It’s been the subject of much discussion on social media the past few weeks. No not if that stupid dress was blue and black or white and gold. But is it time for Roberto to move on? After the disastrous exit from Europe there certainly is a split between the supporters. Some supporters including myself are of the thinking that unless there is a drastic upturn in fortunes there is sadly only one conclusion to his time at the club. 7 wins out of 29 league games is nothing short of embarrassing and the fact we find ourselves in a relegation battle in March is extremely disappointing considering the so called ‘top players’ he has at his disposal. These top players have been shocking and are part of the problem but Martinez continues to pick his favourites and they continue to let him down. Yes there have been other factors like injuries, suspensions and referees that have affected us getting more points, but there is no getting away from the fact that we should’ve accumulated more points with the strength of this squad.
The player’s performances falls at Martinez’s door and his poor performances sit at Kenwright’s. For me one of two things needs to happen. We cut or losses and move Martinez on or Bill backs him and lets him clear out the deadwood in the squad and bring his own players in. The performance in Kiev screamed of a lack of freshness and highlighted the defensive frailties we possess. Alcaraz, Howard, Coleman, Atsu, Barry, McCarthy were all atrocious. I wouldn’t be opposed to accepting bids for any of our first team player bar Stones, Barkley and Lukaku. The squad needs a huge overhaul either with or without Martinez.
It’s the million dollar question, so who could we bring in and who could we attract. For argument sake let’s just say we avoided relegation but Martinez is moved on in the summer. Which candidates would be available or even interested in the job? Below is a tactical analysis of who at home and abroad may be available.
Domestically there are several young positive managers that I believe could come in and do well. The first manager who has had an excellent season is Eddie Howe at Bournemouth; yes he’s operating at a lower level in the Championship but has all the makings of a very good manager. Eddie Howe is a modern thinking football manager who encourages his teams to play attacking football with a fast tempo, pass and move. He is involved in all aspects of the football club from youth teams to the first team. He did have an unsuccessful spell at Burnley but brought in players such as Danny Ings, Sam Vokes, Kieran Tripper, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee and Charlie Austin who were all brought in for little or no money. It’s fair to say Burnley are now seeing Howe’s work coming to fruition. Howe favours a 4-4-2 formation with genuine pacey wide players, who get involved with the front two. At the time of writing this his Bournemouth side currently sit two points off the top of the Championship in their second full season in the division. His contract expires in 2016 so wouldn’t cost much to break him from his contract. The last time we chose to take a manager from the Championship it worked out pretty well but for me lacks the Premier League experience we crave at this time. Definitely he’s one to keep an eye on, if Bournemouth continue as they are we might see Howe in the Premier League next year anyway!
Another manager currently working in the Championship who should be considered is Aitor Karanka at Middleborough. Similar to Howe he is also having a fantastic season with his club. Karanka’s Boro are joint top of the Championship, only second on goal difference. The Spaniard is in his first full season in charge of the North-East club. Currently they have the best defensive record in the division, only conceding 27 goals in 38 games, which considering what a competitive league it is down there is remarkable. The next best defensive record have conceded 13 more goals than Middlesbrough. Karanka’s football tactics are closer to Mourinho’s pragmatic style than Guardiola’s tiki taka, even though he likes to play a standard 4-4-2 formation rather than the 4-3-3 favoured by his former boss. The counter-attack, the pressure exerted by the forwards, the focus on quality of possession rather than possession for possession’s sake, Middlesborough are a team full of pace. Boro have won more than double the amount of games that they have lost, something we would snatch anyone’s hands off for! As a classy Centre Half he won everything as a player including three Champions Leagues. His contract also expires next summer and could be prized away quite easily. Similar to Howe the only thing missing off his CV is experience is managing in the Premier League, but if Boro continue their success this year we might well see him sooner rather than later. He is a manager to definitely keep an eye on.
A manager who interviewed for Martinez’s job before it was given to the Spaniard was Alan Stubbs. A true Evertonian who knows what it means to play for the club. Due to his Everton ties and the former Under 21 Manager, he will definitely be linked to the job. Also due to the job he has done at Hibernian in Scotland’s second tier he deserves a mention. Currently Stubbs’ Hibs sit second in the Scottish Championship but 20 points adrift of leaders Hearts. Stubbs’ Edinburgh side have played well this season and the fact they are 20 points behind Hearts has been more to do with the good form of Hearts than the poor form of Hibs. Stubbs has just received manager of the month for February due to having an excellent month. The highlight beating Berwick Rangers 4-0 in the quarter final of the Scottish Cup and currently on a 13 match unbeaten run, stretching back to 6th December. Stubbs has dabbled with various formations but has since settled for a 4-4-2 diamond, similar to the one used by AC Milan in the mid 90’s. His experience working with the Everton youngsters has stirred his passion of working with youth players as the nucleus of his team is made up with players aged 22 – 26 years of age. In fact they only have one player over the age of 29 in the squad, which is journeyman goalkeeper Alan Combe. I have no doubt that if Stubbs continues developing within the Scottish game that one day he will have the experience required to be a future Everton manager but at present with only 8 months of managerial experience as a head coach I don’t believe he would be right for us right now, even though he does have huge ties to the club.
