With Everton struggling in the Premier League this season and Roberto Martinez under increasing pressure at Goodison Park, I put a number of questions to Evertonians to gauge their views on the current state of affairs at the Club.
Here’s what a couple of Blues had to say on the questions posed – Steve Rich and Luke Jeffers.
Everton have now slipped to 13th in the League Table, just how concerned are you about our form and do you think we will (or already are) end up in a relegation battle?
SR – I’m very concerned. It’s not just losing, it’s losing badly. It’s not just injuries, bad decisions and bad luck anymore. If the rot doesn’t stop in the next five games it will turn into a relegation battle.
LJ – I am very concerned by our current form and without sounding too cliché, we have no fight, there is the same mistakes, no energy, no spark and players are willing to rollover and die, I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination we are in a relegation battle but I can see us finishing mid-lower mid table, we may cut it fine but we do have more than enough quality to not be worrying about relegation.
What do you think have been the main reasons for our decline this season?
SR – I think we started badly and as we saw in many seasons under Moyes, if you start badly it’s hard to get out of it. The 2 goal surrender against Arsenal was really troubling at the time because the players looked knackered after 70 minutes in the second game of the season. Then to concede 6 in the next game…..defensive confidence was in tatters by then, and we haven’t really recovered from that. I do think so many injuries to key players has to be a big reason though. There’s no getting away from that. They’ve been rushed back from injury because of poor results but most of them clearly haven’t been ready. I think that may be why we’ve seen the club doctor guy leave. There’s been an internal problem there somewhere.
LJ – Reasons for decline, the tactics have been found out, a common criticism of Arsene Wenger is his refusal to adapt and change this can clearly be applied to Martinez, when Martinez first arrived I was very concerned with how our defence would be, we obviously carry a lot more quality than the Wigan side Martinez left but a lot of their goals came from individual errors, dawdling on the ball and slow play from the back, I thought I was proved wrong last season but my original concerns have come to life now, if you look back to 2012/2013 Wigan played Tottenham and due to a dodgy back pass from a defender and an even worse attempt of clearing the ball by our beloved Joel Robles it rebounded off Gareth Bale into the net, that always stuck out to me, we are very predictable, it’s like watching the same game week in and week out, Alcaraz received the first red card of our season and that to me is frightening, we’ve lost 9 games I believe in our league campaign we should have players flying in left right and centre to win every ball, we should have had a few sent off, wrong players being dropped at times in my opinion Lukaku, he hasn’t had any service or anything played to his strengths, Martinez almost wants him to be a false 9 and not have a position and drift around to suck defenders out.
Roberto Martinez: what are your views on the Spaniard, his playing style, and do you believe he has to take the brunt of the blame?
SR – He has to take some blame. I think he’s been too loyal to some veteran players who have consistently put in one shocking performance after another and he’s been too slow to change things. I’m a big believer in his footballing philosophy though, I believe it’s only with this philosophy (possession/passing/controlling the game) that Everton can think about competing for trophies again. But this type of football needs to be played at a quicker pace. The passing has been far too slow and languid and predictable (and boring), which makes it easy to defend against.
With any style you must have pace in football. Pace in passing (one/two touch, not three/four), and pace with players running at the opposition, which defenders hate as it’s hard to defend against and opens up space.
In my opinion the best goal we’ve scored this season was the equaliser at Old Trafford. Baines played a quick decisive ball to the edge of the box, got a quick return, then sent in a fantastic cross which Naismith headed home. Quick, incisive passing, great ball in, begging to be attacked. The reason it stands out is because there’s been so little of it. There was another great team goal (at Burnley I think) but again nowhere near enough of it.
LJ – Martinez’s style of play was exhilarating last season, the pace and flair has went, endless passing, I’m just rather puzzled to be honest at times, lost for words what’s happened.
Can Martinez turn things around and do you think he should be given the time to?
SR – Yes. It’s been an awful first half of the season (domestically) but he needs time to sort things out and he deserves time after last season. I think we’ll start to see a lot of changes now.
LJ – As above.
What needs to change if we are to see an upturn in fortunes this campaign?
SR – The players have to stand up and fight. If you play hard, you’ll probably play well, and if you play well you’ll probably win. It’s all about confidence and gaining a bit of momentum because the quality is there. A couple of good hard-fought wins on the spin will change the mindset the players currently have and can’t seem to get out of. The Goodison crowd will react to moments of hard work and fight when they see it, which will encourage the players. Never seen confidence so low.
LJ – We need fight and desire, we have no leaders, our heads drop and we give in far to easily you don’t see any aggression or desire when we’re getting beat, only when we’re winning, from what I’ve heard Duncan Ferguson isn’t allowed by Martinez to lose his cool with the players and Martinez doesn’t allow him to talk to the players after big defeats.
Which Everton players have disappointed you most and who would you like to see depart Goodison Park?
SR – Gareth Barry – mostly because he was outstanding last season, too slow, too many crucial errors. McGeady – does ten bad things before he does one good thing. Pienaar looks finished to me. Distin looks finished too, too many errors, plus he’s not a good enough footballer to play in this system. Tim Howard – far too many mistakes and goals where he could’ve done better. Atsu – just hasn’t looked like he can give the side any kind of lift.
LJ – Lukaku has disappointed but not to the extent he’s being slated for like, Baines, Coleman, Distin all been very poor, Gareth Barry absolutely dismal, Pienaar woeful, McGeady I don’t even want to comment on. I wouldn’t like to see anyone depart as we have no cover but if we had definite cover I’d love to see Distin, Joel, Barry, Alcaraz, McGeady, Pienaar and Osman go.
With the January transfer window now open, how confident are you that the Club will be signing any reinforcements this month?
SR – January is a very difficult time to get good players in. Maybe a couple of loans. I can’t see the club buying anybody.
LJ – As below.
If so, what areas of the squad would you improve?
SR – Experienced solid goalkeeper who inspires confidence. A quick strong centre half with good feet. A winger with real pace and threat.
LJ – Defence all over, goalkeeper, back up for centre of the park, few actual wingers and we’d be sweet.
Overall what is your take on the financial situation at Everton FC?
SR – No idea. To spend 28m on one player shocked me. I hope that isn’t the last time we see that for a while but I fear it might be.
LJ – What financial situation? We’ve saved our entire history to spend this last August no chance we’re ever spending again.
Do you believe there is any positives to take from the current season?
SR – The team have been outstanding in Europe. Kone looks like a player that can challenge Lukaku. Naismith has shown himself as a real link up player as well as a good finisher. Eto’o has bossed a couple of games in the number 10 role. Besic shows fight and promise.
LJ – No positives to take really.
Where do you predict we will finish in the Premier and Europa League?
SR – 12th in the league. I think we’ll get to the quarter finals in Europe.
LJ – Europa league I think semi’s, teams haven’t sussed us in that and we actual counter in the Europa. Prem we’re gonna be anywhere from 9th-13Th.
Big thanks to the lads for taking the time to answer.