Normally it's fairly easy to judge players, and fairly easy to judge partnerships. Jagielka and Distin are both individually good players yet make a terrible pairing. Pienaar is not the best winger in the Premier League but has the best full-back combination play I've ever seen.

When it comes to Barry and McCarthy, however, I just don't know what to think. A look at the stats will show that they must be doing something right. After a whole season of playing together we finished with our record number of points and did it by implementing a smooth passing style. We had a very good defensive record and got good results against the so-called top teams with particularly dominant performances against Arsenal and Manchester United, home and away. Individually, both Barry and McCarthy shone for their intelligence on and off the ball and their relentless workrate.

Yet something is just not sitting right and there have been a few warning signs that cast doubt in the mind: Completely dominated in the Anfield derby last season by a midfield of Gerrard and Henderson. Barry looked lost against Crystal Palace at home last season. They were walked through by a Chelsea side that got 6 at Goodison and were once again the inferior pairing in the Anfield derby with Barry looking particularly slow. They struggle to break down teams that look to defend and seem to have 10-15 minute spells where they just completely lose control of a game (the last 10 against Arsenal) and often marry this with suicidal passing/fouling.

As a pair, they do not offer goals, do not seem to have any presence on set-pieces, do not seem to be helping the defense out much this season, despite playing holding mid, and can at times have extremely predictable one-paced negative passing.

But I just can't make my mind up. Every time I want to pick fault in them, the pair of them will completely dominate a top midfield – like they did for 80 mins against Arsenal at Goodison this year or against Wolfsburg. I wouldn't bet on them not doing it at Old Trafford either. Every time I feel ready to accept them as a top partnership, however, they turn in a sloppy performance where McCarthy is chasing shadows and Barry is half a yard off the pace.

I've always had reservations about their passing in comparison to more natural playmakers like Arteta was or Gibson, even Besic. This could be reconciled by the fact that they seemed to fit Roberto's system perfectly in terms of monopolising possession.

McCarthy can look like the top player who suffocated Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere by himself and ran all over Wolfsburg's midfield... but then, in the same instant, he is getting overshadowed by an average Henderson, run past by Hazard, ineffective against Crystal Palace...

Barry was positionally superb against Wolfsburg, much like he was on his debut v Chelsea: an impeccable reader of the game who knows where to be when he needs to be and uses the ball intelligently. The next minute, he is the 'experienced' hothead getting himself almost sent off in the derby, giving away penalties in FA Cup quarter-finals, handling in the box at Anfield, not turning up for Palace at home last season...

I really want to think both are very good players but, every time I do, incidents happen which put doubt in my mind.

If we brought Gibson back in, we could conceivably improve the attack and defense but lose our ability to retain the ball so well. Besic would bring creativity and speed but not the positional intelligence of the first-choice two. That being said, would an Everton team with Gibson in it concede 9 goals at home in 2 games? Given his record when he was in the team, probably not.

Who do people think are our top deep-lying midfield pairing?

Should the makeup of that axis change per game or are Gibson and Besic definite impact subs behind a solid first-choice pairing for Martinez?

I just don't know. In so many ways Barry and McCarthy are great but in others they can look very very average.

For me, I would like to see Gibson and McCarthy in tandem more often, especially in games where we have to make the play against weaker opposition. Will Martinez continue to play a 33-year-old for every Premier League game this season? Maybe his form suggests he deserves it. I just don't know...

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Stephen Brown
2 Posted 30/09/2014 at 17:38:46
A bit harsh on Jageilka and Distin being a terrible pairing! Up until this season they have been pretty good ?!
James Martin
3 Posted 30/09/2014 at 17:41:20
Both good individually Stephen but the pairings in recent season when we’ve been in our best run of form have been Jagielka and Lescott, Heitinga and Distin, Stones and Distin and now seemingly Stones and Jagielka.

Jags and Distin together have disappointed me too many times. Only so many times you can watch them turning wins into draws from conceding last minute set pieces. Been doing it for years. Would have three points if Stones had played against Palace.

