Roberto Martinez says that he was really pleased with the manner of his side's 3-1 friendly win over Heart of Midlothian, describing it as a valuable exercise. He also reiterated that he remains on the lookout for two more players between now and the end of August.
"[It was] a very valuable time for the players. 90 minutes at this stage of pre-season is important," Martinez told Sky Sports. "We got that. We got players back from injury like Bryan Oviedo and Leighton Baines and they looked really sharp. In every aspect, it's been a very positive exercise.
The manager acknowledged Romelu Lukaku's hat-trick and the threat posed by the dual strike-force of the Belgian and Arouna Kone but he was pleased with the game as a whole from his team's perspective.
"I thought the whole performance was very well balanced. I thought defensively, apart from the lapses in concentration from the first dead-ball situation, we were very strong and that's what pleases you in a game like this. I thought the togetherness of the team was quite significant."
Asked if he was happy with the current state of his squad, Martinez restated his desire to bring in at least two players before the transfer deadline.
"We always try to look for new arrivals. I do feel that we are probably looking for two positions to try to strengthen but it is a good period to assess the younger players. It's always important, in the way we work at our football club, that we assess our youngsters before we make major decisions. I've been very impressed with their attitude and their levels but we'll keep working up to the deadline to be we are as strong as we can be in the squad."
He rejected any assertion that any new signings would be dependent on players departing, however. "No, not at all," the Catalan insisted. "We've been working really hard in the last two seasons [to have consistency in our group] and we have a very good balance in experience and young talent that already have big roles in the team. What we want to do is maintain that and, if anything, to add extra strength to strong core of players that we already have."
Martinez was quoted separately by The Scotsman where he talked more specifically about the need for reinforcements at centre half and his belief that one or two of his young players in that position – most likely Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning – are probably ready to become regular members of the first team.
He was less clear on the second area of the team he is looking to address – the belief and hope is that it is the much-vaunted "no.10" role he stated at the beginning of the summer was a key position, albeit one for whom his target had already been chosen. Curiously, far from expressing any urgency with the season so close, he indicated that was the acquisition that might go to the wire.
"Maybe we need another new face at centre half," he said, " and then there's another position where we are still lightweight. We will wait as long as we can to select the person we want."
While he weighs up those potential additions to the team, the boss has been using the pre-season to assess his existing players for readiness to kick off the season opener against Watford in less than a fortnight's time. He used 16 players against Hearts, some of whom featured for the whole 90 minutes, and Martinez admitted that while he already has an idea of the starting XI he would select for that match, nothing is set in stone.
“If I’m honest, I told the players I want to leave it open to competition and moments of form,” Martinez told the Liverpool Echo.
“I have my preferred options in how I would play Watford now but the reality is that personnel is down to the application and moments of form of the players and that will go right down to the final game of preparation against Villarreal and every action is going to matter.”
“I have been very impressed with the way Tom Cleverley has adapted to the group, I must admit. It has been a smooth transition.
“Leon Osman, straight away, is getting to a very good level and every body knows about the partnership of Gareth Barry and James McCarthy.
“Ross Barkley is the freshest that I have seen him and I am looking forward to seeing him play on Tuesday and the way we want to play, midfield is a very important area and I feel now we have the options we are going to need during the season."
Reader Comments (55)
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1 Posted 27/07/2015 at 00:36:01
2 Posted 27/07/2015 at 01:01:59
The youngish lad Conor played well for one half against Swindon haven't seen him since that. Does that mean he's been assessed or he hasn't made the grade?
If we need players get them in early and get them playing. Going to leave it to last minute, pay through the roof and not get the players we want. I know it's not as simple as that but god it's frustrating.
3 Posted 27/07/2015 at 01:07:55
i) Every other Premier League manager has sussed out how to combat it.
ii) Every Everton fan realises that playing two defensive midfielders reduces our attacking options.
iii) Everyone watching Barry realises he's coming to the end of his career as a Premier League midfield player and whilst he still has a good eye, his mobility is suspect.
I'm actually relatively positive about the coming season, provided we get in some more attacking creativity in midfield/up front (which I think we will) and can hang onto the players who are being linked away e.g. Stones, Mirallas, McCarthy (which I'm less confident of, but isn't impossible).
5 Posted 27/07/2015 at 01:09:36
While it's tempting to be in for another striker, I'd like to see McAleny being given his chance this season.
6 Posted 27/07/2015 at 01:16:44
"I have my preferred options in how I would play Watford now but the reality is that personnel is down to the application and moments of form of the players and that will go right down to the final game of preparation against Villarreal and every action is going to matter."
