Blues In the Grip of a Crisis of Confidence

Roberto Martinez's positive tenure is unravelling as Everton's slide continues.

Lyndon Lloyd 29/12/2014 81comments  |  Jump to last

Evertonians find themselves in depressingly familiar territory as the year draws to a close and another dawns. Football's year transitions in August, of course, but the New Year, representing as it does this time the start of the second half of the season, can still be pregnant with possibility.

Everton will start 2015 in something of a crisis, however if not yet in terms of results, certainly in terms of confidence following the concession of three goals on Tyneside that condemned them to a third successive defeat. A side changed significantly from the Boxing Day defeat to Stoke, in part due to injury and in part because Roberto Martinez was perhaps looking for a reaction from his charges, was unable to hold on to the early lead that should have been the platform on which to go on and beat a nervous Newcastle. Instead, more individual errors at the back and dreadful defending allowed Alan Pardew's men to end their own run of defeats and leave 2014 on a high.

The Blues finish the first half of 2014-15 in 12th place, 12 points off the European places that increasingly look fanciful for a team that has won just five Premier League matches and already equalled the number of games they lost in all of last season. Worryingly, they seem ill-equipped for the fight ahead of them; the absence of a true leader to grab the side by the scruff of its collective neck and drag a performance out of it makes it hard to see where the run of results required to salvage the campaign is going to come from. Put simply, Everton looked shambolic and directionless at times, further widening the gap between the fearless and swashbuckling outfit of 2013-14, whose expansive style was epitomised by their performance in this fixture in March, and the erratic, sloppy shower they have become this season.

Maddeningly, it could have been very different at St James' Park this afternoon. A confident start and a move reminiscent of Everton at their best under Martinez had yielded a first goal for Arouna Kone inside the first five minutes. Samuel Eto'o and Aiden McGeady moved the ball through in midfield to allow the latter to find Seamus Coleman's overlapping run and the Irishman delivered a perfect cross that Kone despatched cleanly through Jak Alnwick's arms.

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Three players introduced to the line-up at the expense of Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas had combined to give Everton the perfect platform from which to exploit the Magpies' uncertainty and press on to win for only the third time away from home this season. Unfortunately, they immediately sat off their hosts and stopped pressing the ball, allowing Newcastle to regain their composure and then mount the attacks that would eventually yield an equaliser.

The Blues' defence parted like the Red Sea in the 12th minute when Papiss Cisse's flick-on put Moussa Sissoko in the clear but an awful first touch allowed Joel Robles to bat the loose ball behind for a corner. More set-piece opportunities would follow as Everton continued to either squander possession the lead-footed Gareth Barry was a repeated offender in front of his own back line while McGeady and Eto'o were guilty of poor distribution further forward or backed off sufficiently to invite pressure but Martinez's defence, shorn of injured duo Phil Jagielka and John Stones, was dealing with the pressure.

That pressure told, though, when Everton switched off during a short corner routine between Jack Colback and Cheick Tioté; the latter had time and space to launch a ball to the back post where Michael Williamson had stolen in behind the sleeping Sylvain Distin. He knocked the ball back into the danger zone and Cisse half-volleyed home from eight yards out to make it 1-1 by the time half-time arrived.

There would be plenty of debate after the match as to whether the Senegalese striker should have been on the pitch at that point as television cameras had picked up a despicable elbow to the side of Coleman's face at an earlier corner but the incident was not seen at the time by referee Craig Pawson or his assistant. Had they picked up on it, it might have proved a turning point in the game but, in the context of Everton's overall performance, it was largely moot; his being offside in the build-up to the corner that led to the goal was another matter, however.

In truth, though the equaliser and the manner in which Martinez's men had ceded the initiative boded ill, for an away game the Blues' display hadn't been all that bad over the first 45 minutes. Luke Garbutt had again slotted seamlessly into the starting XI at left back and Leighton Baines was proving a useful presence in a seemingly undefined midfield role, popping up on both sides of the field but offering little of the natural width he normally provides from fullback.

Barry, betraying all of his 33 years, was alarmingly off the pace all afternoon, however, while Coleman after the goal was a shadow of his usual marauding self and Eto'o offered next to nothing, floating around the middle of the park behind Kone. Nevertheless, the introduction of Barkley for McCarthy at half-time as a precaution offered hope of more dynamism going forward against a Newcastle team that really was there for the taking.

Just four minutes after coming on, Barkley was evoking memories of that mesmerising goal he scored in the Blues' 3-0 win on their last visit to St James' Park with a surging run but when Kone clipped a ball to the other side of the area, Coleman chose not rattle off a first-time shot, deciding instead to cross and it was deflected behind. Barry was adjudged to have fouled his man attempting a header from the resulting corner and from their next possession came the set-piece from which Newcastle took the lead.

Sissoko fired a wicked cross in from the right behind the Everton defence that Alcaraz tried to deal with by nudging it on the far side of the box but it hit the on-rushing Yuan Gouffran and looked to be heading for the goal until Robles finger-tipped it past his post for a corner. From there, a succession of errors just summed up the shambles that Everton have been at the back at times this season.

Barkley had headed the initial corner clear but, when the ball was worked wide to Jack Colback and he swung it back in, Robles flapped unconvincingly and Barry did just enough to get himself out of trouble near his own byline and dig out a clearance to Baines. He chose to pass to McGeady but the Irishman gave it straight to Tiote who was alive to Ayoze Perez in acres of space outside the Blues' area and picked him out with a pass. The Spaniard did the rest, teasing Coleman and Distin on the 18-yard line before firing through the former's legs and past the stranded goalkeeper.

There had been much to be positive about Everton in the early going but, with Newcastle taking the lead, the writing was on the wall. The dreadful McGeady was hooked in the 61st minute in favour of Mirallas who should never have been left out in the first place and there was a brief upturn in the Blues' play as they pushed for an equaliser of their own.

Terrific, determined work by Baines on the left wing ended with him pulling the ball back for Eto'o but he skied a left-foot effort high over the bar; the England international laid a chance soon afterwards for Kone but he prodded a difficult chance wide midway through the second half.

