‘Money cannot buy you everything’.
Evertonians have become accustomed to sound bites from players, managers and their football club itself throughout its 137 history, with Alan Ball, Dave Hickson, Brian Labone, William Ralph ‘Dixie’ Dean, Neville Southall and David Moyes having all had quotes about Everton Football Club go down in history to varying degrees.
Current Toffees boss Roberto Martinez can add himself to that list.
Following the Blues’ 5-3 victory over Barnsley in the second round of the Capital One Cup two weeks ago, Martinez defiantly stood up to Chelsea’s tireless pursuit of Everton defender John Stones with an honest, open post-match interview that included the quote mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
It is a move that could end up paying dividends in rekindling Everton fans’ faith in him.
The support from the Goodison faithful was unwavering in the Catalan’s first season in charge, with a record Premier League points haul of 72 – which led to a 5th place finish – bearing witness to the manner in which Martinez had appeared to take the Toffees to the next level up from predecessor David Moyes.
But Evertonians’ patience and belief began to falter throughout the course of last season as the former Wigan Athletic manager notably struggled to reach the lofty heights of the previous campaign.
Unable to marry commitments in both the Premier League and Europa League, Everton’s form suffered. A bottom 10 finish for the first time since the 2005/06 season, first round exits in both th FA Cup and Capital One Cup and a capitulation in the Europa League last 16 tie to Dynamo Kiev resulted in Martinez having much to ponder throughout the summer months, and Evertonians wondering if the Spaniard was the right man to carry the Blues forward.
Such feelings failed to dissapate after a summer that saw only Tom Cleverley and Gerard Deulofeu join the first team ranks – albeit before August 28th – and the crescendo of boos that greeted both Martinez and his players at the half time interval on the opening day of the new season, with Everton trailing 1-0 to newly promoted Watford at home, only served to reinforce the turning of the tide against Martinez.
It is all the more remarkable, then, that opinions of the current Toffees boss, since those post-match comments, seem to have turned back in his favour.
The almost father-esque manner in which he protected Stones, particularly in the wake of the 21 year old handing in a transfer request just 24 hours before the Toffees’ trip to Oakwell, and the veracity with which he drew a line under the month long saga drew plaudits across social media amongst Everton supporters in the days that followed.
Of course, Martinez will be judged primarily on what occurs on match days. Positive results in the league, which would allow for a return to European football, and potentially a 1st trophy in 20 years would catapult confidence in the Spaniard skyward, and earn respect exponentially quicker than soundbites in his press conferences, interviews and post match reaction pieces.
So, too, would bringing more exciting, talented footballers to Goodison Park to wow the crowds. Incomings into the first team squad have been mixed at best since Martinez’s arrival, with the overriding opinion being ‘can do better’.
There is no denying, however, the pragmatic and dignified manner with which Martinez has addressed this particular issue in the face of such dogged persistence from Chelsea Football Club and the national media to see Stones move to Stamford Bridge.
One soap opera will not completely sway judgement back in favour of Martinez, but he has not harmed his chances of doing so in recent weeks.
Money most definitely cannot buy everything. For Evertonians, it could not buy a more virtuous, honourable manager than Roberto Martinez.