Kunal Desai
4 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:01:09
I’ve said it many times before and will say it again, Everton have never replaced Arteta. The midfield is devoid of any creativity. There isn’t one player in that midfield that can pick out a pass. I’m slightly annoyed that Martinez hasn’t addressed this issue in the last two windows, hopefully he does in the next one. We shouldn’t be going into every game putting such strain on the defence in playing two holding midfielders every time.
Mark Frere
5 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:24:59
Kunai, Gibson can definitely pick a pass - no doubt about it and on the evidence of pre-season, Besic can also pick a pass; he may just need a little time to adapt to the pace of the PL. And I don’t know how you come to the conclusion, playing 2 holding midfielders puts a strain on our defence?

Barry and McCarthy have sadly not reached the levels that they did last season - neither individually or as a partnership. Barry is really starting to look his age and the 3 year contract we gave him is way too long. I would like to see Gibson start a few more games... always rated him and think he is a more progressive stlye midfielder.

Steve Carse
6 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:51:39
Arteta, creative?? Not by the time he left us. He’d become, and remains at Arsenal, a holding midfield player.

I think anyway that you’ve forgotten about Barkley.

My take is a bit different. I think we do have players with the ability to play passes that hurt the opposition, but RM’s strategy is not to take the risk, but instead to keep passing the ball around until the final pass is an easier one to take on.

Nick Entwistle
7 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:48:17
All the top teams we try to overtake and get 4th have players in deep midfield who can turn a game on their own, who can serge forward and do stuff with the ball that Barry & McCarthy cannot.

These players are hugely expensive, and don’t play for eternal wannabes.

Mikel, Ramires, Fernandinho, Toure, Gerrard, Ramsey, Wilshere, Dembele, Sandro... You can place McCarthy and Barry there in terms of defensive abilities, but not in dominating the midfield as that takes a presence with the ball also.

Paul Andrews
8 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:00:41
Think back to the years Mikel played for the Blues.

Now think of a defence splitting pass to create a goal you remember him playing...

A good player for us, but never a creative midfielder.

Colin Glassar
9 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:09:05
Spot on Nick, we can’t go out and by a 㿊m+ MF like the richer clubs can.

Saying that, I’d love Roberto to drop at least one of them against some of the "lesser" teams at home as I can’t see the point of having two defensive MF players against teams who will come to defend deep. I suppose the return of Barkley and Pienaar will change that in some games.

Jack Plant
10 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:03:36
I think they miss Barkley, while Naismith has done a great job as cover they aren’t the same type of player at all. Naismith is all about finding the space to get the ball in good areas. Barkley puts midfielders on the back foot with his running on the ball which takes a lot of pressure off Barry and McCarthy, he’s also much more effective defensively.
Nick Entwistle
11 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:16:04
I think the last time we dominated a midfield, as such, was with the Gibson Fellaini partnership firing on all cylinders. But if Gibson wasn’t fit then Fellaini wouldn’t show up... or was pushed up.
Michael Winstanley
12 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:38:58
I think they’ve done well as a pair, they enable us to play our more expansive game with the full backs bombing on. I was disappointed against Chelsea as twice McCarthy was beaten by his man in a one v one, Hazard and Oscar I think, which lead to goals.

As for Barry being too slow, nonsense in my eyes, I never truly appreciated him as a player as I do now. Extremely intelligent, loves to leave his foot in and yet appears to have the respect of the refs.

For me our issue has been the lack of defensive play from our wingers late on in games, that has cost us more than Barry and McCarthy.

As for our 㿊 mil creative type, Ross Barkley. Turns defence into attack better than anyone.

Ray Said
13 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:49:57
I think we need to play Barry ahead of defence with McCarthy and Gibson/Other ahead of him. Then two from Mirallas, Eto’o, Barkley, Naismith with Lukaku up top. So 4-1-2-3. The way the fullbacks get forward leaves us unbalanced with too many attacking.
Denis Richardson
14 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:45:24
It certainly is a tough one James. On the one had you could argue that playing two DMs every game in front of the back 4 is overly cautious, but we tend to play them while allowing both FBs to bomb forward. It worked last season but this season has not reached the same heights.

