Monday Verdict: Foxes highlight poor Prem; Martinez bluffing

Date published: Monday 4th April 2016 7:02

Leicester: Deserved their success, according to stats

Leicester: Deserved their success, according to stats

Leicester are profiting from falling standards in the Premier League, while Roberto Martinez is on borrowed time at Everton. 

Leicester deserve credit – but standards are slipping

With a seven-point lead and with just six games left to play, it’d take a fairly unlikely turn of events for Leicester not to go on to win the Premier League title this year.

Their achievements this season have been, quite rightly, lauded from all corners. And their accomplishments over not just the last 12 months, but also the last eight years (it’s easy to forget the club were promoted as League One champions in 2008/09) give hope to supporters of pretty much every club outside the (established) top four.

Yes, Tottenham are playing well and could yet ensure Leicester’s dream heads south (literally, and metaphorically) – and I dare say there’s few who would begrudge Mauricio Pochettino’s men their moment in the sun if they were to hunt down the Foxes and claim the Premier League title for themselves.

And then there’s Arsenal. Yes, that Arsenal who Mesut Ozil himself admitted had “screwed up” their big title chance this season. Oddly, Arsenal are a club well capable of going on a now-typical late season surge and there are some out there (Wenger included) who still believe the Gunners could nick the Premier League crown for themselves.

However, when Wenger branded Ozil’s comments “not welcome” , I can’t but feel the German was merely echoing exactly what every one else was thinking. Yes, it might have touched a nerve with Wenger, and yes, criticising one’s own club is not really the done thing – but there’s a massive part of me that believes what Ozil said touched a massive nerve of Wenger’s.

Arsenal’s campaign this season befits not just one we often associate with the Gunners (promise so much; deliver so little), but one which sums up the Premier League title race as a whole.

Let’s not discredit Leicester for what they are on the brink of achieving, but let’s make one thing clear: this season has been odd to say the least, and one that underlines the falling standards in the Premier League.

Take Manchester City: a squad that, yes, might yet go on to reach the latter stages of the Champions League and ensure Manuel Pellegrini’s departure isn’t the damp squib many feared it would become. But have they underachieved in the Premier League? Hell, yes.

Take Chelsea: a slump few (if anyone?) would have predicted at the start of the season. The Blues, now on a 15-game unbeaten run in the league under Guus Hiddink – a seasonal-high for any side this season – are living proof, if ever it were needed, that they’ve massively underachieved this season.

Then, there’s Man United and Liverpool. Yes, they may not have ever been touted as strong title challengers, but underachieved in the league? Too right.

So, all things considered, while Leicester are now odds-on to finish the most unlikely season as Premier League champions, they do so by profiting from not just their own amazing form, tactics, togetherness and good fortune, but also from the fact that standards in England have taken one helluva serious nosedive. Not that Leicester will care – and quite rightly so.

James Marshment

Martinez on borrowed time

Despite acknowledging the disgruntlement of the Everton supporters following a defeat at Old Trafford that leaves them sandwiched between West Brom and Bournemouth in 12th place in the Premier League table, Roberto Martinez still refused to be anything other than relentlessly positive about the future.

“Incredible talent… incredible young talent… outstanding footballers… outstanding young talent…”

Everton fans, though, are not stupid. Almost three years into his reign at Goodison Park, the supporters are now seeing through Martinez’s relentless positivity. The evidence they witness on the pitch simply does not tally with the Spaniard’s outlook and many have had enough.

Martinez is right about one thing: Everton do have some “outstanding young talent”. But the manager is failing to get the best out of it for the Merseysiders and the feeling always lingers that other clubs – bigger clubs – will reap the benefit of the development of Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and John Stones if the Toffees continue to dwell in mid-table.

The Toffees boss pointed to the absence of Gareth Barry as mitigation for his team’s poor performances in defeats to Arsenal and United, saying: “Incredible young talent needs knowhow and lessons to develop.”

Is that not the manager’s job? And in any case, none of the players who make up this “outstanding young talent” are rookies. The average age of Everton’s XI at Old Trafford is 25.6 years, with only Stones aged under 22 and he’s got 85 first team appearances under his belt having been around the first-team at Goodison for over three years.

Martinez points to participation in two cup semi-finals as an indication of progress but their Premier League form is a far more telling indicator. An 11th-placed finish last season was seen as inglorious underachievement but Everton are struggling this term even to match those low standards.

The former Wigan boss talks about Everton challenging for the Champions League places, as they did two seasons ago, but they are slipping further away. Given the struggles of the established top-four competitors, like Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool, this campaign was the Toffees’ opportunity to push on, but Martinez has blown it.

Leicester’s achievements have put everyone in the shade, but Tottenham, with a younger squad and a more inexperienced manager, have shown Martinez that it is possible to win while developing. Next season will be even tougher for the Toffees to make tangible progress in the Premier League, especially since Lukaku seems to believe he has served his time at Goodison.

