As Roberto Martinez casts his eyes down the fixtures for the 2015-16 season that were released today, he will, hopefully, see his task this season crystallised by what is, by any measure on paper, a tough assignment for the first quarter of the campaign.
A home game against newly-promoted opposition in the form of Watford offers an excellent opportunity to get a jump start off the blocks before meetings with all of the top eight teams from last season in the space of nine fixtures.
The manager will already have plans in place to avoid the shambolic preparations of last summer that helped scupper the Blues' 2014-15 season before it had really begun, but as he plots his way through those first 10 games he will know that there will be no room for the slow starts that have characterised his first two seasons in charge at Everton. There will be far less scope for his usual strategy of building momentum over a season to reach peak performance by the final quarter of the campaign.
There were, of course, mitigating circumstances in the first three games of his tenure as his side settled into a new way of playing under a new manager but last August's uninspiring start on the back of a disjointed, World Cup-affected pre-season offered plenty of lessons that will hopefully have been learned this time around.
Given his optimistic bent, though, Martinez will see opportunity in the challenge the fixture list has thrown up if he can get the bulk of his summer transfer business done and his squad primed in time to hit the ground running when things kick off on 8th August. The start to any season usually involves a period of readjustment and settling in as teams make the transition from friendlies and summer tournaments while bedding in new signings and that will suit those sides who can find an early rhythm.
The prospect of facing so many teams who finished above us last term and who would, we hope, be our rivals in the quest for qualification for Europe and taking points off them early is a potentially exciting one and it could really define Martinez's all-important third year at the helm if he can recapture the spirit of his maiden campaign.
Granted, in that season the corresponding 10 games (with Watford substituted for Cardiff City) yielded only 15 out of a possible 30 points but huge wins over the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal at home coupled with the near-victory in the Goodison derby and the stirring draw at the Emirates set the tone for an adventure that almost ended with Champions League quaification. (Indeed, the tally of 72 points would have meant a top-four finish in four of the preceding five seasons.)
If the Blues can pick up wins in those same games while improving on their recent results at the St Mary's, the Etihad and White Hart Lane then they could find themselves in an excellent position by the end of October when – again, on paper – things finally look like they will ease up.
Martinez has alluded to how much he believes his players were hobbled pyschologically by dropping vital points from winning positions in the first two matches last season against Leicester and Arsenal last year and the catastrophic start his side made in the home game against Chelsea that left them with just two points from a possible nine by the start of the September.
Equally, if his team of the year before showed anything, it was just how key a role confidence and mentality can play in results. Through a seven-match winning streak between March and April 2014 that looked at one stage like it might propel the Blues into the Champions League, Martinez's men found ways to win where as there were times last term that they were more apt to finding ways to throw leads away.
It's clear, therefore, that the priorities for the manager and his staff this summer will be as much in the physical conditioning of the players as it will in the mental. The belief that the Blues can make a strong start and get a significant haul of points on the board from that daunting run of opening games must be instilled in the team so that they are fired up and ready when they take the field against Watford in August.
By doing so, they will also be able to harness the power of an enthused Goodison Park and banish the nerviness and agitation that permeated the Grand Old Lady at times last season. Onward and upward, as they say!
Reader Comments (42)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 17/06/2015 at 19:01:11
Also, the fact that Martinez believes that the players were psychologically hobbled after two games epitomizes, for me, what is poor about his management. Maybe heÂll get it right. These are the days of optimism.
2 Posted 17/06/2015 at 19:25:31
3 Posted 17/06/2015 at 19:23:58
Plus I had a vision in which we finished 2nd this season (curiously followed by a vision of dinosaurs). So IÂm good till kick-off day. COYB!
4 Posted 17/06/2015 at 19:53:23
5 Posted 17/06/2015 at 20:38:34
Not so this time the reason being that under Martinez the teams potentially great football takes second place to a fragile condition that could make or ruin our season after just a few games.
Last year he blamed a poor season not on his woefully planned pre-season but on the loss of points in three early games. That was a clear admission of his inability to rise above a psychological barrier caused by that loss of points.
His great many public statements since then provide little hope that his general outlook in that regard has improved. What that points to is an urgent need of a sports psychologist for him as much as for the players. In fact, I would place that high on the list of priorities.
6 Posted 17/06/2015 at 20:33:04
7 Posted 17/06/2015 at 22:13:55
8 Posted 17/06/2015 at 22:15:04
9 Posted 17/06/2015 at 22:27:56
10 Posted 17/06/2015 at 22:48:12
12 Posted 18/06/2015 at 01:06:24
See were this is going, Roberto, still two slots left! 4-4-2... simple.
13 Posted 18/06/2015 at 00:56:15
14 Posted 18/06/2015 at 01:57:10
I really hope Roberto does succeed to be honest for the stability of the club and hopefully moving on up to better things...
15 Posted 18/06/2015 at 02:10:33
16 Posted 18/06/2015 at 06:51:18
18 Posted 18/06/2015 at 08:28:17
You must work hard and put in 100% effort because even against Watford on the opening day you can safely guarantee, while they may be limited, they will certainly run and work more than us.
