In April 2014 Everton beat an Arsenal side 3-0 in an astounding attacking display. Martinez was being touted to replace his opposite number at Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger, and the sky was the limit for a young Everton side brimming with potential.
Just as they had for most of the previous decade, Everton challenged for the top four with Martinez that season. With the talented youngsters at the Toffee’s disposal it seemed just a matter of time until Everton were gracing the Champions League.
Sadly this is not how things have turned out.
In the past three seasons Everton have slipped down the table slowly, from 5th in 2013/14, to 11th last term, and this season yet more mediocrity.
Considering the abundance of youth at Everton one would imagine their fortunes would slowly improve naturally, but in defence particularly Martinez has overseen a decline.
Everton traditionally had a solid defence under Moyes and this continued under Martinez where arguably the same players were still in place. However the more time has passed and the more influence Martinez has had on Everton’s defensive unit, the worse they have got.
Season Goals Conceded Games Conceded/Game Manager
Above shows a bleak story and in comparison with other sides in the league Everton have conceded the same as Swansea and Crystal Palace. This is not where Everton belongs.
Their strike rate is astounding for someone at 12th, scoring 51 goals, with only the top four scoring more.
So what has gone wrong?
Some blame Martinez’s management, specifically his seeming inability to balance his teams, as going forward is a very different story for the toffees. They bomb forward with pace and power not to mention flair in the likes of Lennon and Deulofeu. But when other sides attack them they offer little resistance.
Others blame recruitment. Moyes brought in stubborn proven players, Martinez admittedly did with Barry, but others such as Oumar Niasse are gambles and defenders such as Funes Mori are great going forward, but perhaps not the greatest when actually defending.
Individual performances have also been poor. Lifelong Evertonian Andrew James believes that the side were playing great at the start of the year despite poor results, but over time form took its toll and given the talent at Goodison, tactics must be to blame. There is a widely held view that without Gareth Barry the team unfolds, and even though Lukaku and Barkley have had their best seasons in terms of numbers, others have not. Everton have relied on consistent players since Moyes but this year the likes of McCarthy, Coleman and Baines have not done well. So individuals are at fault.
What is the biggest shame for Everton is that Tottenham are challenging for honours with their young squad, Everton meanwhile are only just outside the relegation battle. Romelu Lukaku stated the other day that he wants Champions League football, and the likes of John Stones and Ross Barkley for that matter have been touted as potential additions to an ageing Manchester City team with Guardiola fancying both.
If Everton can’t hold onto their starlets and improve next year, they have undoubtedly missed a wonderful opportunity to build a great side.