After years of being an automatic choice in Everton's back four, Baines has been absent from the team for the past three games, leading many fans to wonder whether he was struggling for fitness following a long lay-off from back-to-back surgeries on his ankle last summer.
While the 31-year-old was omitted as a precaution for the trip to Brunton Park in the FA Cup Fourth Round at the end of last month, Roberto Martinez has revealed that Baines is now being kept on the bench by the form of his deputy, Bryan Oviedo.
Speaking with the Liverpool Echo, the manager hints that the form of his entire back line, including goalkeeper Joel Robles, has been rewarded with continued selection over them past two wins in the Premier League and perhaps suggests that the likes of Tim Howard and John Stones won't walk back into the team when they are fully fit themselves.
“Leighton did well enough when he played and then he picked up a knock and missed the Carlisle game," Martinez explained.
“At that point, as we always do, we allowed competition for places to ensure our levels were kept up from game to game.
“Bryan Oviedo did really, really well, the whole back four did, as did Joel Robles and they all kept their place.
“That continuity has given us a very good platform and that’s what you want as a squad.
“You want players who work hard to get an opportunity, they wait patiently for an opportunity and when they get that opportunity they need to be given the chance to keep that place.
“That’s where competition for places can become very effective and very strong. That’s why we’ve been working really hard to get a squad that is as strong as the one we have now and making sure that the standards of every player and the moments of form of every player contribute to what the team wants to achieve of a weekend.”
Reader Comments (72)
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1 Posted 09/02/2016 at 20:18:33
2 Posted 09/02/2016 at 20:21:49
Baines is 31... Fuck, I didn't realise he was that old.
3 Posted 09/02/2016 at 20:25:27
If this were always true ... then why not 6 months ago for Robles?
5 Posted 09/02/2016 at 20:31:37
Obviously Baines has been having a poor season with injuries. But he was almost back to his best against Chelsea. Very good defensively and two assists I think.
So honestly I don't think Oviedo will overtake Baines for the next two years. And after two years it will be Garbutt or Galloway before Oviedo.
6 Posted 09/02/2016 at 20:37:09
7 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:05:13
I hope he gets a good half dozen more games to show us he can be considered a true replacement. Galloway will be centre half eventually anyway.
8 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:07:47
9 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:24:25
10 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:27:16
Let that nugget of wisdom sink in, then cast your mind back to Robles last run of games and Howard's immediate return to the first team when he returned to fitness.
The man is a charlatan.
11 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:28:48
Baines was brilliant in 1st leg against Man city and brilliant against Chelsea. He is still Everton's best left back.
12 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:34:18
13 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:46:53
14 Posted 09/02/2016 at 21:54:40
15 Posted 09/02/2016 at 22:38:36
16 Posted 09/02/2016 at 22:48:18
I expect an unchanged side despite Roberto's past judgements. If it's not and we under-perform, then I am sure the faithful will let him know.
17 Posted 09/02/2016 at 22:57:55
18 Posted 09/02/2016 at 23:20:33
As a result of these games, Baines has needed to be careful, credit should be given to both Martinez and Baines competition (Galloway & Oviedo both).
No matter what people forget about Baines, he is an outstanding left back, and is undoubtedly our best left back, head and shoulders above Oviedo, Galloway and Garbut.
If daft Roy wakes up soon enough, he may realise Baines is head and shoulders above Gibbs and any of Baines young pretenders for the European Championship left back place.
Blue fans please be clever and patient, do not write Baines off, he is still world class.
19 Posted 09/02/2016 at 23:21:42
20 Posted 10/02/2016 at 00:46:23
21 Posted 10/02/2016 at 00:53:27
22 Posted 10/02/2016 at 00:54:46
23 Posted 10/02/2016 at 01:01:58
We all know that goal keeping is a confidence position look at Paul Robinson and Tim Howard at United. Once they were dropped they were finished. Paul never recovered but Howard got a fair shot here and has been a good keeper for us.
There's a lot more to a football team than what goes on during 90 minutes guys. Martinez clearly doesn't feel Robles is good enough to cut it consistently at this level yet and by all accounts has been looking at other goalies.
