Everton 3 - 1 QPR

A Monday night trip out in the rain to Goodison saw us not quite in serious Christmas cheer territory as many wondered if QPR could break their dismal away record of no points so far against a Blues side who have not been at their best for some time and who have gained only two wins at home so far this season.. which isn’t going down well with those from the grassy knoll. The walk up was wet but as the temple that is Goodison hove into view bathed in white light the nerves and goose bumps took over.

The team, as announced by our resident microphone, man saw Naismith welcomed back with feeling by a less-than capacity crowd. With the standard of opposition on a wet Monday night and with Christmas almost upon us it was, I suppose, only to be expected.

Off we went and for the first fifteen minutes I have nothing to tell you as we played it about to no particular pattern and got nowhere and QPR didn’t seem to bother either. Then on 17 minutes we had a shot, straight at the keeper but nonethe less a shot. I can be precise about the time because it was so welcome and as it hit the keepers glove I looked immediately at the clock on our revamped big screen. Such excitement couldn’t last and didn’t and the locals were rather upset at the method of play that seemed designed to get us nowhere and were showing some loud dissatisfaction.

On we trundled toward the half-hour mark with the only move of note was when Barkley played Naismith in down the left with an astute pass. The newly fit Scot put in a cross that the darting Lukaku just failed to make up the necessary ground for and the ball flashed across goal and the chance was gone. On the half hour with the travelling fans singing Are we playing in a library', Barkley got on the ball near half way and ran on goal and from some 25 yards hit a left footer that left the keeper flailing and the top corner of the net seriously troubled. Such was the magnitude of run and shot the crowd reaction was more of a very loud gasp than full blown cheering but the joy was there for all to see and hear.

Now it was time for many to wonder and discuss whether this was another lead that might be lost, such is the feeling amongst the faithful considering our results so far. More pedestrian play took place with only Besic, Naismith and Barkley looking to quicken the pace and move in a forward direction; this passing back and across without actually playing out was testing many a fan's patience and when we gained a free kick near half way and played it back to the keeper via two other touches almost lit the blue touch paper. The players stuck to their game plan no matter the crowd reaction and were rewarded just before the break when we gained a free kick for a foul on the busy Naismith. Mirallas took and hit it well and via a very big deflection the ball entered the net to be greeted by a roar of relief and a rendition for the only time in the game of ‘Allez – Allez Oh’. That goal did liven us a little, I thought, and almost on the whistle McGeady flashed an attempted curler wide and not by much.

H/T 2-0

The half time chat was short. 2-0 up against a very poor looking side without playing very well ourselves. We werw then entertained by the ‘Blue Nose Brass Band’, a nine piece outfit accompanying two young ladies who were singing ‘All Together Now’ whilst a whole host of young blue noses performed a sort of keep-fit exercise dance routine. Their team work was better than our first half show and they got a good ovation. It was all part of ‘Blue Crimbo Day’ and even Dixie was suitably dressed for the occasion.

Second half started without a lot of spark with both teams cancelling one another out until from a defensive situation Mirallas was set free and raced away into the QPR box only to have a coming together with ex-Blue Richard Dunne and go down. It looked too soft to ever be given as a pen so the ref took no action.

Everton continued with this slow build up play until some vocal unrest from the crowd had them quickening the pace and on 50 odd minutes Lukaku hurried Green into a very poor clearance which was seized upon by Mirallas. Although the crowd urged him to shoot with the keeper still away from his post he instead linked with McGeady who raced to the by-line and crossed invitingly and the ever willing, ever running Naismith headed goal ward. In a desperate attempt to clear the ball from my seat it looked like a QPR head that got the final touch; no matter who it was, it was 3-0 and surely game over.

Well it seemed like the players thought it was over as they got sloppy and looked to be letting QPR back into the game, the fans wanted another goal not some, at times, kamikaze passing at the back.

The visitors gave us some scares as a shot went over when well-placed and some good runs out wide that could have brought a goal for them with better and cooler finishing. Besic was having his best game so far and put in a lot of running, closing down and ferocious tackles one of which brought him acclaim when he powered into a tackle and took man and ball and all perfectly legal, If there is one thing the Goodison crowd likes it is an all-out trier.

We were now intent on playing the game out and each pass back to either keeper or centre back or full back was greeted most unfavourably and around my seat at least some very derogatory comments. On 73 minutes the manager swopped McGeady for Pienaar and I have to say the South African did not have one of his better outings. Then just four minutes later Eto’o was introduced for Lukaku who had a quiet game, not a lot of service, yes, but not a lot of power and punch either.

