Is tonight's Merseyside derby akin to passing ships in the night?

As Klopp's time takes hold, Martinez appears to be at a tipping point

BY Raf Diallo 15:37 Wednesday 20 April 2016, 15:37 20 Apr 2016

Roberto Martinez. Picture by: Gareth Fuller / PA Wire/Press Association Images

One thing that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be well aware of is that things can turn around pretty quickly in the world of football - often in the negative sense.

When he looks over at the opposite dugout during tonight's Merseyside derby, he will see a fella called Roberto Martinez who earned high praise as he led Everton to the cusp of Champions League qualification two seasons ago.

In one particular game, his tactical astuteness was praised as he fielded Romelu Lukaku in a right-sided role to overpower Arsenal left-back Nacho Monreal in a 3-0 win on April 6th 2014.

Two years and two weeks on and Martinez is a man under pressure as Everton underachieve massively in a season when many mid-tier clubs have over-achieved.

Among the frustrations for his critics are what is perceived to be his uber-positive post-match comments regardless of the result as well as a style of football which prizes passing football as the means to attack. The inability to apply the art of defending has also been a criticism.

Like Klopp's predecessor Brendan Rodgers, Martinez is viewed as one of the disciples of the school of football which in theory intends to dominate with the ball, even if both are capable of diverting from that approach at times.

Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers (left) and Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp after Pre-Season friendly match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool in 2014.  Picture by: Richard Sellers / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Rodgers called it "death by football" when he spoke to Off The Ball's Joe Molloy while he was still in charge of Liverpool - and significantly before his high-pressing Luis Suarez-inspired counter-attacking side almost delivered a first title in 24 years.

Yet look at this season's Premier League - and to a lesser degree globally - and all the life in the title race has been breathed in by teams that are mostly in stark contrast to the "death by football" approach and related philosophies.

Leicester do not care about possession as an end or means, having one of the lowest ball possession rates in the league, but benefiting by getting the ball forward quickly to their rapid forwards and wingers.

Tottenham press and organise to win the ball back quickly and attack quickly with their full-backs pushed up and the forward players bunched together where they can do damage.

It is not too disimilar to Klopp's gegenpressing philosophy which worked so well at Borussia Dortmund as his higher tempo side won back possession before going for the jugular.

It is part of the philosophy which he is instilling at Liverpool, although it will take time before we see anything close to the finished product as he has not even had a summer window to buy and sell based on his team's needs.

Martinez is at a different sort of juncture with a bad defeat tonight likely to signal the beginning of the end of his time at Goodison Park, just as Klopp starts a new era at Anfield.

In a naval city like Liverpool then, tonight could be a bit like passing ships in the night if it turns out this is Klopp's first Merseyside derby and Martinez's final.


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