So where do we go from here? I have gone past confusion, anger, despair and I am now in a new stage of Evertonian grief – blank-faced incredulity. I headed for work on Saturday evening with us cruising 2-0 at home, albeit with 10 men. Soon after, my sister texted me “2-2 sorry,” apologetic over another embarrassing collapse. My response? “I don't believe it” followed by “Well actually I do.” We all know what followed.
Results like these happen once or twice in a season. We’ve all watched enough football to know that. A Geordie mate of mine still can’t believe we did them in on Boxing Day with a Tom Cleverley bullet header (sic). It says a lot about the campaign that a result of that nature was one of my highlights. But most worrying is that Saturday’s result was no shock. I almost shrugged it off... Almost. Bournemouth, Stoke, Chelsea. And now West Ham.
I am not shocked by this result and others like it because nagging inconsistency, appalling game management, and a complete lack of awareness and acceptance have become the norm under Martinez. Shock was indeed the latest excuse pedalled to the media after Saturday. Shock over a penalty miss from our most clinical player, who had scored one and laid on another. We can point again to poor officiating, to bad luck, but we only have one person to direct our anger towards.
I wrote not too long ago about the nonsensical drivel that Martinez spins to the press regularly (A Close Reading). On Saturday, he probably gave Lukaku as good a reason as any to leave Goodison come the summer, notwithstanding the thought that he might have to spend another season criminally underachieving under a coach with one plan. A failing plan.
I realise that even by penning this article I am treading over old ground. And therein lies the problem. In the cutthroat world of modern football, how on earth can we continue to stomach this, week-in and week-out? The only thing consistent about our club is that, after every result, even a positive like the 3-1 away win at Villa not too long ago, there will be a nagging sense that something is amiss.
It might be the way that basic lessons are not being heeded. It might be a perceived soft core, a lack of fight and mental toughness. It might be that, for all the media-hype – the last, crumbling bastion of Martinez’s reputation – the so-called attacking football on show is not as penetrating as we are told it is. After every game, we are undoubtedly disagreeing with the man in charge, three points or not.
The time has come for a substitution in the managerial sense. It’s fitting, because much of the ire from Saturday focussed on another poor showing on this front. And it’s another nail in this promising but pitiful chapter of our recent history. Just try and think of a manager who has made less game-changing substitutions than Martinez. I look back on this current season and besides the “wild-card” introduction of Arouna Kone against a naÃ¯ve Watford side surprised to be leading, and the enforced change that brought Steven Naismith to the fore against Chelsea, I can think of no others. The bitter loss to West Ham shows how badly the man can get it when he does change things up.
I listen to the Football Weekly podcast often, and in the build-up to our weekend game they said that Slaven Bilic is the sort of manager you would run through a brick wall for. Roberto Martinez is the sort of manager who would tell you that the wall is a window and what a lovely view it was out there. With new money and new ownership, let's point him towards the door.