A quick turnaround for both fans and players from Thursday night and we all meet up again to see if we can gain our second win in 13 league games. Being just three points from the drop zone made this a crucial game and I am sure the Room of Nonsense mirrored the thoughts of Blues everywhere in a mood of fear, hope and dread as all recognised the importance of this encounter and what another home defeat could do.

The teams were transmitted via the digital highway and pored over in detail. Some had reservations, whilst many were unanimous in opining that it better work for all our sakes. Our manager had made his choice of personnel and we all hoped he had tweaked the tactics after the verbal bashing on Thursday night. The walk-up, although busy reflecting a near sell-out, was of a subdued nature as many worried and wondered how we had come to be in this position.

The half started with the Blues seemingly lined up in a loose 4-4-2 system with Kone up with Lukaku and other changes from Thursday that saw Lennon, Gibson and Osman start. It looked like some were rested due to Europa League duty and some injured not making the bench such as Mirallas. We had a fright within two minutes when the visitors gained a corner and in the resultant scramble Howard made a fine stop with his hands and pushed the ball out only for it to be fired back in and McCarthy cleared from the line ,with some Newcastle players claiming hand ball. But the man that mattered, our ref for today Mr Atkinson, waved away protests and signalled play on.

It was a scare though. We were taking a little time to settle to our new formation but it was evident that the endless passing across the back had been jettisoned and a more forward looking approach being deployed. All was not perfect as passes went astray and a few wrong choices being made but we were looking to keep the crowd on board and as we grew into the game appreciation was afforded from those assembled. We were getting the ball forward quite quickly and this was finding favour.

Breaks were made in rapid fashion and both Lukaku and Kone were almost played in a couple of times and it was good to see Kone make good runs across goal toward near post in anticipation. It didn’t work in goal terms but a definite threat where none had been in many previous games.

20 minutes came up and Jags played a great ball out of defence to Lukaku with back to goal but in one movement he glanced the ball into the path of the onrushing McCarthy who took it on several strides, shot, and with the keeper falling the wrong way scored, much to delight of all assembled who celebrated with James on getting his first goal of the season. I have to say I thought the ball must have taken a deflection but the big screen re-run showed that not to be the case so I put it down to McCarthy executing a Messi swerve. One nil up and almost to a man/woman/boy/girl we all wondered could we now keep a clean sheet. After what we have been through you can’t dare to be too confident.

However, the team continued in the same vein and moved forward quicker than of previously this season, aided by the promptings of both Gibson and Osman who were looking to play the early ball forward, much to the delight of the faithful who in turn gave the players all the encouragement they needed. We saw Rom fire over from a free kick, Osman and Baines combined down the left and forced a corner which Newcastle cleared and set up a fast counter but great blocks from Jags and Alcaraz thwarted that spell of play.

As half time approached Newcastle had a decent spell and attacked gaining corners and looping crosses into the box but it pleasing to report that Howard looked quite safe in his handling of the high balls and our defending, although our clearances, while not of the top order, were adequate and on the death we forced a corner of our own. Baines took it and Alcaraz headed goalward only for a clearance from the line thwarting the effort.

H/T and most were happy with a goal and clean sheet yet many a fan wondered which Everton would turn up for the second half. As the half started we were delighted to sense that we were continuing from the first half and looking to stay on the front foot. However, the first chance came to the visitors when Gibson gave away a free kick near edge of box and my mate cheered me up by saying that lad Taylor is very good on free kicks, I held my breath as he struck it well but just over our bar.

We then had a quick break that put us three v two, McCarthy, Lukaku and Kone set off, McCarthy fed Lukaku who somehow seemed to get the ball under his feet and the chance was gone.

We were on the front foot, no unnecessary passing about at the back and creating chances in the final third with Osman and Gibson prominent as well as looking compact at the back with Alcaraz seemingly getting better and more assured by the minute. On 55 minutes this attacking play got a reward when a Lennon burst passed his man who had a second bite and brought the little winger down in the area, ‘PENALTY’ echoed around Goodison and the Ref agreed.

