After Wednesday's horror weather, today was almost balmy, with clear blue skies and strong sunlight. We entered the Palace of Learning with Wembley on our minds and the Room of Nonsense soon filled up with the matchday regulars, all with a tale to tell from the Palace no-show.
In my report from the Palace non-game, I asked the question "Who has the second bestselling album of all time?" and I got quite a few different answers, so I took the liberty of approaching the Room of Nonsense music guru... He of the definitive answers thought awhile and, as with all these type of questions, nothing is ever clear-cut. He says, "To answer that question, you can’t have compilations of greatest hits – it has to be a straight album and, in the case of the UK as opposed to the World, then Adele would be the right answer." I wonder if he is right?...
Anyway, having got that out of the way, the teams came through and our new man Traore was in, as was Barkley, in what looked like a first-choice line-up from what we have got, except Robles in goal for Howard. The Swansea team looked like one picked to take part but not necessarily win. Eight changes from their last Prem line-up at Stoke.
On the walk up, everywhere looked to be buzzing and basking in the sunshine. The Fat Van, Blue Dragon and the Café chippy all chokka and Goodison Road thronging with the faithful. I just could not resist a quick glance up to the roof of the Winslow – just in case a slate had come loose again; you can’t be too careful...
The teams emerged and the new lad got a good reception on his name call-out. We then had a period of silence in memory of Tom Finney of Preston and England fame which was well observed. We kicked off toward the Park End which meant the bright sunlight was directly at our goal but the keeper had no peaked head attire.
We were just settling down when, within two minutes, a neat break from the Swans saw Alvaro played in and, with our defence in a right mess, he took it past our keeper but fortunately too wide which allowed our scrambling defence to get back and ensure his final effort was tame and at our keeper.
That had the faithful silenced right away but, within another two minutes, we took the lead when Distin got in at the back post from a well delivered cross and seemed to juggle the ball before regaining some composure and laid it toward our debutant Traore who pirouetted in ‘Bambi on Ice’ fashion and extended his long leg and back-heeled home from a yard out. Good celebrations and what a start from our new striker!
"Now we can crack on," I thought... but we just didn’t seem to be at it and were looking slack on the ball. One spell of passing across the back that got more hairy by the second had the faithful riled and not happy. The lads just didn’t seem happy. Coleman and McCarthy seemed to be having a running argument and it was of little surprise when, on the 15-minute mark, we got in a bit of a mess on our right flank after Pienaar, who had been defending near the corner flag, put a cross in across his own goal which also drifted out for a corner on the other side! Bizarre.
The corner was taken short and Taylor put in a good cross that beat all our rearguard leaving De Guzman to pick his spot and power a header home. First silence... then muttering from those assembled told its own story.
We then entered a period where Swansea were playing some nice joined-up stuff and stretching us at times yet it was the Blues who were making the better chances but remained unable to make any count. Pienaar had the nearest to a goal when he combined with Baines and hit a post, the ball bounced out and Traore headed goalwards but his header lacked power and the keeper gathered. It wasn’t the best half of football I have seen as our lads seemed half-hearted.
We did get a free kick on the ‘D’ which dead ball experts Baines and Mirallas stood over. The Ref strode out the distance and as we shaped to take the ref caught them shuffling forward so he re-did the distance and gave them a talking too. (Well, you have to find some light relief don’t you) and Mirallas it was who fired in but the keeper had that side covered so still 1-1. After another chance to each side that frittered away, the interval was reached.
In visiting the gentlemen’s facilities, I overheard someone asking his mate what he thought of our new striker? His reply had me smiling when he said "His brains are too far from his feet." We also had five junior Blues taking a penalty each at an Academy keeper. Three out of five went in — and damned good pens they were too.
Second half and no changes in personnel... and no changes to the pattern of play either. It was a bit boring to be honest but Coleman did liven it up a little when he cut into the box and proceeded to do step overs at a great rate of knots — so much so, he lost all idea of where the ball was and the Swansea lad just took it away from him.
