This is the endgame

This is the endgame. You’re probably fed up by now of reading about how Roberto Martinez’s dream has become a nightmare. I say probably, because if you’re like me- you won’t have read anything about Everton for quite a while now. I, like the players have even downed tools: I haven’t written any match reports for quite a while now. I’ve been too fed up. The fact I’m not earning fifty thousand pounds a week, and I’m not running around in a shirt that mightn’t mean much to me- but clearly means lots to plenty of loyal others who were here before me, and will certainly be here after me, means I don’t share in any of the embarrassment I would hope they feel from time to time when they think about this season. Somehow, I’m not convinced they do. Not even representing their family, with their name emblazoned across their shoulders has been enough to stir any fire within- to show any heart, any desire to even be able to say ‘alright, we’re crap, and this season is a write-off, but my opposite number isn’t going to work harder than me’.

This last couple of years is unchartered territory for me and lots of other blues. I’ve seen the crap teams, I’ve sat through the nineties as a youth when we were dreadful, even as a kid I knew we were bad. But we knew the limitations of the teams then: we knew they were shite. But they wouldn’t lay down. There was always a steel that ran through those Everton sides. Southall, Watson, Parkinson, Ferguson: they weren’t taking any shit off the opposition. If you were taking three points off us (which lots of teams did), you were pretty likely to be taking it off us because you were better than us. They rolled their sleeves up, they gritted their teeth. They’re the kind of characters you want on your side when it’s backs to the wall and it’s time to fight. If the rot had set in just half a dozen games earlier this season, there’s a danger we could’ve gone down. We’ve been ‘lucky’ to have known for some time that wasn’t going to happen, but I wouldn’t trust this squad if we needed them to show the fight needed under those circumstances.

It’s been embarrassing. No matter what these players think of the manager- and they quite clearly haven’t been playing for him for quite some time, they’re still being paid handsomely, but they’ve downed tools. It’s hard to write something like this without using clichés like ‘downed tools’, but in this instance, it’s absolutely fair to say. But for a couple of months here and there, it’s been disastrous for two years, now. Unacceptable. Yesterday was the 18th time we’ve conceded 3 or more under Roberto Martinez in 112 league games: Moyes managed 7 in his last 136. Put it another way: at that average, we could expect to concede 3 or more 6 times a season under Martinez. For very different reasons, there’s an overhaul to be done on this squad that could be almost as big as the one facing Moyes when he joined. Only Martinez wasn’t having to ship out the likes of Ginola and Gascgoine, he took on a fifth placed side and spent a hundred million. For this. Meek, wet, tired garbage we’ve had to endure.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve gone from having the side that hounded, harassed and picked apart Arsenal in Spring 2014, guided by a manager who had Arsene Wenger in a metaphorical headlock throughout those ninety minutes, to a side who’ve now allowed 86 shots on our goal in the last three games. It’s hard to describe how bad that actually is: Crystal Palace allow just under 15 shots on their goal per game- more than anyone else in the league. So over the last three games, we’ve been twice as bad as the worst team, by that measurable. This isn’t a managed decline, we’ve now fallen off the cliff.

Yesterday was just another reminder of our frailties under Martinez…

 

01

 

The first goal is so, so preventable. We’ve four men in close proximity to the cross, as do Leicester (although one of them is taking the throw), but somehow, Andy King is given the freedom of the Walkers crisp bowl- or whatever they’ve rebranded it to now. That’s stuff you’d get upset at if you were coaching schoolboys. It’s a good ball in for the goal- which can happen when you’ve as much time as you’d like, and it’s a good finish from Vardy. But from a throw in on the edge of our box, we’ve only got three players in the box, and only two in a position to defend any cross that may result. There’s absolutely no organisation. I’d love to say we’re missing Barry and Jagielka (which we are) and use it as a crutch to forgive this, but we’ve seen similar for how long now? No communication, no cohesion, and certainly no common understanding of what we’re meant to do here. Oviedo, in an unfamiliar position (with Connolly- who can play right back, on the bench) is probably in a better position to deal with the runner from deep, but Stones shifts his weight worried about the threat of the late run, with Oviedo then responsible for Vardy, and he never manages to get in a decent position to stop the chance. It’s so pathetically simple. There are no talkers in this Everton side, no characters. Stones and Oviedo could’ve done better with better communication from this, but the damage was properly done from the woeful defending of the throw in. If you allow players the opportunity to hurt you like that, chances are you’re going to struggle. And what will Oviedo learn from that? Nothing. It’s nothing he hasn’t seen before, and he’ll barely ever play right back for us again. This should’ve been Connolly taking a lesson away from this, invaluable experience for the future, but no.

 

02

 

For the third, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the artistry of the 2-2-1-1-3-1 formation we’re playing. It speaks volumes of our organisation. I imagine it must be more difficult to run your knife through butter underneath the Catalan sun than it is to find your way through this Everton team. Awful effort. But we’ve all seen it before, haven’t we? Seen it at the match, seen it on ‘Goals on Sunday’, seen it in my match reports before I got too fed up. This isn’t new to any of us, but it’s never been addressed by the management. Martinez has visions of some kind of footballing utopia, but in his fixation on the ideal that we’re yet to find, he’s failed to address the here and now, the circumstances we’ve found ourselves in. For that, and for this, it’s high time for him to go. But if we are into a new era for Everton, and we do have an ambition to be the best, the door should be held ajar for most of this squad, the ‘best in thirty years’. You can’t give up like this and expect to stay on.

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