Premier League legends Tim Cahill and Thierry Henry made headlines on Sunday when they discussed the current state of Everton, with ex-Toffee Cahill suggesting that the club has “lost its identity.”
Both Cahill and Henry were correct when they suggested that the sacking of Roberto Martinez was a mistake. The move was a result of impatience and sparked a decline at Goodison Park.
Martinez’s first season at Everton was record-setting; he became the first manager in club history to avoid defeat in his first six matches. The Toffees finished an impressive fifth in the league, completing a league double over Manchester United, and qualified for the Europa League in the process.
The success brought an improved five-year contract for the Spaniard, but the following two years brought consecutive disappointing 11th-placed league finishes.
Martinez was sacked with one match remaining in the 2015/16 season, as supporters grew tired of his side’s laboured style of play and porous defence.
But, although Everton certainly underperformed in Martinez’s second and third seasons, the Spaniard deserved longer at the club – an opinion that current manager Sam Allardyce voiced at the time.
In 2016, then-Sunderland manager Allardyce told BBC Sport that Martinez “deserved a bit more time,” and that “the job is getting more and more difficult because of the impatience now in the game of football.”
Big Sam was right. The league performances were certainly poor, but Everton nonetheless reached both the FA Cup and League Cup semifinals in 2016, a commendable feat that is often overlooked.
With the sacking of Martinez, Everton lost a clear identity that defines the club. A large part of the club’s success under David Moyes was a coherent club philosophy that all players bought into, and recently without that the Toffees have struggled.
A more patient approach would have allowed the manager to rekindle the glories of his inaugural season, playing attractive football and winning cups in the process.
If only Roberto Martinez was allowed more time at Goodison Park, Everton would have avoided the current identity crisis afflicting the club.