As I sat through the match last night, watching West Ham pick up every second ball and pass around some of our players with ease, the paucity of our tactics and selection was once again laid bare.

We effectively play a 4-2-4 system, putting all the emphasis on attack and scoring goals. Unfortunately, when either confidence is low or the opposition keep control of the ball, that system is doomed to failure. The three players in ‘midfield’ last night – Naismith, Barkley and Mirallas – are all forward players whose first reaction is to go forward and attack. None of them have the discipline or mindset to think as a midfield player and look around them, to anticipate where their opposing player might go or to anticipate a loose ball in the centre of the park. Each of them wants the ball played to their feet, and whilst Naismith does forage more than the others, he is always on the turn looking to go forward. None of them could, in your wildest dreams, be termed genuine midfield players – they are attackers or, in Barkley’s case, an attacking Number 10.

Too often, simple give-and-goes in midfield leave them exposed, or when the opposition break forward, they are left chasing back because they are out of position. Balls that drop in and around the centre of the park are too often collected by the opposition and we always seem to be reacting rather than anticipating. This places an enormous burden on the two genuine midfield players, be it McCarthy, Besic or Barry. Not only have they to protect the worst central defence in the Premier League but they are expected to win balls and set up the three in front of them, plus the centre-forward.

West Ham, through Noble, Downing and others, were able to keep the ball with ease and control much of last night – thankfully Nolan is past it and Valencia was generally ineffective or we would have been more than a goal down.

Martinez seems hell bent on playing an unbalanced team overloaded with too many attacking players of a very similar nature – something I thought I would never say after Moyes. However, replacing one poor tactician for another is not progress. Martinez only seems to want to look forward; every man and his dog knows you will never win a thing unless you can defend properly. That doesn’t mean back to the Moyes days; it means a more realistic and pragmatic approach and playing a balanced team.

With the current squad, if he wants more than one attacking player, that’s absolutely fine... but balance it with a more defence-minded midfield player – play Besic, McCarthy and Barry together but not sitting on top of the back four, in the centre of the park. He can then afford the luxury of two players who can push on to support the front runner, as long as one is prepared to drop back when the opposition have the ball.

However, had he a more balanced squad, he would not need three defensive midfield players... but that all he’s got – apart from Osman – and that’s why Osman is still involved. For me, he’s too slow and completely ineffective but, because of the unbalanced nature of the team / squad, Martinez bulls him up to cover his own failings.

Then we come to the defence!!! The central pairing are the weak link: Distin has faded so quickly from last season it's quite alarming and Jagielka has still not recovered from the World Cup. Alcaraz is just an accident waiting to happen. However, I do come back to my earlier point: because the team is unbalanced, the opposition are able to put balls into our box with ease. We do not stop them at source and that is because the likes of Barkley, Eto'o, Naismith and Mirallas cannot defend – nor should they, if the team was more balanced.

Martinez got out of jail last night, but I suspect its just a short reprieve. Unless he has a major rethink, the team and tactics will keep on failing, aka Wigan. It's playground stuff from him: "Let's score more goals than you!" — except this is real football and that’s an attitude doomed to failure.

Share this article

Reader Comments (55)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Patrick Murphy
1 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:03:23
It would seem that Pat Nevin, not an advocate of defensive football by any means thinks the same as most Evertonians do at the moment. In an interview in the Echo he said:

"My big worry is, and I think it’s what every single Evertonian feels just now, you know that black hole of relegation which can sometimes suck you in? Well if you get caught in that all normal rules don’t apply any more. All the usual things you do, playing with confidence and the ability of players coming to the fore, disappears. It falls apart. They can’t let that happen. We can’t let that happen.

"I don’t want to be biased. Roberto Martinez is a good mate of mine. He’s someone that I like a lot and I’m good friends with.

"But if he is making a mistake I’m afraid in my business now you need to tell him and I need to say he’s making mistakes.

We can only hope that Roberto listens to his friend’s advice.

