Everton are one of the clubs that have seen managerial changes in the summer. David Moyes, the man who kept Everton in a competitive shape joined Manchester United to fill the huge boots left by legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. Meanwhile Roberto Martinez was hired from Wigan to fill up even bigger boots at Everton.
Expectations are there, especially after the club finished sixth last season. But, there is also a concoction of anger, fear, and trepidation too.
Martinez is a good manager who believes in the philosophy of playing good attractive football. His Wigan side specialised in seeing off relegation consistently, hanging on by the skin of their teeth each and every season bar the last one, but any neutral would agree that the Latics had played some brilliant football at times, collecting high praise from all corners.
Everton have qualified for Champions League places under Moyes, been in FA Cup semifinals and Final as well, but in his 11 years, the Toffees haven’t seen the face of a trophy at the club. Martinez, on the other hand, gave Wigan a FA Cup title last season which surely will go down as a watershed moment in the club’s history. But, what will the fans look up to in Martinez – the FA Cup winning manager or the boss of a relegated team?
Martinez has signed four players in the summer so far. He raided his former club to bring in three Wigan alumni – Arouna Koné for £5m, Antolín Alcaraz on a free and Joel Robles for under £1m, while signed the highly rated young Gerard Deulofeu from Barcelona on a season-long-loan. The fact, that of several other European heavyweights lurking like vultures over the head of the youngster, the Catalan officials trusted to send him to Everton, only suggest the appreciation at the world’s best club for Martinez’ style of play.
But, doubts remain. After all, these players are from Wigan only, a club that got relegated, while the young Spaniard was only a product of the Barcelona ‘B’ team.
There is perhaps three things Martinez need to solve in his first season at the Goodison Park.
First, the futures of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini – both of whom are still at the club at the time of writing. Everton have rejected a bid for Baines earlier in the summer, while Fellaini, whose release clause has expired is also a target for Manchester United. With just few days left for the new season, any top players going away from the club would have a negative impact on the entire campaign.
Secondly, he needs to find a solution for the poor form of Nikica Jelavic. The striker who had scored 11 goals in 13 appearances in his debut season when he joined from Rangers back in 2011, struggled horribly last season, finding the net only eight times in 43 appearances.
And finally, he needs to improve his stats on the defensive front as well. During his time at Wigan, he only yielded a 25% winning ratio while his side conceded 79, 61, 62, 73 goals in his four seasons at helm. It is easy to put the blame on the defenders, but critics have also pointed out Martinez’ inability to form a strong and cohesive defensive unit.
At, Everton, such frailties will get exposed as Martinez will be working with some really good defenders; some of them are England internationals as well.
Whether Martinez will be a hit or not is a matter of conjecture, but we can sense that for the first time in many years, Merseyside will be treated with some brilliant passing and encouraging football.