Following his team’s 6-3 defeat to Chelsea at Goodison Park, Everton manager Roberto Martinez responded to comments made by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho which claimed certain Toffees’ players had deliberately set out to “chase cards” to get Diego Costa in trouble or sent off on the day.
When asked his thoughts on Mourinho’s words, the Spanish manager said he was disappointed with his counterpart’s comments and that Costa should address his own behavior.
“I think there are certain foreign players who, when they come to the Premier League, they need to understand the ethics,” Martinez said. “It is a completely different culture and the last thing you want to be is disrespectful from a player to another player, even if he is on the opposing team. I am sure he will learn that very quickly. The last thing I would do myself is fall into a trap and be disrespectful that way.”
The manager went on to confirm that he was talking about the way the newly-signed Chelsea striker reacted to Seamus Coleman’s own goal which put the visitors up 3-1 at the time. After the goal, Costa raced to pick the ball out of the net, then turned his attention towards Coleman who was distraught and getting off the ground. The Brazilian-born forward took that moment to rub salt in the defender’s wound with a brief exchange. The incident led to Tim Howard racing from his goal to confront Costa and the teams began a brief skirmish.
“That is something I am sure he [Costa] will learn quickly,” Everton’s boss said, in response to questions about the own goal. “There is a real respect in the league and you can understand why the players weren’t happy with that, the same way he was trying to win free-kicks with the way he was playing. It is going to take a little but of time to understand this league is quite different and unique and it needs players to adapt to it rather than the league adapting to them.”
Roberto Martinez is a very smart man and has proved that he is an outstanding manager. But his comments about “foreign players” only masked the fact that he and his team set out with a game plan to ‘psych out’ Diego Costa, and it back fired.
From the moment the match kicked-off, Everton players were trying to get under Costa and his Chelsea teammates’ skins. Television cameras picked up a brief exchange between Kevin Mirallas and Cesc Fabregas early on in the match. While later analysis on the BBC’s Match of the Day showed that Seamus Coleman had been baiting Costa prior to a throw-in dust up which led to the Spain international receiving a yellow card.
MOTD pundit and former English footballer, Danny Murphy, fawned over Costa’s display and described some of the Everton’s player’s tactics:
“Well it was a brilliant performance. I mean, they were clever, some of the Everton lads. This is Seamus Coleman trying to wind him up. And it worked. Off the throw-in, little nudges in the back. He [Costa] has got a temper, as we know. He has got a yellow card [for that incident]. But he didn’t panic, he stayed calm.”
“It’s not the most sensible thing to do, to upset this guy because he’s a wonderful player. And what he did here [speaking of the incident that has received all the media attention], he didn’t get the goal, this is the own goal from Coleman. But what does he do? I don’t mind this. Passion, and a bit of banter. Costa gives Coleman a bit of a taste of his own medicine. Big Tim Howard’s not happy. He comes after him. Does he [Costa] run away? No. He squares up, but stays calm and doesn’t react.”
His fellow MOTD pundit Phil Neville, a former Everton defender, said Costa’s effort was “sensational” and a “complete centre-forward performance”. Neville went on to comment on how well the former Atletico Madrid striker has come into the Chelsea team and, very early, has inspired his teammates to reach a higher standard.
After spending a few minutes analyzing Costa’s offensive and defensive performance, Neville stated: “Forget his goals, this lad is a team player.”
It was obvious Roberto Martinez side had spent a ton of time in training trying to negate Costa, whether it was trying to ‘wind him up’ or have their players prepared for how well the Chelsea striker is able to time his runs to beat the defenders.
But those preparations failed to materialize during the match.
It only took Costa thirty-five seconds to beat Everton’s defenders with a perfectly timed run. And later in the match, even though Costa’s skirmish with Howard led to a Toffees’ goal; it also inspired his Chelsea teammates to batter the American goalkeeper with three more goals of their own.
Roberto Martinez did a good job of deflecting attention from his team’s failure to execute their game plan. But it has only masked Everton’s disappointing display on Saturday.
The Toffees and their manager should also take note that Costa is a player who thrives on that type of “player interaction” and match day banter.