MAY
12
2014
When Blue Kipper Met Roberto Part 1
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Blue Kipper met Roberto Martinez for the second time this season at the first team canteen at Finch Farm for an interview with Everton Fans.

Monsieur Bleu represented Blue Kipper. Also around the table were Paul from Toffeeweb, Graham and Phil from When Skies are Grey, Dave from NSNO, Joe from SOS1878, Barry from Footyscene and Ped from Followtonians.

The questions were asked by all the group, and some questions were duplicated, so I've edited into a few parts as it was such a long interview, so that nothing is missed.

Everton made us welcome with a laid back approach we sat in a circle with a cup of coffee. We took turns to ask questions. It lasted over an hour and a half.

Question: Do you think Spain's B-team system could work in this country?

Roberto:  One hundred percent. I think there are going to be a lot of negative comments because any time you want to do anything different you are going to get people against it. The B sides around France, Germany, Holland and Spain give the younger players an advantage, and that's unfortunately where English players are suffering. When you go into European championships and international games you haven't got that first team experience. The B sides will work. The problem is how you're going to set it up. Young players need to play first team football. That's why we send players out on loan and we see real benefits. The problem is you don't control their way of playing, you can't control how you want them to be educated towards playing in the first team, so B sides is the answer. Will it work? It will depend on the small details. Which league are they going to be in? Is promotion going to be allowed? Are they going to be allowed to play in cup competitions? There are many details which will make the difference between whether it is a success or not, but in terms of development of the young players, it's exactly what we need.

Question:  What are your thoughts on the proposition of only 2 EU players in a matchday squad, that's going to hurt everyone isn't it? I know we're trying to promote youth but still you need that mix don't you?

Roberto:  You do. Remember that its not about having home-grown players or having players from Europe, its about having good players. So whoever we sign from the foreign market, Ross Barkley will play and that's the top and bottom of it. We need to produce good players, and good players from abroad have a positive influence, so I'm not too keen on restricting numbers in that respect. 

Question:  Do you think we'll be using young players in the Europa league next season?

Roberto: It's important that we increase numbers. We worked this season with about 22 outfield players. Next season if we are in the Europa league group stages, you need to work with 27 or 28. What that means is that there are going to be young players, but we need to have a bigger squad. Playing in Europe shouldn't be an excuse to drop our standards in the domestic league. But it shouldn't be a competition where we only use young players. We're embracing the challenge of being in Europe. We need to cope with playing on Thursdays and Sundays, and not use it as an excuse, and for that we need to get the right signings. But the answer is yes, young players will get opportunities. Even now I'm very disappointed that Ryan Ledson had to join the [England] under 17s. I felt that Ryan deserved to make his debut this season, he was very close against Southampton. Ryan has got a fantastic future. We're going to have good youngsters but we need a strong enough squad. 

Question: What about Luke Garbutt and Ty Browning, are they two who might get an opportunity next season? 

Roberto:  They are. Obviously Luke played against Southampton, and I've been so impressed with him. Its just measuring what he needs next. Does he need more playing time, rather than just fighting for minutes in the first team? That's a decision that we need to make and Tyias Browning is exactly the same. The boy is ready physically and defensively, and he's got incredible talent. Again that decision is going to be made after pre-season. I'm going to look to see if he needs a lot of minutes, or if he's ready to stay here and fight for his time, but those two I consider first team players, even though they haven't played much. 

Question: John Stones broke into the team around Christmas time, as a result of injuries to Jags and Distin. How do you see his role progressing next season? 

