Everton 3 - 1 Queens Park Rangers

If there were any suggestions that the level of expectation at Goodison Park has diminished since the frustration of the home game with Hull earlier this month, the smattering of boos that rang out with a couple of minutes to go of Everton's meeting with Queens Park Rangers served notice that for many they haven't.

The scoreline read 3-1 to the home team who were heading to their first Premier League victory since 22nd November. Nevertheless, one more backpass to Tim Howard was too much for a section of the faithful who had clearly been anticipating a demolition of Harry Redknapp's relegation-threatened side but had been put on edge by Bobby Zamora's 80th-minute consolation that opened the door, however narrowly, to a potential late scramble to preserve the points.

Though somewhat laughable given the imminence of three vital points, the reaction was another illustration of the raised expectations at Everton these days. A performance that had been elevated from its torpor over the first half hour by a slice of magic by Ross Barkley and then bolstered by a deflected Kevin Mirallas free kick and an inadvertant touch by Nedum Onuoha that will likely deprive Steven Naismith of a goalscoring return to the team had largely petered out just when a satisfying rout seemed on the cards.

It is true that long periods of this game were tedious to watch, weighed down by the pedestrian build-up play that has plagued the Blues in recent weeks as they have struggled to carry their impressive Europa League form over into the domestic arena. Though it doesn't explain a similarly unimaginative display at the Etihad Stadium last time out, the combination of a high-pressing game and compact shape that visiting teams are deploying at Goodison Park these days has clearly thrown a wrench in the wheels of the Roberto Martinez bandwagon and necessitated a good deal more patience than many are prepared to stomach.

Thankfully, Everton found a way to overcome QPR's efforts at containment, thanks in part to some favour from Lady Luck in the form of three deflections but also to the running of Steven Naismith, a bullish performance from Ross Barkley in a deeper-lying central midfield role and the tigerish, never-say-die attitude of Muhamed Besic who harried, nipped at and slid through everything that moved in a red jersey... and occasionally one wearing his own Blue as well. The Bosnian stamped his authority on this match with a dominant presence in the holding role and while he was occasionally hit-and-miss, he made sure that the hits were dealt cleanly on visiting players and his misses weren't damaging in terms of the odd stray pass.

Naismith's intelligent movement and incessant buzzing around opposition defences has been sorely missed over the past three weeks or so and his return made an expected difference to Everton's forward play. Playing off Romelu Lukaku in between Kevin Mirallas on the left flank and Aiden McGeady on the right, he provided balance to Martinez's attack and almost laid on the opening goal for the Belgian striker in what was really the only incident of note during a tentative and untidy first quarter of the contest.

A Barkley step-over and pass to Naismith that ended with a low shot at Robert Green, a blocked effort by the Scot after 26 minutes that seemed goalbound until it hit Richard Dunne and Mirallas' fizzing shot a foot over the bar offered signs that the Blues were starting to warm to the task despite the uneasiness that permeated a deathly-quiet Goodison crowd.

Enter Barkley, who started a move just inside his own half with a lovely turn past his man, played a one-two with Lukaku and then powered forward before lashing a shot into the top corner of the goal from 25 yards via a faint but, perhaps, crucial nick off Maurico Isla. From the deft shimmy, the visionary exchange of passes, the purposeful drive through the middle and the emphatic finish, it was Ross Barkley encapsulated.

1-0 became 2-0 shortly before the break when Joey Barton blotted what was an otherwise tepid display from a frequently hot-headed competitor by putting an elbow to Naismith's head, drawing a free kick that Mirallas and Leighton Baines conferred over. The Belgian whipped a right-footer aimed at one side of the goal but which ended up in the other with Green wrong-footed by a heavy deflection off Vargas on the end of the defensive wall.

Throughout the match, pace and direct running would provide the best moments for the Blues and two instances from Mirallas might have padded the score either side of half time. The erratic McGeady then almost put the cherry on the first half with a curling effort after being played in at the end of the Belgian forward's excellent run but it missed the far post by less than a foot. Then Mirallas chose to go it alone with a seemingly endless run that was terminated by a judicious lean by Dunne that, with the Everton man in full flight was almost always going to result in him going down. After a weekend of scrutinty of diving incidents, it was never going to result in a penalty and referee Neil Swarbrick surprised no one by turning away unmoved.

The third goal did come six minutes later, though, after McGeady got his quick feet sorted out to deceive his marker and clip an inviting cross to the back post for Naismith who nodded it back looking to find the far corner of the QPR goal. Green looked to have made a great one-handed save but the ball hit Onuoha and went in. One for the Dubious Goals Panel to ponder but an important goal that padded the Blues' lead and provided the platform for a goalfest that many in the crowd were craving.

It never came. Instead, Rangers enjoyed their best spell of the match and a crowd begging to be entertained were constantly let down by the ball regularly going backwards rather than forwards. Hoillett dragged a shot wide and Jordan Mutch side-footed over with a clear sight of goal from 18 yards but Howard was mostly untroubled in the Toffees' goal.

Meanwhile, McGeady was withdrawn for Steven Pienaar and Lukaku, who had spent most of the evening starved of any meaningful service and losing aerial battles with defenders more accomplished at heading than he, would soon follow as Samuel Eto'o came on with 13 minutes to go. QPR scored, though, before either player could really settle, although it came from an infuriating refereeing decision that underscored the poverty of the standard of officiating these days. Swarbrick appeared to give Everton the advantage at one end as Barkley was hacked down for the umpteenth time but then whistled immediately for an offside on Eto'o rather than bring the play back to give the home team a free kick. QPR played on with an incisive passing move that eventually ended with Mutch forcing a one-handed save from Howard that fell to the feet of Zamora who couldn't miss.

The goal ushered in an uncessarily nervy last 10 minutes, although it was the Blues who came closest to adding to the scoreline. Coleman hammerd a first-time shot that Green parried away and, after Mirallas had been stretchered off in agony following a bad challenge by Mutch, Eto'o rolled a shot off the post and Barkley almost played substitute Arouna Kone in for his first goal but it was just too far in front of him to make contact.

Three vital points, then, at an equally important juncture of the season, with Everton in danger of losing more ground on the pack of clubs jostling for the European places. Whether the victory and the margin of it is enough to inject some confidence, urgency and tempo into Martinez's side will be revealed at the St Mary's at the weekend when the Blues take on a Southampton side whose brilliant early season form has unravelled in the face of four consecutive defeats.

Martinez refused to acknowledge the frustration in the crowd during the first half hour an audible expression of dissatisfaction from paying customers that is simultaneously counter-productive when quizzed about it after the match but there is an unmistakable pressure to entertain and win against the so-called lesser sides in the division. While Everton are readjusting to the counter-measures being employed by visiting managers to the expansive style that won the Blues so many admirers last season, it may be that victories away from home will be the quicker route to a less demanding atmosphere on home soil.

Mirallas will likely be an early doubt for the weekend, but with Naismith back and the possibility of John Stones and James McCarthy to follow, things feel like they're getting back to normal in the side and, hopefully, the results will start to come as a result. A run of wins between now and New Year's Day could vault us back into top-six contention and put a very different spin on what has been a stop-start Premier League campaign.

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Reader Comments (116)

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Bob Parrington
1 Posted 16/12/2014 at 08:16:46
I question why Roberto took so long to make a substitution, particularly for Lukaku, who was quite ineffective. It didn’t seem to make sense. Eto’o gives something to the team but I would have liked to see Kone brought on after 55 minutes.

Besic will become a fan favourite. MotM (IMO) for me was between Barkley and Besic for different reasons. I thought also that Jags had a steady game. Seamus seems off his game. I wonder if McGeady actually gets in his space going forward.

We don’t see much of the Baines magic down the left now that Pienaar is not starting and too many of Baines’s crosses are hitting the nearest opponent.

What’s creating the lethargy in the team? Is there something we’re not being told?

Paul Andrews
2 Posted 16/12/2014 at 08:44:27
Lukaku wasn’t at the races last night, Bob.
In my opinion, if Kone had not had as much game time on Thursday, and after his injury, he would have been on with half-an-hour to play.

Lukaku needs more aggression to his game, too nice at times. His goal scoring record is very good, if he gets a nasty streak it will be even better.

Peter Laing
3 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:07:00
The frustration was epitomised when Everton had a free kick 40 yards out and it ended up back at Tim Howard’s feet.
Sam Hoare
4 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:06:04
Besic and Barkley definitely the highlights last night.

Lukaku seemed strangely unbothered. The chance where Naismith was set free down the left comes to mind. Lukaku is goalside of his man and the ball comes across, if he gets there it an almost certain goal and you would expect him to strain every sinew but instead it looks like he’s giving it about 80% effort and misses out by a foot or so. I thought he would be very up for it last night as a rested striker at home against the worst defense in the league.

Generally speaking, we still seemed incredibly lethargic, I thought, with a lack of urgency and concentration. We look no better than your average mid-table team at the moment when one feels that our players individually should comprise a team able to challenge top 4. Something smells a little off...

