Boxing Day and you have that usual Boxing Day quandary of how to get to the game. There’s no busses or trains running so somebody has to drive and nobody really wants to. Ste couldn’t, Gary doesn’t so I stepped up…setting off earlier than usual to account for the sell-out crowd and no public transport. Being early I parked up easily enough though anything up to 30 minutes later and parking, or at least the free parking, would have been difficult to find.

Whilst early enough to park we were too late into the pub to see Hull City race into a two goal lead at the KC Stadium. By the time we got to the pub it was actually 2-1 and we caught Rooney’s wonder goal. Needless to say Man Utd went on to win 3-2 though made hard work of it.

With the pressure on from Manchester United then, Arsenal facing a tough game at West Ham and Manchester City and Liverpool playing each other we really had to win to get into that top four…and against the Premier League’s basement club in front a sell-out crowd a win was very much expected. This is Everton however and we should know by now that no matter how well things seem to be going an upset always looms around the corner.

Following his match-winner and man of the match performance last weekend against Swansea, a few raised an eyebrow at the introduction of Osman for Barkley, though with two other quick games to come we should perhaps expect a bit of squad rotation. Anyhow the decision backfired catastrophically. With just over a quarter of the game gone things changed dramatically. Up until then Everton had been pretty comfortable if not spectacular.

With the way we’ve tended to move up a few gears in the second half this season you didn’t think we had a lot to worry about at that stage and then disaster struck. Howard looked up for options with taking a free kick. You saw Osman trying to take responsibility and running a long way back into his own half to receive a pass. Ki went with him to pressure. The pass didn’t seem on and it didn’t feel quite right. Howard actually seemed to hesitate before playing the ball though then played it anyway...

To be fair, Osman would normally be OK in these situations though this time hideously mis-controlled. Ki took the ball on, rounded Howard and was brought down. The referee had no choice but to send Howard off. Osman looked mortified and then looked as though he expected to be substituted as he edged towards the dug-out and was then replaced with our sub-goalkeeper Robles…Osman was warmly applauded as he ran off.

Robles did all he could upon entering the pitch. He did his best to put Ki off, grabbing the ball, bouncing it a few times in front of the South Korean, taking his time and making himself big. It nearly worked too. He wasn’t far from saving Ki’s penalty at all but the shot was too good and Sunderland led 1-0. Ki was probably the best player on the pitch the whole game. You wonder why Swansea let him go out on loan.

So Everton had it all to do and it was to be a monumental effort to recover this game and win. We couldn’t do that, nor could we recover to draw but, oh my, what an effort it was from Everton to recover something from the match.

Despite the crowds best efforts the rest of the first half was something of a write-off with players all at sea as we tried to re-organize. At one point Mirallas baffled everybody when he sprinted off the pitch for the best part of five minutes leaving us down to nine men. He was suffering with some sort of virus apparently and I suppose you never really know what happens but it was very peculiar and really left us in it… Robles fumbling though then making a brilliant follow-up save to keep us in the game. I wouldn’t say we were relieved to hear the half time whistle but it was certainly needed.

In the second half, Everton were just incredible. Mirallas was replaced by Barkley at the break and quite how Everton didn’t score was baffling. We could play that exact way over and over again and one of them would have gone in. Mannone pulled off save after save and you left the match wondering how we hadn’t scored. Sunderland did have a couple of opportunities on the counter-attack but that was to be expected against 10 men and the stats of our amount of shots and corners backs that up.

Jagielka (headed), Oviedo (right-footed) and Barkley (three times from distance) were all thwarted by Mannone. Substitute Nikica Jelavic was also denied by a remarkable headed goal-line clearance by Borini and as the game went on you kind of new it wasn’t going to happen.

At full time, the team was applauded off. It was a magnificent effort from Everton and we didn’t deserve to lose but it was just one of those games. It happens sometimes and there’s nothing you can really do about it. It’s a shame to only manage 363 days without losing at home in the league – a full year would have been nice, and with Liverpool losing it’s a shame it wasn’t our day as a win would have kept us in 4th. It’s almost typical of this to happen to Everton just when the opportunity was there.

