We Have Lift Off!

It's great to return to Europe and fantastic to get off to a flyer

Paul Traill 19/09/2014 52comments  |  Jump to last

For the last six years I've been commuting to work in Manchester from my home in WIrral and therefore evening matches have always resulted in a frantic dart down the East Lancs Road to make kick off time. I've recently begun a new job in WIrral and it's such a relief to now have time to get home, eat, get changed and drive over at my leisure...even having time to pick Ste up on the way.

I didn't account for the busy traffic as we approached Goodison Park however and I could only just squeeze into a parking spot before the match. On European fixtures they don't sell alcohol inside the ground so the pubs tend to be busier outside...that was true of The Brick and with it being a warm evening we stood outside the pub, everyone excitedly anticipating the football. Four years since we last played in Europe. In a way I'm glad we've been handed a difficult group as we'll get to see some entertaining football...if tonight's match is anything to go by at least.

We were all delighted to see Roberto Martinez taking the competition seriously by naming the same team that won convincingly at the Hawthorns last weekend. Kevin De Bruyne the stand-out name for Wolfsburg. There was a real buzz inside the stadium as the teams came out. Everton looking very smart in the blue shirts, the Wolfsburg white tops with green shorts certainly looking every bit the European team...it really drummed it home to you as the teams readied themselves...EVERTON ARE BACK IN EUROPE. The Italian referee got proceedings under way...

Wolfsburg really pressed us back in the opening stages and we couldn't really get out of our half. Kevin De Bruyne really seems to have settled since leaving Chelsea and was very central to most things Wolfsburg did. Everton thankfully weathered the storm and after about 10 minutes we started to have a go ourselves. Cheered on by the excellent crowd Everton got themselves going and on 15 minutes it wasn't too much of a surprise that we took the lead. Baines cut the ball back for Naismith who might have scored himself though his shot somehow found its way in via a deflection or two between goalkeeper Benaglio and defender Rodriguez...the own goal credited to the Swiss left back.

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The game remained entertaining. Lukaku had a free kick touched around the post as both teams kept plugging away. Looking back at the match, Wolfsburg will be disappointed with how they let the game slip away from them either side of half time. Coleman eventually nodded in Everton's second from Baines' pass to really give Everton an advantage going into half time...and we were out of sight just on the other side of the break when Leighton Baines converted from the penalty spot to make it 3-0. Aiden McGeady had a big role in the goal, seizing on a loose pass ahead of Knoche who brought down the Ireland international. The challenge was actually outside of the penalty area apparently but the referee pointed to the spot...Leighton Baines did the rest.

You expected Everton to take their foot of the gas a bit with being 3-0 ahead but not quite that much! Wolfburg showed their quality and created countless openings (27 shots overall) though thankfully their shooting wasn't quite top drawer and Tim Howard made several saves...some good, some basic but he had a much busier night than anticipated. At one point such was the quality of the passing move which took Wolfsburg all the way up the pitch I almost wanted them to finish the opportunity though Howard thwarted...several times. Credit the German team. They kept their heads and kept on playing...on another day it may have been different for them.

The introduction of Samuel Eto'o gave everyone a lift and he made a telling contribution by playing in Mirallas with a delicious pass, the Belgian showing Wolfsburg how it's done with a slick finish when one-on-one with Benaglio.

Howard and the defense still had work to do and just when I was saying how great a clean sheet would be Wolfsburg finally went and scored with the last kick off the game...to generous applause from all sides of Goodison Park. They had twice come close with free kicks with Rodriguez drawing a good save from Howard and another flashing just wide. Rodriguez made no mistake this time however with his precise kick finding the corner of Tim Howards goal and going in off the post. This soiled our scoreline somewhat but you couldn't begrudge them the goal for their efforts...and we would have taken 4-1 before the game for sure.

