
5 Posted 27/04/2015 at 10:41:50
I just can’t understand why some supporters are so reluctant to give Martinez any credit whatsoever. The man deserves credit for a terrible start to the season, and he also deserves credit for the win against a very capable Man Utd team.

I am not blind to the fact he has made many many mistakes, but I really want him to succeed at Everton. It seems many do not. It seems to me that the prevailing attitude amongst some, is that any perceived failing in the team is the sole fault and responsibility of Roberto Martinez; however, any success is ’player power’ and achieved completely in spite of the manager.

Kevin Tully
6 Posted 27/04/2015 at 10:51:40
A lot of managers would have tried to shut up shop at 2-0 up, but it was a brave move to take Osman off and put Mirallas on, which proved to be exactly the right thing to do.

It’s been so frustrating watching individual mistakes cost us all season; Howard and the defence have now found some form and, hey presto, we start to look like a proper outfit again. Stones and Jagielka will form one of the best defensive pairings in the division, so we can look forward to those two being our bedrock next season – still not sure Howard can carry on, however.

I have never seen a player track back and help his team as much as Lennon, we must make sure he becomes a permanent part of this Everton side – £6m is an absolute steal.

Unable to work today, hangover from hell but well worth the pain! Best game of the season.

Christopher Timmins
7 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:31:58
Lyndon, this summer’s transfer activity will be telling as to where Martinez is going!
Ross Edwards
8 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:13:47
Lyndon, it was a great result, and Martinez got his tactics spot on, but please don’t go too over the top by saying he ’has his mojo’ back. The fact that it’s taken until April to see us play like this, having seen months of tactical errors, shocking performances, and terrible results for the majority of it, is the most frustrating part of this season.

He was so stubborn for 6 months, if he’d have adapted to these tactics earlier rather than waiting until a totally meaningless run-in, we’d probably be well inside the top 8 and challenging for the European spots. Instead, it looks like we’ll just about scrape 9th place, which considering where we were a couple of weeks ago, is fine, hardly going to be sniffed at.

His Wigan teams always put a run together at the end of a season. Look at the 2011-12 season: 7 wins in the last 9 matches despite being abysmal all season. If his team back then could do that in the last 9 games, beating Liverpool at Anfield, Arsenal at the Emirates, United at home, what stopped them doing that earlier?

It’s the same for us. Why have we been forced to wait until late March/April to put a run of form together? We saw yesterday what we can do, why couldn’t we have done that earlier?

Well, the stock answer we’ve been given is "Oh, he’s learnt, he’s changed tactics." OK, why didn’t he ’learn’ and ’adapt’ earlier? Nothing was exactly stopping him. He still continually made the same errors for months.

Let’s not suddenly erase the last 30 games off the back of a good run of form, which we’ve had to wait nearly 7 months for incidentally. It’s too late, far too late. On our day we can beat anyone, and after yesterday RM has no excuses. There’s no World Cup, so there is no more excuses for tiredness or a shambolic pre-season, and there’s no Europa League football, so by rights he has no more excuse to fall back on.

Just on the Europa, I hate the excuse being used. It’s just a convenient excuse for failure and the continuous tactical errors we’ve seen made this season. People now saying we’re doing well because of our exit from the EL but, if that is the case, why between November and February did we win 2 in 12 Premier League games and go out of the FA Cup at the earliest opportunity?

Don’t get me wrong – it was a great win and Martinez set us up well, but let’s not exaggerate please or start with the smug ’Where’s the Martinez out brigade now?’ crap because fans like that are the worst kind. I’m not referring to anyone on here, but the kind of fans who are now proclaiming that they were right to maintain faith in RM, ignoring any arguments against him and ignoring that for a period this season, there was a genuine concern over being involved in any relegation battle.

RM has kept a top 6 side up. Well done to him. But the fact that we were even mentioning the word ’relegation’ after the season we had last year, that is why he should have been sacked months ago, I’m afraid. We’ve seen what we are capable of, and with that squad we shouldn’t have been even talking about relegation or mid table.

Enjoy the win, but RM still has a long way to go before faith is fully restored in him.