You can do what Chelsea did and drop Cech if you have a top quality keeper lined up but Martinez clearly doesn't believe he does have, so the best course of action is surely to try and get your proven number 1 goalie, who is a big character in the dressing room and has been at the club for years, back to form and back to full confidence.
Goalies aren't like outfield players, it's more of a psychological position and often being dropped isn't a positive kick up the back side but a confidence shattering questioning of your ability.
I think Martinez will bring a new goalie in this summer but in the meantime he has to try and get the players we have to the top of their game.
John Stones will come back much stronger from this blip too. The kid is a class act.
24 Posted 10/02/2016 at 01:18:24
Tim Howard has been DONE for the last two seasons.
Robles deserved his chance last year but was dropped even after performing admiraly - that was a big mistake in my opinion.
Robles may not be the goalie Everton require but he's better fit than Howard is right now.
25 Posted 10/02/2016 at 01:43:11
However, I am a huge Baines supporter but Oviedo is my favorite Tico. Over here we get to see him play for Costa Rica in our mighty CONCACAF. He is incredibly versatile and an excellent player for them. I believe that Oviedo should get the nod over Baines because he stops crosses and Baines doesn't. Simple. Baines is craftier and anticipates a little better. However, I would not complain about either player starting at left back so long as he covers Howard's left side of the pitch effectively (See what I did there Oliver #23).
26 Posted 10/02/2016 at 02:01:07
All joking aside it really irks me that Martinez hasn't allowed Howard to phase out gracefully, causing a really good club servant to be subjected to abuse, which is only going to intensify if keeps starting him.
27 Posted 10/02/2016 at 02:50:10
28 Posted 10/02/2016 at 02:51:19
There is nothing wrong with Tim's confidence. He has never been the same since basking in the glory of his world cup heroics.
I do think he is being blamed for all and sundry but there can be no doubt he is not the keepe he used to be and a blind man can see on games we have seen him in Robles is currently the better keeper.
In JS case I think his confidence did take a beating by the crowd's reaction and some of the so called experts but he can use that to motivate himself back to his former levels. I hate that the same people who were singing "money cant buy you Stones" now think he should go.
I have seen Labby, David Weir, Richard Gough and Ratters who were all great CBs and for me Stones is right up there with them and given time and encouragement could be the greatest CB in EFC history.
29 Posted 10/02/2016 at 02:57:30
30 Posted 10/02/2016 at 03:23:13
31 Posted 10/02/2016 at 05:10:38
That, in itself, seems inconsistent.
32 Posted 10/02/2016 at 07:24:54
33 Posted 10/02/2016 at 07:28:43
Playing is about winning, not looking good. Its about a team fit. Lets face it we have kept Kone and sent Mirallas packing, we almost certainly if it goes to form, drop Robles for Howard when he is fit, same with Furi, when Stones is fit.. what happens when Besic is fit?
I really don't get this guy or respect his comments, I bet the players don't either.
34 Posted 10/02/2016 at 07:45:28
There is a difference however. Oviedo, who was totally exposed when playing right back with only Deulofeu in front of him and Stones or Jags not getting across, has enjoyed the support of Cleverley and Funes Mori in recent matches and has managed to bomb down the wing and through the middle on numerous occasions.
Baines, on the other hand, suffered many months of being exposed behind Mirallis or Kone and I also believe the possession philosophy did him no favours. Constantly hemmed in, instead of risking forward passes with his right foot, he would turn clockwise and pass backwards with his left. This was something I noticed because it helped stop our forward tempo and got on my nerves. With full support will he return to his best and bomb down the wing? Yes, I think he probably will. Not sure he'll fly down the middle and send Cleverley in on goal as Oviedo did against Stoke but he'll still provide his usual assists.
On the defensive side, neither are particularly brilliant but Baines has a mountain of Premier League experience and must shade it.
Will Martinez go with the experience of Baines or stay with the free spirit of Oviedo? His remarks suggest he will stay with the same side but we know he likes to tinker. Interesting stuff indeed.
35 Posted 10/02/2016 at 08:50:38
36 Posted 10/02/2016 at 09:04:33
I said after the City game, that I expected the senior pro's in the squad, to be knocking on the managers door fuming, at the way he changed our shape during a cup tie we were winning. I wonder if Baines, has said something? Or maybe after what Martinez said a couple of years ago we might just see him in midfield at some stage?
