Running through the forum and post-match threads today after the Chelsea match, the issue that seemed to be the most urgent was the central defensive pairing of Philip Nikodem Jagielka and Sylvain Distin who was born in a week when Mull of Kintyre was at the top of Fluff Freeman’s ‘hit parade’!

I think we need to break this Jagielka/Distin pairing once and for all.

I’ve seen the remarks pointing in the other direction and I have respect for them. Funny though, very few of them, if any at all, defend Jagielka in particular on the basis of his performances. Trotted out more often is that it is loopy and loony to break up the third-best defence in the Premier League regarding on goals conceded last season.

Well, on that score, we are already really in trouble! That was then and this is now... and we have conceded TEN goals in three games (eight at The Old Lady) – our worst start in goals leaked since Anthony Eden was Prime Minister – and we are therefore officially on the basis of this stat currently the worst defence in the Premier League – after just three games.

Also, there are quite a few other reasons for why we performed well on this score last season – not just the central two – and let’s not forget that Skipper Jagielka played 26 games in 2014-15 and that, for a large chunk of the second half of that season, many of us were purring over the Stones/Distin combination.

Three games! So here it is yet again – knee-jerk, over-reaction, you fellas need to get a bit of serious grounding you knee-jerkers! No. First of all this third game was no surprise after the first two in my mind, they cling together in a seamless sequence of poor defending and poor decision-making by the gaffer. This is a longer-term issue than three games and it has roots in last season and arguably the one before and the nub of the matter is the Jagielka/Distin central defence pairing. Short memories for some! There were more than a few on these boards making eminently sensible critical comments about the two of them not this but last season. That’s right when we had the third best Premiership defence. But then again if I am correct many more were praising Stones and the Stones-Distin combination.

The ‘Stones is too young’ point of view cuts absolutely no ice with me either; not least on the basis of what I/we saw in the second half of last season.

Now I also accept that Baines in particular is showing real deep defensive frailties; that the central midfielders have also not started well this season, and they had major hands to play in some of the goals we conceded today; and that we ought to expect a team to defend – not him, or him... or just him.

But there is a reason why defenders are called 'defenders'. They are the lynchpin of defence and their primary job is to defend. Jagielka and Distin (combined age: 68 years young) do not work together at this level at this club.

How often do we see a ball or a striker slip in between them? How often do we see Jagielka in particular losing his man? How often do we see an error somewhere wide and Jagielka and Distin not reading the game properly and positionally miles away from where they need to be to cover someone else’s error? (The third Chelsea goal today is textbook: they had three or four seconds to read that and act accordingly — do you see them anywhere near on the replay?).

How often do Jagielka (and now worryingly Distin) get caught out for pace? How often will we not defend corners? How often will Jagielka in particular not defend effectively with his head? How often will the central two hold off and hold off? – their fourth goal today, again textbook! How often, on the other hand, will the central defence push up, playing the offside game and getting caught out? – textbook case, their first goal today!

It’s a conundrum isn’t it? Third-best defence (*cough*), England internationals – three of the seven defenders in the England squad are our boys! But ten goals leaked in three games does not lie.

I don’t go with this silly "Bobby doesn’t do defence" stuff. We are Wigan or Wiganesque or Swanesque! ... No! But we have a serious problem at the back and the gaffer has to earn his sponds these next two weeks and make tough decisions about his defence and, perhaps, do some serious work on defensive coaching at Finch Farm and/or look at his defensive coaching line up. (We could do worse than give Tony Pullis a short-term contract.)

I hope that by the time we line-up at Alan Irvine’s new home: (1) the Philip/Sylvain pairing has been broken up; (2) we have brought in a decent experienced left-sided central defender; and (3) John Stones is in the starting eleven.

Bobby will not drop his skipper. I am worried about his decisions so far this season that, unlike last season, appear to lack that certain savviness many of us praised to the highest heavens. Yet subs Stones and Besic were benched, keeping Jagielka and Distin together again today.

But I still have plenty of faith in Bobby! I suspect that he will start with Jagielka and Stones at The Hawthorns and that will be the beginning of the end of a once good (now poor) defensive pairing that has cost us goals and points this season. And then we will need to think long and hard about a long-term full-time replacement for England’s Number 6.

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Jamie Barlow
1 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:20:21
Why don't you go with the "Bobby doesn't do defence" stuff? There isn't really anything to suggest that he "does do defence" is there?

You could argue last season but you could also say last season our defenders were still in David Moyes mode. If it was all Martinez, then he needs to go back to what he was doing.

I think they'll (Martinez, coaches and players) get it sorted and we'll become a very good team but it is a bit worrying at the moment.

Patrick Murphy
2 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:02:28
This is probably not the most scientific thing I have ever produced but last season
Jags played in 26 PL games and Everton conceded 28
Distin 34 games and Everton conceded 31
Stones played in 24 matches and Everton conceded 29.

Obviously there were games where all 3 played at the same time but it is perhaps Distin at CB who is the problem.

Suppose we played Coleman, Jags, Stones, Distin as the back four and pushed Baines forward with Mirallas given a spot on the right side of midfield. Or only played one holding midfielder McCarthy with a back five. Roberto will I am sure find a solution but it does have to be addressed as conceding goals does very quickly erode confidence and may undermine a lot of the good work that has been done so far.

Peter Laing
3 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:27:40
Although Jagielka and Distin have had a nightmare start to the season, the midfield axis of Barry / McCarthy has also looked a pale shade of last seasons resounding success. With the full-backs encouraged to get forward both Barry on the left and McCarthy on the right have defensive duties to fill in which they have neglected. The defence has been left exposed in all three games to date coupled with the alarming drop in form of Jagielka (he hardly trained all summer after the World Cup and was injured before the tournament) and apparent decline in Distin we look all at sea.

Martinez has the weekend to address these problems, I hope that there is no day of rest tomorrow for the aforementioned players and some serious soul searching amongst the ranks as to how we can remedy this problem which could become a cancer on the Clubs domestic and European campaign. It is already feeling alarmingly like the ill-fated Autumn of 2005. My priority would be the recruitment of a left sided centre half of European pedigree, Jags needs to be taken out of the firing line and Stones given the right to build upon his potential.

Dave Williams
4 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:48:18
Decent stuff, Paul.

It is certainly a collective thing rather than just CB but the most glaring weakness is there and can be addressed by using Stones/Besic/New buy before Tuesday.

McCarthy will come good again (hopefully he won't be sold)but Barry needs his partner to be playing well to do some running for him.

Baines worries me and I have said for a year now that we should cash in now and blood Garbutt until Oviedo is fit. Baines is lightweight defensively and without Pienaar is nothing like as effective going forward.

Tim will be up and down this season as in the past – could we get Cech?

Most pressing need is a captain who can inspire on the pitch and drag the team forward but I don't see any obvious candidate?

Steavey Buckley
5 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:53:53
The basic problem with Jags and Distin, they were both comfortable playing under Moyes and huffing the ball away when they were threatened by the opposition. Now Martinez wants to play the ball out of the defence to the nearest player all of the time. And that is putting Jags and Distin under too much pressure, especially Jags.

So what are the other options: There are Stones and Alcaraz, but they did not both ingratiate themselves too well in pre-season friendlies, but neither did Jags or Distin. Actually, Duffy played quite well, but has now being sold to Blackburn for a paltry sum of money.

Why could not Everton's league matches have been more simple and pleasing this season so far, by defending well and having at least 7 points on the board instead of 2 with a -3 goal difference.

Sean Kelly
6 Posted 30/08/2014 at 23:59:41
Good post, Paul. I didn't see the full game today only goals on TV as I'm on my back in hospital. Reading the comments on the live forum and different threads, it's glaringly obvious the Distin and Jags partnership is finished. Jags has to be dropped as his decision making and lack of sharpness is alarming to say the least.