Nick Entwistle
9 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:45:56
Can’t remember the last time I agreed with Ross on anything, but wasn’t yesterday a case of what worked for Chelsea will work for us?

It's great picking up points but, as is the crazy world of football, it has coincided with some of our worst performances of the season.

I hope he’s found his mojo because the guy is aging quick just like Moyes had done in his final couple of seasons.

Ross Edwards
10 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:52:35
Ha, it looks like our Edwards/Entwistle battles of Moyes’s last season Nick have been eclipsed by the Wood/Johnson battles on various threads this season.
Harold Matthews
11 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:32:57
The players may have had a slight input but no more than that. They certainly didn’t dump Naismith or decide to use Mirallas as an impact sub. This is a Martinez side who play to his orders. He recently talked about experience and learning and hopefully he will be allowed to strengthen the squad and continue the progress.
Ben Jones
12 Posted 27/04/2015 at 11:59:22
That was a really nice win and Martinez has adapted for such a game. But to blame just Martinez for the whole season is ridiculous.

Yes, he does mistakes, some of the football was tedious, but the majority of teams that played against us just sit back. How do we expect fast counter-attacking football when teams play against us so deep? And how can we stick to this high tempo all game? It’s just not possible when the opposition just stay compact in their own half.

Then we look at the players. Is it Martinez’s fault that Distin suddenly declined when he was so good last season? Although he’s playing really well now, the dismal early form of Tim Howard? The players simply weren’t good enough for the majority of the season.

It’s like what John Carver said two days ago,

"They expect me to put the ball in the net, stop the headers going in, stop the opposition from scoring,"

He’s referring to the Newcastle fans there and that’s what some of us expect from Martinez, he can’t be blamed for stupid defensive mistakes or bad performances, he doesn’t control them!!

I’m not saying he hasn’t done mistakes, but it’s a number of things, Europa league included, that has accounted for this poor season. He deserves another season to prove himself, because his first season was so good.

James Marshall
13 Posted 27/04/2015 at 12:16:23
I don’t think it has anything to do with the manager ’getting his mojo back’ and everything to do with the opposition.

Man Utd attacked us from the off, and their two central midfielders, Blind and Herrera were absolutely appalling. Without Carrick, Man Utd are a shadow of the outfit they can be. Their midfield was wide open when they lost the ball, which left Barkley, Lukaku and Lennon with acres of space to run into and exploit – not exactly a management masterstroke, more a failing of the two midfield players from Man Utd.

Yes we played with more intensity than usual, but to lay this at the door of the manager seems rather short-sighted if you ask me.

Our form is much better in recent weeks, and that’s down to the players, not the manager – what has the manager done differently? Nothing as far as I can tell – it’s the players who should shoulder a huge amount of the blame for the shit we’ve been served up this season, not just the manager.

We’ve all laid into RM this season, but hardly anyone has pointed the finger at the people on the pitch, which I for one find strange.

Nick Wall
15 Posted 27/04/2015 at 12:14:54
Ben, Martinez buys the players and picks the team. If the team don’t perform, it’s reasonable to hold him to account. It seems inevitable to me now that he will be given transfer money to spend, and that he’ll still be in charge come September. But this season has left supporters asking a lot of serious questions which he will need to answer over the coming months. A few just off the top of my head.

Why haven’t we been able to produce the level of performance that we saw yesterday at any time during the season?

Why have not just one but several individuals – Howard, Barry, Barkley – had terrible seasons but look like different players now when it no longer matters very much?

Stones’s goal yesterday underlines the poor return this season from corners and set pieces – why is that ? Why have we crumbled so often this season in the second half of matches ?

I don’t want to hear any easy answers – "It’s because of Europe", "It’s down to the players". There are some real problems here that Martinez needs to put right. In the last month he’s made a good start. By Christmas, we should know whether he’s fit to finish the job.

James Stewart
16 Posted 27/04/2015 at 12:50:42
I have been fairy vocal about my issues with Martinez and my preference for him receiving his P45 all season. I also think he was a totally uninspired and lazy choice in the first place but, that aside, he is not going anywhere for the immediate future so I’m prepared to get behind him for the time being.

I think the summer will be make or break for him. There will be a big turnover of players both out and in and he needs to get the majority right. Something you can’t really say about his signings to date.