Iain Love
2 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:06:47
I would certainly look to Besic and Mcarthy as our two holding midfielders the youth and energy these two have should allow us to play Barry Osman or Gibson in the centre with them. Assuming a back four including Stones would give us a more solid look.
Attack would be a front three of Lukaku, Miralles and for me either Pienaar or Ovideo. That does exclude some regular starters but balances the side. The remaining problem would be Robles.
Jeff Hughes
3 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:16:39
Spot on Jim! This is undoubtedly the core problem at Everton and the defensive frailties do not come from loss of form or an ageing profile but from a lack of protection and a lack of control of the midfield. Christ, the best defenders in the world would be bricking it playing behind our midfield. I have already commented several times after other articles about the dangers of playing Barkley, Naismith and Eto on the same pitch and on the risks of using too many offensive minded players like Lukaku, Mirallas and Barkley who do not track back and accordingly leave our team horribly exposed. We need a BALANCE Roberto!
Bill Gall
4 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:13:41
IMO MR Martinez in his statements has no intentions of changing his style philosophy team selections ( square pegs in round holes), The man is that stubborn that no matter who talks, demonstrateÂ’s or simply gives up in trying to change him he will continue to carry on until he either proves his point or a catastrophic disaster happens to Everton.
Clarence Yurcan
5 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:23:44
Jim, thanks for the article. What you wrote makes sense to me; though IÂ’ll admit my knowledge of tactics isnÂ’t very advanced as I never played past 12-year-old youth soccer (my goalkeeping skills just werenÂ’t good enough for the next level...)
My question is: Why doesnÂ’t the manager realize what appears so obvious?
Ray Roche
6 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:33:32
The 4th round tie, whether itÂ’s us or West Ham, will be shown live on BBC ,2PM, Sunday 25th.
Paul Gladwell
7 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:30:55
Something has certainly happened because last night Jags,Robles and co never thought twice about hoofing the ball high, in fact I would say we played more long balls last night than we had done in the past twelve months so to say he wonÂ’t change seems wrong, things have obviously been said, probably by the senior players.
Whilst it was still garbage mostly last night a good percentage of that was down to lack of confidence, it would be interesting to see how the players react to a win playing slightly different tactics like we did last night
Barry Pearce
8 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:55:37
CouldnÂ’t agree more, defiantly got out of jail last night. Just glad Carroll wasnÂ’t playing.

15 corners... I dread to think what might have happened.

Kieran Riding
9 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:57:27
Paul #7 Are you suggesting we used a plan b last night ??
Wayne Smyth
10 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:43:16
DonÂ’t agree with your analysis Jim.

The main things IÂ’ve been noticing is a few square pegs in round holes, a team which lacks confidence and a team which isnÂ’t working hard enough off the ball. WeÂ’re also far too nice.

We consistently get shat on by the refs because we give them no grief, claim for fuck all and weÂ’re shit at cheating like other teams. Sad that you should need to, but IÂ’d rather cheat like 90% of the teams in the league, than get relegated.

We played with two holding midfielders yesterday, Besic and Barry. Occasionally they played too deep, but most of the time they were in the right position. This is no different to last season.

The issues further forward are that we play with two wingers, but only Mirallas is any good at operating there and even he cuts inside too much. Barkley is not a winger, neither is Naismith or EtoÂ’o. We need width.

When the ball is put out wide, early, itÂ’s the only time weÂ’re dangerous but most of our attacking players want to be in the centre where it is too congested.

Yesterdays performance by Lukaku is what IÂ’d expect from him. Even if things arenÂ’t going his way, he needs to put a shift in and keep going. He did that and we got our reward. In other games the effort has not been there. His hold up play was also excellent.

There are fine margins in football. Our tactics and personnel this year are virtually identical to last year. Last year we had Deulofeu who provided genuine width and pace and didnÂ’t have injuries to so many players. Usually weÂ’ve had about 6 first teamers out since August.

There is too much negative bullshit talked on this forum. ItÂ’s too easy to attack the manager or the players for 100 different reasons, when theyÂ’re actually only at fault for 1 or 2 things. ItÂ’s especially easy when results and performances are not great. Grab your pitch-forks and pile in!!

I read last week that Martinez had lost the dressing room and Oviedo wouldnÂ’t play for him again blah, blah blah.

Jamie Crowley
11 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:07:45
We definitely hoofed the shit out of the ball in defense. Just whacked the fucker as long, high, and hard as we could.

We also, as Paul rightly points out, played a lot more long balls bypassing midfield.

I think weÂ’re seeing the beginning of a Roberto adjustment.

Brian Hennessy
12 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:22:01
Good article Jim.