Why oh why can we not get a Shawcross or (dare I say it?) Skirtel type nasty sod in is beyond me. I'm fed up hearing we must " get the right character". FFS get a bollox in and stop this nonsensical nicey nicey people's club shite. Get a hungry animal that doesn't give a fuck about people's nice guy tags and lead from the front instead of hiding behind the fucking sofa with Billy.

I hope Roberto will get it sorted real quick as I think he's a top coach but maybe at times a little too nice. Just look at that horrible Brenda twat when he's doing his interviews. That fucker gives the smile after each comment but his fucking eyes tells you he's going to try every trick to win a game. I can't say really what type of a shite he is for fear of being banned here.

Message to Robbie: Sort it out, lad. I'm fucked off being "The People's Club". After all, wasn't that the saying from the Glum One?

Sean Kelly
7 Posted 31/08/2014 at 00:20:40
Steavey I see where you are coming from on playing the ball out of defence but we have to defend first to gain possession. Unfortunately we are not doing that at the moment and cant get the ball even to blast it into orbit.
Andy Crooks
8 Posted 31/08/2014 at 01:10:12
Good article, Paul. I agree pretty much with the content but it's the general idea that I like. You are demonstrating that it is possible to make pertinent criticisms without suddenly being anti Martinez.

I have seen comments on other threads talking about "so called fans" and about knives out for Martinez. No such thing is happening. I like the way Roberto Martinez is taking the club but he can't be right all the time and we experts on ToffeeWeb are here to point him in the right direction when he fucks up.

This is my last word on the subject but, Paul and other Evertonians; do you think we would have won if Duffy and Stones and been at the centre of our defence today?

Paul Ferry
9 Posted 31/08/2014 at 01:59:35
Cheers Andy mate (#8), 2nd paragraph is spot on, in my opinion. To be honest, there's no way that Bobby would drop both Jags and Sylvain and it will be Sylvain who gets the axe first.

So, my first thought would be Jags and who and that would be Stones in Bobby's world whether or not Duffy was with us. Stones and Duffy would have been too green a pair for this game but I am willing to bet that we would not have leaked six if they had started!

Jags sent our axis spinning with that 1st goal. Because of his basic error we were reeling and therefore I also blame him for the quick second while we were still in post-goal-trauma.

I would not have sold Duffy, by the way.

Nigel Gregson
10 Posted 31/08/2014 at 02:08:47
Finally some voices of reason. Sean get well soon mate ! Andy - really good last point.

A few things become quite clear on a second viewing at MoTD:

1. We were not "unlucky" , If anything, Timmy Long Beard should have been given his marching orders midway through the first half. Imagine the score line if that had happened. And would you blame Roberto for this mad rush of blood? And would you replace Howard with [ insert flavour of the month transfer target GK].

2. Chelsea were very very good. Let's not be sore cunts about this. They came with a plan to hit us at 100 mph and score as many in the first half and then park the bus. They far surpassed and exceeded that. Diego Costa and Fabergas look boss. Costa will get a red card or two before the season ends though.

3. On TW, many folks are on McGeady out mode by default. I suppose he was at fault for all the six goals then? What about the two goals that he created today? Yes, he's unfit, but he carved up opposition defences so many times already in 3 games and has probably been our most creative player so far. I love a good a whine, but seriously can we give credit where it's due for a change ?

4. Why did Roberto drag his feet on bringing Besic for James McCarthy (I guess the own goal is a good enough reason – but I think he just got caught in the moment a little). Why is James McCarthy so out of gas by 75 minutes these days? Isn't this just as worrying as Jags offside trap execution?

5. What is with all this ball-watching around our box? I suppose it's because of fear of overcommitting and leading to an individual error.

6. Should we change our system and opt for a back 3 with a sweeper like Bobby used at Wigan? He's been accused of turning us into Wigan often enough... The back three would give Besic a chance to slot in as one of the three and the other two can rotate between Stones and Distin.

7. Why does Lukaku keep on playing even though he's clearly not fit? Fair play he created goal #3, but the team would have been served far better with a more mobile striker today.

Zachary Tanner
11 Posted 31/08/2014 at 04:07:50
Maybe I'm misreading the situation, but the biggest problem I see is that the whole squad looks unfit. Chalk it up to Martinez's physio background, but his hesitation to rush players back from the World Cup (and we're not the only team that did this) really hampered pre-season training. The whole team faded after 75 minutes in the first two games and I think Mourinho noticed and exploited it straight away today.

The lack of fitness has forced some players to gamble more than they normally would (Jags) and has sapped the confidence of the entire back four. They played scared and every mistake was punished today. Before we call for heads, let's see what happens when the whole team is match fit.

Steve Woods
12 Posted 31/08/2014 at 06:30:12
Zachary, yes it is both a problem and a massive cock up by the coaching staff that the team have been presented under prepared for the start of the season and after three games they still look unfit to play 90 minutes.

Adding to that problem (as the OP states) is the centre back dilemma. Jags' missed much of the second half of the season, had a terrible world cup and has not looked half the player he was a couple of seasons ago. This suggests that he should be rested and replaced by Stones to see if a return to his partnership with Distin helps shore up the leaks.

Another pressing matter for Roberto to sort out is the Captaincy. Just before "moving on to better things" at the end of the season our former manager made Jagielka captain. As much as I like the lad's demeanour he his not Captain material. We need a strong, vocal leader on the pitch. Not only does Jags' need to be rested I feel Roberto needs to appoint a new Captain regardless of whether Jags' is playing or not. I fear though that both taking the Captaincy away and resting him will be two steps too far for Roberto to take as he may fear unsettling the much lauded team harmony. It's going to be very interesting to see which back four line up after the International break and I feel he should use the down time wisely to make some much needed changes before the season restarts.

Mike Green
13 Posted 31/08/2014 at 07:27:30
Hello Andy #8 - "we experts on ToffeeWeb are here to point him in the right direction when he fucks up." Please tell me that was said tongue in cheek? And the simple answer to your final paragraph is 'no'.
Peter Warren
14 Posted 31/08/2014 at 07:42:08
First game of season I have attended yesterday. Enjoyed it actually! I actual think defence can be sorted quite easily. Coleman I thought had a terrific game both defensively and going forward. His own goal one of those things and due to McCarthy losing his man (just like he did on Chelsea's 5th goal).

Jags must be dropped - I've liked him but he is so out of form that I feel sorry for him - his confidence is shot. I thought Barry looked knackered /sluggish entire second half.

I would like to see us sign an imposing centre half, like Shawcross but don't think that's going to happen - I guess Duffy he felt couldn't cut it

David Flanagan
15 Posted 31/08/2014 at 07:52:46
McCarthy and Jags were at fault for 4 of the goals... basic tracking and trying to step up as last man. Why do we stand off, especially around our box? The Matic goal should have been prevented by Distin taking a step forward.

The biggest concern is we have no leader to take charge when things are going wrong. 10 goals in 3 games tells its own story.

Craig Fletcher
16 Posted 31/08/2014 at 08:02:24
I agree with you, Peter (#14), but somehow I think Roberto will persist with Jags for the immediate time being. His confidence does look low, but imagine how bad it would be if he, after this game, were to return from England duty to find he can’t make the Everton First XI in spite of being captain?

I can see Jags/Distin being rotated to Europa League duty with Stones taking the lead in the perceived bigger PL games. Who Stones partners in the centre of defence will be interesting though.

Michael Winstanley
17 Posted 31/08/2014 at 08:41:40
Bobby clearly loves ball-playing centre-halves, composure on the ball and the ability to find a blue shirt. Stones is that player; when he has the ball at his feet, he looks to play the forward pass or bring the ball out himself.

Alcaraz is also a very good passer of the ball, as is Distin, but what worries me after watching three games this season is our defending around our box. It's not just the two central defenders but the whole team: we look clueless. We stand off players, allow them to look up and pick a pass, the Matic goal being an example yesterday and Ramsey's the week previous.