Two minutes later, though, it was effectively game over. Another cross from the right, this time from Daryl Janmaat, was aimed to pick out Colback's run but Barkley was there to intercept. Unfortunately, his touch was calamitous and served the third goal on a plate for the Newcastle midfielder who had the simple task of sliding the ball under Robles for his first goal in Barcodes colours.

Even with a two-goal advantage, the home crowd remained on edge when Everton came forward and the grandstand finish they feared arrived via a world-class throughball from Baines who threaded Mirallas in beautifully and the Belgian provided a finish to match, knocking it first time over the 'keeper to make it 3-2 with six minutes plus stoppage time to play.

There was still life in the Blues and, when Mirallas won a free kick just outside the area, there was hope he could provide a dramatic finale but his direct effort bent the wrong side of the upright. And apart from a last-ditch opportunity to put the ball into the box that Coleman wasted by pussy-footing around on the edge of the area as the clock wound down, that was more or less it from Everton, sadly. Instead of a late assault on the Newcastle goal, it was the home side who nearly added to the scoreline but Perez hammered a shot off the post as Alan Pardew's attackers swarmed through the gaps left at the back.

Quite where the next point is coming from, let alone the next win, is hard to envision at this point. Things have quite clearly fallen apart and there isn't much evidence that Martinez knows how to arrest the slide. He will point to the impact of continuing injury problems in defence and more individual errors leading to crucial goals but it's the lack of organisation and shape and the general impotence going forward that continue to lie at the heart of Everton's problems.

All this despite possessing the club's most talented squad of the Premier League era. It's unclear whether the omission of Lukaku, Mirallas and Barkley was made on the basis of fitness during a congested part of the fixture list or to make a point about their overall form but, coming on top of the three changes he was already forced to make based on injuries picked up in the Stoke game, it was a questionable decision.

Lukaku, who now has just one goal in seven games, may have played 18 anonymous minutes after replacing Kone (who looked far more adept at dropping back and playing with his back to goal than the Belgian ever really has) but there many, myself included, who feel that the system Martinez is employing is doing the Belgian a massive disservice. It's a pity that the manager has thus far refused to play him and Kone together because Eto'o was largely a passenger we could ill afford. Two shots on target the goals, basically says it all. Given the stakes now, the line-up at Hull on New Year's Day will be instructive as to what Martinez feels is his best XI and system.

The trip to Humberside in its entirety will be very revealing in what it says about the team and where it is heading under Martinez. The excuse of Europe has long since been removed from the equation while the display against Stoke undermined the argument for injuries being the chief culprit for the Blues' poor form of late. Everton are a team looking for direction, leadership and a reliable system at the moment; one that can override those transient factors and keep them from sliding into a dogfight at the bottom of the table and exiting the two cup competitions that could yet provide redemption.

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Reader Comments (81)

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Jeff Hughes
1 Posted 29/12/2014 at 06:44:03
Having been very critical after the Southampton game, I thought the first half against Stoke showed signs of a more direct style until the delays in play broke any rhythm and in the second half we resorted to woeful.

At Newcastle, Roberto at least showed the balls to drop the talented but lazy Barkley and Lukaku. Kone showed enough to be optimistic that he is a far better target man. (Could Lukaku be given a different role?) Garbutt and Baines showed enough to believe that over time they could develop a partnership to make-up for the demise of Pienaar.

That said, McGeady was woeful and the need to take-off McCarthy was a massive blow with Barkley once again strolling around like a lost kid. The bald truth is that he is a luxury who is so far away from becoming a complete midfield footballer and he would not be in my first team as a starter. Once Stones and Jags come back and Distin is shipped out, we should be better and I would give Besic a run in place of Barry.

Roberto needs to continue to reshape our style of play into a more direct and high tempo game and us fans, despite our total frustration at how he has mismanaged a stronger squad this year, need to get behind the team because the players do lack confidence and we need plenty of that in the struggles ahead. COYB

Robin Cannon
2 Posted 29/12/2014 at 07:07:41
It’s painful to watch at the moment. The degree to which we’ve gone backwards from last season...

I don’t buy into a "Martinez Out" campaign yet. There should be some acknowledgment of his achievements last season, and also an understanding that "his" relegation of Wigan was after an already weak side were forced to slash budgets significantly.

But obviously there is huge cause for concern. What, last season, was an effective "slow, slow, quick, quick, slow" passing game that opened up defences seems to now simply be "slow, slow, slow, slow, slow". That, more than the actual nature of a passing based game, seems to be the culprit; we’re ponderous, and teams have all the time in the world to pull back into a good defensive shape.

The analyst on NBC against Stoke was railing against Everton fans booing a slow build-up by claiming that we can’t just switch to a long-ball game. But that’s clearly not what we’re calling for, merely a more urgent and pacey approach. Our first goal today was an example of how we can play, fast passing on the ground, with a desire to split the defence and reach an end product. The infuriating thing is how rarely we seem to attempt that this season.

We have become worse as the season has progressed. While results were not brilliant, the games against Arsenal and Chelsea early in the season at least demonstrated the potential of our attack; we looked dangerous going forward, for all our vulnerabilities at the back. Now, we don’t even look dangerous.

I don’t worry too much about what Martinez says in public, and there’s too much comment about that. You praise in public and criticise in private. I hope that the criticism is happening.

Perhaps what concerns me most is the inflexible approach to formation. Even when the personnel changes, nothing else does. Today, trailing, Lukaku and Kone was a straight swap. I understand Kone coming off after a long lay off and a good shift... but was a like-for-like substitution with no change in formation really likely to trigger the massive change in fortunes that we needed?

Players are not playing well, and they’re playing scared. Last season was all about the new idea of taking risks, and a manager prepared to accept mistakes if they were intended to reach positive outcomes. Now... we just make mistakes. Lukaku has not played great, but when was the last time he had a good ball to run on to, a real opportunity to attack a defence?

Good managers are forged from difficult times. This is a difficult time. I have no idea whether Martinez will be one of those managers who comes out of it stronger, or not. I feel we should give him the opportunity. But something; the formation, the pace of our play, even our luck, needs to change soon.