It's great to return to Europe and fantastic to get off to a flyer...Lille and FC Krasnador even drew with each other for good measure. With much more solid defensive performances on show and goals continuing to come at the other end of the pitch I'm beginning to believe we finally have lift off for this season. Let's hope things go well on Sunday...I expect a lot of changes for the Capital One Cup trip to Swansea with the Merseyside Derby just around the corner...

Howard: Has to be Man of the Match really after all them saves. Reminded me of USA vs Belgium in the World Cup at times. 9

Baines: Excellent from Baines. One goal and two assists. Can't say fairer than that. Just a query...when did he last score from open play? 8

Stones: Recovered from a nervy start to put on a very composed display. Good work. 7

Jagielka: Coped well at the back mostly. Gave the ball away a bit and one hazardous back pass to Howard went out for a corner but otherwise was fine. 6

Coleman: Full of tricks down the right...slowly getting back to his best. 7

Barry: Seemed to tire as the game went on and was sloppy in possession at times. 6

McCarthy: Covered a lot of ground. His best game for a little while now in my opinion. 7

Mirallas: Worked hard down the left. He completed the full game so I wouldn't be too surprised to see him start from the substitutes bench on Sunday. Good finish at the end. Dumb booking though. 8

McGeady: He's so hit and miss. Some things truly magnificent, other times he seems to disappear. I hope he can find that consistency in his game like Mirallas seems to have done. Could become a top player for us if he can. 6

Naismith: Usual Naismith. A great effort every time. 7
Lukaku: Also hit and miss. Flashes of excellent but at other times you wonder if even he know what he's doing. 6

Eto'o (for Lukaku): Lively even if he didn't get the service when up front on his own. Lovely ball to set up Mirallas...nice to see him embracing the Gwladys Street with a wave. I hope he gets to cause havoc at Anfield a week Saturday. 7

Gibson (for Naismith): Nearly got on the scoresheet straight away and got to grips with things just fine. 7

Osman (for Coleman): Came on in injury time, can't judge.

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Reader Comments (52)

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Dave Lunt
1 Posted 19/09/2014 at 02:29:11
Great article Paul, and a good summary of the game. Thank You!
Harold Matthews
2 Posted 19/09/2014 at 03:53:13
Paul. Can't see how you can rate subs who were only on the pitch for a few minutes. Your Gibbo rating is way over the top, especially as it was his lazy tackle which led to their goal.

Your comments on Lukaku were spot on. He looked like he'd just got out of bed and was wondering what to do with the round thing that was bouncing around his feet. Didn't deserve a 6.

Danny Kewley
3 Posted 19/09/2014 at 04:19:32
Smashing write-up, Paul, though I would differ with a couple of your point awards. For instance, I thought Naismith was MotM and McGeady was a 7 but obviously that’s a matter of opinion. The main thing is we won good style!!!!!!!
Jack Plant
4 Posted 19/09/2014 at 04:49:15
I think that's pretty harsh Harold, I thought he worked very hard, ran the channels early on. We weren't really in it the first 10 minutes or so, it was his work rate that got us in the game.
Dave Kelly
5 Posted 19/09/2014 at 10:28:49
I felt the scoreline flattered us, Tim Howard receiving a 'nine' from you , Paul, surely proves my point. We lacked a skilful playmaker (come back soon Ross) to control the game, okay McCarthy and Barry put in decent shifts but we were crying out for a Peter Reid type of player to dictate things.

Still, it's nice to win our first game back in Europe.

Sam Morrison
6 Posted 19/09/2014 at 10:45:59
I agree the scoreline flattered us - not the 4, but the 1. Howard was excellent, and if we give every team we play that amount of chances it's not going to end in our favour that often.

McGeady looks frustrated with himself about his final ball/finishing but at least now he's not giving up. He really put in a shift and played his part.

