It has been a little difficult to be enthused by our pre-season matches. Firstly let's remember there are no points gained for a friendly win. It appears to me that some players have enjoyed their holidays to much.
It is hard for us to judge exactly what Roberto wanted from the friendly games although it's safe to assume the results were not a high priority. Only in the second half did against Celta Vigo did we start to look sharper and the Paderborn game and a further closed door match should help towards fitness for the Leicester fixture.
It is also safe to assume he wanted to have a good look at our youth players, as they have figured largely in those matches, to ascertain who could safely be additions to the first team squad from the Under-21s.
What have we seen from those young players?
I would guess Garbutt, Browning and Duffy would figure in his plans with Garbutt a certainty and the steady improvement of Browning and Duffy doing themselves no harm a little more game time by the latter two in the last of the friendlies may well see them have call ups for early cup rounds.
The other youngsters may well be sent on both short and long term loans for further assessment by the very capable Joe Royal in his new roll, I would not discount the possibility of Galloway, Byrne and Ledson joining the squad along with Atsu and Hennen if they eventually sign of course.
Two or more loan signings may well be added prior to the “window” closing in the next few weeks, certainly the addition of a couple of extra bodies would be welcome.
What about the established players?
I am sorry to say that I can see no place for Tony Hibbert while Osman did not seem “at it” in the games I have seen, and fewer opportunities may be available for him.
Aiden McGeady's role may switch more inside he looked far more effective in the second half against Celta than on the wing, hence Roberto's continuing search for another winger.
All players in returning from any World Cup have worried me. It always seems longer for those players to come back and readjust, while Mirallas and Lukaku have only just returned, from those endeavours, but in general they are just too good for the hangover too last to long.
The big positive and it is a very big one is the signing of Besic, Kenwright must have worn a Zorro mask when he stole him for only £4 million. In my mind he his the best signing of the season and will take the Premier League by storm.
Who will be where in our squad?
Goalkeepers:- Howard, Robles, Stanek:-
Howard – Had a good World Cup and still looks a pretty sound keeper for a few more years at least at the top level.
Robles – Not rated by many; however, at only 23, he could develop into anything. He did play well in Wigan's cup side, and could become a capable understudy?
Stanek - May well take over when Howard retires.
Defenders:- Coleman, Hibbert, Baines, Jagielka, Oviedo, Distin, Stones, Browning, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Duffy, Galloway.
A combination from Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Stones & Oviedo, look to be the first choices for a back four, with Browning, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Duffy & Galloway as backup. Hibbert should also be included but I cannot see him being a first-choice replacement.
Midfield:- McCarthy, Barry, Besic, Barkley, Gibson, McGeady, Osman, Oviedo, Pienaar.
The midfield stand-outs are Barry, McCarthy, Barkley and Besic who will figure prominently. It will depend on the system set-up who will make the remaining places; if of course we play a 3-5-1-1, then Coleman, Baines or Oviedo could occupy the wide positions.
Forwards:- Lukaku, Kone, Mirallas, Atsu, Naismith, McAleny, Hope, Long.
Lukaku is obvious first choice; however, like the midfielders, we can expect everyone to be used in some role in the team, during the season. Naismith was a revelation last season and I expect him to be an impact substitute.
How will we play?
I think there is enormous room for us to vary the way we will play, and the set-up will all depend on the opposition we will face. Last season, Roberto put a lot of faith in his players to try new ways of playing – favouring players that seem adaptable and flexible in the way they can play, against just being a one-position, one-dimensional player.
Bearing in mind the adaptability of players we have, I can see us playing any one of seven permutations, with the players to fill those combinations. We could have 4-2-3-1, which we favoured last season, or 4-4-2, 4-3-3. However, Roberto has a preference for three at the back and I have a feeling this is the way he wants to play in the long term.
I think he has the players to play three at the back with a pick from 3-5-2, 3-2-3-1-1, 3-4-3 or my preference for a 3-5-1-1, I would see Jagielka, Stones & Distin as the back-three, Coleman, Barry, Besic, McCarthy & Baines in the midfield, Barclay in a free role and Lukaku up front.