37 Posted 10/02/2016 at 09:06:30
We must be close to having decent cover in most positions now which bides well should we get into Europe or have major injuries. I can recall during Moyes's last season we were a decent side when fielding all our first team but as soon as we lost one or two of those first team players our results dropped off markedly. Lets hope our manager makes the best of the situation and picks teams accordingly.
Lets hope he can see the obvious decision and start playing Robles, which hopefully should lift the whole back four.
38 Posted 10/02/2016 at 09:30:52
39 Posted 10/02/2016 at 11:24:47
I'm not writing Bainsey off, he's still my 1st choice LB, but I'm quite happy to see him fighting to regain his inclusion in the team. That goes for all of them, that's why we have a squad isn't it?
40 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:06:42
If they then play well and take the opportunity what reason do you have for dropping them again apart from pure favouritism?????
Robles needs to stay in the team.
There is no justifiable reason at all for Howard to march straight back in. This descision will define Martinez for me.
41 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:29:11
Baines, to me, is still our best left back by miles.
Oviedo is a great player but Baines is better.
As above, has Baines said something to Martinez? He let slip last season about Martinez's inflexibility when he was a pundit in one of our games at half time. Has he has a word in his shell like again and is now being Disitined?
In regards to McCarthy, I like him but I still think we lost the semi final the second Besic went down holding his hammy against Swansea
42 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:32:54
43 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:39:18
I just wonder if Baines comment about us needing to manage the game better, may have cost him his place. Because the following day RM was quoted as saying "Don't blame the players for their game management".
I don't think RM likes his players to voice their opinions, but would rather they toe the party line. So if you do speak out then don't be surprised to find yourself on the bench.
44 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:49:32
45 Posted 10/02/2016 at 12:54:57
46 Posted 10/02/2016 at 13:12:17
And if you think Oviedo hasn't been a major contributor to our current shutout streak, I think you're wrong. Baby is much the better defensive player at this point. He pressures and blocks crosses, which Baines does not, and he's quicker into the tackle and a better marker. Ask Shaqiri, whom Oviedo drove to the bench.
Baines may be the superior creator, and he was certainly superb in the Chelsea game, but Oviedo is no slouch in that area. His thru ball to Cleverley for the pen was sweet, and he set up Kone's goal against D&R very nicely.
47 Posted 10/02/2016 at 13:17:53
Yes, defence is a team issue but the approach has to be dictated by the keeper.
Is everything Howard's fault? No but he's a big part of it.
48 Posted 10/02/2016 at 14:22:03
Who the hell is Baby and what is a shutout.
Maybe we might need to brush up on American expressions when the new owners arrive. Maybe you could give us some Americanisms related to football or will that now be soccer.
49 Posted 10/02/2016 at 14:32:40
For me Baines is world class and still far better than Oviedo. But if Oviedo continues to shine like the last two matches also when the opponent is better than Townsend then we have some healthy competition.
I think we have a strong squad and competition for most places. Right back and centre-forward are the two areas were it is difficult to see the alternative. I guess Niasse is meant to be the striker alternative. While I see no alternative to Coleman. I wish Oviedo would have been right-footed. We need more an alternative there than on the left.
50 Posted 10/02/2016 at 17:40:08
A winning team should always be kept together and if that means the likes of Howard, Stones, Baines etc missing out then so be it.
That's how a squad should be used.
I am sure he will be back in the team soon but for now has to prove to the boss that he is better than Oviedo.
51 Posted 10/02/2016 at 17:50:28
As for Americanisms invading Merseyside, we Blue Yanks solemnly promise to stand strong with you and never let the word "soccer" find a foothold. But shutout is an improvement over clean sheet.
In fact, if you think about it, clean sheets are the result of being shutout on your date.
52 Posted 10/02/2016 at 18:41:25
With different formation options (442) both would do us no harm either defensively or in attack if both were over there.
53 Posted 10/02/2016 at 19:22:16
Now you tell me. Well so much for my petitions to change the name of the World Cup to the World Soccer Cup and the EPL to the EPSL. Can't tell you how many countless hours I have wasted on trolling graveyards for names and "signatures."
