Where did all go wrong for Roberto Martinez at Everton?

His time at Goodison Park is over after a promising start

Roberto Martinez, Everton

Roberto Martinez. Picture by: Nick Potts / PA Wire/Press Association Images

After Roberto Martinez's debut season, it seemed like he was the perfect fit for Everton.

Alas, that has not turned out to be the case as his three year spell at Goodison Park comes to an end.

He remains a likable and positive character - a press conference quality which eventually wore on the fans - but results have fallen off as the months have progressed.

So what went wrong for the former Swansea and Wigan manager?

Defence

In Martinez's first season in charge, the defence was relatively solid, conceding 39 goals across the 2013-14 campaign as the Toffees came close to Champions League qualification at a rate of barely over a goal per game.

In contrast, the Liverpool side which almost won the title that season, let in a full 50 goals.

At the time, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin were the central pairing, while right full-back Seamus Coleman ended up in the PFA Team of the Year.

As time has progressed, the veteran Distin left for pastures new and the clearly talented but raw ball-playing centre-back John Stones got increasing game-time.

A risk-taker by nature, fingers have been pointed at Stones at times this season for mistakes. But there is a perception that Martinez, who favours a possession-centric style of football, did not emphasise the defence.

Patrick Boyland of These Football Times says Martinez "will rarely focus on corners or set pieces in training, believing those elements to be unworthy of his brand of technical, passing football".

That's in stark contrast to someone like Sam Allardyce, whose Sunderland side thrashed Everton 3-0 last night, and puts more emphasis on teasing out the percentages as seen at Bolton, Blackburn and now at the Black Cats.

This season, Everton have conceded 55 goals - with one match still to play - even though they still have a positive goal difference which goes to show a lot about the approach. 

Everton manager Roberto Martinez (3rd left) talks to Romelu Lukaku on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at St Mary's, Southampton. Picture by: Andrew Matthews / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Signings?

Everton were never particularly big spenders, indeed much of David Moyes' success there was built on scouting and the acquiring players at excellent value and building a durable side.

Martinez has had more to spend, including the record signing of Romelu Lukaku, who individually can be regarded as a success given his still youthful age profile.

His first signings in the summer of 2013 have not been failures. They include James McCarthy and Arouna Kone who has occasionally shone as a foil for Lukaku, who arrived permanently the following summer.

Last season, they struggled to balance Europa League commitments with their Premier League fixtures, slipping down to 11th, although the signings of Samuel Eto'o (free), Gareth Barry (£2 million), Muhamed Besic (£4 million) did not represent bad value given the transfer fees.

However the £13.5 million splurged on Oumar Niasse from Lokomotiv Moscow on January transfer deadline day has yet to bear any fruit with just two Premier League appearances since then. It might be a case of wait and see but at that price, it represents a risk. Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu have done okay for their £4 million tags while Ramiro Funes Mori came at a more hefty £9 million from River Plate. 

But it's hard to say that most of the arrivals were an unqualified success.

Getting best out of the squad

In January 2015, Lukaku revealed that Everton's players had spoken to Martinez to go for a more direct approach to their play.

It was especially significant for the star striker who despite his size, operates best when quick ball is played into him and he can run into space, rather than having to wait patiently as the attack builds more patiently from the back.

On one hand, that shows that Martinez put his style over the main strengths of some of the players, although Lukaku has been quite prolific at times despite the approach.

Even back to the defensive issue and Stones, Kenny Cunningham once pointed out that the issue is not just a question of the penny needing to drop for the player, but that "he might learn more under a manager who had a real defensive mentality who could actually sit him down and talk him through his defending and where he needs to improve, and how his decision-making has to get a little bit better."

That could also be applied to the defensive portion of the team as a whole, as goals have not been the problem.