Paul Holden
3 Posted 29/12/2014 at 07:39:29
Can we stop slagging Martinez and the players off. Goodison is like a fecking library at the moment. Get behind the team (and I went to the Saints game).
Lyndon Lloyd
4 Posted 29/12/2014 at 08:13:52
Very well said, Robin. I’m not prone to knee-jerks but I’ll admit that my faith in Martinez’s ability to turn this around has been very badly shaken over the last eight days.

Like you say, he deserves the chance to prove he can make the necessary changes but after the highs of last season and the restoration of the joy of watching Everton again, it’s sad that we’re back in this situation so quickly.

John Barnes
5 Posted 29/12/2014 at 08:06:34

Correct re the first goal showing how a passing game can turn into meaningful attack. A major, regular problem we have is, when we do advance, the ball goes inevitably goes through Barry who can’t pass water, or McCarthy who is too often inclined to play it backwards so the whole thing stutters.

Barkley and McCarthy have the legs and lungs to carry the game forward 40 or 50 yards. We have runners for them to find: Lukaku, Mirallas, Baines and now Garbutt... so why not play to their collective strengths?

Baffling. As is the continued selection of Barry!!!!!!

James Kirrane
7 Posted 29/12/2014 at 08:28:46
Hi Jeff,

(1) Can I ask what you mean when you inquire ’could Lukaku be given a different role?’ We paid £28 million for a Number 9. An out-and-out striker to score 20 goals a season.

One of the big problems this season is Roberto’s insistence on playing players out of position. It is beyond me how a professional manager could even contemplate this, although many do. What do you suggest for Lukaku? Centre-half? Not after his own goal against the Saints...

The only different role suited to him is on the bench until the system changes to accommodate his style or he begins to use all his natural attributes – his height, strength and speed to put the fear of God into opposing defenders.

Ian Bennett
8 Posted 29/12/2014 at 08:40:03
Another lead squandered yet again, really cheaply – 15 points from winning positions? We need a no-nonsense defender who will put his body on the line for every goal, who will hurt when we concede. They are going in way too easy all season. Whilst the keeper situation looks dreadful.

McGeady is a complete liability. Passing him the ball in our half of the pitch is like an assist waiting to happen. Whilst the current centre-back partnership are not top 7 quality. Get rid.

All this looks like Ross is going to be sacrificed to create some funds but, with his transfer record, would you trust Martinez?

Jeff Hughes
9 Posted 29/12/2014 at 09:00:23
Hi James,

I take your point about Lukaku being bought as a Number 9 but I think there are different types of striker and Lukaku seems unable to play the front man/target man effectively.

Roberto has tried him out wide a couple of times and Lukaku is at his best running at goal at pace rather than with his back to goal. Perhaps he could play off Kone coming from a slightly deeper role. At the moment, given our style of play, he is far from being a £28M player.

Mark Palmer
10 Posted 29/12/2014 at 09:00:19
I agree with most of the comments on this article and the others.

Generally, Evertonians seem to have a good understanding of what’s wrong and which players aren’t in form or putting in a shift. However, Roberto is new to a big club. He has a football philosophy that we all bought into last season and he needs time just as a new player needs time. He’s not the finished article.

Everton needed rebuilding after years of DM and it won’t be quick. Christ, we’ve won nothing in 20 years, where have all these high expectations come from? Why the rush to hang a manager who’s been in post for less than 2 years?

Joe Foster
12 Posted 29/12/2014 at 09:36:53
The expectations have come from Billy Liar and Bobby Bullshit.

Champions League... footballing philosophies...

I would like to see what comes out of Martinez’s mouth actually materialise on to the pitch.

Nick Entwistle
13 Posted 29/12/2014 at 09:36:07
I certainly wouldn’t agree this is our most talented squad in the Premier League era, but knee-jerk sacking demands are irrelevant as it simply isn’t going to happen, and why would it when sitting in 12th?

The Christmas schedule can turn things round for a club or in our case swallow you up, so once the New Year’s and FA Cup games are done with, then there will be time to breath... even if the next game will be Man City!

The Europa League could well save the season and takes on an even greater importance.

Allan Board
14 Posted 29/12/2014 at 09:30:18
Fellas, don’t get sucked into a "give him time" or "let’s see where we are in" mode! Life is in the present and, in that present, Everton have accrued only 25 points out of a possible 75! That’s one third. Over an entire season, that’s 38 points – and very possibly the drop.

His points to games played was no better at his previous club. Yes, he seems a nice bloke and his ideas are honourable, just not in our league.

Comparisons to other managers/clubs are irrelevant and I’m not interested in how long they gave Ferguson etc (he had already won shit loads at Aberdeen including Europe so they knew they were getting a proven winner); my concern is Everton.

Whatever is decided, do it now, let the fans know, and set their expectations. Failure to do this will just mean more shit weeks like this season and fans who become more angry, upset, and ultimately stop going.

Who knows what the right decision long term is? Nobody knows... but don’t insult fans intelligence by doing NOTHING! I wish good luck to all and everything Everton for the New Year, but please be proactive now!

Daniel A Johnson
15 Posted 29/12/2014 at 10:35:39
Would Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City and the shite put up with this? They would be going fucking apocalyptic if it was any of the above.

I’m not saying sack Martinez but we should be turning the screw and asking tough questions like:

Do you know what the fuck you are doing?
Why are we 6 points off relegation?
Why do we have the 2nd worst goals against in the league?
Why did we start the season half cooked?
Why are the players unfit?

What the fuck are you going to do about it?

Over to you, Mr Martinez.

Murdo Laing
16 Posted 29/12/2014 at 10:47:18
Daniel: Surely you mean "apoplectic"? A state of being that I reached around 6:00pm yesterday.
Daniel A Johnson
17 Posted 29/12/2014 at 10:57:22
No, Murdo, I did mean ’apocalyptic’ as there would be nuclear fallout if it was those teams in our situation...
Michael Polley
18 Posted 29/12/2014 at 10:58:28
Martinez is incapable of changing his tactics. This passing the ball out from defence is not working now.