Franny Porter
7 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:01:24
I wonder how Barkley will fit back in, Naismith cant be dropped on current form. Perhaps Ross will have to come back playing out wide in place of McGeady until he earns the Number 10 spot back.
Brian Harrison
8 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:27:30
I guess I must be in the minority because I didn't think we were all that good last night. I think during the game Wolfsburg had twice as many shots as we did, and if their finishing had been better I am not sure we would have won.

But my biggest criticism is of RM and his tactics, I thought when he first came we tended to overpass at the back. But I figured that he was trying to instill a new system and the over passing at the back would pass. But no every game that goes by we seem to have become almost obsessive it. Seems the first option for our defenders when they receive the ball is to pass it back or square, no early ball to the front men is hardly considered. I think Jags is the worst offender so much so that he had the ball on the halfway line last night and still attempted a 40 yard back pass to Howard which went for a corner.

Watching our defenders passing the ball relentlessly to one another is a bit like watching a tightrope walker trying to cross the Grand Canyon expecting a fall any moment the only difference is the tightrope walker knows what he is doing were our defenders don't.

Harold Matthews
9 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:56:49
Jack. You're right. I was a bit harsh on the big fella. Had another look at the match last night and your description is better than mine.
Mark Taylor
10 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:55:02
I agree with Brian. For significant portions of the game, we were outplayed and our defence continues to look very vulnerable.

On the upside, I thought Mirallas had an excellent game, the evidence of my eyes has forced me to change my mind about Naismith- at minimum, he is a very useful squad player- and it was good to see Gibson playing again and looking reasonably fit. He provides a much needed option.

But what stayed in my memory most was Eto'o, despite the short time he was on the pitch. I wasn't that enthused at his signing given his age and somewhat mercenary looking recent career path, however he was not that long ago one of the world's best players and therefore not someone who would be likely seen in an Everton shirt. The question still remained, what could he actually contribute?

Well, two moments suggested plenty: the sublime through ball for the 4th goal and even better, receiving the ball in a tight position in his own half, holding it up skilfully, pirouetting past 3 players and releasing a pass to a breaking team mate. All in the blink of an eye.

Fact is, Lukaku has nowhere near the skill level needed to pull that off so, at the very least, I can see Eto'o offering something a little different in attack. If we can get him happy and enjoying his football, he might well prove my original pessimism to be very wide of the mark.

Tony J Williams
11 Posted 19/09/2014 at 12:12:37
Made up to see Gibson come on, put in a few hard challenges and have a shot.

He will be an important player for us and also allows McCarthy to move further upfield.

Eto'o is a class act and it's difficult to believe this World Star is actually playing for us now.

I imagine it to be a completely different story at their gaffe though.

Michael Penley
12 Posted 19/09/2014 at 12:33:11
Loved how much fun the boys were having out there. Smiles all round after Baines's penalty. It was just great to see and hopefully it will be a huge confidence booster. Even the bench was smiling and Pienaar in his suit. Only Atsu looked unhappy, probably because he wishes he was signed to us!
Phil Paulson
13 Posted 19/09/2014 at 13:45:25
Brian 8, Mark 10,
I've simply accepted that we now have the brass neck to use space and play with it. The funniest was in the first half — Seamus at full pelt down his own flank towards the Gwladys Street. You have to play with the opponent's mind.
Bill Gall
14 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:04:30
Have to agree with Brian are defenders seem to just pass the ball around to each other with no balls to the front men.What the hell was our left back doing passing the ball to our right back to score he should have given it to a foreward player. Brian look at the modern game and see how many of the top teams play from the back waiting for an opening, it may be frustating but away teams play defensive and this is just anothe tactic to draw them out.
Brian Harrison
15 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:22:44
I do watch the top teams and yes most of the top teams start with the keeper rolling the ball out to defenders to start the move. But the top teams look to get the ball to the more gifted players whereas with Everton 10 or 12 passes have gone by since the keeper rolled it out and we are still passing in our own half among our defenders.
Eric Kobal
16 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:36:52
A few things I noticed. McGeady drifts infield all the time leaving Coleman constantly exposed. All their attacks were down our right side. Not with Mirallas though who tracked back all the time.
Also why can our defenders not block crosses from the goaline? Coleman and Jagielka just do not get close enough to cut crosses out. Stones does block them though. Was it because they were again? tired at the end of the match??
Andrew Ellams
17 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:53:10
Somebody made a comment on the live forum last night about how Jagielka holding the ball at the back each time he got forced Wolfsburg to push up to come and get it leaving space behind their back four which was exploited several times.