If I may add, I think part of the problem too is that because our central defenders are scared to do what a defender is supposed to do when in doubt, ie get the ball downfieldd as quick as possible, this has led to so many of our "individual" errors.

I am convinced if you put any of the premiere leagueÂ’s top defenders into our team, after a period of time they too would start to have the type of errors that our defenders have been making and pretty soon would show the lack of confidence our guys are showing.

Roberto needs to understand central defenders first job is to defend and the creativity comes from midfielders.

Frank Crewe
13 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:58:58
What we had tactics? I must have blinked and missed them.

As far as I can see all RM is doing is desperately trying one bunch of players after another in the hope that something will eventually click and heÂ’ll get to keep his job for another week.

Jim Bean
14 Posted 07/01/2015 at 17:55:00
Agree we are unbalanced. DonÂ’t agree that we need to go more defensive. The players just need to play in their natural positions. One thing IÂ’m beginning to think is that we donÂ’t have any decent number 10Â’s at the club at all.

Naismith and Etoo are strikers, and Barkley is a central midfielder. The idea that Naismith is versatile is nonsense. HeÂ’s rubbish on the wing and in midfield. (But quite effective up top). Etoo has never been a creative schemer. Ross, meanwhile, appears to be much more suited to a deeper role than a traditional number 10. As seen against QPR, he excels when he has space to run into, and all the play and passing options are in front. When he gets the ball in tight areas with back to goal, he is less effective.

ThereÂ’s no doubt he will end up in central midfield, so why not accelerate to the future and put him in there now? Besic and McCarthy can battle it out to see who plays alongside. Maybe against the very best teams, it makes sense to play all three and go counter-attacking, but generally IÂ’d put Ross in the middle, with one other. The short- comings in his defensive play are exaggerated. His tackling is robust and he will naturally work harder if that is his role.

John Keating
15 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:21:21
One noticeable thing last night was the number of times Robles cleared it directly upfield from hand.
Howards clearances have so many times been thrown out to defenders who have either been marked or closed down extremely quickly.
And as mentioned already central defenders yesterday cleared it upfield when under pressure rather than steadfastly tried to pass it out of trouble.
Unbalanced teams have been mentioned continuously by hundreds of posters from the first game of the season, we can see it but unfortunately Martinez canÂ’t and this has been the main reason we are in this position.
Unfortunately until we can dig ourselves out of this hole I think we have to go a bit Moyesy and play defensively.
I would use the natural defensive qualities of Baines and Coleman as our 2 wide midfielders Both good going forward and both comfortable when doubling up with the 2 full backs Oviedo/Garbutt, Hibbert/Browning when defending.
Besic in front of the central pair of Stones and Jags, allowing Barkley to do what he does best in the middle of the park supported by Naismith with Lukaku up front.
I think this would allow us to defend with 2 banks of 4, all, apart from Barkley, natural defensive players.
Until we are clear of any possibility of relegation we have to win ugly. MartinezÂ’ theory of outscoring opponents has to be binned both now and at any time in the future
James Bowman
16 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:48:21
CanÂ’t blame the defense for hoofing it up the other end, it equates to the same as passing it out to midfield.

EtoÂ’o I thought was brought in to be used to give Rom a break in the games weÂ’re winning. Likewise for Naismith for Ross. But to play them all at once is just madness. We need wingers that track back and then he can coach them to join the attack...when the time is right.

Barkley should be played behind the striker... Every other EFC player who wants the position can fight over the scraps. If Ross is fit, he plays there. DonÂ’t need to be paid 10Â’s of thousands a week to see that.

Darren Hind
17 Posted 07/01/2015 at 19:12:31
"There is too much negative bullshit talked on this forum. Its too easy to attack the manager and players for one hundred different reasons, when they are only at fault for 1or2 things" . . . .

I wonder whose at fault for all the other things then?

Denis Richardson
18 Posted 07/01/2015 at 18:54:13
Good article Jim and some points that have been pointed out a few times in the past.

Its no coincidence that last years great performance happened when we often played with players in midfield who are actual midfielders, e.g. Pienaar, Osman, Delboy, players who, as midfielders, know that they also need to work hard defensively, especially on the wings to cover the FBs if they go forward. Players who know that they are expected to try and fight to win the ball back when we lose possession.

