Everton travel to Hull City today. Meanwhile Roberto Martinez and Steve both spent big this summer and have thus far failed to deliver.
Declaring any Roberto Martinez led team’s season a failure before the last day of the season is always a big risk. Martinez is the king of confounding those who prematurely deem his season to be a failure. Even when his Wigan side were relegated he managed to clinch them the FA Cup, hardly a failure.
But this season Martinez has failed to get Everton out of first gear. They sit in 12th place and are on a three game losing streak, only beating one team; QPR in December so far. It’s a far cry from the rip-roaring Everton of last year who just missed out on Champions League football. But the peculiar thing is, Everton are a stronger side.
They’ve done permanent deals for Lukaku and Barry, McGeady has bedded in fully and Samuel Eto’o is welcome addition, even if his best days are behind him. Meanwhile in Muhamed Bešić they have a steal of a transfer.
And yet, they’re doing rubbish. Perhaps that’s harsh. Was it just that Everton outperformed their natural level by such a degree last year that this is simply a return to where they belong? You won’t find an Everton fan who’ll admit that any time soon, so perhaps declaring their performance this season as rubbish isn’t so harsh after all.
Everton in twelfth is poor but what will worry Martinez and his supporters is that he has spent a lot of money to get them to twelfth this season. Granted, the huge chunk of change spent by Everton compared to the Everton’s of old all went on Lukaku. Despite returning goals and 3 assists so far, there is certainly something lacking from his performances that hasn’t clicked yet.
Then we have Steve Bruce. A man who also enjoyed a fruitful season last year. He took Hull City to Wembley and had one hand on the FA Cup. Hull City have spent close to £40 million so far. Granted, the Shane Long deal offset that somewhat but it’s still a big chunk of change. Whatever the ambition was, they’re falling short.
Twelfth is bad for Everton, Seventeenth is a lot worse for Hull City. The annual sack race has only just begun, will Steve Bruce survive a season as dismal as this given what he has spent? Now that Warnock has left Crystal Palace, Bruce will have to buck up his squad. Surviving relegation simply because you weren’t as terrible as some other teams is a bi gamble. It’s hard to imagine Palace remaining as poor as they’ve been when they’ve shown what they are capable of against Liverpool.
There’s still time for Martinez and Bruce to turn their seasons around. But if they’re going to do it, both managers will think today’s fixture would be no time like the present.
Sean Curtin, Pundit Arena
Picture by Dan Westwell via Flickr Creative Commons