Only an FA Cup win would give Martinez’s claim that he is the right man for Everton a shred of credibility. As the Spaniard will tell you, he’s done it before, at Wigan, but they were also relegated in the same week. After taking the Latics into the Championship, many say Martinez was fortunate to get the Everton job, but he will be even luckier to keep it this summer.


Rafael Benitez Newcastle

Newcastle down but not out

“We have seven games to go and we have to keep pushing. If we start winning games we still have time.”

Hardly the most insightful thing to have been uttered by Rafael Benitez, but the Newcastle boss has a point. All hope is not yet lost for the Magpies.

The manner of Saturday’s defeat at Norwich was almost as damaging as the outcome itself. Martin Olsson’s last-gasp winner leaves Benitez’s side six points adrift of the Canaries in 17th, though Alex Neil’s side have played a game more.

Benitez admitted morale was low in the dressing room, but there have been reasons for optimism since the Spaniard replaced Steve McClaren, not least in that some of the fight seems to have returned to St James’ Park.

Following his international exertions, Aleksandar Mitrovic started on the bench but came from it to grab another couple of goals to drag Newcastle on level terms twice. The combative Serbian can lead the fight from the front for the Geordies and unsettle opponents in much the same way they were hurt by Steven Naismith’s determination and appetite for a scrap.

Benitez’s biggest problems are at the back. Chancel Mbemba, who was also late returning from international duty in Africa, had one of his poorest game sin front of third-choice stopper Karl Darlow, but Fabricio Coloccini and Paul Dummet could be back for the trip to Southampton next week to at least offer some familiarity to the back four.

So far, Benitez has only had one full week to mould his defence into something resembling a cohesive unit. With returning players and time to work on the training ground, this is a huge week for the Toon boss, who simply has to arrest a run of eight away defeats when they fly south next week.

Ian Watson

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Home Forums Monday Verdict: Foxes highlight poor Prem, Martinez bluffing

This topic contains 63 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  NotoriousBingo 10 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    James Marshment

    Leicester are profiting from falling standards in the Premier League, while Roberto Martinez is on borrowed time at Everton.

    [See the full post at: Monday Verdict: Foxes highlight poor Prem, Martinez bluffing]



    Martinez is undoubtedly a great bloke, but he is paid to create a winning formula. If he cannot do that he has to be replaced. 1 year is not enough, 3 years is more than enough. It will be interesting to hear what Tim Howard has to say once he’s gone. Bring on Pellegrini – right temperament and experience.



    Bluejump why would you want Pellegrini? He’s not that great tactically,and has made a complete balls up of the Man City job,so,if he can’t get the best out of their players,what makes you think he will do a better job with a smaller,inferior in quality squad at Everton? Remi Garde may be a good shout if Martinez gets the chop. Forget what happened at Villa,Mourinho wouldn’t have done any better. The fella did well in France,and would be decent for Everton I reckon



    i think Martinez record at wigan and now everton show him for what he really is as a manager but hugely likebale fella, bit of the Wenger about him, knows how to play nice and attack but no idea what a defense is!



    Stevo,even John Henry saw that Martinez was a rubbish manager,that’s why he never even got a interview at Liverpool. He had to stay at Wigan,then tried to make out it was his decision, when,in reality,it was because FSG told him to jog on (there are pictures of Martinez and John Henry in America). Would you really fly to America,to meet an owner of a football club,if u had no intention of working for said owner,and were perfectly happy in your current job? No,you wouldn’t. Them,Dave Whelan hilariously claimed “Martinez was Liverpool’s first choice to replace Kenny Dalglish”. So,if that’s the case,how come he never got a job interview Dave? Martinez has failed at Swansea,got Wigan relegated,and has now turned Everton into a one man,mid table team


    This is great

    We Do Not Dream



    I really hate this new ‘Poor Prem’ tag?

    Why is that Leicester City’s fault for Liverpool’s shortcomings?

    Whatever happening to the ‘happily ever after’ in vision of a level-playing-field?

    I really assert, the concept here is just plain wrong.


    nine nine nine

    I think we should just enjoy what’s happening!

    A season like this is unlikely to happen again when a club like Leicester City who narrowly avoided relegation last season and have never won a Leagus title in their history are going head to head with Spurs who haven’t won a League title since 1961.

    The odds of this happening at the start of the season tell you what a crazy season this is made even crazier by the fact that Arsenal by far the strongest side of the three remaining title contenders still remain 11 points short of Leicester albeit with a game in hand.

    In the most topsy turvy season certainly in PL history if not the history of Englands top Division whoever wins the title will have thoroughly deserved it but in such a crazy season I still wouldn’t write of yet more twists and turns although it would be a real shame if Leicester don’t win it now.



    999 – According to all the experts a season like this is more likely to happen much more often, because of the amount of money in the new tv deal, the playing field has been levelled in the case of how much money clubs can spend on transfers and wages. Lets hope they are right and we are looking at an age of a more competitive premier league.