Two of their goals yesterday came from wide areas after McCarthy was skinned for pace in one v ones. A cute foul is always an option, see how often Chelsea fouled around their box to stop the danger. That's football intelligence.

After the run-in last season, Stones should start in front of Jags; it's not rocket science, Stones is the better player.

But the position which needs strengthening is the keeper: Howard isn't good enough and never has been. He should have been sent off yesterday for handling outside his box and his passion for diving in the wrong direction before the ball has been kicked only highlights his poor decision-making.

I'm not as optimistic as I was after yesterday but we look good going forward, we scored two fantastic goals, and Eto'o showed us he has something to offer... but we need to address the defensive frailties.

Over to you, Roberto.

Ray Robinson
18 Posted 31/08/2014 at 09:33:32
Paul, "But ten goals leaked in three games does not lie" - quite correct but it can mislead. We have played home games against two of the three best counter-attacking teams in the country (Liverpool being the other). If we'd played say QPR, Villa and Burnley in the first three games, chances are that we wouldn't have conceded many – but it wouldn't have meant that we have no real defensive problems. So, for me, our current situation is a slight knee-jerk reaction.

That said, I can't wholly defend the current situation – the defence has been awful but we seem to be like that at the start of most seasons and yet we go on to consolidate as the season goes on. I put the current situation down to lack of match fitness – Jags looks absolutely knackered, which in turn is down to an inadequate pre-season.

I do agree that another centre back is essential (and please not Shawcross for heaven's sake – one of the worst footballers that I have ever seen and someone who should be sent off virtually every week). Much as I admire Stones, he is still prone to mistakes and doesn't dominate in the air as much as I'd like. I seem to recall Stones started at Arsenal in the Cup last year and hardly excelled.

I think (hope) that things will improve with Jags and Distin and that things aren't quite as bad as they seem. I'd possibly play Stones alongside Distin for a while until Jags recovers his form and fitness. Meanwhile, another quality centre back in the transfer window would be very welcome. But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Andy Crooks
19 Posted 31/08/2014 at 10:08:59
Mike, of course it was tongue in cheek. My local is full of blokes who really should be coaching Premier League sides and I'm one of them!
Harold Matthews
20 Posted 31/08/2014 at 09:35:17
We played some high class football but the defending was abysmal and needs to be sorted without delay. Jags, McCarthy and Barry have fitness issues.

TW members know that I have never rated Stones at RB or CB. He turns his back on shots, his first three strides are too slow and he lacks a sense of urgency. That said, he is good in the air, is comfortable on the ball, can pass with both feet and can close down and tackle. A fine, naturally fit athlete, he could do the Matic role for us without too much bother. In fact, when his body eventually fills his frame, that might be his perfect position.

Harold Matthews
21 Posted 31/08/2014 at 10:39:44
Zachary / Steve. This fitness issue is a dodgy area on TW. I mentioned it the other day and got jumped on by people who believe that our conditioning is being deliberately geared towards a strong second half of the season. Not being an expert, I didn't argue.
Harold Matthews
22 Posted 31/08/2014 at 10:39:44
Zachary / Steve. This fitness issue is a dodgy area on TW. I mentioned it the other day and got jumped on by people who believe that our conditioning is being deliberately geared towards a strong second half of the season. Not being an expert, I didn't argue.
Ian Bennett
23 Posted 31/08/2014 at 11:00:20
Jags and Distin were making the kind of mistakes you'd expect from a rookie, but with no upside. Jags caught on the ball, lack of spring, a crises of confidence. Distin playing a lot deeper, worried about his fading pace and constantly clearing whilst off two feet. I watched them from the gods, and one word described them when Costa was incorrectly flagged offside yesterday - ragged.

Stones is quicker, better on the ball, and better in the air. If he's isn't starting ahead of those 2 clowns than you've got to question the manager. A huge game at WBA, and one where I hope we see a ruthless manager, and not the nice guy.

Anthony J Owens
24 Posted 31/08/2014 at 11:31:25
Matia Nastasic has been advised by Man City that it would be in his better interest to find another club. 21-year-old ball-playing centre-half... pair him with Stones, build for the future with two young footballing central defenders.

From what evidence I've seen so far this season, the current pairing looks shot, berift of confidence, lacking in pace, and terrible in timing and decision-making. But, saying that, you must defend as a team.

Phil Rodgers
25 Posted 31/08/2014 at 12:48:28
Martinez has to take full responsibility for this start to the season. We are paying for his absolutely shambolic approach to pre season. The players looked done after 75 minutes. It is particularly disappointing as we have the strongest squad for many a year. I really do no want to see Jags start next game. Stones may be young but he is quality and I would rather see a young player make elementary mistakes than a experienced one.
Dick Brady
26 Posted 31/08/2014 at 13:44:41
I totally agree with breaking up the 3rd best defence of last season because of 3 bad games. I don't understand how people can call that knee jerk.
Jamie Crowley
27 Posted 31/08/2014 at 14:26:17
I agree that Roberto will drop Distin and I think that's a huge mistake. I'm preparing for it, expect it, and hope to deal with the pending disappointment I'll feel when it inevitably happens.

Jags is the one who must be dropped. Off the top of my head, and I have the memory of a field mouse, I'd blame Jags specifically and personally for 4 of our 10 conceded goals this season. One of which (the "missed" header against Arsenal) turned 3 points into 1.

Captain is a label. It does not make you infallible or more importantly undroppable. Jags is responsible for 40% of our conceded goals and he's costing us points.

Ryan Williams
28 Posted 31/08/2014 at 14:51:18
Jags needs to be dropped. It's just not Distin's fault for the most part. He at least showed some good touches and was a factor on set pieces going forward. Jagielka's terrible judgement on the first cost them, Diego Costa dogged him several times and he virtually didn't make a good touch on the ball when he got it the entire first 60 minutes, maybe even the game. He gave the ball away several times as well – gave Diego Costa a breakaway at one point. Put Stones in there and it will be better, it can't be worse.

That being said, the lax defending in the final 20 minutes that has cost us 4 points now can also be solved by simply subbing Barry for Besic. Barry looks a step slow, but he needs to be sitting in front of Distin and Jags to help link the defense with the attack. That's fine, but when he's gassed after 65 minutes, he simply needs to be subbed. McCarthy also cannot be aggressive when he's concerned that his back two will be abused and he has a sidecar that has no energy. Having two guys that can be aggressive and win balls in the last 20 minutes would be key.

Besic got his terrible touch out of the way and should be better going forward. His talent is just too good.

I honestly think that fits it. One new starter and one almost standard tactical sub. That saves two subs for wingers and up front guys to make sure Eto'o gets his run as does whoever else.

John Daley
30 Posted 31/08/2014 at 16:28:38
This has long been one of my bugbears so apologies if it gets a bit lengthy.

Jagielka and Distin are the most experienced central defensive partnership in the league. They've played alongside one another for over five years. They shouldn't need a manager to tell them to pull their socks up and stop panicking anytime opposition players press forward. They shouldn't need to be coached on basic defensive tasks like marking a man, closing down space, staying on their feet, holding a line or timing a jump to get their head to a ball before an onrushing forward buries the bastard. It's basic stuff that should have been deeply ingrained in their playing psyche over a decade ago.

The fact they're being asked to play out from the back shouldn't negatively impact their ability to perform the very duties they're primarily being picked for.

The propensity to suddenly switch off or fold under pressure is not something that's suddenly materialised or gradually worked it's way into their game over time. It's been there since the start.

Distin has always had the tendency to go from looking solid and sure footed one minute to looking about as steady on his feet as Ed209 faced with a flight of fucking stairs the next.

Jagielka has always had the ability to time a last ditch challenge perfectly, but then you realise that the need to perform such eye catching interventions is, more often than not, caused by his own failure to anticipate unfolding danger until the very death.

