I couldn’t make my mind up whether to drive to the game or get the bus over and have a few ales. Inevitably I decided on the latter. My bus just didn’t turn up so the next one was packed and I met Ste in the pub a little before 1.30pm. We caught most of the Hull City vs Manchester City match before wandering down to Goodison Park.

We’d already gotten the team news and with Pienaar unavailable Deulofeu was given a starting opportunity. The only other change from last weekends Arsenal disappointment was the switch between Osman and Barkley, however Barkley played from the wing with Mirallas playing off Lukaku. The referee was the unfamiliar Roger East. Everton attacked towards the Park End in the first half.

“It’s going to be one of those games, this” I suggested to Ste when Marshall had made his third exquisite save of the first half. His save from Lukaku was particularly good as the ball seemed to be past him though his saves from Mirallas and Deulofeu were also decent. Tim Howard also had to be alert to keep out Fraser Campbell in the first half. Come the break whilst Everton certainly hadn’t been convincing, we certainly should have been ahead.

We were ahead on 59 minutes. We hadn’t really done much up until then in the second half. It seemed obvious to me that switching Mirallas to the wing and Osman inside was a necessary change though Martinez seemed ready to bring on a substitute or two just as Deulofeu struck. The nippy Spaniard got away from the Cardiff right back and brought the ball into the box. He got his shot away which deflected off Caulker and past the unfortunate Marshall. Relief as much as anything was apparent amongst our celebrations.

With Everton now ahead and with Deulofeu just grabbing the goal I’d have left things as they were but for the second game running I found myself a bit flummoxed by our substitutions – taking off the player who’s just scored…though removing Mirallas was fair enough. Removing Mirallas is always fair enough.

Anyhow Cardiff weren’t just going to roll over and die from here and were level within 10 minutes when they capitalized on darn awful Everton marking from a free kick. Gareth Barry the man caught the wrong side of Cala who bundled home…the noisy Cardiff supporters in raptures.

So game on and Everton had 20-odd minutes to force the issue against one of the worst sides in the league. Cardiff dug in. They headed most things out and Marshall saved everything else – one save from a deflected Lukaku drive was particularly impressive. But credit to Everton. It wasn’t high quality but there was some relentless pressure on Cardiff in the closing stages…and it finally told in injury time.

McGeady (who’d done as much as anyone to force us over the line) fooled his full-back and got a deep cross in but the goal would not have been if not for terrific persistence and determination from Barry to keep the ball alive and nod the ball back from the by-line to Coleman. Everyone gasped. It seemed to take forever as Coleman shaped to smash the ball goalwards but he fluffed it and the ball seemed to balloon in the air. Everyone semi-groaned until we realized the ball was nestling in the corner and Goodison went wild. It was some feeling. The crazy thing is that had Coleman have connected as he wished he most likely wouldn’t have scored as Marshall or one of the three defenders he had to get it through surely would have stopped it. It was perhaps the only way he would have scored it. I actually felt a little sorry for Cardiff as I glanced back over the pitch to see all their players on their knees. They’d given everything.

The whistle followed not long afterwards and Everton had stolen this. Our performance was hardly stellar but I felt we just about deserved the points as we were by far the more adventurous side, though nobody could really have begrudged Cardiff a point.

After the match I grabbed a lift back into the City Centre with Ste and his wife though hit a mountain of roadworks in doing so. I met some other friends for a few ales, caught the rugby and then tried to get my bus home. I say tried to as the bus would only take me as far as the Birkenhead Bus Depot as the driver had called in sick and the current driver had to finish his shift…I didn’t have the best of luck with the busses yesterday.

Anyway Everton got luckier. If we are to qualify for European football next season however we’ll need to start doing a lot more than sneaking these home wins. Our victories over Southampton, Aston Villa, West Ham and now Cardiff have all been incredibly tight victories, and Swansea next week will be no easier. After that three of our final four home games are versus Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City. You suspect we won’t get away with sneaking those ones.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Hard to fault him really. Caught a lot, distributed well and made a couple of decent saves. Not sure what he could have done about the goal really. 7
Baines: Not his best game but the effort was there. 6
Distin: Did fine. 6
Stones: Like Distin was fine, perhaps even better than Distin at bringing the ball out of defence and trying to play the ball. I do like the look of him. 7
Coleman: Worked hard down that right hand side without a great deal of joy but got his rewards in the end. The most ever league goals from open play by an Everton full back in one season and more goals in the Gwladys Street End this season than Romalu Lukaku. Good work Seamus. Hope he can kick on a bit more now as he hasn’t quite been the same since returning from injury. 7
Barry: My man of the match... even if he was at fault for their goal. He got up from quite a poor challenge and battled hard in the midfield. Good on him for taking some responsibility at the end and keeping the ball alive. We wouldn’t have won had he not have done so. A good performance. 7
McCarthy: He’s full of desire and is quite a presence in the midfield. He plays on the edge and is some tackler. I just think he’s capable of a lot more than he’s showing. That will probably come in time as he settles more. I’d like to see him carry the ball more and maybe get some shots away as I’ convinced he’s more capable. Whatever your thoughts on Barry and McCarthy, I don’t think too many midfields have gotten the better of those two this season. 7
Osman: Crikey he was up for this. I’ve never seen him so pent up and angry I don’t think. Maybe he was trying to take more responsibility as skipper. Not his best game but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. He kept on going until he was subbed. 6
Deulofeu: Wasn’t having a great game but then scored. I thought he’d then tear them apart with his extra confidence and belief thanks to his goal but three minutes later he was subbed. Madness. 6
Mirallas: Well he was getting on the end of everything first half but in the second he flattered to deceive for me and was subbed just after the hour mark. That’s pretty much been the story of his season I think. Too many times he just hasn’t delivered for me this term. 5
Lukaku: Nearly scored a wonder-goal but was denied by Marshall. Otherwise he did OK though nothing spectacular. Cardiff generally handled him pretty well but he is always a presence. 6

Substitutes:
McGeady (for Deulofeu): Was excellent. Took probably 10 minutes to get into the game but as we really chased that winning goal he did more to ensure it happened than anyone and it was his deep cross which eventually resulted in the winning goal. Maybe more starts beckon for Aiden. Certainly his best performance yet for me. 7
Naismith (for Mirallas): Seemed to be deployed out wide rather than off the striker. He didn’t do anything spectacular but was full of running and effort. Hard to fault him. 6
Barkley (for Osman): Martinez last role of the die. Couldn’t quite impact on the match but didn’t do badly at all. 6

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Matthew Williams
191 Posted 16/03/2014 at 16:14:55
We totally dominated the game; on another day, we would have been two- or three-nil up and cruising by half-time. In the end, it looked harder work than it actually was.

I do feel a bit sorry for Cardiff but then I think back to Chelsea and John Terry and the sorrow goes. I look forward to the home games. We tend to always do well against Man City at home, Man Utd don’t look like they are improving... and we owe Arsenal.