If we could employ that tactic against Liverpool, we would get success against a very poorly organised back line.

Dean Adams
18 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:23:05
Brian 16

"I do watch the top teams and yes most of the top teams start with the keeper rolling the ball out to defenders to start the move. But the top teams look to get the ball to the more gifted players."

More gifted than say, the best wing backs in the League (Baines & Coleman) or do you mean the forward players like Mirallas, Eto’o, Lukaku on last seasons form. Even Barry?

Fact is, we won comfortably against a strong German team who will no doubt be better next time. You can only beat what is in front of you and the record books will only ever show the result.

Ray Roche
19 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:37:36
Dean Adams @19

Dean, much as I agree with a lot of what you say re our wing backs and forwards I also think that Brian has a point, which is that the top teams (his term) attempt to get the ball to their gifted players much quicker than the likes of Jags or Distin. We can pass the ball back and forth across our back line all day or night but you can't hurt a team from there unless you have someone with the vision and guile to thread a ball through to our forwards in the way that Eto'o did with Mirallas. He is clearly in a different class to Jags and Distin when it comes to vision.

Andrew Clare
20 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:35:29
The main observation from last night's game was that we need to dominate the midfield in matches. For long periods we were completely over ran and not in the game at all. Hopefully this is where Besic will come in.

A great result and some great attacking play but we must sort out the midfield.

Dean Adams
21 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:46:50
Ray 20
I would’nt disagree with Brian, apart from the small and possibly incidental fact that as far as scoring goals goes, we are possibly now top scorers in terms of Premier league teams this season. With that small but annoying fact in mind, I would say we are one of the top teams.
Brian Harrison
22 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:07:11
I think that when we do eventually get the ball in our opponents half we are a very exciting team to watch, my criticism is the time it takes to get into the opponents half. I can't believe that anybody thinks Jags looks comfortable playing this passing game at the back. Not to mention the anxiety it creates within the crowd.

Look, I understand the concept of keeping the ball and moving the opposition players about while looking for an opening, maybe I am just too impatient and get very nervous expecting our back to miss place a pass and let the opposition be through on goal.

Ray Roche
23 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:13:00
Yes, Dean, we ARE one of the top sides and we are scoring goals, something which has been missing from our game over the years, but do you not think that we are a bit laborious at times, playing the ball across the back line, when we could be more incisive? I mean, it's not as if Jags and Distin are just waiting to slip that killer ball through is it? I think it's more a case of them not knowing what to do with the ball other than "Martinez told us to keep the ball and that's what we'll do......what do you mean..pass the ball? Is that like hoofing it up front like Davie told us to do?"
Dean Adams
24 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:30:03
Ray 24

Ah yes. Our wonderful (and they have been in the past) centre halfs. It is worrying watching them both trying to become passers of the ball. Maybe that is where Stones comes into that equation. However, the way we are set up means that the passing is moved forward to Barry and McCarthy.

I believe that for 70 mins each game, Barry is excellent in this role, but the pace of the premier league means that he tires towards the last 1/4 of the game. For me this has been more evident since the start of the season and is why both Leicester and Arsenal managed to get back into the games.

Thankfully last night, Howard was imperious and so we pulled of a win, which we deserved but which could so easily have turned out differently.

