Back to Goodison after the international break with the Blues looking to build on the last two wins against a side buoyed by a Liverpool drubbing at Arsenal expecting three points to cement fifth spot come final whistle.

The teams were transmitted to fans through cyber space and the main talking point in the room of nonsense was Lukakus none appearance in the squad. Was it due to injury (hammy) or was it anything to do with the utterances of his agent? Either way the upshot was he doesnt play and when or if he goes is out of fans hands but with the length of contract left the ball is firmly in our boards court.

After spending 28million on him plus the need to make a handsome profit will test his new agent to the limit in trying to offload an unproven striker to a C.L. regular who only pay big bucks for strikers like Aguero and Costa etc. On the face of it his new agent is likely to be as much of an hindrance as a blessing. Rom may have to shine for us before he gets his move to the Promised Land.

Today was kids day and the fan zone was heaving as was the fat van, Blue Dragon, scarf and hat stand plus every other outlet down Goodison Road. We may not have shone this season but we can still pull a fine crowd in.

Into the ground for Z-Cars and being kids day a youngster helped with announcing the Everton team and did it well and deserved their accolade. Bright sunshine and warmer temperatures saw different wardrobes being utilised, some a bit Winterish and some a bit Summerish which in some ways was to reflect the game. A bit good and a bit not so.

Lee Mason was reffing so expect anything and he did not disappoint. This ref always comes over to me as a man who knows he has a very well paid job and just does enough to keep it by sauntering throughout making decisions and not caring much whether they are right or wrong so long as they dont upset the assessors, and he is good at it.

The game started and from the off it was evident that the Saints had not come to park the bus but rather wrap up the three points as early as possible and then park the bus. Within five minutes it almost paid off when Pelle got his head to a cross and looped the ball seemingly over Howard and under the bar but Howard somehow arched his back and clawed the ball from under the bar itself and saved a certain goal with a super save.

We took confidence from that save and pushed on and on the quarter hour McCarthy burst forth beat his man in the area but was thwarted by a block just as he was pulling the trigger. We continued to press in a little spell of concise passing and forced a corner which was defended out for another one and when this one was taken it suffered the same fate. Everton-Everton-Everton rang out as the third kick was taken.

This was defended by the first defender but only to be picked up by Barry who immediately turned it goal ward fast and low and there was our captain Jags in true Lineker fashion to tap home at the near post. Amongst the celebrations my mind went back to those halcyon days as the golden wonder kid racked up the goals. That goal reminded me of some sayings that go around when you score first. The first goal is crucial, you have something to hold onto and they have got to open up. All I could hope for was for us to do that and catch them on the break. Do you know what? The game all but lived up to all that stuff today. Just getting the second goal let us down.

The half wore on and the Saints fans were in full voice and the Park Ends chorus of we only sing when we are winning did not put them off one bit. Ward-Prowse hit a free kick just wide as our keeper was rooted to the spot. It was either bloody good judgement on his part or just damned hard luck on the Saint.

Half time was creeping up as both sides were cancelling each other out until Barry misplaced one and the Saints man hit a long ranger that our keeper did very-very well to adjust his feet and stretch to keep the ball out. Thats two great saves in one half, very encouraging to us fans that.

Before the whistle a couple of great balls from first McCarthy and then Barry set off Lennon at the speed of a robbers dog first to the by-line then cutting infield but alas the Saints defence smuggled the final balls away.

H/T 1-0 to the Blues and most seemed happy so far but all agreed a second goal would be very nice.

I wont bore you with too many second half details as in the main it was us asking our opponent to break us down and breaking when we could. We did that very well on quite a few occasions but that old bugbear of final ball in final third was yet again thwarting us. Saints got more flustered as time went by and direct punts into areas where big men lurked was their strategy but they come up against a solid rearguard in which Barry, Stones and the excellent Jagielka were resolute. Stones did on a couple of occasions have our hearts in our mouths as he took on the role of Messie by twisting and turning in our box before striding out with the ball and clearing.

After the second of these episodes Howard had a word with him whilst ball was dead and I wondered if it was to congratulate or chastise. The bloke behind me had no doubts Get rid of the bloody thing was his advice.

This cat and mouse continued until the 70min mark when Roberto made two subs. Naismith for Kone which was well received and then Besic for Barkley which wasnt. They tell me boos were heard in the main stand!

