Leighton Baines comments on Everton’s lack of chemistry have caused manager Roberto Martinez some acute embarrassment over the past week, but the Spaniard shouldn’t be shouldering the blame alone.
Instead the Toffees’ senior players, and only Phil Jagielka can really claim similar seniority to the indiscreet Baines, must be apportioned their share of the criticism that seems, so far to be solely directed at Martinez.
Just two full seasons ago Everton came within six points of a Champions League in their maiden campaign under the former Wigan manager.
His arrival at Goodison Park saw the Toffees sacrifice only a modicum of the defensive stringency that was their greatest asset under David Moyes in favour of a greater focus on possession and attractive attacking football to widespread approval.
The smattering of new players Martinez brought to the club seemed to have developed an excellent chemistry with those who had been on the scene under his predecessor.
On Saturday April 12, 2014, Everton beat Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, winning for the sixth league game in succession and moving above Arsenal into fourth place in the process.
Baines, Jagielka, Seamus Coleman, John Stones, James McCarthy, Gareth Barry, Leon Osman, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku were all in the starting XI, while Ross Barkley replaced Osman on 58 minutes.
Eight of those mentioned were also involved from the get go when the Toffees lost to Manchester United last Sunday, while Barry would also likely have featured but for suspension.
Part of Martinez’s job is to foster the chemistry between his squad members, but when that mutual understanding has so blatantly existed between the same players at previous points under his stewardship then they must share the blame for it’s absence.