Tuesday 20 February 2018

Martinez curses luck but Everton boss running out of sympathy

Everton 0-1 West Brom

Everton manager Roberto Martinez during match at Goodison Park. Photo: PA
Everton manager Roberto Martinez during match at Goodison Park. Photo: PA
West Brom's Sandro and Ben Foster celebrate at the end of the match. photo: Reuters
West Brom manager Tony Pulis shouts instructions from the touch line. Photo: Reuters

Simon Hughes

Roberto Martinez used the possession stats to flesh out an argument that reflects well on his Everton team following another home defeat, their sixth of the season.

The manager cited the number of chances created - 34 - to emphasise Everton's "incredible" domination.

Martinez also used the words "unlucky" and "destiny" to explain why the match did not go his side's way. "Everything that could go wrong went wrong," he said.

The manager then attempted to tackle a question about whether the responsibility of new-found expectation on Everton is dragging them down.

By acknowledging that Tony Pulis is right - that Everton should, at least, be challenging for the top four even though they do not possess top-four funds - Martinez confessed he is under-achieving.

"I don't care about budgets at other places," he said. "You need to know how to get there and have the strategy.

"I want to push the football club into more than what people would expect. The squad we have is a squad to dream of."

Sympathisers - and there are not many - reason that Martinez has suffered from elevating hopes through his first season in charge, when he transformed the style of play while producing some outstanding results.

Opponents argue the same superlative language Martinez uses whether Everton win or lose means he has brought pressure on himself. For these critics, his credibility now rests somewhere akin to that of a car boot salesman.

Martinez was right to claim that fortune played a part in Everton's defeat here.

West Bromwich Albion took a lead when Salomon Rondon bundled the ball home after home goalkeeper Joel Robles - chosen ahead of Tim Howard - did not seem to recognise the danger posed by Jonas Olsson's looping header.

For long periods, Albion defended inside their 18-yard box. Olsson flung his body in front of everything, Ben Foster made saves and Jonny Evans was outstanding. Everton also twice struck the woodwork.

Yet, as so often when it feels like things are not going their way, they don't. Somehow, Albion held on.

Like Martinez, Pulis has become unpopular among his club's fans, especially after a five-game winless run.

He repeated the idea that West Brom are not in the same league as Everton in terms of finance and continued to be obsessed about reaching 40 points - a figure that to him represents safety, insisting that 12 clubs, were in a relegation battle.


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