Why Roberto Martinez should win Premier League manager of the season
With the end of the Premier League season fast approaching, the debate will undoubtedly start to arise, who should win Manager of the Season? Realistically, the two main contenders at this stage are Brendan Rodgers of Liverpool, and Roberto Martinez of Everton. Although Liverpool are enjoying a title challenge, it is all the more impressive what Martinez has managed to achieve at Everton in what many thought would be a “transition season”.
When Roberto Martinez was first appointed as Everton manager it was obvious that replacing David Moyes after an 11 year reign was going to be tough. Even with an FA Cup win the previous season, many were sceptical after Martinez managed to become the first manager to win the FA Cup and get relegated in the same season. However, let’s not forget that before becoming Borussia Dortmund manager, Jurgen Klopp took FSV Mainz down, and anyone would find it hard to pick a flaw in his managerial abilities.
The stark contrast in style that Martinez has brought has transformed Everton from a dour, defence-minded team into a free flowing, attractive team. What is even more impressive is how quickly he has managed to get the players onboard with his new ideas and philosophies at the club. His reign started with 3 draws with Nowrich, West Brom and Cardiff (not very impressive), however, the first glimpse we saw of what his team was capable of inflicted Jose Mourinho’s first defeat back as manager of Chelsea (remember this was without top scorer Romelu Lukaku).
As the season has progressed Martinez and his team have gone from strength to strength, first ending a 22 year hoodoo at Old Trafford with a 1-0 win, followed later in the season by a seven match winning streak (Everton’s best since 1987), included a 3-0 demolition of Arsenal to move his team into Champions League contention. This streak has resulted in Everton sat on their highest ever Premier League points total, still with five games to play.
The main reason Martinez deserves to win Manager of the Season is not only what he has managed to achieve, but it’s the shoe string budget he managed it on in comparison to the rest of the top 7. His intelligence to sell Marouanne Fellaini (arguably Everton’s best player last season) for £27 million and to replace him with the £13 million James McCarthy has turned out to be a stroke of genius. The midfield maestro has been terrific for Everton, suiting Martinez’s Catalan passing style of football whilst being able to do the same job as Fellaini, breaking up attacks and covering, allowing Everton’s full backs to venture forward.
Martinez has also exploited the loan market brilliantly. Romelu Lukaku looks to be the striker that Everton have been crying out for for 11 years under David Moyes. His 13 Premier League goals this season for the Toffees prove this. Gareth Barry has been brought in and provides an anchor when on the ball, sitting in between the centre backs and starting attacks, allowing Everton’s attacking 4 to run riot. Finally, Gerard Deulofeu has been a breath of fresh air to the Premier League. After acoring 18 goals for Barcelona ‘B’ last season he came to England with quite a reputation and has not disappointed, terrorising some of the best full backs in the league and scoring some important goals, his late equaliser at the Emirates springs to mind.
Tactially, Martinez likes to keep the ball on the floor and play patient, passing football, waiting to exploit any gaps the opposition may present. When Everton get possession, the full-backs push up and the centre backs split, Allowing Gareth Barry to sit in between them and dictate the play from the back while holding a solid defensive shape to guard against counter attacks. This is vital as Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines are often Everton’s furthest players forward.
One more aspect that Martinez has brought to Everton this season is youthfulness. He has given Ross Barkley the stage to show off his spectacular talents and become a key aspect of Everton’s attacking line up. He has also allowed John Stones to thrive at centre back in recent weeks. Both of these players are incredibly comfortable on the ball for 20 year olds, this comes from the confidence instilled in them by Martinez.
The whole team has been filled with confidence and incredible team spirit from Martinez. This can be seen in every game, but one moment that encapsulated the spirit he has brought to Everton was when Romelu Lukaku fired Everton 2-0 up against Arsenal. He ran straight to Martinez holding up 4 fingers (4th place) and leapt on his beaming manager.
Statistically, Everton have averaged 56.5% possession under Martinez with an average pass accuracy of 83.3%. This a huge improvement on last season when they averaged.52.9% possession and 79.4% pass accuracy under Moyes. Martinez has also averaged exactly 2 points per game whilst scoring 1.61 goals per game. These are also significant improvements on last season’s totals of 1.44 goals per game and 1.66 points per game.
All of this adds up to a very strong argument for Roberto Martinez to win Manager of the Season. Regardless of who wins the title, following on from an 11 year legacy and taking Everton to a new level on a minimal budget is the most impressive managerial achievement this season. Especially if they achieve Champions League football, there can only be one winner.
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