Sunday’s fixture will be tough as the Sunderland match will have taken a lot out of the players though Robles is an able deputy for Howard. Osman or perhaps even Heitinga can replace the suspended Gareth Barry and maybe Naismith could replace Mirallas to shuffle the pack a little bit. There’s a few options available and it’s another home game so lets get back to winning ways straight away.

Nothing to dwell on… just one of them days.

Howard: He probably shouldn’t have played the pass to Osman as he had a man on him though once that was done there was little he could do. A red card and four yellows this season for Howard. If you didn’t know him you would think he was really ill-disciplined. Robles should be an able enough deputy against Southampton. 5

Oviedo: My man of the match. Was always willing to take a shot on and get forward and showed a lot of courage in attack. Baines still not really missed much in his absence. 8 Distin: Good. Swept up plenty of times and tried to carry us forward when he could. 7

Jagielka: Generally fine. 6

Coleman: Got forward well all game. Only criticism would be his final ball or decision making at times was poor but he did quite well. 7

Barry: Did fine. Hopefully we can cope without him against The Saints. 7

McCarthy: Very good. Is exquisitely calm on the ball and always keeps things ticking. Has really grown into his role at Everton. 8

Pienaar: Always very busy with the odd lapse of concentration. Was subbed with 15 minutes to go as Everton chased the game. 7

Mirallas: Started slowly, got into the game for a few minutes when we were down to 10 men, sprinted off to put us down to nine men, came back on again and got subbed at half-time. What a baffling display. 4

Osman: I feel sorry for Osman as I don’t know what he was thinking… I bet when Osman saw it he’ll have thought the same. Still, it’s one of those things. He hasn’t let us down many times in his 300+ Everton appearances and he’ll bounce back as he always does. 5

Lukaku: Frustrating at times but then in the second half he really carried the fight to Sunderland who didn’t really have an answer. He must be due a goal soon. 7

Robles (for Howard): He did make one error though quickly recovered to make a double save. Apart from that he handled everything he had to very well. Unlucky with the penalty also. 7

Barkley (for Mirallas): Had a great second half. A little bit of poor decision-making at times with soft passes or wayward shooting but he kept on going and didn’t give up. Unlucky not to see that free kick go in at least. A good effort from Ross. We’ll need that again on Sunday. 7

Jelavic (for Lukaku): He was trying so hard to score. I think I even saw him attempt three overhead kicks and he was so unlucky with his header. Not a bad effort at all. A little bit more like the Jelavic of old. 7

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John Zapa
270 Posted 27/12/2013 at 16:09:37
Certain players are not justifying their presence in the team especially KM. Lukaku has been average to poor in many of the recent games. Osman/Howard are getting the lions share of the blame, but I feel Martinez showed poor judgment playing KM when he was obviously unwell, in addition to 'resting' RB.
Ged Simpson
274 Posted 27/12/2013 at 16:52:21
Just an unlucky game - chill. We will be back to winning ways in a matter of days
Linda Morrison
278 Posted 27/12/2013 at 16:53:41
Agree John Kevin obviously not 100%, but most managers with a virus will go with what the player tells them regarding how they feel.

I think Baines will play on Sunday and I fully expect 3 points

Gerry Quinn
279 Posted 27/12/2013 at 16:49:07
Great headline Paul, and another excellent summary. Just before the match I was agreeing with someone on TW about how Boxing Day can play funny things on teams at home and past horrific results (v Man Utd 2-6!!!). I'm not a finger pointer, and I'm certainly not a half-empty glass person and this just happened to be one of those days you want to scream and bitch and moan.

However, I am now over it, time to move on, but I am pleased to hear that the crowd warmly applauded Oz off despite the horror that unfolded before them. I am glad I heard that.

I also hope that Leon doesn't come on TW as the minority with their vitriolic bile hurled towards him is shocking and unbelievable.

