From the fence

Not that now is a particularly good time to talk about Everton more than we usually would but there’s been a lot of chatter about Everton on the back of yesterday’s defeat to Leicester.

We seen once more the unwanted bedfellows of the current Everton being failing to capitalise on sustained pressure, cheap defending and distinct lack of killer touch.

Clearly there’s a good Everton team not too far beneath the surface but there’s a certain something missing even if it’s hard to put your finger on it. 

Everyone has their view on it and increasingly those views are polarised into two camps, that’s sadly just how modern togger works. Of course there’s validity to pretty much everyone’s views as football is open to analysis and interpretation – that whole process is part of the appeal of it. It’s a good thing to pick the bones out and gossip/argue about it with your mates and foes.  

A post Leicester game poll on this site’s forum has a slight majority on wanting Roberto Martinez fired from his role as Everton manager.

Obviously there’s the usual post match angst with many furious their weekend isn’t going to be as pleasant as they planned but the numbers polled are a couple of hundred, so it’s a decent amount of opinion there.

So why, after suffering our first defeat in two months and with a semi final to look forward to, are so many vehemently against Roberto Martinez? That’s not a particularly  easy question to answer.

A key component of the the current mood is a massive sense of missed opportunity and that is powering a lot of the frustration. It’s one of the most open leagues in memory and more so because the money in the game had turned it into something of a closed shop for the best part of two decades.

Indicative of this are the league leaders at Christmas who visited Goodison yesterday and came away with the three points. The problem sticking in a lot of Evertonian throats is that Leicester were not particularly better than Everton but the latter contrived to gift up the game to them, and credit to them they didn’t need a second invitation.

Cheap goading apart good luck to Leicester, it’s good to see a team genuinely hungry and playing hard for each other and their manager. I’m hoping it’s some form of saturation point where the rich clubs sign very expensive players on ridiculous contracts and that very wealth depletes their hunger and fuels an ego that is counter productive to success. I fear that may be the socialist in me wishfully thinking and normal service will resume shortly. The longer Leicester remain at the top the more enjoyable the twitching from those who prefer the usual favourites being there. 

Either way it’s that missed opportunity which is causing so much of the angst, even a little bit of jealousy perhaps that “it’s them and not us”.

Evertonians have always been particularly sensitive to their teams having the stomach for a fight and that may be one of the missing ingredients about the squad right now. It’s hard to quantify that particular attribute but right now it’s hard to accurately quantify if this Everton team really are good or not.

There’s few games you walk away from where you don’t think that Everton should have won the game yet we are at Christmas with just 5 league wins all season, and 11 league wins for the calendar year. For all the talk of the talented young squad brimming with game winners the stats don’t back it up particularly too well. There’s continual occurences of hard luck stories all the time while we’re dropping important points with it.

Quite often you’ll find Evertonians looking to the past to the try to make sense of the present and the future. That Kevin Brock moment is very unlikely to be repeated as it’s different times now but there are parallels to be drawn with the talented but naive young team we had twenty two years ago. Where’s Andy Gray when you need him?

There is a good team trying to break out of there as proved in some of the best football displays we’ve seen from Everton in quite some time this season, albeit seldom for a full game and certainly without the deserved results to match it. Or maybe this highlights we’re not as good as I think? It’s common to over rate those you love the most.

Given the chance to find some results and consistency to kick on will be key in the remainder of the season, failure to do so could cause a relative exodus of that aforementioned young talent with modern players being in the driving seat to cite having to move for their supposed ambition, seduced by the Champions League and a few more thousand followers to their Instagrams.

It’s primarily this reason why there is frustration and impatience amongst many, failure to make it count this season is seen as the foreboding of it all falling apart. I don’t subscribe to that particularly but I understand the urgency felt by others.

It’s in complete contrast to the last tangible success we had which rather sadly is classed as finishing fourth in 2005 – nil satis I don’t hear you cry. Problem was that the team then was punching above it’s weight and with it’s key players being at an age where they were unlikely to develop further in terms of quality, therefore unless we bought in the missing talent then we were unlikely to make that step up. Villarreal got to us first. Buying Van Der Meyde, Kroldrup, Simon Davies and Beattie a little later on wasn’t the smartest moves either.

For Martinez himself it’s the most vital period of his Everton career coming up. The post Christmas fixtures will ask some questions before we hit a January period where we play some of the strongest teams in the league, and two semi finals on top of that to Manchester City. In amongst all that are two FA Cup ties which could be our last attempt to shoot for silverware or suffer one more year on a unwanted record as the clock would tick to 22 years. Maybe that’s also too driving the impatience, it’s far too long a period of time in Everton terms.

This season is the third season of Martinez’s reign and at the end of it will be plenty of judgement by many as three years in the Premier League is considered a good chunk of time to impose your will on a squad of players and the club itself. We would stand to not gain a lot by parting ways with the Manager right now as the best replacements are rarely available in the middle of the season and the unstability would likely be detriment to keeping the good young players we have, who have been developed by that same manager himself.

Personally I think it’s a bit premature to be acting like we’re in the middle of crisis right now, we’ve had a stinker of a December and can offer little excuse for not kicking on in a supposedly easier run of games. January will only heave the pressure on but the chop change methods employed by too many in the Premier League only encourage a boom bust cycle which may offer short terms gains but almost always medium and long term damage. There’s many examples to choose but the likes of Aston Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland are testament to continually changing managers. We’ll ignore Ranieri as to not completely devastate my viewpoint. 

I’ve just sat and watched Swansea and West Ham play out a desperate nil nil draw when not so long ago both we’re supposedly on the up and right now one is managerless and the other is feeling pressure on their manager.  It’s just how the Premier League is with the bellend media keen to whip up a frenzy as soon as things don’t start going your way. But what you going to do about it?

The solutions for Everton are not easy ones. Being bought out and given money to invest in the playing staff would be very welcome to Everton in the current status so far it’s not been forthcoming. In the absence of that you have to hope to build something to nip onto the top table and be sustainable enough to maintain a footing in relative success to enable the finances and structure to grow it. An ultra competitive Premier League makes that task difficult but it’s to Martinez’s credit that he’s shaped the club and players to be about developing competitive young talent, the argument to be had is if he is capable of getting the best out of it.

Winning something would take the edge of the impatience and unrest but can you honestly see us toppling Manchester City over two legs? And even then beating probably those of the rocking ambulances in the final? 

So not a lot of conclusions or insight despite a lot of words on the internet but then analysis or insight has never been my thing. What I do believe is away from the knee jerk contingent that there’s a sizeable amount of goodwill in the Everton fanbase given to a Manager where in amongst the usual ups and down you can see tangible progress. It’s show or tell time for that progress to manifest itself in results. 

A lot will be revealed and none more so than in the next six weeks or so. Strap yourself in.

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