Roberto relishes competition for places

04/12/2015  34 Comments  [Jump to last]
No-one can be sure about the starting line-up

Roberto Martinez says that the number of options he has at his disposal means that it's very difficult for observers to deduce his first-choice team and it gives him important flexibility when it comes to preparing for a given opponent.

That strength in depth has enabled the Blues to ride out injuries to key defenders like Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka and allow the manager to select players based on form rather than necessity.

This season, we have found a very interesting moment of form for certain players, Martinez said. No-one can drop standards or take it easy because someone else is waiting to take the opportunity.

We have real attacking options. At one point, we had up to five defenders out of the squad but coped really well and that excites me. One or two grab headlines, but its about squad.

As a manager you want a squad where pundits cant pick the line-up. It has been a target to create a pool of players of fantastic talent, with different ways of playing.

We can pick a line-up based on certain form, opponents, and as a manager thats what you want. You can use that to your advantage very well. Weve been pushing the team as much as we can.


Reader Comments (34)

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Phil Sammon
1 Posted 05/12/2015 at 06:01:24
We might be playing quite well but Martinez still seems to be on a different planet to me. The one thing we don't have is competition for places. Our first eleven, bar maybe the left wing, is absolutely set in stone.

Tonnes of positive things he could have said about this team right now... instead, he conjures up a load of absolute bollocks. Typical Martinez.

Barry Earley
2 Posted 05/12/2015 at 06:49:18
He's right you know.

I've no idea if Howard will be in goal. I can't imagine if Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori and Galloway will be our defence. I wonder if Barry and McCarthy will be our midfield engine?

Who can guess whether Deulofeu, Barkley and Kone will be just ahead of them? And I've not the faintest notion if Lukaku will be up front.

Yup, he's quite correct. Neither I or anyone else here, let alone Premier League managers, could possibly guess our line-up.

Trevor Lynes
3 Posted 05/12/2015 at 06:57:14
If McCarthy is unfit I would try Baines at defensive midfield.Mirallas in his couple of cameo's has shown better form than Cleverley, Gibson and Lennon, none of whom ever score.

If we start poorly against 'Palace and Mirallas is left on the bench then I will be angry :(The fans want Mirallas brought on when we need goals.

Michael O'Brien
4 Posted 05/12/2015 at 07:18:14
Haha, Barry... spot-on.
Peter McHugh
5 Posted 05/12/2015 at 07:24:25
Haha... a lot of truth, Barry, though I can see Baines getting back in the side and Jags possibly when fit. I also think Mirallas will eventually force his way into the starting 11 although perhaps that's wishful thinking and it will be Cleverley instead on the left (which I don't like).

Also, with injuries, there's a space there next to Barry – again tho, it seems nailed-on he will play Cleverley there as opposed to Besic

Stewart Fawcett
6 Posted 05/12/2015 at 08:56:08
Martinez can be a breath of fresh air at times, compared to the past two managers, and infuriate at others.

I doubt any of those usually on the bench are thinking "I've got a 50-50 chance of starting next game."

Barry, you've made me start my Saturday with a laugh – classic! COYB

Terence Leong
7 Posted 05/12/2015 at 09:58:46
A few thoughts here:

It's probably said in the context of having more players back from injury. As the manager, when posed with such a question, there are only so many ways you can say about having more players to choose from.

I think some fans' concerns are less on whether this is sufficient competition for places, as compared to whether that means anything, ie, will Martinez really utilize the full squad. For example, there is a fair amount of unhappiness regarding Robles still being on the bench.

I do think that there is sufficient competition in a good deal of positions. The only ones I don't see having sufficient depth is up front, and at right back:

- Baines / Galloway (LB)
- Stones / Jagielka / Funes Mori / Galloway / Browning (CB)
- Mirallas / Deulofeu / Lennon (RW)
- Mirallas / Cleverley / Baines / Kone / Pienaar
- Gibson / Besic / McCarthy / Barry / Cleverley / Barkley / (CM)
- Deulofeu / Naismith / Barkley / Osman / Kone (No 10)

Barry Pearce
8 Posted 05/12/2015 at 10:00:06
Should be Besic next to Barry.

Mo has got great energy, and that little nasty streak.

Dick Brady
9 Posted 05/12/2015 at 10:16:27
Roberto's right – no one can afford to drop standards or else they will be replaced. I mean if Tim Howard were to put in even a slightly below par performance then he'd immediately be dropped.

Likewise if Joel Robles was to have a half decent game he'd have a very good chance of keeping his place in the side.