Ian Burns
5 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:05:00
That was a largely poor and lethargic performance last night; for large passages of play, QPR out-passed us and in one 10 minute spell had 86% possession. Thank goodness for Besic and to a slightly lesser degree Ross and Nessie.

There is something wrong at Finch Farm or is the EL proving just too much for us in respect of too many games for this relatively small squad?

Dave Pritchard
6 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:11:35
Peter at 3, that moment also stood out for me.

It was good to get the 3 points and hopefully it gives us confidence to go on a run. However the concession of the goal and the edginess that followed did not give me confidence that we will.

Besic did have a good game in terms of his energy and desire. He does seem to always pass backwards though. Not unique within the team in doing that.

Good to see Naismith back. If only every player showed his desire to get forward as much.

Milos Milenkovic
7 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:25:11
Ian, none of them played for 9 days, so EL has nothing to do with last night’s performance. Maybe I am in minority, but actually I don’t think we have small squad. Last night we had pretty strong bench and still missing Oviedo, McCarthy, Gibson, Barry, Osman, Atsu and you can add some very good young players.
Ian Burns
8 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:43:34
Milos – you make a good point thinking about your post – so why are we so lethargic and why are we playing without urgency?
Christine Foster
9 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:33:19
The limitation of the singular set of tactics, play keep ball, is apparent for all to see. You have to mix tactics to maximize our skills and exploit the opposition. We are a long, long way from that. Clearly the maxim is do not risk a through ball, so no-one takes responsibility. It goes back, we get caught, we lose...

There clearly needs to be a plan B that requires speed and sharpness that’s absent. We are not giving the service upfront with a ball to feet, we are not crossing early, we are not crossing period! Nothing to run on to.

Lastly, Baines and Coleman are not doing the job, poor going forward poor defending, the two best fullbacks in the league are so out of sorts because of how they are being asked to play... It’s no wonder the natives are restless, RM needs to play to our strengths, and not slavishly adhere to tactics when they are not working.

Duncan McDine
10 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:42:14
I cant say I agree with the majority regarding Besic. His work ethic is fantastic, but I actually think his agressive nature (which most see as his strength) as one of his big weaknesses. He just looks like getting sent off at any given moment!!!

Also, as someone else mentioned, the ball comes backwards almost every time he touches the thing!

Sam Hoare
11 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:54:29
Duncan, I wager that last part seems to be coached. McCarthy and Barry do the same thing often hitting first time passes back to the CBs when they could turn and do more with it. Part of the posession mantra I would bet.
Max Wilson
12 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:48:28
Let’s not get deflected from reality! Some lucky goals still went in.

QPR played quite well and prevented our attacking backs from coming forward. Lukaku got rubbish service while he was on and was beaten in the air.

We have a very very talented squad and Besic is now showing us what he has to offer. It is the same grit that we’ve seen from McCarthy and Stones.

Mirallas out for Soton Saturday looks likely which will be a downer. I’m not making excuses for anyone, we’ve been disappointed recently but the reason for that has been tippy tappy tactics and the use of mediocrity when we also possess talent. At Soton we need to be faster on the ball going forward.

Brent Stephens
13 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:55:44
Can’t agree that Besic passes backwards, any more than anybody else under Roberto’s tactics. In fact, I see him trying more to turn and pass forward or turn and surge forward. No yellow for a while either (not that "a while" is that long, though!).
John Keating
14 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:54:48
One plus point from last night was Barkley’s deeper role. Unlike our other midfielders, when he gets the ball he immediately looks up and looks for the forward pass. We had a more balanced team out there.

On the negative most of our problems are self-inflicted with the incessant passing across the back and putting ourselves in difficulty. Distin and Jags go wide to receive the ball from Howard, however, if he gives it to a midfielder who then gets into difficulty, we are really in the shit.

If we are going to play Lukaku we have to play to his strengths and not his weaknesses

Patrick Murphy
15 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:47:18
Christine - I can totally understand what you mean but we have scored exactly the same number of goals this season as we did after the same number of PL matches last season, so it doesn’t seem as if we lack fire-power.

Add in the goals scored in the EL and we have totalled 38 goals in 25 games played. However, we have shipped eight more goals in the PL than we did this time last season and perhaps it is this figure that is the problem and why the team lack confidence or are afraid to take risks. Obviously we are also 10 points down on this time last season so it’s a good job we have scored goals otherwise the wheels could well and truly have come off.

Steve Ferns
16 Posted 16/12/2014 at 09:28:45
I think I’m the only one who fails to see why people rate Besic so highly. I came away from the game moaning to my Dad about how he had yet again put in a poor performance only to be told that he’d been given Man of the Match on City.

Let me explain my problems with Besic, and maybe some of you can consider them before calling me crazy. He’s playing in the Barry role. His job is to hold and 85% of the time he occupied that position and was exactly where he needed to be. For me Barry is there 100% of the time. He rarely drives forward or makes forward runs. Besic does so, and yes, it looks good, it adds to the attack and he is effective in joining attacks (except for his wild shots). However, when the move breaks down we are dangerously exposed at the back. I would prefer he was more disciplined as Barry is (probably also due to Barry’s lower levels of stamina).

Next, Besic slips and slides everywhere. Okay, it looks great on TV, he’s sliding in and showing great effort. But again, he’s lacking discipline, he doesn’t always win the ball, he sometimes gets bypassed, and then the defence is again left exposed. Why does Besic need to charge 20 yards further forward into the attacking midfielders zone (where Naismith was) and make a tackle when there was no immediate danger. Failure to win possession creates an opportunity for the opposition that was not there.

My biggest gripe with Besic is his passing. Besic can be a lovely passer. He hits a great 60-yard ball and can find a team mate’s foot. However, he tries to do so far too often and his success rate is not good enough for him to warrant these passes. On the occasion he is successful, the player then takes time to bring the ball down (he often plays it in the air), then to deal with the opponent who has closed him down and then the ball goes back into defence once more. Typically, Barry will play an easy pass and we’ll knock it around the back ineffectively for a bit, but he’s not giving the ball away as often.

We play a 4-2-3-1. For me, the greatest example of how the "2" should play is an example of RS under Benitez. Mascherano was exceptional in the Barry role, and Alonso is one of the best deep-lying playmakers I have ever seen. Mascherano would win the ball and look for Alonso as often as possible. McCarthy is no Alonso, but whenever he gets the ball, he does not give it away and his quick short passing nearly always finds a teammate, and most importantly, rarely puts his teammate under pressure.

I was very disappointed with the crowd once more. I thought they still fail to grasp the modern game, the way we are being set up to play and seem to have very short memories. We were 3-0 up, were strolling to victory, and knocking it around the back, running down the clock and conserving energy for those 5 games in 2 weeks, seemed to be the smart thing to do. But no, it seemed most of us wanted the team, particularly Big Rom, to run themselves into the ground, and to have less in the tank going into the the vital Christmas period as a result.

We play a different way under Martinez. Surely, no one would prefer Moyes’s hoofball, or Smiths all our defence and hit and hope style, or the dire Dogs of War of Royle (Unsworth continuously hoofing it to Ferguson). The football is a delight to watch now. But the opponents are dealing with us in the same way. They press us high to try to catch our less technical players on the ball and to force a mistake. The gap between the defence and attack is much tighter than under Moyes, Smith or Royle. At times there’s 20 yards from Lukaku to Distin. This is a much tighter area of play than last season, and is due to opponents pressing us and us not getting out of defence quick enough.

When you are getting pressed like that, you need to give yourself time and space, and often the only people you can do that with is the centre-backs. Bear in mind that a quick pass to Jags or Distin is only taking the ball back 10 yards or so, and maybe 20 by the time they’ve played it around a bit, but usually a quick exchange can have the ball back in a more advanced position.

For me, Martinez needs to invest in a keeper to suit this style of play. Howard is not comfortable when the ball comes deep like so and he needs to usually kick it long and so breaks down the move. Someone like Lloris of Spurs, or a young Casillas or a young Shay Given, would be more comfortable with this and could be a vital 11th player to help keep the passing going. Martinez needs to find such a keeper for the long term.

I also think that we need to work more on moving the ball faster. Players take too much touches and the moves get away from them. When we zip it about with quick one touch passes, between key technical players like Barkley, Pienaar (pre-injury), Mirallas (when he doesn’t get his head down), McCarthy, and Lukaku, then we can quickly cut any team in the league wide open. It’s the transitions from Defence to Attack that Mourinho works so hard on. I’ve read about him playing a "counter-counter attacking" system, which seems laughable, but it’s these areas where we struggle. This is where we need to move the ball faster, this is where we lack McCarthy at the moment and where Barkley is so crucial. In the long-term, if he is to play in a deeper role, then getting the ball early in this transition so he can immediately start to drive forward with his head up and looking for passing options, then we will be far more effective.