Lennon gives me hope though. I think he has been our saviour this season and Martinez’s best signing. Yesterday was a great performance. And it's vital we keep hold of Stones. He is going to be world class. Barkley I’m not so sure about; I thought he had a poor game. His decision-making and passing is atrocious at times.

Ben Jones
17 Posted 27/04/2015 at 12:56:33
Well Nick, how many of those questions would be blame directly on the manager? Maybe the set pieces because he has said he hasn’t paid much attention to them?

I said from my last comment there’s a mixture of reasons for the poor start, Martinez’s tactics being one of them, but poor form of players, injuries and tiredness of the Europa League. They’re all accountable.

He still deserves another season.

Paul Andrews
18 Posted 27/04/2015 at 14:00:57
And he will get it, Ben; I agree 100% – he should carry on his turnaround of the club.
Dave Abrahams
19 Posted 27/04/2015 at 14:16:26
Harold (11), I agree with most of your letter but wouldn’t you say that Lennon has had more than a slight input? I think the work he has done, all over the field has helped Everton in a big way.

I for one will be very disappointed if he doesn’t come to the Blues permanently next season.

Eddie Dunn
20 Posted 27/04/2015 at 15:23:30
Lennon has been the catalyst for our improvement. He has set an example in his work ethic and helped balance the team as well as helping Coleman.

Having all full first-choice players out on Saturday certainly helps matters; despite Martinez’s obvious tactical errors and the team's lack of fitness, his selections have been hampered by the loss of some of his best players.

There has been some unhappiness in the squad, but he now seems to have weeded-out his problems (rightly or wrongly). We must not let the good win cloud our judgement though.
Barkley did some good things, and showed a good attitude, but his decision-making is poor, and some of his passing was wayward.

Also, I thought that Lukaku had a poor game, his first touch let him down again. He didn’t have a single shot on goal and he mistimed his jump with the centre-half on at least three occasions. He doesn’t seem able to head the ball. At corners, he is never a threat, which is surprising for his size. I honestly thought that Kone was an improvement when he came on!

It was a great win, like some of the counter-attacking stuff we played in Europe, but it isn’t going to apply in most games. We will need 6 new faces to give us cover in key positions this summer, or similar failings will reoccur.

Trevor Lynes
21 Posted 27/04/2015 at 15:28:37
Martinez certainly did us over pretty well when Wigan turned us over big style at Goodison a few years back. The man can only buy what he is allowed and if he had the purse strings of other top contenders, I am sure he would buy well.

Injuries and the size of the squad caused us all the early season problems and we should have provided more funds for strengthening the squad numbers before this campaign began. When a side is doing well, the club with ambition should strengthen and not just tread water. We failed to do that!

Tom Bowers
22 Posted 27/04/2015 at 16:21:17
It’s hard to fathom out why they have turned things around – save that the introduction of Lennon has injected extra pace to the offence... plus he tracks back quickly too.

Unfortunately this doesn’t equate on the left side where Baines is playing deeper and Osman does little to substantiate his inclusion in a starting role which could easily have been Everton’s undoing early in this game. Martinez still hasn’t got the message regarding Osman but somehow other players saved the day.

There is still a lot of ’’Spring cleaning’’ to be done at the end of the season in order to cause optimism for next season.

Lyndon Lloyd
23 Posted 27/04/2015 at 16:20:34
Having been critical of Martinez’s performance this season and also pointed out in a recent article that we haven’t truly played RM’s possession-based style for the past few weeks, I think it’s only fair to credit the manager (as well as the players) for this result.

In retrospect, the headline probably sounds more definitive than intended. It’s obviously too soon to see if he has his "mojo" back for good and he could lose again just as quickly but, if you’re looking for positive signs for next season and evidence that Martinez is adapting, then we’ve seen them.

Time will, of course, tell but to say that the manager doesn’t deserve a share of the credit is a little myopic. They were his tactics and instructions that were carried out yesterday. As I said above, it’s up to him to resolve the problems his team has with the lesser, more defensive teams.

Harold Matthews
24 Posted 27/04/2015 at 16:18:22
Sorry, Dave. I was referring to oral input.