In the 50-odd years of following this team, boy am I glad we never had TW when I think of one or two players that have had the gall to even pull on a blue shirt and not give their all - believe me there have been more embarrassing situations than what happened yesterday.

Let the "Oz hater" knives be sharpened and begin their venomous way towards me :)

David Pearl
283 Posted 27/12/2013 at 17:01:10
I hope for 3 points but Saints are capable of beating anyone on their day. Then again, so are we. We have enough strength in depth to cope without Barry and Howard, as we did Bainesy. I'd like to see Lukaku score and break his dry spell but he has not really been getting much service with the ball slow to arrive in the box. I wouldn't mind seeing Jelavic get a chance. He seemed desperate to score when he came on. He would be though wouldn't he... this is a World Cup year! Same for Heitinga...
Jamie Barlow
286 Posted 27/12/2013 at 17:17:11
Time to see how we handle Barry being out. I'd like to see if Oviedo can do a job in Barry's position. He has plenty of energy and is defensive minded. Bring back Leighton at left back.
Graham Gough
289 Posted 27/12/2013 at 17:23:33
"Just one of those days sounds" about right.

Phil Sammon
300 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:11:12

Thank god you are not in charge.

Goalkeepers aside, Oviedo would quite literally be the last First Team player I'd want to see fill in for Gareth Barry. Talk about square pegs in round holes.

Jamie Barlow
304 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:17:20
Well I don't get paid to make decisions Phil. I don't see why it's so out there though. He has two good feet. Defensive minded. He's quick and can tackle. Is it really that bad?
Mike Gaynes
305 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:18:31
Phil, why not? I would expect it. Oviedo's played both left back and wing midfield... surely he'd be ideal for the space in between.

Would you rather see Heitinga there?

Mark Taylor
308 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:18:50
Without Gibson, we don't really have a back up for Barry unfortunately. Since RM rarely surprises us in his selection, my hunch is that the first cab off the rank that is Osman will play, though I think I'd prefer Heitinga in that role myself- I'd keep Ossie for what he is good at, an impact sub when the game opens up a bit.

Actually I'm more concerned about the lousy form of our Belgian strikers and how to fix that- certainly wouldn't have had Lukaku on the same rating as Pienaar and Barkley.

Mark Frere
310 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:45:11
We could play 3 at the back against Southampton, moving Pienaar into the centre with McCatrhy and Barkley, then play Mirallas along side Lukaku; and hope our 2 Belguim's will pass to each other for once.

We should be very wary of Southampton's high pressing game. If we fart about with the ball too much at the back we could be made to pay. Its not a tragedy if we just hoof the ball out of defence now and again.

Tony Draper
313 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:38:50
Sadly it was "just one of those days", all set to turn up for 3pts day at "The Old Lady", but
Pride comes before a fall

Blaming Martinez ???????
Really ?
Blaming Howard
Blaming Osman
Well sadly there is validity there 'cos they cocked up and it proved costly

Please take a long look at y'sselves some of you !
You got far more for Xmas overall than you could have dreamed of and 'cos one last prezzie wasn't delivered you've spat your dummies and thrown your toys on the nursery floor

And we still battered them mercilessly with 10 men

I think the teams performance was great, proper swashbuckling "give it a go" effort without abandoning style
Some supporters here need a bloody long look at how their own tantrum filled performance stacked up over the last 24hrs

Phil Sammon
316 Posted 27/12/2013 at 19:01:28
Jamie / Mike

Firstly 'two good feet' is a bit much. He is very left sided but can swing his right foot at the ball. This is not a cultured two-footed player we are talking about here.

Secondly, he is not 'defensive minded'. He has been very good for us defensively this season - don't get me wrong - but it is not his forte and he is not a player you want screening your back 4.

If Oviedo starts in defensive midfield then I will eat the woolly jumper Dixie Dean is currently sporting outside Goodison.

