When he came back he was brilliant vs Aston Villa before fading badly as the rest of the season went on.
As his effectiveness in the number 10 position was limited, he was pushed out wide which seemed to further decline his form to a point that he started to be dropped all together. The best game he had of the season was playing against a poor QPR side where he scored that wonderful goal. He started in central midfield that day for the first and last time.
Martinez has suggested that Barkley may have a future playing from further back in that central midfield position on a permanent basis but the signing of Cleverley makes it seem unlikely that Martinez thinks that will happen anytime soon.
All young attacking players seemingly go through a dip in form after their first burst onto the scene however that dip in form for Barkley has become a chasm that may be difficult to escape from. He has gone from Everton fans desperately wanting him to stay to now willing to listen to offers.
Barkley looks like a player with a delicate confidence level and Hodgson’s criticism of him losing the ball seemed to have bothered him. A player of his ability should be allowed to lose the ball without fear of reproach from the fans or a manager. In the attacking midfield position players can lose the ball and it not be of much danger. The best players in the world, the match-winners, lose the ball fairly regularly.
The difference however is that the best players in the world make the times they don’t lose the ball more than worth it for the time they do. When a player like Barkley isn’t making it worth it, it becomes a problem, and a problem that Martinez will have to solve.
Our options in that number 10 position are limited, with only Osman as a natural in that position. We can play with a second striker but it’s clearly something that Martinez doesn’t see as a long term solution.
It may be that with our extra midfielders we will switch to a 4-3-3 which may suit Barkley playing at the top of a triangle. In our usual formation Barkley would have to play the number 10 role or change the way he plays, and play with more responsibility on the ball.
I think Martinez should stick with Barkley in that number 10 role in the hope that after a summer break and time away that he comes back refreshed and start to kick on. We’ve all seen the amazing progress of John Stones in the last two years, we’re desperate to see something similar from Ross Barkley. A problem is however that if his form doesn’t improve for next season that we will again be left woefully short in such a crucial position, and Martinez has a decision to make as to whether he will look to improve that area or put his faith in Barkley.
We may have a diamond called Ross Barkley just at the moment it’s looking like a very rough lump of carbon. All Everton fans are desperate for him to succeed at Goodison and at least deserve a place in our starting line up, something he rarely did this season. I still believe that he has that world class potential, however, feel that it’s belief that less and less are starting to have. Hopefully with continued support from the fans 2015/16 will be the season he turns his potential into ability, and most importantly, into assists and goals. Whether Martinez backs him or opts to look at a back-up option remains to be seen.