Lennon, as you quite rightly say, has made an enormous difference. He’s doing what McGeady couldn’t manage. Also, as Leighton Baines pointed out, he has forced people to look at their own game and up their energy levels.

Our right hand side of Stones, Coleman. McCarthy and Lennon would seem to be as strong as anything in the league. I hope we can keep them together.

Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 27/04/2015 at 16:29:12
Great summary, Lyndon. I’m not even going to get into the Martinez Mojo controversy... it’s just too wonderful a result to do anything but celebrate. After the final whistle, I spent an entire California day grinning like a Cheshire cat, cavorting through practice wearing my Everton hat on the pitch, and tormenting my Man Utd-supporting teammates (one of whom had predicted that "Fellaini is gonna tear your boys up").

A truly glorious Sunday.

Roger Helm
26 Posted 27/04/2015 at 13:29:47
A clarification – I may on previous posts have given the impression that I thought that Martinez was a clueless charlatan who ought to be tarred and feathered and run out of town before he destroys our club.

What I meant of course to say was that he is clearly a tactical genius perfectly capable of outwitting CL managers and must immediately be given an extended contract with a pay rise.

Thank you.

Peter Murray
27 Posted 27/04/2015 at 18:03:38
Regarding of his possible summer activities, I just cannot comprehend how a Premier League manager of supposed standing could ever consider again selecting Alcaraz – he’s just not good enough. Jagielka's & Stones's game is negatively affected when he’s been selected!!! Even our old stalwart the "Invisible-Man", Sylvain Distin, is still 100% better than this disastrous non-player.

Surely he can recruit players better than his ex-Wigan prodigies during the summer?

Darren Hind
28 Posted 27/04/2015 at 19:59:21
A mate of mine told me he had been to Finch Farm a couple of weeks ago. When I asked him what they were doing, he told me they were practicing corners. I was gobsmacked, but we have shown marked improvement when both defending and attacking corners.

It was not just the Evertonians who witnessed the Goodison faithful urge the players to ditch this brainless aimless fucking about at the back, it was on national television, the whole of the football community witnessed it. The demands of the faithful were clearly of far grater importance to the players than the manager's instructions.

Then we were told that the players went to the manager and told him they were not happy with his tactics and, despite his pathetic claims that nothing will change, the players in front of our eyes decided to ditch the manager's possession obsession – as clearly demonstrated yesterday when they were content to surrender possession in return for the rope-a-dope tactics which sank the Mancs.

Then one of our senior players admits that our group of players were embarrassed by the fitness, energy and commitment shown by a guy who is contracted to another club, this has shamed them into overcoming the manager's shameful failure to have them where they needed to be. All these things have resulted in an upturn in form and results.

Has Robbie got his Mojo back? Na, the only thing that's been well managed at Goodison these past few weeks has been the manager himself.

Robin Cannon
29 Posted 27/04/2015 at 20:37:09
I don’t buy this argument that Martinez has somehow been marginalized by the players and they’re bypassing him in terms of coaching, practice and matchday tactics.

How we played against Man Utd is how we often played last season. I’ve no doubt that the players held meetings with Martinez to discuss what was going wrong, and made several suggestions to him – that’s perfectly reasonable management practice.

Where earlier in the season Martinez seemed stubborn to the point of excess, even as we struggled, that appears to have somewhat changed. Whether it’ll stick is another matter – but I don’t see anything particularly incompatible with maintaining a philosophy of how the game should be played, and making changes to tactics and approach within the context of that philosophy.

I hope – and it’s still hope, rather than expectation – that a season like this might see Martinez learn from his mistakes and approach the close season and next year a more flexible and effective manager.

John Daley
30 Posted 27/04/2015 at 21:39:37
"..the players in front of our eyes decided to ditch the managers possession obsession - as clearly demonstrated yesterday when they were content to surrender possession in return for the rope-a-dope tactics which sank the Mancs."


Everton played exactly the same yesterday as they had done in the corresponding fixture last year. Despite being portrayed as a one trick pony, Martinez has actually pulled out the ’let them have the ball and hit them on the counter’ card on a couple of occasions since he’s been here. It’s when other teams put that same plan into operation that he’s looked totally flummoxed and been unable to find a solution.