Lukaku picked up the ball and was not letting it go until he took the shot. Krul in his almost luminous orange goalie kit tried the usual spoiling tactics but Rom looked unmoved and when the Ref was finally satisfied all was well he blew the whistle and the big Belgian sent the keeper the wrong way and hit the corner of the net. All celebrated, we had a 2 goal cushion now all we had to do was stay goal free for 40 mins... and don’t mention Arsenal.

Things were made easier some minutes later when the visiting skipper Coloccini seemed to go high and two footed on Lennon and was promptly sent off. Free kick to us and Baines fires well, ball deflected but still ended up in the keeper’s arms.

Two goals to the good and against ten men we had a long spell of mainly keep-ball that saw some sloppy passes that set up counter attacks but at least the tippy tappy we were playing was nearer their box than ours so not the usual boos and heart in mouth moments. We were not really going for the third goal but our possession play was tolerated as all assembled really, really wanted three points and anyway you like. Two goals up did give our songsters to air the song ‘We only sing when we are winning’ in response to some derogatory remarks concerning our support. They did have a couple of amusing ditties for our consumption one being ‘were losing again but you’re not up to much’ and a derogatory one regarding their owner who they want out of their club. They hate him.

On the 75th min Lukaku was withdrawn and Barkley replaced him. Lukaku had looked good today. I think having Kone up with him helped. Barkley started slow but was soon looking livelier and after some good joined up stuff Lennon fed him in with a wonderful chance but he seemed not to take the care with placement of shot and the keeper blocked, in truth he should not have seen it until he picked it out of the net.

In our efforts to see time out we allowed Newcastle good chances, one by Sissoko who hit one that Howard dropped down on and parried the ball away, that was some save that was. It wasn’t over and Perez looked to be in when the improving Alcaraz made a superb tackle. Murmurings started so with five to go Atsu replaced Lennon and just a minute later Besic replaced McCarthy. Besic made a couple of good tackles in mid field.

Atsu had one speedy run come to nought and then in added time found a great ball that put Barkley in who showed much more composure this time and deftly rounded the keeper and slotted into the empty net. All were pleased. Many left knowing ‘Job done’ and many stayed and celebrated with the players. Now for the little matter of progression in Kiev and three more points at QPR. If we show the better bits of today I am hopeful.

MotM—Difficult but I will say Gibson for his shrewd promptings in a forward direction.

Still some way to go and no doubt some hairy moments along the way but I was heartened today by the display and on noting the absence of a rigid philosophy. In turn I thought the players responded to the tweaks and if the same efforts can be replicated Thursday and Sunday then optimism will be allowed to return a little. Still let’s not get ahead of ourselves—‘One game at a time’ eh.

UP THE BLUES

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Andy McNabb
1 Posted 15/03/2015 at 23:41:16
Thanks Ken. At last – some good news.

I always text my son with COYB when we win in the league. Seems like a LONG time since I've been able to do that.

Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 15/03/2015 at 23:44:21
Thanks, KB... and I'm sure you and your distinguished colleagues were pleased to be dampened only on the inside and not on the outside as you were on Thursday!
Andy Crooks
3 Posted 15/03/2015 at 23:41:17
Ken, good stuff as usual. I agree with not getting ahead of ourselves but after a fortuitous start I thought it was a fine performance with a lot to like. With more game time, I believe that Kone, Lennon and Alcaraz can be exceptional. That performance should get the confidence back.

I agree with the MotD2 pundits who believe that these tactics should have been adapted long ago. However, it would be churlish not to be well pleased with that show. Two huge games ahead with some major selection decisions for RM.

Ernie Baywood
4 Posted 15/03/2015 at 23:54:11
Another strange game.

In the context of the season it was a great performance. In reality it was kind of the level expected.

Don't think anyone really stood out. There were lots of performers at a good level. Thought Seamus struggled a bit but was willing.

I actually thought we went long too much but I guess that's the way you coach subtle changes in... You make people do it.

