Why The Carping At Martinez Success?

Why does praise for Robero Martinez have to come with caveats about David Moyes' defence or the loan system? Is it just because he's proved us all wrong? Perhaps...

Last Updated: 11/04/14 at 08:17 Post Comment

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Whether it's Alan Hansen suggesting that Roberto Martinez owes a massive debt to David Moyes, Adrian Durham claiming that Martinez has not actually improved the Toffees unless he reaches the Champions League or Martin Samuel unleashing his quite sizeable wrath on their exploitation of the loan market, there has been a noticeable shift from 'isn't it nice to see the little fella doing well?' to 'come on, he's not that good'.

Friendship with David Moyes (Mark Lawrenson) and good old-fashioned xenophobia (anyone who writes for the Daily Mail) are obvious motives for this slow withdrawal of credit from some quarters but perhaps the biggest factor is a reluctance to admit that Everton's success has come as a massive 'f*** you' to pre-season predictions. And nobody likes to be proved wrong.

There were those that thought Everton would collapse without the steadying hand of Moyes, there were those who thought players like Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka would panic at the alien concept of passing the ball and there were those (our hands are up here) who hoped the likeable Martinez would get time because clearly it would take more than one season to change an ageing and slightly stale side.

And we all - every single one of us - laughed when Bill Kenwright revealed that Martinez had promised to take Everton into the Champions League. Whatever revisionist Toffees might tell you now, those who believed he would get close to that target in one season were as rare as a pessimistic Liverpool fan. But while Everton supporters can revel in glory unexpected, some of those who are paid to know about football bitterly disparage their success simply because they did not know. It defies logic that a manager could so completely change a team's philosophy (in terms of both style and ambition) in such a short space of time. It defies logic so the aggrieved look for loopholes.

Some say he has merely built on Moyes' foundations of a solid defence as if that was a criticism, as if keeping the impressive elements of a team and making improvements elsewhere dilutes his impact; the same people don't stop to wonder why Moyes never attempted to make those same improvements himself if it was so damned easy.

Some say that borrowing players is somehow a shortcut, a cheat. They ask where Everton would be without the goals of Romelu Lukaku and the experience of Gareth Barry, as if they are the only ones to exploit a system that is available to every club, as if it takes no skill whatsoever to source, persuade and integrate a loan signing.

Some say that Martinez has inherited a clutch of youngsters, giving Moyes the credit for 'blooding' Ross Barkley (two Premier League starts last season), buying John Stones (heralded as 'one for the future' barely a year ago) and showing faith in the ever-youthful Seamus Coleman (at 25, older than seven of the players used by Martinez in the Premier League this season).

The truth is that Martinez and his Everton side have surprised us all, that the pairing of James McCarthy and Barry in midfield has been a masterstroke and that the switch from a one-dimensional 4-4-1-1 to a more fluid 4-2-3-1 has been seamless. Whether this season ends with them in fourth or fifth is immaterial - this has been a very, very pleasant surprise.

Sarah Winterburn

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