Everton’s worst run of form in a long time has shocked football fans all over the nation. After Roberto Martinez shattered club records last season, leading the Toffee’s to their highest ever points total and a ticket into the Europa League, this term performances have been poor. The blue half of Liverpool sit twelfth in the table, twelve points behind fifth which was their target at the opening of the season.
The problem has become quite clear to Everton fans who are voicing their frustration on social media. The Toffees have become a very predictable side. Martinez loves a possession based style of play and prefers his team to break down opponents slowly rather than hit them on the counter attack. This was incredibly effective last season as opposition struggled to cope with spending large amounts of time without the ball. That hasn’t changed this year but Premier League teams have learnt to get men behind the ball and defend in numbers, then exploit gaps in the Everton defence as wing backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman are caught out of position. Time and time again this has happened this season and Martinez is struggling to deal with it.
What the Spaniard needs is a “Plan B”. However, this is easier said than done. Martinez has spent the last season and a half teaching the current group of players how to play possession football and after mastering that it is hard to break free from it. It is unnatural for Everton to close down and work for long spells without possession and fans cannot expect Martinez to start trying a new style of football at the click of a fingers. What needs to happen first are transfers in January.
As previously mentioned, the current squad are set in one playing style. Everton lack dynamic players who can carry the ball up the pitch, turning defence into attack in a matter of seconds. Pace is plentiful with attackers such as Kevin Mirallas, Aiden McGeady and Ross Barkley but there is no distinct creative force or cutting edge in attack. Romelu Lukaku is struggling up front on his own and it is easy to understand why at such a ripe young age. He has to wait long periods for opportunities to come or forge them out himself and at only 21 that is a lot to ask.
Ever since Gerard Deulofeu returned from his loan to Barcelona Everton have lacked a direct option off the bench. The Spaniard came on 16 times for the Toffees last season and proved a real game changer. There is no game changer for Martinez this season and that is why he needs to be busy in the January transfer market. Everton need players who can play to a “Plan B”.
Who are these players? The Liverpool Echo has linked Everton with moves for Goran Pandev and Adnan Januzaj. Both of these players could add this needed impetus into the Everton side. Goran Pandev could fill a target man role if the Toffees need to play long ball. He has fallen out of favour at Galatasaray and at 31 years old his experience in spearheading attacks as a lone striker would be vital if Everton need to defend with their backs to the wall, without possession. On the other hand Adnan Januzaj could fulfill the role that Gerard Deulofeu did last season with dynamic dribbles and a little bit of selfishness that can make the difference in closing stages of games.
Should Martinez complete transfers such as these in January then he will be able to implement a back up style of play. The passing game is too predictable at the moment and some new faces and more direct play could transform Everton’s season.