During his time at Everton, Roberto Martinez has taken charge of 101 Premier League matches, winning 41, drawing 31 and losing 29, as well as leading the Toffees back into European football. However, recent weeks has seen a growing number of fans calling for the Spaniard to be dismissed.
After being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Manchester City, throwing away points carelessly against Chelsea and being bowled over by struggling Swansea, many Evertonians have taken to social media to voice their growing discontent. Three wins on the trot has temporarily silenced some naysayers, but there is still a growing negativity around Goodison.
However, I believe that Martinez is capable of winning over his doubters. It is Everton’s style of play that fans find the most frustrating. Since the Spaniard took the helm he has developed a classy style of football that is easy on the eye. The problem is that it is not the most conducive to grinding out results. The side have thrown away point after point in the Premier League and fans are losing patience.
Attacking wise, the Merseyside outfit have become deadly and clinically effective; only Manchester City, Leicester and Tottenham have netted more times so far this season, and this is largely down to Roberto Martinez. The Toffees boast plenty of pace when going forward and have achieved a wonderful combination of creativity and clinical finishing, which is being showcased at its best this season.
Martinez also has a good eye in the transfer market. The board have never been big-money spenders but clever usage of the loan system has brought some very important players into the club. It is the same fans who cheer when Romelu Lukaku scores, Gerard Deulofeu nutmegs a full-back and Aaron Lennon bolts up the flank that are calling for Martinez to be sacked. If it wasn’t for the manager these players would not even be at the club. Under David Moyes the side averaged 1.3 goals per game but this season under Martinez, that statistic is as high as 1.8. As far as attacking football is concerned, in my opinion, Martinez is one of the best visionary managers in the league. He is attack-minded and effective in implementing his ways, exactly what a club who have been labeled a “long-ball team” in the last decade need going forward!
Defensively, the side are not so impressive. Under Moyes the back four were always organised, knew what they were doing and rarely gave cheap goals away. Now it is the contrary. It seems as if Everton have taken a step back in defence since the Spaniard’s arrival, which is frustrating fans. However, I do not believe that Martinez can be fully blamed for this. The side only conceded an average of one goal per game during the 2013-14 season, but this year that figure is up at 1.4. I see the period at Goodison now as a transitional one. The old guard are beginning to falter and young, new blood is coming in.
Sylvain Distin has left the club, while injuries seem to be getting the better of skipper Phil Jagielka, who has controlled the back four so well for so long. Leighton Baines has only made eight appearances this season, slowly waning out of the side. This has resulted in a great loss of experience. Youngsters such as John Stones, Ramiro Funes Mori and Brendan Galloway are now making their way through. Stones is hugely talented but naïve at times, Funes Mori has won over many a blue heart but lacks defensive know-how, and Galloway still needs to improve his physicality to cut it in the top-flight. It is unrealistic that fans expect these youngsters to maintain the same defensive form that the experienced back fours of the past maintained. Martinez needs time to work with them and mould them into first-rate defenders. We have seen how he has developed Stones already in the past two years and I am confident he will do the same with Funes Mori and Galloway, who he has only really had six months to work with. Three clean sheets in the past three matches could already be a sign of this.
Furthermore, even if the board were to dismiss Martinez there are not many options of to bring in. Duncan Ferguson is favourite to be the next in charge but the Scotsman has never taken full control of a first-team before. After him, a possible return for Moyes has been mentioned, but as far as I’m concerned that would be a major step back for the club given the new style of football.
Clearly, it has been frustrating this season. The side has shown so much potential but hasn’t got the points to show for it. It is hard to stomach when last minute goals are conceded regularly and is obviously not good enough. However, as fans the expectations we set of the club are very high, and that is due to the impressive classiness and players that we have come to expect from Martinez. A few major defensive blips have stained the Toffees’ season but that is not enough reason to sack the manager. The Spaniard IS the right man to sort the current problems out.