Not convinced it was ever a 4-4-2. Seemed that we rotated players through the left sided position. Rom seemed to start there for a brief spell , Osman played there a bit. Kone had a crack. All three improved whenever they came off that side.

Thrilled Ross scored. His two chances and setup of Lennon showed his ability again. A good brief cameo.

Steve Hogan
5 Posted 16/03/2015 at 00:12:24
Never thought I would say this, but I thought Alcarez was immense today. He grew in stature as the game went on.

If only the guy could keep injury free most of the time, he would be a great 'stand in' for Stones or Jagielka when either of those two are missing.

I'm simply puzzled that at this stage of the season, the manager finally decided to 'mix it up', with obvious benefits for all concerned, despite only last week declaring he 'wouldn't be prepared to change his philosophy any time soon.

The players themselves looked so much more relaxed and comfortable being able to hit the occasional long ball forward.

Did Roberto have a 'Jerusalem' moment last week?

Dick Fearon
6 Posted 16/03/2015 at 01:06:35
It is a disgrace that Martinez took this long to recognize his philosophy was not working.
It is a pity the fans took this long to show their dismay.
It will be a wrong move if Martinez is allowed to stay a minute longer than absolutely necessary.
Dick Fearon
7 Posted 16/03/2015 at 01:14:13
PS. Ken, I thought Alcaraz had a very good game.
Brian Garside
8 Posted 16/03/2015 at 01:10:02
Why did LB not take the penalty? Why did Browning not get the nod instead of Alcaraz? I think we should be told!

Expect Barry to reappear on Thursday... RM's spots ain't for changin'.

Peter Creer
9 Posted 16/03/2015 at 01:16:50
Watching the game here in Canada, it was a beautiful sunny day both outside the window and on the television. I really liked the way that Kone and Lukaku took turns holding up the ball and laying things off to the far more obvious wide play that was on show. Lukaku's confidence is growing and the current goal return is bordering on the.....'wow, that was a great bit of business' comments.

Before our first goal was scored, I was duly impressed by the work of Alcaraz. He was composed, made some very timely tackles and did a great job supporting the rest of the backline. His ball control was very good and his passing was very well balanced in conjunction with Jagielka's personal aversion to the diagonal pass.

The other standout for me was Gibson. I would have him every day before Barry. Each time he plays I see McCarthy willing to go forward and today's goal is more indicative of the potential that he brings. Is he a great holding midfielder? Absolutely. Today showed that without Barry he becomes the more attacking option and that option is more incisive than what Barry brings to the game.

After our previous Thursday night, Sunday games, it is nice to see some consistency and two positive results. Now we need to finish the job against Dynamo Kiev and get the three points against QPR.

Thanks Ken for another great report. It has been too long since my last visit to the Grand Old Lady.....your report let's me live it each week.....

Mark Andersson
10 Posted 16/03/2015 at 01:46:23
I like your reports Ken, they are well balanced and written in a calm and unbiased view.

I calmly watched the match and, unlike some posters on other threads who thought Kone was bad, I disagree. His hold up play and control of the ball gave big Rom more confidence.

Chris Jones [Burton]
11 Posted 16/03/2015 at 02:00:17
In the grand scheme of things, it's only a little thing, but I believe it can have a huge influence. The mere fact that in the last two games Lukaku appears to have learned to control balls hit to him makes an enormous difference. Instead of the ball skidding away from him to be gathered up by an opponent and then begin its inevitable progression back towards our goal, suddenly WE ARE IN POSSESSION and we can get up and support the big man.

It puts me in mind of circa 1986-87 when Sharpy was out injured for a while. Instead of a target man with utter control and an ability to make splendid use of the ball, we had to make do for a while with Paul Wilkinson, a willing lad but just not anything like in Sharpe's class.