Two of Newcastle goals were caused by mistakes from McGeady & Barkley losing possession just outside our penalty area. The players look scared having possession in this area of the pitch.

There needs to be a major change in our game plan. I’m afraid we’re fighting for survival. It’s so bad that even the refs have it in for us. Cisse should’ve been sent off

Michael Penley
19 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:12:28
Mick, the expectations came from Martinez himself. He got the job because he convinced BK that he would get us into the Champion’s League. Now obviously that’s going to take even the best manager time, but if we’re not going in the right direction then what’s the point?

4th has got to be our aim and we haven’t been far away from it in recent seasons, we just need a push to get us there.

Paul Hewitt
20 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:26:23
I think when Bill said Bobby would get us into the Champions League he should have said Championship.
Milos Milenkovic
21 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:09:15
We have the players, a great squad, but the system is not working. I am afraid that Martinez forgot that the main priority is to score a goal, not to keep the ball.

I would like to see us going 4-4-2 with only one defensive midfielder in the team, with a direct approach, to cross, shoot and to have two strikers playing up front.

I was impressed with Wolfsburg with their attacking football. Yes, we won twice, but still you could see why are they 2nd in Bundesliga. They had more than 60 shots in two games against us.

We also have quality players and instead of endless passing we must be dangerous from various positions, set pieces, long shots, crosses... Above all, this endless passing has led to 10 goals against us.
Unfortunately, as most of you, I can’t see RM changes anything. Question is, whether he recognizes the problem?

Paul Smith
22 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:02:02
Daniel @15: when put like that, it’s hard not to see the gravity of our current plight. I’m in shock at the moment and can’t figure out what should be done for the for the best.

I honestly believe RM can learn from what’s currently happening, but can we afford to be his school for making mistakes? One too many and it’s "see you later, Premier League". On the other hand, do we sack him? If so, when? At what point does BK pull the trigger? Or as fans when do we turn up the heat so we can’t be ignored.

Like I said at the outset of this post, it’s a shocking state of affairs. We can all remember worse times; however, I struggle to remember having such high expectations after a great season trashed the next, with a palpable and real fear of relegation.

My mate (Tottenham fan) said we were going down.... tongue-in-cheek? Usually, not now though! He and I both believe it may happen.

Lee Gorre
23 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:32:42
Not the biggest problem at the moment, but it kind of sums things up for me in terms of attitude and the desire to win. I refer to Lukaku’s smiling face at the end of every defeat or poor result as he hugs one of the opposition; yesterday was Tiote’s turn.

There is a complete lack of passion and will amongst this current squad.

Kunal Desai
24 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:28:39
No one is getting us into the Champions League unless we spend £100 million plus on quality players. Man Utd and Arsenal will get the remaining top four positions because they have spent heavily and bought quality in the summer – Di Maria and Sanchez etc. The extra bit of class always will always have the edge over teams like us.
Daniel A Johnson
25 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:39:28
Agree Lee (23)

That Premier League table is giving me the sweats, yet the players don’t seem to appreciate that, match by match, they are falling into the shit.

Mike Gwyer
26 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:05:04
It’s difficult to say why, but so many of the players are playing below their normal standards that something is seriously not right. Confidence, formation or just total anarchy against RM’s playing style seems to be hitting this club with a sledge hammer.

My view:- the EPL is such big bucks that BK will ship RM out sooner rather than later... Hull could be that game.

Look at the Barcodes game: we have far too many oldies milking the tit and, for the life of me, how the fuck did Barry get a 3-year deal (seriously how did he do this deal)? Eto’o on a 2-year deal!!!! How can the club support these kind of deals???

Then we have Distin, Hibbo, Osman, Kone, Jags, Alcaraz, Howard & Pienaar – all in their 30s and all getting big bucks. The club is so fucked if they continue doing deals like this.

As for McGeady – I know some of you think "he has something" but seriously, is there not a pub team we can loan him too so that those who like him can go and watch him playing elsewhere? Pure and simple, McGeady is a liability.

As for Barkley, he seriously has to switch off from all the shite that RM tells the media because that shite is not happening. I mean, what the fuck was Barkley doing as our last man for their third goal? Why was he even in the box defending??

My only question to RM – what the fuck is going on??

Phil Walling
27 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:24:36
One of the kinder things said about BK on ToffeeWeb is that ’he doesn’t do knee jerk’. True – and the relegation zone will have to get much nearer than five points away before he gets into arse-moving mode.

But, loyal though he was to Moyes after we finished 17th in 2003-04, he may not be so understanding now that ’finishing position’ money is in the millions and all budgets at Everton are based on a top-half spot.

Neither does the termination of a manager’s contracts any longer involve a simple pay-out of the ’time not served’ but more a calculation of what has/has not been achieved since inception. As one chairman was quoted recently, ’the sooner we sacked him, the less it was going to cost!’

Being convinced from the start that Martinez was a car crash waiting to happen, I have not the slightest doubt our situation will go from bad to worse. So when will Bill act?

Almost certainly before the end of January and most likely if our shocking league form is followed by elimination from the FA Cup.

Tony Pulis could well find himself in charge of Europa Cup contenders without ever having to qualify!

Paul Hewitt
28 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:15:08
Why is wanting a man who is wrecking this great club out called ’knee-jerking?
James Stewart
29 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:17:16
Exactly, Paul. Nothing knee-jerk about it. We are playing utterly dreadful football and the defence is shameful considering how tight it was when he took over. How many chances do you give someone? If we go down – and that is a very real possibility under this guy – how many will be so forgiving then?
Brent Stephens
30 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:14:50
Premier League survival is vital. Write off the FA Cup and the Europa League – use them to experiment with different set-ups and tactics, to give young lads a go, to rest some if necessary.

Something in me tells me that Roberto will ring the changes now in terms of who gets to play (out of form, out of the side), in terms of tactics (Row Z if necessary, more direct balls from defence upfield), in terms of formation (eg, experimenting with Baines in midfield). I actually quite liked the way he was making big changes in some of this for the Newcastle game; just a pity it didn’t come off. But I think he made decisions going into that game which were big dollops of humble pie for him.

