Everton Fans Review: Toffees fans fire out a warning to Roberto Martinezby Jack Kitson / 20 July 2015, 17:15Tweet
Everton endured a desperately disappointing 2014/15 domestic season, where they briefly flirted with relegation, before finishing 11th in the table: their lowest standing in nine years. Both confidence and expectations were high following a dazzling debut campaign for Roberto Martinez, who led his troops to 5th in 2013/14, however, the Toffees came unstuck in his second season, meaning fans are demanding a significant improvement next term.
The Sack Race got in touch with Everton supporters Leigh Hough (@BullensView), Peter McPartland (@PED7) and George Gibson (@George_Gibson9) in order to find out what wrong last term, while we also looked ahead to the rapidly approaching 2015/16 season.
Martinez miserably fails to build on exceptional debut season
It was a season to forget for Everton, who failed to finish in the top-half of the table for the first time since 2005/06. The Toffees simply never got going in the top-flight, hitting a nadir over the Christmas period when they went a whopping eight league and cup matches without a win, which subsequently piled the pressure on Martinez. However, the Spaniard eventually managed to turn results around, steering his troops away from danger into 11th.
Like most Everton fans, Leigh Hough had been excited ahead of the new season: "Goodison was bathing in an optimism that hasn't been seen in my lifetime, and things looked as though they were turning in our favour". However, Leigh was left gravely disappointed with what was to follow, pinning the blame on "costly mistakes, individual errors and a distinct lack of fitness."
Meanwhile, George Gibson reflects on what was a very desperately disappointing campaign: "An 11th place finish just isn't good enough for a club looking to break the glass ceiling of the top four. Many fans fairly point to the lack of investment from the board, but last year Martinez was backed with an extortionate lb28m for Romelu Lukaku, so money wasn't so much of a problem this time."
He adds: "Martinez's positivity is still there in rhetoric, but on the pitch and in the stands it has gone. The football has been dire...To put it bluntly, some of the manager's team selections and substitutions have been absurd."
Peter McPartland was critical of Everton's "terrible pre-season, which saw most players come back unfit for the first part of the season that led to only a hand full of wins by the turn of the year, massive disagreements over the style of play and a number of player fall outs, that clearly disrupted the dressing room."
European adventure provided the only positives
It's easy to criticise Everton's dismal league showing, however they impressed on their return to the Europa League, topping a tricky group containing Wolfsburg, Lille and Krasnodar, before thrashing Young Boys 7-2 on aggregate in the knockout stages. However, the club's journey came to an end in the last-16 after were defeat 6-4 (agg) by Dynamo Kyiv.
Leigh draws on the positives from Everton's entertaining run through to the last-16: "It shows that both the players and manager are capable of the big step up in class needed to do well in European competition. The next step will be to hold on to these players and manager, and build on the squad to allow us to compete on both fronts when we next get our chance in Europe."
Peter was pleased with his side's European performances, but he laments the defensive problems under Martinez last term: "Although the European campaign was a relative success it came to nothing with an embarrassing defeat in Kyiv, which highlighted the defensive frailties that dogged the team the entire season."
Martinez safe, but needs results fast
In a tumultuous sport that is frequently plagued by trigger-happy chairman who operate as ruthless, and often irrational, menaces, it's Everton's passionate chairman Bill Kenwright who stands out from the crowd. The 69-year-old's loyalty is unquestioned, he famously enjoyed an 11-year working relationship with David Moyes, and it's for this very reason that Martinez is safe in the dugout...for now.
George credits the loyalty Kenwright gives to the managers, but warns Martinez that if the "football doesn't improve and we aren't picking up results by around November I think the fans may start to ask more questions. I would hope the board would too. But we all want Martinez to succeed, we don't want him to be under pressure necessarily because that would imply that we were having another poor season."
Leigh holds a similar opinion: "It would take something remarkable to happen for Bill Kenwright to sack Roberto Martinez, but despite that, Martinez will be under pressure from an expectant and a fanbase which is growing more and more frustrated. I believe that he is the right man for the job, but I know of a lot of fans who expect to see better football, and more progress in the cup competitions (having gone out of both domestic cups in the first round - the first time that that has happened in our 137 year history)."
However, Peter believes: "It shouldn't be the manger feeling the pressure, it should be the board. Everton are a club that year on year struggle to keep up with other clubs in the transfer market. Yet instead of asking how this consistently happens, the media continue to praise the club for punching above its weight."
Martinez must target cup success
Despite impressing in last season's Europa League, Everton's absence from the 2015/16 edition of the competition, means they can now at least focus entirely on the league and two domestic cups. It's clear that Toffees fans crave a trophy, something that has eluded the club for 20 years, and the supporters we questioned are desperate for Martinez and his troops to have a real go at the two domestic cups.
Peter fires out a message to Martinez: "The minimum I expect from next season is that Everton throw everything at the cup competitions and get back in the top 7 to hopefully finish in a European spot. A club the size of Everton can no longer go on without a trophy and also be likened to teams like Swansea and Stoke. Don't forget this is a club that has more league titles than Chelsea and Manchester City!"
Similarly, Leigh says: "Evertonians are desperate for a trophy. We need something to get positive about. The club has been badly run for the past 15 years and has lead to feelings of resentment and negativity. Our run in Europe was a big positive and one of the few things that allowed Evertonians to dream last season, and that feeling must be replicated in the domestic cup tournaments next season.
I also feel that with the talent that Everton have available in the squad, our aim should be to end up in the European positions. If Martinez can add a couple of squad players, as well as bringing in some flair and verve around the front players, I feel as though Everton have got enough to really push the top teams competing for the European places."
Meanwhile, George craves a return to Europe: "Champions League qualification with a trophy still needs to be the target again. I think a lot of fans would see Europa League qualification as the bare minimum requirement but I fear that the club itself would see somewhere around 8th as good enough, which for us fans it most definitely isn't and would represent a continued decline."
There's no getting away from the immense disappointment of the previous pre-season. Everton plummeted well short of their pre-season targets, and at one point flirted dangerously with relegation. The Europa League journey was a rare highlight, however this can't disguise the fact that the Toffees were well below-par. Such is the loyalty of chairman Bill Kenwright that Martinez is safe for now. However, it's crucial that the Spaniard starts the new season strongly, otherwise his job will be plunged into great jeopardy.
Thanks to Leigh, Peter and George for taking the time out to answer questions on Everton and their manager Roberto Martinez.