Lukaku is really struggling this season on service as a result. It’s a testament to his quality that he’s still amassed a half decent haul of goals. It does not suit him and it does not suit our style of play to launch the ball long, like he’s the new Duncan Ferguson. Let’s imagine he did win the ball like Ferguson. How often did Ferguson actually do anything with it. Getting his head on the aimless long ball is one thing, bringing it down is another, dealing with the 4 or 5 players who will then swarm him is beyond even Drogba at his peak. It again comes back to transitions. Get the ball forward quickly, get it to Rom’s feet, he’s got quick feet can pick a pass and it’s him and Barkley linking up that usually results in quick counter attack goals for us.

Basically, the opposition have figured out how to smother our tactics from last season. But we need to have a faster gear to go into, so that maybe, one day, like Barcelona, it does not matter if you know how to stop us, knowing and doing are separate things. Quick, accurate, short passing is always effective by taking many players out of the move instantly (particularly against high pressing sides) and gives you many more opportunities in attack against an exposed opponent.

Mark Pendleton
17 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:15:15
An excellent match report. Lukaku summed up well, he was not only nullified but QPR formation prevented us from playing to his strengths, he has been VERY unfairly criticised by many.

We found a way to get a good win (could’ve easily been more with a bit of fortune – yes, we got a couple of deflections but I still think we were a bit unfortunate). Also, the one goal conceded that blotted the performance (and ruined my Fantasy Team) came from a break after yet another quite frankly laughable piece of officiating! We need confidence and key players returning and these sort of results can only help – the boos will not.

Andrew Ellams
18 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:15:06
Steve, re Besic. To me he is a welcome relief to everything Barry brings to the team. He can do the defensive role well but then is capable of carrying the ball into the opposition half to start an attacking move. I certainly have no issues with him advancing into the opposition half to make tackles, if we win possession there then we are nearer to goal and generally creates more panic in the oppositions back line.

I by no means think he is the finished article, he does need to learn to calm down a bit, but I believe in the long term he will become Martinez best buy.

Mike Allison
19 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:17:19
Lukaku is an absolute spectator. It’s not his fault. He plays centre forward in a team who refuses to attack at times, passing it backwards and sideways slowly, it must be extremely frustrating for him. When we do get in a position to cross it we don’t do it, Mirallas is extremely guilty of this. I’m glad he’s got the attitude he has, otherwise he’d be throwing tantrums left right and centre. We should be playing balls in front of him into channels, but those channels don’t exist, because whenever we get the ball, we take so long to do anything that the opposition has ten men behind the ball. I lost count of the number of times an Everton player tried to beat a man to go backwards last night. Their first touch often takes them backwards as well. Barkley’s goal came from the shocking tactic of trying to turn forwards and passing it forwards. I don’t understand why we don’t try this more often.

Baines and Pienaar have to start playing together again, those saying Pienaar is finished are nuts. He is the only one with the spark of movement and creativity that is needed, and he understands space, how to find it and how to create it for Baines, in a way that Mirallas doesn’t. This is despite how ineffective he was last night. He shouldn’t come on as a substitute, Pienaar doesn’t suit the end of a game when it becomes open and all about running the spaces that appear as it gets stretched, he’s much better off getting involved early on, keeping the pressure on the opposition and demanding full concentration from defenders.

He’s probably injured now, but Mirallas has to play on the right, not the left. He seems to think he can cut in and shoot if he plays left, but that is easy to defend, and it eventually caused his injury, because he doesn’t know what else to do when the defence inevitably closed down his shooting lane. He couldn’t even get past Richard Dunne for pace from the left at one point last night. Martinez seems obsessed with playing players on the wrong side, Atsu hasn’t played on the left at all for us this season. Players who use pace should be on the strong side, players who use trickery and invention can play on the wrong side.

Mike Allison
20 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:30:49
Steve I was so pleased the crowd expressed their frustration. The modern game is not about constantly playing backwards and sideways and allowing the opposition to get back in position to set up defensively. The modern game requires risks to be taken on the ball, especially in the final third, and if the ball is given away, you win it back quickly. You can then be attacking and direct because the opposition are not set up to defend. It’s always been the case that your best chance of scoring is soon after receiving possession. The crowd understand this in a way that you and Martinez don’t seem to. We are the only team in the league who gives the opposition so much time to get back into defence.
Helen Mallon
21 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:48:47
The heading should have read EvertonÂ’s mojo on the up after a very good performance especially from Besic and Barkley.
David Graves
23 Posted 16/12/2014 at 10:50:47
Steve - a well written comment but I will take issue with two things:

Firstly, I was in the crowd last night and I do grasp the modern game, as do most of the people around me. I am happy for us to keep the ball but am frustrated when we pass the ball backwards from advanced positions only to give the ball to Howard who kicks the ball long for the opposition to win it back. That just doesn’t make sense.

Secondly, if you think Besic had a bad game then I think you are mistaken. Your main critique is to compare him to Barry and suggest he should be more "disciplined". Personally I think Barry has fallen considerably short of his early form last season. Besic brought more to the game last night than Barry has all season and I think he is going to be a top, top player.

Mark Frere
24 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:13:44
The most important thing of course was the win and am delighted we got it... but the poor chemistry between the players still continues. We have too many players limited in certain areas of their game: Lukaku is a good finisher and given good service he will be a 30 goal a season striker but we don’t play to his strenths; Lukaku is good at getting on the end of crosses and running onto the ball , but we seem intent on playing the ball into his feet with his back to goal and Lukaku is never comfortable holding up the ball and bringing other players into play - his first touch simply isn’t good enough. To look at him physically, he looks like the perfect strong centre forward who can hold the ball up but in truth, he’s just a gentle lad trapped in a big brutes body.

I admire Naismith’s workrate and intelligence to find space around box but he is such a limited fooballer. Whenever we need him to play that killer pass or even a slightly more difficult pass, he’s incapable of doing so. In short, he’s a very average footballer who makes the best of what little ability he has. It would help his game if he had a centre forward in front of him who could hold the ball up and create chances for him to convert, but neither Lukaku or Naismith have a creative bone in their body and definitely don’t suit each others game.

There’s no player in our team really nitting things together... we have good Full-backs that are in poor form at the moment, good work-horses and holding midfielders like McCarthy, Besic and Barry and good soloists like Mirallas and Barkley. But we don’t have enough creative players in the side... Pienaar and Osman are probably the closest thing we have to that and both are past it and have always, in some cases, been played out of position and both always struggle for consistency.

Declan Martin
25 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:13:36
Good analysis, Steve, and it all comes down to your last paragraph - the opposition have sussed our across-the-back passing build up, and it’s just not working anymore. The full backs can’t get forward and the ball ends up getting lumped upfield, where we inevitably lose possession.

We need to get the full back / wideman combos working – when we had Baines/Pienaar and Coleman/Mirallas cutting teams apart.

Steve Ferns
26 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:06:46
Mike, as you said, it’s about taking risks in the opposition third, but we keep getting clogged up around the half-way line. We need to move the ball more quickly to this area after winning possession so that we can get into the opponent’s final third. If you get clogged up, then a pass backwards is better than an aimless ball over the top.

The problem is we do not move the ball fast enough, our tempo is not quick enough, and some player take too many touches. I do not think you can blame Martinez for players not taking risks as he seems to be supportive of them doing that, such as Besic’s first touch in a blue shirt which led to us conceding a goal.

David, it’s about opinions, so you cannot say I’m mistaken. I certainly hope Besic can be a good player, and he’s got a lot of attributes, stamina, work rate, tackling, touch, passing, among them. I just do not think he has the discipline to play as a holding midfielder in the British game, as he lacks that discipline. He would certainly be good foil for McCarthy in a more traditional 4-4-2 where the shackles would be off somewhat. Or even in the Barkley role last night. For me, his eagerness takes him away from being that shield in front of the back four. A shield that is needed if we allow our fullbacks to get forward (like they did last season, more than this).

For Barry this season, I do not think anyone would disagree that he was far more effective last season. But remember, the opposition are squeezing us far more this season. They know that if they lose the ball, and squeeze us tight immediately, then we struggle to get forward quickly and this reduces our chances to capitalising on the transition.

James Stewart
27 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:09:15
I was in the Park End last night and it was a really strange atmosphere. For the majority of the game, it was negative and frustrated. The amount of times that the ball ended up back at the feet of Howard from our free kicks in their half was ridiculous.

ItÂ’s hard to grasp what our Â’styleÂ’ is this season. I certainly couldnÂ’t see one. Yes, we won but it was a really poor performance from most. Besic was the best on show by a country mile. NaismithÂ’s pressing was something we have missed also but the rest looked clueless most of the time. No movement or running into space at all. Worrying.

Rick Tarleton
28 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:12:29
I’ve been critical of Barkley in the past, or rather I’ve been critical of the way he’s been used, but last night he was special. Playing deeper and looking up and passing with accuracy over 40, 50 yards. The way he drives forward at pace and is able to shoot with either foot reminds me of Bobby Charlton and he wasn’t a bad player!