Mark Smith
194 Posted 16/03/2014 at 16:20:09
Good report Paul, as always. I don’t think we should worry too much about sneaking these wins though. A win is a win, especially at this stage of the season. But for their keeper, we would have had about 3 or 4 goals yesterday.

It wasn’t a great performance, I agree. Cardiff were fighting for their lives though. Swansea will be the same next week. I think every game between now and the end of the season will be a tight one.

Wayne Smyth
205 Posted 16/03/2014 at 16:28:30
Jim I don’t think your basic premise is correct that we intend to play at a slow pace. We intend to play with the football and I don’t believe Martinez has asked the players to wait until the opposition have 11 players behind the ball before we’re allowed to attack.

Infact we’ve generally broke quite quickly and with numbers when we were able and if you remember back to the Arsenal FA Cup game, our goal came from such a break away. Quite often we’ve been let down by some individual decisions or lack of pace and ability (how many times has Naismith got the ball on a break and had to check back due to his inability to go past someone?).

Roberto needs time to impose his tactics on the team. He has said he is trying to introduce ideas gradually to allow the players to grasp them and this means that our football may not always seem to be the most effective. Things will improve with time, especially as more able players are brought in, but it requires patience - probably a couple of seasons - before we start to see the real benefits.

David Hallwood
207 Posted 16/03/2014 at 16:37:24
Good report Paul, and agree with the ratings. Like Dick & Jim I detest the thought of the RS winning the Prem, and its hard to believe that when we played them there was only 2 points separating the teams. Just goes to show that goals are everything; you can trot out all the possession stats you can lay your hands on, but they mean nothing if you can’t turn it into a lead.

As Paul points out, when we play both Mancs and the Arse we will need to be a lot more clinical.

Brian Denton
229 Posted 16/03/2014 at 17:30:01
Hmmm, seems to be some serious editing going on today. Posts disappearing for no apparent reason I can see.
Linda Morrison
233 Posted 16/03/2014 at 17:38:33
Kieran you have hit the nail on the head. Any idea where we find him and the money to buy him?
Dick Brady
253 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:23:27
McGeady looked good for the time he was on but is he ready to do it for 90 minutes?
Kieran Riding
254 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:29:39
McGeady, Naismith.. And Jelavic..
We’d walk the SPL of 2010..

More seriously.. McGeady will be sound..

Jackie Barry
257 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:30:28
I thought Osman was truly awful in the second half and obviously can’t last a full 90 minutes anymore. Problem is, until we find somebody else who can fill that role that’s going to be as good as it gets. My one true wish is that McCarthy gets forward a little more, he does have a burst of pace and could be just what we need at times when we are in and around their box.
Dick Brady
261 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:38:49
Isn’t Ross Barkley able to play the Leon Osman role?

It’s a little worrying that Ross Barkley is not good enough to replace a-couple-of-years-past-his-best Leon Osman.

Jim Bennings
264 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:42:52
Wayne

We have enough young lads, Deulofeu, Barkley, McCarthy, Lukaku, Mirallas in the team to be able to start matches pressing the opponents high up the pitch with a bit of urgency and tempo.

Too often we start matches like someone has just dragged our players straight from their bed, it so slow and lethargic at times and I don’t know if Martinez has noticed it and tried to work on it and the players are just slow to pick up the instruction or what but starting games slowly has cost us in some games already.

For instance if we go away to Newcastle and Fulham and start slowly then they are going to gain confidence from the fact that we don’t look that good.

The same thing happened at home to Sunderland on Boxing Day. We started so bad that day and the mistake which led to the sending off was just a symptom of how bad we had actually started and we paid the price.

This year is has been quite a habit that we have slipped into and for me the sooner we get out of it the better.

Patrick Murphy
268 Posted 16/03/2014 at 18:59:04
I’ll take sneaky 1-0 wins in the remaining 10 matches and put 30 points on the board to give us a total of 81. if we miss out on CL with that total it would indeed be the strangest season of all time. But I do understand that we must try to get off the mark quickly in games as it takes the pressure off a little and may lead to us expressing ourselves more. If we end up with more than 70 points we can’t complain too much and I agree with the poster who said that perhaps RM has been a little over cautious this season due in part to last season’s events and partly because our players haven’t fully adapted to his methods and strategy.

At the moment we seem to start the first 5-10 minutes quite well but when we don’t make a break through tend to run out of ideas. We could do with Barkley returning to the form he showed prior to Christmas as he was the player who could pose defences problems with his direct passing and eye for a pass.

Swansea next week will be a real test as they have begun to slide down the table and they will have learned a lot from the cup meeting. Perhaps a change of style may be in order but RM seems pretty adamant to keep the faith with his current method of playing.

Jackie Barry
271 Posted 16/03/2014 at 19:05:08
Barkley is good enough, most definitely. However I am not sure I see them as having the same role and for Barkley to fully flourish one of the two defensive holding midfielders needs to be coming forward a little more. It only makes sense if we are going to persist with one striker.
Colin Glassar
276 Posted 16/03/2014 at 19:22:32
Patrick, if we win all our remaining games 1-0 we will probably win the league. I’d take that.
Wayne Smyth
280 Posted 16/03/2014 at 19:13:10
Jim, I agree that we can play better and with more urgency. We can finish better and do a dozen other things better too. My point is I’m sure Roberto isn’t telling them "go out and play slow and shit and give the other side the initiative".

People need to retain a sense of perspective and look at the bigger picture.

Firstly, our players are not of the quality that some other teams have, where they are able to play sufficiently better than the other team to zip it about and be incisive. We have a young, rough Ross Barkley supported by Naismith, some other teams have a world-class Ozil, Cazorla, Hazard, etc supported by other top quality talent.

We have a new manager this season with a new coaches and vastly different ideas from the old one.

We have half a new team with all the in’s and out’s.

We’ve had the worst injury crisis I can recall with the team changing each week depending on who has picked up the latest knock.

We had 1 transfer window when Roberto had no cash of note and had to bring in 11th hour signings to cover Fellaini’s late departure, which was not ideal.

We had another transfer window when decent players were just not available and some of Roberto’s gambles didn’t pay off.

Quite how people expect us to be winning all of our games and in style considering all of the above baffles me.

Look at where we are in the league. Look at the resources available to the teams above and below us. I’d love us to be playing fantastic football and be in a CL spot, but it’s an unrealistic expectation, especially in the short term.

The type of football we’re playing is difficult to get right. If you play possession football, your opponent has a chance to get behind the ball and it requires more skill to break them down. However in the long run, when we master this type of football we’ll be more difficult to beat.

The more direct style of football gets you occasional short term results, but is ugly and does not translate well to winning in europe or even domestically, as Moyes found out.

If I’m honest I’m not paying a vast amount of attention to this seasons performances or even the results. I’m more concerned with our long-term situation. Martinez seems a clever manager who is willing to sacrifice short term gains for long-term benefit, and on that basis I’m delighted we got him and got rid of Moyes. If we can keep up with the pack during his transition period, then I’m delighted.

