BY ALEX LEONARD
The jubilation, anxiety, depression and ecstasy of football all revolve around its two most pivotal and immovable elements; success and failure. Extending from this, whatever outcome does occur hinges on the solitary, key component of opportunity. Its effects upon a match, a club or a season can be invaluable or devastating, depending on whether the opportunity that is presented is taken or missed. In June of this year, the chairman of a historic football club, a man famed for his belief and support, contacted Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez regarding the greatest opportunity the Spaniard had ever been offered; the vacant managerial position at Everton.
Bill Kenwright’s offer was the first of many opportunities that Roberto Martinez would be gifted within the coming months, as the Spaniard traded his then current shade of blue for one which is considerably more royal. Stepping into the unknown, Martinez, branded with the most unusual of F.A Cup victories, was likely the only man who could foresee his immediate future in the manner which it has planned out; and even he probably did not predict it to be as brilliant an opening as Evertonians have witnessed.
Four well-polished yet intense months and only the single Premier League defeat later, Martinez has undergone a considerably long and transitional process since he adorned the casual formality of brown leather shoes, black suit pants and a white shirt with several top buttons unfastened as Real Betis visited Goodison Park. Back then in August, his first home match, the sight of his presence on the touch-line felt slightly uncomfortable; indefinitely unfamiliar.
However, those tables have been turned for a considerable time, the ice has long since been broken, and Everton have progressed from being feared at their most vulnerable in recent years to being at their strongest, especially over late November and early December. Martinez orchestrated a tense yet unforgettable two weeks, featuring the most satisfactory and dramatic of victories at Old Trafford against an old ‘friend’, sending the sinking ship on its way under the ocean a little more as a result.
No lifeboat is to be needed during the defining of Everton Football Club, however, for the process which Roberto Martinez is conducting is far from a gentle ebb and flow. It is an oncoming storm, and the waves are crashing into the shore with much force; providing there are minimal injuries and the first team remains relatively intact, Everton’s form of late has no reason not to continue, and Romelu Lukaku’s goal-scoring should persist amidst the ‘Barcelona’ style of play. While one man made Everton sustainable, his successor may well propel them to the next level.
Everton, over the last 11 years, could claim to have their own personal clichÃ© of ‘over achievement’ and supposedly out-performing what the squad should be capable of. Under Martinez, this stigma appears to be no more; he has undoubtedly taken every valuable opportunity he has been presented with, and maximised it. Lukaku, Deulofeu, Barry and McCarthy: four decisions Martinez shall never regret, and four members of the current first team whom it is unimaginable to picture anywhere other than Everton due to their integral role-play.
Such a new-look for the club was a gamble; although, undeniably, at this present moment in time with difficult football matches in the recent past and a kind Christmas fixture list in procession, it has paid off. Whether the outstanding performances which Martinez has been overseeing since taking over will continue in the long term is unpredictable, as is the future of the exceptional loaned players. However, if the Spaniard, whose presence and aura is one to be admired and will be a feature of Everton Football Club for the foreseeable future and hopefully longer, can continue to grasp the opportunities presented to him and capitalise upon their potential as he already has been doing, there is even brighter future lying ahead for the Blues.
Solo Lo Mejor