Roberto: Obviously I knew of John Stones because I followed him closely at Barnsley. John had only played I would say 7 games at centre half. That's an incredible stat for a player who has come into the premier league and had to deal with a striker like Andy Carroll, or deal with a striker like Wayne Rooney, and he's excelled. He's still a young man and he needs to work at his game, but John Stones is going to be one of the best centre halfs that English football has seen. I do think he's a centre half. I don't think he's a right back, I think he can fit in there like many players who can play in different roles, but his DNA is to be an elegant centre half - a modern centre half where he can start the play, where he can be very influential in how you're going to attack. And then defensively he can get left 1 v 1, he's good in the air, he's quick, he's sharp and he's learning. I think Phil Jagielka has been an incredible influence on John this season, even when he was injured. He would come into the dressing room at half time and give him a word of advice. I'd never seen such an important role for a senior player as I've seen this season with Phil Jagielka and John Stones. Its been incredible to see that relationship.

Question: Given that he's performed so well, he's excelled and showed such maturity, there have been one or two people who've suggested he could go to Brazil. Would that be something that you'd welcome and do you think it would support his development? 

Roberto:  I think if you were to say to me "Would John Stones be ready to play every game for England in the World Cup?", I would say that wouldn't be right. If you were to say "Can John Stones handle the expectations and the pressure of being in the world cup squad for England?" - one hundred percent. I think he's shown this season, that in different types of games and different situations, he's ready. But he's only 19, and we need to protect him a little bit. I know and I admire Roy Hodgson's ideas of having young players in the England set up. They know John really well from his time in the under 21s, so I know they're going to make the right decision. If John goes with the under 21s, that's going to be a fitting moment for his season. If he goes to the world cup its going to be an incredible experience. But in the same way I would expect the whole of the English football environment to protect him a little bit, and not to expect too much too early. 

Question:  A few people raised their eyebrows when you played a 3-5-2 against city. We know its something you've favoured in the past, is it something you'll think about using a bit more next season?

Roberto:  Yes, definitely. I think the key is to be flexible as a team. In the modern game I don't think you can challenge everyone unless you are flexible. I do feel that the team is ready now to play in different shapes, and not just to play them but to play them well. The back 3, with the centre halves we have at the club, is a phenomenal system for us. I think it depends on the way you want to play the game, but clearly being a flexible team in the modern game is a big advantage.

Question:  We're coming to the end of the season now, and you strike me as someone who wants to keep on learning constantly. Are there one or two lessons that stand out from this season that you've learnt? 

Roberto:  Many - we could be talking for hours! I think what I've realised is that when you've got such a strong group of senior players - and now we're talking just about the dressing room, I could tell you about the fans and tell you about the football club, but just about the dressing room - we are so fortunate to have players like Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka, Tim Howard, Sylvain Distin. Maybe people just judge them by playing or not playing at the weekend, and I've realised that with these core players, if we can keep them, we can benefit so much from our young players. I think many clubs would be afraid to play young players, because it's a bit of a gamble, or its difficult to get results with young players. The big strength we have in our dressing room is that the young players get help from the senior figures. Then the young players might bring something that we are missing, it could be energy, legs, arrogance, and everything is measured and in the right manner because of the senior players. So I just feel that the senior players at the club are so important for the future and for what we want to do, that we can really match anyone in the league because of that mix we have in the dressing room. That would be the biggest lesson that I've learnt this season. 

Question: You talk about the need to get the squad up to 27 or 28 players. Obviously some transfers just happen suddenly, and some are months in the making, are there things happening behind the scenes now? 