It's so exciting because we never know who will start for Everton in the next game. Howard or Robles.....there's just no way to even guess.

Tony McNulty
11 Posted 05/12/2015 at 11:13:15

I heard that is the real reason Stones is learning Spanish.

He hasn't a bull notion what Roberto is going on about in English, and was wondering if any of it made more sense in Spanish.

Brent Stephens
12 Posted 05/12/2015 at 11:48:50
Tony, he probably makes as much sense in Spanish as he does in English. As much sense as Stanley Unwin...
Des Farren
13 Posted 05/12/2015 at 13:08:20
@6&7. As Martinez is Catalan I doubt very much he would be using Spanish. Likewise for Stones if he is Barcelona bound.
David Hallwood
14 Posted 05/12/2015 at 13:31:05
It's unfortunate that any statement by the manager is usually met with hostility, because it's a statement of the bleedin' obvious and it's the main reason why big clubs are big clubs: not matter how big or how much he cost, if he doesn't do the business, there's another world class player chomping at the bit on the bench – so we're not there yet.

That being said, he does his views no favours by picking favourites even when they're hopelessly out of form despite having the strongest squad in years.

Brian Denton
15 Posted 05/12/2015 at 13:56:08
Des (8), I would imagine Spanish would suffice. I doubt if there are many monoglot Catalan speakers in Spain. The same situation as in Wales, where all Welsh speakers also speak English (albeit reluctantly sometimes, and not when an English person goes into the pub....)

It would be good PR to learn some Catalan, of course.

William Cartwright
16 Posted 05/12/2015 at 16:34:40
Seems like when the Tinkerman adopts a settled team / support squad approach as he has done lately people give him a hard time for not mixing it up. When he highlights the opportunity for considered changes then he worries everyone. You can't win! I cannot get the managerial logic that puts Robles in for the cup matches and Howard into the league games.

What does this do to the respective quality of the competitions? Surely one is stronger than the other and we know where the majority (but not necessarily the correct) stand on that. So why isn't Robles playing in every game, or why isn't Howard playing in the cup matches? What happens if we get to Wembley, will Robles be overlooked? Will they play 45 minutes each? It really is a conundrum of Roberto's own making.

Meanwhile great to see Stoke doing one over City. If they can do it then so can we.This season is turning out to be a real surprise week by week. COYB
Dave Abrahams
17 Posted 05/12/2015 at 16:42:17
As long as Deulofeu is in the team, I'll be happy. He's the one who adds speed and quickness of thought to the side.
Michael Williams
18 Posted 05/12/2015 at 16:49:59
Martinez obviously has his preferred starting 11 and some of those are untouchables – Rom, Gerri, Barkley, Stones, Coleman – and they should be Perhaps he means if the one of a starter really fails to perform they will be replaced. And I think most of the starting 11 know that.

Kone went to the bench when Naismith earned a slot after Chelsea but Naisy seemed to lose form quickly. If Naisy kept it up he may still be starting.

Unlike years past, there really is some talent behind players at several positions so the starters need to perform. As of moving someone out of the starting 11 right now, I don't see much of an argument for any of them except perhaps Howard.

Dean Adams
19 Posted 05/12/2015 at 17:55:22
Brian (#10),

Not just when English walk in fella, lots of Welsh people don't speak the language and get the same treatment – with a sprinkling of contempt thrown in!!!

Ray Roche
20 Posted 05/12/2015 at 18:04:12
Brian (#10),

When my Welsh Mother-in-Law met my English Father-in-Law, she spoke no English and he spoke no Welsh. They had six children....

Des Farren
21 Posted 05/12/2015 at 19:15:52
Yes, Brian @ 10.

Not too many I imagine.

The point I was making, however, was that in Barcelona, schooling, university education, social interaction and business activity is conducted in Catalan, not Spanish. Those speaking Spanish therefore are in a minority, to put it mildly.

I simply made the point in response to a couple trite comments relative to Martinez's fluency in Spanish.

As for the Welsh, well, that's a whole new ball game.

Brent Stephens
22 Posted 05/12/2015 at 19:28:05
Des, mine was one of the "trite" comments you mention. Don't you just hate trite comments.
Brian Denton
23 Posted 05/12/2015 at 19:38:40
Des, Wiki tells me:

According to the Statistical Institute of Catalonia in 2008 the Catalan language is the second most commonly used in Catalonia, after Spanish.

Which seems more likely to me. In every case I know (and historically eg Cornish) when a regional minority language exists side by side with a larger more commercial language, the minority language speakers are bilingual.

