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Everton Are at a Critical Juncture and Roberto Martinez is No Longer the Man for the Job

01/04/2016 17:15 | Updated 01 April 2016

When Farhad Moshiri bought his 49.9% stake in Everton earlier this year it offered the potential of a new dawn for the Toffees. The chance to consistently challenge the Premier League's elite, break into the Champions League and perhaps win a first trophy in more than 20 years.

The British-Iranian billionaire is widely rumoured to be making up to £100m available to invest in the playing squad this summer - that means money for new contracts to keep existing stars, as well as funds to buy in even more talent. Add to that the plans for a new stadium and this is a really exciting time for the club and its fans.

More importantly, it's a hugely critical juncture and with Roberto Martinez in charge are they as well prepared as they could be to make the most of it the opportunity?

There can be no doubt about it, Everton have underperformed since the Spaniard took the reins from David Moyes in the summer of 2013. Smug fans accused Moyes of holding the club back with safe tactics, but that is clearly now not the case. This is easily the most talented group of players that the Toffees have had in a long time and somehow they're going backwards, not forwards.

After 29 games of 2015/16 a horrendously inconsistent team is currently on course for a bottom half Premier League finish for the second season in a row - the first time that has happened since Moyes was just a few months into the job in 2002.

In 2014/15, Martinez's Everton ended the campaign in 11th place - a far cry from the 5th place he'd managed in his debut year at Goodison Park, and also from the 10 previous years under his predecessor. After a shock 17th place in 2003/04, Moyes had just one more bottom half finish until he left Merseyside for Manchester and spent nearly all of that time in the top seven. The current side would kill for that kind of consistency.

In the last four league games prior to the international break, Everton lost three of them. The only fixture they won in that period came against Aston Villa, and yet they managed to put together an excellent performance to see off Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter finals. It doesn't make any sense because they are a team that can genuinely beat anyone on their day.

Where Martinez's Everton are seriously flawed is at the back. They just cannot keep teams out long enough to pick up the wins that a potent midfield and front-line can give them. No matter the attacking capability, the mark of a good team always starts with defence - it's what stopped Liverpool from winning the title two seasons ago - and Everton have completely lost it.

In the last three years under Martinez, the Toffees have lost nearly 50 points from winning positions because of an inability to hold onto a lead. The 3-3 draws against Bournemouth and Chelsea in the last few months alone stick out as particular examples because those games should have been won.

It has to come down to naivety on the part of the manager and his staff because several of the individuals in the club's premier back four - Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, John Stones - are hailed as some of the best in the country.

Last season Everton leaked 50 goals. With nine games of 2015/16 remaining they're on course to match or even exceed that number. By contrast, in Martinez's first season they conceded just 39 times in 38 games and it gave them the opportunity to challenge for a Champions League place. But rather than give the Spaniard credit, it now seems that resilient defence was an after effect of the Moyes era which has since completely faded.

Letting Martinez go would be a difficult decision to make. He's a likeable character, but even loyal supporters are getting tired of his constant refusal to accept his own shortcomings - the only bit of consistency he has managed - while persistently blaming other external factors for setbacks.

Three years is more than a fair period of time for a manager to prove themselves in the ever more short-termist way that people approach modern football. Everton just cannot afford to let this opportunity to bridge the gap to the big clubs pass them by and potentially waste £100m on another disappointing season by putting faith in a boss who's had plenty of resources and has still shown that he's not up to it.

Even with Martinez gone, it remains a critical juncture for Everton because that next managerial appointment has to be perfect.

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