The obvious option is to play Osman instead. A curveball might be Stones to come in and 3 at the back negating the need for 2 DM's.

Harold Matthews
317 Posted 27/12/2013 at 18:03:08
We badly missed Barry's quick closing down against City. Everyone standing around like statues. Heitinga, Hibbo or Alcaraz could all do a job but it will be down to how they do in training.

Saints are fit, quick and clever in the final third. We'll have to be wide awake.

Unlike Saints, we don't look for one another up front and why nothing has been done about it remains a mystery. I know Martinez favours the Bielsa method of players taking on opponents one on one but everything seems so speculative.

As for Lukaku and Jelavic. Neither do it for me. Jelli has the know-how and determination but is very ponderous. Lukaku is never sure where or when to run but has a bit more pace. Both have a poor first touch.

Patrick Murphy
318 Posted 27/12/2013 at 19:13:52
I have the greatest respect for Southampton and I'm sure they will make it difficult for us as they often do, however, I am a little mystified how they have suddenly become a team we should fear playing at Goodison.

They are either a far better side than their league position suggests or our chances of finishing in the top 6 have been a mere pipe-dream. I'm all for sober caution prior to any game and much prefer it to the we'll stick six past this lot mentality. Now I may end up with egg on my face come Sunday evening, but come on boys we are at home albeit with a couple of key players missing - we have to believe we can win don't we?

Harold this mini moan isn't aimed at your post in particular but I have read a few posts where I had to check to make sure it wasn't Barca we were up against on Sunday.

Dennis Ng
321 Posted 27/12/2013 at 19:24:22
Its over-reaction to our recent defeat. Every team has a chance to win. If we're too afraid of them, might as well just walk away from the game. We don't want to be arrogant though and right now, the team is giving all the right vibes despite the defeat. I look forward to a 90 min siege on the Southampton goal this Sunday!
Tony Marsh
325 Posted 27/12/2013 at 19:28:52
Gerry @279, It's not a question of being Osman haters — I don't hate Leon... I just don't rate him and never have done. Saturday's woeful fuck-up is a constant in Osman's game but it's always in a different area of the pitch where he is usually caught out.

The fact is we are now a completely different outfit with bigger goals than the team/club Moyes left behind. Even the fans dare to believe again and the truth is Osman isn't good enough for Everton FC any more. Add Mirallas and Pienaar to the list also.

Saturday's loss occurred because a player way past his sell-by date does his normal comedy falling down routine but this time we pay the price because it's on the edge of our own box. The edge of the box the other end of the pitch and Leon gets away with it.

There is no hiding place any more in this current Everton side. We have come so far in 6 months it's frightening. We can't have lightweights throwing all the good work away and then keeping their place like they did under Moyes.

It's not about hatred, Gerry, it's all about progress — and progress being halted for no good reason. Martinez, who I love, fucked up with Osman's selection but surely now time is up for Leon; time to step aside. I mean, even Deadly Dave dropped Pip in the end, didn't he?

Sam Hoare
326 Posted 27/12/2013 at 19:32:58
I fear we may see that we don't quite have the depth to maintain a challenge on top 4.

We have no one to adequately replace Barry. Gibson could have but Osman or Heitinga are downward steps.

Mirallas is in poor form but without Deulofeu we only really have Naismith who can play in the same position.

Lukaku looks to me like he could use a rest but Jelavic cannot buy a goal.

Hopefully RM can bring in some players in early January as I think we need two more players at least able to add to the first team.

Kevin Tully
330 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:27:01
Regardless of the Sunderland game, am I the only one who thinks Mirallas has been well below average all season?

I know he's had a few assists, but you couldn't fail to add to that stat with the freedom he has up front. His general play has seemed off since the opening game, and I can't recall a MOTM performance from one of our supposedly best players.

I just don't see any improvement as the season has progressed, or am I judging him too harshly?

Dick Fearon
333 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:03:55
Sorry to disagree, Paul, but if our luck really did run out, at the very least, it was partly due to Roberto's unnecessary tinkering with the team, a la OFM.