I think he will swallow his pride and start to make some big decisions that go against the grain for him.

Daniel A Johnson
31 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:17:30
Relegation and not being able to feast at the Premier League table would destroy this club. Think Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

As a fan, I have loyalty to the club – not a manger or player.

Martinez is taking us down the rocky path to ruin. This group of fixtures was supposed to be our springboard up the league – not a spiral to the depths. Tougher fixtures await.

I want him out; it’s my opinion as a fan and I’m entitled to it.

He’s a deluded Captain Ahab who’s tippy tappy style of football has no place in the hurly burly of the Premier League.

He’s out of his depth and I think our players know it.

Dick Fearon
32 Posted 29/12/2014 at 11:25:08
Lyndon, you state in your final paragraph that we are in danger of slipping into a relegation dogfight. That is wrong; we are already in a relegation dogfight. We cannot wait for Martinez or his players to recognise our predicament.

I have no confidence that he is able or willing to change tactics that turned us into the league’s easy beats.

Joe Clitherow
33 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:36:53

I generally agree with your posts, but: "I think he will swallow his pride and start to make some big decisions that go against the grain for him." — Why would you think this or is it more hope than anything?

I didn’t see the changes you seem to yesterday and he absolutely did not do this at Wigan right up to the bitter end even when there were opportunities.

Tony Rutherford
34 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:37:58
Hull is a massive game now. However; I did see some positives yesterday with Kone and Mirallas and Baines slightly further forward.

The defence is a disaster though: 2 goals away from home should be enough to win! The concern is we are playing teams who aren’t in form and making them look like world beaters.

Besic needs to replace Barry as he needs a rest. 4-4-2 may just help us keep a bit of shape. At the moment, there is none!

Brent Stephens
35 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:01:03
Joe #33 - more hope than expectation, Joe!

Having said that, I do think there were signs yesterday of him doing things he wouldn’t normally do: Lukaku and Barks benched; Garbutt started; Baines into mid; initially the ball moved a lot faster upfield.

I’ll update you after the Hull debacle!

Phil Walling
36 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:05:00
Brent: I suspect that it was more a continuance of his ’rotation policy’ than any sign of a change of direction. More bewildering selections will be seen against Hull.
Brent Stephens
37 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:09:07
Phil - you might well be right. You’ve not been way out wrong so far.
Joe Foster
38 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:13:48
I do not class this as knee-jerk reactions. The signs started to appear since the back end of last season
Dave Lynch
39 Posted 29/12/2014 at 12:57:36
I don’t get this.

"He will make big decisions. Change our playing style."

It’s all bullshit, he doesn’t have the tactical nouse or acumen to do either. I’m sorry but he doesn’t, otherwise we would not be in the position we are in at present.

A blind man on a galloping horse could of seen how bad we are 10 games ago. But not Bobby! Oh no, he has a vision, a plan for football domination, a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a fox.

This plan involves mindless passing across the back, playing players out of position, and talking bollocks after another defeat.

Brent Stephens
40 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:40:45
Dave, I’m not being dogmatic about this (so I said "I think" ... "more hope than expectation"...). I’m just clutching at straws and trying to see, in the way he went into the Newcastle game, whether there might just be a glimmer of hope for us, which would be dependent on him swallowing his pride and changing things (and he did change a few things).

And, as you rightly say, dependent on him having the know-how. I don’t know if he has the know-how. We’ll see. I just frigging hope so, for all our sakes.

Kevin Tully
41 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:38:53
It’s 100% down to the manager to get us out of this slump. But can someone please explain to me why the players are walking away without one fucking post questioning their part in this shambles?

If you’ve ever played football, you will know that getting beat at any level hurts. You don’t carry on playing like a muppet if you cannot do it on the pitch, no matter what the manager’s instructions.

If this is ALL the fault of Martinez, his training methods, and team selection (which is hard to believe) then senior players need to step up and tell the man he’s wrong, and they will show that when they step over the white line.

I agree that passing the ball is alien to some of the best paid sportsmen in the world (shakes head) but really, they need a good fucking over on here as well. Not one post on any thread seems to question their effort.

Dave Lynch
42 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:48:29
Just picked the quote out of the air Brent, my post was not specifically aimed at you mate.

I honestly don’t think he’s up to the job, he reminds me of a manager in the Warnock, Megson style management.

Very limited in his approach and no amount of money thrown at him will make an ounce of difference.

I, like you, also hope for all our sakes.

Dave Lynch
43 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:53:45

Without knowing the dynamics on the training field or in the dressing room we never will know how the players feel or are reacting to the current situation.

I know one thing though, if it was the players fault in not following instructions or they had poor attitudes and I was the manager, I would let the whole fucking world know and so would you!

This Oviedo and Besic thing is not sitting right with me and coupled with the Distin rumours it feels to me at least, all is not right between players and manager.

Phil Walling
44 Posted 29/12/2014 at 13:53:52
Kevin: I agree that the players must take a share in the blame for the mess we are in. After all, it was they who made the 10 individual errors that resulted in goals being conceded and it isn’t Martinez who misses an open goal either.

But I do think some have switched off with their heads buzzing about ’philosophies’ and ’total football’ when they want more structured training - particularly in defence- as per previous disciplines.

If, as we do, they think the manager’s full of bull-shit theories, then no wonder they don’t perform to their maximum even though their personal will to succeed should have kicked in by now.

Harold Matthews
45 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:26:03
Kevin T. I think you’ve been reading the wrong posts. Plenty have hammered the players.
Brent Stephens
46 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:37:00
Cheers, Dave.
Kevin Tully
47 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:29:01
Phil - You & I both know that Jagielka and Distin are not suited to bringing the ball out from the back, so, until they are replaced, it’s utter madness to ask them to play this way.

On the other hand, do we excuse the whole midfield and attack as well? Does this entire Everton side need replacing with players who pass a ball? Obviously not, but listening to some, you would think they are being asked to play blindfold by the manager.

There may be a player power situation brewing similar to Man Utd last season. If that’s the case - we may as well cut our losses right now.