Minik Hansen
24 Posted 05/12/2015 at 19:41:24
He is talking in relation to the cup games, it must be. Then he must transform the line-ups we've seen to the Premier League games, well Cleverley is back anyways, so I wonder what will happen. Baines I'd like to see put back, though Galloway is doing good things.
Minik Hansen
25 Posted 05/12/2015 at 19:50:07
Anyways, when Jags is back, Stones will still be playing beside him and be a cover to Coleman at right-back, so Funes Mori partners with Jags. It's a wonderful situation at the back, that's for sure.
Mike Gaynes
27 Posted 05/12/2015 at 20:37:49
Off-topic but relevant to competition and Roberto's decisions...

Spare a thought for a heartbroken young former Toffee.

I've just watched a dramatic second-round FA Cup tie between Northampton and the part-timers of Northwich Victoria. The goalkeeper for Northwich is Mason Springthorpe, Everton's U-21 starter until he was released last year by Roberto. He failed at several clubs before landing in the eighth tier.

Tonight Northwich was just over seven minutes away from beating the League Two side... leading 2-0... and Springthorpe was superb. But he was beaten three times in four minutes -- twice by hellacious deflections off his own defenders... and Northwich went down 3-2. There was a shot of the kid lying on his back in the box, sobbing.

This can be a bastard of a game. He's 21. Think of what his dreams must have been like just 18 months ago... and tonight must feel like the last spin of a death spiral.

Brent Stephens
28 Posted 05/12/2015 at 20:40:17
Tony, you brightened my Saturday!
James Stewart
29 Posted 05/12/2015 at 20:44:29
I think we do have competition for places but the squad is still short on the required quality. Lukaku, Geri and even Barkley have been on fire lately but if you took those 3 out of the time I think it would struggle.

I would like to see a deep lying playmaker come in, someone like Banega who can really dictate our tempo. Plus a left winger to replace Pienaar.

We need to be careful of the driftwood piling up as well, Pienaar, McGeady, Osman, Gibson, Lennon are earning a hell of a lot for the handful of minutes they have between them.

Andy Crooks
33 Posted 05/12/2015 at 21:55:16
Good post, Mike Gaynes. I hate seeing working class kids being snidely mocked for earning big money. You have just given an example of how rare their chance is.
Paul Hewitt
35 Posted 05/12/2015 at 22:13:53
If Martinez picks a team by players on form. How the hell is Howard in every week?
Denis Richardson
36 Posted 05/12/2015 at 22:21:15
Barry (#2) sums it up nicely....
Ciaran Duff
37 Posted 05/12/2015 at 23:50:45
Lucky Roberto. Spare a thought for poor old Manuel at City who is finding it hard to cope with his injury crisis. :- (

(Hey,lucky we didn't draw Stoke in the semis.)

Les Martin
38 Posted 06/12/2015 at 00:41:30
We need a No 10, Martinez has said it and it's on record... when we get that, then the jigsaw is complete.
Harold Matthews
40 Posted 06/12/2015 at 04:00:17
Sounds like he's trying to paper over the cracks. We have a decent first XI but he's well aware that we do not have an adequate squad. As stated only last week, selling two and replacing them with four will help make us stronger.

With Jags and Browning in the sick bay, Stones was forced to play several games with an injured leg and his nightmare against Jermaine Defoe was painful to watch.

Right now we have no experienced backup for Coleman. Lennon has been tried there but he isn't a fullback, Jones is probably not good enough and the excellent Jonjo Kenny is only a kid.

Kone was gasping for air against Bournemouth and their manager took full advantage of the situation. Martinez didn't have the squad to cope.

I won't go on about other players and other positions because I would only make myself ill. The squad is nowhere near as strong as Martinez would have us believe.

Michael Williams
42 Posted 06/12/2015 at 16:58:41
Yes, Harold this squad does not have a great player behind every starter which is pretty much where most teams find themselves.

"With Jags and Browning in the sick bay, Stones was forced to play several games with an injured leg and his nightmare against Jermaine Defoe was painful to watch."

Well there were 5 defenders out so someone had to play with a knock. That happens all the time. Losing 5 in the back will hurt any team. Look what Man Utd are going through with losing just two and the debacle last season when they lost less than 5 at the back.

This team is much deeper than last season and everyone knows it. Players who got a lot of time last season are not this season (Osman, Naismith, Mirallas) Yeah, EFC does not have experienced back-ups in some places but that would cost much more money.

Don't kid yourself Harold, RM knows hope deep his team is. It's deeper than it has been in forever, even if there are holes.

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