As a Evertonian never in my life time have we been in such a predicament. Back in 2002 Everton where struggling and looking quite certain for relegation. In came a young man called David Moyes from Preston. He steadied the ship and we survived over the next 10-11 season barring 1 flirtation with relegation. He managed to bring us from an old team who regularly avoided relegation to a tea capable of challenging the big boys. We had some great years but Moyes had his downsides. He was too cautious and we bottled it on the big matches/occasions. We were constantly running uphill struggling to compete with the big boys both financially and on the pitch. Under Moyes we where plucky little Everton, hard to beat but unequipped to break into England's elite and didn't Moyes let it be known. In numerous press conferences and interviews.
Then Manchester United came calling. I do not know one Evertonian who begrudged him his shot! Finally at a “big” club with money to spend Moyes would get his chance. He subsequently failed but I believe whoever replaced Ferguson would do so! After 27 years developing an attacking style of football, Moyes defensive style of football was never going to succeed. The only negative about this situation was the way Moyes handled himself, I believe he was stringing Everton along and waiting to see if a better offer came in. This is where I believe Kenwright made one of his many mistakes. When Moyes was offered a contract and refused to sign I believe Kenwright should of showed some bottle and started to look elsewhere. Kenwright has shown he has blind loyalty and this was never going to happen but that is my only negative towards Moyes.
2013 change of manager and Martinez
2013 came and Moyes future was uncertain, the final nail in his coffin came at home in the 6th round against setting in motion a chain of events that would come to shape our future. At that point myself and many other Evertonians had accepted that Moyes had reached the ceiling and had took us as far as he could take us.
The Summer of 2013 was an exciting and worrying time for us Evertonians. Last time we had changed manager the internet was in its early years and social media was unheard of! So with 2013 we had Twitter and Facebook to discuss Moyes replacement and rumours where flying.
One man seemed to be the clear favourite and that man was Martinez. Although there was rumours of Laudrup from Swansea who was doing a great job but a 10m rumoured release fee put an end to that. On the continent there was exciting names such as Victor Pereira and Thomas Tuchal. Closer to home Everton favourites such as David Weir, Alan Stubbs and heaven forbid Phil Neville was mentioned. Although the lack of experience of the latter 3 mentioned effectively ruled them out. Martinez eventually won the race after wooing chairman Bill Kenwright.
Martinez and 2013/14
Martinez was presented to the media as Everton's new manager and instantly won the hearts and affections of Evertonians when he stated that he had promised to get Everton Champions League football and a Return to Europe's elite.
He started off by returning to his former club Wigan and brought in his back room staff and 3 players he could trust in Antolin Alcarez, Arouna Kone and Joel Robles from Athletico Madrid whom he had nurtured at Wigan.
It was an exciting time to be an Evertonian with a new manager and a little jolly off to USA in a pre season tour that Moyes had arranged. Here we acquitted ourselves admirably and in one match a young John Stones began his dramatic rise by chipping the legendary Gianluigui Buffon much to the dismay and anger of the Juventus players.
The season started slow with the new players settling in and transfer deadline came. Moyes had been courting Leighton Baines and Marouanne Fellaini all summer and a derisory offer of 28M for both players would eventually be the fee for Fellaini and allow us to bring James McCarthy in permanently and the experienced Gareth Barry and the exciting young stiker Romelu Lukaku on loan.
This was the final pieces of Martinez's Master-plan and from then we would kick on and eventually narrowly miss out on Champions League and record a record Premier League points total. I was not 100% convinced as Martinez had brought us the attacking endeavour that was missing under Moyes but all this was built on the solidarity that Moyes had brought. Imagine a house built on great foundations.
Undoubtedly these were exciting times for Evertionians and we where excited to see what next season would bring.
Europe and 2014/15
2014 and it was World Cup year and Roberto was planning big things and scouting many players. First piece of Business was to secure the outstanding and exceptional Gareth Barry but in typical Everton fashion we had to pay for a free agent. As per the agreement with Manchester City. Then we signed this young Bosnian called Muhammed Besic he had just managed to man mark the unbelievable Lionel Messi out of the match. Then came the news Evertonians had dreamed of Romelu Lukaku was signed permanently for a record fee of 28M. I felt like my head was going to explode, never had I known such excitement as a Evertonian. Legendary striker Samuel Eto'o would sign later on the window. Let that sink in Samuel Eto'o was an Everton player! Although he was in the latter stages of his career it was still an exceptional transfer window and things where looking up.
Things started slowly and we drew against both newly Promoted Leicester and Arsenal, throwing away leads which has became common under Martinez. Then a 9 goal thriller against Chelsea would be the beginning of Evertons defensive frailties. We picked up our first win and clean sheet against West Brom and then the start of an exciting Europa League campaign. We won 4-1 against a very good Wolfsberg team but it reality it could have been anywhere from 7-5 to us to 5-4 to them it was a very open and exciting game. We would not win again to the middle of October.
Then was the infamous trip to Lille a short trip over the channel into France. Everton where back on their Jollys. 10,000-15,000 Evertonians made the trip which was going to be a unbelievable experience. In reality as Everton normally does to you it was a little bit flat. The game, the atmosphere, the whole experience. Drinking from the night before watching Liverpool get hammered by Real Madrid the police where forceful to say the least and I even ended up on Hooligan TV and Grenada News. Wrong place wrong time haha. The game was painfully boring to watch and what was to become a mainstay in Everton's style. Pass, Pass, Pass. The many hours of drinking had took it tolls on Evertonian's and many had fell asleep including myself. Form in the League would continue to suffer and many including myself thought it was down to the challenges of the Europa league. Two wins in the league all winter was to prove the downfall of our season. A narrow 2-1 home victory over Dynamo Kiev was overturned by a 5-2 thrashing away from home and Dynamo and the excellent Andry Yarmelenko would continue in the competition and our season would whimper to the end. Had the Europa league papered over the cracks only time would tell.