The lack of wingers, square pegs in round holes, too many no 10s on the park for me are all different shades of the same problem. We simply need/must sign some proper midfielders, especially wide players, so as to give us more balance. Far too often we have 2 if not 3 no. 10s on the park in the AM role, who all want to play in the middle and we end up with absolutley no width, which in turn nullifies the attacking strengths of Baines and Coleman. WeÂ’re then forced to try to go through the middle and we just donÂ’t have the quality to do this.

Osman (like him or not) played in every single league game last season and Pienaar and Delboy both played in about two thirds of the league games. McGeady and Atsu (for different reasons) have not provided anywhere near the service this season that Pienaar and Delboy did last year. As for Osman, he maybe lightweight and brushed off the ball easily but heÂ’s one of the few proper midfielders we have in the whole squad.

Personally, I think the current squad we have is best suited to playing 352 or 532, with Baines and Coleman playing as wingbacks in either formation. The middle three MFs should then come from McCarthy, Besic, Oviedo, Barry, Osman, Barkley & Pienaar with a front two of Lukaku plus one of Mirralas, Kone or Eto. Barkley woud be in the middle of the 3 MFs with license to get forward. The other two MFs would be there to win the ball and provide cover for the the defence and/or FBs. Stones can play in the middle of the CD with license to bring the ball out.

For 4231 to work properly, two of the 3 AMs have to be proper midfielders who can play out wide and can interlink with the FBs. None of Eto, Naismith or Barkley are suited to playing in these wide AM roles and Mirralas has just about gotten used to it but heÂ’s really a forward and not a midfielder.

Why Martinez has taken so long to realise this (not even sure he has yet!) is beyond me. 35k+ blues can see this problem every week!

Admittedly Pienaar has gone downhill rapidly and AtsuÂ’s not been played alot so his options are/were limited, especially as McGeady has also being so inconsistent. However, there is nothing to stop him playing Oviedo in the old Pienaar role to get some balance on the left at least.

As pointed out above, if 2 of the 3 AMs worked harder defensively, our back 4 would be under less pressure (not excusing Distin or Jagielka at the minute mind).

Frustrating that what seems to be so obvious to many is not to the one person whoÂ’s job it is to see it!

Come Roberto - SORT IT OUT!

Paul Gladwell
19 Posted 07/01/2015 at 19:21:00
Kieran, I donÂ’t get the plan B shouts as my complaint is heÂ’s got too many bleeding plans, we never play the same team two games in succession, players are moved from different positions each week and that has been a big part of the problem there is no settled team, we had the chance when we had a good bit of form after beating Wolfsburg at home when Jags and Stones started looking ok at the back and instead of building on this and getting a settled side he pissed around, dropped Stones, Naismith and Mirralas and the result was that shambolic Palace home game, so in my eyes too many plans unsettled the whole squad
Gary Collins
20 Posted 07/01/2015 at 19:32:25
I believe we canÂ’t win the ball back quickly because the gaps between the midfield and forwards is too big.

I think as a team we need to push up the pitch 5 yards and press teams further up push teams back but takes energy.

Kieran Riding
21 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:06:47
Paul, the Â’plan bÂ’ comment was tongue in cheek. I donÂ’t care what anyone says, when Stones plays / comes on, we look loads better.
Simon Dutton
22 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:00:51
Here we go again!

If the original poster is correct then why were we so succesful last season playing exactly the same way with exactly the same team, the team was not unbalanced last season so why should it be now?

The players need to stand up and be counted because there seems to have been very little fight recently, although things seemed more positive last night.

My only concern was the interview after the match, Lukaku was positive and upbeat, but our captain Jagielka looked like a broken man – no eye contact, nothing, which to me is more worrying and we should be looking to him for leadership.

Paul Gladwell
23 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:11:02
Kieran I know it was mate I was just saying and your so right about Stones, Jags started season rubbish, he then gets paired with Stones we then see first clean sheet of season v West Brom and then they both played well against Wolfsburg, come the Saturday against Palace Distin is back and the defence is back to square one, Distin then has a nightmare against Swansea, rightly gets a bollocking and it snowballs on the pitch and allegedly off it too.
Bobby Thomas
24 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:27:15
The way RobertoÂ’s been asking the team to play theres a chronic lack of Santi Cazorla/Eriksen type attacking midfielders who can play all across, keep possession, probe and when it matters create and penetrate.

The decline of Pienaar has hurt us and Ossie has always been underrated and appreciated.