Not entirely tongue in cheek now... Who knows, maybe one of the reasons for us fannying about with the ball at the back for so much of the season was a lack of faith in the big man's ability to control the ball? If it was only going to come right back at us, maybe we were as well simply retaining possession? Perhaps the lads have seen him learn to cope with the ball better in training, and have had more faith in him on the pitch during games?

Bill Gall
12 Posted 16/03/2015 at 02:04:33
Peter, I guess you must live on the west coast of Canada as I was watching the game in New Brunswick and had to go out before the game, at half-time, and at the end of the game to clear the snow falling; so far we have had about 30 cm today. Still I got warmed up watching a win for a change.

Some improvement from previous Premier League games but we definitely cannot afford to relax. Very surprised that the manager did not play 2 defensive holding midfielders plus signs that he is aware that his rigid philosophy needs changing now and again.

Jason Lam
13 Posted 16/03/2015 at 02:47:53
I have to say Osman played a good game along with Gibson in the quarterback role.
Ernie Baywood
14 Posted 16/03/2015 at 03:07:13
Chris Jones, Lukaku's touch has undoubtedly been better but just watch that first goal. It's an awful touch! But if he's got space ahead of him he can shield it and take another touch.

Early ball up before the midfielders drop deep. Key to using Lukaku. Defenders don't get around him... need to stop giving midfielders the option to nick it off him.

Mohammed Horoub
15 Posted 16/03/2015 at 05:07:27
3 pts closer to safety under circumstances made more difficult with Burnley's win yesterday. More positives than negatives:

Lukaku is finding a bit of consistency and set the tone in the first half.

Gibson in for Barry (RM's hand was forced there) made a big difference in the style of play. McCarthy would never have been that far forward if Barry was on the pitch as he has to babysit him defensively. Hopefully the coaching staff also realizes this.

Kone and Alcaraz grew into the game and I think they are both rusty but can be good squad players.

I am really surprised at the criticism Lennon has received. He was my MotM. Of all the players on the pitch, he gave me the impression of someone fighting for the win and he left it all out on the pitch. If he made mistakes it's because he wasn't afraid to take responsibility and not hide in a corner like Mirallas has done all season. I hope we are able to sign him as he has a few good seasons left in him.

Rest of the team was solid and Howard made a good save. (Slow clap)

The only major negative I saw was that RM should have taken McCarthy off with Lukaku. Besic is an able replacement and he has a big game on Thursday running around the pitch covering for Barry.

The next two games decide how the rest of the season goes. Hopefully we can keep the positive momentum going.

Kase Chow
16 Posted 16/03/2015 at 06:42:36
So pleased we won and I think it's in part due to playing two up top.

Gibson is class. I'm glad Lukaku scored that pen but it was at a crucial time. Props to him for taking it BUT if he'd of missed, what would the reaction have been? How comes Baines allowed this again after last time? How comes RM did too?

It all seems academic cos we scored but who actually provides the leadership at EFC on such matters?

Christopher Timmins
17 Posted 16/03/2015 at 07:10:03
Phew, the relief, let's hope for a follow up double next Thursday and Sunday!
Jimmy Salt
18 Posted 16/03/2015 at 07:06:21
Kase, it seems Lukaku was always going to take that penalty, not like last time when it was ambushed.

And what about Rom two games in a row and not one bag of cement has escaped yet. Could this young man be improving?

Speaking of which, didn't another young man come on and show signs of his class. Oops I'm getting carried away of course they're both shite...

Sarcasm aside, the team did well today and I hope Gibson can stay fit.

Chris Gould
19 Posted 16/03/2015 at 07:17:28
The main change is the belief and fight that the players are displaying. Something happened during the Kyiv game, everyone felt it. The media and pundits finally acknowledged it and the pressure for change was immense. The players made the changes during that match due to crowd pressure, and thankfully Martinez seems to have accepted that he needs to adapt.

Whether he decided it for himself or had his hand forced is redundant. I have been a harsh critic of Martinez but if the players are willing to play for him and he is finally willing to adapt then I may be able to forgive the ineptitude that he has displayed for far too long.

