As an Everton fan of nearly 40 years, I have seen a lot, some of it great, most of it average, and some, including the last 2 seasons of your tenure, terrible.
We Evertonians as a group are not known to be fickle, and generally managers are given plenty of time to show their worth. Your time is up. There are many reasons for this, most of which have become glaringly apparent in this current season. However, the biggest cause for concern is not that they are new, it is that they are the same mistakes as you made last season, arguably for many seasons in your time at Wigan.
I will confess that I was excited and indeed voiced my opinion that you were the right man for the job before and during your initial appointment. Indeed your first season in charge was a joy for us all, as you seemed to build on what David Moyes had left behind. We were a solid team, with plenty of flair and the skill to use it, but behind that was a certain steel, a determination NOT to concede goals, to play a high tempo, exhilarating brand of football using the finest aspects of the game. While that season was not without its disappointments, on the whole the mood was positive amongst us Blues. I have to ask, where has that determination gone? Where is the steel? Where is the high-tempo passing? The pressing? The clean sheets?
There are so many things that are wrong with Everton on the field at the moment. So many that have been wrong since the opening day against Leicester back in August '14. Then again against Arsenal at home a week later. Then again against Palace, Tottenham, Hull – all before Christmas... points dropped from winning positions. Then there were the strangely poor results against Swansea and Sunderland, Southampton and Stoke, Newcastle, Hull, West Brom etc, teams we had easily dealth with before, causing us no end of trouble with no sign of things changing.
No sign of things changing. We are in exactly the same place we were 12 months ago.
This is, for many Evertonians, the crux of the matter. You use the term 'learning' almost as much as phenomenal. I see no sign of anyone learning. I see defenders forgetting how to defend. I see midfielders refusing to shoot, or even pass the ball forward. I see a lone striker in his own half because the ball isn't being played up to him quick enough. Most of all I see no change. No sign of growth. John Stones is going backwards, and it's not confidence, it's poor coaching. He's a defender. Teach him how to be a better defender and he will be world class, carry on as you are and he will be Championship, if someone doesn't buy him first.
Your stubborn refusal to accept that the grittier side of the game is relevant in modern football has destroyed all the good work accomplished in the Moyes era, and the good will you built in your first season in charge. Your stubborn refusal to realise that players you select are no longer worthy of a place in the starting 11 or indeed, the matchday squad is equally galling. Tim Howard is destroying his legacy, and you are helping him to do it. Shame on you, Roberto.
Kone appears to be a likeable man, but he is no winger. Nor is he anything but a 3rd choice striker, who should rarely if ever been picked ahead of Steven Naismith, who for all his faults was a passionate, determined player, capable of scoring goals. Yet he has been sold without being replaced.
Alcaraz. Kone. Stubbornly, repeatedly selected by you despite it being glaringly obvious they were not up to the task, either due to lack of fitness or talent. Distin dropped then shipped out, depite being measurably better than Alcaraz... we don't get to know why, officially. 2014-15 we had Barry and Lukaku. Repeatedly picked despite the obvious need to be rested. The potential of Samuel Eto'o, nullified and wasted in midfield.
More lacklustre, disjointed performances that left us wondering...where's the pace, the determination, the steel? More poor defeats to Stoke, Villa, Sunderland, Tottenham and Arsenal, who we in the season before had passed of the park for the first 45 minutes which I believe were the best of your time at our club. vexing draws against Leicester and Swansea doing little to alleviate my growing sense of disappointment.
All of which brings us to our current season. It's more of the same isn't it? No one has learned, least of all you. Norwich, Watford, Bournemouth, Leicester, Stoke, Chelsea, Swansea. Not good enough. 18 wins in 61 matches. Not good enough. Your tactics are predictable, teams now relish playing agaist us. I can't bring myself to confirm exactly how many points we've lost from winning positions, but I can tell you one thing – it's too many and it's not good enough. We are not learning Roberto.
Again, determination, steel, the ability and desire to see a game out from a winning position... these are the things that, coupled with the flair and excitement of the beautiful side of the game, are what make teams phenomenal, Roberto, not losing repeatedly against technically inferior opponents due to a lack of effort, of concentration. It's the Premier league. There are no easy games. Especially for us while you remain in control. You have demonstrated no desire to practice what you preach and learn from these repeated mistakes. Your team selection and substitutions remain confounding. Kone for Deulofeu? Was Lennon injured? If so, why is he on the bench? Baffling, to say the least.
Unfortunately, this is not a catalogue of all your mistakes, just the ones that spring to mind. I know there will be others that other fans will be thinking of, which is damning in itself.
My biggest worry, Roberto, is that if you remain in charge until the end of the season and beyond, all the good things you have done will be lost... Lukaku, Stonesy will almost certainly look to move on, possibly joined by Barkley and Seamus; Geri going is not beyond possible. All this talent, the best we've had at one time in 30 years will be gone, and you will be the one to blame.
This is a top-6 minimum squad. You're barely realising half their potential and this is the biggest disappointment.
Roberto, thank you, but we think it's time you left.
January 28th 2016.
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