While Eto’o was settling in and with just ten to go we went and shipped another goal at home when Mutch fired one in that Howard could only parry and Zamora tapped home for his first goal of the season. Then that man Mutch ruined Mirallas’s night when a crude tackle left the Belgian to be stretchered off with an ankle injury, not another one out for weeks—let’s hope not.

As he went off Kone came on as the board said 4mins added. I have to say I enjoyed those four minutes more than the rest of the game. Kone and Eto’o struck up a good relationship and looked like a combination that could do damage for us. Both looked experienced and knew exactly what to do as they linked and first Eto’o took a pass and side-footed past the keeper but hit the base of the post and then from a Barkley cross Kone did what Lukaku doesn’t do and got across to the near post and just missed the connection. On the whistle I thought ‘Don’t write Kone off yet’

M.o.t.M – Take your pick between Besic, Barkley or Naismith.

Overall not the best of displays to watch and I heard many a comment about how our style of play is boring and that is after a 3-1 win. I must admit I am a big fan of playing out from the back but what I see from us is messing about at the back until it becomes inevitable the keeper has to kick long and possession is lost. There is a big difference between the two.

Still Southampton next and a 3-00pm KO. We could do with a win there and go into Boxing Day tails up and playing flowing footy.

Have a great Christmas and may you get all you have wished for. All the Best.

UP THE BLUES

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Eric Myles
1 Posted 16/12/2014 at 05:36:51
What struck me was how well their defenders played the ball out of the back when under pressure whereas ours either lost it, or passed back to Howard to start the game of piggy in the middle once again.

They must be under orders not to play it forward long as sometimes that seemed to be the better option.

Christopher Timmins
2 Posted 16/12/2014 at 06:58:17
Patchy, as described elsewhere, just about sums it up. A mile away from where the team was this time last year!
Mike Oates
3 Posted 16/12/2014 at 07:33:36
Part of the problem is that our longer range passing from particularly Distin and Jags is so bad, so if tippy tappy doesn't get us anywhere the long punt loses us the ball.
Steve O'Malley
4 Posted 16/12/2014 at 08:51:05
I'd like to know why Lukaku seems completely unable to head a ball. Ferguson must be looking on in disbelief. I'm almost certain that he did not win one header during that complete game and he was involved in quite a few challenges.

How on earth he wasn't replaced around the 60 minute mark is a mystery that only the manager can answer. I can only assume it would be because it would not do his confidence any good but whilst he knows where the goal is the rest of his contribution does not amount to too much.

In yet another forgettable performance, there was some good news in the performance of Besic. Apart from a couple of misplaced passes he was far and away the stand out performer.

Naismith's energy is also a welcome return as is his eye for goal.

Iain Love
5 Posted 16/12/2014 at 08:54:14
We need some Stones at the back.
Col Wills
6 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:14:50
Great to see John Stones back on the teamsheet and Kone could come in useful over these coming months. The display got better as the game wore on. I thought it was a point in case that we got the freekick from a more direct ball chased down by Naismith. (What a reception for the lad!)

IĂ‚’ve got to say, the service to Lukaku was abysmal, he must look at Jags and Distin knocking it about at the back and think, "Just get it up here to me so I can have a shot!"

Derek Thomas
7 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:56:07
Nice one again Ken. I agree with you about triers, we love them and it goes a long way with us a bit of attitude and if it's got some skill we love it even more. We can forgive up to a point not being good enough or in poor form.

If we were down to 12 fit men and there were 2 places left to fill, between Bernie Wright, Straq and Big Vic, I know who would be on the bench.

Lukaku; with all due respect to him, he isn't being used as he should, but with Royle, Sharp and Ferguson involved in the Club he must be able to pick up a few hints... can't or won't??

It's hard for those outside to say if the Coach has lost the dressing room and I'm not saying he has. But He will be soon know if he loses the crowd.

I know they say you shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke. It will soon be fuck this for a game of soldiers, this is not what we signed up for.

It may be that Roberto will and should be given a full 3 season, but at the end of year 2 we should be able to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

Warsaw or Wembley would be an ideal place to pull the rabbit out of the hat, if not well the clock is ticking.

Kenny Pratt
8 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:18:43
Pleased to see Kone back on the pitch, but he annoyed me as he should have scored two goals. Caught on his heels twice when he could have had a tap in. Once from EtoĂ‚’o hitting the post and the other from Barkley squaring across goal. Just call it rustiness I guess.

MotM and new favourite player is Besic. First player to bring some genuine nastiness to the side for quite some time.

James Joseph
9 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:22:10
Another fine report, Ken. The paragraph just below your MotM selection sums up the current dilemma about our playing style – letĂ‚’s hope Stones can make a difference.