Really impressed with Besic and thought Naismith was excellent, possibly the Man of the Match. At times Everton were sloppy, but QPR were incapable of taking advantage.

I do agree that our full backs are not the force they were last season and think the explanations offered above about McGeady taking Coleman’s space and that Baines plays better with Pienaar on his flank are credible.

The criticisms of Besic are a little harsh. I do agree he risks being sent off, and that at times his passing can be over ambitious, but he looks capable of running a midfield like McMahon at his best.

Michael Penley
29 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:24:57
While I disapprove of the booing it’s laughable that we are pushing to be "America’s team" with new TV deals over there and Howard doing promotions. One thing our American friends demand is entertainment and we are possibly the least entertaining team in the league at the moment. I wouldn’t blame newcomers for choosing the RS over us because they look like they are trying a lot harder.
Steve Ferns
30 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:18:34
Mark, I agree that fullback has been a big issue this season. Firstly, Baines was going out of form from January ans struggled to get back into form until showing some glimpses recently. I do think that it is any coincidence that this has coincided the injury to Pienaar. Coleman is still trying to get back to full match fitness. Also, McGeady is a major hindrance to Coleman, taking many of his positions wide on the right. Last season all of our width was supplied from fullback. This also suited Mirallas as it allowed him to wander through the middle of the pitch to roam as he chooses. He did this to good effect again last night, but McGeady does not fit this mould. He is more of an out and out winger and so limits Coleman’s effectiveness.

As for creativity, I do think we have enough in the team. This comes from Barkley, Lukaku, McCarthy, Mirallas, Pienaar, Osman and Eto’o. All can pick a pass. Their problem seems to be more with a lack of movement, and we seem to be at our best when someone, like Barkley or Mirallas is running at a defence. If we were to put a player like Banegaor a young Veron or Riquelme into the side, then you’d see them playing in a similar position to McCarthy and playing a lot of sideways balls due to the lack of movement and the lack of mobility of most of these great playmakers. Interestingly, Banega looks to be available in January if Martinez wants to take a chance on the wild one.

David Graves
31 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:28:06
OK, Steve I agree that opinions may differ but I can’t get round the fact that you said Besic had a bad game. To avoid being subjective look at the stats for him last night. You agree he has all the attributes but lacks discipline; but I don’t see that being a major concern.

I sit in the Park End so had a great view of just how influential Besic was on the game and the players around him. Many have highlighted the need for a tough, dominant force in our team and he will be just that.

I do agree with you that Besic + McCarthy + Barkley is the way forward. We can all see that our system of both fullbacks pushing on has been stymied so continuing to play with two defensive midfielders just doesn’t make sense. We need to change it so personally I’d swap out Barry for Besic!

Brent Stephens
32 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:46:36
One of several frustrations for me last night was to see Lukaku in an offside position when we were challenging and winning the ball from the opposition in midfield. Lukaku wasn’t even trying to get back onside which immediately took out the possibility of an early ball into space behind the defence for him to run onto.
James Joseph
33 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:40:23
Rick (28), I thought the same thing about Ross and Bobby Charlton, minus the comb-over of course! Ross was superb in that role and that’s surely where he’ll end up playing most of his career, hopefully with us.

Also thought Besic was superb last night, but then I like a tackler but the modern game doesn’t – he only has to slightly mistime one, or for the ref to be conned by an opponent’s theatrics, to pick up a booking or sending off. If he can calm down slightly he’ll be fine.

Seamus still not himself, sadly, although I agree that McGeady often fills the space that formerly he’d be charging into. The combination play between the two is virtually non-existent.

Tony Cornmell
35 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:45:17
Having read all comments this morning, I think the answer to Lukaku’s problem is simple: play Kone as the target man and Lukaku and Naismith feeding off him.

In the Krasnador game, Kone was really good holding the ball up and I think this is what is missing; of course, this still needs the ball moving quickly to him.

Let’s see what the boss does against Southampton.

Andrew Hawes
37 Posted 16/12/2014 at 13:49:01
If Everton are trying to play in the Barcelona style, then why are they wasting a player in the centre-forward position?? Lakaku simply does not fit into this system.

Xavi, Iniesta, Villa and Messi — not one of them out and out strikers. Players like Barkley, Naismith and Mirallas are who’s suited to this slow build-up / inter-passing style.

ItÂ’s quite simple, we donÂ’t need a target man if the other 10 players in the side donÂ’t recognise him as one!!

Max Wilson
38 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:06:15
Tony, Lukaku and/or Eto’o feeding off him please!
Sam Hoare
39 Posted 16/12/2014 at 11:22:23
Not sure how Besic can be poorly compared to Barry. Barry this season has given the ball away plenty and with goal conceeding consequences a few times. He is not as mobile as Besic and is often run around and also very rarely brings the ball forward taking a man out of the defensive team in doing so. He is still a good player and yes mostly accurate in his passing but Besic offers more dynamism and no less defensive coverage to my eye.

I think Besic and McCarthy together are capable of forming a high energy, dynamic and potentially creative midfield duo as both are capable of getting forward and running past a man. An exciting prospect these two I feel.

Dave Lawley
40 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:09:37
I thought Barkley and Besic were joint MotMs last night. On the one hand, we saw a Barkley that we know can run with the ball and put a player through also tackle, get his positional sense right and spray 40/50-yard balls all over the place; for the first time last night I saw the potential of a complete midfielder, he lacked nothing.

Then you have Besic, who I know can be a bit rash and miss place a pass, but he is everything I like about a CM and he’s getting better all the time, his big tackles, in the modern game do risk getting punished (which is wrong on my opinion) but if you want to get the crowd up in a big game, he’s your boy. To me, he has the energy and ability for Everton to start playing with one central defensive midfielder instead of the two we seem to need at the moment in Barry and McCarthy.

Don’t forget, he’s only played a handful of games, there have been a ton of high profile footballers who showed nothing until their second season in the EPL, others who never adapted full stop.

I liked that he reacted to the (correct) booing and from then demanded the ball and tried to drive and pass forward (I disagree he always goes sideways/back, he does as they all do if there is nothing on however nowhere near as much as Barry and in particular McCarthy).

In these two the future, to me, looks bright with two box-to-box CMs both young, one more forward orientated one more defensive.

Dave Lawley
41 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:36:21
Also, I think Lukaku must be wondering what he’s done, his strength is not ball to feet back to goal, it’s running onto passes, getting on the end of crosses. His finishing in those situations is excellent. If you don’t get the ball you stop making the runs, what’s the point?

Then you get the odd opportunity, out the norm, when the ball does get played to your strengths and you’re not on it! Like the ball played across the goal, or the times he was caught jogging back offside when the ball got played forward quickly, you can’t blame him for this, how many times do you make a run forward to not get the ball and see it go back to Howard before you think ’fuck this’?

The poor kid’s a 㿈 million pound decoy at the mo’. In spite of this, he has 7 goals, well done son.

Kevin Tully
42 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:34:11
I’m beginning to ask myself if Martinez is an ’Everton’ manager? After a lifetime of supporting Everton, I never thought I would see us 3-0 up, and the crowd booing the players (or rather, the style of play).

I fully accept why the fans are restless, and it’s clear that this manager wants his team to keep the ball, no matter what the circumstances are on the pitch.

Everton have always played blood-and-thunder football, mixed with skill and pace. Our most successful side in the eighties played with aggression and a fast-passing style. You only have to look back at our buccaneering centre-forwards over the decades to realise what we were all about. Joe Royle, Bob Latchford, Andy Gray, Duncan Ferguson. Feck me, even Denis Stracqualursi had a bit of a following amongst some Blues, and he was a League 2 player at best.

Martinez is trying to introduce a style that is massively alien to everything we are used to watching for the last 30 or 40 years, and when it’s poorly executed, it’s plain torture for fans that are used to seeing cross after cross into the box. If nothing else, that was an exciting approach, lots of corners, near misses, and the crowd were always up for it.

Personally, I want to give Martinez time, hoping these young players such as Stones, Besic, McCarthy, Barkley, Lukaku etc. can eventually click into place.

It has to happen sooner rather than later though. The crowd are getting more pissed off with every passing game. This team needs to turn on the style, or to win a pot, otherwise, Mr Martinez will be history.

Andrew Ellams
43 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:03:45
Imagine what an attack-minded manager could do with this Everton squad fully fit. But if not Martinez, I’m not sure who that man might be.
Ian Burns
44 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:02:00
Dear Mr Martinez - you are 1½ seasons into the job. We qualified for Europe in Season One and in the first half of this season we have qualified for the knock out stages of the EL and as I write this post we are 7 points off CL places. Last night we were 3-0 up, some of the the fans at the quietest of Goodison Park I can remember were restless and booing. Yet I read in your post match interview "we were devastating".

