Everton tried to appoint manager twice who failed to deliver on Bill Kenwright promise

Roberto Martinez was unveiled as Everton manager on this day in 2013 and as one of life’s optimists who likes to conduct business with a smile, it’s best to remember him for the joy that he brought Blues.

Unlike when Martinez claimed the 9-1 shellacking at Tottenham Hotspur was actually a good thing for his Wigan Athletic side, this isn’t an attempt to sugar-coat his failures – they too will be covered here – but while the nature of the game for football bosses is that tenures end in tears, it should not be forgotten that the Catalan steered them to their highest Premier League points haul.

A man of great footballing principles too, Martinez, who was very much an advocate of the beautiful game, also had the Blues playing with a distinct brand of football than many Evertonians – initially at least – believed represented a return to their own proud heritage, advocated by the Gwladys Street anthem that proclaimed: “The School of Science… it’s on its way back.”

Less than three months before his unveiling at Goodison Park, the then Wigan Athletic manager enjoyed a perfect audition for the job when his side dismantled Everton 3-0 on their own turf in an FA Cup quarter-final with three goals in as many first half minutes. The Latics of course went on to lift the trophy at Wembley in May with a shock 1-0 victory over Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City but were then relegated from the Premier League following a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal just three days later.

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Such contrasting fortunes left many Blues torn over whether Martinez, a month shy of his 40th birthday, was the right man to succeed the long-serving David Moyes who was bound for Manchester United after 11 years in charge at Goodison. Internal candidates Alan Stubbs, David Weir and Phil Neville were all untried at the time and when chairman Bill Kenwright asked for permission to speak to Martinez, his Wigan Athletic counterpart Dave Whelan granted it immediately with the two clubs thrashing out a compensation package of around £1.5million.

With a typical sense of theatre, when speaking at the press conference in which Martinez was unveiled as Everton manager, Kenwright recalled how he had once again made up his mind over the appointment early on in the conversation. He said: “When David Moyes first came to see me 11 years ago, we were in a bad state and he said, ‘You are not going down.’ “Roberto’s first words were, ‘I’ll get you in the Champions League’. I’m not going to say to you it was like David, who got me in 30 seconds – he took at least 45 seconds.”

Although an initial £28million offer from Manchester United for both Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini was rejected out of hand when Moyes initially came calling when plotting a raid on his former employers, the latter’s deadline day move to Old Trafford for just £500,000 less helped enable Martinez to reshape his midfield by bringing in James McCarthy and Gareth Barry while the kind of prolific striker that had for so long eluded his predecessor was found in Romelu Lukaku at first arrived on loan. Building upon the strong foundations left from Moyes’ 11-year tenure, including a parting gift of John Stones, who quickly established himself as linchpin in the side as a ball-playing centre-back, the added attacking flair of Martinez’s approach slickly dovetailed to produce a 72-point haul in his debut season.

It was Everton’s highest tally to date in the Premier League era – some 11 points more than when they finished fourth in 2005 – but despite being victorious in six games in a row between March 15 and April 12, including a 3-0 thrashing of their Champions League rivals Arsenal, while Martinez won the battle, Arsene Wenger typically won the war with the Gunners finishing some seven points clear of them in fourth to bag the 16th of 19 straight qualifications to UEFA’s senior club competition. As reward for his impressive maiden campaign, the Blues boss was rewarded with a bumper new five-year deal but it proved to be a costly decision for the club who ended up paying him over £10million after he was sacked in 2016.

Lukaku’s move from Chelsea was turned into a club record £28million switch at the start of the 2014/15 season with Everton’s attacking options further bolstered by the arrival of legendary Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o – a recruit Martinez hailed as being “a gift from the footballing gods” but despite possessing what was widely-regarded as being the Blues’ most-gifted squad of the Premier League era, they were about to embark on back-to-back 11th place finishes. The group stages of the Europa League were safely negotiated with Swiss side Young Boys emphatically despatched in the first knockout round but with Eto’o already having moved on to Sampdoria, Martinez’s men’s continental campaign came to an abrupt halt in the last 16 against Dynamo Kyiv, the same stage that Fiorentina had beaten Moyes’ team on penalties some seven years earlier.

What proved to be his last season in charge at Everton featured several shambolic defensive capitulations. There was a 3-3 draw at Bournemouth, having led 2-0 on 80 minutes and 3-2 five minutes into additional time; a 4-3 defeat to Stoke City, having led 3-2 until 80 minutes; a 3-3 draw at Chelsea, going 3-2 up on 90 minutes but conceding an equaliser eight minutes into additional time; a 3-2 home defeat to West Ham, having been 2-0 up until 12 minutes to go and missing a penalty to make it 3-0; a 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield and with just an FA Cup run keeping the boss in place, a stoppage time 2-1 loss at Wembley to Manchester United in the semi-final.

Such repeated heartbreaks ensured that one of Farhad Moshiri’s first tasks as Everton owner was to sack Martinez after a 3-0 loss at Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland. Even though there was still one game left to play, his presence in the dugout for the home game against already-relegated Norwich City was deemed too great a risk when it came to the potential of the atmosphere turning toxic for what was long-serving goalkeeper Tim Howard’s Goodison Park farewell after a decade of service.

He probably had to go and it’s telling that Sean Dyche steered the current side with far less talent in it to a total this season that would have had his side level on points with 11th-placed Brighton & Hove Albion without deductions and a bizarre attempt to bring Martinez back to Everton following Rafael Benitez’s sacking in January 2022 was misguided. It is understood that the Blues made a formal approach to the Belgian FA for Martinez who was keen on a return with the hope his employers in Brussels would agree to the kind of club and country job share rarely seen in modern football only for the advances being dismissed with an understandable insistence that his sole focus remain on the World Cup finals.

However, the fullness of time and the club’s subsequent downward spiral in fortune should allow for something of a re-evaluation of his tenure. It wasn’t always “phenomenal” or “pristine” – a couple of Martinez’s favourite typically upbeat adjectives – but ‘Bobby Brown Shoes’ brought much more to Everton than his funky taste in footwear.

There was the first win away at Manchester United since the opening week of the Premier League in 1992 plus in addition to the aforementioned thrashing of Arsenal, other memorable victories 3-0 at Newcastle United; the 2-0 home triumph against Manchester United that prompted Moyes’ sacking; beating Wolfsburg home and away; a 3-0 demolition job against Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United plus the 6-2 romp against Sunderland and 4-0 smashing of Aston Villa in consecutive home matches and Lukaku-inspired FA Cup success over previous club Chelsea.

Just like when he had the last laugh on the haters who tried to undermine the footage of him throwing some shapes at a Jason Derulo concert, he just keeps on grinning and that’s no surprise given that he’s now bagged another plum job in charge of the Portugal national team who he will take to Germany this month for the European Championship finals.