..and think yes that all makes perfect sense, until you throw in the distraction of Rooney/Big Dunc.
I'm all for testimonials as they raise money for charity and I have no problem at all with Rooney in a blue shirt, however it will be strong opposition and I just feel the testimonial thing should have been a separate 'fun' event/game (separate from proper friendlies - specially ones a week before we kick off)
It's saying 'we're taking the game very seriously.....but not too seriously like'
7 Posted 27/07/2015 at 04:22:39
8 Posted 27/07/2015 at 07:49:22
9 Posted 27/07/2015 at 08:00:40
Sure they do Bobby! They know that it took 7 months for you to encourage one of them to cross the halfway line last season.
I had a bit of spare time over the weekend and watched the DVD of the 2007-08 Season Review. I tell you what: anyone who thinks Martinez's football was more productive than Moyes's just needs to watch that DVD. We actually did play some phenomenal football that involved passing, movement, getting loads of men in the box and a midfield of Pienaar, Arteta, Cahill and later Fernandes all "feeding the Yak so he will score".
The one biggest noticeable difference though was the pace that we played the games at; none of this mind-numbing passing around the back at a snail's pace. We could play passing football when needed but, in the main, it was productive and exciting. No wonder the atmosphere was rocking the foundations at Goodison Park that night against Fiorentina.
The biggest task Martinez faces is getting the fans more interested and more involved at Goodison this new season. Too many home games last term felt like you were just there to escape going clothes shopping with your missus.
We need to get that enjoyment back from watching Everton FC at Goodison in particular.
10 Posted 27/07/2015 at 08:06:36
I very much hope that McCarthy - Cleverley is going to be our first choice midfield partnership. Who plays AMC is a harder question and will depend largely on the form of young Mr Barkley and who else if anyone we bring in.
I am feeling relatively confident and our loss against Arsenal has been put in some perspective by their thumping of Lyon. They look a very impressive team and one likely to challenge Chelsea this season.
11 Posted 27/07/2015 at 08:34:04
12 Posted 27/07/2015 at 08:40:55
I'm looking forward to Big Dunc, Rooney etc but I think that should have been this weekend with another high class friendly scheduled for first weekend of August. I hope we are not 2-0 v Watford then run out of gas for a 2-2!
13 Posted 27/07/2015 at 08:59:56
Oh,and I think Mirallas will be another gonner... probably after the season starts.
14 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:02:06
Baines was class.
Good to see Oviedo back; shame Gibson, Pienaar and Del are crocked.
15 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:08:08
I can't see Stones going anywhere as we can't afford to let him go; Jags would be our only centre back who's played Premier League football there.
Barry was frustrating to watch most of last season but was equally flogged to death. He will surely play once a week maximum this season and be rotated too.
I expect us to sign central defensive cover and to get this Number 10 -- although I have no idea who either will be and both are extremely important.
Sadly I expect our form to mirror that of a youngster being Barkley. If he blows the Premier League away, we will be a force to be reckoned with... but, if not, we will be battling for top 10 like last season.
16 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:08:43
McCarthy, Stones and Mirallas for Lennon, Januzaj and who? Jonny Evans, I presume? Brilliant!!
17 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:18:11
Anyway, I'm putting the crystal ball away for now to concentrate on my 'positivity issues!'
18 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:23:10
I reckon it will happen a few days before the start of the season, typical Everton style...
19 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:30:09
20 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:32:55
21 Posted 27/07/2015 at 09:39:59
I don't believe the board are that fussed too as they haven't handed the man any war chest. I fear for the season ahead teammates.
22 Posted 27/07/2015 at 10:02:12
23 Posted 27/07/2015 at 10:27:23
Maybe he should say something really profound that will be quoted for years -- like Shankly's stupid quote about "life and death, football's more important than that". What an absolute load of drivel.
Or maybe we just have to accept that football news and views is a 24-hour "phenomenon" and our voyeuristic society has to be satiated.
Or just maybe we should use our own nous to sift through all the crap and just agree or disagree or believe or disbelieve what we want.
I am only really interested in what happens on the pitch -- all of this is just summer nothingness.
Up The Blues.
24 Posted 27/07/2015 at 10:27:36
25 Posted 27/07/2015 at 10:30:03
After Phillip Lahms's comments a few days ago, don't write of Thomas Muller.