The Sky 4 always kick off with their recognised first teamers and any changes depend on the state of the game... OFM having learned from earlier mistakes would not dream of using a policy of squad rotation at OT. When he ran the show at Goodison his mistakes were excused because he was an upcoming manager on a 'learning curve'.

More people came to the same viewpoint as me to the point that most were unmoved at his departure. Roberto has been a breath of fresh air but I hope that in future he will start games with his best available team.

Phil Sammon
334 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:40:05
Tony Marsh

If you don't rate Pienaar then I cant even bring myself to give your views the time of day.

Patrick Murphy
338 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:37:43
I agree with your assessment of KM, Kevin, I think he has been a huge disappointment this season save for a couple of all too brief moments. I honestly think he is the type that sulks out on the pitch and I don't like that sort of attitude from an Everton player. When you analyse him it is difficult to make a case for him being a winger as he very often doesn't deliver to the strikers and he has no real pace or is frightened to use pace in case his suspect hamstring goes again.

Maybe he believes that he should be up front on his own, but whatever his problem, he certainly hasn't delivered for most of this season. I don't mind a luxury player or two in the team but if they don't produce moments of magic and score or create chances then we can't afford to have them in the side.

Having said that we are hardly blessed with replacements for him are we? That age old Everton problem of having insufficient players to choose from.

Mark Taylor
341 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:46:59
Kevin and Patrick

I think Mirallas has huge potential and often looks like our most likely scorer, even when playing below par, but I agree he has not contributed enough. I think we play him out of position and I'd be tempted to try him as the main striker, given Lukaku is not exactly setting the place alight.

If that doesn't coax a good run of form out of him, then maybe we'll have to write him off as a talented but ineffective prima donna.

Ged Simpson
342 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:45:54
Take it easy — we all dreamed of a 12-pt Christmas. I think we have the depth and I would play Barkley in place of Barry & both strikers together up front and go for it.
Kevin Tully
346 Posted 27/12/2013 at 20:53:59
I think you can forgive the 'one good game in three' runs these mercurial type of wingers usually produce, but I don't think he's earned more than a six out of ten all season to be honest.

It's especially worrying when we are playing with a front 4, so you can't even say he has been stranded in a lone striker role, there is support all over the park for him to produce the goods.

Such a shame Deulofeu has got injured, I don't think Mirallas has produced even half the good moments that lad has in a few cameo performances, which is another worrying trend.

Don't forget, he is playing in a team which the full backs are getting more chances on goal than he is!

Dennis Ng
353 Posted 27/12/2013 at 21:09:30
I'm on the fence as to whether we will be able to maintain a top 4 challenge. We don't have the depth to account for loss of form, which we're seeing in Lukaku and Mirallas. However, I think the current form, if maintained by an avoidance of injuries and suspensions, is not just top 4 form, its pretty much title contender form. Even champions lose ridiculous games from time to time. Sunderland is just a day when all things went bad. Our first team is technically far better than some of the top 4 imo. The only problem is we don't have a bench to support them!

Mirallas has been off for a while. Also, did I mention jelly feet? I've seen him squirm a tame shot far too often. RM needs to single him out for conditioning and finishing practice. Also crossing, because he's too 1 dimensional right now. That kid has potential but his performances are well below expectations.

Also, no one is getting the ball in the air for Lukaku to win. Lukaku has been ok on the ground but his biggest goal scoring asset is in the air. Big guys can tie him down on the ground in our passing game, but not in the air, since its going to be a foul. I see where people are frustrated with Lukaku but remember that we pretty much went fully on the ground past few games.

Deulofeu is exceptional. I wish we can sign him long term. I rate him as highly as RB, in a different manner of course. We are probably going to get him for another season loan at least.

Also, RB needs to calm down and shoot a little less. Just a little. I feel a few times he can play others, most particularly Lukaku, if he passed instead of shoot. But I attribute that to experience, since its the first time he's the star of the siege.