Barkley MotM for me but Besic was superb, gave all he had, great energy, great tackles, especially a couple on Barton, and used the ball well and, when possible, positively. Lucky not be booked though for a needless foul on the edge of their box in the last minute – cut that out and he can be great. Naismith not far behind those two; for me, whatever he lacks in skill he makes up for with his energy and intelligence.

Peter Creer
10 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:35:44
We lose by 1 on a dodgy penalty against City and we moan... we win and score 3 against QPR and we moan..... I watched the game and saw us scoring goals when we did go forward. It was a tough night for football in the rain and I thought that, excluding the goal by Zamora, Howard had nothing to do. Granted it is QPR but it is often the lower teams that we have difficulty putting away.

I will agree that we need to move the ball out from the back faster and John Stones (when he shortly returns) does that quite well.

Let's give the team a present and support them. At no point in the game last night did I hear the roar of the Old Lady. I was shouting from Canada but you probably couldn't hear me!

COYB

Paul Holden
11 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:55:42
We need to start ramping up the noise at home – it was like Highbury the Library before first goal went in!
Jon Withey
12 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:20:31
Great report, thanks Ken.

I share your views on the passing game - I like to see the team keep it on the ground but the defence seem to have missed the point which is surely to move it through midfield - not keep it until you are in trouble.

Ajay Gopal
13 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:03:52
I didn't see the match on TV or the highlights, so I am going by the various match reports. Okay, I get that it was not a vintage performance, but I am flabbergasted by the negativity in almost all the threads. It is almost like we lost 1-3 to QPR rather than the other way round. I shudder to think what the reaction would have been had we actually failed to win this one.

Sure, the team is not playing anywhere near what they are capable of, but we got to be patient – plus there have been mitigating circumstances – injuries, players under performing, extra games due to Europa,etc.

I for one will try to enjoy the season as it unfolds – there will be ups and downs, but I believe in this manager and this team of players. A lot to play for still!

Amit Vithlani
14 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:31:48
Away your positive disposition is admirable but a lot of people are calling it as they see it. And yes had we lost things would be worse as we would have been in serious trouble.

For 30 mins I wanted to gouge my eyes out at the complete lack of intensity and tempo. It took a moment of individual skill to put us in front and that seems to be what we need to get going. This is not a team but a collection of individuals at the moment.

Martyn Williams
15 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:47:53
Thanks Steve #4 for finally commenting on this. Lukaku seems unable (or unwilling) to gauge the trajectory of the ball from goal kicks. He consistently positions himself under the ball and wins virtually nothing in the air. As a target man, it is one of his jobs to get his head to those goal kicks and flick/play it on. He will head the ball in the 6-yard box when there is a chance of a goal, so he does know how.

The other thing which annoys me is his body language. I would not enjoy playing with him because he constantly blames others when things don't go his way: his arms go up in frustration and he berates teammates. Then he sulks and trudges slowly back into the game. If he is as driven to be the best as the media would have us believe, then he could start with these two aspects of his game.

Tom P Owen
16 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:38:27
A much needed win. We really need to push on now. We're 10 points behind Man Utd, and 7 behind West Ham. We can't afford to drop points over the festive period.

Barkley and Besic were great in central midfield together, and Naismith was very influential. Playing Barkley deeper, especially in home games, is something we should do more often.

Still, issues remain over the back-line. Especially the quartet of Howard, Jagielka and Distin. There seems a mistake in them each game, which lately has been leading to a goal. Not good enough.

One noticeable stat I read after the Spurs game was; 38% of Everton's goals conceded in the PL already have came from an individual error. Only 15% came from individual errors in 13/14 season. And further to that, Everton lead the way with 8 individual mistakes leading directly to a goal. We had only 6 in 38 games last season. A huge difference.

The sooner we can get Stones fit, the better for me.

Seamus and Leighton haven't been hitting the heights of last season either. I think a large part is down to the fact that teams have sussed them out, and double up on them both to stop the threat.

And Lukaku appears to be getting a lot of stick. The way I see it is, give him chances and he'll score. He's getting very little service. He has to come deep to get the ball, and what can a striker do with his back turned to goal? We need to start playing more towards Lukaku's strengths. Playing balls in front of him, and getting him in positions were he's running at players.

One positive though was Kone and Eto'o towards the end. They looked really good together. Hopefully Kone can stay fit now and become a real player for us.

I would be very willing to give Garbutt a go, maybe in a left attacking midfield role. He would really supply Lukaku.

Hopefully now we can build on this and win on Saturday. It's been a disappointing season so far, but we've got to start looking forward now. Players are coming back from injury, and are finding form. We have a decent run of games before the EL kicks in again, and we really want to find ourselves in that race for 4th come February.

