Of all the managers in world football who could have been brought in, the appointment of Martinez smacked of a complete lack of ambition and knowledge of football. The past record of Martinez is worrying to say the least and it appears that those traits that created that record at Wigan Athletic, are now firmly ensconced at Goodison Park.
Martinez is a distinctly average football manager, the stats back this up. He certainly isn’t good enough to manage Everton Football Club. After a spell at Swansea he took over Wigan Athletic in 2009 and his reign there was one of inexplicable inconsistency. In his first season in charge he beat Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal but his team also capitulated on numerous occasions with the worst being a 9-1 mauling by a decidedly average Spurs team. In his last season he fluked the FA Cup final against an uncharacteristically disjointed Man City, but undoubtedly the most impressive performance on that run was the quarter final at Goodison Park. Martinez, like many Evertonians, identified that the weak link in Everton was their immobile central midfield. His young Wigan team targeted it and then blitzed Everton. That game also underlined that Phil Neville was finished as a footballer, something most of us already knew. Performances like these were not the norm and that season Wigan were relegated following their third consecutive relegation battle.
Perhaps that quarter final performance against an insipid Everton persuaded Kenwright that Martinez was the person to take over from Moyes, a manager who he had just comprehensively outsmarted – we will never know but I think that that day signalled a new era for Everton. The Moyes stoicism was no match for quick incisive attacking football that was more akin to that of the School of Science, the type that was being practiced by most of Europe’s elite. The dour Moyes was a busted flush, it appeared Martinez was the future.
Not long after Martinez and Wigan parted company I heard there was a conversation between him and his Evertonian former midfielder Callum McManaman. McManaman was one of the shining lights of Martinez’s Wigan team and one of the few plus points to emerge from that relegation season. Callum begged Martinez to take him with him to Everton, but Martinez’s response was that McManaman was good enough for Wigan, but that he’ll never be good enough for Everton. This is currently what many Evertonians now think of Martinez; good enough for Wigan, but never good enough for Everton.
And now Martinez’s Wiganisation of Everton is now complete. Everton have lost all of the defensive cohesiveness instilled by years of drilling by Moyes, and without that they are all too easy to beat. This is nothing new; this is a pattern that started half way through Martinez’s first season. Teams now only need to turn up to take points off Everton, they don’t even have to work hard for goals. I have lost count of the number of goals we have conceded from straight punts up the pitch. Teams at that level simply should not concede as easily as Everton do. The current defensive record is appalling.
And worse still, it appears that Lukaku’s hot streak may be cooling down. His goals papered over the cracks of the gaping holes in the team and as a result we can’t go toe to toe with opponents and outscore them anymore. Martinez’s game plan is now unravelling as Kevin Keegan’s did at Newcastle. All the bullshit, blaming match officials and excuses won’t cover up the fact that his team is incapable of the absolute basics.
I am fed up of hearing that we have a young team and they need to learn. It is the job of Martinez to teach them. Why not teach them that sometimes hoofing the ball into Row Z is the best option? Why not teach them that sometimes parking the bus is the best option? Why not teach them that sometimes running the ball to the corner flag is what all the best teams do?
Think back to Fergie’s Fledglings at Old Trafford. Does anyone remember similar repeated exhibitions of schoolboy naivety? If they made a mistake, they didn’t make it again. Youth is not an excuse for the rank amateurism that now typifies Everton. Martinez is paid to win football matches and sometimes to win football matches you need to compromise, sometimes you need to go ugly and scrap – surely three relegation battles must have taught him that.
The bottom line of all of this is that we have replaced a second rate manager with a third rate manager. The club had the opportunity to cast its net far and wide and go for manager with real pedigree, but it looks like Kenwright employed Martinez to save on relocation expenses. Martinez needs to be gotten rid of quickly or the gems that currently litter the squad will all leave and we will once again find ourselves five years behind the pack. We have the makings of something special but Martinez is clearly not the man the man to take them forwards. I can think of plenty of managers who would have that team a lot further up the table than where Martinez has them.
We all know how decisive this current Everton board is so we all know Martinez is here for the long haul. Sin miedo – without fear, the thought of Martinez at the club for much longer absolutely terrifies me. There is only one way this man is going to take us.