The position of a manager at a club is determined by solely one thing- results on the pitch, or where the club is placed on the table. Additional factors such as money spent, playing style of the team and his relationship with the players come in, if things aren’t working out on the pitch. Teams who aren’t fulfilling the expectations of the fans and the board, end up axing their manager, take Garry Monk or Tim Sherwood as an example. Both were failing to get the points on the board and in Sherwood’s case, the Aston Villa team looked way out of sorts. Jose Mourinho had to face the axe, thanks to an absolutely disastrous campaign, in which the Blues were left as low as 15th in table. But there is a manager who is a tad fortunate not to be under pressure at the moment. And he is Everton’s Roberto Martinez.
Everton currently lie 12th in the table, in a season wherein they are vying for a Europa League spot. They won just twice in as many as 12 outings, which certainly is concerning for a side that has the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley, John Stones and Leighton Baines in there. Their recent 2-1 loss at the hands of Fransesco Guidolin’s Swansea shows how inconsistent the Toffees have been this season, either home or away. More so, Everton also have the worst defensive record in the league right now.
Over the past three seasons, Roberto Martinez has spent 80 million euros on the acquisition of players, with a majority of it spent on the signings of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea and that of James McCarthy from Wigan after David Moyes’ departure. And the players that he has signed have been those that match Everton’s caliber, or those that are of Everton standard, but the results have so far evaded them.
They finished as low as 11th last season, but they had the excuse of having those Europa League burdens then. It was a season when the energy that they possessed during the 2013-14 campaign was sorely lacking. The full backs never got forward as aggressively as they used to and Romelu Lukaku wasn’t as mercurial as he was during his loan spell. Ross Barkley was in and out of the side due to injuries and his inconsistencies when performing were similar to that of Everton themselves, who held on to a mid-table club status after finishing 5th during the 2013-14 season.
This season though, Martinez is running out excuses. The home form and the aforementioned stat suggests Everton aren’t quite the team that could hold their own against the big clubs. Although, they haven’t done too badly against the big six, but it’s their performance against the smaller clubs that has let them down.
A big issue has been their inability to kill off games when they’re about to end or what we often dub as ‘game-management’. Against Stoke, they were sitting pretty in a 3-2 winning position, but ended up losing 4-3 after conceding a last ditch penalty, which Marko Arnautovic converted. Against Chelsea, they grabbed a late goal to make sure they lead 3-2, but ended conceding at the last kick of the game. Even against Bournemouth, they conceded as late as they could when Junior Stanislas grabbed a late leveller to make it 3-3.
Everton are arguably one of the most watchable Premier League sides right now. A side well capable of challenging for the top four, but it’s their decisiveness which is letting them down. They’ve got players with individual brilliances, but team brilliance is what it counts in football or especially in the Premier League.
Perhaps the absence of another leader is what is letting their composure during the late stages of games down. Phil Jagielka, who is still out with a long term knee injury is someone who is vocal, acts as a leader and puts other players into their respective positions. John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori happen to be young, slightly inexperienced center backs, who need a guiding figure alongside them to make the defense stonewalled.
Although, Roberto Martinez is lucky not to be under-fire, but it’s good to see that Everton aren’t pushing the Spaniard as much as other bigger Premier League clubs do. He’s been given the time that he needs to recover, unlike Garry Monk, who was sacked as soon as Swansea began enduring bad times despite of Monk’s contributions to the Liberty.