Ahead of Monday night's clash with Everton at
Goodison Park, we caught up once more with Toffees' fan Gary.
Amongst other things, he gives us his views on
the Toffees' first half of the season, Roberto Martinez and the club's Europa
League prospects. You can follow Gary on Twitter @Gary_Maiden.
It's not been
the best of seasons so far for the Toffees, with recent results particularly
poor. What's the current mood around Goodison and what's the main reason behind
the downturn in results?
You're right, it really hasn't.
We're used to slow starts to the season at Goodison Park but a slow start has
turned into a poor season this time around. There is a real toxic atmosphere
around the club at the moment and you can see the tension from the stands
translating into the players' performances. It is difficult to put a finger on
what has gone wrong, with largely the same squad as last season. Some blues
suggest that teams have figured us out and we have become too predictable, hard
to argue with really.
sitting 12th in the table, Everton are just three points above the relegation
zone, any concerns at all about getting sucked into trouble?
We've heard a few times over the
years that no side is too good to go down but in the case of Everton this
season, we really are. Of course sitting just three points above the drop zone
is a worry but we will pick up enough points between now and the end of the
season. Needs to happen soon though.
Martinez still have the support of the majority of Everton fans?
Yes. I'd say the vast majority
of Evertonians are in agreement that he earned the right to pull through this
period with last campaign's performance. 72 points would have been enough for
Champions League football in ten of the last 12 seasons, so he clearly has
something special to offer. He does, however, need to become more adaptable when
things aren't going our way. He's had plenty of practice this season!
Europa League adventure continues next month with a tie against Swiss side BSC
Young Boys. How confident are you of success in the competition?
We looked brilliant in the group
stages in what was a very testing set of opponents. Martinez's style seems to
suit European football perfectly so we could be ones to watch in this
competition. 20 years without silverware for a club of Everton's stature is
simply unacceptable and, with the blues out of the two domestic cups, the Europa
League has to take priority for me - over the Premier League.
club needs to do during the remainder of the transfer window?
There is a great deal the club
need to do to strengthen but the fact of the matter is that we just don't have
the necessary funds. A priority has to be a goalkeeper as Tim Howard hasn't been
up to it for a few years now. Additionally, John Stones aside, we have an ageing
central defence so a young centre half would be a welcomed boost. Going forward
we aren't struggling all that much but we just leak too many goals.
former Albion loanee Romelu Lukaku doing for you this season?
He hasn't hit the heights of the
previous two seasons for both of our clubs but he is just starting to find a bit
of form with goals in both of the legs against West Ham in the cup. You could
argue that he has struggled with the £28m price tag over his head but he just
hasn't had the service from many of our creative players. Hopefully being
dropped for a couple of games has done him some good, it certainly seems to have
and line-up can we expect to see Martinez deploy against the Baggies?
I'd expect the Belgian up top
with an attacking three behind him. Two sitting midfielders protecting our shaky
back four with Joel Robles continuing in net. With Samuel Eto'o seemingly on his
way, this will hopefully be rid of any nonsense of playing Ross Barkley out
wide. I'd like to see Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith out wide with Mo Besic
and James McCarthy, if fit, holding.
Player of the
season so far?
There honestly haven't been all
that many players to choose from. Kevin Mirallas has showed his obvious talent
in spells so I'd have to go with the Belgian. Besic has looked tidy in
McCarthy's absence but, in all honesty, no one has performed anywhere near their
Gareth Barry. The former
man was one of our best players last season but has been utterly dreadful this
campaign. Renowned for his ability to keep possession, he is now the complete
opposite. Whether it is just a case of becoming a year older and suffering from
heavy legs, who knows? He was instrumental to our possession football in
Martinez's first season, and with him struggling, it is no coincidence that the
have done superbly to pull themselves back into the reckoning and will be there
or thereabouts. However, Chelsea will have too much in my opinion. They have the
perfect blend in their system with all of the attacking prowess a side gunning
for the title could hope for. Nemanja Matic is the best defensive midfielder in
the league and offers a platform for the more creative players to bomb forward.
Their defence isn't bad either.
Leicester, Burnley and
Sunderland. Steve Bruce has the required experience to pull a struggling Hull
side clear and QPR's home from may just save them. The goals of Charlie Austin
may prove crucial whereas Sunderland don't have that required goalscorer, unless
Jermaine Defoe rolls back the years that is.
and thoughts on Monday's game?
I'm a big fan of Tony Pulis and
believe that he will be the perfect fit for your club. West Brom are a club with
a proud history that belongs in the top flight and the former Stoke boss should
have no problems in further consolidating your Premier League stance over the
course of the next few seasons. Having said that, Everton simply have to start
picking up points soon and I have to back us to start on Monday night. I'll go
with a 2-1 home win, more with hope than confidence.