Recently, I read an article on the Guardian website which explored why plays about sport are thriving in the world of theatre. It declared that the arts enthusiast ‘who loves sport searches for the parallels between drama on the field and that unfolding on the stage.’
Essentially, the excitement and the highs and lows of sporting events can be translated easily onto the stage.
Naturally, this reminded me of Everton’s 2-3 home loss to West Ham. It was the neutral’s dream. A red card, excellent goals, ten men denying the odds to lead 2-0, a missed penalty, and a late, unexpected comeback.
Pure drama, you could say. Worthy of the stage, perhaps.
But I’m not writing as a neutral. I’m writing as a Blue tired of watching the most talented Everton squad I’ve ever seen throw away matches and underachieve criminally.
This leads me onto another recent article from the Guardian, entitled ‘Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers: the flawed disciples of Pep Guardiola’.
The Blues’ boss and Guardiola are collectively described as ‘men who strive for total perfection as they attempt to turn football into a form of art.’ Both are admirers of Cruyff and the Dutch school of thought, yet while Guardiola was Cruyff’s apprentice at Barcelona, immersed in his ideologies and learning from him day and night, Martinez was playing fourth-tier football for Wigan Athletic.
It’s no surprise therefore that there is such a momentous difference in what the two coaches have achieved.
Following the ex-Wigan manager’s first campaign at Everton, many Evertonians believed this man had the potential to lead the Toffees to great success with this Spanish, idealistic manner which has changed world football.
And you would not have been foolish for thinking so. During a match that season, I remember seeing someone sat in front of me at Goodison text a friend: ‘It’s like watching Barcelona.’
However, our hopes and dreams were never realised. Martinez is not the artist we hoped he was. The Blues haven’t progressed. We’re slipping further backwards and it’s painful to watch the club you love suffer.
Teams (that we should easily be above) from West Brom to West Ham can pinpoint Everton’s vulnerabilities and expose them. We are predictable and I imagine the vast majority of Evertonians are, like myself, extremely frustrated by the style of play with which the manager persists.
Every time something goes wrong for the Blues, and it’s evidently Martinez’s fault, it’s not uncommon to see a certain proverb quoted on Twitter: ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’
Now while I doubt Martinez is insane, he most certainly is irrational.
I believe it unnecessary to go into detail about Martinez’s continuous errors because after two years of the same, it’s common knowledge. Although Joel has (finally) replaced Howard between the sticks, the woeful defending and bizarre substitutions continue.
Additionally, on Saturday the Blues evidently couldn’t cope with West Ham’s crosses, Niasse shouldn’t have replaced Lennon, and the closing stages of the game became a complete and utter farce.
There was no real leadership, no rational decision-making and after such a monumental fuck-up, there is no belief in Martinez from many Evertonians anymore.
As world football has witnessed in recent years, the high-risk style of play Martinez adores works best when implemented by top-class coaches upon a team of top-class players. Guardiola’s Barcelona became one of the greatest ever club sides because of this. Martinez, on the other hand, does not have a world-class team at his disposal and nor is he a world-class coach.
Yet he continues to persist with this fundamentally-flawed ethos which relegated Wigan. Since he took over at the Lactics in 2009, the problems with this system have been evident.
If after almost SEVEN years of implementing this defective philosophy in the Premier League with mostly negative results, Martinez has not learned from his mistakes, why would he change his approach now?
The board at Everton have an important decision to make, and they have to make it soon. The Spaniard’s stubborn and stupid loyalty to the system he admires is stopping the Blues from fulfilling their potential.
The Spaniard’s first season in charge was fantastic – yet the signs suggest we would not enjoy another campaign like that under his management.
Hopefully, new shareholder Mr. Moshiri has the authority and intelligence to make a change, because Everton are going nowhere but backwards with Martinez in charge.
Ultimately, winning is more important than performance.
Martinez has his priorities treacherously confused, and Everton cannot afford to be loyal to such a dangerous way of thinking any longer.