Everton manager Roberto Martinez explained on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast Show for talkSPORT why Ross Barkley only featured for five minutes of the Merseyside derby last weekend.
Barkley was benched for the game and came on for the final few minutes, with the match locked at 0-0 and the Toffees boss was pressed over why he didn’t introduce Barkley to the game sooner.
“I think Ross is one of the most gifted players in the country – sometimes you have to protect him a little bit,” said the Spaniard.
Barkley, in terms of his technique, is one of the most gifted players in the Everton squad and someone who can control the pace and flow of the side’s attacking play.
Whether he needs to be protected on a frequent basis for the big games is debatable but Martinez has to be trusted to do the right thing for his development.
On the one hand, one of the only ways for a player to develop and get better is to perform in big games where the pressure and intensity is at its highest.
On the other hand, players sometimes need to be protected from the scrutiny because of the ridicule and criticism which can be aimed at them and which can realistically affect them.
However, it does seem bizarre that a manager who once said he wouldn’t sell the midfielder for £50 million (according to the Daily Mail) would take one of his best attacking assets out of a game.
It will be interesting to see whether Martinez uses Barkley against Chelsea tomorrow night considering he’ll be fresh and eager to participate.