With Coleman being injured, it seems a little bit too cautious to play two DMs given there will be little attacking from Hibbo or whoever else plays RFB. Personally, after a little time settling in, I’d hoped that McCarthy would get forward more as he should have the engine to get up and down. As it is both DMs tend to sit back. Guess that’s how RM wants it.

Its still early in the season but I cannot imagine RM not giving Gibbo and Besic a few starts at DM at some point - otherwise what’s the point in having them? May even rest one of Barry or McCarthy against the ruskies.

I think on the whole the partnership is a very good one and what we’re really missing in this team is a true no.10, a poor mans version of David Silver if you will. If we had a player like that, we’d be one hell of a side.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so we live in hope...

Alex Jones
15 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:59:01
I posted about this a few times last season as I actually feel this partnership failed to function from Christmas onwards: when teams worked out they just had to push on our fullbacks and our game plan went out the window.

It’s no surprise to me that our system worked well against teams who attacked and therefore were relatively easy for our fullbacks to get in behind, but not against teams who primarily lined up to stop us playing.

The problem I have is we have no plan B when the entirely obvious Plan A is foiled. Lack of creativity in the middle is a huge problem and McCarthy in particular slows down our play and so stops us being an effective counter attacking team. When your fullbacks are not as effective you need to change and we always leave those two on and just change the front 3. This never proves to be effective in changing our style and so has only mixed results.

I would play Barkley there along side one of Besic, McCarthy, Barry or Gibson when he’s back fit as I think he’s much more effective running from deep than he is with his back to goal. He can drag defenders out of position by running at them and this creates space behind them for us to attack through the middle. There’s no reason why he can’t improve his tackling either, he a central midfielder not striker and so I’m sure he can improve in this area. I always feel he was played up front to negate the effects of any mistakes he might make but he’s grown up and gone to a w/c. He’s by far our best player and should be in the heart of the midfield dictating play and being unpredictable.

I wouldn’t play this way against everyone and two ’holding’ midfielders is fine against City away but Burnley at home?

David Chait
16 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:01:49
Glad someone else has my view on the Jags - Distin combo. I can’t stand it... never have.

Anyway, very interesting topic. Of the two, between Barry and McCarthy, I think Barry is more effective going forward and I remember him scoring a few in his day. McCarthy seems to need to learn the art, and I hope he does, but right now he is very unthreatening. He certainly doesn’t seem to hold a killer pass.

A Barry and Besic combo might be interesting... Barry giving Besic advice during the game might work a charm and we can see he can see a pass.

A combination of any of the four seems pretty strong:
McCarthy and Besic brings pace and strong tackling but might be a little naive
Barry and Besic offer positional sense with speed and aggression
Gibson and Besic might be the most creative pairing
Barry and Gibson provide experience with a bit of finesse.. A smart pairing if that makes sense

Somehow I think it will take a miracle this season to see RM stray from his Barry - McCarthy axis.. He wouldn’t even do it with 10 minutes to go against Leicester!

II think McCarthy has been poor so far... Time to let Besic start with Barry for a game or two...

David Chait
17 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:12:26
Alex, that should be the future.. With Barkley... I just think he needs to mature a little first... I agree; I see that as his best position going forward. That would free McCarthy or Besic to stick in front of the back four and not get a nose bleed.
Richard Reeves
18 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:31:12
I would like to think that, in the not to distant future, Besic and McCarthy can forge a great partnership in that defensive midfield area. McCarthy likes to break up play and make the tidy short passes and Besic gets forward more and can see the longer more penetrating passes; they could compliment each other perfectly.

Time will tell but I like the idea of Barkley in front of these two with Lukaku in front of him.

