Everton went out of the Capital One Cup 4-3 at the semi-final stage against Manchester City on Wednesday night at the Etihad Stadium.
While Toffees boss Roberto Martinez decided to focus on City’s second goal, which should have been ruled out, there was a bigger issue and that was the fact the Spaniard’s decisions cost the Toffees dearly.
Tactical decision cost Toffees
No doubt City have more expensive and superior players, but there are ways of counter-acting that quality. For example Everton looked a threat on the counter-attack, against a vulnerable Manchester City defence.
Romelu Lukaku has the ability to cause most defences problems and given the right supply he has the ability to be a match winner. More often than not Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu has been the Belgian’s main supplier this season.
With less than an hour gone, Martinez decided to hook Deulofeu and bring on the more ponderous Arouna Kone. As soon as the substitution happened I knew exactly how the game would go, with City taking complete control and winning the game with comfort.
The reason most Evertonians knew that the decision would cost Everton was because it Martinez’s way of shutting up shop, which Everton do not have the ability to do under the Spaniard, because he could not organise a prayer in a church.
Deulofeu was not having the best of games, but he is one of the Toffees main attacking threats. He has the ability of running at the City defence, which in turn would put City on the back foot and unable to go forward.
The minute Deulofeu went off the game was only going to go one way, despite the tie being well-balanced when the Spaniard made his exit.
Calamitous defensive set-up
Martinez has proven in the last season and a half that he has absolutely no defensive acumen. He has a decent set of defenders, yet the Spaniard cannot seem to organise them in a way that they can stay solid.
It is no shame in conceding three goals against Manchester City, but Everton have been conceding goals at a concerning rate this season. The return of captain Phil Jagielka should have restored some calm to the defence.
However, even the England international’s calming influence has not able to restore solidity to the Toffees backline. Jagielka’s international team-mate John Stones played at right-back against City and struggled.
Everton’s first choice right-back Seamus Coleman has just returned from injury and was on the bench. He was sent on for Stones in the second half when Everton needed a goal.
I am not privy to the Toffees training, but surely it was worth the risk of playing Coleman, rather than playing John Stones in a position he has played in very little since his time at Barnsley.
All in all it seems that Martinez just does not have the tactical nous to be in charge of a club like Everton who has so much potential and so much history.
Looking nervously over their shoulders
The way Everton are playing they could be dragged into the relegation dogfight. The Toffees are nine points clear of the relegation zone and are odds of 200/1 to be relegated this season. With the players available to Martinez the team should be competing for the top-six at least.
Instead, Toffees fans are concerned that their struggling team could be dragged into the dogfight. When Martinez arrived on Merseyside there were doubts over his ability to help the club progress.
His first season in charge produced a Premier League club record points total and a promise of brighter things to come. He was hailed as the antidote to David Moyes perceived cautious football. Unfortunately the Spaniard’s attacking approach means that Everton’s defence is looking very poor at the moment.
Martinez’s flaws have been ruthlessly exposed in the past 18 months and Everton are now going backwards. A number of Everton fans are now calling for Martinez’s head and it is difficult to argue at the moment.
The Toffees face League Two Carlisle United on Sunday in the FA Cup fourth round. If Everton suffer a shock defeat at the weekend then the Toffees hierarchy will really have a decision to make about Martinez’s future.
Should Everton consider sacking Roberto Martinez?