Roberto:  Yes, it always is. I think that when you recruit, you need to pick a player whose character you think will fit with the ethos of the football club. To be at Everton you need to fit in with what is already in place. I could tell you now a list of a hundred players that we know would fit into that category. The question is can you sign them? Are they available? Can we afford them? Are they in a position, for example of one of our young players who we don't want to stop progressing? There are many things that need to come into it. I know that as fans, you always want to know of new players. I would tell you that this season its the opposite, just be worried about not losing what we've got. Whoever is going to come in is going to be a character that can fit in, and is going to bring something different. We are going to use the loan market. We are going to use the money that we have to have as strong a squad as we can. I don't want to see, during next season the excuse of "we had to travel to europa league games and that affected us" - from now we start working on how we're going to stop that. Maybe some of the staff will be split - some staff won't travel to the europa league and they'll stay behind, and some players will. We're going to make it, clearly from the beginning, two different competitions. We're ready to embrace it. So to answer your question, there are many names. We know exactly what we want. And it will be a matter of bringing it all together, but as we did in the last window in the summer, I think you can get a real sense of trusting the football club because everything is in place. Once something happens, everything will come out. We're not a reactive club, put it that way. We are anticipating things and putting things in place, and considering scenarios one, two, three, four, five and so on. So, its going to be exciting. But the biggest thing for evertonians is - lets not lose anything that we've got in the squad. We know Gareth Barry is finishing his loan, Romelu Lukaku is finishing his loan, Gerard Deulofeu - its going to be difficult to have them back, but that was never the plan. The plan was for them to be here one season, and have a successful period with us, to create great memories. They've done that. The next step is our squad for next season. 

Question: Following on from that, you say you have this list of a hundred players whose character fits. How do you get that sort of knowledge of someone's character?  

Roberto: Its very interesting. When I arrived at the club we had a fantastic recruitment structure, and that works very well. Its just tweaking it a little bit, and maybe looking for different things. A scout could give you a report on a player, and then he could give you another report on the way he warms up, the way he addresses the press, building up to the game we try to see training sessions, the way he interacts with teammates, the way he celebrates goals, there are many things that give you a profile of the type of player. And I always meet the player before we sign him. So we have a structure to build some sort of profile. 

Question: Regarding the anfield derby, was that one of the low points of the season? 

Roberto: It was a low point in terms of understanding that that result was hurtful, and for the fans it would be very difficult. But at the same time that was a breaking point for us that allowed us to be the team we have been from that point onwards. You look at that game, and it was the first time you have an Everton team going to Anfield and making five hundred passes. We were very good in many aspects of the game, and we were so naïve in being exposed on the counter attack, and that's a real strength of this Liverpool side. So I think we were affected by playing at Anfield. It was the psychological side of going one nil down at Anfield, and we couldn't get back into it, when the way we played we should have scored that day. There were many aspects that were highlighted, in terms of things we had to work on. So if you ask me, that four nil defeat, did it have a negative or positive effect on the season, it had a really negative effect for fifteen minutes, because we knew what it meant and how bad we felt. But from that point, it was the key moment of the season for everyone to understand - going anywhere in the league we are going to be ourselves. Whatever happens we'll face adversity and we'll always play well, and it took us on to that next level. 

Question:  It seems to be a common theme in the media that Everton have got no money, so every time we have a good player, someone will bid and he will be off. Your name has popped up quite regularly this past couple of weeks, about moving on. How does that make you feel? 

Roberto:  Remember that in the modern day now, we have so many platforms - social media, 24 hour news channels, they need those sort of stories. When you are at a club that has to sell to survive, then you're in a very difficult place when those rumours come out. As a club maybe we haven't got the money that other clubs have, but we don't have to sell to survive, it's the opposite, financially we have a very good footing. So these stories are fantastic football compliments, if they see players that are performing well and the other clubs would be prepared to pay x amount, I think it gives you a great sense of pride, when you can control that. Whenever a player leaves Everton its going to be for the right reasons, and if we are sad to see a player go, its going to be that the club is in a better position because we will be able to use the money and bring two or three players in and move on. It would be stupid for us to expect that we are going to keep every player, because you don't want to keep players when they get stale. You don't want to keep players when they need to move on. That's a natural part of the game. 

Question:  I think we've seen that with Marouane Fellaini haven't we? Obviously he'd done really well. He'd been here 5 years which for a foreign player at one club is a good amount of time. We sold him and James McCarthy has been one of our best players. 

