I take no pleasure from the departure Roberto Martinez. But his slow and tortured demise as Everton manager was absolutely the right thing to do.
Football management can be cruel, lonely profession and it has been difficult to watch Martinez on the touchline and in news conferences over recent months.
He looked a broken man out of ideas and out of inspiration. The board had no choice to act now and spare Martinez more abuse from a frustrated fanbase against Norwich on Sunday.
A reported £10m pay-off means there are limits to my sympathy; that’s ample compensation for putting up with a few abusive chants and banners.
When the dust settles most Evertonians will bear no grudges to the Spaniard, who was a true gentleman but one that ultimately failed at his job.
Don’t forget the supporters largely welcomed his arrival. He brought Latin flair to Goodison Park, a sharp contrast to the stoic pragmatism of the David Moyes era.
Martinez made a real effort to learn about the club and it’s traditions. I admire the way he sought to aspire to our history and not run away from it. He didn’t put a lid on ambition and encouraged the fans to buy into his dream.
And for one season it was glorious. 2013-14 was one of the finest seasons in living memory. With a young dynamic team playing expansive football that brought results. The School of Science was open for business.
To put it in perspective, Everton’s record haul of 72 points, that was only good enough for fifth, is two more than second-placed Tottenham currently have ahead this weekend’s final matches.
Sadly, Martinez’s Midas touch deserted him from then onwards. It soon became apparent that the defensive legacy of Moyes had played a key role in his early success. Once those foundations began to sink from under him the Spaniard couldn’t rebuild enough to prevent getting caught in the quicksand.
The Europa League adventure masked increasingly poor league results, with the two games against Wolfsburg an example of the side’s potential. It also gave the team an excuse for their slide down the Premier League.
The warning signs were there, but the feeling was that Martinez deserved another year to set things right.
Instead, though, we were just treated to more of the same. Martinez’s steadfast refusal to alter his tactics was brave but ultimately proved foolish.
His loyalty to aging players, most notably Tim Howard, was also admirable but foolishly misguided and ultimately a key factor in his eventual sacking.
Teams had worked out how to play against Everton and although there were glimpses of the team’s potential, defensive chaos reigned supreme.
Everton’s inability to hold onto a lead became comical, conceding 95th minute equaliser against Bournemouth and 98th minute goal against Chelsea.
In the wake of Everton’s slow decline Martinez’s constant positivity began to grate.
Supporters resented being taken for idiots by Martinez, who consistently failed to acknowledge the team’s failings even when they were obvious for all to see.
Genuine doubts about his style of play began to creep into the minds of Evertonians, with the defence at times looking a complete shambles.
And then Martinez made the final decisive mistake of his tenure with his public criticism of Leighton Baines.
Baines, a crowd favourite and honest professional, was hung out to dry for making perfectly reasonable comments about the team’s lack of chemistry.
The cracks were beginning to show and Martinez was struggling to keep a grip on the dressing room.
For many supporters it was the last straw. The next game at Watford saw banners calling for Martinez to leave, something repeated at every game until his departure.
The players have to take their share of the responsibility for Everton’s slump. As well paid professionals they should continue to put the effort in each regardless of what they think of the manager.
Sadly the reality isn’t quite so idealistic and the moment Martinez lost the faith of his players (which for some squad members I suspect was quite a long time ago) the writing was on the wall.
I always suspected the board were keen to see the season out before making a decision. But the team’s complete collapse and subsequent fan revolt left them with little choice.
With the end of season awards dinner also cancelled it is a messy and painful end to an era that promised so much.
Martinez arguably should have been let go long before now and I just hope that the abuse will stop now he has left the club.
He was a decent, honest human being who clearly cared deeply for the club and wanted it to succeed.
The results speak for themselves though and for all the success in knockout competitions Everton have slumped back into mid-table.
The club should not assume that they will simply bounce straight back into the top six either. Whoever comes in has a huge summer ahead to rebuild the squad.
The hope is that Farhad Moshiri’s millions will help the new man to achieve those early objectives.
For Martinez the hope is that he will learn and move on from the experience. I wish him well and am genuinely sad it was not worked out for him at Goodison – I think we all desperately wanted his vision to become reality.
Despite the poor results Martinez actually built an impressive squad but just struggled to utilise it effectively.
Whoever comes in does have decent foundations in place and with a few key additions may well be able to realise Roberto’s dream and re-open the School of Science after all.