John Keating
20 Posted 16/03/2015 at 07:32:12
Chris,

You are correct. Thursday night was different and you could literally feel the nonacceptance, anger, disillusionment of the crowd. You could see the players doubts about the crap passing that had gone on, the crowds feelings transmitted to them and they adapted.

I believe Martinez has had his hands forced to some extent. Regardless of all the bullshit he talks after games, he knows we are in trouble down the bottom. His tactics were not working and for months he has heard the boos and felt the disillusionment of the support.

Thursday night even he must have felt what was going on and how the players reacted. Hopefully he continues with this, we get a win against QPR and to some extent ease the stress on everyone.

Jon Withey
21 Posted 16/03/2015 at 07:57:37
Enjoyed the game – thought Alcaraz was superb – he only seemed to almost fall asleep once.

Besic came on and almost immediately gave the ball away in our 'pass it dangerously at the back' routine – otherwise he was also very good.

It was good to see more of Baines and Coleman in attack too – I'd almost forgotten they could do that.

Really enjoyed seeing Barkley running at the defence again too – his best assets are the power and mobility; the tippy-tappy stuff is more Osman.

Dennis Stevens
22 Posted 16/03/2015 at 08:43:49
Thanks for another excellent report, Ken. Hopefully, this performance is confirmation of the signs we saw on Thursday that a corner is being turned, at last! There's no reason we couldn't have a really good run of matches to the season's end – 15 of them with a bit of luck!
Trevor Lynes
23 Posted 16/03/2015 at 09:24:10
As ever a fine unbiased report. No mention of Atsu who IMO played the pass of the match to Barkley for his goal. It was good to see Ross make the run into space but Atsu played it in perfectly. This lad was player of the tournament in the African Cup and showed great ability in pace and picking passes. He would be a decent acquisition IMO.

All-in-all, a much better performance than of recent past and no coincidence that the return of Osman helped Baines a lot. Gibson and Alcaraz also had fine games which should lift confidence.

Kone and Lukaku together has been something I have gone on about for ages. Newcastle had success with Ba and Cisse when the played them both. Now both Ba and Cisse are struggling since they have been parted!! I would use that combo for home matches and leave one of them upfield when defending corners, it ties up defenders and stops the big boys coming forward from the back.

All around a much more positive display although the passing needs to be improved. Keep the improvement up boys and stay fit, Gibbo and Ossie.

Paul Gladwell
24 Posted 16/03/2015 at 09:29:32
The difference in Lukaku if we play to his strengths, that's 17 now, playing in a team that's done all it's football in front of its own penalty area, he's on course to get 20, something I think only one player has done for us in two decades yet people still think he's no good and slate him, the lad scores goal, he's still learning, he's rough at times, but 20 goals a season players are priceless.
Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 16/03/2015 at 10:05:39
Another good summary, Ken. I'm made up with the victory; I hope the way we have played since the latter part of Thursday's game carries on.

The only reservation I have is how poor Newcastle were, they were nearly as bad has we were against Southampton, Hull, Stoke City etc. Apart from that, I am well pleased.

Mike Childs
26 Posted 16/03/2015 at 10:22:32
"The teams were transmitted via the digital highway and poured over in detail." What a brilliant picture this sentence paints. Hats off to you, Ken.
John Raftery
27 Posted 16/03/2015 at 10:30:21
Newcastle were very poor but we have failed to beat many poor teams this season.

Assuming they are all fit I would stick with the same back line for the next two games. Alcaraz looked a class act yesterday but it remains to be seen if he can cope with better attackers and above all steer clear of injury.

The save from Howard was tremendous and spared us a nervous last 10 minutes. There were good contributions from Gibbo and Ossie in midfield while Lennon worked his stocks off and gained his reward in winning the penalty.

As for Lukaku the 㿈m looks like money very well spent. He has 17 goals; the much lauded Costa has 18 but has proven to be something of a liability with his poor disciplinary record.