It’s a bit churlish (and purely speculative) to suggest yesterday’s game plan and the points picked up of late, are solely down to some sort of mutiny that has seen the managers last vestiges of authority flushed down the shitter in favour of all out player power. The playing squad and coaching staff have been equally culpable for the season of calamity we’ve all had to suffer through in my book. To pin the blame for every bad result on Martinez’s instructions, whilst portraying any positive as being due to the players having some belated epiphany and bypassing the man entirely, is a rigged game. There’s no way he can win. Even if he wins, he didn’t win. His players did... in pure defiance of the dickhead: "Did you see the score Sylvain lad? The gaffer couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Us, surrendering possession and not making stupid individual mistakes? That’ll show him! Keeping him in a job will teach that useless cunt a lesson he’ll never forget".

If it truly was as simple as being a ’him and them’ situation then he’d be long gone by now given the dross that’s been served up this season.

Paul Jeronovich
31 Posted 27/04/2015 at 21:40:39
Great win, great day. Got smashed off my face and love the blues. Isn’t that what it’s about!!!!
James Marshall
32 Posted 27/04/2015 at 21:52:06
Lyndon - fair enough. I also credit Martinez with some, errr, credit for our better results of late - I was really alluding to the fact that the players never seem to take much blame, or much credit either way.

Dean Adams
33 Posted 27/04/2015 at 21:55:13
If the result of this seasons shortfalls is success next season then, well, Bobby will be vindicated. Otherwise we are where we are, which is roughly where we have been for quite some time. Short of being good enough but better than many others. Money or great tactics is the only solution.
Jon Withey
34 Posted 27/04/2015 at 22:06:17
It’s not just one game, though, is it?

He’s managed the team to 4 victories recently and they’ve gradually increased in confidence. And it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Lennon loan was his doing.

The re-introduction of Stones and the return of Howard to some sort of form have made a big difference too.

He wasn’t going to be sacked anyway – at least now there is a glimmer of hope that we can compete.

I don’t particularly want to see McGeady or Alcaraz there next season, they’ve had their chance – will he be ruthless enough to get rid? Distin is nailed on to leave and I assume some of the older young lads.

Ross Edwards
35 Posted 27/04/2015 at 22:19:26
Why wait until the last 8 games of the season to put a run together, though, Jon? There was nothing stopping him from changing his tactics earlier, yet he stuck with them. If he’d have changed earlier, we’d be well inside the top 8 now and pushing for Europe.

Instead, we’re scrapping with West Ham and Stoke for 9th having spent most of the season looking over our shoulder in lower mid-table. We had to wait until April to see us play like that yesterday. Why not earlier?

That’s the fault of RM and his stubbornness.

Harold Matthews
36 Posted 27/04/2015 at 21:16:09
Spot on, Robin. This idea of players going onto a pitch and doing their own thing is Fantasy Football stuff. Especially in the modern game where professional players expect detailed instructions on everything.

Make no doubt about it, Martinez is a very strong boss and they all know it. Ask Distin, ask Mirallas, ask Besic, ask Naismith, ask Lukaku. It’s his squad and he does things his way.

Of course he has learnt things and changed things. Faced with all kinds of problems, most of them unknown to us, he has had to adapt whilst feeding the media stories of perpetual happiness. Not always great for the fans but, for him, it’s the way to do it.

From the back to the front, every player tries to perform the role he has awarded them. Coleman suddenly stops trying to dribble every defender, McCarthy joins the attack but gets back to help Barry protect the CBs, Barkley sticks to his designated area. Everyone fights for the team.

Bringing in Lennon was his master-stroke. The lightning fast, hard-working right-winger he has sought since he took over the reins. Sometimes the lad will stay wide, sometimes he comes inside. Sometimes he will race forward with the bench yelling "Drive, drive,drive." Wonderful stuff.

I believe we are still some way from where he wants us to be but he knows what he needs and I expect the board to back him.

Trevor Peers
37 Posted 27/04/2015 at 22:01:27
We all enjoyed the win so let’s revel in it! I think the fans deserved that result after an otherwise mostly miserable season. The manager has to take some credit for the recent run of results, just like he has taken the criticism when things went badly wrong.