All in all, I think we'll do fine, but I hope to see a response against Soton to confirm that.

Jamie Barlow
358 Posted 27/12/2013 at 21:25:59
Fair enough Phil. I just thought I'd put it out there as it seems most of ToffeeWeb would rather Osman not play and I don't see the point of Heitinga playing. No need to go over the top though. I said he had two good feet which he has. No mention of a cultured two-footed player. You then say he isn't defensive minded (not his forte) when he's a full back. A defender. Seems a strange comment.
Ross Edwards
361 Posted 27/12/2013 at 21:49:18
David Pearl
362 Posted 27/12/2013 at 21:39:28
Heitinga is the most capable of playing the Barry role but RM is more likely to keep Osman in the team and drop Barkley back alongside McCarthy.

A full back is a full back no more... and especially in this system where they basically push up to midfield. If we want to keep Oviedo in the team it would more likely be in front of Baines or Coleman where he can use his pace. I think the only thing letting Oviedo baby down is his crossing.

Mirallas is just one greedy bastard who has the ability to both create and score but seems only interested in himself. Looking forward the the game vs Saints. I want to see a confident Robles and Lukaku/Jelavic getting a hattrick. COYB

Dennis Ng
364 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:12:07
Where has Stones disappeared to lately?
Mike Gaynes
366 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:21:34
Never seen Stones play in the supporting midfield position other than a few minutes at a time... but it's an intriguing idea. However, I'd definitely call Oviedo's number first.
Dennis Ng
367 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:27:20
I'm thinking either Oviedo or Baines in that position instead. Stones might feature as a fullback if that's the case.
David Pearl
368 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:27:01
Absolute zero chance of Oviedo playing in front of the back two. If he does I'll eat my hat. And I can do it cuz I got one for Xmas. We've gone 3 at the back a couple of times briefly but I can't see RM making any drastic changes now the players seem to grasp how he wants them to play.
Ross Edwards
369 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:35:08
Unless we play as follows:

Coleman Jagielka Distin Baines
Mirallas McCarthy Barkley Pienaar
Lukaku Jelavic

Paul Ferry
371 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:41:54
Sorry to be a pedant, Paul, but you cannot have as your man of the match Oviedo and give him a 7 and then give McCarthy an 8.

As someone who is consistently mystified by your rankings, this seems a little more odder than usual.

This probably sounds ungrateful – sorry.

Phil Sammon
374 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:56:26
Haha... I did think the same Paul... but re-read it mate.

And can you stay away from Goodison on Sunday please, you're bad luck.

David Pearl
375 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:56:58
4-4-2?? I've never heard of such a ludicrous notion. Would the full backs be playing their more traditional role? I remember the so-called experts on MOTD giving us treasured lines such as 'you never win anything with kids' and a few years ago telling us 'no team has ever won the league playing anything but 4-4-2.' It's not just the English game that was behind the times but our TV experts... or ex-players. It also took time for myself to convert. Being in my mid 40's nearly I have only ever played in teams with 2 up top. I think the only way we play with 2 up top is with 3 centre backs... As long as we pick up 3 points and one of our strikers finds his shooting boots.
Ross Edwards
377 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:10:13
Haven't Man City played 4-4-2 this season with some success David?

Nasri on the right, Fernandinho and Toure in the middle and Silva on the left, with Aguero and Negredo upfront in most games.

Phil Sammon
378 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:17:12
They don't have Jelavic up front though, Ross.
Ross Edwards
379 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:17:51
Phil, good point well made. That's the issue we have. But we need to play an extra foward up top to support Lukaku, and we need to get Jelavic scoring because if Lukaku gets injured we'd be completely screwed.
Jamie Barlow
380 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:29:10
At least Jelavic is getting a few on target when he comes on this season. He's been pretty unlucky compared to last season when he couldn't even connect properly.
David Pearl
381 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:22:39
City are Shite though Ross, top ten at best.
Is it best for our Ross Barkley to lose the ball (as he tends to) playing a deeper role or further up front? I just think we still need 2 sitting players or else we lose our defensive stability if the full backs push up.
Mark Taylor
382 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:23:52
Kevin 346

