Roberto Martinez undoubtedly had an excellent first season in charge of Everton. The Toffees finished last term in 5th place in the Barclays Premier League, and qualified for the Europa League in the process. This season though, Everton have found things a real struggle – they are finding it hard to juggle their European and Premier League exploits and as a consequence they sit 11th in the table.
Despite comfortably qualifying for the Europa League knockout stages, the Toffees have suffered an inconsistent campaign. Martinez’s side were comfortably beaten 3-0 at Southampton on Saturday, which made it four defeats in six league and cup games. Everton have only won once in that period – a 3-1 home win over Queens Park Rangers last week.
So what seems to be the problem at Goodison Park this term? Many of the Toffees’ fans have criticised Roberto Martinez’s recent tactics. The Everton boss has used strong squads in the Europa League, which has subsequently had an effect on their Premier League exploits. It’s not just the Toffees who have struggled to cope with being in Europe this season, both Tottenham and Liverpool have also found it difficult to juggle European and domestic competitions. But what really seems to stand out, is just how many of Martinez’s senior players have let him down.
The likes of Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Gareth Barry – to name but a few, have been well below par this term. The defeat at St Mary’s on Saturday typified Everton’s recent form. They were poor at the back, and they struggled to cope with Southampton’s pacey strikers. Sylvain Distin, who’s been a great servant to the Merseyside club over the years, has unquestionably struggled to keep up with the pace of the Premier League of late, and has been caught out on numerous occasions. Obviously the injury to young John Stones has played another huge part in Everton’s recent struggles, and the sooner he’s fully fit and back in an Everton shirt, the sooner the Toffees’ can ease their defensive woes.
Roberto Martinez set such high standards last season – that this campaign he was always going to come under scrutiny if things weren’t quite going to plan. But he proved at his time with Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and indeed last year with Everton, just how good a manager he is – and if there’s one man to turn things around at Goodison Park – it’s most definitely the Spaniard.
Everton enter the busy Christmas period with five games over the course of two weeks. The Toffees host Stoke City on Boxing Day, before facing tricky away games at Newcastle United and Burnley respectively. Martinez then prepares his side for the visits of high flyers West Ham United (in the FA Cup) and Manchester City. After those five fixtures, we will have a much clearer picture of how Everton’s season is going to pan out. But they certainly have the players, the support and indeed the manager, to get them out of this current mess, and to start climbing the Premier League table.