2015/16: Lessons learned?
This season was seen as a significant one in Martinez and Everton's future. Tom Cleverly was brought in early in the window along with the promising Gerard Deulofeu whom had been a massive success in his first season here. Aaron Lennon and Ramiro Funes Mori would come on deadline day. Although the summer long flirtation with Andry Yarmelenko would fail breaking Mine and Evertonian's hearts in the process. Myself and many others saw him as the final piece of the puzzle. I would of liked to have seen Roberto address the goalkeeping issue as Tim Howards demise over the previous season had been dramatic to say the least.
This season has been frustrating and disappointing. This is the poorest Premier League that I can remember and has the greatest opportunity to gatecrash the top four and Champions League. Coupled with the best team/squad I can remember yet Martinez has us massively under achieving.
The season started against another newly promoted team for the second season running, move forward 12 months same result, same performance 2-2 this time against Watford. Then an outstanding team performance against Southampton. Counter attacking football at its finest. Defeat and outclassed against a far superior Manchester City was no surprise. We would then go undefeated till mid October when United halted it with a 3-0 Victory at Goodison.
A great 3-1 victory over Chelsea providing the highlight over this period. Although they where in free-fall at this point as the players had lost faith in Mourinho. A disappointing draw away to Swansea and at home to Liverpool had fans disbelieving that we can't defeat them now with their poorest team I can remember. We really do have a mental block against them.
We then hammered Sunderland 6-2 even though we managed to throw a two goal lead away to let them back into the game. An away draw to West Ham was a fair result but West Ham were on top of the game before an injury to the highly influential Dimitry Payet. A routine 4-0 over Aston Villa followed.
Then were I believe where are major decline started. For the 1st time this season and it wouldn't be the last Everton were robbed of victory in the 98th minute at Bournemouth. This is where Martinez game management came into question. Some times you just have to shut up shop, keep the ball and see the game out. This seamed to knock the wind out of our sails as we entered December and the busy Christmas Period. Disappointing draws to both Palace and Norwich were followed by defeat to Leicester at home. Yes they are the form team and surprise package of the season but I still expected us to beat them. A win in extra time at Newcastle provided the travelling fans with a worthwhile boxing day trip.
Next up was Stoke at home just 2 days later. 3-2 with 10 minutes to go and we lose the game 4-3 again another example of us not being able to see the game out. A good draw against a very good Spurs side was seen as a good result. After this game came a break from the league and cup games against Manchester City and Dagenham & Redbridge. An excellent performance against City and a training match performance against the lower league opposition. A spirited draw against City in the league where under pressure Tim Howard was outstanding.
Now for a disgraceful decision against Chelsea where again we conceded in the 98th minute although Terry was offside, Chelsea won 3 unchallenged headers leading up to the goal. This was a real kick in the balls for the team and a huge dent in morale. Which lead to an appalling game against Swansea where the team where booed off a both half and full time.
The only positive of our season so far and a chance to visit Wembley against the Shite, was taken away from us by an outstanding second half performance from City. The difference between us and the big money spenders is not so much the first 11 but the options they have from the bench. While City brought on Navas and De Bruyne. We brought on players of Kone's standard.
Tim Howard's decline has continued and has called for the vast majority of fans for the inclusion of Robles or to sign another Goalkeeper. Neither looks likely. We've sold Naismith and not replaced him although we have a few days left to do some business.
I believe that Martinez has lost the fans, not the players yet so this will probably buy him some time particularly as Kenwright is not prone to knee jerk reactions. Especially with the rumours of ill health and take over. This will probably buy Martinez until the end of the season. A good FA Cup run is imperative and I would say that we must win this to stand a chance of keeping this squad together. If not I can see Lukaku and Stones off in the summer, Maybe Barkley too if the rumours about Yaya Toure at City are true and he has a good Euro's!
That could mean anything from 120M-150M could be raised from the sale of these 3 players.
Do I trust Martinez to spend it well?
Yes, He has generally bought well only really Kone was a flop for his fee mainly due to his injury. Alcaraz and McGeady were free and less than £1M respectively.
Do I trust him to get the best out of the players here or what he could bring in?
No, He has continuously mismanaged the best squad in recent times and his stubbornness is his playing style has lead to teams knowing how to play against us and cause us to have the highest amount of unforced errors in the league. This only comes from playing with the ball around our box. A quote from Sir Alex Ferguson's book sums us up completely “passing without penetration is pointless”.
We need to be more solid at that back while not losing the attacking threat we possess. Also we have 5 wingers/wide players while Martinez continues to play only one using the likes of Cleverly, Kone and Osman on the left hand side.
If things were to continue and Martinez time at Everton became untenable who would I want to replace him.
For me the Main Candidates would be;
Mark Hughes – He has got stoke playing some good football and they have moved away from the Yard Dog tags but they can still mix it when they need to! Hughes has his teams play in the manner that he played himself. He could play football but has that nasty/winning streak that all great players have.
Frank De Boer – Has revitalised Ajax in recent years and is looking for a new challenge. He is used to managing young players and nurturing them as Ajax have a strong history of bringing young players through.
Andres Villas Boas – I think he has unfinished business in the Premiership as he pretty much assembled the current Spurs squad but wasn't allowed the time to reap the benefits. He is also a free agent at the end of the season as he's leaving Zenit for personal reasons.