Bill Griffiths
298 Posted 16/03/2014 at 20:25:07
Good report Paul and I agree pretty much with all your comments and player ratings. I would disagree regarding a few player ratings. I don’t like to criticise Ossie and hate the abuse he gets on this site but yesterday I thought he was absolutely dreadful, as was Mirallas. To be fair to Ossie, though, the way the team was set up at the start probably didn’t help.

Lukaku likewise was pretty dreadful but not to the extent of the above pair. Finally I thought DelBoy was pretty dire but thought he should have been left on as he has it in him to do something different/special as per the goal. Baines always seems a bit of a lesser player when Pienaar is missing.

Dick Brady
301 Posted 16/03/2014 at 20:38:43
But you have to wonder why Roberto consistently selects Leon Osman over Ross Barkley. Much like David Moyes did last season.

The argument was always that Moyes selected Osman because they were friends and Moyes distrusted young players.

But Roberto cannot be accused of selecting Osman out of friendship and Roberto is certainly not distrustful of young players.

So you have to conclude that Osman is selected because he’s actually a bit better than most fans think he is otherwise why would Moyes & now Roberto keep playing him?

Sam Fitzsimmons
302 Posted 16/03/2014 at 20:01:27
Wayne excellent post. Agree with every point you make. As fans we need to balance our hopes and dreams with realistic expectations and with ten games to go there’s still a lot to play for. This season is a period of transition and the fact that Martinez has kept us in the hunt for European football (notwithstanding the arguments for and against participating in the europa league). Too be honest I would’ve taken that at the start of the season. Maybe I’ve been infected by the virus maximus optimus.
Kieran Fitzgerald
303 Posted 16/03/2014 at 20:44:30
I think that, on the balance of things, come May, I will be happy with how the season has gone. Our play has improved under a new manager, we haven’t slipped down the table, and a number of players have developed into decent senior players, i.e Stones, Barkley and Oviedo.

Yes, we are winning too many games at the death, but considering how toothless we can be upfront, I am happy with this. The number of drawn games is still in single figures, albeit at 9,and with the fact that the number of games lost is still only 5, is encouraging.

We are also still in with a very good shout of a fifth place finish.

Geoff Evans
346 Posted 16/03/2014 at 23:58:49
If we achieve 5th spot, it would be an awesome achievement for a manager in his first season at the club with what he's had to work with.
Karl Masters
356 Posted 17/03/2014 at 01:21:18
We are on target for our highest Premier League points tally, style of football is improved (although I do agree with Jim that we start too slowly in almost every game) and we have been winning games in the last five mins for years anyway (always suggests good fitness levels and a "never say die" attitude to me, which is good).

On the downside, we are relying heavily on loan players and are not winning away from home enough to get in the Top 4. Our away form is a concern for me. Results at Goodison are excellent though.

With the pathetic support given by the Board, you'd still have to say Roberto is doing well so far.

Anto Byrne
358 Posted 17/03/2014 at 03:45:57
Clattenburg 3 Man Utd 0. When it comes to penalties they are top of the league.

Results went our way with both Spurs and Utd losing leaving a top 5 finish in the realms of possibility. I think our football has improved and some work needs to be done in the final third.

We look very dangerous on the rebound and the young Spanish whizz-kid is a real prospect. It was a brilliant goal from him perhaps we can have him for another season? I did wonder about McGeady but, after what he showed when he came on, I think he can lock down a starting place ahead of Mirallas.

Dunno why Naismith was played out wide? Great skill from Coleman with the goal.

Darren Hind
363 Posted 17/03/2014 at 05:47:35
The shiney happy people we keep hearing about were absent again on Saturday, as once again, The Old Lady threatened to boil over in frustration.

Let's call a spade a spade here guys: this was dire. Yes, their goalie made a few good saves (again, mostly shots from distance) but so did ours: DJ Campbell missed the best chance of the match when his shot cannoned off Howard's trailing foot. We scored two lucky goals and were very fortunate to even get a draw when the referee waved away Zaha's penalty appeals. (How many whistle happy refs would have penalised Distin's challenge?)

If Martinez does not start learning from his mistakes, victories like this (welcome as they are) merely paper over the cracks.

What on earth is he doing with Ross Barkley? Claims that Osman only plays when injury forces the hand of Martinez are becoming laughable. Our manager was very deliberate about going public with his promises to Barkley (when he was playing well) but, as soon as the kid DID start making mistakes, he was back to being Ossie's understudy.

I really don't get what Martinez is trying to achieve... Yes, I get he wants us to be more in control of the game, but how on earth does he think we are going to score goals without getting our players into the opposition box? If we can score so many late goals late in the game by desperately committing men forward, why not do it earlier?

I didn't think it was possible to find a manager whose team would create less chances than Moyes. I certainly didn't believe Martinez would be that man... but it's there for all to see, yer just need to open yer eyes.

Darren Hind
364 Posted 17/03/2014 at 06:30:42
BTW.
Talking of learning from your mistakes, its a real pity there wasn't a bookie sitting in the main stands when Cardiff were awarded a free kick in a wide area, late in the game. In fact its a pity there wasn't several in every stand, was there anybody at GP on Saturday who didn't KNOW it was going to end up in our net ?
Darren Warkcup
367 Posted 17/03/2014 at 08:00:21
Wayne (#280),

Excellent post and I think that sums it up nicely. I also wonder if we are not quite feeling as good about our position in general as the RS are doing so well. Nothing like an Everton win and a RS defeat to complete the weekend.

Eric Myles
368 Posted 17/03/2014 at 08:16:18
Darren #364, it was obvious sitting at home watching it on the telly too.
Steve Pugh
377 Posted 17/03/2014 at 09:35:37
Darren, especially as it was a joke of a free kick, the dive was almost as good as Sturridge for Liverpool's third.

Which kind of cancels out your argument for their penalty, two wrongs can make a right.

People picking out half of the facts just so they can moan about a team that they are supposed to support annoys the crap out of me.

Jim Bennings
379 Posted 17/03/2014 at 09:56:44
This is only a period of transition providing that the board backs Martinez to bring in his own players during the summer and I mean good quality players.

Next season will be much the same if we start talking up the prospects of getting the same past their best players on the pitch again.

Apart from Stones,Barkley, Coleman, McCarthy and McGeady then you look at the players who wont be here next season for sure the likes of Lukaku, very possibly Deulofeu.

Then you look at the other players who are getting older Jagielka, Distin, Pienaar, Osman, Hibbert, Alcaraz, Howard and even Baines.

Add the usual long term injury prone Gibson (will next season be any different??)

Then you are looking at a considerable amount of work improving on what we have to go with next season.

Liverpool had a transitional year with Rodgers but they realised they soon had to get shut of Kuyt, Poulson, Meirelles, Spearing, N'Gog, Shelvey and Carroll to name a few and replace them with younger hungry and most importantly better players.

Do we have the money to actually do that?

It's all well and good going on about transition but its no use dragging the very last drops of energy from the old guard we have because we have seen this season a major decline in certain players.

Jim Bennings
380 Posted 17/03/2014 at 10:08:10
That's is all providing we can actually hold on to the likes of Barkley and Coleman.

