Many will say it is too early to make a judgement on Roberto Martinez, but after only 25 days in the job and without a competitive game of football under his belt, I am going to go out on a limb and declare that I firmly believe Roberto Martinez will become a true Goodison hero.
Let me explain, I was fortunate to meet Roberto last week, albeit very briefly and I was mightily impressed. Bill Kenwright may have said at the press conference to unveil Everton’s new boss it took Roberto 45 seconds to convince him he was the man for the job, but it certainly didn’t take me that long to be convinced. Roberto’s enthusiasm for Everton oozes out of every pore; he already has a passion for the club which he describes as “a perfect fit”. He speaks eloquently about his plans and ambitions for the football club and he has already implemented a significant transformation of the club’s youth structure.
Martinez has been pro-active in the transfer market, recruiting a young talented goalkeeper to put genuine pressure on Tim Howard, something that the American keeper has acknowledged positively and expects the arrival of Joel to help him strive for greater consistency. Arouna Kone and Antolin Alcaraz have arrived from Wigan and whether you are in agreement or not over their abilities, it is hard to argue that the squad needed greater competition in the key areas of attack and defence. The most exciting signing of all is the young Spanish winger, Gerard Deulofeu. The Barcelona loanee is considered one of the most talented young players in Europe and it is to the credit of Roberto Martinez that Barcelona has decided his on-going development is best served at Goodison Park.
Through the early pre-season fixtures we have already seen a glimpse of the new Everton. The formation, which may yet evolve, allows the key attacking players to play with a freedom to create and thrill. When Everton are in possession (and you can expect the Blues to have more of the ball than the opposition) the wide players are encouraged to exploit the full width of the pitch, the midfielders are given time to find the perfect pass and are not pressurised by tactics to get the ball forward quickly and at times hopefully, instead quick one and two touch passing pulls the opposition from side to side, backwards and forwards, allowing the forward players opportunity to create space in the opposing half. It appears simple, but when done effectively there is no greater way to play football.
Young players will be given opportunity to impress and develop. If the correct opportunity presents itself they will be encouraged to go out on loan to aid that development, something that the previous regime were reluctant to embrace. Young players have already come to the fore during pre-season. Conor Grant has seen his status elevated and his style of play, which appears to suit Martinez and the new Everton perfectly, has been rewarded with a 2 year professional contract. Many of the young players only arrived back at Finch Farm this week after their excursions at the U20 World Cup and they will be eager to make an impression on the new Everton manager. Ross Barkley and Jon Lundstrum will be looking to progress rapidly as the season kicks off and young full backs John Stones and Luke Garbutt will be hoping to utilise their natural attacking instincts to become the natural understudies to Coleman and Baines respectively. It is hard to believe that Moyes would put such faith in talented teenagers.
Most pleasing for me is the positivity exuberated by Martinez. Negative statements are a thing of the past. This club is looking forward and aiming to improve. There will not be an acceptance of a perceived hierarchy, trips to Old Trafford will not be feared but embraced. The financial restrictions will not be used as an excuse. Indeed, during his press conference ahead of the trip to the USA for the International Champions Cup, Martinez said “we are in a great position financially, we are really really strong”. He dismissed speculation of interest in his players with a smile and spoke encouragingly of plans to strengthen the playing squad still further.
Roberto Martinez has made a more than encouraging start. He has given all Evertonians reason to feel proud of their club and I am looking forward to the new season with genuine excitement.
Let us know your thoughts on Martinez, are you encouraged by the early signs, are you relishing the increased levels of openness and positivity?