Michael Lintorn weighs up the cases both for Everton keeping or discarding Roberto Martinez over the next few months…
Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Stoke leaves it almost impossible for them to salvage a top-half finish from the wreckage of their wretched Premier League campaign, as an 11-point deficit and odds of 6.25/1 confirm.
Relegation remains unlikely at 30.029/1, with the Toffees still six points clear of 18th-placed QPR, but the club’s supporters have never been more sceptical of Roberto Martinez’s ability.
Is a change going to be required either immediately or in the summer? Let’s have a look at both sides…
WHY MARTINEZ DESERVES TO BE BACKED
The Champions League dream is still alive
Everton have been every bit as brilliant in the Europa League as they have been dire in the Premier League, winning five, drawing two and losing just once – in a dead rubber. Round-of-16 foes Dinamo Kiev are conquerable and, having beaten joint-favourites Wolfsburg twice, there is nobody for the Toffees to fear. They are 15.5n/a to take the trophy, which comes with a Champions League play-off spot. Surely fans will forgive a 14th-place league finish if the end game is Champions League football?
The Moyes 2003/04 and 2005/06 precedent
David Moyes followed an impressive seventh place in his first full season at Goodison Park with a hairy 17th in 2003/04, but Bill Kenwright kept faith that the initial decision to hire him was the right one and was rewarded with fourth place in 2004/05. Likewise, a drop to 11th in 2005/06 didn’t alter his outlook, and three successive top-six finishes ensued.
His transfer market pulling power
Though Martinez was never a big-name player, respect for his philosophy has made Everton a more attractive destination than at any prior point in the Premier League era. As well as loaning Barcelona and Chelsea prospects and recruiting Champions League players, they convinced Romelu Lukaku, one of the most ambitious and admired young strikers on the planet, to join on a five-year contract.
WHY MARTINEZ DESERVES TO BE SACKED
One domestic win in 14
Across the Premier League and FA Cup, Everton have won once in 14 games, a 1-0 peep past Crystal Palace. That kind of form would put a promoted team’s manager in danger of dismissal, let alone the boss of one that almost qualified for the Champions League last season and has earned eight top-eight finishes in a row.
Things are getting progressively worse
Under Moyes, you could be confident that no matter how poor Everton were in the opening months, they would eventually start delivering and climb the table. That isn’t the case this term. They have lost seven in 12 in the Premier League, collecting only seven points and scoring a mere six goals in the process, and are approaching three months without having beaten English opponents at home.
The long-term criticisms haven’t been disproven
Two persistent complaints about Martinez remain valid. One is that he has achieved little of merit in the league, never finishing higher than 15th with Wigan – where Paul Jewell managed tenth and Steve Bruce 11th – and eventually getting relegated, yet escaping criticism due to his style of play and FA Cup triumph. The other is that his sides don’t know how to defend. Everton appeared to counter that in 2013/14, but just four Premier League clubs have conceded more frequently this season.