By now, Barkley and Traore were quite anonymous and it was no surprise to many when, on the hour mark, they were replaced by Naismith and Osman. This had an immediate effect as Osman started to run midfield and was actually linking play where there had been none previously and Naismith was occupying their back two in a way that Traore wasn’t. It seemed to me to be a case of two young lads still making their way being replaced by two seasoned pros who may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there today they made a positive difference.
Coleman was now playing better and overlapped and got onto an Osman pass and delivered a cross right onto Pienaar’s head in front of a gaping goal. He headed wide — a real nailed-on chance. Naismith was giving up on nothing and putting a shift in, closing down as Swansea continued to try to stay true to their passing and ball-retention game. On 65 mins, this paid off when Taylor, who I thought was their best player, tried a back pass to his keeper without legs allowing the alert Naismith to pounce and slot passed a stranded keeper. 2-1 up, oh joy.
Coleman again marauded to the by-line, cut in and fed Mirallas in front of goal with a bit of time, he snatched at it and only the lad out in Gwladys Street itself profited as he gained a ball courtesy of a Mirallas balloon over bar, crowd and stand.
On 70 mins we put some joined up stuff together down the left and, after a one-two between Naismith and Pienaar, Naismith was brought down, in the box, Penalty! Baines despatched with aplomb sending the keeper the wrong way.
Swansea were a bit narked now and started some rough stuff that unfortunately saw Naismith hit hard by their Number 2. He had treatment and did go back on, so Deulofeu replaced Mirallas, but then Naismith went down again with no-one near him and was led away to take no further part. We saw the match out including 4 mins of added time.
After the third goal, we did have a few cup songs, the loudest being ‘We shall not be moved’. As the players came off the crowd reaction shall we say was no more than polite.
MotM – Barry
It was announced that the draw for the Sixth Round would be relayed in the fan zone but most stuck headphones in and journeyed on. Nearing our Palace of Learning for the inquest, a great big R--A was heard the length of Walton Road and County road. Away to Gunners or Liverpool. I thought, "Well, it will be a hell of a lot cheaper if its Liverpool..."
Our chat centred on the draw and concluded that, if we are to win it, then at least one decent team must be beaten, but now it looks like we will need to beat two. Not impossible.
Although today’s game was less than enthralling — in fact, we were downright poor in long stretches — I read nothing into it as, after years of Blue cup ties, none of them seem to go to form or plan. The important thing is get a win and in the hat. You can bet that next week at Chelsea it will be quite a different Everton. It would be nice to do the double over them.
So we have progressed in the FA Cup, sorted out the team and tactics for next week... so we will just have to see if this Masterplan transfers well from Room of Nonsense to the green sward of Stamford Bridge...
UP THE BLUES
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568 Posted 16/02/2014 at 22:55:59
I don't think either of them are our best players but their record this season has been hugely impressive & today they again turned this game around as soon as they were introduced.
577 Posted 17/02/2014 at 01:32:21
I agree – the team looked sluggish and predictable for long periods, and nervy on the ball at the back. We only showed quality in patches, and Swansea had too much space in midfield for comfort. Luckily their forwards were AWOL most of the time.
For me, Naismith made the difference today – he knows where the goal is and gets into useful positions, and can be a nuisance. That seems to be because he's played as more of an out-and-out striker and not somewhere between midfield and the front, where he's less effective.
The new boy Traore looked pretty static when receiving the ball – perhaps better will come with some match practice.
The Arsenal result is good for us, I think – I don't think we should fear them, especially as they seem prone to having off days. Let's hope it's not one of our off days, too... we've had a few in the last couple of weeks when nothing comes off.
581 Posted 17/02/2014 at 02:49:20
Its the kind of performance that I feared we would see more of when Martinez was appointed. Fortunately they seem rare and hopefully this is part of our natural transition to tic tac; or simply taking the foot off the gas against a second string opposition.