We, the fans, really need to find our voice. Goodison sounded like a county cricket match last night, and has done for far too long. The boo-ing was ridiculous and embarrassing from those fans who thought necessary. It will not help the players one bit. I think it's a real big issue which fan groups and local media outlets should discuss openly.

But onto Saturday. Southampton are there for the taking. Need to get at them early. COYB.

Kevin Gillen
17 Posted 16/12/2014 at 13:17:21
I enjoy your reports Ken, spot on about Besic, Barkley and Naismith and about Kone. I think youĂ‚’re wrong though to say QPR are a poor team, they have been improving game by game in the league and they played well again last night without much luck. Their fullbacks were both good as were Barton and Fer.
Mike Childs
18 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:05:15
Thanks, Ken, great report as always. Typically Rom – he always shows up unmotivated against the lower sides. I'd bench him hoping to light a fire under.
Ray Robinson
19 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:46:39
The booing which greeted the free kick outside the QPR box which found its way back to Howard was fully merited. It's inexcusable and boring - as pointless as playing the ball across the backline (inviting danger) only for Howard to then welly it forward.

I'm all for possession football but it has to have a purpose. Only the great Barcelona at their peak, with a unique combination of world class players, managed to perfect the style that we're trying to mimic with far less gifted individuals. Senor Martinez has to realise that we're too slow, deliberate and predictable. We need to "mix it" more!

Trevor Lynes
20 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:37:41
What the fans obviously do not notice is the fact that Dunne is still good in the air and the way to beat him is having him chase back against fast players. He only had to do that once against Mirallas and he almost gave a penalty away.

Lukaku never once got the ball facing goal and it is patently obvious he is not a target man. Kone is a more fully rounded striker and would have messed Dunne about more. I would like to see Kone up front with Lukaku in the absence of Mirallas if he injury costs him a few games. Kone could be the perfect foil for Lukaku as he can pick a pass and is clever in his movement off the ball. He could well create the space for Barkley, Naismith and Lukaku.

James Joseph
21 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:58:11
Kevin (17) I thought Fer was their best player last night and was surprised when 'Arry took him off – perhaps that gammy knee was playing up again!
Tony Doran
22 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:02:47
Barkley was good last night against a team with no forwards. If he keeps playing this deeper role and loses the ball on the edge of our box which results in a goal, all these so-called experts will be slagging him to hell.

Glad to see Besic getting some praise; unlike some on here, I always thought he was a great purchase.

Baines is suffering as a result of Pienaar not playing, unfortunately Pienaar doesn't have long left me thinks. We need to find a player capable of bringing the best out of Baines. Maybe Oviedo can be the man.

I would start Kone next game, hopefully it will give Lukaku a kick up the arse.

Also, Mirallas needs giving the ball a lot more, he works so hard defending and is our best attacking option but needs someone who can supply him. How hard can it be to knock a ball 10 yards along the deck?

Phil Walling
23 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:23:53
Goodison like a library ? Well, I've seen more exciting stuff on the shelves of the old library on Everton Brow than the fare on view last night !

I don't believe Roberto peddles his effusive remarks to the players - I'm sure they would laugh at him - but I do wish he would give us mere speccies a little credit for recognising crap when we are subjected to it.

I'm quite sure a continuance of this level of performance will see little improvement in our league position although it will do nothing to make the manager's own position any less tenable. He's here for the long haul so, perhaps, we should all get used to mediocrity and learn to cope with it.

Harold Matthews
25 Posted 17/12/2014 at 00:48:33
Until Eto'o and Kone came on we had energy and talent but no brains. It stood out a mile all night and I'm quite sure a match-fit Barry will make all the difference. By his own admission, it takes him a run of games to reach his peak and he should be back to his best before the end of the month.

In his particular DM position there is no substitute for experience as Michael Carrick is presently demonstrating at United.

David Ellis
26 Posted 17/12/2014 at 02:04:32
Tom Owen #16 - I think you are over estimating the "quartet" of Howard, Distin and Jagiellka. Talented as they are (or at time inept as they are) I think the most they could be described as is a "trio".

More generally whilst I agree with a lot of the sentiment on here about the mucking about at the back (and the stats Tom gives about goals this has cost us are indeed shocking but also re-assuring as it should be something easy to fix) I do not think you need to be Barca or Spain to play this style well - many lesser teams play like this with some success. I think our core problem is that Distin and Jags are not comfortable enough on the ball, they have done better than I expected in this new style but they are not made for it. Distin will presumably be done at the end of the season and will be replaced by Stones (if not before). Jags has many years left in him and although I think he is a great defender and seems a top lad (and I am proud that he plays for England) I just am unconvinced by his suitability for this role in the style we play. Maybe with Stones alongside him for both club and country they will cover up for each others weaknesses and become a legendary pairing???