Thing is, I don't see Mirallas as a winger, he was a very successful striker at Olympiakos and it was that form that persuaded us to buy him. We've turned him into a winger (remember, under our system, the other options used to be Seamus, Osman or, god help us, Vic) but I'm not convinced he can play there- maybe as the right or left in an attacking front 3 but not wide midfield which is essentially where he plays now. He's had to be taught how to defend for a start and is still rubbish at it, with no real sense of where and how to cover, hence our right flank is always the more vulberable.

I think he is a bit of a prima donna too, but I'd at least give him a run out in the position he actually plays in, before deciding whether he's good enough for us.

Gerry Quinn
383 Posted 27/12/2013 at 22:46:38
Tony, your reply to me I totally accept and I fully understand why some on here have their views – hell, that's what makes us all individuals.

However, at one stage recently there was a comment that someone made hoping that Osman suffered a serious injury – sorry that is beyond my comprehension. On Sunday, and not for the first time, before a ball was even kicked, the bile and hatred boiled up against Osman – WTF? I bet Hibbo was wondering when he would be back in the firing line...

And it is also fact that they are also put there, and for obvious reasons, by a quite smart and savvy Manager who certainly has more idea of how good they perform – more than we will ever be able to.

My comments regarding the applause for Osman were honest and true and it is good to see that the VAST majority of Evertonians in the Old Lady understood the quality and effort that Leon continually puts in for this team. Yes, he is getting older, and, yes, he may be getting that little bit slower, but he has helped carry this team through quite a few years now.

Yes, by all means let's complain, but we should not take it to the witch-hunt levels as these boys are giving their all for our team, and for us the fans. I am sure that there are players you thought were good – and I am sure that you and I would certainly differ – over a beer, that is. :)

Laurie Hartley
384 Posted 27/12/2013 at 21:34:46
I've always looked forward to your comments on TW - sometimes I've thought you have been spot on, sometimes I've disagreed with your views, and other times you haved had me hopping mad with some of your posts.

Nevertheless, I get a sense of how much the club means to you - same as me. I can understand where your coming from with Leon Osman - his days may be numbered in the top flight - but like many others love him for what he is - a great servant of EFC. Kevin Mirallas is being played out of position - he is an out and out striker. We have yet to see the best of him.

That brings us to Steven Pienaar. I really rate this lad - he is one of the cleverest and most skilfull players I have seen in an Everton shirt. He has been hugely instrumental in the development of Leighton Baines.

He may be small in stature but he is no "lightweight".

Gerry Quinn
385 Posted 27/12/2013 at 23:41:01
The Mersey Ferry has come back alongside! How was it Paul? Did you trash the Crows Nest up after? Which reminds me, our meet in that pub is still on after the Man Utd game in April?
Mike Gaynes
386 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:04:02
Gerry, hope you're all better!
Gerry Quinn
387 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:08:26
Mr Gaynes! Yes, I think that the Medical profession now realize that watching and supporting Everton all of these years has taken its toll on my mentality, my health and my sanity. BUT, hey, I would NOT have lived my life any differently - blue as they come, and PROUD of it! See, at young age of 62 I've even learnt how to shout digitally...
Gerry Quinn
388 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:12:59
...and I am only on my 3rd Stella!
Mike Gaynes
389 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:20:23
No doubt those good spirits you're expressing are due to those good spirits you're imbibing, sir! And I'm very glad to hear it. May I guess that a certain Houston hospital is still buzzing about your visit?
Gerry Quinn
391 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:26:24
Memorial Hermann, Katy - and they still can't understand a word I say - ha
Mike Gaynes
392 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:28:21
Well, they now have a whole new meaning to the term CODE BLUE!
Gerry Quinn
393 Posted 28/12/2013 at 00:47:25
Class - hand-crafted joke, Mike - take a bow
Harold Matthews
396 Posted 28/12/2013 at 02:17:29
Patrick. Soton may not be Barca but 72% possession against City is pretty impressive. Forget their present league position. They are a smart outfit. Of course, as you point out, we have to believe we can beat them and hopefully we will. Without Barry, who is central to everything we do, it will not be easy. Hence my trepidation. His awareness and ability to close down quickly was sorely missed against City.

