So Roberto’s Royal Blue Revolution is starting with a whisper. Everton are unbeaten after two matches, but those draws were secured against clubs that have already lost to Southampton and Hull City Pussycats. There’s plenty of mitigation of course, with David Moyes’ name as closely associated with our club as often now as when he was manager, but it’s an undeniably underwhelming start. But, as I wrote, we must give our new manager the time to walk before we expect him to run.
Surprisingly, we don’t have too far to look for an example of the value of such patience. After the first five matches of last season, Liverpool’s new manager, Brendan Rodgers, had just two points to show for his efforts, his team were in the bottom three and the phone-ins were alight with criticism of his somewhat eccentric approach to public relations. The nagging sense that Rodgers had lucked out with an appointment above his station grated with fans whose knowledge of history was not matched by their understanding of the extent of the job Rodgers had before him.
Rodgers pleaded for patience – so rare a commodity these days – and stopped the rot with a sequence of five draws and three wins, before a second set of five goals against Norwich in mid-January lifted Liverpool to seventh, the position they were to occupy in May.
On the field, merely imposing a little discipline and structure after the chaos of the Dalglish regime reaped a reward. Off the field, shrewd buys (Daniel Sturridge may be something of a “John Carew” but he was exactly what was needed and Philippe Coutinho is a player to excite the fans) along with some clearance of dead wood, gave Liverpool a much stronger spine. The dissenting voices went quiet and have stayed quiet since.
Martinez has another week of grim transfer speculation to ride out and an awkward match away at Cardiff to negotiate before the international break and (one might say) the real start of the season with Chelsea’s visit to Goodison on September 14. Blues fans must – regardless of the result in Wales or what feels more and more like an inevitably successful seduction of Marouane Fellaini and possibly Leighton Baines by the bright lights of the Champions League – hold their tongues, deal with a flat start to 2013-14 and accept an extended period of transition.
As I write, Liverpool are playing Aston Villa, the club that won 3-1 at Anfield last season, off the park in a style recognisable from Rodgers’ excellent first season in the Premier League with Swansea City. It’s not unreasonable to expect Everton to do the same thing this time next season: it is unreasonable to expect Everton to do the same thing when we play at Villa Park at the end of October. Everton fans have a fine record of standing by their managers in tough times – and they will again.