Andrew Clare
25 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:36:35
Why don't the midfield on one of the midfield drop back and take the ball from the feet of the central defenders?
We have all seen this done in continental football over the years by the teams playmaker.
Jags is a terrific tackler and that's about it.
Surely the management can see that this is a problem.
At the other end of the pitch things are very exciting and we look very dangerous every time we attack.
Dan Brierley
26 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:15:54
I thouroughly enjoyed yesterdays game, I thought it was one of our best performances in a long while. It was great to see us converting our chances, even if the scoreline did flatter us somewhat. Tactically, it was very interesting. Wolfsburg did not come at us with intense closing down, allowing us to keep possession and try to carve out some openings which we did very well. There were some great passages of play, and generally a lot of movement from our players showing for the ball making it easier.

I was also happy to see the 'never say die' spirit at the back, with both Jags and Stones having excellent nights, along with Howard who had an outstanding game. Not pretty sometimes, but everyone played their part brilliantly.

The problem as people have pointed out is still in the centre of the park. Barry struggled to get involved in the game, with McCarthy another performance where he covered a lot of ground and made a nuisance of himself. But again it was all very limited in terms of making things happen when in possession.

So another step in the right direction, and the added boost of confidence in not conceding from open play. Still some work to be done, but the signs are there that we are improving as a team.

Ray Roche
27 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:53:38
Dean @25

I'm afraid that Jags, in particular, and Distin belong to the previous era. I have always thought that Jags is a great defender but that's where his abilities end and to expect him and Distin to adapt to the Martinez way is possibly asking too much of them. Stones and a.n.other is going to be the future.

Barry does seem to tire and drift out of the game after an hour or so, which makes me think that giving him a 3 year deal was probably a bit generous, unless Martinez can see him becoming a coach or mentor for the likes of Besic and playing less after this season.

As Andrew (26) says, the way to relieve the central defensive partnership of the responsibility of bringing the ball out is for the DM to drop back and take it off them, something which we see Barry do quite a lot, but it only takes the opposition to man mark him on those occasions, like we saw at times last night, and follow him back and that plan is spiked. We need a creative central midfielder.

Bill Gall
28 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:00:05
On the conversation about top teams getting the ball foreward quicker than what the Everton defenders seem to do, this is because they have what a number of supporters including myself have been saying for a number of years and that is Everton need a creative midfielder (this may happen when Barkley returns ) instead of defensive midfielders and forewards.
Mark Taylor
29 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:10:15
Re the playing around at the back, I think it's a question of balance and I think we have it slightly wrong.

I think we have become a little too predictable and teams who push a high-ish line tend to force a degree of fluster at the back and stop us getting the ball forward before the opposition defence has a chance to re-set. No-one wants a return to hoofing it up the pitch but I'd like to see us a little more willing to play a forward pass longer and quicker than we usually do.

The 4th goal was a good example to follow, a fast counter attack that exploited the pace we have up front in Lukaku and Mirallas. I'm quite happy seeing us score more like the first goal which came more from patient build up play, but there's nothing wrong with trying the occasional 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am'.

Dan Brierley
31 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:22:24
Barkley will have to wait his turn to be fair Steavey, Naismith is having an excellent season. Ross' time will come, but he is going to have to be patient at the moment.
Peter Jones
32 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:30:11
I thought McCarthy was excellent and had his best game for us of the new season. He does however pass sideways and back too much and that means we lose control of the midfield as the defence or goalkeeper hoof it forward. This has been so in all our games this season, even West Brom. He has ability but needs a new mindset. Baines was far and away Everton MoM but it was a good team performance.
Pete Cross
33 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:58:00
Good turnout last night considering only about five hundred Germans. I can't remember the last time I saw crowd trouble like last night, what caused it I don't know. Blues going to the away game — beware!
Mike Iddon
34 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:45:36
The "problem" in centre midfield if that's what it is, involves Naismith playing not Barkley and is further up the pitch. When Ross plays he is the midfield link between defensive mid and the forwards; we don't have this at the moment.