What I want to know is WHY Barkley struggles to play left. It shouldnÂ’t be that much of a stretch for a ball playing attacking midfielder

Nigel Gregson
25 Posted 07/01/2015 at 20:44:06
Erm you kind of have answered your own questions yourselves. Gibson, McCarthy, Osman, our three best natural midfielders who are the best there tactically are out due to injury. I know there is a lot of stamping feet about why is the team so unbalanced, but you canÂ’t do much when your first picks are out injured.
Helen Mallon
26 Posted 07/01/2015 at 21:08:53
Did anyone notice, just before Besic was subbed. He took a free kick and instead of passing it short he pumped it into the box, they cleared and Martinez went mental. A little later he was off for Mc Geady. I bet Besic is not even on the bench on Saturday.
Tony Abrahams
27 Posted 07/01/2015 at 21:28:25
Dennis 18, totally agree with your second paragraph. Although, I thought Mirallas was mainly going through the motions and I was glad he was subbed. Bringing EtoÂ’o on made our attack worse for me last night.

Although Eto'o is a better sub than starter, I just felt it made us a lot narrower and we became easier to play against. McGeady hasnÂ’t done much since he came to Everton, but at least he gives us width, which helps our fullbacks get forward on the overlap.

People say Martinez has been found out, especially the experts who are paid a fortune to tell us very little. I canÂ’t agree with this because the difference between last season and this one is as you have said, we have very rarely played with natural width this season.

Clive Rogers
28 Posted 07/01/2015 at 21:50:33
IMO several players are performing really badly at present.

Naismith has been dreadful since he signed his contract. Also he scored in the first 3 PL games of the season. His next was against Utd on October 5th. He has not scored PL goal since. This is not good enough for the main attacking player after Lukaku.

Barry is not a box to box player any more. When we have possession and go forward, he canÂ’t keep up and has no goals this season. His legs have gone.

Mirallas is a luxury as he is not a team player. HeÂ’s not really a winger either as he provides virtually no service for other forwards usually preferring to cut inside and shoot. He never tracks back and makes a tackle. He was very poor last night. Seems to have his mind on a move.

I wouldnÂ’t pick any of these three for the next few games.

Steavey Buckley
29 Posted 07/01/2015 at 22:31:48
Football is played over a full season. Teams that depend on running around for 90 minutes+run out steam. But if Everton have enough quality in the side, who can manage to play until the end of the season without serious injury, then Everton will come strong again. But during the transfer window a goal keeper, centre-back and winger would help the Everton cause, especially, as Alcaraz and Distin have had it.
Harold Matthews
30 Posted 07/01/2015 at 23:44:04
Steavey. A very interesting point. BielsaÂ’s all-action teams normally run out of steam but SimioneÂ’s donÂ’t. Quality might be the difference.

Only last night I watched SimioneÂ’s Atletico hammer Real Madrid 2-0. Ten out-fielders contesting every throw-in, every corner, every loose ball, all over the pitch. Hunting in packs, all physically strong with a fine first touch and moving to provide options. No-one flying around like Usain Bolt because they played with intelligence and knew exactly what to do. Players of the Besic-McCarthy mould rather than the Barkley-Mirallis type. Okay, we know the latter two are good enough to play any role but getting them to enjoy doing it for the team would not be easy.

Atletico definitely played the possession game but it was built on a defence as solid as a rock led by the magnificent Diego Godin. Wow, what a player. Supported everyone in sight, including a couple of 20yr old academy lads who fitted in nicely.

Simione and his boys also let the officials know their feelings and itÂ’s time we did the same. Good losers are just that....... Losers.

David Ellis
31 Posted 08/01/2015 at 02:10:08
Harold - so you want us to become bad losers then?
Tony Draper
32 Posted 08/01/2015 at 02:29:33
David @ #31

Harold speaks the truth, we have no excuse for being wimps.

Our greatest ever squad were afraid of no-one.
Not a single one of them.

We were not animals, we could outplay the toughest of opponents, the most stylish of opponents.......and we feared no-one.

We were the finest in every respect.

Roberto has frequently stated that he has learned and loved our history. He is also a true football connoisseur student.

As Everton fans we both understand and DEMAND "The best, and only the best".
Hopefully, our connoisseur manager has learned that "The School of Science" has very rarely handed out our highest accolade for exceptionally well founded reasons.