On a postive note it was great to see the contribution of Naismith and Osman. I have always thought highly of Osman, but I confess to thinking Naismith was less than useless...but I was wrong, he does have a role to play as a striker, perhaps as an impact sub.
Will need to see more of Traore - looked and played liked a lamp post. Awkward player, awkward to handle, but looks like he has a poor first touch (which is also evident in his You Tube highlights).
582 Posted 17/02/2014 at 02:18:39
Our performance was very lethargic to say the least, but the sick-note lads got a bit more gametime and Traore got off to a good start. OK, he looked a little awkward at times but he also showed vision and a desire to be involved.
A boring match but we're through to the quarter finals against Wenger's boys. Exciting times ahead.
583 Posted 17/02/2014 at 03:03:33
584 Posted 17/02/2014 at 03:27:05
That’s the Everton way
585 Posted 17/02/2014 at 03:51:34
I’m also critical of the Baines-Pienaar-Osman axis: it’s all very nice but has no end product. They should be whipping in crosses for our forwards to connect with. I know MIrallas had that chance that ballooned over but, if we can get 10 of those in a game, we can afford to miss a few.
586 Posted 17/02/2014 at 04:38:20
599 Posted 17/02/2014 at 08:26:20
"So Roberto, when are we going to see the new centre forward?"
Marinez says: "Lacina is an important member of the group...". Martinez thinks: "Shit, don't do it Bobby lad, sit on your hands, tell them anything, my hand is going. I really want to tell them we have watched him in training and been a bit horrified. Don't do it. Please, hand, stay still". Says: "He will come into a good moment". Thinks: "There it goes again, straight to me bleedin' ear, I'm going to have to play him sometime".
602 Posted 17/02/2014 at 08:57:29
605 Posted 17/02/2014 at 08:52:14
606 Posted 17/02/2014 at 09:07:55
607 Posted 17/02/2014 at 09:30:55
Having watched the rest of the match I was unpleasantly surprised. Sometimes you just don't need to a watch a player for more than one game to know he's got some very obvious issues.
609 Posted 17/02/2014 at 09:42:04
616 Posted 17/02/2014 at 10:06:58
However your comment that Traore's technical looks good......? When he traps the ball it moves about two full paces from his foot. That's two of his paces so about 9ft. Technically he looks poor and fitness is not likely to improve that in a hurry.
625 Posted 17/02/2014 at 10:27:17
627 Posted 17/02/2014 at 09:55:44
Second half, we had much the better of it, defending with much more urgency & more lively in attack. I don't recollect many attacks by them second half!
We are definitely a work in progress as far as the defenders finding the passes to the midfield players is concerned. More movement from the midfield would help because Distin & Jags both find difficulty finding a free man to pass to.
The opposition now know how were going to build the play & mark very closely, it gets a bit hairy at times I must say. I think we may see a few drastic changes in the summer if RM is given enough money to spend!
632 Posted 17/02/2014 at 10:49:50
Paul - you say "It seems a characteristic of performances under RM that we can't seem to put two decent halves in most games." This has been a problem with Everton teams for the past 3 or 4 years and it does my head in as the failure to perform in both halves makes it more difficult to win games. It is a habit that RM has to get the players out of and soon.
635 Posted 17/02/2014 at 11:07:54
636 Posted 17/02/2014 at 11:13:32
I admire you optimism... but as a wise man once penned "reserving judgment is a matter of infinite hope"..
It's been a while since I've seen a player as slow or as clumsy as Traore. I'm not sure being at a new club is a coherent excuse for such a poor first touch.
I'd rather Naismith was played up top.
639 Posted 17/02/2014 at 11:26:37
Meanwhile, he has a good record on goal scoring. Back-heeled when and where it counted. Cool la!
