Everton Are Proof It’s Possible To Punch Above Your Weight In Prem

Playing some of the best football we've ever seen at Goodison, Martinez has transformed Moyes dour, efficient side into a team that can truly challenge the big guns...
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Playing some of the best football we've ever seen at Goodison, Martinez has transformed Moyes dour, efficient side into a team that can truly challenge the big guns...

Everton Are Proof It’s Possible To Punch Above Your Weight In Prem

With the glare of the media’s spotlights upon him, both literally and figuratively, Roberto Martinez didn’t appear to be the most inspiring of figures when he was first revealed as Everton’s new manager back in the summer. Visibly nervous and sweating to an unusual degree, he seemed to be the complete opposite to David Moyes.

And then, in this state, to talk about taking Everton into the Champions League, something that the mighty Moyes had achieved just once, only added to the sense of unease felt by many Evertonians over the appointment of this sweating man who had recently taken his club into the Championship.

I can’t recall the exact moment when I stopped worrying about Martinez but I do know that it was sometime in September, maybe after we outplayed Newcastle. All the concerns I’d possessed, the fear that the once impenetrable Everton defence would develop a Wigan-esque permeability, the worry that Martinez would bring poor-quality players to the club, the sense of unease about the adoption of 'tiki-taka' style of play totally unsuited to a  quad forged in the white-heat of the Moyes revolution, simply dissipated.

It appeared that Kenwright knew exactly what he was doing and that in Martinez, the club might well have found the kind of manager that can finish the job which Moyes started.

We’re nearing the end of the season now and that sense of confidence that Bobby M created back in September has only grown. I’ve followed the club for thirty-five years and in that time seen many decent incarnations of our side, from the creativity and attacking flair of the first Kendal-era, through to the fast paced, tenacious approach of Joe Royle’s time in charge and finally, the tightly organised, difficult to beat sides of the Moyes years. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen Everton play as well as they have at times under Martinez.

Solidity hasn’t been a problem at Goodison for years. Under Moyes, Everton developed a knack for shutting teams down and the days of conceding two or three per game virtually disappeared. But what was often missing was attacking flair. To a crowd reared on the memories and stories of the ‘School of Science’, watching a Moyes side grind out a 1-0 win could be a fairly unsatisfying experience. Under Martinez, the ‘School of Science’ has reopened. At times, Everton have been irresistible, outplaying opponents with an attacking verve to match any of the top clubs in Europe. It’s been a joy to watch the likes of Barkley, Mirallas and Deulofeu grace the pitch this season, producing the kind of football that many Blues feared we would never see again.

And he’s done all this on a shoestring. When the media bothers to mention Everton, which is not that often, there’s occasionally a tacit reference to our limited finances. But this tends to be delivered in an off-hand sort of manner, as if such things are barely worth mentioning.  And yet they really are.

In the most recent Deloitte European Money League, Everton didn’t even make the top 30. By contrast, every single club that surrounds us in the top seven in the Premier League does. In fact, they all make the top 15. And the revenue that these clubs generate dwarfs ours. During the 2012/13 financial year, these clubs made the following amounts: Man Utd (€423m), Man City, (€316m), Chelsea (€303m), Arsenal (€284m), Liverpool (€240m) Spurs (€172m). By contrast, Everton made €100m. In some instances, our revenue generating potential is being tripled by our immediate rivals.

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Over the past decade this, along with the lack of serious money behind the club, has created a situation where Everton’s managers have been unable to simply go out there and buy the kind of players normally required to construct a squad good enough to challenge for the top four. Since 2002, our Premier League rivals have net-spend transfer figures of: Chelsea (£515m), Man City (£479m), Spurs (£235m), Liverpool (£210m) Man Utd (£172m), Arsenal (£47m). With the exception of the Gunners (who have been undergoing something of a financial transition and now, as signalled by the signing of Ozil, appear to be willing to spend big again) our rivals have blown Everton’s net-spend of just £42m right out of the water.

And yet, despite these numerous financial handicaps, Martinez has still managed to put together a side that remains a serious challenger for the top four, and which has made a mockery of the big spending approach of our rivals. And he’s done this through the application of his own philosophy, the promotion of promising young players like Stones and Barkley and the judicious use of the ‘loan-market’. The result has been the creation of a side that bristles with energy and creativity, that has taken-on and beaten most of the clubs in the league and which, whether we finish fourth or fifth, can rightly be proud of what it has achieved this year.

With Bobby at the helm, Everton appear ready to build upon the foundations laid by Moyes and become a permanent thorn in the side of the big money clubs. And this should be celebrated. In an age when it appears that all that matters in the Premier League is cash, other fans and clubs should take heart from what Everton achieve season-in-season-out. The club is living proof that it’s possible to punch above your weight in this division and that limited resources can be overcome by the appointment of the right manager, the adoption of the right philosophy and right approach in the transfer market.

He might have been something of an unknown quantity back in the summer, but during a season when so many managerial appointments have proven to be mistakes, Evertonians should rejoice in the fact that we have a chairman who knows what he’s doing and in Martinez, a manager who could be about to bring the good times back to Goodison.