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.
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.
Reader Comments (53)
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1 Posted 19/09/2014 at 02:29:11
2 Posted 19/09/2014 at 03:53:13
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.
3 Posted 19/09/2014 at 04:19:32
4 Posted 19/09/2014 at 04:49:15
5 Posted 19/09/2014 at 10:28:49
Still, it's nice to win our first game back in Europe.
6 Posted 19/09/2014 at 10:45:59
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.
7 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:01:24
8 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:27:30
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.
9 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:56:49
10 Posted 19/09/2014 at 11:55:02
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.
11 Posted 19/09/2014 at 12:12:37
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.
12 Posted 19/09/2014 at 12:33:11
13 Posted 19/09/2014 at 13:45:25
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 Â— Seamus at full pelt down his own flank towards the Gwladys Street. You have to play with the opponent's mind.
14 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:04:30
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.
16 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:36:52
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??
17 Posted 19/09/2014 at 14:53:10
If we could employ that tactic against Liverpool, we would get success against a very poorly organised back line.
18 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:23:05
"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.
19 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:37:36
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.
20 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:35:29
A great result and some great attacking play but we must sort out the midfield.
21 Posted 19/09/2014 at 15:46:50
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.
22 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:07:11
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.
23 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:13:00
24 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:30:03
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.
25 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:36:35
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.
26 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:15:54
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.
27 Posted 19/09/2014 at 16:53:38
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.
28 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:00:05
29 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:10:15
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'.
31 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:22:24
32 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:30:11
33 Posted 19/09/2014 at 17:58:00
34 Posted 19/09/2014 at 18:45:36
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?
35 Posted 19/09/2014 at 19:07:30
36 Posted 19/09/2014 at 19:20:14
37 Posted 19/09/2014 at 20:20:03
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.
38 Posted 19/09/2014 at 20:49:05
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.
39 Posted 19/09/2014 at 21:26:37
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.
40 Posted 19/09/2014 at 21:28:37
41 Posted 19/09/2014 at 22:36:20
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.
42 Posted 19/09/2014 at 23:59:00
43 Posted 20/09/2014 at 00:12:49
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.
44 Posted 20/09/2014 at 07:49:24
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.
45 Posted 20/09/2014 at 08:37:40
Secondly that we pass the ball around at the back too much and arenÂt direct or get the ball forward enough Â– 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.
IÂm 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. LetÂs enjoy the win for once. Two more then going to Mordor... letÂs encourage the team and not look for all the negatives. COYB
46 Posted 20/09/2014 at 10:24:13
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.
47 Posted 20/09/2014 at 11:15:55
48 Posted 20/09/2014 at 11:39:07
Exactly as I saw it.
49 Posted 20/09/2014 at 12:28:29
50 Posted 20/09/2014 at 15:13:03
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.
51 Posted 20/09/2014 at 17:31:45
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" Â— that is like saying, "I want you to look at it as I did, not as you did" Â— 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 Â– 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' Â— 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.
52 Posted 20/09/2014 at 18:10:36
One thing that we can all agree on? RS defence looks abysmal. Don't trust West Ham not to blow it though.
53 Posted 20/09/2014 at 18:29:09
What about the opposition Â– 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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