Everton and their loan stars

by Paul Little

Roberto Martinez EvertonSome managers, we are told, need time. Some – but not all. David Moyes, inheriting the champions, needs time and our patience, we are told. But Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini have not asked for time, and nor would they have been afforded it.

Another of this managerial fraternity is Roberto Martinez, David Moyes’ successor at Everton. In fact, rather than asking for time and patience, the Spaniard was so confident in his abilities that on his appointment he told chairman Bill Kenwright that he would steer his club to into the Champions League.

Saturday’s win at the Stadium of Light was their seventh in a row (a record in the Premier League era for the club), moving Everton into the top four at Arsenal’s expense and a step closer to Martinez’s Promised Land. Notably, it also put the Toffees on 66 points after 33 games – another record, their highest ever Premier League points total, achieved with five games to go.

And considering that the Spaniard has achieved all of this while playing a brand of brave and expansive football not seen on the Blue side of Merseyside since the days of Howard Kendall, with a limited budget and a reliance on a number of loanees, then Martinez’s success takes on an added lustre.

In fact, its Martinez’s work with on loan players Gareth Barry, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu that has impressed me most this season. Everton have received plenty of criticism this term because of their reliance on such players, but Martinez has not only taken advantage of a rule that is open to all teams equally, he has done so much more successfully that anyone else. For that, shouldn’t he be praised rather than criticised?

Praise certainly for his choice of loan player – bolstering his squad in key areas. And praise surely for identifying, attracting and developing talent like the precocious Barcelona winger Deulofeu. But the highest praise should be reserved for the manner in which he has so successfully integrated these players into his intricate playing style – getting such buy in and levels of cohesion from short-term signings  is a testament to his coaching and communication abilities. Far too often, we see loan players go from the fringes of their parent club to the bench of another. Martinez has avoided that pitfall and created a formidable side with these players at its heart.

Yes, we can query how it will impact Everton in future when the loan periods run out. But surely Martinez’s success has allowed the club bridge the gap between the haves and have nots in English football – which in the context of this season has to be a good thing? And doesn’t his success enhance the club’s stature, making it a more attractive choice for prospective targets? And should they achieve a top four position, won’t the financial gains for Everton Football Club improve their chances of attracting the likes of Barry, Lukaku and Deulofeu on a long-term basis?

When Bill Kenwright revealed Roberto Martinez’s Champions League promise early in his tenure, how everybody laughed.

Who’s laughing now?

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