I hope and pray Mr Martinez you read some of the excellent posts on here and realise for all of the above it is just not Everton as we want to see it – please take note that last night was at times boring; mostly lethargic and devastating we were not except for Ross’s goal.

For goodness sake – more urgency; more movement off the ball; space for the full backs to run into and ban the pass back in training unless absolutely necessary – oh and buy a fecking goalkeeper!

Bill Gall
45 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:43:34
Let’s face it, we have a talented group of players but we are being coached by a stubborn manager who either can not or will not change his tactics to suit the opposition. Most managers coming to Goodison are playing the same tactics of allowing Everton’s back 4 pass the ball between them until they come up to about 10-15 yards from the centre line and then press them quickly.

We complain that Jags and Distin keep loosing the ball under pressure but the blame should shift to the manager as he is the one directing them to keep possession.

No, I was not in favor of him when he was hired; but yes, I was willing to give him a chance and was pleased when he proved himself last season. This season I think he is underestimating other managers who are simply using tactics to counter against what worked against them last season.

I do not like mentioning OFM but I believe it was him when Swansea was riding high he simply pressed them as soon as they got the ball, stopped their passing game, and won; after that, other managers coppied him.

The modern game changes in style, tactics and formations all the time and the modern manager has to be prepared to change with them.

Patrick Murphy
46 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:30:54
Although it is not an Everton thing to do, perhaps just this once, Bill Kenwright as an Evertonian should have a meeting with Roberto and explain to him what makes Evertonians tick. If the growing antipathy towards the current playing style continues it could have a devastating effect upon Season Ticket renewals by the time the Early Bird sales start in February / March.

At a time when the club is trying to woo potential partners for a new stadium, it would be ironic if the very heartbeat of the club ’the fans’ were to show their disdain for the team and its style of football, given the support they have given the board and team over the last couple of decades.

It wasn’t a pleasant experience to be at Goodison last night and as many have said, rarely has a victory at home been greeted in such a muted way. It is the board’s job to appoint the manager and to back him as they see fit... but it would be foolhardy of the board to ignore the reaction of the fans. Of course, the fans have been wrong before, Howard Kendall Mk1 springs to mind, but this time – even to a supporter of Roberto – it feels very different.

Denis Richardson
48 Posted 16/12/2014 at 14:43:36
Yesterday was all about the points and not much else. The final scoreline was probably a bit flattering but the 3 points were vital.

Besic is looking like a real bargain at ٢M and Barkley had a great game playing deeper, the pair were a real handful for QPR and their both 21 or younger!

Having Naismith playing also makes a real difference as the guy just doesnt stop running and isn’t afraid to challenge for any 50/50, having him back is a real boost.

Main negatives were the Baines and Lukaku, neither really did much in the game, although Lukaku got the assist for the first goal. Also I was a bit disappointed with the subs. Thought we’d have seen Kone on for at least the last 15 to 20 mins, would have been interesting to see him play up top with Eto just behind.

Pienaar is really not adding anything these days, he really looks a shadow of the player we knew a year or two ago.

I was also surprised to see two CBs on the bench and no Oviedo, has he picked up another injury?

Jackie Barry
49 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:07:16
Maybe they do both need to meet to discuss the cash that is needed to replace the ageing players we have. 㿈 milion in installments is not going to turn this club into annual top 4 challengers like the fans want. It’s impossible to challenge when we simply don’t have the players we need, but fans always want the impossible.
Allan Board
50 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:50:03
Good win... not a great performance, but 3 vital points! However, is it me, or have our players been sort of brain washed by this "new style?" It’s so lethargic, it’s painful. Perhaps the players, thinking they are doing the right thing by keeping possession, are in fact playing too deliberately/slowly so they don’t fuck up?

Its almost like the urgency has been slowly eroded from them and replaced with a safety first mantra. Let’s hope this is all part of Martinez master plan and once he has the right keeper and CB’s (Stones accepted) the pace/urgency combined with possession (and youth) will come and we will be the real deal. The board HAVE to back him though!

I know it’s frustrating at the minute, but let’s show a little patience and back the team!

Andrew Clare
51 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:11:53
The difference between our play of last season and this is quite marked. Has a key member of last year’s coaching staff left?

Every time we play I think that maybe we will finally click but it never happens. >Last season just when you thought it was time for a substitution it happened and the player you had in mind came on/went off. This season, it is not happening.

Oh well... at least Barkley and Besic looked good together. Naismith makes up for the fact that Lukaku is disappointing at times.

Howard and the defence are a worry as always. We need footballers in defence and a goalkeeper with quick and accurate distribution skills to play Roberto’s way.

Delighted we won but my sons and I were groaning at some of the play last night.

Colin Williams
52 Posted 16/12/2014 at 15:58:29
People who think Naismith had a good game! What! The guy is clueless, lacks any technical ability and getÂ’s in every feckers way!! Also he just runs around doing absolute feck all!

Most of our "key" players are under 25 years and very talented. This group of players "IF" kept together with the right mixture of experience and more young dynamic players, we could finally win some silverware again!! Hope so!!... With a little guidance from our manager!!

Paul Andrews
53 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:27:56
7 points off top 4... into the knockout stage of Europa league having won the group of death.

I’m looking forward to results when we find our mojo. We should shoot up the league.

Michael Kenrick
54 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:48:35
Colin, puzzling comments about Naismith... Yes, not the most technically gifted but there he was firing in an almost certain goal, only for that big fecker Lukaku to stick his arse in the way of it!!!

Of course, these things happen in the course of a game, but that for me was very frustrating. Just think how Nais felt!

John Voigt
55 Posted 16/12/2014 at 12:24:26
Everton have scored more goals than all but 4 of the Premier League Teams. I’d agree that the football Everton have played isn’t exciting, but it isn’t boring. Boring is watching a Liverpool team that score over 100 goals last season score 19 goals in 16 games this season (and Liverpool have scored 7 goals in 8 home fixtures).

The magic of last season is missing and one thing I point to is scraping out wins when you’re not at your best. Yesterday, Everton won by somehow scoring 3 times when they weren’t at their best. More results like this would be welcome news to me.

So far, through 16 games, Everton have won one game by a 1-goal margin. You need those scrappy 1-goal wins which do boost confidence and move you up in the table.

Paul Andrews
56 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:53:25
Michael @ 54

That one surprised me too. Naismith has been badly missed while injured.

Colin Williams
57 Posted 16/12/2014 at 16:52:09
Michael # puzzling... Why? The incident you are referring to, Nais had time to put the ball anywhere in the onion bag. What did he do, hit the ball flat, straight at the big man. Most decent goal scorers would have adjusted his body shape, and guided the ball away from traffic in front of him!

I donÂ’t see any benefit in playing Nais other than, work rate and the odd goal. He played as a Number 10 last night and in many aspects this role is played by gifted technical players who can see a pass, run with the ball quickly and create many problems for the opposition, also link up constantly with the front player!! Well, Nais couldnÂ’t be further from that type of player. Sorry mate, just my humble opinion.

Paul Tran
58 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:03:54
Andrew, we need a goalkeeper who can stop goals, command his box, stay on his feet, inspire confidence in his back four. When we get one who can do those things, let’s deal with his distribution!

The other thing we need is quicker movement and passing. There’s nothing wrong with the tactics, they’re just being badly executed by players who did it well last season.

Colin Williams
59 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:16:09
Paul# 56 what have you missed? Except his running around doing very little to effect the game in a positive way for us? The odd goal! I would expect much more from a Number Ten. Just think of the players who play in that position for many top teams. Most if not all are very talented technically, and very creative in the last third. Does Nais have these qualities?

Dan Parker
60 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:20:21
Distin and Jagielka have come in for an awful lot of criticism, for the large part justified. What we tend not to see is criticism of Baines and Coleman whose primary job should be to defend first and fly down the wings second.

Jags/Distin have to cover a whole half of the pitch for large swathes of our attacking play, which is often ponderous and falls apart with a one bad pass.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is we lack the element of surprise in attack and whilst pondering how to crack open a defense with 8 men far up the pitch, get nailed on the counter.

I don’t think we’re the only "top" team to be a victim of this, the "lesser" teams have to some extent learned to exploit it.

Thoughts?

Tony Marsh
61 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:24:54
Howard again gifting the opposition a goal; Naismith, terrible distribution and decision-making; McGeady, awful and frustrating; Distin, a constant liability; Lukaku, frighteningly bad at headers; Pienaar, terrible – legs have gone... I can’t believe he still gets a game; substitutions baffling and wrong. Referee, yet again another prick who wouldn’t give us a thing all night.

All-in-all, a typical Everton match only this time we fluked a few goals to scrape the win. Martinez is dreaming if he thinks this was a good showing.

Steavey Buckley
62 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:35:17
This season, Everton are lacking real width, that causes Everton and the opposition to clog midfield, which gives both lesser and better teams either an equal or/and extra advantage. Stretch the opposition down the flanks with good crosses into the box, and Lukaku, Eto’o, Kone are much better players.
Roman Sidey
63 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:37:12
Besic brings some welcome mongrel to the midfield. For as long as I’ve watched Everton we’ve been the nice guys (like Jags just accepting poor pen calls). If he can chop a few blokes in half and make them think twice about running through the middle, it will help our defense to no end.