Helen Mallon
19 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:43:08
I think Fellaini would be the ideal partner for any of our current midfielders mentioned. Whatever people say about Fellaini, he was always an outlet, good for corners both ends of the pitch and for a big fella has really good feet. I remember him taking the mick out of Man City at their ground and he was really good when we drew 4-4 with Man Utd scoring as well. We could really do with his presence just now.
Colin Glassar
20 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:23:26
I like Fellaini as well, Helen, but I donÂ’t think heÂ’d fit in this team.
Nigel Gregson
21 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:20:50
Kunal #4 - I couldnÂ’t agree with you more, mate. We need a natural creator / playmaker, a Kagawa to complement our Barkley.

Barkley is an explosive playmaker, who will run at you and do unpredictable things. What we need is someone with a vision to make the play unpredictable and then the skill to pull off that magic final pass. While Barry and Gibson are not bad with their passing and do the obvious passing well, they are simply not unpredictable enough to unlock teams like Palace.

Alex Jones (#15) explains why exactly very eloquently!

Helen (#19), I definitely have a soft spot for our big fella. While he wont fit directly in our midfield anymore, heÂ’d be excellent as a Plan B against those nasty teams or when we need try something different.

Ian Bennett
22 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:27:59
We have a fair clutch of players a while from fitness, so I wonder if he’ll go 5-3-2 against Manchester United? This could give McCarthy a bit protection to make it over the half-way line.




Gavin McGarvey
23 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:10:09
Jags and Distin only look bad in comparison with the Jags - Lescott partnership. Before that, I remember us having good defenders but in the last couple of seasons of their careers and lacking in pace.

I realise that this season we’ve shipped a lot of goals and, although it does make sense to rethink that partnership, I think comparisons with Jags, Stones etc... aren’t too reliable as those comparisons are over short time periods.

As for Barry - McCarthy, well they haven’t exactly shone in glory this year, but then again that is the story of the season so far. A bit disappointing to say the least.

People suggesting Gibson - McCarthy partnerships etc... need to remember that even if they get picked they’ll still be expected to play in the same way as Barry and McCarthy do. I’d be very surprised if McCarthy was being told to bomb forward all the time, but ignored the instructions and still got picked.

I agree with those who talk about needing a Plan B. Last season, that was Deulofeu; I feel that we miss that element of unpredictability and the ability to really run at teams. There’s talk of him in January; I’m hoping it’s true. Barkley would be another player who would give us an alternative way of playing.

RM has decided he wants to dominate possession and that’s why he plays two DMs. That’s not going to change until we change manager. Where I think he will change things (hopefully) is in the pattern and shape of the attack.

Harold Matthews
24 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:40:15
Run over by Henderson? Do me a favour. McCarthy was my MotM. He covered a very big area and continually assisted Stones and Hibbo with the left wing threat.

Barry does a lot more than most fans realise. He’s a very clever player who is appreciated by his fellow professionals.

Michael Winstanley
25 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:49:35
I wonder if McCarthy is feeling the pressure of Besic?

I like the idea of Besic and Barry in the middle, as previously stated, both decent passers of the ball. It would be interesting to see how our front line would fair with them providing.

McCarthy doesn’t do enough with the ball creatively; the question would be whether Besic has the discipline to play the defensive aspect. I think he’ll be fine at it.

And yes, let’s get Delboy back in January.

Steve Orchard
26 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:02:12
I think Barry goes running around too much and should hold his position more, like last season, when he was usually very solid in front of the back four.

As for McCarthy, he just doesn’t look very comfortable on the ball, a bit like Henderson at the RS. The problem is: what type of player does he fit into then? He’s neither ballwinner nor passer.

Tom Bowers
27 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:11:29
The midfield, no matter what combination, has not been consistent as a unit all season. Even in the best win against Wolfsburg, they were all at sea.

Barry was really good last season but now he is permanent, his form has dipped and he was lucky not to be red-carded on Saturday. McCarthy also is not the powerhouse of last season, but did well against the Shite.