Naisy is on fire however and you can't drop him at the moment. Gareth and James holding allow the fullbacks to both be in the 6-yard box in attacks.

You can't have it all ways; Managements a bitch eh?

Alan Davies
35 Posted 19/09/2014 at 19:07:30
What was the trouble? No-one else has mentioned it.
Pete Cross
36 Posted 19/09/2014 at 19:20:14
Alan don't know what sparked it but the police and stewards waded in they removed about six fans under a hail of plastic bottles must say no blues involved.
Brent Stephens
37 Posted 19/09/2014 at 20:20:03
Eric #17 "A few things I noticed. McGeady drifts infield all the time leaving Coleman constantly exposed"

Eric, I think that was the idea - i.e. that McGeady moves inside and back, leaving space for Coleman to push forward wide. On at least one occasion you could see Coleman gesturing to McGeady to do just that.

Trevor Lynes
38 Posted 19/09/2014 at 20:49:05
We had the best result of any English Premier League team playing against German teams. Wolfsburg will have a good season again in the Bundesliga and they moved and passed the ball about excellently. All of our team played well and really needed to. We took all our chances and although the result did flatter us, we earned it by constant endeavour.

The much vaunted Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal all struggled against the Germans who are all very fit and strong players. I thought Draxler was brilliant for them and I was as proud as punch to see our side match them and beat them.

Fans who are critics of Jags are way off the mark. He headed, tackled and blocked really well and was a vital cog in an all around team effort. McCarthy had his best game of the season and for once really helped our back four. The forwards closed down and worked hard at both ends of the pitch. Although Rom is still a little raw, he had a great free kick well saved, linked up well and won every header.

It seems some of our fans have favourites and scapegoats for no apparent reason. McCarthy and Stones never get criticised whilst Jagielka who has been a stalwart in the team for years takes stick. If those fans watched the games really carefully, they may see blemishes in their pets games.

Last night's match was one of the best all around team games I have seen from an Everton side in Europe.

Tom Bowers
39 Posted 19/09/2014 at 21:26:37
The back four were magnificent and they needed to be in the face of some great attacking by Wolfsburg. However, Tim Howard was the real hero with some great stops and positional play.

Everton’s middle of the park tackling was very poor at times and some sloppy passing set up Wolfsburg far too often.

Regardless of how well Mirallas, Naismith and McGeady play when in possession, they really need to step up their game when not in possession if this team are to be in contention for trophies.

Andy Crooks
40 Posted 19/09/2014 at 21:28:37
Good point, Brian Harrison. Our passing around the defence had me in nerves all second half. The movement ahead of them appears to leave few options and we look as if we will concede some very soft goals because of it
Wayne Smyth
41 Posted 19/09/2014 at 22:36:20
Martinez will take time to impose his way of playing onto the players, and it takes time to bring players in who are comfortable too, because some players will just not be able to adapt properly.

I'm not sure what people expect in all honesty. We don't have the cash to go out and buy 2 new top class centre halves who are totally comfortable playing football. Even if we did have the cash and spent it, we'd just end up being a team like Spurs, who're shit precisely because there is no stability in the playing staff.

So, while it might be uncomfortable to watch players like Jags attempting to play a game they're not used to - and I agree that at times it was nerve-jangling - I guess I'll just have to make do with us knocking 4 past a champions league quality german side, until Martinez can stop fucking up his tactics or get Phil Jagielka playing like Gerard Pique.

When I think back to some recent European nights, such as at Benfica, and remember that neither the squad(or manager) has much European experience, I think it was a superb result and a very good performance and I think we've come a long way.

In general there has been a tangible improvement over the last 12 months in how our back line can pass it about, but even in Roberto's first season we had one of the tightest defences in the league and scored a hatful of goals to boot.

So, no matter how nervous we are, I think Martinez's way has been shown to be the right one, compared to say, OFM's safety first approach which on the face of it would appear to be the more sensible.