You get the feeling a certain former manager and possibly a certain Arsene Wenger will be looking at Coleman for sure this summer.

James Martin
383 Posted 17/03/2014 at 10:12:26
I always go on about perception and actual reality. The reality is we will probably finish in the top 7, 5th would be good because of the Europa, 7th would be the minimum I would expect in all honesty when you see the dross in this league. This is a decent return for a manager in his first season.

As for the results, then there's only so many times you fluke something before it's not a fluke any more. The home form this season has been fantastic, whether it's due to last-minute free kicks or not, whatever we do at home, as mind numbing as it can be at times, works.

Away is a different story. This is apparently where our so-called better performances have come at the likes of the Emirates, White Hart Lane, and Stamford Bridge, but the points return is poor. This is where the work is needed.

There's a good platform here that could go either way. Next season, we could continue being great at home as the method is solidified, and start improving away; or we could start missing those last-minute goals, and we have problems on both fronts. We won't know until next season, though.

Rick Tarleton
386 Posted 17/03/2014 at 10:50:02
The last time I watched us against Cardiff we won 8-3, on Saturday, we were distinctly average and were lucky to win against a mediocre outfit. Our players, as Jim Bennings sums up nicely, are either young and promising or old and in danger of being caught out next season. The Chinese curse of 'interesting times' is upon us.
Anto Byrne
388 Posted 17/03/2014 at 10:45:18
I wish they would seriously consider changing the law with penalty kicks. Deliberate handball and the offending player stopping a real goal scoring chance. Everything else could be an indirect or direct free-kick. Players going down in simulation to be red carded after referring to the match referee or third umpire or video replay. Never happen!!!!
Peter Laing
391 Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:01:46
I was sat in the Gladwys Street Stand on Saturday and the atmopshere was decidely flat as would be expected following our FA Cup elimination at the hands of Arsenal. I sensed the frustration and anguish that Darren Hind referred to and was generally bored by the style of play and tactics that Everton employed. The build up play and pace of the game at times is tedious, side-ways and backwards often the order of the day.

We appear to be the anti-thesis of our arch rivals across the park who move the ball forward with rapier like speed and counter attack at will. Given that Roberto is still bedding in it would be churlish to expect that his brand of football would be embraced by all, and with OFM players largely at his disposal expectations need to be tempered until the manager finds the right players to suit his system.

I would be hopeful that Martinez is able to recruit a ball-playing central midfielder during the summer to quicken up the football and approach play and the acquisition of two forwards is a minimum requirement. Distin also looks like he could be coming to the end and he looks more prone to errors as each season passes. Joleon Lescott has been mentioned but I'm not sure that a return to his former Club would be considered as to the right way forward. Interesting times as Rick Tarleton alluded to, the form of the RS always seems to exacerbate the tension amongst the blue ranks and quite rightly so.

Ian Burns
393 Posted 17/03/2014 at 10:58:49
Rick - 386 - I was also at the 8-3 game - if memory serves me correctly it was the last game Johnny Carey was in charge before a certain Mr. Catterick took over.

I think RM has done well this season and personally I don't care at what point in the game we score as long as it's the winner - then so be it!

For those who are worrying about next season, let's finish this one as we still have 10 games left for goodness sake!

Teams evolve, older players play less, younger players play more and the odd transfer (we hope) will supplement the squad. Let next season take care of itself, let's win as many of the 10 games left (even in the 94th minute!), and let's see where it takes us.

Jim Bennings
396 Posted 17/03/2014 at 11:34:16
The missing link in Everton's team is a creative midfielder in the Arteta mould, someone who can play a quick telling forward thinking pass, perhaps then we will see more rapier like balls played through with speed.

I know its early doors for Barkley but I have seen nothing at all to suggest he is going to be a creative midfielder, the lad is a driving midfielder who charges with the ball.

We need a calmer influence there at times , someone who can get their foot on the ball and look for runners, Barry can play some decent balls but his way of playing will never hurt the opposition because his controlled passing is too deep.

Perhaps that lad we were linked with in January, was it Canales from Valencia or Betis I think?

Its just a crying shame we couldnt have got to Coutinho before that lot spotted him.

That is the kind of player we need to be on the lookout for though.

I am praying that links to Rodwell are just lazy journalism because I cannot for the life of me see what re-signing him would offer.
Its just like for like in terms of Barry, Gibson, McCarthy.

If we cannot afford to keep Barry then the one I would be looking at is Tom Huddlestone, a very very under-rated technically gifted player in my opinion.

Vinny Garstrokes
437 Posted 17/03/2014 at 15:49:59
I think that we can keep sneaking these types of wins at home based on the style of play we now adopt and the never give up attitude that is prevalent throughout the squad. Last season that would have been a nailed on draw as OFM would have wanted to preserve the point rather than go for the win.

It's interesting reading The Guardian today to hear what Kevin Sheedy has to say about him. From an absolute legend to that Moyes played to draw matches at Goodison while Everton manager is no shocker but for him to say it through social media is quite a statement. He signs off from one conversation with a guy called GeorgeRobboEFC and says to him "George chill. We now have a Manager who wants to win games. COYB."

Legend!!

Andrew Ellams
438 Posted 17/03/2014 at 15:35:57
I think we need to be looking for a continental player who could be a more creative foil for Barry and McCarthy and allow Ross to play that dare I say it, Steven Gerrard role behind the strikers. An affordable Manny Fernandes would be ideal.
Geoff Evans
442 Posted 17/03/2014 at 16:39:06
I honestly think everything is dropping into place, the bench is looking stronger, players are getting to match fitness, I can honestly see a big finish for the team, the goals will come, just believe. . . watch McGeady and Del Boy go.
Darren Hind
468 Posted 17/03/2014 at 18:15:38
Steve Pugh

"Supposed to support " ? ? ?

I spend all my disposable and more following this team around and I believe that entitles me to criticise a manager who I believe is regularly failing to come to grips with the very basics of the game. The two incidents I spoke abot were witnessed by nearly 40,000 at the game and millions watching, there are no "half facts".

If you feel the Cardiff claims for what they see as a justifyable penalty were nulified by our inability to defend their free kick thats fair enough, but its not an argument I understand.

I'm not arguing about whether it was a free kick or not, just as I didnt argue about whether Distin committed a foul for sturridge's goal, or Jagielka for Terrys goal or whether Spurs scored as a result of the referee giving them a dodgy free kick, know why ? Because I've been watching the game long enough to know shit happens .. and when shit happens you either deal with it or you become victim to it. Its not as if we are talking about anything other than the very basics here. Even the Pullis's of this world can drill a team to defend a free kick or a corner.

Make no mistake here, I'm pointing the finger directly at Martinez because no matter who plays, we still concede these cheap,cheap goals. He has international defenders not knowing what the fuck their role is in these situations. One minute they are zonal, the next, they are man for man . We even change it mid game FFS.
If you didnt brace yourself when Cardiff were awarded that free kick (rightly or wrongly) then you will have been in a very small minority.