Baines needs dropping very soon. He’s not hit a good cross or corner in years, amd last night he showed absolutely no awareness for Zamora’s goal. Send him to San Sebastian in January for whatever their record fee would be.

Jay Harris
64 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:41:34
With Nais, what you see is what you get.

You have to forgive the odd lapse in technical ability for all the energy and workrate he brings to the team.

He chases balls down and covers more of the pitch than anyone and chips in with a goal rate that is comparable to Lukaku recently.

I am more than happy with him.

Colin Glassar
65 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:55:57
With Besic improving every game and with Barkley and Nessie getting back their sharpness, plus McCarthy soon to return, I think we’ll have enough Mojo to get us back to winning ways in the Xmas period.
Colin Williams
66 Posted 16/12/2014 at 17:47:16
Jay (#64) okay, thatÂ’s fine. ThatÂ’s not enough to play the No 10 role for team success. Also, if we are happy with that contribution "ONLY" from that very creative/ tech position. We will be, exactly like last night, boring and fecking clueless and create absolute shite against all teams.

All I can say is, thank feck Barkley was on his game within their first third last night!! Also, what type of player is Barkley? A technical creative player!

Dan Parker
67 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:15:33
Have to agree, Roman, Baines-lad’s corners this season have been pretty woeful, he can’t even beat the first man.

Good point, Steavey Buckley, hope Bobby wisens up.

After Chrimbo is the business end of the season; onwards and upwards.

Paul Andrews
68 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:39:33
Colin 59,

How about his 1 in 2 scoring record in the league this season? I’ve missed that.

Andrew Clare
69 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:25:29
Paul#58 I was assuming that the goalkeeper would be top notch and have great distribution skills.

On another comment I agree Naismith isn’t the most skillful of players and I would like the classic visionary number 10 (a very rare breed in the modern game) but he never stops harassing the opposition and he is a goal scorer.

Barkley could actually be the classic Number 10 but after last night I prefer him deeper. Hopefully he will remain there and hopefully Martinez won’t just reinstall Barry and McCarthy.

Gavin Johnson
70 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:22:02
Not the best performance, I don’t seem to be enjoying watching us this season. I think that has a lot to do with how pedestrian our build up play has been (apart from the first half against Arsenal earlier in the season) we have been pretty ponderous. Teams have worked out our strengths and nullifying Baines and Coleman. Coleman also seems to be playing beneath himself, as he’s not 100% fit.

So IMO Besic and Barkley offer a bit more dynamism and something different from Barry and McCarthy. We need to be more creative in midfield.

I’ve wanted to see Barkley played in this role since his performance in the home derby last season. It also allows Naismith to play and we’re a bit more mobile in midfield. While I’m not knocking Barry and McCarthy. I think that the Barkley, Besic pairing might be the answer in the short term until we bring in another quality winger in the mould of Delboy. We need more creativity than the likes of McGeady Atsu and Pienaar to see again what Barry and McCarthy excel at. And I put more onus on Barry there, because McCarthy could also play well with Barkley.

Paul Smith
72 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:49:40
People have been saying on here for months "we need a bruiser, someone who gets stuck in.... a Reidy type!

Is it Mo? Deffo a liability at times, gonna get sent off once in a while, but he adds something we’ve been missing. The lads growing on me. The way we’re playing atm grit & determination are needed, in equal measure. The fluent and quick attacking football of last year has long gone, time to dig in.

BTW, booing was a bit harsh last night, however, knowledgeable fans know when a team flatters to deceive. I’ll be at St Mary’s on Saturday, can’t wait. COYB

Ian Burns
73 Posted 16/12/2014 at 18:56:11
My team is designed to get the wide men out of the way so our full backs are given the freedom they are so lacking at the moment - and to put some zip into proceedings!!

NFG
Coleman; Jags; Barry; Garbutt;
McCarthy; Barkley; Besic; Mirallas; Lukaku; Naismith

Patrick Murphy
74 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:03:46
Considering Mo has only played a few games in the PL, he hasn’t done too badly, he will improve his tackling and timing with experience – he may well run the gauntlet of the officials at times but he is no worse that Newcastle’s Tiote who should by now be used to the English game but constantly looks as if he is going to hurt another player. Mo may not get away with as much in away games but if he learns and uses his football brain – he could be a huge asset for years to come.
Linda Morrison
75 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:28:39
I’m sorry but did we not win the game last night?

I do not understand how people on this site can be so negative about our players. What did you expect, please tell me.

The players were so lacking in confidence and yet people were booing them last night even thought they won. Is it me?

Brian Harrison
76 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:22:31
I have said in a number of posts this season the longer RM coaches this team the worse they get. I cant remember an Everton team to be 3-0 and get booed for the style of play.

I don’t believe RM will change his style this style has been his mantra since he became a coach. He believes possession is the be-all and end-all to such a degree that last night players would rather pass the ball back 40 yards when inside the opponent’s half than play the ball forward. I counted on a couple of occasions last night where we passed the ball 20 times and still didn’t get more than a yard into QPR’s half. We are playing to good capacity gates yet most of the game is watched in silence as there is nothing to get the fans excited.

Ray Robinson
77 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:57:28
Linda, when a free-kick about 35 yards out ends up with Howard in possession after three sideways / backwards passes, I reserve my right to boo - unless it’s 1-0 to us with 20 seconds remaining.
Christine Foster
78 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:06:07
Venting the frustration of fans who know the capability of a team and having to watch them struggle with tactics that stifle ability is painful.
You play to your strengths and when the opposition park the bus, possession is worth nothing.
Against stronger opposition we get found out, caught going backwards and pressured into mistakes. Just inviting pressure leads to mistakes.

The players were not booed the other night, the manager was.

Raymond Fox
79 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:46:36
I agree that we are not playing vintage football, we will finish 8th - 9 ish if we collect pts like we have in our first 16 games.

Opposition managers are not daft they look for strengths and weaknesses in teams their playing next, they can see when closely marked most of our players are not up to it.

I think the bottom line is how many of our players would be in the usual top 4s sides team?
Howard-no, Coleman- yes, Baines-probably, Distin-no, Jags-? McCarthy-? Barry-no, Stones- maybe later, McGeady-no, Barry-no, Ossie-no, Pienaar-no, Barkley- yes, Besic-no, Eto-? Lukaku-? Mirallas-? Naismith-no, Kone-no, and no for the rest of our players.

So should we expect us to be challenging for a top 4 place this season especially with our Europa commitments?

Bill Gall
80 Posted 16/12/2014 at 19:45:58
Steve Ferns #16
Reading your post I agree with the majority of what you are saying but the problem is, it is not us who need to do something about it it is the manager. I have said it before and I will say it again that our manager seems to be too stubborn to change what he believes is the only way to play the game.

I admire the style he is trying to introduce but how long will it take for him to realise that sometimes you have to change when it is not working, A number of the players we have, do not seem to control the ball as soon as it is passed to them and then have to take a couple of touches before passing and this is what is slowing our progress forward.

Have to agree with the comments about Besic but would prefer one of our forwards getting a MotM award rather than a defensive midfielder when playing a bottom team at home...

Ian Burns
81 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:14:06
Christine, I think this thread is basically people venting their frustration at the manager through the players – so your post is spot on – it is tactics causing the major concerns. RM looked good last season and now he has been found out; the supporters can see it but he is oblivious to the obvious
Christine Foster
83 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:20:09
How often have we seen reported comments such as, "tore the opposition apart" or " great counter attack" or even just plain "exciting to watch"

The fact remains that at the start of the season we leaked goals in through individual mistakes in the main caused by attempting to play keep ball. The rot had to stop, but one of the first rules of thumb for a defender has always been, "if in doubt get it out" that seems to have gone out the window, now it’s i"if in doubt knock it about" and we all know what happens if there is no one to give it too.

Colin Glassar
84 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:18:21
Tis a funny old game Linda. I think our performance reflected a lack of confidence after the last couple of results. We tried to blow arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea away at the beginning of the season and came away with almost nothing. Since then the confidence in the team has fallen away despite a great euro campaign.
A few good results and the free flowing football will return. If we need to scrape a few wins to recoup our form then so be it. I can live with he boos in the meantime.
Andy Crooks
85 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:22:29
When confidence is high Roberto is just the man to bring out the very best; he must be a truly great coach to play for. Players out of form and making errors often need an arm round the shoulder and the assurance that they will be supported and given time to turn it round.

However, what is enough time? In my view Roberto seems to believe that enough time is , well, forever.

Kevin Tully
86 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:42:07
I certainly wouldn’t write-off Martinez and his ’philosophy’ just yet. There is a chance we could come good, but do we have the players to convert his ideas into the football we all want to see?