    Sean the sailor

    if we are being honest, leicester have been poor the last few games but they just keep on winning and thats all that matters. The way they defend is unreal. Troy Deeney gave an excellent interview to the bbc about why leicester are were they are (see link below). I really hope they can keep going but i still think Aresnal and spurs are in with a chance

    Leicester are expected to win on sunday and so many teams slip up when thats the expectation.

    very good read.


    Sean the sailor

    look at the game last night. Both teams cost nearly 600m and it was a game littered with basic basic mistakes. Spurs and leicester hav shown this season its not all about money.


    nine nine nine

    Paxman, Leicester and Spurs aren’t sitting at the top of the PL because they spent lots of money on transfers last summer!

    Next season City will have Guardiola and United may well have Mourinho and both will spend heavilly so I would expect one or both under those two Managers to be serious title contenders again next season.

    I also expect Arsenal to be more proactive in the transfer market this summer especially if they fall short this season which is a season that the title was there for them to win and that we will see a stronger Arsenal next season.

    Leicester with CL football to cope with will do well to finish in the top half of the tabls next season imo.

    Have a look at who the experts where predicting would win the title at the start of the season you won’t find any of them predicting a Leicester or Spurs win.?



    Sean – Troy Deeney has been one of the best pundits on MOTD this year, very knowledgeable and got his point across well. He was spot on with his summing up of Leicester, yes the game they play is simple but effective, and because it is simple there is less to go wrong, they have looked shaky in their last couple, but have ground out 1-0 wins, as the games go by the pressure increases. I have looked at the run in and I have Spurs to get 13 from their last 6 which means Leicester need 7, assuming Arsenal don’t come up on the rails.



    999 – Totally agree that the exerts don’t always get things right, most had Leicester as favourites for the drop at the start of the season, but when they are talking of trends in general they normally know what they are talking about. Yes this has been a freak season and it is a year before the new tv money is introduced, I agree Leicester will struggle next year with CL football as well, but there may well be someone like Stoke come into the mix. Also don’t take it as red that JM will be at Utd next year, LVG has been heavily involved in the planning of UTD’s pre season, which is apparently unusual for a manager and he has also turned down an opportunity to become Holland’s director of football. I have a sneaky feeling he might just see out his contract, I certainly hope so 🙂


    nine nine nine

    Paxman, me too,? but I’m not even sure the United hierarchy currently know what they are doing about next season.



    999 – I agree, I have said n another thread that I think the Utd hierarchy are split, and I would love to know where Charlton and Fergie are on the subject, because Woodward is definitely behind Van Gaal, and I would assume (maybe wrongly) that Charlton and Fergie would be in favour of Van Gaal staying another season and then Giggs taking over. So is it them three against the rest?


    The reason there is a “Poor Premier League” tag is because Leicester, although top of the league by a decent margin, are not that great a team. Yes – there is the whole dream of them winning the league as the underdogs that everyone wants to see (including me) and they have been on great form but that does not change the fact that they are, in essence, nowhere near the standard of previous league winners overall – they and Spurs had the good fortune of finding Man United post-Fergie, a worse-than-usual Arsenal, a Liverpool team still in rebuilding and extremely poor versions of Chelsea and Man City compared to recent years.

    If you had to put this Leicester team in the league from 2007 – 2013 they wouldn’t make the top 6. Likewise, if you take this Leicester team and put them up against Athletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, PSG – they’d get slaughtered. And that’s the second tier – I’m not even talking about Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus.

    Mind you this is not a negative comment towards Leiceester – in actual fact they have done excellently to get where they are today and if they win the league it will be a magnificent achievement. It does NOT, however, change the fact that the EPL is miles off the standard it was when the “Top Four” were dominating Europe.




    I think we all know on where I stand on the “Prem Quality” debate! 🙂

    There was a great article a couple of weeks back with Slaven Bilic’s comments about the whole quality/equal playing field and I think he hit the nail on the head when he suggested that many mid-table teams can now afford players that would generally go to the bigger clubs, but now due to mid-table teams being able to offer the salaries and possibly more importantly probably more playing time, traditional “Top4” players are going to smaller clubs.

    I also think we have a whole bunch of pretty decent managers in the PREM too these days, with the “Top4” managers not having so easy by just buying everybody and keeping the status quo at the top of the table. Almost every game is a Cup final these days…and I’m lovin’ it!



    Why is it only fans of the “Old Guard” are claiming it’s down to them being bad and not everybody else catching up/improving? Hmmmm….wonder if Moulder & Scully could work this one out….. 🙂

    Off course, equally baffling why it seems to be fans of the “New Kids On The Block” who are claiming the PREM is just as good but we’ve got better?

    Might change “Old Guard” to “Rolling Stones”….



    Banjo – I completely agree, it is other teams catching up, yes some of the traditional top teams have regressed but that is not the case overall. Oh and I am a fan of one of the ‘old guard’

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