‘Lonely’ Martinez still believes, despite Everton fans’ stadium protest
Everton Cleverley 7, Baines 64 2 Bournemouth Pugh 9 1 Att: 38,345
Whatever the Everton board decide about their manager’s future, we learnt one important fact on Saturday evening. Roberto Martínez will not sneak out of the back door.
There were 110 protesting Everton fans still in their seats 90 minutes after the final whistle against Bournemouth, flanked by stewards, waiting to make their point.
Players and officials usually make their way out of the stadium via the pitchside tunnel and as Martínez completed his media duties a concerned steward asked if he would prefer an alternative route.
Martínez declined. He took his usual path, was inevitably spotted and the supporters chanted for him to “get out of our club”. They made their point. He made is.
The Spaniard may be short of allies but he will not hide. Like those supporters with their banners, he would not be moved. You must admire him for that.
Martínez could never have felt so isolated in management. Few, if any, have spoken on his behalf even when it was known that such dissent was coming. If he is to be relieved of his duties – and it is hard to see how he can survive – it seems cruel that he had to endure this. It would have been far worse but for goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines securing a 2-1 win over Eddie Howe’s side.
The board is biding its time, either praying Martínez can miraculously reverse the tide of opinion in a couple of meaningless league games or presuming a post-season change is more dignified. They gambled that Martínez would avoid a more rapid, unseemly demise, but it was not an especially impressive performance and further mutiny was possible when Marc Pugh equalised for the visitors .
“Being a manager is a lonely job and it has to be,” said Martínez. “All I want is the best for Everton. It’s not about me, it’s not about making safe decisions, it’s about believing in what we have to do to progress and reach where we want to go,” he said.
“I wasn’t thinking about ramifications if we conceded at the end – you don’t think in that way. It was just thinking about the victory, as we always do. “We have been through difficult and painful lessons together, and maybe it was about that. It is an honour to be Everton manager. I know the history and expectation we have, but I bring that on myself anyway. It’s not about winning the fans over with talking, it’s about doing it with wins.” Aside from the mood of the supporters, Farhad Moshiri and Bill Kenwright’s main consideration will be who is best equipped to spend £100 million when proceeds from Romelu Lukaku and John Stones’s likely sales are added to the summer budget. Will they judge Martínez on his earliest deals on Merseyside – such as Lukaku and James McCarthy – or will they be more concerned by Oumar Niasse chasing a football like an excited dog after a stick on Stanley Park, or even Mo Besic’s alarming deficiencies (albeit currently in an unfamiliar full-back role)?
“I arrived at the club in 2013 in a very important moment, because we lost probably the most important goalscoring threat in the team with [Marouane] Fellaini and [ Victor] Anichebe,” said Martínez.
“The average age was nearly 30, now it’s around 26. The record is there, the work we have done in those six windows shows the record we have ... we have five or six players in the under-21s who will make the grade to be an Everton player, and I think the record is there. You need to have a belief in all the players we have in the squad – and I’ve got that belief in Oumar.”
We will know shortly whether the Everton board have the same trust in their manager.
Suffering: Roberto Martínez on Saturday