Roberto Martinez provided evertontv with an open and honest interview after the Real Madrid game which is both refreshing and reassuring. He openly tackled the defensive errors which meant Everton went in at half time 2-0 down and eloquently explained that he will demand far more from his players when the season begins.
Amongst the Blues who managed to stay awake and watch the match in the early hours of Sunday morning, there was quite a debate on Twitter at half time over the level of Everton’s first half performance, especially around the defensive tactics and the suicidal high line that the Blues employed. Pleasingly Everton made essential adjustments at half time and a much improved second half display saw Everton come back into the game, which they were unfortunate to lose 2-1.
The post-match interview, which is available below, provided a great insight into the thoughts of Roberto Martinez, who was clearly frustrated with the approach of the team in the opening 45 minutes, especially the mistakes in midfield, the lack of effort in closing down the Madrid players and the high defensive line which allowed the dangerous Real forwards space to exploit the Everton backline.
Many observers, including former Everton striker and Match of the Day presenter, Gary Lineker were quick to criticise the Everton defence on Sunday morning. This unfortunately is going to be the lazy pundits’ stock response when Everton lose this season, especially in the opening part of the season, as they use Wigan’s previous defensive failings to criticise the continental approach of Roberto Martinez. Evertonians should however rest assured, because Martinez is more than aware of what is needed to make this Everton team a success. He knows that the errors made in the opening stages of the Real Madrid game are not good enough and he will demand far more from his players.
Pleasingly, the team did respond, adapting tactically and producing a second half display which left Real Madrid holding on to the 2-1 victory. The defence played to their strengths, paying the Madrid forward line the upmost respect, but not allowing them the time and space to operate in the dangerous area behind the back four and in front of Tim Howard’s goal. Martinez ensured his players were hunting as a pack, closing the ball down quickly and then patiently using the ball to create opportunities. Everton’s ball retention in the second half was significantly improved and Jelavic’s clinically taken goal was the culmination of some brilliant play from Fellaini, Mirallas and Coleman. Jelavic made a significant difference, providing a focal point for the Blues, holding the ball up to bring others into play and offering movement that kept the Madrid defence on their toes.
Lineker and co can criticise, but Martinez and Everton are at the beginning of a new era, one that promises much and performances in pre-season have done nothing to undermine the feeling that the coming season promises much for the Toffees.