EXCLUSIVE – Sylvain Distin on Everton’s defensive decline: ‘When I was at the club, we played as a TEAM!’
In Roberto Martinez’s first season at Goodison Park, the Blues finished fifth in the Premier League and had one of the best defensive records in the top flight.
Only champions Manchester City and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea had conceded less goals in the 2013/14 campaign – Everton shipping just 39 goals.
That team consisted of Tim Howard (goalkeeper), with Seamus Coleman, Phil Jagielka, Distin and Leighton Baines making up the back four.
While Everton’s attack this season consists of flair and exciting young prospects, the defence has been their downfall, conceding 48 goals to date [April 26].
The Merseysiders are 11th in the Premier League and on a dreadful run of form, having gone on a winless run of seven matches.
The 38-year-old, who left Everton last summer, told Drivetime of Everton’s decline in defence: “Well I don’t know if it’s since I left, it could be a coincidence!
“We’ll never find out, all I know is when I was there we had a really good defensive record that was not just down to me but down to the lads around me, like Jags, Bainsey, Seamus, Hibbo [Tony Hibbert], Tim Howard – the team.
“It wasn’t down to one player. I am in the generation of defenders that don’t like conceding goals and take pride in our defensive record but football is changing and you have to deal with it.”
Fans are growing increasingly frustrated with Martinez as their side have continued to make the same mistakes. They look set to miss out on a top-half finish and Distin claims the ‘pressure is normal’.
“It’s down to results I guess – if the results aren’t as good as his first season I don’t think people would complain. But the second season wasn’t good. There was a lot of change and expectation this season and the results weren’t good.
“We’ll see at some point the manager and the players get under pressure it’s completely normal.
“[On reports of a fallout with Martinez] That’s between me and him. I’ve never been the type of guy to go and speak about my situation to anyone and I dealt with it the way I had to and I have no regrets.”
French defender Distin, now at AFC Bournemouth, has featured just 17 times for the Cherries, who look set to retain their top-flight status.
The former Newcastle, Portsmouth and Manchester City man says he will carry on playing as long as he still ‘enjoys it’.
He added: “From a team point of view, we [Bournemouth] should stay up now and that was the target. That’s the most important thing in the first season and it’s an amazing achievement.
“From a personal point of view, I didn’t play as much as I wanted or expected but at my age I can understand and accept that.
“My future is same as the present. I want to enjoy [it], there are a lot of sacrifices to remain in the Premier League at my age physically – it takes a lot of time, thought and hard work.
“When it’s time to stop, I have no obligation to play football, I am still here because I enjoy it. If I don’t enjoy it, I will find another [hobby], which is taking care of my family and enjoying my life in a different way.”