It was a tough night for Everton at Anfield yesterday, going down 4-0 to Liverpool in the 226th Merseyside Derby.
Goals from Divock Origi, Mamadou Sakho, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho saw Roberto Martinez yet again fail to beat Liverpool, as well as equalling the worst ever showing in the clash, with their other 4-0 defeat also coming under Martinez.
Although centre-back Ramiro Funes Mori saw red for a horror challenge on Origi, his partner John Stones arguably endured a worse night before being forced off around the hour mark with stomach cramps.
At fault for Liverpool’s third and too easily beaten in the air for their first, the 21 year old has endured a nightmare season since Everton rejected a mega money offer from Chelsea in the summer to take him to London.
Clearly a player of some talent, his individual mistakes are earning him the kind of attention that he wouldn’t want, but Football Fanzone’s Jason Cundy believes the problem lies with his manager rather than the player himself.
Cundy was quick to acknowledge Stones’ shortcoming but questioned why his manager isn’t shouldering some of the blame?
There is no denying that John Stones had a poor game against Liverpool before coming off in the 62nd minute, his error for Liverpool’s third saw him put out of his misery and he went off immediately after at his own suggestion due to stomach pains.
My question is why has he not developed at all under a manager I have taken to calling Roberto Mythinez? He has looked lost since Chelsea made a £40m bid for him in the summer and in fact due to his lack of development, their asset might have depreciated in value.
In the immediate aftermath of the transfer saga he was pulled from the first team to allow him to clear his head but since Martinez has opted for Phil Jagielka and Funes Mori. Neither are worth £40m, so why have they got a £40m player sitting on the bench? At his age he needs to play but instead he is warming the bench. So what is it? Is he worth £40m or is he not and instead only good enough to serve as back up to Jagielka and Funes Mori? If it’s the latter then they shouldn’t expect a fee anywhere near the £40m mark when teams come calling.
Bar not playing him, it seems that Martinez isn’t keen on developing him as a player as he keeps making the same mistakes over and over again without Martinez intervening to point out where he is going wrong.
There is nothing wrong with a ball playing CB, they are key to building from the back the way Martinez seems to like, but it only works with options and movement in front of you. Look at Hummels at Borussia Dortmund, but I don’t think Everton have that with the likes of Barry. Also there is a time to play out from the back, done at the wromg time you can put your team under serious pressure and it seems that every time Stones makes an error doing this, he gets punished.
Stones is culpable too, as I said he makes the same mistake over and over again and there are 3 problems I’ve highlighted with him:
He doesn’t make his decisions early enough and thus encourages strikers to press him, and force mistakes. We saw it in the England game with Holland where his dithering and subsequent slip saw Holland nick the ball and then score.
He takes unnecessary risks like little flicks and Cruyff turns in the 6 yard box which can be suicide. We saw an example of this in the game with Watford where he needlessly tried to keep a ball in play in stoppage time of the first half. His pass back to Joel Robles was a poor one forcing the keeper to kick it out for a corner, which Watford then equalised from.
And he is seemingly yet to learn when to play out from the back and when to send it up top. Like I said there is nothing wrong with a ball playing centre-back but he has to know that you can’t do this all the time and I feel Martinez isn’t teaching him this. Yesterday his casual pass out from the back (that wasn’t on) was easily intercepted by Lucas Leiva, who duly set up Sturridge for Liverpool’s third. Why does he not know that playing out from the back with 10 men against a side who have a penchant for pressing is akin to hammering the self destruct button?
You may think that perhaps I’m attributing too much blame to Martinez but if Stones was to excel, Martinez would be there for the praise. Look at Chris Smalling at Man United; Louis Van Gaal hasn’t got much right but he has improved him, and this has and should be recognised, the same way he was blamed for ruining Angel Di Maria in his spell at Old Trafford.
The simple fact is Martinez is negligent when it comes to defending, all his teams have been and Stones is feeling the effects of this because of the way he wants to play and the way he sets up.
Stones is an incredibly talented footballer but the wrong manager and wrong team are seeing him regress, so if he is to improve either he leaves or Martinez does.