Rather than attack those who refuse to deny the evidence of their own eyes, why not count the cost of repeatedly giving away the cheapest of all goals ? Tot up all the goals we have conceded like this, THEN tot up the points -and the potential financial rewards - they have cost us.

Wigan were terrific at defending corners and free kicks under jewel and Bruce, but Martinez was never able/willing to address it, its almost as if he thinks these goals are'nt as valueable.

We should be AT LEAST challenging for CL and I would argue that we would have been had we been able to do the basics when defending a deadball situation.

Some continue to ignore the fact that we are enjoying the benefits of millions of pounds worth of loaned talent, they argue that lack funds is an excuse for failure to trouble the big boys. .Sorry, thats not what my eyes have seen and I'm not prepared to deny the evidence of them. We have generally more than matched these teams.

We know we have a problem and I would argue that criticising the manager and letting him know what is unacceptable will be far more benificial to our club than telling him how wonderful he is and pretending we are not squandering possibly our best chance by gifting goals the oposition don't even have to work for

James Martin
474 Posted 17/03/2014 at 19:59:58
Darren, ever since Lescott left our defending from set pieces and crosses has been rubbish. its not a Martinez thing. I firmly believe its a Distin and Jagielka thing. They're not bad at it, they're just not as good as they need to be playing for a team that only seems to win by single goal margins, if you make one mistake they lose us points. On the ground there is no better pairing in the league. In the air they are one of the worst in my opinion though for defending set pieces. Whats worse is that this trait seems to come to the fore more in the big games than it does in other games.

I actually think our defense has improved this season. Last season whenever Jags paired Distin you were always constantly uneasy that one good ball could do the pair of them. It was the season before at Carrow Road that I gave up on them as a pairing. Jelavic won us the game twice only for their ridiculous errors to allow Norwich to take a point. This season at least we look solid in open play if not from set pieces. But we should really considering we play two holding midfielders every match one of which costs 13 million.

As Liverpool are showing, its far easier to build a team to outscore someone than it is to build one to not concede and hope to score. Something our current and most recent manager did not/have not yet grasped.

Ian Burns
487 Posted 17/03/2014 at 21:09:55
Mr Darren Hind - 468 - a passionate post and extremely well articulated. As a writer myself, I have to say that your reasoning is excellent; a constructively critical post worthy of being read out to RM.

I'm not sure the goals you refer to having been leaked in such a fashion would have us battling for a CL place (although your point is well taken), I rather think it is a lack of clinical finishing in front of goal, caused by the slow build-up and lack of penetration through the middle.

However, it is a game of opinions and I respect what you have said, whilst accepting these soft goals contribute, such as the Cardiff and Sunderland goals.

Wayne Smyth
496 Posted 17/03/2014 at 21:33:58
Darren, we should "at least" be challenging for Champions League? It would be fucking nice to, but I wouldn't say "at least".

What would be classed as your reasonable expectation? The title? A good season would be 10 points clear of Man City, perhaps? Sounds entirely reasonable and achievable to me....

We may have loaned Lukaku and Barry, who're probably worth a few quid, but both of those are cast-off's, from the teams we should be beating for that 4th spot by your reckoning.

Of course Martinez gets no praise from you for their addition at the 11th hour when our best midfielder forced a move. Not surprising when those two are no real improvement over McFadden, Hitz or Straq, really.

I'd say all considered we should "at least" be top half. If we finish ahead of Spurs and/or Man Utd we can say we've had a pretty good season for Martinez's first attempt.

If we manage to get into a Europa League spot, I'd say a very good season; Champions League... I'll be fucking ecstatic given the handicap our new manager is having to work with.

Yes, our defending has sometimes been dire, I hope it improves too, but ultimately our manager will be judged on results, league placings and any trophies he can win. Given we have one of the best defensive records in the league, a better points total than this time last year, a better points total by far than any club with our budget, a better defensive record than virtually every other team in the league, I don't think your argument stacks up, really.

Some might say you're being unreasonable in your expectations. To me, sounds like you've an axe to grind and will always find fault no matter what.

Mike Hughes
504 Posted 17/03/2014 at 21:48:20
Mr Ian Burns (#487) – as a fellow writer, though a frustrated one (I own a fountain pen but am out of ink) I agree with your post.

My main reason for writing is to state that I disagree with one key point in the argument. The soft goals conceded isn't the issue. We have a pretty respectable defensive record. It's the soft striking that is derailing our season.

When a team focuses on possession football it has to have an end to the means. Pass-pass-pass to the power of ten isn't what I want to see ultimately. It's nice that we have it this season and the change and positive approach is refreshing. But I want us to win. If we win nice then great. But I'd prefer a scabby win to a football purist's draw or defeat any day. I assume that the players take to the field with the intention of winning rather than looking "slick".

I'm now looking at this season as our transition season. Change will take time – but next season we do need to mix it a bit in my opinion. I'm not accusing anybody of stupidity but one definition of it is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

It's not just down to resources – that line of argument is too simplistic and if true then we may as well give up now. (BTW Wigan just beat City in the cup at the Etihad).

The manager is employed with his eyes open. He mentioned CL football. It's his job to achieve that aim with the resources he knows he has to work with.

John Daley
505 Posted 17/03/2014 at 22:27:11
"a manager who I believe is regularly failing to come to grips with the very basics of the game"

Yeah, clearly. The undeniable evidence is right there in the results: the team has managed to bumble it's way through two/thirds of the season under his tutelage, being beaten an embarrassing five times. Standards have slipped appallingly from what we've become accustomed to in past seasons. He's clearly got less clue than a shitfaced Columbo waking up with a Scotch egg where his glass eye should be.

"Make no mistake here, I'm pointing the finger directly at Martinez... He has international defenders not knowing what the fuck their role is in these situations."

If, as it should be, being an international is a barometer of a players quality, then surely they should be able to come to terms with a simple switch from man-marking to zonal marking without going to shit at a set-piece? Distin (the only defender who isn't an international but is a 37-year-old experienced pro) never had the tendency to lose concentration, make a costly slip or come out second best in an aerial challenge before Martinez got his hands on him I suppose?

Considering he's the only defender, and one of the very few in the squad, possessing any real height, which of his 'International' teammates do you believe should be dominating at set pieces in his stead? Jagielka? Never been the best in the air. Coleman? The same. Baines? I suppose that poor bugger lost his famed ability to leap like a salmon after Martinez went fucking mental with a shrink ray in the summer?

The truth is we conceded sloppy goals from corners and free kicks last season... and the season before that... even with the benefit of Fellaini being back there. It's not something that has just suddenly materialised under Martinez. We lack height throughout the team. You can't 'coach' inches.

"Wigan were terrific at defending corners and free kicks under jewel and Bruce"

Were they really? According to who? How many goals did they concede from corners, per season, playing under the aforementioned managerial maestros who resemble members of Monsters Inc minus the fur? I presume you have the numbers seen as though you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were significantly more solid from set pieces than they were under the Spaniard?