Bookies favourite to replace Roberto at present is Michael Laudrup. As a player he played for some of the biggest sides in Europe including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus. Winning the ultimate European prize in the European Cup with Barca in 1992. Previously managing Swansea in the Premier League he finished 8th and won the League Cup. They beat both Liverpool and Chelsea on their way to Wembley including beating League One Bradford 5-0 in the Final. His second season in charge didn’t go as well as his first. The Swans excelled in Europe but didn’t fare so well in the Premier League. Sound familiar?! This eventually led to Laudrup losing his job. In February 2014 he was sacked by the chairman and Gary Monk was brought in. That aside Laudrup has huge pedigree and one I feel would certainly be akin to managing EFC. His record in the transfer market was excellent. Unearthing gems such as Michu, Wilfried Bony and Jonathan De Guzman, as well as getting the best out of seasoned regulars Ashley Williams, Leon Britton and Wayne Routledge. He favours a fluid 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation with a possession based approach with the full backs pushing up as well as a high tempo pressing game. Due to his connections across Europe generated as a player, Laudrup would certainly give EFC an advantage in the transfer market. Something we’ve not had since Walter Smith first arrived in 1998 when he managed to convince John Collins to swap Monte Carlo for Merseyside! Laudrup currently works in Qatar managing Lekhwiya SC. His contract runs out this summer so no compensation would be required to bring him to the club. He was initially linked to the EFC job prior to Martinez being offered it in 2013. Although Laudrup ruled himself out of the job back then I’m sure the lure of returning to the Premier League would certainly appeal to him now.
Another Manager who was linked to the club back in 2013 was Thomas Tuchel formerly of Mainz 05. A very forward thinking manager who’s football management has been referred to as ‘ground breaking’. Tuchel is a student of the game who didn’t have much of a playing career. He retired at 25 due to a chronic cartilage injury. He began his coaching career in 2000 as head coach of the Under 19’s of VfB Stuttgart. After five years he returned to his former club FC Augsburg, where he worked as youth team co-ordinator for three years. He was named as the new Head Coach of Mainz 05 on 3 August 2009, after the club was promoted to the Bundesliga. During his time at Mainz he finished 5th and 7th which included getting his team back into Europe this year. Tuchel’s focus in training is based around ‘rhomb-training’ with the pitch dimensions being cut to resemble a diamond-shape in order to cut out long-passes down the touchlines. The Mainz squad were accustomed to training in different shapes on pitch sizes varying from rhomb to circle. He calls it a “systematic approach” with his preferred formation on a match day mirroring – and countering – how the opposition line-up on the park. His philosophy is based on pressure on the ball. Something we have never done under Martinez. He gets his sides to play the ‘high block’ early on in games with players pushing up on teams and stopping them being able to bring the ball out and a ‘low block’ second half to soak up pressure to hit teams on the break. He is so tactically astute and forward thinking he is a must on any shortlist. Newcastle were sniffing around him in December so if we did want him we would have to act fast. He is unattached and currently without a club so he will no doubt have plenty of offers come the summer.
Staying in Germany and a manager who will be on plenty of shortlists will be Jurgen Klopp. A manager who comes with huge pedigree within the European game. Klopp’s managerial career also began at Mainz 05. Guiding them to Uefa Cup qualification in 2005/06. Unfortunately they were relegated in 2007 and although Klopp stayed to get them promoted, promotion wasn’t forthcoming and he was poached by Borussia Dortmund. His first two years at the club heralded 6th and 5th place finishes respectively, followed by back to back German Championships in 2010/11 and 2011/12. They also finished as losing finalist of the Champions League in 2013 losing to domestic rivals Bayern Munich. Klopp is a perfect fit for us and English football. He nurtures young talent and gives them opportunities, he plays attacking football and looks to stay at a club for a considerable amount of time. His teams are built around the ‘counter press’. Pressing the ball by swarming players in possession. Klopp favors a narrow and compact 4-2-3-1 formation which prefers to attack with a technical counter attack when the opposition is open and exposed. In defence, Dortmund attempts to limit the playing area that their opposition has to play through by playing a high defensive line, and compressing their wingers and fullbacks into central areas. Klopp has openly spoken out about his desire to manage in the Premier League one day so I think if we are looking to replace Martinez we should definitely ‘test the water’. He may be destined for a so called ‘top four job’ but we should show ambition and at least ask the question. As they say if you don’t ask…..
Staying on the continent but moving North West into Holland, Current Ajax manager Frank De Boer is a manager who is also a perfect candidate for the Everton job. As a player he was part of the Ajax side that lifted the Champions League in 1995. Brought up through the famous Ajax Youth Academy De Boer learnt the core principles involved in playing football through the TIPS system. Technique, Insight, Personality and Speed, the basis of the Ajax philosophy. He has since taken that philosophy into coaching. Having worked with the youth system from 2007-2010 he was then given the opportunity to manage the first team from 2010. Since then he has guided Ajax to four successive Eredivise titles and one Johan Cruyff Shield (Charity Shield). As with all Ajax managers they are expected to play 4-3-3. It’s embedded in their philosophy and De Boer is no different. Like Klopp and Tuchel he favours a high pressing game, attempting to win back the ball as early as possible as high up the pitch as possible. It is fair to say that de Boer’s philosophy is based on creating space and exploiting the space created. Another manager who has been linked to both Newcastle and Spurs in the last 12 months and one who would be in high demand if he became available. His name alone brings its own pedigree but what he’s achieved in Dutch football deserves an opportunity to manage in the Premier League. He has already been quoted as saying he won’t discuss his future until the summer. To me that’s code for come and get me once the season is over.
So there you have it a detailed list of potential candidates that I truly believe would be attracted to the opportunity of managing our beloved football club. I truly hope senor Martinez pulls his finger out pretty soon and remembers what it means to manage EFC. Failing that there are plenty of reputable candidates out there both at home and abroad.