He has shown great promise, original thinking and a true appreciation of style, that is a promising as a young undergraduate.

In order to graduate with HONOURS, our promising acolyte clearly needs to learn and excel in the fullness of all of the disciplines of "The School of Science".

He has promise.
Does he have "True Grit" ?

Success teaches us NOTHING, setbacks and failures offer far more concentrated lessons.

Only the most resilient witness, learn and OVERCOME adversity. Roberto has the experience of both failure and success.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
Then Roberto, Yours is the Earth and everything thatÂ’s in it,
And - which is more - youÂ’ll be an Evertonian, my son !

Frank Wade
34 Posted 08/01/2015 at 09:57:15
Great post Jim. Agree with all you say. The lack of balance in midfield militates against playing what we used to call 'possession' football.

I feel sorry for Naismith trying to play a midfield role, which is not his natural position. Late in Newcastle game, he was in the Barry position. When Eto'o was signed, he was lauded by Roberto for his cleverness of movement in the box. I think he got into the box once in the last game.

Tony Draper, enjoyed your post and agree with you and Harold, we have to be tougher. I might add a bit more to your Kipling quote. "If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing their's and blaming it on you." Maybe, Roberto, you haven't realised the seriousness of our situation!

Mike Childs
35 Posted 08/01/2015 at 13:15:27
I too watched that game Harold. I love Simeone's style. Spot on about Goodin. Every player has bought in and puts in a full shift. They very well may win La Liga again this year. As good a shot at the treble as Real and better chance than Barca.
Andrew Ellams
36 Posted 08/01/2015 at 14:08:59
Simon Dutton @ 22, we were not playing the same way last season as this. This seaseon we are slow and ponderous and attempting to get from A to B with a series of sideways passes through the middle with absolutely no pace.

Last season we moved forward with pace with the likes of Coleman, Baines, Miralles and Deolofeu ripping teams apart out wide as well and with Barkley in the middle teams were stretched which gave Lukaku loads more space to move into, We are not even close to that this season.

Wayne Smyth
37 Posted 08/01/2015 at 14:43:55
Andrew, we are playing the same formations, with the same tactics and mostly the same personnel.

People criticise Martinez because we "can't play with 2 defensive mid's" or that "passing and possession can never work", or whatever. We did that last season. It worked.

You're right that last season we were more dynamic getting forwards and for me this is mainly down to confidence. The same is probably true of individual defensive mistakes. Largely down to players who lack confidence.

I don't think players generally want to play slowly, or not score goals. I certainly don't think Martinez is instructing them to do so.

Darren(17), there are no "other things". The majority of accusations that people aim at Martinez or the players are figments of their imagination or malicious bollocks. Stuff like "Martinez lost the dressing room".

We've got enough genuine issues to discuss sensibly here without having to wade through pages of crap that muddy the waters.

Simon Dutton
38 Posted 08/01/2015 at 14:39:45
Andrew @ 36, my reference to playing the same way was possible a wrong choice of words, I was reacting to the original post which stated that the way we line up is doomed to fail, ie 4-2-3-1, I was trying to point out that that was the same formation we successfully played last season.

I fully accept that for some reason this year everything seems to be a lot slower, but I suspect that may be because too many players are hiding because they donÂ’t want to be responsible for making a mistake.

There were several times against West Ham Coleman had the ball and nobody was moving for him to pass to so he had to go back to the keeper, which is why I keep banging on about the players having to step up and take responsibility.

In the same way I also think that Barkley is trying to do too much, beating an extra man and losing the ball when passing it is an easier option, but much of this comes down to player confidence which Martinez can't give the players, they have to find it for themselves.

Andrew Ellams
39 Posted 08/01/2015 at 15:01:26
We're not Wayne. How many times did you see us play without width last season? How many times did we have 3 players tripping over each other in the middle like we have has this year with Barkley, Naismith and Eto'o. He has tinkered with a winning formula and sent us backwards
Wayne Smyth
40 Posted 08/01/2015 at 16:17:12
That isn't all down to Martinez, Andrew.

A lot of our width last season came from our full backs. They're not getting forward as much this year, but I don't think it's down to manager instructions. I think it's confidence. Our play is too slow. Players taking too long over decisions, others not making the right runs.

We lack proper decent wingers too. That is down to Martinez, hence why we have so many "wide" players who want to be in the centre. It's a transfer fuck up basically. All our cash went on a centre forward.