This was something I tried in vain to point out back at the arse end of the 2012/2013 season when they were being held up on here as part of 'the best defence in the league':

..............

"The trouble is that, whilst individually they have all the attributes, they have never really convinced or looked comfortable as a partnership in the same way that Jagielka/Lescott did.

The most solid we have seemed in recent years was when Jags was injured and Heitinga stepped in alongside Distin. Now, i'm not advocating that this partnership be resurrected (especially not after Heitinga spent last season meandering around like a more short arsed version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man), but I just find it a bit strange that the Jags/Distin combo is automatically presumed to provide this rock solid defensive platform even though we've had a tendency to ship soft goals ever since they were first paired up.

I'm in no way attempting to claim that our defence is poor or that we have an embarrassing goals against column. I'm simply pointing out that, in my opinion, the Jags/Distin partnership isn't as imperious as some claim.

To my mind, they are both good 'recovery' defenders. Distin's strength and pace get him out of trouble a lot and Jagielka's last ditch tackling is superb, but neither seem to have anticipation enough to snuff out danger before it gets to that stage. Despite all his defects (lack of heart, height, power & pace) Heitinga is a much better reader of the play unfolding in front of him.

Now, I don't normally bother with stats (because i'm much too lazy and don't spend my time fantasising about copping off with a Cylon, trying to track down a grainy copy of 'Godzilla and King Ghoddorah versus Fat Takeaway Guy' or wondering who would come out on top in a no holds barred battle between Bat Hound, Benji the littlest hobo, Krypto the super dog and that tinny, toaster looking twat that trails around after the latest tosser to play Dr Who) but I'll try and illustrate what I was referring to.

There was a stage last season where we were conceding early goals so cheaply it was almost as if they needed to hand the opposition a head start in order to wake themselves up. 18 consecutive games without managing to keep a single clean sheet is not a run you would expect from a defence some are dubbing 'the best in the league'.

In all games, there were 12 in which we did not concede. The season before we kept 15 clean sheets, but only 4 of those came before the Distin/Jagielka partnership was broken up due to Jagielka's injury. In season 2010/11 the clean sheet total again stood at 12.

Seeing Jagielka and Distin in tandem has never filled me with as much confidence as the preceding Jags/Lescott combo once did. Prior to Distin and Jagielka being paired the team managed 20 clean sheets in 08/09. They also managed the same total of 20 the season before."
...............

So, as I said, the weakness has always been there, it just hasn't been signposted as glaringly as it has in the last couple of games.

Now, what to do about it, I don't know. Stones is raw but ready (in my opinion). Yet, surely, we shouldn't be putting such pressure on the shoulders of a 20yr old, expecting him to step in and save the day where more senior players have failed. On the evidence of previous performances, Alcaraz isn't the answer. A new signing, slotting seamlessly straight into the side, seems unlikely. So, it's probably just a matter of persevering with the partnership we've got and,hoping against hope, they get their shit together sharpish.

Stewart Oakes
31 Posted 31/08/2014 at 17:28:32
One point I'd like to raise is that in my opinion Jagielka's positional play has got a lot worse since he started playing on the left side of the CB.
Stewart Oakes
32 Posted 31/08/2014 at 17:35:25
for England, (sorry about that pressed the wrong key)
Robbie Muldoon
33 Posted 31/08/2014 at 17:41:40
Your're spot on mate but I can't let it go without pointing out that Gareth Barry has been absolutely abysmal defensively so far this season. Every tackle he goes into is heavy, late, and lumbered. No wonder it was him who crocked Barkley in training.

He has really fell off a cliff this season. I've never seen a player so sluggish and tired in midfield after 50 minutes. He and Jagielka, at the moment are absolute liabilities.

Mike Green
34 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:09:22
Andy #19 - apologies for doubting you! My sense of humour radar must have been switched in the wrong direction.
Si Cooper
35 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:05:37
So Diego Costa would have been in John Stones pocket would he? We routinely concede goals in the manner of the first yesterday so the manager should have expected that? It was a terrible error by Jagielka, as Fabregas was in full control of the ball when Costa made his run. Don't know why he did it (perhaps he was surprised by Costa's pace off the mark) but he doesn't do that sort of thing frequently enough for anyone to have anticipated it.

The fourth goal (Matic's) wasn't a textbook example of backing off, it was a slight failure to close down an attempt on goal quick enough. The defence generally has to defend as a line and you don't leave acres of space behind you for attackers to exploit. This is a very poor example if you are trying to highlight a persistent weakness; it is the sort of thing that happens in games all the time because players can't be everywhere.

Agree that the defensive midfield is part of the problem, and can't fathom why Besic hasn't been getting 20-25 minutes in each of first 3 games (the back-heel was stupid but yet to see evidence it is typical). That pairing is key to the way the manager wants to play and if the two players can't counter the movement and guile of an opposing teams attacking midfield then we are in trouble. I always wanted two mobile back-ups for that partnership because I think we will really need them at times this season. Has Susic been sold yet?

Dan Brierley
36 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:16:02
To be brutally honest, Jags has not looked comfortable since Martinez arrived. I don't get the impression that he enjoys playing this system, so the sooner we get Stones up to speed the better in my eyes. Jags has been an exceptional player for our club, but I don't see him ever fitting Martinez style of football.

But the results up to now this season cant be blamed on individual players. The pre-season was a shambles, we have gone into the season lacking basic fitness and more importantly, match sharpness. Our decision making is extremely poor across the pitch, the lads just do not seem up to speed yet. A few wins and we will settle down, a couple more bad results and the season could be over before its even started. We played some good stuff yesterday, so the signs are promising. I have never been more thankful for an international break, time to whip these boys into shape.

Brian Harrison
37 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:38:34
Dan I tend to agree that this system doesn't suit Jags and I don't think Distin is that comfortable with it either. As many have mentioned we seem to be running out of steam after 70 minutes yet Chelsea got stronger as the game went on. I don't think our pre season was planned very well and maybe RM should have been here and not in Rio to oversee things. I cant believe we can go from challenging for a top 4 to also rans the following season, but even RM admitted that we looked like we would concede every time Chelsea attacked.

I hear rumours about us signing Holtby surely this cant be true, we have Barry,McCarthy,Besic and Gibson in midfield if we are going to make a signing lets hope its a central defender. We only have Stones as an alternative to Jags and Distin, and I purposely haven't mentioned Alcaraz as for me he isn't a viable alternative.

Kevin Tully
38 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:49:47
I have been asking myself if our defence has been exposed numbers wise, to try and make sense of our recent lapses. Except for that second Leicester goal, we have had plenty of bodies back defending, so it's not as if they have all been caught out of position.

So that leaves two possibilities, a woeful lack of form, or some of our back line need to be replaced. I don't see how the third best defensive unit from last season, can all of a sudden turn into shite players overnight, so that leaves poor form as the main culprit here.

Blame the World Cup, blame a crap pre-season, or whatever you want to, but surely they will come back strongly?

I don't know how the manager will address these issues, but we need to snap out of this seemingly lackadaisical approach to defending our own 18 yard line.

Chelsea's fifth goal yesterday summed up our central defence so far, two of them not closing down players on the edge of the box was criminal.

Ed Fitzgerald
39 Posted 31/08/2014 at 18:55:03
Spurs lost by three goals at home to the RS today in a toothless, gutless fashion. No one can accuse Everton of not having a go.

Everton lost after throwing away two goals in three minutes courtesy of Jagielka. He is never going to fit with a Martinez type style of play he simply isn’t and never has been comfortable on the ball.

At 2-1 yesterday we were hammering away at Chelsea until Coleman’s own goal and then the game went haywire. We have one point less than this stage last season. We have been unlucky thus far and could have easily had six or seven points. Stones needs to play but we need to think about future, for all of you advocating people of the ilk of Shawcross et al, get a grip FFS. If you want a return to turgid, sterile football then cast your mind back then fine lets get Moyes back or even better Walter Smith and we can return to the halcyon days of teams full of defenders with Steve Watson at centre forward. Stop moaning and support the team.

