I can remember the exact point in which I had had enough of Roberto Martínez as Everton manager. April 20th 2016, Everton faced Liverpool in the league, three days before an important crunch game against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.
Many of the Everton fanbase (or so I could tell from Twitter), as well as myself, were happy to see the Toffees field a weakened team for the derby, in order to preserve the club’s strongest team for the more important game at Wembley. What was not acceptable however, was to see Everton so pathetically and hopelessly demolished, by our bitter rivals no less, destroying our confidence ahead of the cup semi-final in the process.
That was the last straw, for me. Now, I’m not saying that the Burnley game gave me the same sensations about our current regime, but it did for an awful lot of the fanbase.
Everton were, not for the first time this season, put to shame, this time by a Burnley side who certainly deserved all the spoils in the matchup at Goodison Park. Save for an energetic opening 15 minutes, Everton were atrocious, all across the park, and certainly from the touchline.
Since the fantastic first half performance against Manchester City in late August, Everton have scarcely looked in control in any of their fixtures. Blame is thrown at a variety of aspects, such as the miserable form of many of Everton’s first-team, but much like with Martínez’ era at the club, the buck falls to the manager.
Simply put, Ronald Koeman gets it all wrong. Firstly with the lineup and formation, playing square pegs in round holes. His mid-game management as a reaction to his team not working is also poor, and he scarcely gets tactical decisions right, as well as his substitute choices which are often ill-informed. To say he occasionally gets it wrong, then that would be fine, he’s only human. However, the issue is that these same problems happen far too frequently; game after game after game.
But, should he be sacked? Personally, I’m someone who believes the board needs to hold fire – for now.
Farhad Moshiri has claimed this morning that he has full faith in Koeman, and that it is early doors. Is many ways, he is right, but in many ways he is wrong.
Twitter: Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri on @Everton: https://t.co/9VuwBKcdMR (@JimWhite)
It isn’t simply the results that are weighing Koeman and his team down, it’s their approach, their performances – it’s everything that Everton do at the moment. For a manager who has previously been lauded for his pragmatism, the Dutchman seems very stuck in his ways, ignorant to the blatant errors he continuously makes.
Against Burnley at home, Everton DO NOT need two holding midfielders. That is something that has happened far too many times this season too, it’s as if Koeman feels he must field all of the players he has signed (except pariah Ademola Lookman of course) at once. Schneiderlin cost in the excess of £20million, but he deserves to be dropped on the basis of a serious decline in form, so Koeman needs to make the call.
I don’t mean to criticise Koeman’s tactics too much, but it appears to be the primary issue facing the squad. There are good players in the squad, but Koeman sets his side up at a disadvantage. Unfortunately blaming the board for not signing a top striker or a winger with pace doesn’t cut it. He needs to make the most of what he has, and that means playing younger players if necessary, not shoehorning senior players out of position at their own detriment. Big Nev put it wonderfully I thought.
Twitter: It’s like RK is trying to do a jigsaw with 2 different jigsaw s
Just don’t fit together (@NevilleSouthall)
Looking back at Moshiri’s statement though, there are other worries that need to be addressed. In particular, the section that reads, “today was the only unexpected loss”. This statement is worrisome, because it suggests that the games against Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham were all ‘expected losses’. You, me and everyone else is aware that Everton are certainly the underdogs in such fixtures, but to expect a loss is a damaging mental attitude. What’s the point in playing if you “expect” to lose? Mr. Boyland put it rather well on Twitter.
Twitter: If you create a paradigm in which ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’ losses exist then it’s tantamount to placing a glass ceiling upon *yourself* (@Paddy_Boyland)
Twitter: There should be no such thing as an ‘expected loss’. Accepting defeat makes you by definition second-best (@Paddy_Boyland)
Like Paddy goes on to say, such attitude suggests that although things have changed on the surface for Everton, the Toffees haven’t changed all too much deep down, which is an issue for the club moving forward.
About sacking Koeman then, I would allow him one more chance – one last shot to turn fortunes around. Koeman has the international break to revise his strategies and plan ahead for a trip to the AMEX on Sunday 15th of October to face newly promoted Brighton. If that trip falls short of expectations, then I’d be accepting of the club pulling the trigger.
Sacking managers is inherently destructive to a football club, and the last thing the club needs now is to find itself in a boom bust cycle of recycling managers. Hopefully Koeman can turn things around, else the board may be left with no choice.