26 Posted 27/07/2015 at 10:51:08
27 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:04:54
28 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:19:01
29 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:34:53
Our squad is too small now, we are carrying too many players who we can't rely on and that is not their fault. Gibson, Pienaar and Hibbert I don't even include as they may appear a few times now and again.
He needs to bite the bullet now, contact Chelsea and tell them they can have Stones, who wants to go, for 㿞 million but they need to do so by end of this month or no deal. This will let him get others in, at least two of which need to be defenders.
Stones is work in progress, and should look at his own development but he wants to go and we can't offer him what Chelsea can and we must accept it. We were lucky that Phil chose to stay with the club when he could have gone to Arsenal for more money and trophies.
This will be a continuing theme I am afraid unless there is some control, proper control over players' contracts. At present they may as well be written on chip paper as they count for nowt!
30 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:35:30
And finally it's the Star & Goal.Com FFS....The Star & Goal.Com both of which are just short (and only just) of "B52 found on the moon" type of scoops.
Onto the game, I didn't watch it but by all accounts we played well but pre-season is all about fitness so don't read anything into it. Finally, finally -- Nothing set in stone; or should that be nothing set for Stones, get onto that Goal.Com.
31 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:42:32
32 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:52:44
Every single player in a Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal shirt, is as busy as McCarthy and Cleverley off the ball. No half asleep strolling, waiting for a pass. Lukaku, Mirallis and Barkley would be shoved under their bench. Definitely not on it. Rooney, Tevez, Costa, Iniesta and Oscar will fight to win the ball back all day long. They don't need motivating. They're proper footballers. They love it. Passengers, Mr Martinez, are not allowed on the Royal Blue bus.
I will not attempt to knock Howard and Robles, two very good keepers but watching Courtois and Petr Cech has left me a bit depressed. These guys are almost perfect. Incidentally, David James proved he was an idiot by suggesting that Chelsea came out best in the Cech / Arsenal deal.
Weighing up our prospects is well nigh impossible with all the rumours flying about. If we hang on to our best players we should do okay but it won't be easy. Let's hope there are a few nice surprises in store.
33 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:52:50
So, providing Martinez has as much nouse -- and money -- it doesn't necessarily matter if a few ship out. That's a big IF, of course.
34 Posted 27/07/2015 at 11:57:07
Yes Dave but that was a few days ago. We've all passed a lot of water since then so it's anybodies guess. If you believe the red tops, he's already gone. I was more interested in whether Sergio Roberto would be coming in. We need a playmaker.
35 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:09:08
I would have liked to have seen more of McAleny and Galloway but he seems to want to stick with the old pros such as Kone, Barry, Osman and the like that, to be honest, will not change anything from last season.
If he does bring in two more players, we can only hope they will be class acts that are ready to slot right in.
Watford look like they will have a side of mostly new faces so you know they will mean business when the season starts.
36 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:13:28
If he's available, and fancies a bit of Mersyside "Sur Le Mer", I'd have him.
37 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:29:52
There will be more transfer activity in the next 5 weeks, we just need to pray the squad is strengthened by it all.
39 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:38:03
Martinez, has got a good enough philosophy for me, he just hasn't got enough busy footballers to implement it.
40 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:48:51
Presumably, the real reason for saying this is because RM knows that his hands are tied, as usual and to my immense frustration, until we either sell somebody or until the Sky money rolls in. But waiting until the last moment to get new signings in has been proven in the past to be a foolhardy strategy!
We have already missed out on central defensive targets this Summer due to our customary dithering and the way we're carrying on we will either be left short-handed as usual or signing sub-standard alternatives in desperation. I beg the editors' pardon for shouting, but GET ON WITH IT!!
Why can we not spend against the known commodity of the incoming Sky money?! Other clubs appear to be merrily doing just that.
We need a complete squad in advance of the big kick off, not three weeks after that.
42 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:54:55
You're right about needing another CB, Distin will be missed and unless one of the young lads can step up efficiently, then we're stuffed if we have any injuries.
Our play last season was embarrassingly slow and we must increase the tempo if we are to improve on our performances.
43 Posted 27/07/2015 at 12:55:37
Again, like Harold points out, we are in danger of over estimating Stones, especially in defence; he might become a top player in time but he's not great in defence yet. If this is our first choice defence we're going to concede plenty of soft goals in the air again!
44 Posted 27/07/2015 at 13:20:24
45 Posted 27/07/2015 at 14:22:41
47 Posted 27/07/2015 at 15:11:11
48 Posted 27/07/2015 at 15:53:29
I don't see after last season how he still thinks this is a good idea. Gibson, Barkley or Cleverley have to be one of the deep lying two to give the team some forward momentum in matches.