I know you will say, "Well, you have picked all he systems there are," but that is a strength of the players we have – flexibility by almost everyone to take on two or three different rolls. Should you look at the squad in depth and the rolls they have played, both last season and in the friendlies, a flexible playing capability has been tried by numerous players.
If we have a good season, we could easily play 50 games – that's 4,500 minutes of football. It is important to remember Roberto sets great store by the number of minutes players actually play, so it's safe to say that there will be a lot of players used, just to keep our players healthy.
I may be mistaken in this but I think I detected personal monitors on the players backs, very much similar to the ones that have used in Rugby League and Union for a few years now.
There is one aspect of play that worries me that is when we play a high-pressing team, as Celta Vigo did last week, we seem to be vulnerable at the back. I am sure other manages will have spotted this as I am sure it will not have gone unnoticed by Roberto, who will put plans in place to counter this style of play, employing more of a 4-4-2 or even a 4-3-3 using a pacey fast-breaking system, to catch out a high-playing team.
This season will be a tough one: Chelsea and both Manchester clubs again are looking strong, I am not particularly worried about Liverpool – they have bought too many new players for me – Spurs did the same last year. Champions League games will also add to their problems... and, if you think about it, any of the top 5 with Suarez in their team should have won the league.
Expectations are high for Evertonians I have certainly not felt as optimistic since the 1980s and 1990s but we are on a plan to go forward with young players, some of these are on the brink of being very, very good. A future spine of Howard, Stones, Barkley and Lukaku can be built on for us to become a real powerhouse in football again.
The School of Science is indeed open again.
Reader Comments (42)
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1 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:23:00
I think all the main work is being done behind closed doors. What we do need to do is iron out the sloppy play but, again, they seemed to be happening in the first half when the players are just strolling around.
IÂm sure heÂs more worried about not having player key players injured in Decemeber.
3 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:12:24
4 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:28:00
5 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:08:11
6 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:25:23
7 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:30:27
8 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:28:00
The last 3 games have been frankly terrifying. WeÂve looked disjointed, unable to pass, lacking tempo and teamwork, low on quality and creativity, prone to lapses at the back and generally inept and unprepared for a premier league season. All in all itÂs appeared almost as if the last 12 months never happened.
IÂm also not clear whatÂs happening with our other first teamers (will Rom and Kev play vs Leicester, will Coleman be back fit, will Kone ever kick a football in an Everton game again?)
Martinez has more than earned our trust and patience of course but heÂs certainly making us fans sweat for it this pre-season.
9 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:40:42
CanÂt score and will let in on average 2.2 goals a game!
10 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:41:59
With that in mind, I am baffled that Lukaku and Mirallas havenÂt figured. They only played 2 games each for Belgium, and both had periods of rest last year when they were injured.
I fear we are going to come unstuck against Leicester. They will be fighting for their lives and giving it everything. We will have Lukaku and Mirallas finding their feet. We might bring on Atsu if things arenÂt going our way - except he hasnÂt had any games pre-season either...
It just seems like we are not ready.
11 Posted 09/08/2014 at 23:40:13
That said, we do need a striker.....now if only we could sign one....oh wait....
He should play. ItÂs all smoke & mirrors, surely...
12 Posted 10/08/2014 at 00:19:44
13 Posted 10/08/2014 at 02:07:15
That we have a star in the making from Bosnia-Herzegovina
That Osman and Hibbert should get nowhere near the starting eleven but the first at least will next week, to my great grief.
That we desperately need a dependable back-up goalie and that we should have hi-jacked the Forster transfer.
That I would rather have Long than Naismith starting up-front.
That Jagielka, the hoofer-howler, is the real problem at the back.
That people slag off Alcaraz as near ritual when in fact I would rather see Alcaraz & Stones or or Distin & Stones starting next week.
That our gaffer makes mistakes.