Furthermore, I think playing games against continental sides will help us improve our passing game no end, because technical play is emphasised much more than say the physical game which our players are used to from the domestic scene and allowing the opposition to dominate possession is often costly, so being able to keep the ball is vital.

Andy Crooks
42 Posted 19/09/2014 at 23:59:00
You make some good points, Wayne. I agree that it will take some time for us to be comfortable playing out of defence and I see Stones as being a major positive in that direction. However, I am concerned that we are latecomers to a style that has been found out.
Sam Hoare
43 Posted 20/09/2014 at 00:12:49
Yes Andy. It's more about high pressing, quick transitions and pace and energy than just constant possession.

My main gripe apart from a shakey defence is not enough players who can pass it forward intelligently and accurately. Getting the ball forward quickly into dangerous areas. Barry and McCarthy in particular seem to have instincts towards the safer passes backwards often missing the more incisive option.

Wayne Smyth
44 Posted 20/09/2014 at 07:49:24
Andy, I don't think the style has been found out. All the best sides keep the football and don't panic when under pressure. I would agree that the way we're playing is often pedestrian, but I don't think it is how Martinez wants us to play.

It could be that he's taking baby steps with some of the players, slowly introducing ideas and enhancements, or it could be that he's explained to them what he wants, but some players are simply incapable.

What I've decided to do is to be patient and give some benefit of the doubt. I don't believe for one second that he wants us to fanny about with it at the back, like we're doing, or soak pressure like we have a few times this season. It's clear from his soundbites that he wants us to play with some pace, sharpness and control the game.

Perfection in our play won't come overnight. It's only just over 12 months since we had to endure Phil Neville in midfield and Anichebe up front. Now we have players like McCarthy, Besic, Lukaku and Eto'o.

I think Martinez could probably get us playing better football quicker, but we'd probably end up getting relegated as he switched out half the team and most of our experience in one season. By doing things in a more gradual manner, he's retained - and indeed improved - our results, even if at times it looks a bit clunky.

Ben Hayes
45 Posted 20/09/2014 at 08:37:40
I don’t understand two things people are writing: firstly that we got over ran as we didn’t – we were by far the better team, went 3-0 up, and then eased off which did invite pressure and Wolfsburg then had nothing to lose and were shooting from anywhere. 90% of the shots were either off target or fairly easy saves for Howard. He did make 2 or 3 great saves mind but that’s his job. Listening to the experts, both said we dominated and had another gear if needed. Wolfsburg’s own website and fans say we dominated and deserved the win, so why cant ToffeeWebbers all see that???

Secondly that we pass the ball around at the back too much and aren’t direct or get the ball forward enough – have you not seen we have scored 13 goals in 4 games??? To me that says we are getting the ball forward enough and playing well going forward.

I’m not sure what some of you are expecting; we win 4-1 and getting complaints. We are still a work in progress. Yes, there are things we can do better, there always will be, but they will get better with time. Let’s enjoy the win for once. Two more then going to Mordor... let’s encourage the team and not look for all the negatives. COYB

Iain Johnston
46 Posted 20/09/2014 at 10:24:13
Yes Ben quite true, however we have also conceded 11 with a minus goal difference in the EPL.

Granted the performance on Thursday night will mean confidence is high against Palace which hopefully will see us better our goal difference but I can see RM making huge changes for the Swansea game resting key players ready for the RS.

Brian Waring
47 Posted 20/09/2014 at 11:15:55
We twatted Wolfsburg 1st half, and then sat back 2nd half to catch them on the break because Wolfsburg had to go for it. IMO that's why Wolfsburg had a lot more of the ball because we allowed them to, I actually felt that we could have gone up a couple more gears if we wanted to. Also, if our final ball had been better on a few occasions when we broke away it could have been a lot worse for Wolfsburg.
Eric Holland
48 Posted 20/09/2014 at 11:39:07
Brian 48,

Exactly as I saw it.