The problems we are witnessing start at the back, with Jagielka and Distin, they are just not suited to this style, and never will be. Stones however, is perfect for this system, so are Baines and Coleman.

We need a winning run of games to see us at our confident best, but how long can we wait?

Graham Morris
87 Posted 16/12/2014 at 20:25:38
Let’s be honest. The performance was dull, boring, frustrating, tedious and typical of most this season. Yes we won and winning is all important but doesn’t entertainment come into it?

How can a 㿈 million player be so bad? How can England’s full back be so set in his comfort zone that he never takes a risk going forward? How is McGeady in the team? Martinez said his cross for the goal was a piece of "magic", talk about being easily pleased. How can our manager be apparently blind to the problems?

This team is playing phenomenally badly, fantastically slow and magnificently dull with an amazing lack of intensity. ( I will exempt Barkley, Besic and Naismith ). Everyone at the club needs to sort it out quickly or it could all go very wrong.

Ian Burns
88 Posted 16/12/2014 at 21:17:39
Kevin I don’t think anybody is advocating getting rid of RM - just begging RM to grow a Plan B and get the team playing up a couple of gears
Gavin Johnson
89 Posted 16/12/2014 at 21:22:18
I think you sum most people’s sentiments up perfectly there Ian. I’d like to see more variation in tactics. We saw that at Man City playing 3-5-2, but I honestly chuckled to myself when I saw the team sheet that day - Bobby plays the same formation that saw Wigan beat City in the FA Cup final hoping lightening would strike twice! We were actually unfortunate not to get a draw.

So I’d just like to see that formation and to be a bit more tactically diverse against teams other than City.

Colin Glassar
90 Posted 16/12/2014 at 22:19:29
Southampton lost again tonight. Who’s everyone’s favourite team to break their duck against? You guessed it.
Colin Williams
91 Posted 16/12/2014 at 22:09:46
Paul (#68),

Have I missed something? What you trying to say? Because heÂ’s scored a couple of goals this season he should play the No 10 role! Maybe your saying because heÂ’s scored a few he should obviously

Play! Look, Jags, Coleman, and Kev have scored just as many, and Lukaku more again. Maybe these deserve to play that pivitol role in the team? Maybe they could take it in turns. WhatÂ’s your point?

Paul Andrews
92 Posted 16/12/2014 at 22:28:16
You asked me what I have missed when he doesn’t play. I told you – his 6 goals. How about the 15 chances he has created?

Not with you when you say Jags, Coleman and Kev have scored just as many?

Phil Walling
93 Posted 16/12/2014 at 23:06:26
The main response to my ’interminable criticism’ of Roberto centres on ’see how well he did last season’. And well he did.

So is this season’s dross down to refs, injuries, luck......or dare I say it, rank bad management via an obsession with that bloody philosophy?

Answers on a postcard, please!

Colin Williams
94 Posted 16/12/2014 at 22:53:20
Paul, the last league goal he scored before the hoops was Man U away and before that was Chelsea home. So"NO we have not missed his goals that much!

Anyway, IÂ’m not that concerned about that part of his game. ItÂ’s his total lack of technical class, and know -how needed to play the no 10 role for himself, and the success of the team. You may like his basic attributes has a footballer, but I believe, there is much better within our squad (EtoÂ’o, Super Kev ect, just for starters) that could play this role.
The greater visuals our young players get from seeing this role and other roles played with understanding and knowledge and success, the better the development within our talented younger players.The likes of Barkley, Lukaku and many more like them, will learn from gifted technical players when playing between the lines and last third of pitch and much more.

Gavin Johnson
95 Posted 17/12/2014 at 04:17:31
Colin, I think it takes different types to make a great team. Naisey, may not be the most technically gifted but we have other players who can do the fancy stuff. Tim Cahill wasnÂ’t the archetype 10 youÂ’re describing, but didnÂ’t he do a good job for us playing behind the striker?!

Paul Andrews
96 Posted 17/12/2014 at 06:17:07
Yes Gavin he did. You would not call Tim a technically creative silky skilled no 10, as much as I loved him playing for the Blues.

Colin, am I right in saying Naismith is almost 1 in 2 this season? I donÂ’t see what calendar dates he scored them on has any relevance. Tell you what, you donÂ’t have him in your preferred 11, I would play him every week.

The most important person re his selection seems to agree with me, not you.

Laurie Hartley
97 Posted 17/12/2014 at 08:22:06
I watched the replay in full here in Melbourne. I like to do that before posting on ToffeeWeb

It was boring stuff but I can see some light at the end of the tunnel from this one. Here are my observations.

We still know how to move the ball up the pitch quickly - we just donÂ’t do it often enough. When we do we either score or go close.

We need to start every game hell for leather to get an early goal. This will draw the opposition in to us and give us opportunities to hit them on the break for the second goal

David at # 31 - that midfield really appeals to me. I really rate Besic. He is in the mould of Tony Kay. A midfielder with a football brain and hards as nails. He is going to be some player for us in the months and years to come.

If you wanÂ’t to win games pick players who hate to lose. Besic would hate to lose a game of noughts and crosses.

In like McGeady. I have watched him very closely in recent starts - he has learnt to track back and help the full back. More importantly when he gets the ball there is always a chance he is going to "do something different". He laid the goal on for Naismith. He gets the ball into the box consistently.

I like EtoÂ’o - he is my favourite of our strikers. He is a finisher - what a shame that shot hit the post - it deserved a goal. At the risk of repeating myself I would start him every game - we have to make the most of his talent while we still have time.

As Kevin said at # 42 - "Everton have always played blood-and-thunder football, mixed with skill and pace."

My "blood-and-thunder" starting eleven would be:-

Howard (hmm)
Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines,
McCarthy, Barkley, Besic,
McGeady, EtoÂ’o, Mirallas.

That would leave on the bench - Lukaku, Naismith, Kone, Barry, Pienaar, Oviedo, Garbutt, Alcaraz, on the bench.

Last but not least - January shopping list:

A young Peter Czech
Another Joleon Lescott.

Laurie Hartley
98 Posted 17/12/2014 at 09:52:16
Should have added John Stones replaces Silvan Distin as soon as he is fit.
Jim Lloyd
99 Posted 17/12/2014 at 09:21:00
ThereÂ’s a feller that sits behind me in the Upper Bullens who moans all the way through the match, Never sees the good side, his mantra is "kick it up the field." or he changes it occasionally "rubbish!"

His right as a "paying customer," of course. I hate that fucking term "customer!" Those who want to call themselves customers is fine by my but to me, thereÂ’s a big difference between a "customer" and a supporter. If youÂ’re a customer you can go and take your money elsewere.

Does it do the teamÂ’s confidence any good, when the crowd boo? I read someoneÂ’s post who said they were booing the manager. Really? of course the players know that donÂ’t they.

What I see out there on the pitch is fear. There are some players out who are so scared of making a mistake that they take a safe option. I think itÂ’s happening more often now and one of the reasons is that they are scared of the crowd reaction.

Even last season, when we did so well, there were mentions on here of "Tippy Tappy football" "HeÂ’ll take us down" and the feller behind me was still moaning at every match.

The tactics last season served us fairly well, I thought. I also thought that compared to the football IÂ’d been watching before, it was in large parts, refreshingly entertaining and successful and boded well for this season. I thought weÂ’d do well again this season if we finish around sixth and had a decent run in Europe and maybe one of the cups.

I think this season there are two main reasons why weÂ’re not as exciting as we were in a lot of games last season.

One is, of course that every team in the league will have worked on how to best nullify our attacking play and even Chelsea did it.

The other reason I think we havenÂ’t done so well (so far) is the list of injuries weÂ’ve had, in what is still a small squad. How many games have Berkeley, Coleman, Stones, Oviedo, McCarthy, Miralles, Pienaar, Kone,Naismith, Alcaraz missed since the start of the season.

I thought we battered Arsenal for 70 minutes and against Chelsea, they were the ones trying to waste time and I thought we played quite qwell in that game going forward. CanÂ’t say the same about defence though!

WeÂ’re stuttering, no doubt, but I donÂ’t think there is too much wrong with our game when we have everyone fit. The major problem I see is that, even though other teams are taking counter measures. WeÂ’ve not had our most effective partnerships in attack for most of the games so far.

Pienaar and Baines, Coleman and Miralles (or Deolefeu) last season were causing mayhem amongst opposition defences last season. BerkeleyÂ’s and McCarthyÂ’s runs were adding to it and Lukaku was getting some decent service and scoring goals.

We are not as fluent going forward, thatÂ’s for sure, but I donÂ’t see it as all to do with RobertoÂ’s style of football. Some of our players are found out skill wise when they asked to do a different style of football that they have grown up with but IÂ’d still much rather see the football trying to be played than a bloody great hoof up the park.

Even when Dunc was playing, his goal record was poor and the dire football we played didnÂ’t help when it was just booted up to him and heÂ’d have about 3 defenders round him. HeÂ’d usually get the header, but weÂ’d lose the ball most times.