That said, we are also a smart outfit. Very smart. Especially at Goodison Park in front of a full house. The old maestro, Gus Hiddink, always demanded a positive reaction to a stroke of misfortune and Martinez will be no different. He and the boys will want to put things right and I look forward to what should be one hell of a match.

Paul Ferry
433 Posted 28/12/2013 at 10:12:00
Sorry Phil will be there tomorrow but not with female Ferry who I believe to be the 1st match jinx - I've been to god knows 3000 matches at The Old Lady - and more - so it can't be me.

HA glad to be of help in the 7/8 crisis

Kunal Desai
457 Posted 28/12/2013 at 12:15:11
I think next summer will be the time when RM starts stamping his mark on the team, Jelavic, Heitinga and possibly Baines won't be at the club. I also think Mirallas does not fit into RM's plans and would not be surprised to see him leave. Barry will probably sign up on permanent deal, Deulofeu will be here on another season loan and Lukaku I think will go back to Chelsea. I can see two strikers coming in, one a big name signing on loan and another permanent deal, along with another central midfielder and another wide player. Osman will be reduced to nothing more than a squad filler. I expect we'll also see Ryan Ledson and George Green being given opportunities in the first team next season.
David Booth
548 Posted 28/12/2013 at 17:05:27
Sunderland was just one of those games - and by the law of averages, it had to happen.

I had been saying all week - and this isn't just hindsight - that it could be the freak result of the day. Good runs such as ours usually come to an end against the most unlikely of opposition.

Mannone had one of those games and you knew it just wasn't going to be our day.

The only consolation, albeit a very important one, is that we stuck to what's got us to where we are this season and took the game to them. That was some performance against a very well-disciplined and tactically well-prepared side, who were a goal and a man up.

If that belief and momentum carries on against Southampton, then we'll be fine.

As for who to replace Barry with, I'm not for all this defensive talk. We're at home, against a team who are ninth in the table and we already have one defensive midfielder in place with McCarthy.

I know he and Barry have been instrumental in keeping the whole team together, but the likes of Heitinga, Naismith, Osman (heaven forbid) or even Oviedo or Stones are not Gareth Barry - so the team will have to re-shape without him. There is no like-for-like replacement.

So what's wrong with simply playing Mirallas, McCarthy, Barkley and Pienaar as the midfield four and giving Jelavic a run out up front with Lukaku as a bit of a regenerative change?

Or, bring back Leighton Baines and push the hugely impressive Oviedo in front of him in a five-man midfield with Mirallas, McCarthy, Barkley and Pienaar? That would counter Southampton's style very well and should give plenty of runners through to spread the attack either side of Lukaku.

If Osman is brought back in anywhere and/or Naismith, I am sure I will not be alone in feeling a depressing sense of deja-vu.

Go for it Roberto. We like your work so far!

Paul Ferry
596 Posted 28/12/2013 at 18:57:09
Name names Gerry mate - 279 - In the 50-odd years of following this team, boy am I glad we never had TW when I think of one or two players that have had the gall to even pull on a blue shirt and not give their all

Having fish and chips from George and Angelas tonight mate

Paul Ferry
597 Posted 28/12/2013 at 19:00:35
Agree 156.67% Kev

Kevin Tully - 330 - Regardless of the Sunderland game, am I the only one who thinks Mirallas has been well below average all season?

Paul Tran
764 Posted 29/12/2013 at 10:57:28
Hey Paul, if you're going to George and Angela's, hope you'll be in the Bug & Bite for a few beers first. Had many a good after match evening in there back in the day!

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