If, as seems likely, he’s learning from his tactical mistakes, as highlighted in Sunday’s MotD and is varying his tactics to suit the opposition, we’ll find out in the remaining games of this season and the beginning of next season's games.

Winning breeds confidence in the manager and the players. Any attempt to return to playing that awful possession football, will IMO immediately be reflected in a loss of form and points, and also pressure for the manager to be removed again.

Keith Young
38 Posted 27/04/2015 at 22:55:34
Harold’s comments, as ever, are powerful almost imperious but yet for me he is too generous to RM.

I’m mindful that our manager’s career, both as a player and manager, has been that of the underdog. There have been scary moments caused by stubbornness in his team selection and tactics of one size fits all. Because of this, Man Utd, the bookies and the media were united in expecting us to be thrashed.

As with Wigan, so now with Everton. I would prefer a more intelligent and flexible motivating manager. Rather than the self-satisfied image he postures.

Phil Guyers
39 Posted 27/04/2015 at 23:33:11
Tom Bowers

Games where Ossie has played 45 minutes or more this season – 7 wins 2 draws 1 defeat. The other 24 games – 4 wins 9 draws 11 defeats.

It is clearly you who doesn’t get the message about Ossie. What a ridiculous comment!

Andy Crooks
40 Posted 28/04/2015 at 00:30:22
Harold, I know that not that long ago you were as desperate as me regarding Martinez. Something has made you change and it came before Sunday. I like the stuff you write so this is a genuine query, why the new found belief?
Darren Hind
41 Posted 28/04/2015 at 01:08:04
I’ll tell you what is real "fantasy football stuff". It's the naïvety to believe a manager who has been publicly stripped naked after every game for his determination to adhere "his way" – despite the fact that every other manager knew how to combat it – should suddenly see the light.

It’s the quaint little notion that CL-challenging players would blindly follow instructions of a man whose tactics have already taken one team down and were beginning to threaten their own Premier League status – even their careers.

It's the cozy little notion that unwillingness to prepare for corner kicks wouldn't cost you everything you have worked for. It's the blind loyalty that will defend a man whose players' fitness and commitment level was so clearly exposed by the arrival of an outsider.

It's proper "fantasy football" to believe a man who was so bereft of answers or solutions when his tactics were being questioned to the point of ridicule by TV pundits and his own clubs fans, shouldn’t give way to the views of players who had spent their entire careers operating at a higher level than he had.

You all saw the fans force a change of tactics. You know what Baines said about Lennon. You read the players' quotes about going to the manager to put a stop to his suicidal tactics. You know that good players were looking like bad ones because they were being played out of position.

You know that the football you are now watching is nothing like the purposeless dross we were forced to endure for most of the season, that the drive you now witnessing from our midfielders and the "clear your lines" approach we have seen our defenders adopt is a million miles from the stupid possession obsession Martinez preaches.

The notion that Martinez has done this complete volte-face of his own volition, does indeed belong in "Fantasy Football". Players, who have far more experience than him of operating at the right end of the table, have offered him a lifeline and he has grabbed it with both hands.

Eddie Dunn
43 Posted 28/04/2015 at 08:24:16
I think what we have seen is straightforward pragmatism from the manager, who realised that we were in danger, and he has devised a strategy to get us up the table. As I have already said, the acid test will be when we play a team who play like West Brom did at Goodison. I hope he has learned from his mistakes.

One thing that would help though would be not following-up a poor result with nonsensical blatherings that make little sense. We don’t know what had gone on behind the scenes, but it is apparent that Martinez has a ruthless streak, as it seems he is willing to drop most of the team (except Howard, Jagielka & Barry) in his pursuit of his goal.

McCarthy’s blossoming over the last few games has happened whilst Naismith has sat on the bench, and the midfield has been less congested with players in each other’s way. Lennon has also given width to the right and helped to open up the inside track for McCarthy to exploit. This has taken our opponents by surprise, but it won’t be long before they notice and try to nullify it.

In fairness to the manager, he is there to make decisions... and, despite his mistakes, you have to let him manage. The next few games will be interesting, but the start of next season will be more important.