Atsu is not Premier League quality and McGeady is too inconsistent, although I'd play him and tell him to stay on the touchline and get crosses in quick because like you say none of the other players we have want to be out wide.

Injuries haven't helped, either. Mirallas, Lukaku, Baines, Coleman, Barkley, Pienaar, Osman, McCarthy have all been out for significant time or been played while partially injured(e.g. Lukaku's toe). Most of those players are our attacking players, so I'm not surprised we've struggled. Again, not Martinez's fault.

This season, results have been poor, performances shit, but I don't think Martinez is setting the team up differently to last season. It's just the way things have panned out. The personnel he's trying to fit into that system are just not suited as well.

Frank Wade
41 Posted 08/01/2015 at 16:31:44
Wayne, I think the main debilitatpg change is the absence of Pienaar and to a lesser extent Osman.
As Denis says in 18 above, we are lacking 'real' midfielders. This is particularly noticable in away games.

Pienaar at his best, granted his physical strength was waned now, was very effective at shielding the ball, throwing a few feints and shapes, allowing others to get into position, primarily working well with Baines and always capable of intelligent passes in the box. We don't have the same ability to hold the ball in forward areas, to bring others into the play.

Jimmy Kelly
42 Posted 08/01/2015 at 17:17:07
Wayne, I agree that we're not actually set up too differently to last year. I disagree with your overall point though.

To me, being set up in the same way is actually a huge part of the problem. Last year, most teams adopted a policy of sitting back and letting us pass the ball around, daring us to break them down. This is demonstrated by the number of games in which we had a huge percentage of possession. This year, most teams have changed tactics, instead of letting us pass it around indefinitely they're springing a trap - letting us pass into the midfield and then suddenly swamping us - we have our full backs ahead of the ball and the centre halves split and teams are running straight through at a totally exposed backline. Despite this change in emphasis from pretty much every team, we've kept playing the same way - never making a team doubt that they're doing the right thing by mixing it up and doing the unexpected. I certainly don't think there have been anywhere near as many games this year where we've had possession percentages in the high 60s, something we did a lot last season, particularly at home. This is because teams are setting up differently and we're still the same.

I also think we need to qualify some of that by saying that many of the performances last year weren't quite as good as some blue tinted specs would see it either. There were some absolutely fantastic performances don't get me wrong, but a fair few games were settled by moments of individual brilliance rather than dazzling team play. Let's be honest, you can't expect your right back to keep pulling top class winners out of the bag for you indefinitely.

There's a general view that we're slower to get the ball forward than we were last year but there were also many games then where we struggled to get any attacking impetus at all - West Brom at home and Crystal Palace away were every bit as bad as anything this year from an attacking perspective.

I really like Martinez, and if we're going to become a really good side then I think he can be the man who does it, but only if he realises that sometimes you've got to walk before you can run.

Wayne Smyth
43 Posted 08/01/2015 at 17:36:06
I'd nearly agree with you Frank, but Pienaar has not been the same player since he came back from Spurs. Maybe fitness, but I think age is catching up on him.

Certainly relying on Pienaar and Osman is not going to cut it. We need players with pace and power. Montero at Swansea is a good example of what we lack.

I think our team is not far off; we've got good players, but when Mirallas is injured and McGeady not on form, we struggle to get forward quick enough and with enough penetration.

I'm not sure I agree with Dennis(18). Deulofeu never worked hard or defended well. Pienaar and Osman do, but they don't have the physicality to make a real difference. Either way, it doesn't help to explain why we're struggling to get goals.

What I'm hoping is that we get through this season with a top half finish. After last years honeymoon, Martinez will have no reason to not be acutely aware of the weaknesses in his squad, so I would expect him to address most of them.

Wayne Smyth
44 Posted 08/01/2015 at 17:54:48
Jimmy, I don't think teams are treating us differently. But we are playing worse. It's easier for teams to get the ball off us and keep it. We're losing battles all over the pitch because of a lack of confidence.

Against Hull we got bossed. They weren't letting us have the ball and hitting us on the counter, they were just taking it and doing what they wanted with it. We've also conceded a lot of goals from corners or when our team is already setup, for example the first Hull goal.

It's a similar scenario if you look at individual players. Earlier in the season Lukaku couldn't trap a football and looked like a Sunday League player. People were slagging him off saying he was shit and a waste of money.

