Well, it looks like we’ve finally gone into complete meltdown mode and if we’re all honest; it’s been coming for a while. After Martinez’ make-or-break week earlier in the season, which ended with a home defeat to Swansea in the league and a limp exit away to Man City in the league cup, everything has been pretty dire. Now, in the interest of fairness, I should say that the first half performance at the Britannia (handing us our first win of the season against a top-half side) and the FA Cup quarter final against Chelsea are particular bright spots in the memory, yet they provided nothing but short-lived relief from the chronic disappointment that is this season.
Things behind the scenes at the club appear to be very worrying indeed. Rumours of a player mutiny during a recent training session, with captain Phil Jagielka supposedly having lead the players off the field, smack of disharmony between the players and the methods used by the coaching staff. Furthermore, twice this season one of our most respected and seasoned professionals, Leighton Baines, has spoken to the press about his utter disappointment. He called into question the squad’s game management following the capitulation away to Chelsea, and most recently claimed a lack of chemistry is behind the team’s failings. Regardless of how much Roberto tried to backtrack and throw us off the scent during his presser, when a seasoned pro is airing his views to the media about such crucial matters, it becomes evident that the gaffer has lost the dressing room.
Roberto’s press conferences, which should provide fans with an insight into the goings on at the club, are becoming more and more incomprehensible, to the point that it is now difficult to watch them, whilst his excuses for our poor performances are becoming increasingly laughable; his latest excuse being the FA Cup, ironically the only thing that is still keeping him in a job. Not once has Roberto addressed his own failings, but unfortunately that seems to be the fundamental flaw in his management; he appears to be more interested in self-preservation and less interested in doing what is right for the squad and the club as a whole.
With his tenure at breaking point, and a large number of fans so over his bullshit that any attempt to regain their confidence would be futile, discussion has inevitably turned to what we as a fan base can do. There has been much talk across the various social media platforms about staging some form of protest against the current management team, with suggestions ranging from erecting banners, to hiring a plane, to even staging a full-on walkout at Goodison Park. However, there is an issue with these methods; they’ve all been done before. Banners and jeers are typically skimmed over by the media, and ever since the first walkout over ticket prices at Anfield, the novelty of such a protest seems to have worn off; Aston Villa’s walkout garnered almost no coverage whatsoever. It is originality that garners interest.
Any serious media scrutiny over Roberto Martinez’ mismanagement of this Everton squad has, much to the justified chagrin of our supporters, been conspicuously absent. That is why the originality of a protest has become a necessity. Give the media something original to talk about, and it brings the serious issues at the club to the foreground of national media conversation. Enter: The white handkerchief.
The tool of choice in Spanish football, for years utilised to demonstrate supporter disgust at current management. No need for boos that can be misinterpreted and turned into something else during a press conference, no need for banners that can make a fan base appear broken into factions and no need for walkouts that can make players feel at fault; just so simple an action as waving a white handkerchief that when performed by a whole crowd is truly impressively devastating. Last season at the Anoeta (Real Sociedad’s old-school stadium), I witnessed the Basque fans wave their white handkerchiefs alongside the roar of complete and utter disgust from the crowd when Jagoba Arrasate’s time at the club had come to an end in their eyes. It was extraordinary, and that is exactly what we need.
It’s time to give the manager a wake up call. Just imagine being stood on the touchline at Goodison, which is such an intense, impressive and domineering stadium in itself, and seeing waving white handkerchiefs stretching from the Gwladys Street all the way to the Park End. Imagine knowing exactly what it means. Imagine the emotions that it would conjure up. A gesture borrowed from your homeland and used by your supporters to show you’ve gone seriously wrong in your management. That would make the news.