Gavin McGarvey
515 Posted 17/03/2014 at 22:53:16
Regarding expectations and what we should be happy with: if we win, I'm happy; if we draw, I'm not unhappy (unless we concede in the last 10 min) but I'm not happy either. If we lose, that's it my weekend is ruined and I won't be truly happy until we win again.

In the abstract I'm perfectly content to lose the odd game for reasons of transition or a move to a more exciting style of play. In reality, if we lose I'm still unhappy.

A good season for me is one that's still 'alive', i.e. One where we can still win something, e.g fa cup, champions league place (these days, in the good old days that wouldn't have been too much to write home about) etc... Once it's over all I care about is whether we won, and whether the World Cup will distract me from the lack of Everton for the majority of the summer.

Now I think Martinez has done a good job, but it's difficult to get too excited now we're out of the fa cup and are seemingly out of contention for a CL place. Still we won Saturday, so despite that I'm happy:) Even if we're not trampling on teams like Godzilla on the rampage.

Darren Hind
517 Posted 17/03/2014 at 20:10:12
My expectations? Well, they're not that unreasonable really.

I'd like our manager to use the fantastic defenders (you know, the ones he inherited) to their full potential. To give them clear instructions as to what their responsibilities are when defending set-pieces and if he can't do that (and there's no evidence to suggest he can), he should employ a coach who can.

I'd like him to get more players into the opposition box so, when our two fantastic full backs (the ones he inherited) get behind the opposition defence, they can whip in dangerous balls that will be attacked rather than have to try to pick out the lonely guy in the blue marked by 2-3 defenders. That way, they will get the assists their play deserves to add to their goals (a lot of which they can file under "all my own work").

I'd like Martinez's team to create more chances and score more goals than the most negative manager we've ever had managed to do with this group of players (something he has failed to do, despite having the added benefit if a £20m rated striker).

I'd like him to ditch the idea that two defensive midfield players are ALWAYS required.

I'd like Martinez to fulfill his public promise to Barkley (the talent he inherited) as opposed to making him Ossie's understudy. (I'd also like it if the people who claim it is down to RB being rushed back to quickly, were to ask themselves whose fault that was?)

I'd like a little excitement, a little injection of pace and unpredictability, for McCarthy to drive at defences as we know he can... but right now, I'd settle for him knocking those sidewards/backwards purposeless passes on the head.

There"s an awful lot more I would like, but I'm not a greedy man, I think Martinez would have achieved Champions League football if he'd have met these simple, even basic expectations. Does that make me somebody with an axe to grind? Not really; it just makes me disappointed and frustrated.

I have said all season that I believe this is the best chance we will get of breaking the top four. I want to be wrong, because the thought of being right depresses the fuck out of me.

David Johnson
533 Posted 18/03/2014 at 00:18:47
I think we were playing with great energy up until Xmas and there was nothing whatsoever wrong with Martinez's style of play or tactics. Almost every injured player has been rushed back due to a lack of squad depth and that is the difference between us and the teams above us.

I think we've also suffered from Lukaku almost giving up on making the fantastic runs he was making earlier in the season as a couple of players seem reluctant to pass the ball when there is even the slightest chance of scoring themselves. It's a shame as Lukaku was dragging defenders all over the place and creating loads of space for the rest of the team.

We were getting goals from everywhere and I think his movement and runs were appreciated by everyone even if he wasn't always getting on the scoresheet himself. When he gave up making the runs we had nobody to replace him with and ended up selling the only genuine competition he had to Hull City. That probably applies to every other player who has lost form or suffered through injury as well. Simply no real depth or genuine completion apart from the likes of Oviedo, Delboy (loan).

That is fucking disgusting and Martinez is actually doing a fucking good job as Moyes did before him, When firing on all cylinders and fully fit we are a match anybody but there simply isn't the squad depth. Take away the loan players and there isn't really even a team either. The squad depth situation has become critical with two decent managers papering over the cracks left by a board who are not fit for purpose.

Jim Bennings
569 Posted 18/03/2014 at 09:57:24
Our problem this season much like the last few season's has been our home and away form are complete opposites.

Take a look at the table and you see our home form is that of Champions League challengers and is as good as anybody's (perhaps lacking a few goals scored that's all).

But our away form, our lack of wins is glaring.
We have won the fewest away games in the top half, even less than Newcastle and Southampton and the same amount as Villa.

Now it's all well and good saying we don't lose many away games, but the fact is we don't win many either and its the wins that are more crucial than just not losing.

I would rather we won 8 and lost 8 away games than just lose 4 or 5 and win our usual meagre tally of 4.

Its somethings that we badly need to put right over the next few away trips.

No disrespect to Newcastle or Fulham but if we cannot get at least three points from these trips then I give up on winning away again this term.

Wayne Smyth
635 Posted 18/03/2014 at 17:18:49
I think we need to get some (informal) definitions straight before we go any further.

For me, an "expectation" is a minimum. I expect my team to play with passion. I expect my manager to attempt to win every game. I don't expect us to win every game.

Whether I'm happy or unhappy with something is another matter altogether from what I expect. Was I apoplectic with rage when we lost to the RS? Yep. Am I really annoyed whenever we lose or drop points to anyone? Yep.

Darren, you list a whole heap of things you want Martinez to do. But things are not as simple as saying "play better", "score more". You want more players in the box? I agree. Unfortunately it means you're more likely to get fucked on the counter. Everything you try to do usually has a negative side-effect that can be exploited.

You say he shouldn't always play with 2 defensive midfielders. I agree 100%. Shall we play Oscar in there? How about Arteta? Oh I forgot, we don't have any fit creative central midfielders on our books. Maybe he plays with 2 defensive midfielders because that's generally what he's got to work with.

If he played Osman or Barkley in there and we lost because they got dispossessed I'm sure you'd be the first to harangue Martinez for not having a strong enough midfield. Its easy to be a critic when you criticise with hindsight and none of your theories ever need to be tested.

You complain Martinez hasn't played Barkley enough, then chastise him for bringing Barkley back too early, then chastise him again for giving the lad a rest and playing Osman. Do you know what you want, other than to moan?

Its been well documented that Barkley is still feeling his injury a little bit, if he's playing less frequently and less minutes that probably has something to do with it. Martinez probably feels Osman is good enough to beat the opposition at hand without risking Barkley on the pitch for an extended period.

Our team probably spends an amount of money to finish 8th or 9th all things being equal. If the manager and team do a better than average job, we'll finish higher, if not we finish lower.

You expect Martinez, in his first season, to play good football, score more goals than the last guy, while not conceding any more, and finish higher than at least 4 or 5 other teams who've spent vastly more than us over many seasons....and you think you're being reasonable?

How many times since the premier league was formed have we finished in the top 4? Once in 22 attempts? Has our spending increased relative to our rivals? No. Has the resource gap widened? Yes. Are there now many more teams than there were who spend vastly more than us? Yes.

Expecting any manager to achieve top 4 with our resources is asking for near-perfection and a big fat slice of luck. The fact we're still in with a chance with 10 games to go is great.

