“Live by the sword, die by the sword”
If there is ever a proverb to describe Roberto Martinez it’s this one. Just replace the word ‘sword’ with Van Gaal’s favourite word, ‘philosophy’, and the shoe fits perfectly. The now former Everton manager was regularly criticised for his strict adherence to his personal philosophy of ‘good football’ at Wigan but those who backed him could always use the ‘if he had a better team’ argument to defend him. Everton was to be the better team that proved Martinez’s managerial genius.
David Moyes was adorned by the Everton faithful but there was a growing feeling around the club that his ambitions with the club had reached it’s limit. Moyes left to take on the big job he had earned at Manchester United and Martinez replaced him with the intent to push them on.”I’ll get you into the Champions League” was his promise to Bill Kenwright when they first met, and while they narrowly missed out on achieving this in his first season, Everton’s fifth place finish with a record point haul for the club was seen as a step in the right direction. Attractive football? Check. Progress in the league? Check.
Then it went all pear shaped. It all seemed to start going wrong in the summer of 2014. Fresh off a successful season this was to be the moment that Martinez built on the foundations of a good team, in which he failed. Their success the previous season was based almost solely on the impressive performances of the loaned in players Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry. Everton invested huge sums of money into securing both of them long term. This was seen as essential and smart business but it always reeked of massive miscalculation. Essentially Everton spent the bulk of their budget that summer to keep the team exactly as it was. Muhamed Bešić and Samuel Eto’o arrived but ultimately proved insufficient. Other teams improved while Everton remained stagnant at best and the results revealed this very fact. From 5th to 11th? Progress firmly halted.
Things have not gone much better since then. Granted another season to correct the mistakes made yet nothing seems to have changed. Another summer of poor recruitment has shown up the inadequacies of an old Everton team. Young stars John Stones, Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu have lit up Goodison Park at periods during the season but none have been consistent enough to be able to apply the bandage this Everton squad desperately needs. When the youngsters have looked around for help from the supporting cast they quickly realised help was not coming. A second consecutive bottom half finish is the reward for Martinez and Everton’s failure to build properly.
Martinez now leaves Merseyside with his reputation having suffered a massive blow. Two years ago he was seen as a young manager who would go on to do big things. His name was being mentioned for consideration for big jobs across Europe. Undoubtedly, it won’t be long before we see another club take a plunge on Martinez. However, as of right now, he leaves Everton with nothing more than a broken promise left behind.