Tahir Abdullah
48 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:30:50
Phil @44, spot on. In corporate management, engagement level of employees (players in this case) is a key focus area for managerial efforts as a means to gain competitive edge. Back to football, a similitude to our current "crisis" was the last part of Mourinho’s tenure at Madrid; amazing what replacing "the special one" has done for Madrid’s fortunes since....all systemic in the end.
Kevin Tully
49 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:40:30
Harold - read this entire thread, there may be one post questioning the players attitude. The rest all squarely blame the manager.
Brent Stephens
50 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:47:11
But Kevin, read the other threads as well.
Rick Tarleton
51 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:41:43
Absolutely agree with post 7 (James Kirrane) about our use of Lukaku. The lad has pace and power, but is not great with his back to the goal or at working the ball in from the wider positions. It amazes me that you can pay £28 million for a player without being aware of his strengths and weaknesses. It also amazes me that you can refuse to set the team up to accommodate his strengths. Similarly Barkley is playing a different position every week. Does Martinez have any idea of his best team and how to make the most of some very talented players.
As for his ignoring of Besic and Oviedo, the man’s a mystery in his thinking.
Paul Tran
52 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:45:12
Kevin, you’re spot-on. These players can play, they can pass a ball. They spent most of last season doing it rather well.

The problem is that they’re out of step with the manager. Nothing will change here until Martinez gets the players onside, Kenwright sacks Martinez, the players change Martinez’s mind like the England players did in 1990, or the players go to Kenwright and say us or him.

You can talk about tiki taka and systems till you’re blue in the face, the first thing you need is manager and players working for each other.

Jay Wood
53 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:49:06
@ Kevin Tully (and others!), you’ve been a staunch supporter of RM, so I get you are reluctant to make him solely responsible for what is happening at EFC right now. To do so is, in a way, an admission by you that you were wrong about your absolute faith in him.

That said, some posts and posters in recent days seemingly deflect attention from his performance to that of the players, referees and our PL history.

We were NOT mugged by the ref in our last 2 games as some claim. Yes, we had pivotal decisions go against us. Single incidents over 90 minutes (105 minutes against Stoke!) should not determine the entire game.

Some say players’ fitness is NOT the issue. Well, yes, it’s not the SINGLE issue, but it is AN issue. The stats confirm what we can all see. If the league was based on 1st half time score lines, we would be third in the league. In most games the players are blowing out of their arses around the 60-70 minute mark. We don’t last the 90 minutes well, which is in contrast to last season when we were scoring for fun in the last 10 minutes of many games.

It’s also on record, from Bob’s own mouth after pre-season last year, that he did more ball work with the players than bare physical exercise. Such was the nature of the ball work exercises, the players were surprised and delighted that they attained the same physical levels that they achieved under the more rigorous physical exercise regime they were familiar with under Moyes. It served us well last season.

So, did he apply the same pre-season training this year? Did intensity drop off? Was it all "bitty" because of his own absence and that of players returning late from the World Cup? Whatever it is, fitness wise we’ve looked undercooked all season.

Nor do I accept a now oft repeated claim that the players are not skilled enough to adapt to Bob’s style of football. That is nonsensical! To quote RM (again!) himself, a month or two into last season he spoke about how at Swansea it took the players more than half a season to adjust to his "football philosophy" at Wigan they took even longer, but at Everton they players adjusted within the first month!

So claims that the players aren’t good enough simply doesn’t stand up for me. We have essentially the same squad as last year which thoroughly excited and entertained us, playing Martinez’s preferred system. We achieved our record PL points haul, scored goals for fun and maintained our mean defence. It is fair to conclude from that that the current crop of players are MORE than capable of adapting to Martinez’s system and that he was effective in transmitting his methods and implementing them.

Let’s take that a step further. If some still wish to argue that the current squad are not capable of playing the Martinez Way then – why is the manager persisting in imposing on his players a style and method of play (some claim) they are not capable of producing? It’s a recipe for the disaster that is unfolding.

From all we know of Martinez he is clearly a serious student of the game. He must have studied different systems, strategies and training methods. If, as seems the case, last year’s impressive and successful system has been "found out" then it is his duty, his responsibility, to find alternative ways for the players under his charge to win games. And he is patently failing to do so.

Some pick out Lukaku and Barkley and say they have been found wanting. Hmmm... now I don’t have my coaching badges, but I don’t need them to see we are not playing to Lukaku’s strengths and Barkley is not being played in his most effective position. Indeed, one of the charges frequently levelled at Moyes was his tendency to play square pegs in round holes. RM has taken that to another level this season.

Tell me, can any one say in all confidence in the last 3 defeats who was meant to be playing where of the starting attack and midfield? Cos I certainly can’t...

Our most recent win in 7 games was against QPR. Again, it wasn’t a great performance, but the most effective players on the park were Barkley and Besic. RM himself acknowledged that in his press conference before the Southampton game:

"We saw against QPR he (Ross) is getting ready to play different positions in the side. The most impressive aspect of the way he took his goal was the way he got into that position. Not many players have the power, pace and ball control and the ability to get into those positions. I think that suits Ross really well.

"There are certain players the shorter the distance they have to cover to have an influence on the game the better, Ross is different. The more distance he has to cover the more effective he is."

Read that last paragraph again, then ask .... sooooooo Roberto .... by your own words, why neuter Ross’s effectiveness by starting him further upfield out on the flank, rather than deeper and central where "he is more effective"...?

Since the QPR game RM hasn’t paired Ross and Mo together in the same position that they were so effective in that win. Is that good management? Is that making the most of the resources available to you? What we had instead was the return of a clearly still unfit McCarthy who has failed to complete the 2 games he started since his return. I’m betting he has aggravated his injury and won’t be available for the Hull game.

Not only is RM badly getting the starting line-up and tactics wrong, he now seems incapable of making the inspired substitutions and tweaking the tactics which resulted in goals and victories last season.

Look at the league table folks! I’m an optimist. I look up, rather than down. But looking up we are now 4 points adrift of Stoke above us. We are equal on points with Sunderland and Villa, just 3 points clear of QPR, 4 points above WBA and 5 points above Hull, Palace and Burnley. What have all these teams in common? They have all been touted as possible relegation candidates.

