Blue Malaise Continues

Not sure this is going to be balanced writing, so soon after that depressing home defeat to Swansea, but at what point does this underachieving league season have consequences for our manager Roberto Martinez?

By @Markthablue

Not good enough. And nothing worse than a piss poor Sunday defeat before a busy week in work. At the very least it is definitely character building supporting Everton.

Yes we have a huge game on Wednesday, and it’s important to get behind the team of course, but seriously, would any other premier league club have kept faith with a manager whose record was as bad as Martinez’s.

From that first season were we all were dreaming of an Everton renaissance it’s now become a groundhog day nightmare. One league cup semi final aside.

Our league position is embarrassing, utterly unforgivable, and we’ve got to a point, such is our back door wide open approach to defending, were everyone fancies coming to Goodison.

This is not just aimed at the defenders and Tim Howard, who I will come to later, as a unit were lethargic and teams don’t have to break sweat to cause us problems. Against Swansea it just didn’t feel like an Everton performance. Or maybe it did, given our generosity to opponents this season.

It was poor and players didn’t look arsed and even worse, was some fans commenting on twitter, somehow justifying it. That we now had little motivation for the league with all our eggs in the precarious basket of the Man City semi final this Wednesday. A comment so vomit inducing, I had to rush for a bucket. After last seasons horror show there’s every motivation to make amends this season, but it seems for us 12th has become the new 6th.

We’re regressing when quite simply we should be making giant steps to becoming great again. With the quality of some of our players, apart from Tim Howard, all the pieces are there to make a good side, even a great one. And of course, if we had a board who wanted the best for the club and invested in some new players.

Martinez has failed to get the best out of them in the league, yes a league cup win would largely make the sacrifice of a non existent league campaign worthwhile, but there’s no guarantees with Man City at the Etihad, not exactly an easy game to come through.

We haven’t addressed our defensive woes for so long now, I expect us to concede every game we play no matter who we play against. This is not the basis on which great sides are built.

The Tim Howard situation has become a farce with Martinez now so stubborn over this, I’m convinced he’s picking him just to spite the fans. There is no rhyme or reason to it, no logic at all.

It’s not all Tim Howard’s fault, for a start the defensive intensity in our play is non-existent, we don’t pressure opponents when they’re on the ball, they can play how they want and settle into their game plan without breaking sweat. Whether this comes from the manager or the players I’m not sure, but defending should start from the front, especially in our team were we’re hard pressed to defend properly at the back.

We have got to keep positive for Wednesday but I’m starting to get Dynamo Kiev flashbacks. I want to have confidence in my team and believe we can get through but it’s nigh on impossible currently, with the defensive nightmare we’ve had this season. One saving grace is the performance at the Etihad last month in the league match.

If we perform like that in front of 8,000 blues, then we have every chance. It would be such a shot in the arm to get through and I hope it would truly spark a strong end to the season, with the barren 21 year trophy drought finally at an end.

There is room for optimism still, but the players have got to stand up and show their metal now. We’ve got to show the stomach for a fight, we can’t let this season drift into nothingness again. Who will buy the season DVD come May? Sales will be on their arse and we need a new keeper.

The game started off ominously with Swansea keeping the ball well, the lack of any tempo to our play not helping an atmosphere that has now become consistently morgue-esq. If ever a ground needed a designated supporter end, much like Lille had when we visited France, it’s us. Anyway I digress.

Despite the visitors confident start, it was the blues who came closest to breaking the deadlock, Mo Besic breaking forward at pace to drive a low shot against the post with Fabianski well beaten. A confident surge from our Bosnian midfielder fast becoming a cult hero at Goodison. Besic’s departure from the field on 9 minutes was a huge blow, not just for us but for the lad himself who must feel dejected after all his injury woes. A suspected hamstring re-occurrence the reported culprit.

The blues, now finding their feet in the game, saw Deulofeu’s well struck shot from 30 yards dealt with by Fabianski who was right behind it. Just as we thought we were getting somewhere, our defensive Achilles heel struck again. John Stones ought to have put the ball into row z, but as we all know that’s not John Stones’ style.

The pass back to Howard was risky enough without Stones looking like he was giving an expensive vase to a clumsy removal van driver, Stones delayed and passed to the American, the pass back was ridiculous but Howard compounded it by moving backwards away from the ball as it was played to him. Allowing Ayew to steal in and draw a penalty with Tim Howard fouling him with a slide tackle normally befitting of a striker, not your last line of defence.

Sigurdsson slotted home confidently to put the visitors in front. The atmosphere now turned from quiet to sour as frustrated fans began to vent at the players, this never helps I know, it’s totally counter productive but sadly this is where we’re at.

I just think fans have had enough, groundhog day the film was funny once, but Everton sticking it on repeat for a season and half has worn thin. I think today was the last straw for Martinez for a lot of our fans.

The response was laboured from, the tempo more akin to a drunk walking round looking for a hackney on County Road than a premiership side who’d gone behind, but the blues found themselves level from a corner shortly after (insert shocked GIF here). Jack Cork credited with the own goal when it initially looked like Gareth Barry had flicked the ball into the net cleverly from Deulofeu’s set piece. Barry, one of a few players to emerge from the game with some credit I thought. Superb once again.

