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...
Reader Comments (55)
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2 Posted 30/09/2014 at 17:38:46
3 Posted 30/09/2014 at 17:41:20
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.
4 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:01:09
5 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:24:59
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.
6 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:51:39
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.
7 Posted 30/09/2014 at 18:48:17
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.
8 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:00:41
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.
9 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:09:05
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.
10 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:03:36
11 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:16:04
12 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:38:58
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.
13 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:49:57
14 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:45:24
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...
15 Posted 30/09/2014 at 19:59:01
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?
16 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:01:49
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...
17 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:12:26
18 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:31:12
Time will tell but I like the idea of Barkley in front of these two with Lukaku in front of him.
19 Posted 30/09/2014 at 20:43:08
20 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:23:26
21 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:20:50
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, heÂd be excellent as a Plan B against those nasty teams or when we need try something different.
22 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:27:59
23 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:10:09
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.
24 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:40:15
Barry does a lot more than most fans realise. He’s a very clever player who is appreciated by his fellow professionals.
25 Posted 30/09/2014 at 21:49:35
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.
26 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:02:12
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.
27 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:11:29
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 McGeadyÂs 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.
28 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:17:50
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!
29 Posted 30/09/2014 at 22:07:52
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.
30 Posted 30/09/2014 at 23:31:26
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.
31 Posted 01/10/2014 at 00:52:08
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.
32 Posted 01/10/2014 at 01:40:53
33 Posted 01/10/2014 at 03:16:00
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.
34 Posted 01/10/2014 at 04:10:43
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.
35 Posted 01/10/2014 at 08:05:53
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.
36 Posted 01/10/2014 at 10:56:12
37 Posted 01/10/2014 at 11:41:48
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
38 Posted 01/10/2014 at 12:30:49
39 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:20:52
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 Â— 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!
41 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:43:26
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.
42 Posted 01/10/2014 at 13:53:26
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...
43 Posted 01/10/2014 at 18:44:05
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.
44 Posted 01/10/2014 at 19:37:48
The dilemma we have is that Barry is an excellent footballer, with bags of ability, but has terrible mobility Â– 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!
45 Posted 01/10/2014 at 20:21:21
If Gibson is anywhere near fit, then Barry should be rested... but it looks like a lot of them arenÂt 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.
46 Posted 02/10/2014 at 00:39:38
McCarthy has a great engine agreed, If he played next to more of a dynamic player than Barry weÂd really have something. McCarthy is not as good as people insist but there are bigger problems frying about.
47 Posted 02/10/2014 at 11:26:40
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.
48 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:17:36
49 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:28:07
50 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:41:33
The big problem on this site is far too many people exaggerate the ability of injured/departed players. Delboy is the current ÂanswerÂ Â– he wasnÂt 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! IÂm already waiting for the stick Barkley will get when he returns and people forget he was injured.
IÂd 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.
51 Posted 02/10/2014 at 13:56:11
52 Posted 02/10/2014 at 14:32:46
53 Posted 02/10/2014 at 14:36:36
54 Posted 02/10/2014 at 15:15:35
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.
55 Posted 03/10/2014 at 17:39:01
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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