The fact we're ahead of OFM and his league winning squad and could be ahead of spurs who were able to spend £100M this season alone if we win our game in hand is also admirable.

I'm with you 100% in that things are not perfect. I agree that we could achieve CL football if we're able to get more out of the team - and if the richer teams continue to underperform. I also happen to think that chastising a manager in his first season because he's not able to achieve that near perfection is weak.

What David Johnson said is perfectly correct. When we had a settled side and a fit side there were no problems with the results or the tactics. We were doing really well. We've still got half a team out. We've still got players on the pitch nursing knocks. We're also much closer to providing a real threat to richer teams with the players he's brought in and the way we're playing. We now go to those places to win, not to avoid defeat.

We've recently only lost to teams who historically we've not beaten a lot and who have bigger, and probably better squads than us, RS(A), Arsenal(A), Spurs(A), Chelsea(A). The teams you'd expect us to beat, we've beaten, Cardiff, WHU, Swansea, Villa.

Jim complains our away form is poor. The season isn't over yet and we've now played all the rich clubs away. We've still to play Newcastle, Fulham, Sunderland, Southampton and Hull away. I think our stats will improve.

Paul Tran
645 Posted 18/03/2014 at 19:10:15
Darren, I agree with your views about Martinez getting more bodies in the opposition's box, but that's it.

Regarding this being 'the best chance to get in the top four', how about a comparison:

Last Season
Utd: champions by 15 points, but apparently rubbish
Arsenal: no strikers, no spends, stagnation.
City: complete turmoil, revolt against manager.
Chelsea: lack of strikers, unpopular manager, unrest
Lpool: doubts about manager, slow and ponderous
Everton: genius manager, just needs money

This season
Chelsea: Mourinho back - 'nuff said.
City: New manager, positive tactics, team spirit.
Arsenal: actually spent some money.
Lpool: ominously good, two class strikers, pace.
Utd: genius of a new manager, spent 65m
Everton: 'rubbish' manager who will 'turn us into Wigan'

Looks to me like a harder task this year, yet we have more points so far...

Darren Hind
685 Posted 18/03/2014 at 20:23:37
Oscar? ... Arteta? ...

The very fact that Martinez signed two defensive midfield players tells us all we need to know about his intentions before a ball was even kicked. He wants TWO insurance policies protecting his defence, otherwise he'd have signed different types of players... And if you think he's going to do a U-turn now, you're in for a disappointment. This is it: if he fails to sign Barry, you can be very certain he will sign another defensive midfield player.

Martinez did not come from South America, he came from down the street; he knew our squad as well as you and I did. He knew all about Ossie and he was happy to strengthen elsewhere. This formation is not one that has been forced on him; he chose it.

I didn't "chastise" RM for bringing Barkley back too soon, he did that himself, when he admitted it was "a bad mistake". I have a bigger problem with the fact that he strapped him up and gave him painkillers in order to do it, Perhaps somebody wants to defend that?

If Barkley has not fully recovered from a broken toe after all this time, is it not conceivable that his recovery was hampered by aggravating the injury before it was healed? And if, as you claim (in order to justify Ossie getting in before him), he is not yet recovered, then what the fuck is he playing for?

I really don't get why you think comparing our season to the shambles at OT and WHL somehow endorses the job Martinez is doing. By bringing them into the debate, you present a stronger case for the prosecution than you do for the defence. We should be taking advantage of their plight rather than preening ourselves for being sandwiched between them. They will not be this bad again in a long, long time.

The Premier League is a shambles this season, you only have to look at how the EPL's finest have been murdered in their beds by Europe's elite to see that. No team has been able to dominate the shit heap and four teams can still win it.

The bottom half is as bad as it's ever been, despite most teams starting with new managers; it's still looking likely that the number of Prem managers sacked this season may reach double figures... and we've got fans wanting to celebrate the fact that we MAY finish above two teams in complete crisis.

Martinez must be rejoicing in the fact that he follows a guy who left Evertonian expectations at an all-time low. Let's just overlook the fact that when Chelsea draw a decent team, the EPL's humiliation in Europe will be almost certainly be complete; let's overlooked the fact that many of the clubs below are run by madmen and, such is the standard, it's almost impossible to say which ones are shite enough to go down...

Let's not get above ourselves and expect our team to capitalise. Let's just rejoice in the fact that we have a great chance of finishing above a team who are having their worst season for 30 years.They spent more money than us ya know

Patrick Murphy
690 Posted 18/03/2014 at 22:03:29
Darren - Roberto probably did know a lot about how his new players could and would perform and their strengths and weaknesses which is a likely reason that he bought in Barry as an insurance policy. He was also probably pained by his experience of taking Wigan down and their defensive frailties and again has ensured that his new club wouldn't suffer a similar loss of points due to defensive short-comings. Spurs and Man U have without question spent a great deal of money since RM arrived at the club and are probably under-performing but so must most clubs in the division if you use that criteria in isolation to measure performance.

So now the Premier League is a shambles is it? Well there are some signs to say that is true but regardless of the standard Everton are still punching above their weight due to having had a negative net spend. If we finish fifth and we have a good chance of doing so, what more could we have expected from Roberto in his first season at the club.

Every Everton supporter wants the Blues to demolish every team we meet but it is and has never been as simple as that especially in a managers first season. If we're still struggling for goals this time next year I will also be concerned about the methods that Roberto has employed but give the guy a chance won't you.

John Daley
697 Posted 18/03/2014 at 22:29:52
"The very fact that Martinez signed two defensive midfield players tells us all we need to know about his intentions before a ball was even kicked"

Nothing to do with the fact he needed to replace the injured Gibson and departing Fellaini then?

"I have a bigger problem with the fact that he strapped (Barkley) up and gave him painkillers in order to do it, Perhaps somebody wants to defend that?"

So Martinez disregarded the advice of the club medical staff, snuck Ross a couple of roofies, strapped him up and slung him out on the pitch before the poor sod knew what had hit him? Why does he need defending? The player wanted to play, said he was ready to play, was obviously given clearance to play by the club medics and, oh, it was the teams biggest game of the season. If we'd have won everyone would have thought it well worth taking a slight risk on.

"If Barkley has not fully recovered from a broken toe after all this time, is it not conceivable that his recovery was hampered by aggravating the injury before it was healed."

You clearly have no concept of foot injuries. The boy broke his toe. It's not that the injury hasn't healed. It's just that due to the very nature and site of said injury and the fact he has to, y'know, constantly kick a fucking ball with his foot (or put pressure on the foot, or get lift from the foot) then he will still feel a sharp pain on occasion. It's not excruciating. It doesn't signify a continuing problem that might be made worse. It's just a bit of discomforting pain that takes time to completely disappear. It's perfectly normal and Baines had to put up with a similar thing earlier this season. Don't go off on some flight of fancy and make out like the manager is putting the player's future career in jeopardy.

Darren Hind
702 Posted 18/03/2014 at 22:20:05
You're missing the point here, Patrick. If I didn't think this manager was capable of better I would not be wasting my breath. We are so close it's painful and, by righting just a couple of the wrongs, we could crack it.

