It is hard to think of two managers with more contrasting styles than Roberto Martinez and Tony Pulis. And there seemed to be little love lost between the pair after West Bromwich Albion’s hard-earned 1-0 victory at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Martinez was left bemoaning the visitors’ time wasting and spoiling tactics after his Everton side were frustrated despite 76 per cent possession and 34 goal attempts. Pulis said less but, like his team, landed the killer blow, noting pointedly that Everton “have a top-five squad”.
Martinez admitted that he has “a squad to dream of” yet, while he was correct to claim some misfortune on a day when they hit the woodwork twice in a dominant first-half display, he was on shakier ground when suggesting that “today is a one-off situation”.
Everton have taken five points from the last 21 available at home; they have won only four of 14 home league games this season, losing six.
Their best performances have come away from home, where they have lost just once, but it is home form that keeps most supporters happy and, while Martinez’s glass may be forever half-full, his talk of a golden tomorrow is greeted with increasing cynicism by Goodison regulars.
“I want to push the football club into more than what people would expect,” he said, but if Everton do not progress in the FA Cup, in which they visit Bournemouth in the fifth round next weekend, their season will be over. Hence the grumblings in the second period on Saturday, when his decision to remove Aaron Lennon, his side’s brightest spark, was loudly booed.
Just to complete a miserable afternoon for Martinez, who prides himself on his team’s open-play goal tally, it was a Pulis set piece that decided things. Jonas Olsson took time out from subduing Romelu Lukaku to nod a corner over flat-footed goalkeeper Joel Robles, and Salomon Rondon bundled the ball over the line. It was Albion’s only attempt on target.Reuse content