Naismith certainly pepped up our attacks being dynamic where Kone had been a little off the pace and his first touch no better than the want away CL wannabe. Besic on the other hand had a bit of a mare. What could go wrong for him did and on a couple of occasions he was more of a threat to our defence than the opponents but hey lets cut him some slack and say he was rusty after lack of game time. Its better than saying he is not really good enough until he has had some time to get up to speed but as Roberto says they are all playing for their futures.

With ten to go we looked to be managing the minutes (I picked that bit up from listening to managers interviews) Saints could not really get at our keeper and our attacks were more designed to keep ball and the right areas namely the corners at their end.

The Saints incessant chanting was now petering away as 4mins added went up and as the whistle went there was a quick dash for the exits as most were happy with the result and I would not mind a pound for every time I heard the phrase well that should be us safe Stuff that I thought, after our season I would like a lot of effort put into the final games to at least get some value and entertainment for the price of the season ticket. Fans before flip-flops I say!

M.O.Tm -- A team effort but I thought Jags was excellent in thought, deed and example.

Overall I enjoyed the day out and I was enthralled how our style of play has evolved from early season TikkaTakka and messing about at the back thus giving goals away to today where you could say we won ugly and won with a clean sheet. Talk about chalk and cheese but it does beg the question, albeit a question we will never get an answer to, just who or what brought about such a dramatic shift in philosophy. Still thats for another day because next up is Swansea away. AllezAllez O v Land of my fathers. May both fans and team from L4 be victorious.

See you there

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (64)

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Andy McNabb
1 Posted 05/04/2015 at 08:05:01
Thanks, Ken. I always trust your reports. I must confess this season to have done the equivalent of hiding behind the sofa when we have played and have taken the option of sleeping, albeit fitfully, here in Oz.

I watched the first half of the Arsenal match – some of the play was quite scary. Not sure we will ever match that but at least there appears to be some backbone in our team. If you can't play like Arsenal, at least put up a fight, regardless of who you are playing.

Tony Draper
2 Posted 05/04/2015 at 08:10:39
As Always Ken, a spot on review with the individual touches. Very accurate.

I did think that Lennon really deserves mention for his effort all over the park and throughout the match.

Barkley looked much more like the player we all want him to be; if his substitution was a disappointment to many, then for me it was only wrong in that it was possibly premature – he was beginning to fade.

Tim O'Connell
3 Posted 05/04/2015 at 08:38:41
Well done, Ken, again an enjoyable read as usual.
Michael Penley
4 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:04:58
Great report. Something I've been meaning to ask for a while - what is 'the Room of Nonsense'? It's mentioned every report with the assumption that everyone knows what it is, and I kind of feel left out.
Mike Allison
5 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:15:03
Ken, in what world is Lukaku 'unproven'?

He's a 21-year-old who has already scored 100 career goals. He reached this mark faster than Ronaldo and Messi, and has already scored for three different clubs and his national side, and is the top scorer in this season's Europa League.

Not only should we not be worried about whether anyone will want him, we should be demanding ridiculous, world record fees with add-ons.

But if our own fans won't fight our corner, what chance have we got?

Ken Buckley
6 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:32:06
Michael @4

Its the room in a pub where a gang of us Blues meet pre and post match and discuss all subjects with the main one being the Blues in general and the match in hand. We have been frequenting for many many years and we are still adding to our numbers. All are football experts which leads to lively debate.

For you to get the flavour, just imagine all the regular posters on ToffeeWeb in one room and shout, "I think Martinez should be given 3 seasons as manager to get his message over." Sit back and enjoy.

Clive Mitchell
7 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:32:46
Top form, Ken. Love the pre-match description – perfect antidote to the double Belgian nonsense we've had to put up with.
Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:29:29
Michael, I think Ken, should answer that one mate. Everyone talks nonsense when they're having a few pints, but I think Ken must stay sober? His reports are usually bang on, this one is anyway, and I'm glad he had an enjoyable day, today.

Always good when Everton Win and Liverpool lose, even though I was baffled once again by Martinez, and his after-match comments.

Tony Abrahams
9 Posted 05/04/2015 at 09:58:08
Mike, do you really think that Lukaku, has prospered enough with us, to get his dream to the promised land?

Maybe when the kid makes a statement regarding his new agent's comments, then people might be prepared to fight for his corner.

Jon Withey
10 Posted 05/04/2015 at 10:27:35
Excellent as always – thanks Ken.