Peter Laing
40 Posted 31/08/2014 at 19:05:22
The defensive performance reminded me of the dark days of the autumn of 2005 when David Weir was at the heart of the defence and we suffered 6 losses on the trot in the league, exited the Champions league to Villareal and suffered a mauling in the EUFA cup by Bucharest. Weir having served Everton so gracefully since 1999 was shipped out to Rangers in the January of 2006. I believe we witnessed yesterday the beginning of the end for both Jags and Distin. Tough decisions need to be made and even stalwarts eventually need to be replaced.
Andy Finigan
41 Posted 31/08/2014 at 19:53:36
Very true Peter but you cant do that over night. We can only bring in our young alternatives gently or go out and buy new center halves and time is running out on that front.
Darren Hind
42 Posted 31/08/2014 at 19:56:05
" Its a cunundrum isn't it ? . . . .err No

You say the previously solid defence has now become "currently the worst defence in the Premier League.

We are coached by a guy who's teams have always challenged for the dubious distinction of having the worst defence in the League

Go figure

Ray Robinson
43 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:23:29
It's true that older players tend to "step off a cliff" - i.e. one minute manage to perform admirably only to next minute consistently fail. I saw it with Southall and Weir, amongst others. However, the likelier of the two players to fall off the cliff, Distin, is actually the lesser of our two problems at the moment. I don't see that Jagielka is yet approaching the "too old" category (remember Richard Gough?). He quite simply has lost form and/or isn't fit. He probably needs resting in favour of Stones - but that's all. I don't see any better solution at the moment unless an accomplished defender materialises by the close of tomorrow's transfer window.

Darren @42, your argument has some merit - but then how do you explain last season when we had the third best defence in the league?

Si Cooper
44 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:22:35
Ed (39) - you are blaming Jags for both of the first two goals? Care to justify that or explain how his lack of composure on the ball directly contributed to any of the 6 goals scored yesterday. This is a thread about the fact that we are suddenly conceding a lot of goals - just listing particular players weaknesses is not necessarily relevant.

Darren, you are simply ignoring the fact that the manager is trying to make us more competitive. If his remit was just to keep us at the same level as we already were then of course it would make sense to copy the tactics of OFM. It is inevitable that if you take a group of players and ask them to be more offensive minded then you run the risk of being more open at the back. Against some teams / performances you are liable to come unstuck. The only other way to do it is to spend an awful lot of money on top players to make sure that the risk of a more adventurous approach automatically leading to extra pressures on the defence at times is minimised as much as possible.

We have not suddenly become Wigan any more than we have suddenly become Barcelona.

Lenny Kingman
45 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:35:42
Everton are going to be in big trouble if they do not address the obvious fact that they have no defence.

Howard at fault for three goals yesterday and countless more past and future. Coleman and Baines good going forward, can't defend.

Distin a player in the twilight of a not so stellar career is plainly not up to the job and Jagielka a player of limited ability and absolutely not a defender of Premier class. His continuing appointments for England tell you all you need to know about the incompetence at England's national team management level.

Martinez who has potential in steering a club of rich history such as Everton really needs to come to terms with the failings at the back.

I would further suggest that the acquisition of a Manchester United reject forward such as Wellbeck is not the way to move forward.

Si Cooper
46 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:52:50
So your solution would be to replace those 5 players would it Lenny? How is anyone going to do that?

Why post such a pointless (and rabidly inaccurate) post?

Nigel Gregson
47 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:39:30
Jon Daley 30 - What a well put together comment. Supporters like you make Everton the best club on the planet. Take note lazy troll 'Roberto == wigan manager' type posters - you know who you are ....

The solution was simple - Lescott ! He was available on a free and would have provided excellent cover and competition for places till Stones could step up. This is where I think Bobby actually fucked up. Now he'll have to scramble and take a punt on an unknown quantity tomorrow (I'm hoping for Micah Richards). Otherwise this season might see us change shape and / or use surprise candidates like Besic, Hibbert or Barry at center back (god help us).

Ed Fitzgerald
48 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:50:48
Simon, do think he was principally culpable for the first two, then yes I do, I take it I am I allowed an opinion?

Do I think he looks uncomfortable with what Martinez's asks of his defenders then the answer again is yes and that is not just based on one game. Before you start berating me about commenting about individuals, I suggest you look at the title of thread yourself, it is called Jagielka and Distin - the dilemma therefore one would assume it is reasonable to comment about them, what do you think Professor Logic?

Si Cooper
50 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:59:17
Nigel, do you have evidence that the solution was as simple as you claim? A signed note from Joleon saying how he would love to come and warm the bench for us?

You can't suggest the manager 'fucked up' unless you know for sure what he chose to pass up, what things weren't in his hands or have access to that parallel reality where Lescott rejoined us.

Kevin Tully
51 Posted 31/08/2014 at 20:44:59
It's been proven beyond all doubt, that with a half-decent manager, and our wage bill, (around 9th) we can stay competitive, finishing 6th/7th/8th all day long.

It was quite easy to set any Everton team out, and win one, lose one, draw one on a regular basis. Some good football, some bad, and mostly serve up football by numbers; 4-5-1, winning or losing by the odd goal. Allardyce could do it at Everton, Hughes, Pulis and a few others could easily manage a top-half finish.

If Martinez does fail with his attacking approach, then fair enough, we can always get a 'safe' manager in, and probably guarantee 7th, 8th or 9th.

We haven't seen any silverware at Goodison for almost 20 years now, we won't see any for another 20 if want to just exist as we have been.

As a club, we have two hopes of progress, spending our way to success, or to change our style completely. Lone strikers and five across the middle is great for keeping things competitive, but we need need something else, something to challenge every big club out there.

I want to see us go for it, because if it does work, we will reach the heights, and we will have success. Phone Tony Pulis if you want a safe option. We won't get a hiding like we had yesterday, but we'll certainly win fuck all for another generation.

Dave Abrahams
52 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:05:06
Howard has always been a problem in my opinion. Apart from being a good shot-stopper, what else has he got in his locker? Very little to inspire confidence in his co-defenders – and he certainly doesn’t give a lot of us fans any.
Jim Hourigan
53 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:17:56
So... 3 games in and 10 goals conceded. Of the 10, none were outstanding, eg, a 30-yard rocket or a piece of sublime skill; all were preventable and down to poor defensive play from a number of the back four. But the problem lies right in the middle with our current pairing.

Distin has been a wonderful acquisition but may just be showing his age, making too many errors and losing just a bit of his all-important pace. However, for me the bigger problem is Jagielka. I will admit that I have never thought he was good enough to be an international, but what he had in abundance was commitment, pace and a desire to stop goals. 3 years ago he would put his head where other would not put their boots, he would make tackles that were outstanding and showed a drive that was often unmatched. However, had Terry still been available to England, or had Ferdinand not deteriorated so quickly, would he have got any caps at all? Commitment at international level surely is not enough.

Yesterday was a classic case in point. What we saw was the ‘new’ Jagielka, the centre half who thinks he can play football when in fact it was drive and commitment that got him recognised not skill and artistry. Stepping up after 30 seconds against Costa, caught in possession, and out of position too often. The 4th goal looked like he was kneeling down to be knighted; 3 years ago he would have been throwing himself at that ball – not doing a courtesy. The last one - put on his arse with a simple check back!!

Suddenly Jagielka thinks he can be a footballing centre-half like Ferdinand (Stones). Now, instead of looking to defend first and foremost, he is looking to position himself to receive and play the ball. Gone is his desire to stop goals; instead, he wants to ‘play’ football.

Contrast that with Terry: again, not the most gifted of players but he knows that and does not pretend to be something else. He wants to defend and was always looking to the defensive side of his game. He might have been undone by us a few times but his first priority was always defending. If he could play some passes they were always short to midfield before he got back into his defensive position, or he cleared his lines and again set up to defend.