Sam Morrison
28 Posted 16/03/2015 at 11:04:06
Many people have been writing Alcarez off. He played really well last season for 4-5 games before picking up injury and being brought back too soon for the disaster against Liverpool. Suddenly he was regarded as shite, and hasn't had the chance to prove people wrong with the odd start or sub appearance. Clearly he improves the more regularly he plays.
Peter Roberts
29 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:02:21
Not many comments on here today. Normally get 150-200 all stating why Martinez must go etc etc.

Lets give the fella some credit, he identified things have worked well and implemented them. Usually the criticism of Moyes was that he was stubborn - so much so that he really didn't evolve us. Martinez like many managers has to believe in his philosophy and stick to his guns. Its very easy to sit on the outside and say why he is wrong but he looks to have changed things - whether it be late in the day or not.

Peter Roberts
30 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:07:22
John, whilst I agree Lukaku is starting to show some form - Costa has 18 goals in the league, Lukaku has 9 goals in the league.

I would dare say that against that young boys team Costa would have got 6-7 goals.

Anyway, onwards and upwards for Rom. He needs to apply himself with the same attitude in every game.

David Graves
31 Posted 16/03/2015 at 11:51:00
Costa has scored 18 league goals compared to Rom's 8 so there is a significant difference. In fact his return of 8 league goals only puts him about 19th in the list of premier league top scorers. But imagine if we'd played to his strengths all season; how different his goals return and our league position might be.
Brent Stephens
32 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:02:06
John #21 "Really enjoyed seeing Barkley running at the defence again too - his best assets are the power and mobility - the tippy-tappy stuff is more Osman."

John, I agree. Ross was direct, running at the defence. And Osman direct in his passing - perceptive, breaking the gain line rather than tippy tappy just for the sake of possession. Their contributions in that game were very different but equally important and well appreciated by all in the posts on TW.

Alan Humphreys
33 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:14:12
My lads first ever game at Goodison (top balcony by the Park end) and what a game. Struggled at times to work out what our formation was and as Ken says it was loosely a 4-4-2 - that in itself was a welcome change and confused NUFC as much as me by the way the game panned out.

For me it showed what a difference it can make to the ethos of a team when your midfield contains creative players and not just defensive midfielders. Gibson and Osman both took the game to NUFC. Jags and Alcarez looked great and looked to be on the front foot too.

Kone deserved a goal for all his endeavour but his first touch is akin to Lukaku's earlier in the season, now the big man seems to have the ball stuck to him. Thought his link up play was sublime in places.

Great game for my lad plus he also got to see some of his heroes beforehand as they went into the ground, and their expensive cars - on that note Barclay seriously needs to give his a clean !

Sid Logan
34 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:30:15
Good report Ken.

Certainly agree that Alcaraz grew in to the game. He's a player I want to like but he must maintain the progress.

I thought Kone could have been sharper at times but I reckon we should persist with him. He must be due to star scoring soon.

Some good performances all over the pitch. Lennon was clapped of as much for effort and tackling back as for success going forward.

As soon as we got ouside the ground we all said "no negativity today - let's enjoy a good 3 points". And we did!

Franny Porter
35 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:32:45
I reckoned it was a sort of 433 with Lennon, Kone or Rom drifting out wide to give width. Whatever it was it suited us. Mirrales for Lennon and Stones for Alcaraz Thursday and I reckon we will get the away goal we need.
Amit Vithlani
36 Posted 16/03/2015 at 12:42:02
The early Newcastle corner was a pivotal moment in this match - we could have easily conceded there had we followed our usual approach of not having a man on the line. What a disaster that would have been, as they were set up to counter attack us, with no recognisable no 9. There was a further pivotal moment too, when Jags raced up the field and swapped passes with Kone before cutting the ball back from the bye line. I think our Skipper, not the most vocal of lads, was simply trying to lead by example. It was interesting that Lukaku then took two shots thereafter and we really started to push forward. It is almost as if every game we need some type of spark to get us going. Last Thursday it was when Barry got hounded and decided to go long.
Paul Tran
37 Posted 16/03/2015 at 17:19:54
Thing is Peter, when he sticks to his 'philosophy' (has Martinez ever actually said this?), I read he has no Plan B. When he does change it, it's because the players, fans have done it and it's nothing to do with him. He changed it, it worked, we won. All credit to him, for once.