640 Posted 17/02/2014 at 11:26:55
649 Posted 17/02/2014 at 12:28:26
The rumour that he was brought in for the Chelsea game only doesn't seem so ridiculous now.
The reports were that he was better with his feet than his head. they were right, he is absolutely diabolical with his head and only shite with his feet.
Not too arsed though if he bangs in a goal a game for his short spell here
656 Posted 17/02/2014 at 13:28:07
658 Posted 17/02/2014 at 13:40:59
I will give him at least a few more matches before I get the knives out. I hope he may change a few uncharitable minds on here.
661 Posted 17/02/2014 at 13:54:08
668 Posted 17/02/2014 at 14:20:17
Is the Arsenal return game in Germany on the Wednesday of that week? Means we will play them on the 8th no? Think we have enough to get through anyway. I hope.
671 Posted 17/02/2014 at 15:00:30
675 Posted 17/02/2014 at 15:10:42
683 Posted 17/02/2014 at 16:01:24
One final question: Barkley is big with great control. Could he play as a striker? I wish he could get a chance. It would be far less of a problem if he loses the ball. I think he would be a handful.
695 Posted 17/02/2014 at 17:04:49
699 Posted 17/02/2014 at 17:50:52
703 Posted 17/02/2014 at 18:06:46
Guus Hiddink liked him, signed him and used him.
711 Posted 17/02/2014 at 19:02:06
Some very harsh assessments of Traore's performance yesterday. There wasn't much to get excited about but I don't agree it was as awful as some are saying. He seemed quick enough to me when he had a good reason to get on his bike, but those opportunites were extremely limited due to our laboured build up play.
People used to say Fellaini was lazy when the statistics showed he regularly ran further in a game than any of our other players. To assess how quickly a player is moving you need to look at how much ground he is covering, not just how quickly his legs are pumping.
713 Posted 17/02/2014 at 19:07:42
I agree it was a dull performance lacking any vitality in midfield and too many players were poor. CM was the worst I have seen this season,Kevin was not performing though I saw signs that Ross is slowly starting to feel his way back.
I don't think we will see the full Martinez effect until we replace our centre backs. They are doing ok in a new system of playing but when they are put under pressure like yesterday they struggle because they are not playing their natural game and this creates a disjointed performance as CM is pulled around to cover rather than to join in building our forward movement .Stones must be in with a good shout to claim a starting berth next season and maybe buy a good young footballing centre back to play with him. Jags and Sylvain are decent but not in this system.
Osman and Nais showed yet again that they do not deserve the abuse they get on this site. They put in good performances and put the younger players to shame.
As for Robles- someone teach him how to kick a ball- if I was playing centre back I would be a bag of nerves playing ahead of him. He may have promise but his kicking ability is atrocious
774 Posted 17/02/2014 at 23:02:34
776 Posted 17/02/2014 at 23:32:05
797 Posted 18/02/2014 at 02:12:01
800 Posted 18/02/2014 at 03:25:41
The lad has talent. His fine record proves this. Age 23, he is still learning and in Martinez he has the right coach.
Did we bring him in for a dozen games or so, or do we have a permanent signing in mind? If the latter is the case we'd like him to do well, but not too well.
From what we know about our manager, he will not give a contract to a stranger. Right now he will be studying Traore's character and assessing his value to the squad. As stated in various interviews, the lad has been tutored on the history of Everton and what it stands for. We are the most famous club he has ever experienced and he'll be desperate to succeed. Let's hope he does. It's all a gamble and if he fails to make the grade it won't break the bank.
814 Posted 18/02/2014 at 09:06:47
821 Posted 18/02/2014 at 10:48:03
822 Posted 18/02/2014 at 11:08:45
844 Posted 18/02/2014 at 13:47:05
945 Posted 19/02/2014 at 04:50:44
Trouble is, he's not getting that type of ball often. We need to play that more and tell Barkley to stop shooting from afar. He sucks at that anyways.
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