I am not sure about Besic yet as he may need more games to get in sync with the Premier League pace. He did seem very tentative on Saturday about moving forward with the ball when he had time and space but he may have been playing to orders.

The other midfield option is to bring back Pienaar or Oviedo depending on fitness along the left flank but I was impressed with McGeadyÂ’s contribution when he came on as a sub. Perhaps Gibbo may come back in against Krasnodar instead of Barry?

Certainly I would play Browning instead of Hibbo, who is no longer up to Prem standard.

Steve Orchard
28 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:17:50
I think a lot of the stick Jagielka’s been getting lately is well over the top; he has probably been in the top few defenders for the last 6 or 7 years easy.

The World Cup did him no favours at all and I think his confidence was shaken even though the England team were pretty bad and he’s only really been lambasted for losing ratboy just that once!

Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:07:52
All about opinions, but it think Barry is going too deep, too often, to get on the ball. When McCarthy follows, we can sometimes have six outfield players in our own half, which makes it a lot easier for the opposition.

I appreciate Barry as a good footballer, but would he go so deep if he had a bit more speed in his game?

I disagree strongly that Barry is a DM, and feel that his role in the team is not to break up the opposition’s play, but to get on the ball and make us play.

I also feel that McCarthy will only improve offensively when he has got someone alongside him, who is also quick enough to cover, defensively.

I think long term it has to be McCarthy and Besic, simply because they both have the speed to play further up the pitch, and that’s something Everton need to be doing now, to evolve as a team.

Peter Z Jones
30 Posted 30/09/2014 at 23:31:26
I generally agree with most points James makes and think the solution comes later in the season when we introduce a midfield three of Besic, McCarthy, and Barkley. We really need the latter’s dynamism that our midfield is currently lacking.

While I think McCarthy could add goals to his game in time, he’s unlikely to do so overnight. So, if he continues harrying and hassling people while recycling possession, I’m fine with that.

Besic will cover far more ground than Barry because of his youth and athleticism. While Barry was great for us last season, his form seems to have dipped and we’d be wise to give him more regular rests to preserve him for the remainder of his contract.

Steve Carse
31 Posted 01/10/2014 at 00:52:08
When Barkley is back, I can’t see why we shouldn’t play Barry, McCarthy and Besic together. That maintains the solidity we had by protecting our centre-backs on Saturday. Besic has a reputation, revealed in flashes at Anfield, for accurate attacking passing that would supplement the more forward, creative play of Barkley whilst providing the ’rescue’ when he cocks up.

In front of the midfield four, I’d go for Eto’o and then either Mirallas, Lukaku or Naismith.

The only downside of this line-up for me would be the end of what is still our most productive partnership, that between Baines and Pienaar, which remains almost telepathic in its implementation.

Dennis Ng
32 Posted 01/10/2014 at 01:40:53
Steve (#31), any manager would prefer a selection dilemma when all are well and in form. I don’t see why it would be a bad thing to rest the Bain-aar Express sometimes.
Anto Byrne
33 Posted 01/10/2014 at 03:16:00
Everton are still in transition away from the 11 years of turgid football under Moyes. Martinez is changing our style and will eventually replace those players who don’t fit with this new paradigm.

Players like Barry are important because of the experience they bring and as such should be a model for the new crop of players coming through. We do have a lot of players the wrong side of 30 and, as much as they have been wonderful servants, time is up for most of them; this should see the phasing out of some of our senior players.

Although Barry has a 3-year deal, there is nothing to stop him leaving and Distin can still do a job but at 36 there has to be questions as to why we have let someone like Duffy go? Osman and Pienaar no longer cut it.

Howard at 35 wants to be playing at 39 going on 40 but, as we saw in the derby, a Gerrard floater of a free kick showed him up, just like the Wolfsburg kick were he was not even at the races. Still a very capable keeper but not as good as he was maybe a few season back when he kept 20-odd clean sheets.