I think one of the biggest problems has been that Martinez isn't getting his ideas across to the players. I don't believe for a moment that he wants the team to play slow, dull, pointless football and create no chances. I also don't think he's telling the players to play like they're on Mogadon, though his fitness methods may contribute to this.

It's all part of the job and if he can't do it, he's got to go. I can't understand why he did this last season, but not this one.

Wayne Smyth
38 Posted 16/03/2015 at 17:34:35
Paul (#37) I agree with what you're saying about Martinez. I share the view that he doesn't want the players playing slow sideways football.

For whatever reasons – and I doubt we'll find out the full picture until a post-season autopsy is carried out – things have not come off for us.

One thing is for certain: he does deserve credit for changing things around this weekend. Newcastle players have been saying in the media how having Rom and Kone up front screwed their tactical preparation and contributed to their defeat. Sadly, I'm not surprised to see large numbers of posters here generally unwilling to give the man any praise, however.

Peter Morris
39 Posted 16/03/2015 at 17:28:17
The references to the relative strengths (and weaknesses) of Barry and Gibson are interesting.

Both players are quite similar, but I think, possibly because of advancing years, Barry's horizons are somewhat more limited. There is no doubt that this year he has failed to live up to last season's heights, when I doubt he wasted a single pass all season. He has a knack of diffusing pressure situations by turning away from danger, and delivering short passes to teammates to switch momentum.

Gibson is much more dangerous offensively, and has a clever eye for defence splitting passes. I think on balance Gibson is the better tackler, with Barry much more likely to concede fouls in his attempts to regain possession. I always thought that Barry was recruited as support for Gibson due to the latter's poor fitness record, and so it proved. His chronic knee problems may still come to haunt him and prevent him from making a real impact at Goodison.

I believe Besic should be the natural heir to Barry's role within the squad, if only if he could resist the occasional attack of show boating. The problem however, is we lack a young, creative and energetic midfielder to replace Gibson or for that matter Ossie in the medium term. Is it young Ledson possibly? Gibson is only 27 I think, and should have years left in him, if only someone could invent bionic knees!

Jon Withey
40 Posted 16/03/2015 at 18:08:59
Talking of our youngsters – they are playing Man Utd this evening on MUTV.
Bill Gall
41 Posted 16/03/2015 at 20:09:50
Wayne (#38)

The reason that you stated you "are not surprised to see large numbers of posters here generally unwilling to give the man any praise however" I think you may find the reason for this is, it has taken him counting pre-season and cup games, over 40 games this season plus the large vocal discontent against Kyiv to realize that he had to do something to stop the slide down the table, and realize that what he believed was the only way to play was right was not working.

As they say, "one swallow does not make a summer" and a lot of supporters are not going to forget what happened pre-season and the poor play that has gone on through the season that he refused to accept any blame for.

Andy Meighan
42 Posted 16/03/2015 at 20:43:28
Wayne (#38) – why should we give him any credit? This season has been an absolute shambles.

Just 4 home wins... numerous games home and away where weĂ‚’ve hardly troubled the goalkeeper... slow pedestrian predictable football... him sticking with his favourites – and you donĂ‚’t need me to tell you who they are. ItĂ‚’s been a disaster and the only way heĂ‚’ll get any credit off me is if we win the Europa League.

Highly unlikely in my view and get some sort of respectable league position. Because I donĂ‚’t know if itĂ‚’s escaped your attention but weĂ‚’re not out of the mire yet.

