ROBERTO MartÃnez has issued a defiant defence of his managerial principles and insisted he would never compromise attacking beliefs for short-term results that will not, he insists, bring success to Everton.
The Everton manager, who is under severe scrutiny ahead of Saturdayâ€™s before todayâ€™s Merseyside derby at Anfield, a ground where the club has not won for exactly 15 years, following a poor start to the season characterised by bad defending. No Premier League team has shipped more goals than Evertonâ€™s 13 so far and Tuesdayâ€™s limp Capital One Cup exit at Swansea City raised the total conceded to 17 in seven matches.
Both Everton and Liverpoolâ€™s defences have invited criticism this campaign and, having lost more Premier League games than they have won, can ill-afford to lose further ground in the 223rd meeting between the local rivals. MartÃnez has described last seasonâ€™s 4-0 defeat at Anfield as one of the most painful results of his career but, asked if his priority was to avoid defeat on Saturday, he replied: â€œNo, weâ€™ll never change our focus, we always want to win. If you canâ€™t win, draw, fine, but we will never set out a team to try to draw a game or just hope for a win.
â€œWe canâ€™t accept that. It doesnâ€™t go with the way we want to be as a football team. I donâ€™t think it goes with the way the football club was in the 60s and the 80s and I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s in my DNA. I will never compromise on that.â€
MartÃnez accepts that defending is harder with his approach, albeit from a team perspective rather than for individuals, but insists a focus on keeping clean sheets will not help Everton win silverware in the long-term.
The Everton manager, whose team are the second highest goalscorers in the Premier League, said: â€œIt is more difficult, absolutely, Iâ€™m not going to hide anything. But I donâ€™t get any extra enjoyment if we keep a clean sheet if thatâ€™s not going to win us a game.
â€œIâ€™ve always believed that you build football teams to achieve things in the long term, that you create a philosophy that is strong enough to win you things rather than just go game-by-game and going under the radar because they are defeats that everyone accepts. I feel as hurt losing 1-0 as losing 6-0 but if you lose 6-3 trying and having a positive from the performance that you to can take into the next game, Iâ€™ll accept that.
â€œI know there are managers who are from a school of wanting to win through keeping a clean sheet and having a team thatâ€™s difficult to beat with their main goalscoring threat coming from set pieces. I say this with respect, but Iâ€™m from a philosophy of always wanting to win through scoring goals.
If thatâ€™s going to leave you open then you need to score more goals than the opposition, thatâ€™s the top and bottom of it. Thatâ€™s the only way you can be good enough to win titles and achieve more than people would expect from your team.â€
The Everton manager disputes, however, that his philosophy increases pressure on individual defenders, with the established core of Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin all struggling this season. He explained: â€œItâ€™s a different way of defending. Obviously if you have 70-75% possession youâ€™re going to be defending a lot less but equally the concentration levels will have to be higher.â€
Liverpool have been undermined by individual defensive errors themselves but, contrary to MartÃnez, Brendan Rodgers does not believe his emphasis on attacking football makes life tougher for his defenders. The Liverpool manager said: â€œI donâ€™t think so. I think it is probably an easy assumption to make when coaches set up to play an attacking game.
â€œThe players will tell you that, the way we set up, it is about having the balance. We look to impose our style on the game but you always have to respect your opponent. Tactically we showed that last year. There were a number of times when we set-up with a three-quarter pitch press to invite the opponent to open up and then played on the counter-attack to exploit the spaces. In other games we pressed to the win the ball high and when we felt the game was in control we controlled the game without the ball by sitting in and defending. We need to show more consistency in our defending but we looked really solid against Tottenham, scored three and could have had more. For me it is about the consistency and I certainly wonâ€™t change the aggression in our game.â€ – The Guardian