This is only the second season for Roberto so we should cut him some slack as he rebuilds this team. It’s not like we can go out and splurge a few hundred million quid on players like the richer clubs. The last year has seen a massive improvement and we can only build on this but we have to show a bit of patience.

Jackie Barry
34 Posted 01/10/2014 at 04:10:43
I think McCarthy has ability to be a great attacking threat when we go forward. I have seen him make one or two of those driving runs and he always looks a threat. The problem, however, is that I think he has been told to stay back, partly because of how we are setup to play and partly because he is providing cover for a wise but very slow Gareth Barry.

I love what Barry brings to the side but I think he needs to be rested a little more than some, maybe with Besic or Gibson playing instead.

Eddie Dunn
35 Posted 01/10/2014 at 08:05:53
Jags & Distin have had problems this season, but the Barry & McCarthy axis, based on screening them, has also struggled at times. The main reason is simple. They have been outnumbered. It is a tactical problem, with the manager throwing caution to the wind.

Lukaku, Eto’o, McGeady pushing on, and often the two fullbacks also up field, means when one of them loses the ball, we are exposed to teams on the counter, with more bodies in midfield.

Without Barkley, we miss a creative passer willing to run out with the ball. I’m sure McCarthy has been told not to stray too far forward, and maybe even Barry too.

Chris Williamson
36 Posted 01/10/2014 at 10:56:12
Inconsistent, pathetic humans! We should replace them with robots who perform exactly as programmed every time!

Milos Milenkovic
37 Posted 01/10/2014 at 11:41:48
This is very good topic, James. It is something that bothers me from last season. Personally, I don’t like playing with two holding/defensive midfielders.

I was trying to accept that as a transitional period, where Martinez wanted to employ creative football but to be cautious in his first season. If want to progress we need more creativity and one holding midfielder is enough. Having said that, I am fan of 4-4-2 formation, which is obviously something that Martinez will never use. My favorite midfield would be:

Gibson or Besic or McCarthy
Mirallas or Atsu Barkley Pienaar

Harold Matthews
38 Posted 01/10/2014 at 12:30:49
Jackie. Agree. McCarthy can get forward when the situation arises. At one time on Saturday, he got himself into the striker position but the cross didn’t arrive. Like you, I believe he has far more to offer than his excellent defensive stuff but is having to play to strict instructions.
Bob Parrington
39 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:20:52
James, I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes it is difficult to analyse individual player performance from game to game, different oppositions etc. However, maybe if we look at the three pairings you selected:

Firstly, Barry & McCarthy. Both intelligent players with differing skill sets. McCarthy breaks up and Barry makes up... maybe not 100% of the time, break or make, but most of the time. Barry makes some brilliant attacking passes and McCarthy makes some brilliant defensive interceptions and tackles. They both can be brilliant but are caught on the ball, too. The latter can often be caused by poor movement in front of them by other Blues players that result in indecision for making a pass. I think this is the main cause in Barry’s defence. Rom looks lazy and needs a kick up the arse to get him back in to action.

The Jagielka & Distin partnership is a different matter. They’ve been shit for years with defending crosses but the ball on the deck usually doesn’t get past them very often. Their speed is great. heading ability is zilch. RM needs to address this big time.

Pienaar & Baines — should get married. They have that very special understanding that comes from time to time. This is a manager’s dream except when he builds the whole squad around them and one gets injured. Problem has been (with Moyes except on the odd occasion) that a good squad selecting manager will have both left and right options; otherwise, the other managers learn very easily how to defend against them. Everton look their best when they have both flanks operating, which stretches the defences and makes room for options of players coming through the middle.

My own view is to use the players we have up front to do the stretching, including the wing backs, and use the CDs and defensive midfielders to compress at the back, where they (jointly) cover for the wingbacks when they are overcommitted up-field AND make sure you have both speed and height in the CD’s (in particular) with great heading ability to defend crosses.

Simple really... :) Ha, Ha!

Sam Jennings
41 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:43:26
Both good players but neither carries any attacking threat whatsoever. This puts huge pressure on the front four (and in our case full backs) to score goals.