Roberto:  Marouane Fellaini is a really good example. Fellaini was the most significant goalscoring threat at Everton. Now if you lose Marouane on the cheap, and you can not bring in a replacement, and you can't bring in enough players so that you can replace the goals that he has given us, then you're in a bad position. The moment that you see the situation where Marouane wants to go, there is a price on is head and there is a team that is prepared to pay that. If you've put everything in place as a team and a football club to move on and embrace it, you can be in a better place. As you mentioned, James McCarthy comes in, Gareth Barry comes in. So instead of one midfielder, you've got two midfielders. You bring in Romelu Lukaku. All of a sudden you've got six players who will score more than five goals, and we're not relying on one player. For the opposition its going to be a lot harder to play against Everton when we have five or six players who can score, than a team that relies on one specific way of scoring goals. So that's the answer. If you're going to lose someone you need to end up being better off. Is it hard? Of course. You need to do a lot of work beforehand, and have targets, and be strong in your dealings. You need to understand in the modern game - when you see Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Manchester United - you know that in the modern game you need to be prepared for movement. Players are under such massive pressure, because everything is recorded, sometimes they need a fresh challenge. They need to go somewhere else and impress other people. As you mentioned, foreign players sometimes stay for one or two years and that's enough and they need to move on, and you need to accept that. As long as the club benefits from that, its fine. 

Question: ...but the question was about you! 

Roberto: The question about me is very clear. I've never been a manager in my career where I'm waiting for the next train. I've got an incredible relationship with the chairman, internally the relationship has to be very strong, and having a vision. We've got that. At the moment the only thing we need to do is go from strength to strength. The club is now in that position. There's a football philosophy, there's a way of working, whatever you want to call it. It doesn't matter if I'm here, or if its another manager in twenty years, in fifteen, or whatever. The club now is going in a great direction, and I wouldn't be worried about who the manager is going to be or what's going to happen in that respect.

The next part of the interview will be on the site by the end of the week.

What do you think? Comment Below

Email Bluekipper at enquiries@bluekipper.com

Comments about When Blue Kipper Met Roberto Part 1
 
8
If he keeps this up El Bob's going to be an Everton legend. Let's hope his openess with the fans translates into results on the field next season too. A great choice by Kenwright while other clubs change their manager at the drop of a hat. I hope Roberto doesn't just turn out to be a flavour of the month with the fans.
Spectator, Crosby, 11:50 AM 13/05/2014
 
7
Never a negative word, never a step back. He even manages to treat the derby hammering as 15 minutes of disappointment setting us up for 4 months of achievements. Must be inspirational to play for him. Looking forward to next season already.
Rob, Liverpool, 9:52 AM 13/05/2014
 
6
I'm a bit disappointed in BKipper for allowing com, #2s hateful abuse at the all be it, misguided moaning minis to be uploaded. Yes, I agree, El Bob put them str8, blah blah blah but "face down on the Merseyside" language in my honest opinion is not the Everton way... Or is it?
Doug, Waterfront, Liverpool, 7:31 PM 12/05/2014
 
5
Superb stuff!
Ron, Blueville, 3:21 PM 12/05/2014
 
4
Thanks BK. I am more and more impressed every time Roberto interacts with the fans or the media. I fear that others will watch his progress and eye him as the perfect match for their club. The last paragraph about his relationship with Bill has allayed most of my fears about him being lured away. It seems likely that only the thought of his own personal progression will tempt him,narrowing the field considerably.
Win, Stafford, 1:20 PM 12/05/2014
 
3
Always expansive and interesting when in conversation,and this interview is no exception.The man,so articulate and you feed off his words.Not a negative bone in his body.Look forward to Part 2.
the obsructed view, liverpool, 10:39 AM 12/05/2014
 
2
El Bob sets the whingers and whiners straight about the facts of footie life. He's a great answer to the mingers and moaners, who should piss off and get their miserable grids face down in the Mersey.
Tony, Stoneycroft, 10:31 AM 12/05/2014
 
1
Wonderful stuff, we are so lucky to have him, Bill Kenwright take a bow sir.
Alan, Hinckley, 8:08 AM 12/05/2014
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