If Roberto really believes this quote, I am filled with dread, in fact I feel like we are sticking our heads deep in the sand, hoping for the best... Sky reported him has saying this:

"I'm not concerned in terms of [our] performances, I don’t think we are far away from where we were last season, and even I would say that we are better this season, in many aspects of our performances.

"It's true that there is a strained relationship between performances and results, that at the moment we don’t seem to get and that’s where we need to be focusing."

I thought at first who in their right mind would say that without bursting out in hysterical laughter? What is worse, if he really believes that, then his credibility will go down and down.

Of course you do not want him to castigate individual players, but to say the performances are has good and even better than last season is beyond the compression of most Evertonians.

Lo and behold, after watching his press interview, he did say it; he also said that the competition for places was “huge”. Well – if competition is so “huge” – why did we not send on some of these fearsome “competitors” as substitutes at Southampton for some of the others that were putting on the worst display of this season.

Although I still want Roberto to succeed, the effluent he comes out with is starting to wear thin my patience and I suspect I am not totally alone in that mindset. Let's see who has battled though the trenches to get that starting shirt, I suspect not many.

However, let's spend a little time and examine those who are chomping at the bit too get a game and those fighting to keep their places in the team:

Goalkeepers: Easy starting point, by default Howard cannot be changed. Unfortunately, I get no comfort from, I doubt very much if he would get a start in any of the major leagues in the world. Verdict: No competition; new keeper required.

Right Fullback: Hibbert is at the end of his career, although to be fair he has not let us down when called upon.Browning is at the opposite end of the time-frame, again when called upon he also has not been a let-down, but at his best at centre-back is surely his future. Coleman is by far our best right back, but injuries and the pressing game played against us has blunted his edge this year. Verdict: No competition; if fit, Coleman plays.

Centreback Stones is our best centre-half, and has potential to be best since Bobby Moore. Distin has been a good servant, but just not good enough at this level any more. Jagielka was shell-shocked after the World Cup, had a shaky start, but has recovered some form. Alcaraz has not really let us down when called upon and it is only the shoulder injury that stopped him having a long run in the team. Although I can see Galloway has the future with Stones as a pairing, he cannot be considered has one fighting for a place in the team. Verdict: No competition at this time; only Stones and Jagielka can possibly be selected if fit.

Left Back: Baines is the obvious choice; however, here there are real options. For some reason, probably because how teams set up against us, he has looked less formidable this year and his dead-ball delivery has been the worst I can recall. Garbutt showed real qualities in the games he has played, in particularly the Wolfsburg game, when he showed both excellent attacking and defensive qualities; he (unlike Baines) has had excellent dead-ball delivery. Oviedo – we cannot be sure of his fitness level, but certainly he was a major plus prior to his unfortunate injury. Verdict: Competition is there but I cannot see a fit Baines being left out.

Defensive Midfield Gibson seems to be permanently injured, is he really a contender? I would think a certainty to be moved on. McCarthy is surely the first choice when fit. Barry is an obvious contender. Besic also has claims on his performances this season, and could well prove to be Roberto's best signing. Barkley, maybe on his QPR game, can also stake a claim, but surely that is only in the future. Osman played his best games of the season from this position, but competing for a regular place? Surely not. Verdict: The competition is between Barry, Besic and McCarthy – these three could rotate and save McCarthy's legs.

Midfield Attacking: McGeady is not an option for me; he gives ball away far too much. Atsu is not good enough; there was a lot of hype about him, and sadly misplaced on what we have seen so far. Mirallas is easily our best winger and must play when fit. Naismith has made a starting place his own this season. Barkley must be has a deeper inside forward if he is to be selected, linking up with the attack. Eto'o is being played at inside forward, but surely his best position is as a forward starker? Pienaar to me he has gone; he gets some sort of injury every time he plays and has been generally poor when given an opportunity. Verdict: No real competition – only Naismith, Mirallas and Barkley have been effective with Eto'o livening up when coming on as a sub.

Forwards: Lukaku – to say he has been disappointing maybe to kind, but if he is fit, then he will start. Kone, if he could not get some playing time last Saturday or on Friday, how can he be possibly be a contender to start? Verdict: No competition to Lukaku, although Kone did well against the Russians and made a scoring chance for Eto'o to score against QPR. But, unless Lukaku is injured, he will not get a start... maybe not even then.

In total, we have 35 payers with first team squad numbers,; however, nine of those are Under-21s and Under-18s with little prospect of first-team selection for this season at least. So we may have the numbers but do they really have the ability to challenge for places? In my opinion: No, we have not...

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