The other thing that would help is to have a player like Barkley replace Barry in longer term in the central midfield holding role. This would allow us to move the ball quicker. I don't think he's ready for that yet but I hope this is the way forward.

Eric Myles
27 Posted 17/12/2014 at 05:35:55
Ajay #13, there may well be ups and downs in the course of the season but with 16 games gone already there's not even sight of a slight incline yet.
Jim Lloyd
28 Posted 17/12/2014 at 10:48:54
Good report Ken.
Kevin Gillen
29 Posted 17/12/2014 at 12:28:12
One other point I would like to make concerns Pienaar. I don't think we should be writing him off yet. He looks unfit to me so he needs time and he has been excellent in the past. He was our best player on the opening day of the season and he is our cleverest player alongside Eto in the final third so we're going to need him at home later in the season when teams come to park the bus. James (at 21) -hard to believe we didn't recruit Fer, not convinced by the dodgy knee explanation.
Craig Walker
30 Posted 17/12/2014 at 12:58:19
Pienaar is past it. Too often for me, he gets the ball in promising situations and puts his foot on the ball, slows up play and the defenders all get back. What attributes does he bring to the team these days? He isn't strong enough to hold off players. He can't shoot. He doesn't get enough goals. He rarely beats players. He's been a good player for Everton but is isn't anymore in my opinion.
Kieran Morgan
31 Posted 17/12/2014 at 13:19:07
I would rather win and play badly than draw/lose and play well like we were start of the season. Everton canĂ‚’t do right from wrong with some fans, weĂ‚’ve been mid-table this time of the season under Moyes and yet somehow we climb places by the end of the year.

ItĂ‚’s a strange season this season and the next 4 games are all winnable. if we do win these 4, weĂ‚’ll be competing for Champions League for the rest of the season as well as having our run in the Europa League (which could well go all the way). Yes, the games coming up are close together but the one thing we have which the teams we are facing donĂ‚’t is squad depth, as proven with our youngsters, and 4 top quality strikers (to be fair, Kone has had 2 good outings).

Heads up, still less dire than the shite despite having no American investors.

Dave Pritchard
32 Posted 17/12/2014 at 14:07:31
Southampton have lost 5 on the trot. Who do they play next? Soldado (or a long list of other options) factor comes to mind. Just for once let this not happen.
Eric Myles
33 Posted 17/12/2014 at 14:30:46
Craig, I wouldn't say Pienaar slows down play to allow the opposition defenders to get back, it's our back 4 that do that with their games of piggy in the middle outside our box that allow that to happen.
Allan Board
34 Posted 17/12/2014 at 15:09:53
Could we have Besic and McCarthy playing together please? Bit early to predict,but the nearest to Reid and Bracewell ive seen. All action,hate losing,good passers and would kick there granny if it meant they win! Our teams have been too nice in the middle of the pitch since looney Gravesen and Carsley.
And Besic doesn't get booked anymore than Barry does!

Lets get back to the oppositions midfielders looking over there shoulders expecting a rattling! I also think Stones has got a bit of the devil in him too. Nais,Coleman and Oviedo are up for it as well. Fuck it,teams do it to us and until you stand up to it ,it will continue.

Mike Childs
35 Posted 17/12/2014 at 23:10:50
But Harold, Carrick is mostly playing in a back three not DM. They wish they could play him in midfield but they're so weak at the back they have pushed Carrick back there. I Believe we should push Barry to the back line as well.

Totally agree though that Carrick and Mr. David De Gea are the main reasons they have won 6 on the trot. More so than their 250k plus per week players.

Raymond Fox
36 Posted 18/12/2014 at 17:22:20
Your usual accurate and entertaining report, Ken. We won 3-1 and boy was it needed to calm the anxiety of all our supporters. They scored 3 goals, so they must be doing something right, IĂ‚’ll take the fortunate deflections all day long.

I donĂ‚’t think we should forget though, that were bobbing along nicely in the Europa and stand a very good chance of progressing past our next opponents. The next Euro games in February so we can now totally focus on climbing up the Prem for a few weeks!

For us to be a serious top 4 side, the board will need to dip into their pockets and come up with some serious money, because to repeat myself again, were short on the quality at the back and in midfield. Then we will stand more chance of playing the attractive football most are calling for.

Trouble is, the class of players we need, donĂ‚’t grow on trees and wonĂ‚’t come cheap.

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