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Roberto Martinez' Latest Comments Suggest That The Everton Job Has Finally Broken Him

Roberto Martinez' Latest Comments Suggest That The Everton Job Has Finally Broken Him
By Gavin Cooney Updated

Not even Roberto Martinez could avoid it forever. Everton have beaten just one side outside of the bottom five since September 28 - Stoke - and the mouldy odour of this underachievement has descended upon Goodison Park like a sulphurous fog, tainting all with the unique pessimism of a club who are quickly going nowhere. This conviction of extreme mediocrity seems to have soaked mordantly into all at Everton, and darkened even the eternal optimism of Roberto Martinez.

Martinez strikes you as a man who could find who could find something optimistic in the biblical punishments of the Old Testament: 'well, locusts need to eat something, after all'. Sadly, these last few months at Everton seem to have broken the man's hitherto unflinching positivity. A 3-1 defeat to a Leicester City side who had essentially been on the piss for a week was the latest indictment of Martinez' reign at Everton. It was such a gutless performance that Martinez ceded afterwards that there were no positives, when asked by the Liverpool Echo, Martinez replied "no, none at all". Martinez then went further, committing the cardinal management sin in publicly criticising his players:

A young player who could maybe have been caught by the occasion was Matty Pennington and he was the only player who played with intent, with meaning and desire and it is a shame no one else on the pitch could match that focus.

A parting of the ways looks inevitable in the summer, so where did it all go wrong? Consider these remarkable figures: since the opening day of last season, Everton have won just 23 of a possible 75 league games, a stupefying level of underachievement for a side featuring the talents of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, James McCarthy and John Stones. Despite semi-finals in both cups, Everton's home form has been abysmal, winning just five games and losing eight.

Everton have developed a disastrous proclivity for throwing away leads: Since Martinez took over in 2013, Everton have dropped 49points from winning positions. The most damning of these was away to Bournemouth in November: a Ross Barkley goal in the 95th minute seemed to have gifted Everton a 3-2 win, only for the Blues to then concede two minutes later in the final minute.

It is an extraordinary decline from Martinez' opening season, where a perception reigned that he had finally allowed David Moyes adamantine squad off the leash, finishing fifth having won 21 games and accruing 72 points.At the time, Martinez' arrival blasted cold air at a side who had grown dormant under David Moyes, encapsulated by Martinez' thrusting of Ross Barkley into the limelight, whereas Moyes had kept him in the shadows.

Sine then, however, the defence has collapsed, as Martinez has remained wedded to his principles and idealism to the detriment of results. He has resembled Leonardo di Caprio in Inception, seeking refuge in the idealism of his thoughts as reality becomes increasingly unpalatable. Martinez is a fine coach, but consider these comments to Jamie Carragher in the Daily Mail in the aftermath of a pathetic capitulation in the Merseyside Derby:

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We are not going to be a team that is just going to be solid, that keeps a clean sheet and waits for a chance to score. We have been built to take control of the game, to break teams down from open play. That is something I get a real joy from.

He later admitted that results would improve if his style adapted, but Martinez refuses to yield. When asked by Carragher as to why he refuses to change, he replied:

The level of your team will give you a certain level. You will never over-achieve, you will never win silverware. That is a choice. I respect every style.

Here is the problem. Martinez' outlook here is basically saying that 'Everton aren't big enough to win anything, so we might as well as create something beautiful in lieu of silverware". Yet Leicester City are Premier League champions, playing exactly the style of play Martinez refuses to play.

In the same interview Martinez admitted that football is a results business, and increasingly, top-level football seems increasingly incompatible with his idealism. Martinez has stuck by his principles, unlike Brendan Rodgers, for example, who became so befuddled at Liverpool that he could never find a formula to stick to, beginning his reign by bombing out Andy Carroll as he didn't suit his style of play, only to end it by signing Christian Benteke.

Sadly, time is up for Roberto Martinez at Everton. As results have nose-dived, Martinez' commitment to his process and his style increasingly resembles blind, desperate and deluded faith, rather than idealism.

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Roberto Martinez: the man who puts unction in dysfunction.

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