49 Posted 27/07/2015 at 16:13:55
So for £13 million we got half the player Fellaini was and this is the problem when letting your top players go.
If you can only play 11 at one time, you need to put out your strongest team. Good tactics and team spirit will only get you so far. Class players make the difference to enable you to break the glass ceiling.
50 Posted 27/07/2015 at 16:14:24
If we could get Mirallas to play every game like he did yesterday, he would be irreplaceable.
I was made up to see 2 strikers start but Kone is well off the pace and against top defenders a complete waste of time. A new striker is imperative together with a central defender.
As soon as Hearts got their corner you just new the outcome. They took their time taking it and we had loads of time to sort things out but when you saw the big centre half being picked up by Baines and Osman, you just knew the outcome. If we are not going to practise defending set pieces then it is even more important we get a dominant goalie, sadly Howard is not one.
We definitely caused Hearts more problems when Naismith came on.
Good to see another young lad given a run and he did quite well in the short time he was on.
Baines misses Pienaar big time and it would be interesting to see Oviedo playing wide left in front of Baines.
We really have to sort this Stones, McCarthy shit out asap.
51 Posted 27/07/2015 at 16:35:54
Top European teams are all looking for clones like Stones. This guy is top draw!... Yes, he'll make a mistake or two (very few) but show me a player/experienced or not, who never does!
Just enjoy this lad while it lasts because every top European club who needs a centre half in the near future will be knocking on Bill's door. Give the lad a break.
52 Posted 27/07/2015 at 17:09:44
The gap between the English and Scottish Premier Leagues was painfully obvious. After that initial flurry, Hearts barely saw the ball and when they got it they either couldn't control it or didn't know what to do with it. We did but no English Premier League side will give us that amount of time on the ball.
53 Posted 27/07/2015 at 17:27:24
Whist I agree, Fellaini used to link-up play, get in and around the box, as well as contributing his fair share of goals, it's slightly unfair to contrast him with McCarthy as it's not really a like-for-like comparison.
Fellaini usually made that kind of impact when played as a secondary striker or out-and-out target man. When asked to remain disciplined, sit in front of the back four and stifle opposition play, the attacking side of his game obviously suffered as a result. Although, certainly, he still represented a major threat from set-pieces, no matter what his starting position, and that added height and aggression is something sorely missing throughout the side at the moment.
If Fellaini was twice the player McCarthy is, then it's only because he was capable of performing multiple roles.
54 Posted 27/07/2015 at 17:54:56
Liverpool were 1 of the 7 to score more, by only 4 goals after all the money they threw at the team. Okay, Sturridge was crocked all season which affected them.
At the end of the day, it depends I suppose where you expect us to finish, taking into account where we are in the spending league.
55 Posted 27/07/2015 at 18:02:35
56 Posted 27/07/2015 at 18:03:31
Fellaini is a true box-to-box midfield player who we have not replaced.
McCarthy, for all his work rate, seems to do most of his work from side to side. Now whether that is tactical or not is open to debate but I really believe that we need a box-to-box goalscoring midfield player and at this time we don't have one.
I disagree with all the supporters saying we just need a creative midfield; we don't. We have enough creativity with two attacking full backs and two wingers. We just need someone in the middle of the park who can hit the onion bag and not Row Z.
58 Posted 27/07/2015 at 19:55:28
We all know last season was a write-off but it may also be him thinking he only has to turn up for matches without putting a shift in.
A few more goals like the one against Man City will do for me. Come on, Ross!!
59 Posted 27/07/2015 at 20:38:13
We are so ponderous now the biggest threat we offer is sending the opposition's defence to sleep! Maybe this is the master plan.
62 Posted 27/07/2015 at 00:18:01
Class will only get you so far. Bobby Moore, Pele, Maradona, Beckenbauer, Best, Van Basten, Cruyff and Zidane were all as hard as nails. Class up to their eyeballs but tough aggressive fighters with a never-say-die attitude.
Everton don't have people of that calibre but, judging by the mind-boggling signings of our rivals, we'll need fit, fast, wide awake players who will fight tooth and nail for every ball. The Premier League, awash with money, is no longer a walk in the park for a top ten finish. It has become a high level 100-mph tactical battle zone with no room for faint hearts. No room for lazy passengers.
Pleased to have Oviedo, Galloway and Besic on deck, ready for action. Three no-nonsense characters with more than a little skill, waiting their chance to shine. Unfortunately, one or two starters are without competition and that is a risk we should not take.
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