To close, me and a couple of mates each season have a wee competition between us. We predict the finishing positions of the 20 PL clubs. In making my predictions for the lower end I concentrate on teams with the worst defences as they are invariably the ones to get relegated.

Right now, only QPR has conceded more goals than Everton! We have a fragile and porous defence, the ball is ponderously and ineffectively recycled, Baines and Coleman have been neutered, there is no pace in the team or the methods applied and we don’t last the pace of games well. It is the remit of the manager to shore this up and to start getting points on the board.

We need to wake up - and fast! - before we get even deeper in the doh-dah!

Dave Abrahams
54 Posted 29/12/2014 at 14:57:19
Brent Stephens(30),I agree with you, I could not care less about the Europa Cup now, or before to be honest, the most important thing now is that we stay in the Premiership.

I’m not turning my back on Roberto, even though he is making it harder and harder to understand the refusal to alter his methods, I just want him to try something different and understand that we are in serious trouble.

I have always loved the FA Cup but I would honestly sacrifice that this season if it means safety in the league, that’s how bad our situation is now, at least to me it is.

Michael Kenrick
56 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:04:06
Kevin (#41 ): "Not one post on any thread seems to question their effort." — That’s simply not true.

Read the other threads again... Barry, Barkley, McGeady and others getting a pasting, justifiably too.

Ant Summers
57 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:10:41
Until everyone realizes that GARATH BARRY is being carried and he is NOT a premier league midfielder anymore...he is DEVOID of pace, his pass accuracy going forward is painful, thats why he chooses to go sidewards or back. Ask yourself why he gets booked so often...his timing has now gone in the tackle, drop him and drop him quick, as for him being captain...REALLY?
Peter Laing
58 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:20:59
If the rumours are true regarding Oviedo I expect that us one of the reasons that Mirallas is considering his options given that they are best of mates.
Paul Andrews
59 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:21:46

Two names that should not be considered at the moment: Barry and Distin.(injuries permitting in Distin’s case). Their legs have gone.

I have been saying for a few months now we should play 4-3-3. Barkley, Besic and McCarthy in a narrow midfield 3 would make us more solid in an area we have been vulnerable in, plenty of pace and mobility. An added bonus,it would allow the full backs to play to their strengths by attacking without leaving big gaps.

3 Forwards: Lukaku, Kone and Mirallas interchanging positions.

And please,a simple tactic of nullifying 3-4 of the opposition players. Vary our options,we have 3 or 4 players pushing up on our back 4 every game as they know the way we will set up.

For the first 15-20 minutes knock the long diagonals,and balls to make the opposition back four turn.The 3 forwards above have the pace to get on the end of them. Upsets the opposition game plan and makes them reassess straight away.

Not rocket science.

Phil Walling
60 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:33:30
What are all these unspecified rumours about Oviedo. Is he the next manager or something?
Dave Lynch
61 Posted 29/12/2014 at 18:11:25
He’s had a major bust up with El Genius Phil.

Rumours are he will not play for us again.

Tony Abrahams
62 Posted 29/12/2014 at 17:43:16
Martinez, has done very little right this season and is responsible for our downfall at the minute. Don’t believe he doesn’t know much about football, because if he doesn’t, what exactly were the players buying into last year?

I think he has concentrated to much on Europe, and has refused to play a settled side, so the team hasn’t gained any momentum up to date. Always thinking ahead, "because he’s planned for a long season", has caught up with him way to soon. It’s alright seeing games out in March, if you are fighting on all fronts, but to do it so early in the season has backfired massively.

Nothing wrong with buying Lukaku, if he believed in him. But by trying to change the lad’s game, it looks like he’s destroying him to me. I don’t think we have been found out because we haven’t really played the same system as we did last year. The constant chopping and changing, and playing central players out wide has been the biggest problem to me, on top of not replacing the central defenders and goalkeeper as well.

From the very first game at Leicester we have struggled with any kind of high ball, which is not good enough defensively at any level. Corners have also been ridiculous, and even if you don’t really work on them, how we don’t put even our littlest player on the front post is totally bemusing. I think getting booed when winning has destroyed all confidence, but patience had been wearing thin for quite a while, with the way the team had been playing so negatively. Only a change in style will result in getting the fans back onside now, and it’s got to be done quickly before it’s too late.

Steavey Buckley
63 Posted 29/12/2014 at 18:18:12
"He’s had a major bust up with El Genius Phil." If that is true, there would be no misunderstanding, because both, RM and Oviedo, speak Spanish perfectly.
Wayne Smyth
64 Posted 29/12/2014 at 18:17:57
Dave(39) - The manager doesn’t have any tactical acumen? Really? It mustn’t take a great fucking deal of ability to get a team finishing 5th place in one of the hardest leagues in the world, in that case.

What I think is more the problem is that our team looks unbalanced. We have no quality on the wings and so we’re playing most of this season with square pegs in round holes.

The same happened under Moyes at times. It would occasionally click when Donovan came over, or Mirallas and Pienaar played well.

It is the lack of quality in wide areas that has affected results and now it’s clear the team has no confidence. Many of them are in their early 20’s and there is a lack of leadership(Besic and Eto’o seem to be the only real leaders/winners in our entire squad). Getting booed continually at home won’t be helping, either.

All teams go through shit patches of form. This season the RS, Man Utd, Newcastle and other teams I’m sure. All have been through really shitty streaks when their form has dipped through one reason or other. We are no different.

Clive Mitchell
65 Posted 29/12/2014 at 18:50:51
Have read this thread. The comment that stuck out was Lee 23 "There is a complete lack of passion and will amongst this current squad." Which players are ’not guilty’ - on the evidence of this season? Naismith, Barkley, Besic, Hibbert for me. But actually I think the problem is we’re easy to play against, and that’s because the players we have find it difficult to do what the manager wants.

So either the manager changes the approach to one the players can more easily deliver, or we need to change the manager.