So Martinez now has a dilemma, he wants us to play football (as we all do), but has he got the balance right? We all know the reservations before he came about the suspect Wigan defence but a strong attacking drive. Has it started here? Can you make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? Can he make Jagielka and Distin footballing centre halves without losing the part of them that made them what they were – good defenders.

Equally, does he have the right backup? Alcaraz and Stones? Definitely one for the future in Stones... but the present? And is it a gamble worth taking? For me, at least one of the back four has to be an uncompromising defender – Chelsea have two in Ivanovich and Terry; Liverpool have Skirtel; Man City have Kompany; Arsenal have none and struggle; same with Spurs, and suddenly it looks like we have none either.

I want us to play from the back but I also want defenders who can defend. Jagielka was and is a defender – he is not a gifted footballer, Distin is the same. For me, one or both have to go, the other has to revert to being an uncompromising defender or we will see many more goals being shipped in this season. Please get it right now, Roberto.

Colin Glassar
54 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:03:37
I think we all agree that Jags has been a magnificent servant for the club over a number of years now. As has been stated above, he's been off his game since he came back from injury. Add to that his appalling world cup, and humiliating mauling by the John Terry/Ashley Cole media, his confidence must be shot to bits.
Roberto needs to give him some time off to regain his fitness and focus and John Stones is a more than capable replacement for him. Let Jags get his act together then let him fight Stonesy for his place. The added competition will do both of them the world of good.
Lenny Kingman
55 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:26:51
#46 Si

You miss the point.

Its not a case of replacing those 5 players. To be replaced they need to be there in the first place. Which on the season's showings so far they clearly are not.

Mark Pierpoint
56 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:20:33
Nigel (47) I agree with the crux of Si Cooper's posts really. We have had an absolute mare defensively but lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one..... Things have not reached the stage where we have to put Hibbo in at CB!

I think Jags needs pulling out for a few games a la Pellegrini and Joe Hart last year. Bring in Stones and lets see what happens. I think Distin is finished long term, but we may have to muddle on along. To be honest I am not sure what the alternative is. I have heard reports from Belgian Journalists that the lad Toby from Atletico (not going to attempt a spelling of his surname) is overrated. I can't for the life of me see a reason for suggesting Micah Richards, who hasn't played in some fans lifetime probably, is the answer at all.

The key problem is a team one. We were too gung ho yesterday. McCarthy and Barry look off the pace (don't know why as they played all of pre season) and are not offering defensive support. Fitness is shocking. McGeady, for his good contribution is another.

If you watch the team going forward it is clear that players know each others roles. The runs and positions they take up are well crafted. This is mirrored by the defensive movement what is more every man for himself. No structure. I am sure it is not being practiced.

Harold Matthews
57 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:29:06
Top thread. Excellent posts throughout. Thanks everyone. Much to ponder.
Harold Matthews
58 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:29:06
Top thread. Excellent posts throughout. Thanks everyone. Much to ponder.
Si Cooper
59 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:11:29
Ed, Jagielka was wholly culpable for the first but in what way do you think he can be blamed for Ivanovic's goal? Even if you think he played him onside (which he didn't) it was Baines who gifted the opportunity for the pass to him and the unchallenged shot by choosing to leave him unmarked in the box.

The OP gives us a point of view and we debate / discuss it. Yes, you can post what you like but I can then query it (and vice versa). That is the nature of a forum. The OP is about Jagielka and Distin but only in the context of what Paul Ferry terms 'a seamless sequence of poor defending and poor decision-making by the gaffer. This is a longer-term issue than three games and it has roots in last season and arguably the one before...' Paul Ferry considers the Jagielka / Distin partnership to be the 'nub of the matter' but that is his opinion not a proven fact (though he seems to think his dubious 'textbook' examples prove that our current central defensive pairing is worse than any other you could imagine).

I do think there is currently a huge over-reaction to two patchy games and one horrible score-line (goals against anyway) and collective failures are unfairly being lumped onto one or two individuals due to weaknesses that haven't actually really mattered in these games.

Gavin McGarvey
60 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:06:07
It's interesting that the aftermath of this match is an inquest into the careers of jags and distin. Personally, I think they are both pretty good players, although they didn't exactly cover themselves in glory against Chelsea.

I also disagree with focussing too much on individuals; you defend as a team. That there are problems is self evident, and although jags and distin have never been the most solid of combinations, that has been an ongoing problem for some time.

Yesterday was quite a harsh lesson for rm, but one I hope he learnt. I think the players went out there and put in effort, but he now knows that he'll have to do things a little differently as the set up wasn't quite right. We're asking Barry and McCarthy to put in too much work, and (although I missed the first 20 minutes) it seems the intensity wasn't right at the start.

It's been a terrible, albeit strangely familiar, start to the season. That being said, I'd be surprised if rm sold off jags and distin and bought in nastasic etc... If the right player becomes available then of course he'll buy, but he's had them playing well before, and he'll have them playing well again. I hate it when we start like this as it means that we probably won't win the league (still holding out hope:), but let's be realistic, dropping them both would be a disaster, and if the rest of the team play the same would also wreck the career of our best cb prospect since ratcliffe.

Si Cooper
61 Posted 31/08/2014 at 21:56:20
Jim (53) - you may not be alone but you are 'stretching' things a bit there. We can all agree Jags is not wholly comfortable when expected to play precise balls out of defence, and is liable to get caught dithering unnecessarily at times.

You cannot possibly suggest that he has now become so much of a show-pony that he has forgotten (or is not willing to sully himself with) the basics of defending, or that his head is so full of instructions for what he has to do when the ball is passed to him that his ability to judge when an opposition player is ready to release a pass is severely compromised.

He is under scrutiny because of his errors in the game yesterday (and because people are blaming him for a host of previous goals that may or may not be merited) but the actual reality is that only one of his cock-ups yesterday led directly to a goal. Other defensive errors by other players cannot automatically be laid at his door just because he has a 'mare.

Si Cooper
62 Posted 31/08/2014 at 22:18:39
Lenny (55) - so they are not there anyway and so cannot be replaced????

No, sorry, you are still not making any sort of constructive comment that I can make out.

Nigel Gregson
63 Posted 31/08/2014 at 23:18:46
Si 50 - The fuck up was not proactively identifying that maybe, the old trusty of Distin may not last the whole season or maybe Seamus might get a long term knock. As far as getting Lescott back, it was a no brainer to go for him. And no I don’t know, maybe he did try and failed - but he certainly didn’t try to sign another defender instead, so we can safely assume that signing a defender was not high on his agenda at the time.

Furthermore, he paid 29 million to get lukaku back as a known quantity into the team. He smooth talked Samuel Eto’o into a team that doesn’t give Sam access to champions league. I’m suggesting that maybe, just maybe if he really really wanted, Roberto could have acquired the services of Joleon Lescott on a free transfer into a club where he is a known quantity and to play in tournaments that WBA wont. Instead, Roberto will now try to bring in someone tomorrow - Ryan Shawcross seems to be the latest rumour.

Si Cooper
64 Posted 31/08/2014 at 23:34:40
Nigel - you are suggesting that the manager hadn't considered this earlier in the summer and has already let the best option evade him. Have you considered that the manager might have to prioritise his acquisitions according to an overall budget, and that when Lescott was on the market he simply couldn't commit to paying whatever wages he was after and leave himself without any room to maneuver later on in the window? I would like to have multiple world class back-ups for every position but we cannot afford to do that. It is not simply a case of transfer fees as the wages for a large squad stuffed full of top players will quickly wreck your budget.