Mark Dunford
43 Posted 16/03/2015 at 20:47:49
It was an excellent win against a poor side in a game we all knew the team couldn’t afford to lose. Favourite bit was the third goal - best thing Atsu has done all year and wonderful to see Barkley score with such aplomb. No need to select a MotM – everyone contributed. Martinez still looked shell-shocked at the end and my guess is it will take him time to recover from the past few months. The main thing us to keep out of trouble and then we can see where we are in Summer.
Paul Tran
44 Posted 16/03/2015 at 21:36:11
'I've been garbage since the summer. Everything I've tried hasn't worked. I've mis-managed fitness, played players out of position because I thought that my shape would work eventually. It hasn't and I've stank the place out all season. I've now realised that if I step back and give the players their head, the results might come and they have. All I can do is pledge that it will be different next season, if I'm lucky enough to still be here'.

I'd love to hear that at the end of the season, obviously in more diplomatic language, but not now. I've don't recall an Everton manager apologise and grovel part-way through a season. Poyet did it and look how that helped him.

My guess is that if Martinez came out and said something like that, people would be straight on here saying he'd lost it. And they'd be right. Best thing for him is to say nothing, then beg for his job behind the scenes in the summer.

We all know the season's been awful. Just look at the state of Martinez, he knows it more than anyone. First time he's had a proper arse-kicking as a manager.

Good result, just a start. Like I said in January, if it was Kenwright, I'd have the mother of all chats with Martinez in the summer about what's changed this season and how it's going to change next season. I'd also speak with a couple of the senior players and get their take. If I didn't like what I heard, I'd pay him off. The only worry I've got is he'll replace him with an old-boy or a very old boy ex-manager.

Mike Childs
45 Posted 16/03/2015 at 22:07:27
Gaitzo Gailbrata at Eibar for our next manager. I am sure I haven't spelled his name right but he should be our next manager based on what he has done at Eibar.
Trevor Lynes
46 Posted 16/03/2015 at 22:26:40
The player's confidence has been severely dented and a couple of decent displays is all that was needed to bring it back. It just shows how brittle footballers can be when a couple of injuries and bad results come along.

Pundits are wondering why we are not having a good season in the league and many of them are putting their four pennorthĂ‚’ in. IMO, we have a small squad and cannot ride with injuries as other clubs can. It has been patently obvious that we have suffered injuries to our most influential players and that is the main reason our form has dipped.

Osman and Pienaar have been instrumental in aiding Baines in his efforts to get forward without worrying about cover. That has been our most attacking threat and with that nullified we have suffered. No other player has been able to cover this position and the team have become no-trick ponies. Baines has provided more assists than any other defender in the league, but this has dried up due to the absence of Osman and Pienaar. None of the pundits seem to have taken this fact into account.

LetĂ‚’s just hope that Ossie stays fit and helps that left flank to get forward as it used to. I donĂ‚’t know whether Pienaar will return to full fitness but he has also been missed when he is at his best.

Colin Glassar
47 Posted 16/03/2015 at 22:49:59
What happened to Jorge Jesus, Bielsa, Klopp and Bilic, Mike? They were all the fans favourites after OFM left.
Patrick Murphy
48 Posted 16/03/2015 at 23:05:18
Colin - I don’t think any of those names will be required by Everton FC at least for another six months or so, judging by the reaction of the players yesterday and the greater industry and commitment.

Perhaps, it has been a combination of bad management and player power but if the players have been told in no uncertain terms that the manager is in charge for the rest of this season and beyond, and that the board have no intention of letting Roberto go, the players will have to perform. It would also have been prudent for the club to advise Roberto that he must do what is right for the club and that means winning football matches in whatever is the best way for the current squad to achieve that.

Obviously there are at least another ten games left of this campaign and hopefully another fifteen in which Roberto and his team will be judged. But I believe Roberto will be given the first-half of next season until the board re-examine his position, unless of course results don’t continue on an upward curve.

Mike Childs
50 Posted 18/03/2015 at 19:49:36
Colin, I thought about BK and realized no way he's paying anyone with a real reputation. GG at Eibar 2 years brought up a division each year and this at the moment he isn't in the relegation drop zone.

They have been well organized in the games I've seen them.

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