18 months ago, just six months after he guided the Blues to fifth in the Premier League, there was graffiti daubed on Goodison Park calling for the Spaniard to leave Everton. The walls might be clean at the moment, but the sentiment hasn’t gone away.
Don’t get me wrong, I have publicly been one of Martinez’s biggest supporters since he took the reigns at Everton – and there were some pretty fanatical individuals to compete with – but patience is running dangerously thin.
The excuse for today, of course, is that his side were reduced to ten men against one of the form sides in the Premier League. If you want to buy an excuse, it’s an easy one to swallow. If you ignore the fact that we went on to take a two goal lead whilst down to ten men against one of the form sides in the Premier League.
As West Ham scored their third bang on 90 minutes in the 3-2 turnaround yesterday, I turned my back and walked out, along with thousands of others. I didn’t even look back at the fat 50-something “Hammer” who I’d been “exchanging pleasantries” with all game to “politely say goodbye.” I just walked.
I don’t leave early very often. Not since I missed Simon Davies scoring his only goal at Goodison Park in a pre-season friendly in fact, but this season has just felt like one hard slog after another. When you look at the stats – 16 points from 15 home games – it’s easy to see why.
But yesterday felt different, to begin with at least. The atmosphere was good, and we played with a bit of bite to compliment our style. Yesterday felt good. At the beginning.
Anthony Taylor is an idiot who shouldn’t be allowed to watch football never mind referee Premier League games, but he made mistakes for both sides. The most costly was probably the early booking of Kevin Mirallas who had his heels clipped but was perceived to have dived. His second booking though? Having only seen it in real time, I’ll say again that I probably wouldn’t have moaned too much if he’d got a straight red for it to be honest.
But even after the sending off, Everton battled forward and thanks to some last-ditch defending at times, looked like the jinx of Goodison Park was wearing off.
A second goal and Evertonians were flying high. Then, a penalty. Down to ten men, winning 2-0 AND getting a penalty, could it get any better?
West Ham fans ribbed the home fans with “3-0 up and you still don’t sing” – which is just an un-necessarily complicated version of “3-0, and you still don’t sing” to be honest and should be stopped – but then Lukaku missed it.
It’s OK though. We’re winning 2-0, all we need to do is shut up shop. So Martinez brings on a striker. But not just any old striker. He brings on the striker he didn’t trust to bring on for half an hour at Villa when we were 3-0 up with 11 men. He brings on the striker who has played the grand sum of 3 minutes of football since December, and none of it in England. But worst of all, he brings him on for the best player in a Blue shirt, Aaron Lennon. Martinez says Lennon was spent and his legs were gone, but the lad’s a professional athlete managed by a qualified physio. How is he allowed to be spent after less than 90 minutes?
The game cried out for Gareth Barry for what seemed like an eternity. Mo Besic was a breath of fresh air at half time alongside James McCarthy as he allowed the completely lost and (amazingly) tired-looking Ross Barkley to drift forward a bit more. But we were 2-0 up, we just needed to shut up shop. Gareth Barry has the keys to the shutters.
But he stayed on the bench. Then West Ham score a goal. And Barry stays on the bench. Until it was too late and the visitors had already rescued a point. But then it was far too late and they went on to score another in the 90 seconds Barry was on the pitch, long before he had chance to oil his knees and get up to speed.
I’ve heard mutterings of “Martinez Out” as I’ve left Goodison before now, but today is was people shouting it to their mates as they stormed away. And not just a few. Those who could muster speech after what we’d witnessed were questioning Martinez and his ability to stay in a job. Many said that Farhad Morishi’s first big decision should be to sack the manager. Others were just bemused at his substitutions. Again.
We have an FA Cup Quarter Final against Chelsea next weekend in what is already nearing a full house, and if Roberto Martinez fails to progress further in the competition, those voices of discontent leaving the stadium could transfer inside the ground and into a much louder noise.