Two central midfielders that play every minute of every game when fit should be contributing at least 10 goals between them per season, ours contribute 3-4 max, therein lies the problem.

Conor Waters
42 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:53:26
Barry has lost his pace? He never had any! How he managed to stay on the field after a booking in the second minute is some achievement though. He does make a lot of lazy fouls, and is giving the ball away a bit too cheaply of late.

But anyone who thinks McCarthy is not performing needs their head examined. Just watch him, only him, during any of our matches. The lad never stops. Constantly harrying and hassling the opposition, often into making mistakes or driving them back.

His work rate is simply phenomenal. It’s just a shame that he’s not weighing in with a few goals, like he did in his Wigan days. People mentioned the lack of a midfield dynamo like a Yaya, Ramires, Gerrard etc but ours is definitely Barkley; I just hope there isn’t some kind of future agreement with Chelsea somewhere down the line. We have to keep hold of him if we have any chance of progressing.

But I don’t understand the snubbing of Gibson. RM must have some issue with him, as he didn’t seem to feature even before his injury last season. I do hope that both he and Besic get some game time, but it would be at the expense of Barry rather than McCarthy...

Tony Abrahams
43 Posted 01/10/2014 at 18:44:05
There was a great moment on Saturday, when the camera went onto Besic, shaking McCarthyÂ’s hand and then hugging him. Presumably because he had just got him out of the shit with his incessant work-rate. It showed real appreciation for a team-mate, which is what all great teams must have, and really got me thinking.

Bit of a bold statement, especially the way things are at the minute, but could we have found "Our Reid & Bracewell"? To early by far to tell, but It did warm my heart to see the way Besic, responded to his mate!

McCarthy had a tight hamstring and should never have finished the game at Anfield, but when you see a response like Besic, gave him, then you realise how important he his to the team.

Neil Steele
44 Posted 01/10/2014 at 19:37:48
I’ve said for months, since fairly early last season, on Twitter that these two are never a pair if we are to be successful... and it seems that finally people are coming around. No top team in any European league plays a pair of such ’limited’ players in central midfield, it’s like a throwback to the 90’s or something. Even in DM now, you don’t see one dimensional ’stoppers’, you see deep lying playmakers, or at very least players who can stop the opposition but play ball as well.

The dilemma we have is that Barry is an excellent footballer, with bags of ability, but has terrible mobility – hence rendering him a booking machine. McCarthy on the other hand has a great engine and appetite to get around, but is a fairly terrible footballer on the ball.

If you could roll the two into one, you’d have a hell of a player... who you could then put a dynamic ball-player alongside and have one of the best midfields in the league.

Sadly, that’s just my imagination. The reality is, in the scheme of things, we are pinning our top 4 hopes on a pair of crabs. It won’t ever work as long as I’ve got a hole in my arse!

Steve Orchard
45 Posted 01/10/2014 at 20:21:21
I would have thought Roberto would be the last person to have an issue with a player he didnÂ’t sign but sometimes these things do go on at clubs, Conor.

If Gibson is anywhere near fit, then Barry should be rested... but it looks like a lot of them arenÂ’t travelling to Russia so numbers are down anyway.

I would play the derby game trio in midfield again at Old Trafford on Sunday and maybe Atsu for a bit more pace and directness than McGeady.

Christopher Kelly
46 Posted 02/10/2014 at 00:39:38
Agree Sam and Neil. those 15 goals we lack from our central midfield probably has cost us 8 points last season.

McCarthy has a great engine agreed, If he played next to more of a dynamic player than Barry weÂ’d really have something. McCarthy is not as good as people insist but there are bigger problems frying about.

Harold Matthews
47 Posted 02/10/2014 at 11:26:40
Sam / Christopher. Cannot disagree with the lack of goals from midfield even though we are not set up for them to be a goal threat. Besic might improve things but itÂ’s certainly a problem which involves everyone in the final third. McCarthy got himself into a good scoring position on Saturday but the pass didnÂ’t arrive.