54 Posted 10/02/2016 at 19:24:39
I just think that if he would have brought on a fresh Lennon, for a tired Gerry, we would have held out. The minute City got the second, I just thought Baines looked across at Jagielka, and gave him a look that said we are fucked here.
It wasn't broke, it didn't need fixing, except out wide were our two boys were blowing for tugs. Fresh legs, a better defensive player in Lennon, who still would have had the pace to keep us playing effectively on the counter, and everyone knowing their job.
Colin I would have done well to last 30 Minutes, but there's no way, I would have let the manager bring Kone, on for me though!!!
55 Posted 10/02/2016 at 19:48:42
That's how they used to vote in my old home town when I was a kid... names from headstones. The incumbents never lost.
56 Posted 10/02/2016 at 20:33:48
He couldn't get games for Atletico because they had Courtois. He may well become a challenger in the national team to De Gea for all we know. He just needs games and this season and last he's done really, really well.
Okay, he looked nervous last season and was a worry once or twice, but that's all it was, once or twice... but, with him in goal, we consistently don't concede. What else does a goalie have to do to keep his place?
57 Posted 11/02/2016 at 00:28:59
58 Posted 11/02/2016 at 01:07:49
Best squad in decades and Martinez has had a shocker, just like last season. No European commitments this season, top goal scorer, and he has failed, no question.
59 Posted 11/02/2016 at 01:29:12
60 Posted 11/02/2016 at 04:01:43
62 Posted 11/02/2016 at 07:27:40
He also needs squad harmony I suspect the transition from defend kick-and-rush under Moyes (I exaggerate) to passing from the back (again exaggerate) may have caused more dissent some players like Mirallas, Distin and Eto'o taking advantage. He perhaps became too loyal to Howard who has a big positive influence in the squad and dressing room.
Now RM has more competition then he has more power on the senior players if they dissent, ease up in training, and generally not focus to the intensity required.
The reason we got beat against Man City was the referee according to the rules, we should still be in the competition.
63 Posted 11/02/2016 at 13:45:50
64 Posted 11/02/2016 at 15:19:34
65 Posted 11/02/2016 at 17:16:34
66 Posted 11/02/2016 at 17:21:05
You cant compare Baines trying to get his place back to Howard or Stones who had made multiple mistakes and so they need to fight for their place again.
The cynic in me tells me Stones will be back in regardless of his recent form to ensure we get top Ă˘â€šÂ¬Ă˘â€šÂ¬Ă˘â€šÂ¬ in the summer. If he was sat on the bench for a coulple of months we can forget £50m.
67 Posted 12/02/2016 at 16:02:43
68 Posted 12/02/2016 at 16:37:54
If I was his manager, I would tell him not to do that and if he did, well let's see how he likes the Under-21s for a while.
I don't like John Terry, but he knows how to defend.
69 Posted 12/02/2016 at 19:08:08
70 Posted 12/02/2016 at 19:16:49
To my mind he has been on the decline since his mucker Pienaar lost his place and I certainly wouldn't open the door wide for him to be let in on anything other than merit or when we are short of cover.
31 isn't old these days but when you have the calibre of Oviedo and the whipper-snapping of Galloway to fall back on - why hurry and rock a steady ship!
71 Posted 12/02/2016 at 19:34:02
Sometimes players are worth more to the club than simply just the money. I am glad we turned it down. The young lads learn from the likes of Baines, Jags and Barry. You can't bin this experience off, or expect loyalty, when it's not a two way street.
72 Posted 12/02/2016 at 20:31:46
Oh well he would not have been signed Kevin, not good enough for Man Utd; not good enough for us.
He's a shot stopper, I would have a good keeper coach making him an all rounder, but I don't think our current manager likes to mess with a player's psychology.
73 Posted 15/02/2016 at 08:22:24
74 Posted 16/02/2016 at 01:00:16
Martinez you are upsetting this club, a good percentage of the supporters and any player who comes out with an honest opinion that you don't agree with, you will be here for some more time but when you go you will not be missed by a majority of the support and quite a few players in my opinion will shed few tears.
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