James Flynn
66 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:10:39
Where did this Oveido-Martiniez "bust-up" thing start? I saw it appear in here a few days ago and can’t think of any reason for it.

Did someone float it on twitter or something? Sounds like someone pissed at how the play has been going and just made up some shit aimed at Roberto (As if there’s not enough real thing to worry about).

The guy’s had a double leg break and another surgery on the same part of the leg. I have no problem accepting he’s not fully recovered and fit. But a "bust-up" with the manager? Can’t think of why. The kid’s played well when out there and Roberto praises him every chance he gets and always has.

And not only a bust-up, but also he won’t play for us again? Huh?

Dave Lynch
67 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:20:41

Your 2nd paragraph backs up the fact that he has no "tactical acumen".

If he did he would find a way round this problem instead of playing "square pegs in round holes".

The man has 1 plan and 1 plan only, it’s been sussed out and he’s at a loss what to do next. There are more ways to play effective football than relying on wide men.

Dave Lynch
68 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:30:36
Think it was Colin Glasser ( apologies if I’m wrong Colin ).

He heard it from his man inside james.

Kunal Desai
69 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:38:53
Sky and talkshite giving Everton airtime about what’s going wrong. Very surprising. Take note, Martinez. People are actually giving sounds advice. Stop being arrogant and start taking notice of what people are saying about your current side and its tactics!
Colin Glassar
70 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:41:46
Yes, it was me James/Dave. And I don’t take a word back. Oviedo is upset after he was told he’s 3rd choice at LB. Physically he’s fine and he’s raring to go. I hope he stays.
James Flynn
71 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:44:56
Thanks Dave and Colin.

Fair enough. I can see a player, who’s played well when called upon, being upset when told he’s 3rd choice. Hope he stays, too.

Phil Walling
72 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:31:13
Focussing on the immediate future and the Hull game, do you think Roberto will continue with ’the Baines experiment’ or revert to a more conventional line up ?

I suspect both Garbutt and Kone will be benched in the cause of rotation and that Hibbert will return as a starter.

John Keating
73 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:48:27
I think we have to stop talking of playing like we did last season and go back to basics
We have to concentrate on defence and play a 4 1 4 1. Bollocks to attack, let’s get some bore nil-nil draws under our belt and some points on the board

I’m not really interested in faster balls through midfield or any of that shite, I’d sooner keep everything tight.

We are so open at times it’s unbelievable. Mind you we can come up with all sorts of permutations but I doubt Martinez will change his shite tactics. We are becoming a laughing stock and an easy pushover.

Lyndon Lloyd
74 Posted 29/12/2014 at 20:03:13
Phil (72), I think he should continue with Baines further forward but in a more defined wide because he was our best player at times yesterday.

He can cut inside when needed but I felt he roamed too much against Newcastle which affected our shape. With Pienaar seemingly unable to complete 90 effective minutes these days, I’d like to see Baines played in his (Pienaar’s) old role with Garbutt behind him and Mirallas on the right.

Darren Hind
75 Posted 29/12/2014 at 19:34:59
Kevin Tully #41

How many posthave you ever read giving the players the credit for the recordpoints hall last season
To read some of the postson here, you'd think Martinez had done it single handed.

Martinez was very fortunate last season. He inherited a very well drilled defence who had clearly learned their collective and individual duties to the point of almost being able to do it blindfold.

Martinez has simply missed the blindingly obvious. He hasnt yet realised that with the possible exceptions of Barry ( legs shot ) Pienaar ( legs gone) and Ossie ( never had any legs ) he does not have a footballing brain in his entire squad.

David Moyes left him with a group of soldiers, they were / are fantastic proffessionals, but they need to be told what is required of them and drilled in order to get the best out of them.

They are what they are. Without the three " natural footballers " we are left with a few skillful, but naive, players, a few old fashioned defenders who are better without the ball than they are with it, and a couple of workhorses. . . . but have you ever seen a team so bereft of purpose?

They are soldiers, very good ones, but in the absence of a captain on the pitch we need a general off it.

We need to get back to basics, when we start doing the simple things correctly our results will improve

Colin Glassar
76 Posted 29/12/2014 at 20:12:16
I’d stick with Bainsey in MF and leave Garbutt at LB. If Stones and Jags aren’t fit I’d put Alcaraz and Barry at CB as Distin shouldn’t start another game. If McCarthy is out Besic should start in MF with Barkley.


Paul Hewitt
77 Posted 29/12/2014 at 20:23:43
Barry at CB the guy can't tackle.
Colin Glassar
78 Posted 29/12/2014 at 20:26:00
Doesn't have to Paul, but he's comfortable on the ball, like Alcaraz, but unlike poor old Distin who looks like he's going to have a heart attack every time he's on the ball.
Andy Crooks
79 Posted 29/12/2014 at 21:05:43
Wayne # 64, I have respected your support of Martinez this season and have often agreed with it. However, what are your thoughts on his tactical acumen against Southampton? For me it was the final straw.
Darren Hind
80 Posted 29/12/2014 at 22:15:59
So Oviedo has been told he's "3rd choice at LB"???

Dear me, you couldn't make this shit up... On second thoughts you obviously could.

What sort of fuckwit would piss a player off with such a statement?

Colin Glassar
81 Posted 29/12/2014 at 22:36:21
So where is he Darren? Please enlighten us. He was an unused sub yesterday. He wasn't even in the last 2-3 squads. He's played well in the two games (Sunderland, Wolfsburg) when given a chance but was instantly dropped.

I really hope I've been told a whopper because I really like Bryan.

Paul Andrews
82 Posted 29/12/2014 at 22:59:05
David Moyes?

When he told the national press Baines was the second best English left back ?

Colin Glassar
84 Posted 29/12/2014 at 23:02:23
When Martinez said Ross was the best young player in England his form dropped. When Koeman said Southampton could get 4th their form dropped. And there are many more examples where managers open their big gobs and put their foot in it and confidence suffers.
Paul Andrews
85 Posted 29/12/2014 at 23:09:33
The team is without a doubt going through a crisis in confidence.
It will not help the players if the crowd turn against them.
It is our job as supporters to support.
Not whinge and moan

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