We must also note that, if he had not been standing guard when Stones was robbed of the ball on the 90th minute, the score would have been 2-0 to the RS. He was then involved in the move which led to the great Jags equalizer.

I will now give you 49 seconds of why Roberto paid 㾹M for the Red-haired dynamo with 16 on his back:

On the 47th minute, as our furthest forward player, he controlled a forward punt on his chest before sending McGeady away with a crossfield ball which had the commentators drooling. This led to a corner which Gerrard cleared to Sterling who proceeded to turn Baines inside out before hitting a fantastic high pass to send Markovic in on goal. With everyone out of position because of the corner, McCarthy read the situation, accelerated from the right-hand side and made a tremendous but clean saving tackle inside the Everton penalty area. Time-47 minutes-49 seconds.

So yes Christopher. He is as good as I think he is.

Jackie Barry
48 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:17:36
Totally, Harold, and people seem to be missing these things, week-in & week-out. I will go back saying that McCarthy has the ability, itÂ’s just right now what we expect from him is not what is being expected from him by our manager.
Harold Matthews
49 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:28:07
Spot on, Jackie. They all play to very strict orders. Before Lambert came on he had to study half a dozen multi-coloured tactical maps.
Paul Tran
50 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:41:33
McCarthy was signed from Wigan. That means heÂ’s rubbish, regardless of how well he plays. He rarely misses a game. Every game he works his socks off doing his work and covering for his colleagues. All the unspectacular stuff that you only notice when no-one does it.

The big problem on this site is far too many people exaggerate the ability of injured/departed players. Delboy is the current ’answer’ – he wasn’t when he was here, was he? Skillful, maddeningly inconsistent with patchy decision-making is my memory. Pienaar? Age and injuries have caught up with him. The partnership between him and Baines will only resurface if he gets into the Tardis! I’m already waiting for the stick Barkley will get when he returns and people forget he was injured.

IÂ’d have McCarthy in every game when fit and make sure we have a least one player in the middle who looks forward, runs forward and passes forward.

David Graves
51 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:56:11
Spot on regards McCarthy, Jackie. During the first half against Wolfsburg he went to join in play on the edge of their box. He took a quick glance over his shoulder as if to check with Martinez – who ushered him back to go and take up position back in the centre circle. He’s playing to very strict instructions.
Ian McDowell
52 Posted 02/10/2014 at 14:32:46
Nothing wrong with the Barry/McCarthy midfield axis. If we had Coleman, Pienaar, Mirallas and Barkley playing on Saturday we would have provided a totally different threat.
David Graves
53 Posted 02/10/2014 at 14:36:36
Neil, I presume that you had a "hole in your arse" when Barry and McCarthy were the key to most of what was good about our team last season? And if you think that McCarthy is a limited footballer then we are always going to disagree.
Mike Childs
54 Posted 02/10/2014 at 15:15:35
I myself am looking forward to a MF trio of McCarthy, Besic and Barkley. Basic has shown an eye for a pass and willingness to go get the ball as he learns more about the pace of the EPL I suspect he won't get caught on the ball as much.
Harold has said enough about the brilliance of Jimmy Mac and Barkley has been sorely missed as the player who puts fear in the opposition.
Pablo Connelly
55 Posted 03/10/2014 at 17:39:01
I don't think it's the personnel so much as I think Roberto's tactics have been found out a bit this season. Barry and McCarthy worked well last season because their defensive focus allowed both full backs to go at he same time and less tracking back for the wingers. However, good coaches will study teams approaches and expose weakness. For that's what's happened this season.

If we need a change, I think we should tell the full backs to revert to one staying when the other goes. That would free McCarthy to join in with attacks and be more box-to-box. At least then we might catch out the oppositions game plan by doing something the don't expect.

Either that or try three at the back. Injuries and form aside, Roberto needs to learn from Moyes that you don't mercilessly keep to the same system if it has been found out.

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