Yet another injury curse fell upon us moments later, Kevin Mirallas starting and looking to build on his promising Chelsea showing was withdrawn on 27 minutes to be replaced by Steven Pienaar. Again a player no stranger to the treatment table.

The game, now drifting, took a nasty turn for the worse on 35 minutes, Ayew running onto Neil Taylor’s pass, shot left footed, deflecting past Howard off John Stones, who had a day to forget and into the Gwladys Street net. So deflating. The blues looked to respond immediately but Lukaku shot narrowly wide when presented with a chance following a barnstorming run. Something we didn’t see enough off from the Belgian throughout the course of the match.

Half time came and the overwhelming feeling was what the hell was that? We looked slow, lethargic, not arsed, headless chicken-esq to be honest. We weren’t helped at all by the injuries to Besic and Mirallas, two of our better performers in recent weeks but the lack of intensity in our play, and desire given our league position at the start of play, was disappointing to say the least.

Second half the blues were better, we could hardly have been much worse, and with greater urgency to our play we looked more threatening than in the first half. Having said that, Swansea had a great chance to make it 3-1 on 49 minutes, Routlledge shooting tamely when in on goal. Tim Howard smothering comfortably and not a star-jump in sight.

The blues created a host of chances to draw level but couldn’t capitalise, Barkley, who didn’t have his best game to put it mildly, seeing his effort bounce over from a couple of yards following some great buildup play from Lukaku and Baines.

Gerard Deulofeu was putting in worldie cross after worldie cross on the right, but no-one could get on the end of them. Criminal.

The quality coming in from Deulofeu was simply superb but not one cross, nearly all in the corridor of uncertainty, if I can rob a phrase off cricket, was cashed in on.

The blues continued to press and Lukaku saw his header comfortably saved by Fabianski after some great work from Barkley on the left, getting the ball in from a tight position on the byline. Sadly the equalizer was not forthcoming.

Then two great chances for Coleman in the six yard box, normally a decent finisher when given a sight of goal, Coleman couldn’t get the ball out of his feet on 86 minutes and scuffed his four yard shot tamely wide. And then, with the final kick of the game, the Irish fullback, standing so far into the net he was almost sitting in Row A, somehow shot over the bar to the dismay of the street end.

Full time had arrived and this felt like Martinez had reached his nadir. It’s the league cup that in my opinion is keeping Martinez in a job, assuming of course we have a board with its finger on the pulse of our club. Hmm.

If our trophy dream ends on Wednesday, and truly I hope it doesn’t, what’s left of our season?An FA cup run maybe? But we surely would’ve expected more than this? I’d love nothing more to be buzzing Thursday morning. Contrary to what people think, I detest moaning about our club and feeling indifferent to it all, much prefer to be positive.

I’m beyond doubting Martinez now, hes constantly repeating the same mistakes and his stubbornness knows no bounds. I’m not seeing the improvement from last season, a lot of fans feel this way judging by twitter, if that’s any kind of gauge. But the lack of decisive decision-making at Goodison, from the boardroom down to the management is hurting us.

While I’m on the subject, who is in charge of us? Bill Kenwright, again absent from Goodison, leaves me utterly frustrated at the direction our club is taking. We’re currently drifting at boardroom level and while I appreciate Bill is ill, surely a statement wouldn’t go amiss? Just to update us on what’s happening to us at boardroom level.

Is this what the ‘be careful what you wish for’ fans are happy with? Because I’m not. We are utterly rudderless and it’s patently not good enough. More than ever our club needs a new board, people who care about EFC, people who want it to become the best. We don’t deserve to be drifting this way in an era were premier league clubs are making improvements to their infrastructure. Leaving us trailing in there wake.

What’s happening with investment? What’s happening with the proposed takeover? Walton Hall Park? Bill’s health?

Who the hell is running us? The Echo are not interested, utterly pathetic lack of balls from our local media which is contributing to the holding back of a great football club. These questions need to be asked and if the club ban them, fine, report it. They’ll be thought better for it.

I’m sorry for the ranting nature of my write up but I’m nothing if I don’t speak from the heart. I’m not interested in sugar-coating or telling people the sun is shining when it’s pissing down.

Let’s hope Wednesday can provide our season with the kind of excitement we all thought we were going to be in store for last August. It’s going to take a special effort from the players, a world away from this Swansea performance, but we have to believe the league cup trophy has our name on it. For the sake of our collective sanity, this trophy drought needs to end soon.

The footballing gods need to smile on us for once. Jags is back and Robles should be in-goal, so we have reasons for optimism.

Mirallas and Besic being absent will be a blow for us, particularly Besic who has been a revelation since coming back into the team, but hope springs eternal. Everything crossed the blues are invading the steps of Wembley once again come February.

I would normally quote Martinez at this stage, but I cant bear it anymore, even in copy and paste mode. So, politely, I just ask that he kindly gets his act together sharpish, and turns this team into the fierce competitors they should be.

Because I don’t think anyone above him cares enough to sack him.

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Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.