The manager obviously didn't expect his senior centre-backs to be creaking so early in the campaign and will view Stones and Alcaraz as his next options. If you add Hibbert, Browning and potentially Besic to the mix we are not exactly down to the bare bones just yet. I think Duffy being let go was a move to allow a better player to be brought in. If another decent defender isn't on the roster by 11 pm tomorrow then I will agree with you that he may have taken the subject of adequate defensive cover as frivolously as you are implying.

Keith Young
65 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:18:29
Nigel Gregson #47 and Harold Matthews #57(8) how right you are to applaud the quality of this thread. John Daley's #30 masterpiece in particular.

Three cheers for the best Club on the Planet!!

Nigel Gregson
66 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:43:03
Si - at the end of the day no one (neither you nor I) will ever have the inside access require to make our comments anything more than conjecture. Maybe Roberto played a genius master stroke by deliberately taking the pre season - esp defence training lightly to conjure up a big loss and therefore highlighting to the board the need to release funds on deadline day for a high quality defensive signing. Do I have any evidence ? no I don't. But do you have any evidence to argue to the contrary ?

Bottom line is I'm not a Roberto hater, quite the opposite, I love the guy. But that doesn't mean that he is infallible. I'm merely suggesting that the current situation is a bit more than mere knee jerk to a once-off shock loss. Even Roberto admitted this when he suggested in the press conference that, he felt every time the ball reached our 16 yard box, he felt that it would find the back of the net. He said further that this has happened in the earlier games too. This coming from Mr. superpositive himself is a very powerful indication that its not just the fans who are shitting themselves at the moment about the back line situation.

It took us weeks to recover from that Liverpool mauling last year. We lost 2/4 in the following game and lost 4-1 to Arsenal in the FA cup following that. At least at that time, our better defenders were out injured and could return to inject confidence in the back.

Where do we go from here ? What do we do next week ? I am praying now for tomorrow, because I fear that even if Jagielka rebounds mentally this season, it wont be for at least a month or two; enough time to derail the whole campaign.

Nigel Gregson
67 Posted 01/09/2014 at 01:11:00
I meant 2 games out of 4 the following month in my last comment.
Si Cooper
68 Posted 01/09/2014 at 01:13:18
Nigel, I agree that neither of us know enough to come to a definite conclusion, which is why I questioned how you could say 'the solution was simple' or that you thought the manager had 'fucked up' earlier in the transfer window.

Nowhere near enough information, that I am aware of, to make statements like that.

I did not say that I knew any details, just questioned how you could discount alternative scenarios without providing evidence to back-up your comments.

However, I have not

Si Cooper
69 Posted 01/09/2014 at 01:25:02
Before anyone mentions it, yes, we are all entitled to an opinion, but if you present one as though you are trying to convince people of it's pertinence then you should be prepared for the off-chance that someone may ask you to back it up with reasoning they understand.
Darren Hind
70 Posted 01/09/2014 at 03:05:26
Si

It's very kind of you to point out to me that I'm ignoring the "fact" that the manager is trying to "make us more competitive" and I think it's only fair that I point out some of the things you are ignoring.

Fact: We are not getting done because we are asking our players to become "more offensive"; we have had plenty of payers defending when we have conceded this season. We are being done by the fact that we lack any sort of cohesion right across our back four.

When Chelsea stepped up, they stepped up as one; our defenders came out like a fucking Mexican wave.

Coleman, Jagielka, Distin and Baines look as if they have never played together before. Every time we try to step up, one of them will stay where he is and play everyone onside.

And what is our Martinez's policy when we defend free kicks and corners? I'm fucked if I know... we don't do zonal, we don't man-mark, and we don't leave anybody free to simply attack the ball... we don't do shit. Players need to know what is expected of them.

It's not enough to just say, "They are experienced defenders and they should get on with it" – they have to be singing from the same hymn sheet. By blaming individual players for the goals, we are conceding that the Martinez devotees are simply blinding themselves to the fact that for any defensive unit there has to be a cohesion .. and THAT my friend can only come with doing the necessary work at Finch Farm.

I despair when I hear people say we concede more because we are far more attacking-minded, it's utter utter bollocks. Yes, we are thankfully keeping the ball much better these days, but it's not as if we throw caution to the wind. When was the last time we got caught short of numbers at the back? We've got two midfield players who rarely venture over the half-way line, ffs.

The most destructive thing about the goals we are conceding at the moment is that the opposition aren't even having to work for them... and if you think that's because "the manager is trying to make us more competitive", then your understanding of what is happening isn't as comprehensive as you appear to think it is.

The notion that Martinez would need to copy Moyes's tactics in order to stop conceding these spirit-sapping goals is, frankly ridiculous. We are not exactly employing Holloway tactics here. If he doesn't know how to get our defenders playing as a unit, then he needs to employ somebody who does – and he needs to do it now.

"A nine goal thriller"? ... was you thrilled?

Steven Telford
71 Posted 01/09/2014 at 04:47:35
The last time I remember Jagielka putting in a truly world-class performance was Old Trafford last year. Yes, he wonÂ’t drop his skipper, because he cares very much about the confidence of his players, however he may begin a little bit of gradual squad rotation.

Whist the Chelsea game was a shambles, I think in the grander scheme of things - in a tactical sense at least - failing to hang on to two two-goal leads is possibly more disturbing. I love this attacking football, but if you are two up, consolidation (via appropriate substitutions) should trump other intentions.

Harold Matthews
72 Posted 01/09/2014 at 06:21:17
Yes Darren. Lack of cohesion is a major problem, not just at corners but in most areas of our own half. The lead up to the own goal illustrated it perfectly. Hazard on the ball with McCarthy standing off. Coleman, who was nearby, decided to clear off. McGeady stood still and viewed the scene from three metres away. None of the three looked confident about what to do next. Hey Presto!. Hazard sets off and Bob's your uncle. Why no-one closed him down before he made the run remains a mystery.
Harold Matthews
73 Posted 01/09/2014 at 06:21:17
Yes Darren. Lack of cohesion is a major problem, not just at corners but in most areas of our own half. The lead up to the own goal illustrated it perfectly. Hazard on the ball with McCarthy standing off. Coleman, who was nearby, decided to clear off. McGeady stood still and viewed the scene from three metres away. None of the three looked confident about what to do next. Hey Presto!. Hazard sets off and Bob's your uncle. Why no-one closed him down before he made the run remains a mystery.
Robert Workman
74 Posted 01/09/2014 at 11:22:31
I wonder when was the last time that Everton let in 4 goals in 10 consecutive minutes of playing time? 2 v Arsenal (83 and 90), 2 v Chelski (1 and 3). Not sure about stoppage time v Arsenal.
Si Cooper
75 Posted 02/09/2014 at 01:10:34
Darren, why don't you write reports about the training sessions you must be attending since you apparently know exactly what the manager is telling his players to do / to not do.

Don't give me the "I can see it with my own eyes!" because you apparently can't see that we don't really play with a flat back four anymore. Sure, there are times when all four defenders funnel back, but generally it is the two central defenders who are left to operate an offside trap with the full-backs generally looking to be a little advanced of the middle two when the ball is on the opposite side. The two defensive midfielders try to plug gaps as and when they occur.

Okay it doesn't always work; one of them is too slow to get out again when the ball is initially cleared, or even on occasion too quick. These things happen to most defences and ours is obviously more prone than many at the moment. What evidence do you have beyond the circumstantial that this is due to the way they are being coached?

Do you honestly think the players aren't given some sort of marking system for set pieces? Why on earth would seasoned professionals happily go along with that? If something they are told to do in training wasn't working don't you think they would feed that back to the coaches?

When things go wrong you can't simply assume you know what the root cause is and you certainly can't claim you know what they are being coached to do.

We don't really have the wingers or the attacking midfielders to play like Chelsea and the RS can at the moment. Instead we have to find a way to utilise our two full-backs in very advanced positions as much as possible. That puts some extra defensive duties on the two central defensive midfielders and the two central defenders. Against most teams we play you would expect them to handle it (because they have demonstrated that they can) so it makes perfect sense to use that system in an attempt to win games we may previously have only drawn. Against the best teams it is riskier but there are no guarantees if we go defensive against them either so it is perhaps not much of a risk to stick with the attacking orientated system. With a bit of luck you get some good victories.