Eugene Ruane
45 Posted 28/04/2015 at 08:56:17
Eddie (#43) – "One thing that would help though would be not following-up a poor result with nonsensical blatherings that make little sense." Agree.

Whatever the opinions of the coaching/managerial ability of Martinez – opinions that seem to range from "HE’S SHIIIITE!" to ’I’d give him more time’ (I don’t actually think I’ve seen one this season saying ’he’s great’), I think one thing most would agree on is that his pre-/post-match blatherings make little sense and after a loss, have a ’salt in the wound’ effect on supporters.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that we’re certainly not alone, re ’our manager talks bollocks’. Louis ’Spongebob Squarehead’ Van Gaal’s truly, truly odd after-match comments must have had Utd supporters fuming.

Imagine us losing 3-0 and RM saying... "I had the feeling; the warm-up was not so good. In the last minutes before the game you hope you can recover and stimulate your players but then it is too late. You have to prepare the match already two or three days before and our opponents have done that and they have won because of that."

TW would melt. Still, Van Gaal and Martinez have always got the ’I don’t speak the lingo good’ get-out.

Brendan ’Phil O’Siffah’ Rodgers (responsible for the ludicrous shite below) doesn’t.

Seriously, imagine having to swallow any of this shite on a regular basis:

"I’ve always said that you can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope."

"My biggest mentor is myself because I’ve had to study, so that’s been my biggest influence."

"I started coaching for one reason and that was to make a difference for people, not just as footballers but as human beings."

"You train dogs, I like to educate players."

"I use a quote with the players: ’Per aspera ad astra’ which is Latin for through adversity to the stars."

"When you’ve got the ball 65-70% of the time, it’s a football death for the other team. We’re not at that stage yet, but that’s what we will get to. It’s death by football. You just suck the life out of them."

"I always say a squad is like a good meal – I’m not a great cook but a good meal takes a wee bit of time, but also to offer a good meal you need good ingredients."

"I believe a young player will run through a barbed wire fence for you. An older player looks for a hole in the fence."

"The problem with being a manager is it’s like trying to build an aircraft while it is flying."

"We play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 men and a goalkeeper>"

Etc, etc, blah, waffle, wank.

Listening to that level of shite would do my head in if were winning titles, so I imagine listening to it after a 0-0 at home to Hull or Sunderland.

Ross Edwards
46 Posted 28/04/2015 at 10:17:12
Darren is correct. Remember the booing against QPR when the ball was continually passed backwards? From then on RM knew that Goodison can bite. If sections of the crowd hadn’t have booed that day, I imagine that he’d have stuck with the same principles imo.
Andrew Ellams
47 Posted 28/04/2015 at 10:15:33
There seems to be some sort of belief that has been a bit of a player mutiny at Finch Farm, but surely it’s more likely that a bit of group soul searching has gone on and some things were said and changes made from that. It’s a team game on and off the pitch.

Favourite bit on Sunday, Big Dunc’s reactions to the goals.

John Keating
48 Posted 28/04/2015 at 17:36:27
That's the first game I've watched this season and thought we really deserved to win that.
The prior wins, less said...! A transformation on Martinez' "philosophy" and long may it continue !

Let there be no doubt however that the catalyst for this change-around, regardless of Martinez' rumblings, was the shown displeasure of the supporters with the shite we were playing, the players' response to the supporters and the fact that Martinez's intractability had put us in a place we should never be in!

Jason Lam
49 Posted 29/04/2015 at 04:27:23
Great result. Ross Barkley needs to work on his vision, he could've put Rom through on several occasions. Rom's running off the ball into space is excellent.
Ant Dwyer
51 Posted 30/04/2015 at 23:19:03
Well in Roberto, you got it right for once... For me it’s too little too late, He needs the boot. I’m sure it won’t happen so I hope he proves me wrong but I’m not confident in him.

I feel he’s far too naive in 70% of home games in thinking alls that we have to do is stick to our 4-2-2-1-1 type of formation and teams will give us the goals.

Fact is most teams are happy to get a point away at us so we have to take the game to them, hopefully Roberto has turned a corner but it’s took him his time.

Full season wasted for me.

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