Mike Corcoran
49 Posted 20/09/2014 at 12:28:29
I thought it represented and gave an opportunity to practice 45 mins of intense defending that will do them no harm looking forward.
Ben Hayes
50 Posted 20/09/2014 at 15:13:03
I agree, Iain, our defence hasn't looked the best but has been better in the last two games and hopefully will get better as still things to improve. I think we have to start with Stones as first choice as I feel he is our best CB now.

I also agree we will see lots of changes which I will welcome as I think we have at least 20 quality players and hopefully the ones not playing will want to show they should be and carry on the form we are seeing.

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
51 Posted 20/09/2014 at 17:31:45
Ben, your posts include a couple of points that are at the root of conflict between TW contributors which detracts from the discussion on these post-match threads. Forgive me in advance for using these as examples but I wanted to try yet again to make the point to our readers that we don't all see the games in the same way. That doesn't mean other people's views are necessarily wrong; it just means they are different.

Part of the attraction of these threads for me is to read what other people saw and to broaden one's own experience and knowledge of reading the game. But to say (in #51): "I just wanted some people to get some perspective on the situation" — that is like saying, "I want you to look at it as I did, not as you did" — and I'm sorry but it seems to go against the spirit of what is meant to be a discussion thread for exchanging views, rather than establishing who is right and who is wrong.

Regarding your earlier post (#46), many people have noted that the game changed at 3-0; we eased off and played much deeper. Some saw there to be a risk that we could be or were being over-run at that stage, given the frequency of Wolfsburg attacks and shots. That is surely a reasonable observation – not really a 'complaint' or 'moan'.

Passing the ball around at the back is perhaps a more subjective issue: I can understand the frustration some posters feel, as it appears to slow the game down, allows the opposing defence to get organized, and has none of the off-the-seat excitement that makes the crowd buzz.

But I just rewatched the Wolfsburg game, and hadn't noticed (I don't believe this has been mentioned) that the build-up to the first goal is well worth watching for anyone who has issues with our across-the-back passing. It came from a throw-in taken on the Everton left by Baines, just inside the Wolsburg half. There followed a simply brilliant sequence of 20 Everton passes, all to feet, none intercepted, 16 of them across the back, side to side, around the half-way line, before the decisive thrust down the left saw the ball finally reach Naismith. The move was absolutely brilliant for analysis of pass-and-move joined-up football many of yearn for.

So I guess I'm backing your second point... but, rather than labelling an opinion on this as complaining or moaning, can we just please accept the alternate analysis others provide as being just that? And provide a counter, if we must, without the over-reaction?

I appeal to readers who are so quick to use terms like 'negativity', 'perspective' and 'Get a grip' — please find a better way to acknowledge the contrasting opinions we all have, rather than creating unnecessary conflict by denigrating or condemning out of hand the diverse views of others.


Dave Pritchard
52 Posted 20/09/2014 at 18:10:36
Well said Michael.

One thing that we can all agree on? RS defence looks abysmal. Don't trust West Ham not to blow it though.

Raymond Fox
53 Posted 20/09/2014 at 18:29:09
A lot has been made of our 'bad' defending in our opening games.

What about the opposition – don't they get any credit?
Iain (47) mentions 11 goals conceded, yes we have but we have played 2 of the best and in-form teams in the Premier League, and Leicester who aren't doing too bad either... and Iain's counting 1 against Wolfsburg.

It's far easier to defend against poorer/inferior teams than top teams whose players are on fire.

Chelsea: 4 wins from 4 played; Arsenal who haven't lost yet, beat Villa today 3-0; even we didn't concede against WBA!

The best teams' midfielders and forwards are paid small (and not-so-small) fortunes because they have the ability to create goals for others or score goals themselves out of practically any situation.

Coming up shortly, we go to Anfield and then to a much revamped side in Man Utd who looked a serious side in their last game. So be prepared not to be too hard on the defence chaps if things don't go our way.

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