When Pienaar and Miralles are both fit and their partnerships with the full backs are firing, when McCarthy is fit and we have a midfield of Besic, Berkeley and Macca, when we get Stones back in the middle of the defence, then I think we are a pretty good side who can play a bit.

Andrew Rimmer
100 Posted 17/12/2014 at 11:21:20
Yes there is fear in the team but that stems from Roberto. You can see his main instruction of keeping hold of the ball at all cost played out all over the field. This in turn helps the opposition as we take that long to do anything with the ball that everyone in the opposition is allowed to get everyone behind the ball. ItÂ’s not parking the bus, itÂ’s Everton not being incisive. To me, a good team can vary itÂ’s style, sometimes a long ball sometimes route one, we donÂ’t have that. Roberto also takes too long to make changes although this never amounts to a change of tactics.

I feel sorry for the paying SUPPORTER who watch that dire pedestrian rubbish week in week out. Although they do have the choice not to go and I admit it will take an earth shattering change of style and commitment to make me shed valued money to enter the Goodison Morgue at the moment.

I watched from the comfort of my armchair and was embarrassed at what other teamÂ’s supporters think of the atmosphere at Goodison. ThereÂ’s no excitement around the place and apart from the odd goal the main noises are sighs and boos. I havenÂ’t heard snoring yet but IÂ’m sure I will soon.

Jim Knightley
101 Posted 17/12/2014 at 11:44:30
IÂ’m with you Jim...the crowd is not right. It is a two way street of course...the crowd feeds off the team, and the team feeds off the crowd. We pay money and deserve etc etc..but we do not want to turn Goodison into White Hart Lane. The way we play relies on confidence, and at the moment, it is not there. Our players look worse because they are lacking it, and the crowd is moaning at every misplaced touch, pass or pass back. Players like Lukaku will not flourish in this environment, and a Lukaku on form is a completely different play to a Lukaku out of form, with visible differences in touch, passing, movement etc (Although his biggest problem is the complete lack of service).

IÂ’m not happy with Martinez at the moment, but there is one thing to consider, which is seemingly missed by so so many on here - the lack of intensity might not be because of his direction. Teams who play a passing game are often perceived to lack intensity when they are out of form or confidence. It is because they are scared to play the tough ball, or the quick ball into feet in a crowded area. What happens to passing when you are aware that the crowd will groan if the ball is lost? Some players can handle this, but most canÂ’t. This style will look alot better when confidence is back. How will it come back though? Martinez needs to convince us that it will, and get everyone back onside, because there is some genuine dissent now.

Jay Harris
102 Posted 17/12/2014 at 16:39:19
Apart from the appalling lack of preseason preparation I really feel the issue is team selection.

BainesÂ’ and ColemanÂ’s main strengths ar their forward play rather than defending so we already have our two wingers.

The problem lies in MF where RM picks too many "outright" forwards leaving MF light.

I would play a MF of McCarthy Besic Barkley and Barry (OR Baines with Garbutt LB) and a front two of Mirallas, Lukaku or Naismith.

That would tighten us up defensively and link up play better leaving the fullbacks to overlap.

Colin Williams
103 Posted 17/12/2014 at 16:47:32
Gavin# 95. The game has changed since Timmy played top football for us. Look at top teams who play a technical no 10, they all have quality with trophies behind their name.

Also, to put Nais at the same level as Timmy! I think youÂ’re barking mad. How can you make that statement?! (Maybe I read it wrong.)

Wayne Smyth
106 Posted 17/12/2014 at 18:10:45
Jim(101) - I'm one of the ones who believe our slow build up's are not part of Roberto's plan. He's said it himself many times.

What I do think is having an impact is the injuries to key players and a distinct lack of quality in wide areas.

Other teams struggle when they have injuries and we're no different. While we're very strong in the central midfield department, we went into this season very short of quality in wide areas and we started with Lukaku half-injured and Barkley out till recently.

Baines and Coleman both do their best work with a confident and able winger ahead of them to create space and combine with. This season Atsu has shown himself to be sub-par. McGeady is too inconsistent. Mirallas has been out injured and Pienaar looks a faint shadow of the player he has been in recent seasons. We've played Barkley, Eto'o, Osman, Lukaku, Naismith out there, but none are wingers.

I think people are looking at what Martinez is doing as if there is something fundamentally wrong with "his style". There isn't. The team simply lack sharpness, confidence and ability going forward. Hence why we so often need to go sideways or backwards. For me that's a form issue, not something fundamentally wrong with his style.

When the crowd got on the players backs against Hull and we started going long ball, it did us no favours. The ball ended up with Hull players and we created nothing, as so often happens with long-ball teams.

This team reminds me of Everton under Moyes just before Donovan came over on loan. We just need that little bit of sharpness, pace and quality in the final third and things will click. We will look a different side.

It will probably take a season or so for Martinez to replace the ageing and immobile Pienaar and Osman and the shite Atsu with players of the quality of Besic, McCarthy and Lukaku. When that happens I'm looking forward to good things. In the meantime I'm keeping the faith.

Brent Stephens
107 Posted 17/12/2014 at 18:48:20
Jim #99 - what seat do you have in Upper Bullens? I'm up there as well. I wonder if we are thinking about the same guy?
Brent Stephens
108 Posted 17/12/2014 at 19:02:41
No doubt in my mind that, given our current squad, Nais offers a hell of a lot and fully deserves his place and the applause he gets from most fans.
Raymond Fox
109 Posted 17/12/2014 at 18:43:16
You're spot on Wayne about Roberto wanting us to play possession football, but not at a snail's pace.

Hopefully when Stones comes back we will be a bit more fluent out from the defence.

What we really need is 2 or 3 special players, another central defender, a creative midfielder and a winger.

But...!

Mike Allison
110 Posted 17/12/2014 at 19:35:55
"There are some players out who are so scared of making a mistake that they take a safe option. I think it's happening more often now and one of the reasons is that they are scared of the crowd reaction."

But Jim, the crowd were booing the constant taking of the safe option. We want to see attacking football and risk taking in the right areas of the field. We cost ourselves goals and points by failing to do some absolute basics of football.

The free kick 35 yards out that ended up back at the goalkeeper sums up this problem. As supporters Evertonians expect their team to try to score. This will sometimes mean losing the ball, and sometimes it will mean playing a high risk ball such as (dare I say it...) cross into the box. If their team is obviously not trying to score goals, then Evertonians not only have a right but a duty to boo and it's got nothing to do with being 'paying customers' but because they are knowledgeable football supporters.

Kieran Riding
111 Posted 17/12/2014 at 19:48:36
I said on here we would tonk QPR as they were shite. They are available at 6/4 to be relagated btw, just in case anyone thinks there are 3 worse sides than them in the league (don't think there is like !)

Saints have a right problem on Saturday due to suspension of Wanyama and Sniderlien, and we will tonk them as well, and all in the garden will be rosy again.

Darren Hind
112 Posted 17/12/2014 at 19:51:55
Post# 110

I couldnt agree more

Gavin Johnson
113 Posted 17/12/2014 at 20:10:52
Colin #103, I’m not saying Naisey is as good as Cahill. I commented because both players have similar attributes and neither are the technical number 10 you aspire us to have Colin.

If we were playing football manager, I dare say I’d splash the cash and get one of these technical #10’s, but the reality is we haven’t got the budgets of these teams who buy trophies. I know you said we could play Miralles there, but who do we play on the wing then... Atsu, Pienaar?? I don’t think so! So while I’m not totally disagreeing with what you say. I think there’s 3-4 players I’d start criticising before Naisey, who has been one of the seasons better performers.

Colin Glassar
114 Posted 17/12/2014 at 20:31:19
That what I've been saying for a while now Wayne 106.
Derek Thomas
115 Posted 17/12/2014 at 22:03:39
Some comments above, rung a bell with me, about how Baines and Coleman are struggling, while not being the best defenders they are also our best wingers.

Then there's the perm any 3 from 4 of Besic, McCarthy, Barkley and Barry. Add to that my own personal, not quite pet hate, more like a big question mark of do we actually need to 'waste' 2 out field spots on a defensive MidFielder.

3 at the back might, IMO, go some way to solving this.

While absolving Baines and Coleman from too many defensive duties, It also means (to me) only 1 DMF.

This will give the attack / defense numerical balance so beloved of technical purists... 6 : 6.

Back 3, a DMF, 2 Wingbacks in defensive mode; 6

2 Wingbacks, 3 MF, Striker; 6

With 3 at the back and a minimum of 1 up front, the remaining 6 will flux, flow and permutate from 1:5 through to 5: 1 in all manner of numbers in between.

Three 6's, ooh er missus. Spooky maybe but it seems like a revelation to me.

Andrew Rimmer
116 Posted 17/12/2014 at 23:58:22
Jesus.
They have no confidence.
Neither has the manager.
28 Million for Lukaku???

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