A scrappy win against a very good Southampton side will do me.

Is my memory playing tricks on me or is that the best Premier League victory all season for us?

An interesting summer awaits.

Tony Draper
11 Posted 05/04/2015 at 10:31:26
Jon @10, I think that it is our only win against a top 8 side this season.
Tony Sullivan
12 Posted 05/04/2015 at 10:31:03
Thanks, Ken, as always a well balanced report, the perfect antidote to some of the rantings on the Live Forum.
Steve Brown
13 Posted 05/04/2015 at 10:52:53
Great report, Ken. Martinez got slaughtered rightly for his refusal to adapt his gameplan, now he gets slaughtered for adapting his gameplan. Go figure...

I agree with you, a lot more dynamic and quicker in getting the ball forward, we closed Soton down more aggressively than I've seen for a while. It all tended to flounder when it reached Kone, but overall we're getting better step by step.

Dave Richman
14 Posted 05/04/2015 at 11:06:16
Great report, Ken, and I had a good chuckle at your extremely diplomatic "Kone had been a little off the pace" — That's definitely one way of putting it!
Trevor Peers
15 Posted 05/04/2015 at 11:01:33
The win flattered to deceive. What struck me about yesterday's game was the amount of times we gave away possession – it was like schoolboy football... appalling.

Step by step we simply got worse as the game ground on and I can't remember a single shot in the second half. That's becoming a hallmark of Roberto s tactics; it's not acceptable and he should be removed.

Ron Sear
16 Posted 05/04/2015 at 11:29:18
I am a little surprised that Lennon was bit overlooked in this fine report. For the first time this season, fans around my seat started to get excited when a player got the ball. I know all the stuff about him not getting the final touch right, but he is great to watch when he accelerates up to warp speed – a most rare event this season. Jean-Luc Picard for our next manager?
Kevin Tully
17 Posted 05/04/2015 at 11:45:22
I don't know if it's been mentioned, but did anyone see Football Focus on BBC1 yesterday? Our ex-captain was appraising our season so far, and he basically said our poor season was down to individual errors.

Now, whilst I don't agree completely with that, he has a point, particularly about Tim Howard's form this season, which he pointed out.

The football has been poor, but the defence need to take a large portion of the blame for our Premier League position. If Howard and the back four had performed to the expected levels, we would be at least 10 points better off, and in our par position in the League table.

Those who want to place the blame squarely on the manager's shoulders are entitled to do so, but do the players get away without any blame for the appalling season we have all had to endure? As soon as the confidence left the team early in the season, we never recovered.

James Stewart
18 Posted 05/04/2015 at 11:57:01
@16 Spot on.

I thought Lennon was excellent again. Work rate and his pace are exceptional. Teams also approach us differently with him in our side because they are scared of his pace.

Eric Myles
19 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:02:42
Kevin (#17), the manager has been blamed for Howard's poor performance because he hasn't replaced him, even when Robles had a run of three clean sheets due to Howard's injury,
Patrick Murphy
20 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:01:20
Kevin,

I feel it has been a case of the chicken-and-egg syndrome this season: Is it the players who let the manager down? Or is it the manager who has let the players down? Whichever it has been, it took both an awful long time to realise that the balloon had a severe puncture... and nobody – until the supporters started to make noises – appeared to do anything about it.

It was also interesting to note that Jags in his MotD interview mentioned what a great bunch of lads the current group of players were – but no mention of 'doing it for the manager' or anything similar; probably means nothing in such a short interview... but it may also speak volumes.

Kevin Tully
21 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:06:37
Fair point, Eric. What about the rest of the defence though?
Brian Harrison
22 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:15:02
Again, Jagielka was our best player and looks to be back to his best and has done for a couple of weeks.

I still think John Stones needs to toughen up and again is still looking to dribble in the wrong areas of the pitch. But the big question for me is who has changed RM's philosophy as there has been a marked change over the past weeks. Virtually no overpassing at the back, McCarthy played in a more advanced position in the last couple of games.

Obviously Lukaku being injured ruled out playing two up top as he has for his last few matches. So will he revert to type for next season or are the changes going to stay. Now RM has said on numerous occasions that he wouldn't change his style, but even a blind man can see he has changed his style. So has the chairman had a word or has he consulted Joe Royle? I am really fascinated as to what brought about the change.