It's ironic really: me (the critic) thinks he can do it, but his defenders are falling over themselves to put up excuses to prove he can't.

People keep pleading for him to be given more time, but what for? Man Utd and Spurs, maybe even Newcastle will eventually get their act together... then it really will be impossible.

Darren Hind
707 Posted 18/03/2014 at 22:36:08
John

No offence mate, I think your posts are usually funny and insightful. But have you seen how many lame excuses you've thrown up on this thread.

Is it an attempt at some sort of record?

Jamie Sweet
716 Posted 18/03/2014 at 23:27:19
Darren Hind. You make some decent points.

You only have to look at the table though and realise that this season isn't the complete disaster you seem to be making it out to be.

We are by no means the finished article and some of the stuff you point out are things that certainly need to be addressed.

However, I don't believe it is a reasonable expectation of any new manager at any club to come up with the finished article after 28 games and two transfer windows in charge. Particularly when not being provided with any significant financial backing in these windows.

Personally I believe in what Roberto is trying to achieve at our club. I believe in his footballing philosophies and I believe that if anyone can take us to the "next level" then he can.

It will take time. It will take a bit more money than has been made available to date. Yes, it will also take some significant improvements in certain areas of our game.

But you make Roberto out to be some kind of disaster waiting to happen who doesn't know what he's doing. I don't think anything could be further from the truth.

John Daley
721 Posted 19/03/2014 at 00:56:33
Well, I guess that's the difference right there, Darren. I don't see them as excuses because I don't believe Martinez has actually done anything that needs to be excused as yet.

True, it's not all been plain sailing so far. The guy isn't perfect and our early season promise has slowly petered out but, barring someone turning up in a turban with a flying carpet and a big blue gobby cunt crammed in a copper lamp, I don't see how, realistically, he could be expected to have done much better.

(Okay, there was the derby debacle but it's not the first time we've been embarrassed against the Beverly Hillbillies and it probably won't be the last.)

The most telling thing you posted is the line "We are so close its painful". In my opinion, you are putting too much faith in the footballers we have at the club whilst laying disproportionate blame at their managers feet. I think everyone dared to dream a little around December as we were starting to look the real deal but, the harsh reality is, some people were running away with themselves. The squad, although now being utilised more, still isn't big enough and doesn't contain sufficient quality to sustain a concerted challenge.

If there is one thing this group of players has shown consistently over the years it's that, as a collective, they're capable of getting reasonably close... only to pull up gasping and pointing at their tatty Gola two stripe when the pressure is truly on. Martinez might be able to change this, but only if he's given time to fully implement his methods, bring in more of his own players and, generally, get things how he wants rather than how they were left behind by the last guy. By judging him already, on the basis of falling just short in his first season, I believe you are jumping the gun.

Paul Tran
836 Posted 19/03/2014 at 21:42:31
Sorry Darren, I omitted that this season there are 2 English clubs in last 8 of Champions League as opposed to none last year.

What's happened since last summer? I've had over 10 years of people telling me to be patient regarding our manager. Now that we've changed, we demand success straightaway. We had no money, now we're apparently rolling in cash, which hasn't been spent yet.

All of a sudden, every expense is added to loan deals to make them look extortionate. 6th has gone from genius to under-achieving. Last year the FA Cup 'doesn't matter' when we're knocked out by Wigan, yet it's a disaster when we lose away to Arsenal.

Oh yeah, and we're not allowed to compare, because it's not appropriate.

This isn't an argument that says everything Martinez does is perfect – there's plenty to legitimately criticise. I find it odd that so many are desperate to pour scorn on the Everton manager.

I agree with you, Darren, we could have done better this season. We need more pace and guile in the last third of the pitch. We need to tighten up on set pieces. We need a good goalkeeper (Marshall?)

I think Martinez can do this and I'm not interested in making 'excuses' for him. In his first season, I think he's going to at least match his predecessor. That's nothing to go wild about, but does it merit the level of stick he gets on here?

Darren Hind
842 Posted 19/03/2014 at 22:11:50
Paul, you didn't omit it, you waited patiently for tonight's result so you would have the benefit of hindsight. Well done, pleased for you, but the Premier League is still shite and not many people on here will be risking their hard earned backing Chelsea or Man Utd when they are drawn against decent opposition.

I have not come across the "stick" you say Martinez gets, only legitimate criticism from people who think he could/should be doing better.
I have not heard any abuse directed at him and I have not heard a single call for him to be replaced, not in the pub, not at the game and not on here. He's hardly under the cosh

Wayne Smyth
845 Posted 19/03/2014 at 22:13:50
Darren, as John Daley points out, the fact that Martinez signed two defensive players was largely down to a combination of the need to replace existing similar players who were leaving and injured and which players were available at the 11th hour on transfer deadline day.

When your best midfielder rocks up with 3 hours of the transfer window to go, and forces a move, the fact we got any fucker of note in is remarkable. Actually getting two very good international midfielders in, who have been a bedrock of the results we've achieved is better than most of us could've reasonably hoped.

It's entirely because you make it sound like Martinez identified these two players in July, had the money to buy them and spent all summer plotting how he was going to use them in our new formation, that I think you actually just have an axe to grind and want to moan about anything you can.

You can moan that he should've known that Osman was not good enough. Half our team are not good enough, ffs. Does that mean he can do anything about it? Pull £15M from his arse in July to sign a quality creative midfielder, perhaps?

Management is all about making decisions, balancing trade-offs. When you have no money to spend, then there are going to be compromises. Not being able to acquire that creative centre mid in the first few transfer windows is one of them.

This is why I will judge Martinez after several seasons, to see how his longer term vision pans out, because a club with our resources will never enable the manager to change things in the way he wants immediately.

Paul Tran
852 Posted 19/03/2014 at 22:58:07
Darren, I'm not clever enough to wait all day, I heard it on the radio and forgot that the Prem clubs were all knocked out earlier last year.

I just think there's a difference between opinions on tactics, selection and pace that speak for themselves, positive and negative, and some of the nonsense on here around us suddenly having loads of money, other clubs suddenly imploding, the Premier League turning shit (been that way for a while), players don't last the whole game (best record for late goals). To be fair, there's also plenty of nonsense about Martinez being 'better' with young players.

If I was really clever, I'd name a few managers who have taken over a well-run, workmanlike team that regularly finishes 6th to 8th, and gets everything right within seven months and sends his team into the top four.

Martinez has done OK so far. If anything, I think he's too cautious at times. He's handled the injured payers badly, bringing them back too quickly. He has an irritating habit of stating that keeping the ball on the halfway line is 'controlling the game'.and of course he was bollocks in the last transfer window.

I think it's great that Martinez gets plenty of criticism. The last regime suffered by having smoke blown up its arse and having success redefined downwards. I think 6th is at least where we should be, so it's good that we're all expecting more from the new manager.

To me some people's sudden disappointment at us being 6th and not playing like Bayern Munich within seven months tells me that a lot of things have changed for the better this season.

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