One thing vitally lacking from MartinezÂs Everton team so far has been the ability to work hard, press, harry and basically run lots during football matches.
One of the key factors as to why last season we were so poor was not because the opposition outplayed us week-in & week-out but because they worked harder and ran more than us.
Football is a game that involves running but way too often under Martinez we play the game at walking pace, in some games last season our players resembled a Subutteo match such was the lack of movement, it was like watching statues.
I want Martinez to prove that he can get the players fit and play the same way as the rest of the league. Play "running football" not just lock ourselves in pre-season mode for 9 months.
19 Posted 18/06/2015 at 09:02:25
Yes, in the last game against Spurs, it was obvious that we were over run in midfield, basically because Barry and Osman just didnÂt cover the ground.
20 Posted 18/06/2015 at 09:09:49
21 Posted 18/06/2015 at 09:14:29
That will keep us fans happy.
22 Posted 18/06/2015 at 09:21:21
Nowadays, they stick all the midweek matches in Winter, stupid!
23 Posted 18/06/2015 at 09:31:17
24 Posted 18/06/2015 at 14:56:45
25 Posted 18/06/2015 at 15:11:47
26 Posted 18/06/2015 at 15:19:05
Games against Scottish clubs and lower league clubs are irrelevant and will provide no indication whatsoever of the shape weÂre in. We usually host an average European side at home in the last friendly, remember when we were totally outplayed by Celta Vigo, or was it Real Betis?
In RobertoÂs first year we played Juve, Real and Valencia in that Champions Cup, which provided us with 3 difficult games to test the squad and our preparations.
Last season as we know was shambolic, three lower league clubs, a Porto reserve side and a shocking performance v Paderborn who went on to finish bottom of the Bundesliga.
This season, knowing the start we have, we have to play more competitive fixtures in pre-season or else we could get left behind again. Watford will be no pushovers on opening day thatÂs for sure. As Colin says, Flores is a good coach and now has 3 months to get used to his squad and get them used to his ideas.
Roberto went on last season saying that we failed to recover from the first 3 games. Well, if we fail to get a win out of the first 3, Watford, Southampton and Man City, weÂll definitely be on the back foot early doors.
ItÂs never good to play a newly promoted side early on because of the surprise element and still riding on the high of promotion. Ask Roberto himself: Blackpool destroyed his Wigan team 4-0 away in their first ever PL game. Not like Watford would do that to us obviously but we have to get 4 points minimum out of the first 2 games.
27 Posted 18/06/2015 at 17:34:00
28 Posted 18/06/2015 at 19:45:01
Heard about the RS fan who said "I said we need signings, not sign Ings!"
29 Posted 18/06/2015 at 19:52:46
30 Posted 18/06/2015 at 20:02:04
Of course, you may be right on both counts but the trouble with our man is that he seems incapable of inspiring his teams to maximum EFFORT on more than the odd occasion. Is that because heÂs too nice, too soft or just too obsessed with tactics?
31 Posted 18/06/2015 at 20:30:46
Another South African, golfer Gary Player, when asked about a ÂluckyÂ shot, was quoted as saying, "It seems that, the harder I practice, the luckier I get."
Perhaps a lesson is in there.
32 Posted 18/06/2015 at 21:19:29
33 Posted 19/06/2015 at 04:03:30
35 Posted 19/06/2015 at 06:22:05
36 Posted 19/06/2015 at 07:27:25
37 Posted 19/06/2015 at 19:56:24
Most managers are obsessed with tactics and these days far too many managers try and be far too clever, when a bit of simplicity would be more useful.
The best managers are the ones that can communicate their ideas to their players. ThatÂs the area where I think Martinez has fallen seriously short in the last year.
38 Posted 19/06/2015 at 20:20:35
Or perhaps he is seen as indecisive Â– an even worse trait in a football manager? But whatever he is, all he needs to do is average two points a game and heÂll end up a fucking hero!
39 Posted 19/06/2015 at 20:39:23
I wonder whether the contrast between his ÂnicenessÂ and the ruthlessness heÂs used with the likes of Distin is regarded as confusing/two-faced by the players?
Just our luck; we had the PE teacher who by his own admission, couldnÂt put his arm around a player. Now weÂve got the effusive optimist, who by some accounts, has an authoritarian streak!
40 Posted 19/06/2015 at 21:24:42
41 Posted 21/06/2015 at 22:05:31
Please tell me these comments on us winning the league are just banter. We're not that deluded... are we? IÂd love to believe we can sneak into 4th place but with the strength of Chelsea and Man City plus the fact Arsenal never fail I feel, our chance is limited to say the very least.
If I was a betting man IÂd put my money on Man Utd. But IÂve bought my season ticket, despite my dislike in our manager, so IÂd like to believe we have a slight chance.
42 Posted 01/07/2015 at 13:57:10
Long way to go for him to win me back. As the saying goes fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.