From the fence

If it’s improbable then with Everton it’s likely. If Newton or Einstein were producing a lecture then Everton would be the one at the back heckling them and vouching to prove otherwise.

Maybe it’s a bit melodramatic and our performance is gauged not against our peers but against our own expectations, aspirations and fear.

Which poses the question: how good should Everton be? I won’t even get near answering that in the few paragraphs of drivel about to follow so rest easy.

It’s a season where things just aren’t going our way but before I bemoan luck in a counting how many times we’ve hit the post and alternative league table based on par, a chunk of it is our own doing.

There is a very unhappy fanbase and it’s not limited to a vocal minority facilitating a very fractured set of Evertonians with the odd bunch in the middle swerving the debate because they don’t want to pick a polarised side, or maybe because they can’t make their minds up either.

Goodison is not a happy place to be right now and that sense of anxiety and under the surface frustration cascades it’s way down to the pitch. When you see four wins in the the league in ten months of home games then you can understand the frustration of coming out of the ground each week thinking that Everton have short changed you a bit. They piss me right off truth be told.

It is a bit different to days of gone by because of primarily the internet. If you wanted to shout your opinion loud and clear in days of yore then you had to write in a letter to a kopite benefits cheat in a local paper who would give you a bounce ball at best, or stand on a table with a megaphone with one of the pubs surrounding Goodison after the game. Either way you’d look a tit even if you had an astute point.

Now everyone has got access to an opinion but sadly the dynamics of that means that it’s those with the most honed debating skills or access to staunch collaborators that usually prevail, rather than the person who is most likely correct in their stance.

Let’s start with a fact. We stand little to gain by changing manager now.  We’re not endangered by relegation which along with gross misconduct in office would be the only two reasons to jib off our Manager during the season, the best time to appoint managers is in the summer when there’s movement from those worth considering.

The season has been a general disappointment so far – it isn’t over yet – but that’s seemingly two consecutive seasons that has panned out this way which leads to the angst. The accelerant in the unrest is that there’s a clearly talented squad of players at our disposal, but to counter that you could same the same for at least a dozen of the teams in the Premier League as it’s wealth and status attracts the best players in the world. We’re not the only ones pondering a supposed golden generation but I’ll lose my very mind if we don’t start gubbing these crapper teams sometime soon. 

One thing which needs to be on the Everton manager’s CV is their ability to pick a player to develop and grow into a better player than how much we paid, or ultimately to sell for a big profit. Martinez ticks this box with his signings so far and also the willingness of good young players to want to come and work him with a view to developing. The counter side of that is while he can pick a good player he is found wanting in how to use them too often for our liking.

The game of Saturday was the tenth recent tipping point in general online uproar but a neutral watching that game would have been shaking their head as how we lost it. Contrary to some opinions it wasn’t a carbon copy of loads of other games we’ve dipped in this season as we pummelled West Brom in territory and shots, if Everton walked away with a 4-0 win no one would have blinked an eye. For the most part we witnessed an Everton team playing with verve and confidence but without the goals to show for their performance, and the customary one shot on target from West Brom was all it needed for their three points. There’s plenty of other games to criticise Martinez’s approach for, this was one of the lesser cases.

What about the subs? Again there’s a whole list of expert advice online. Taking Lennon off was met with boos but Lennon did not influence the game at all in the second half, as good as he was in the first half. Kone coming on was never going to be popular and me personally I’d have preferred Pienaar or Mirallas but hindsight is a wonderful beast. On Kone though it really doesn’t help when you see the confidence drain out of our players due to the shouts hurled to one of our players on the pitch.

Another shout was to take a defensive midfielder off and put a more attacking player on. Which sounds like an idea but if you watch the game back there was multiple times where West Brom broke with pace and that extra defensive midfielder helped our attacking players and our full backs push up. It wasn’t a bringing Hibbert on against Spurs moment, far from it.

Patience is a not a virtue for the modern fan brought up on a winning Champions League titles on Football Manager and FIFA, or with a paid for subscription of  Andy Gray and laterly Gary Neville analysing every delicate movement on a football pitch. It’s not a criticism either as there’s many enjoyable things to read from the heightened awareness by the average fan, for example the sadly defunct Executioners Bong articles for our own set of fans, or the worth a read Everton Musings regular stuff on twitter. For someone who is genuinely dumb to the tactics of the game it’s appreciated. Blatant shout there like. 

Anyway this, with justification, it may sound like an impassioned Martinez defence but it’s not aimed as that. I like you support Everton so whoever brings that success has my backing and as quick as we can find them. It’s just a shame that it’s difficult in many places to have reasoned online Everton exchanges of opinion without one of two very polarised sides trying to either recruit or destroy you. It’s at odds with (mostly) reasoned debate that you find in the company of other blues in the flesh.

Nothing will be resolved now but in the remainder of this season it’s show or tell for an Everton side poised to either do something sound or risk potential break up as richer clubs with Champions League music playing before their games entice our better players with promises of riches and status.

I fear it’s too late for the manager when you see the complete swell of negativity that follows any sort of adverse result. Many are entrenched in their opinion that he’s not up to the role. He’s paid enough in a high profile job to accept that so I doubt he’ll have little qualms, he’s married a Scottish girl so he will be well acquainted with occasional bursts of abuse. 

To complicate matters further it’s highly likely that in our very near future one Roberto Martinez is going to have new paymasters, although this perversely may bide him more time as any owners are likely to assess the talent they have before identifying the areas that need improving.

So as I stumble all over the place without making any sort of point I return to the question I asked at the beginning about how good should Everton be? Put simply, better than this at least.  And that’s the objective for the rest of the season, no hard luck stories, no referee screwing us over, no developing our potential while dipping in a tragic manner – it’s time to put some results on the table and give solid reasons for those young players leading this team to stick rather than twist.

Martinez will also need some commitment from the fans to where this may be heading, the Goodison crowd is pragmatic but realistic. It’s a force worth harnessing if you’re planning on winning more games on home soil.  

We end where we started with Einstein, who commented “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”. As much as I’d love Everton to do their customary debunking, we could do with some change. Be that players picked, application on the pitch, way of playing and – particularly – the results. Lest that change be the Manager in time to come. 

Newton did say however “If I have done the public any service, it is due to my patient thought.”. 

There’s a lesson somewhere in there for us all from the original School Of Science.

Whatever side of the fence you’re on.

Over to you Everton.

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