Against West Ham he was a different animal and was top drawer in all aspects of his play. He was still the same player with the same abilities, but his workrate, mindset and attitude was better. As he was winning his battles and getting good feedback from the crowd his confidence improved.

Also in the West Ham game, when Barry broke with the ball, he couldn't play a 10 yard pass to Mirallas with the correct pace. Last season when confidence was high that chance would've been a goal. It's all fine margins as far as I can tell. You can also see the frustration with some of the ref's decisions. Those are not helping.

Frank Wade
45 Posted 08/01/2015 at 19:41:57
Have to agree to diasagree Wayne on one point. I think Pienaar has contributed well since he came back, maybe not as often and certainly not this season.

Montero is a totally different type of player. Very fast and direct and hugely dangerous against us in the Capital One Cup game, an old fashioned high powered winger, but I don't see him having the skill that we miss from Pienaar. It's his cleverness and ability to hold the ball and link up play and play the decisive passes that bring Baines and others into play that we miss. Hey, 3 plays in one sentence. Sadly with age and injuries, I don't see him having that impact again. MLS beckons.

Dare I say it, Downing showed a lot of what we were missing on Tuesday night, a real number 10.

Darren Hind
46 Posted 08/01/2015 at 20:04:52
Wayne Smyth

"We've got enough genuine issues to discuss sensibly without having to wade through pages of crap "

"When they're (manager n players) are only at fault for 1or 2 things " . . . "there are no other things"

Irony? see it ?

Jermaine Jennings
47 Posted 09/01/2015 at 07:13:06
The two central midfielders sit too deep which pressurises the back four to drop even further which causes real problems. I think we've been unbalanced for a while. I attended the away game to Southampton last season where it was most evident.

Steve Barr
48 Posted 09/01/2015 at 16:32:20
You may have already read this article but as far as I'm concerned it is an excellent summary of Everton's overall problem this season, along with a suggested fix.
Steve Barr
49 Posted 09/01/2015 at 16:34:54
Apologies, here's the link...
Will Firstbrook
50 Posted 09/01/2015 at 16:47:25
As has been said many times, it all starts (and sadly falls apart) at the back. Two centre halves expected to bring the ball out on the deck ALL the time works if you have personnel at that position who are quick (this includes decision-making), skilled and confident with their ball at their feet. Only Stones appears to possess these traits and he's just cutting his teeth as a pro. Distin and Alcaraz are done and Jags is limited. Don't even bother mentioning Barry.

If we are going to persist with this strategy then we need to fill this role with players possessing these characteristics - simple as that. If we can manage to bring out the ball from the back with pace and purpose, much of the other problems we are seeing across the pitch will likely abate to a large degree. The utter lack of confidence at the back under this style of play is completely undermining everything else from working (going forward and defending). Players are second- guessing themselves and each other effectively crippling the team.

I still think we need a Pienaar replacement to provide proper service and coverage in front of Baines or Garbutt. Oviedo could likely serve in this role, I believe.

Sort it out Bobby - stop experimenting!!

Steve Carse
51 Posted 09/01/2015 at 17:10:35
Let's have CBs who are comfortable in possession is the cry from many posters on here. Do they mean CBs like Alcaraz?
Will Firstbrook
52 Posted 09/01/2015 at 18:32:23
Can't speak for others Steve but in my opinion (and post) Alcataz is not in that group today.
Steve Carse
53 Posted 09/01/2015 at 18:35:09
Alcaraz is comfortable and confident on the ball. It's just unfortunate that it's misplaced confidence. He's the defensive version of Balotelli in that he always looks like whatever he's trying to do he knows he'll be able to complete successfully -- but he never does.
Will Firstbrook
54 Posted 09/01/2015 at 18:35:45
Alcaraz, Alcatraz ..... however you want to spell it - still not what we need.

Find the right player to fit the desired style/approach or adapt the style/approach to fit the player skill/strength you have. Not rocket science.

Will Firstbrook
55 Posted 09/01/2015 at 18:41:50
For me, the bigger issue is the poor decision-making at the back coupled with old legs.

The mistakes at the back (or just on front of them) are finding their way into our net. Can mitigate that from happening to some degree if you at least have some pace at the back to recover. On most days, our centre halves appear to be running in quicksand

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

© ToffeeWeb