That Ross is not getting too big for his boots at some say Â– if so, then why sign on the dotted line Â– but does need some careful and thoughtful guidance in 2014-15 to go with all the oodles of natural flair and ability.
That we need right now Atsu, a creative midfielder, a striker, and a goalie.
That there will in all likelihood be one or two more youngsters coming through next season.
That McGeady ought not to start in a top-6 Prem team but, as it stands, will start 38 per cent of our games.
That we need a real leader on the pitch Â– see above comments on Jag-hoofer.
That, as Chris Fisher (#12) says, "If anyone thinks we will play like we have in preseason against Leicester then youÂre a moron." Â– I might substitute thinking wrongly than ÂmoronÂ.
That our best of all starting XI after 2 September will be (sorry for the lingering questions): Howard/Marshall (please God); Coleman, Stones, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Besic, Atsu (assuming) AN Other/Mirallas; Barkley; Lukaku.
That we will in fact have a boss season in 2014-2015 with the best squad we have had since Â87 although depth remains a concern and I for one will be fascinated by the teams we put out on Thursday nights.
That ToffeeWeb is the best footie fan site in the world by an Alex Young mile.
14 Posted 10/08/2014 at 02:57:03
ThereÂs always someone worse off than us guys.
15 Posted 10/08/2014 at 03:28:46
The pre-season that never was.
17 Posted 10/08/2014 at 10:58:00
Next Saturday canÂt get here soon enough.
18 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:18:46
19 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:31:39
Lee Carsley wrote today that the real work is done behind closed doors. Roberto and his staff know what they are doing. I trust them more than the doom mongerers on here.
20 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:53:50
21 Posted 10/08/2014 at 13:09:10
1. we need another striker,
2. Hibbert shouldnÂt of been given a contract extension,
3. defence training needs to be a priority this week,
4. Robles scares me!
22 Posted 10/08/2014 at 13:27:02
23 Posted 10/08/2014 at 13:11:02
If/when he says Lukaku and Mirallas wont play at Leicester, donÂt be surprised if they donÂt.
I agree with Wayne when he says we are looking vulnerable to high pressing sides, we are and we had better get used to it because opposing managers are certain to have spotted the weakness.
Its a weakness because some of our players donÂt have sufficient ball control, thatÂs where having more 㿊m players in the side would make the difference.
26 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:08:08
I think both Belgians will play some part.
29 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:02:00
30 Posted 10/08/2014 at 16:37:54
31 Posted 10/08/2014 at 17:11:04
33 Posted 10/08/2014 at 17:50:25
A back up striker - preferably a 20 goal a season man
A creative midfielder - with an "eye for a goal"
A winger - pacy of course.
That no matter how shite the other players are. Tony Hibbert will always be singled out
That its not a good idea to use the phrase "School of science" within ear shot of Robbie Martinez - we donÂt want him thinking heÂs a teacher and can fuck off for eight weeks EVERY summer.
IÂve also learned that no matter how old I get, life isnÂt the same from Mid May to Mid August Â— IÂm so desperate for next week.
34 Posted 10/08/2014 at 18:09:23
35 Posted 10/08/2014 at 18:17:56
In accordance to the earlier comments mentioned above, I could sense that it is going to be quite a dizzying and bumpy ride.
So gentlemen.... fasten your seat-belts and enjoy the adventure!
36 Posted 10/08/2014 at 22:40:40
37 Posted 11/08/2014 at 08:22:36
Genuine pace and trickery.
38 Posted 11/08/2014 at 12:00:47
I wouldnÂt read too much into performances or results from pre season. The real stuff starts on Saturday and, trust me, this manager will have us fired up. And Lukaku and Mirallas will definitely start.
39 Posted 11/08/2014 at 12:13:49
40 Posted 11/08/2014 at 20:25:11
3-4 if I remember rightly and it was a huge shock and then the Holy Trinity supported by Alan Whittle took the stage.
Better than the 1985 side - they would have run the 85 midfield ragged.
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