If you put some poor form / decisions into the mix with attackers who may exploit mistakes then you will concede some avoidable goals; if you are adding exceptional attackers who will exploit any mistakes then you will concede much more.

You have no evidence that what we witness on the pitch is anything more than players getting it wrong at crucial times and yet you post comments that accuse the manager / coaches of not even having the most basic concept of defending.

Darren Hind
76 Posted 03/09/2014 at 19:34:45
Si

Nobody (except you) mentioned a "flat" back four. That I 'm afraid was you latest attempt to try to manufacture a point you could argue against, because you are, once again, unable to contest the point which was made.

You Say: "and don't give me the "I can see it with my own eyes" WTF? What do you want me to do, deny it?

It's not just the evidence of my eyes. There are 40,000 match goers and who knows how many internet fans watching Everton and you would be hard pressed to find a single one (besides yourself of course) who would describe our defending at the moment as anything north of dogshit.

If you haven't seen Coleman and Baines try and fail to play people offside, then you haven't been watching our games.

You ask if I think our players aren't given some sort of marking system for set pieces. Well my answer is No, I don't. I don't actually think Martinez gives them any instructions at all about defending these deadball situations. If I'm wrong and they ARE following his instructions, he needs his arse kicking because every Evertonian holds his breath every time we concede one. Martinez may not see it but the rest of us can.

You claim I have no "evidence" that it's the manager who is to blame for our poor defending, not the players. Well, first of all, I didn't think I needed "evidence" to give an opinion – you never seem to bother... but If I was representing the prosecution, I would simply point to everything we know about Martinez before he inherited this defence... then I would point to everything we know about these defenders before Martinez got here, and I would simply rest my case.

You may cling desperately to your argument that the evidence is merely circumstantial, but you will have trouble convincing any right-thinking jury that it is anything other than overwhelming.

If Martinez is not giving them instructions on how we should defend free kicks, then he should be; and if he is, then he's making a really crap job of it.

Si Cooper
77 Posted 03/09/2014 at 20:39:50
Darren, I am not the one trying to prove an opinion. You are the one who thinks they know exactly who is to blame and I am simply pointing out that you cannot possibly come to a firm conclusion about whether the players are failing / succeeding in carrying out what they are being coached to do without evidence.

If you watch enough games you will see all defenders trying in vain to play an attacker offside occasionally. It often happens when they realise they aren't in a position where they are going to be able to get in a challenge, which is again a lapse in concentration and not a coaching issue. Where is your evidence that any of our players are significantly more susceptible to these lapses than any from other teams? If you haven't got the figures to prove it why do you rail against others when they disagree with you.

If you were arguing that we are letting a lot of opposition players run in behind without someone properly tracking them then I would agree with you, but that is not the same as deliberately trying to play the player offside and failing or not. That is about communication on the pitch, and surely you are not suggesting the manager has given them instructions to be mute and assume someone else will see the danger.

The point about the flat back four is that is what teams play when they are operating an offside trap as their primary option. Because we are not playing that system the opportunity to catch a player offside is going to be more ad hoc. Either way, you rely on the players getting their timing right and being aware of where their teammates are. It isn't rocket science but as with any other footballing ability, some players will always be better at it than others.

I think it is extreme to suggest that the manager is not even bothering to coach basic defensive duties as that would amount to a dereliction of duty. It is ridiculous to think that the players would wear it either. Because of that I think you need to expect to be challenged on what insights you think you have that provide unequivocal support for your opinion.

I was waiting for you to puff about your matching going exploits as if it gives you a better insight than watching the whole of the game with a variety of camera angles, slow motion replays and the benefits of a rewind button.

I see players making mistakes they shouldn't and you are trying to blame the manager for lapses he cannot directly influence.

Darren Hind
78 Posted 03/09/2014 at 21:33:09
"I was waiting for you to puff about your match going exploits as if it gives you a better insight . . ."

What are you talking about this time Si ? Where do I mention where I watched these games.

How can you hope to put foward a credible argument when you keep arguing against points that havent been made ?

You simply don't get it. Martinezis the manager.
If the defenders are acting to his instructions, it's his
fault.

If they are openly disobeying him, its still his fault for allowing it to happen

If they are trying to act upon his instructions, but failing then, its his fault for costing us points for perservering with them

And if he is only playing them because he has nobody else
to take their place, guess what? its still his fault. He has had a year and 54 million quid to sign defenders, but he hasnt bothered.

Get it? he is the manager and the buck stops with him.

If he cant address our defensive shortcomings, its His fault Thats how this footy lark works

Si Cooper
79 Posted 04/09/2014 at 00:22:29
Darren - okay, I thought your 40,000 match goers reference was a suggestion that people are seeing something I'm not. Sorry about that.

You reckon I would be hard pressed to find people who agree with me. We all know (can see) things are going wrong at the moment and the defending is 'dog-shit' at times. Where we differ is in how we distribute the blame for these failings because I do not view them as systematic.

You seem to think that the root cause for the problems is that the manager is not even bothering to give his players basic instruction or that he is asking to do things they are incapable of, but my view of the vast majority of the goals we are conceding this season is that they are attributable to players failing to do basic things right, like trying to play offside when the odds are against you, not sticking with runners, and not reacting quick enough to close down shots and crosses.

These are things that are either innate in good defenders or learnt by experience. No coach / manager should have to tell his senior and seasoned professional footballers that trying to step up and catch an attacker offside when his team-mate is already set to play a pass is a bad gamble; that it is their responsibility to stick with a man in a threatening position until the ball has been properly cleared or you have actively passed him on to someone else who is fully aware of the threat; that it is a cardinal sin for a player in possession of the ball to get past you completely unhindered when you are defending the box.

These are the players responsibilities on the pitch and the manager just cannot control what amount to a sequence of individual errors. If they didn't know how to do these things properly then we would never have got the positive results we did last season. Unfortunately players can lose confidence / form irrespective of what happens during training. If it persists then they should be dropped but if they are performing well in training then it is impossible to pre-empt.

You can criticise the manager for not having got the players fitter before the season started, you can have a go if he persists with players who are not delivering, you can rage if the set-up of his team / use of substitutes hands the initiative to the opposition, but to my mind it is another thing entirely to jump to the conclusion that he is doing something to them that drains them of their basic footballing abilities.

David Graves
80 Posted 04/09/2014 at 09:41:28
Darren;

Jagielka fails to get off the floor to head clear - is it the managers fault? Same player comes crashing out to play offside and gets it wrong. Same player, same question?

It is a mess but that its down to individual errors that the manager, I agree, needs to resolve. To imply that Martinez doesn't even discuss defending, especially set pieces, is just pure conjecture.

Michael Polley
81 Posted 04/09/2014 at 11:03:52
Jagielka needs resting. Stones formed a good partnership with Distin in the later part of last season, so letsÂ’s play him.

I’m still baffled though that we’ve gone from the 3rd best defence last season to the balls ups we see at the moment. How in the space of 3 months has that happened? Lets’s not blame the World Cup – Distin didn’t play in Brasil,and England were so shite, Jags might as well have not played either!! I’m confident RM will get it sorted.

On a more positive note, or should I say a optimistic note, I think weÂ’ve got a strong midfield, and a strike force in Lukaku & EtoÂ’o that will hurt defences. We just need to gel more and stop leaking goals.

Good news that Gibson completed 70 mins for the ROI. Looking forward to Oveido coming back later this month. (Hopefully!)

Martin Mason
82 Posted 05/09/2014 at 20:27:16
To say that that the problem is Jagielka and Distin is to oversimplify the situation. The problem is the overall system they are playing — not the part of two individuals in the system.

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