Finally, I assume that Ross was told while away with England that part of his responsibility was to challenge for the ball when the opposition have it. Something he hasn't done prior to the game yesterday.

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:29:18
James 18, good point. He also works very hard defensively as well. Imagine if he could sort his final ball out, we would have to pay at least 㾻 million for him if he did.
Trevor Peers
24 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:05:00
The defence was to blame for some of our bad performances earlier in the season. But were does that leave the rest of the team? Roberto's insistence on playing three defensive midfielders for most of the season was surely the biggest factor in our fall from grace.

The defence in the end has saved us from relegation. I think the senior players forced the manager to abandon his Tic-Tac philosophy. Does Roberto understand how creative midfielders operate? Since he took over, we have never been linked with a single creative CM – a very worrying statistic.

Santosh Benjamin
25 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:37:03
Great review, as always, Ken. I thought that Jags, Coleman, McCarthy and Lennon were brilliant. Howard made some great saves today and the clean sheet was worth its weight in gold. Kone's touch was poor today and Naismith was more of a threat in the short time he was on.

Not sure why people think Barkley was better today – I failed to see it. A few more wins would do nicely, but expectations are always inversely proportional to the results... COYB

Mark Frere
26 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:53:33
Ron (16) & James (18)

If you think pace and work-rate alone is good enough, then that's up to you. Lennon puts in a real shift and deserves to be applauded for that... but his final ball is nothing short of atrocious.

Lennon was once a young player with plenty of raw potential and everyone expected him to improve his final ball, crossing etc. Far from getting better, he's actually got worse!

Spurs want to offload him, his England career was over a long time ago; in short, he's a player that has pace and very little else to offer. When we're paying players 㿨k a week, is it asking too much to get a player that has a bit of quality as well as work-rate? Work-rate should be the bare minimum. Burnley have a whole squad of players that give their all for the shirt and aren't on big wages.

I can't believe so many people are impressed with Lennon and think we should sign him in the summer. None of the top 6 clubs would want him because he's not enough. Around the top 6 is where we've been for the last decade and it's where we hope to return next season. I'm afraid we need better players than Lennon if we want to progress.

Kevin Tully
27 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:42:28
I think it's a little naive to think the manager wants the defenders to just pass the ball across the back four, Trevor. They are drilled to keep possession of course, but it's what they do with that possession that matters.

We don't have the players to play like Barcelona, or any other passing side, so Martinez is foolish to try and instil this type of 'philosophy.'

You need a Man City type player (Aguero, Silva, Nasri) to effectively play that style. We clearly don't have the personnel and you'll be punished in the PL if you don't play to your strengths. It's a shame, because we nearly pulled it off last season, but were eventually found out. We have seen teams press us high up the pitch, which has completely nullified any attempts to keep possession for long periods.

Mike Allison
28 Posted 05/04/2015 at 13:33:05
Tony, 9, yes I believe Lukaku has done very well for us, and most of his poor form this season can be traced to the way the team as a whole has played. I don't mean just well or badly, but the entire way the team has set up.

If I was a club with aspirations of winning the Champions League, and wanted a new centre forward, there would be one name on my list, and I'd pay whatever it took to sign him. It seems I'd be in luck, because his own fans want rid of him on the cheap.

Dave Ganley
29 Posted 05/04/2015 at 12:54:42
Aaron Lennon gets highlighted for his work ethic as its the one feature that has been sadly missing for much of the season. Whenever Lennon has been pressing and harassing the opposition defence then things happen, opportunities are created, again situations that have seldom happened this season.

The players have looked unfit for most of the season, Ossie even highlighted this with his statement that one of MartinezÂ’s "hard sessions" are the equivalent of one of MoyesÂ’s Friday easy sessions. The lack of fitness throughout the season has cost us players (continual soft tissue injuries), goals (how many have we conceded in the last 20 mins?) and also goal scoring opportunities. (It seems obvious that when we press from the front, the defence makes mistakes and creates goal opportunities... just look at our mistakes this season for conformation.)

The players do have to take a certain amount of responsibility but when the defence is blatantly told to play their way out of defence against their natural urges then mistakes will happen, have been happening all season costing us goals....the manager has to take responsibility for that. We were unfortunate in the first couple of games of the season when we actually played quite well but lack of fitness cost us in those games. It is severely negligent to not be fit for the start of the season and again, the manager has to take responsibility for that too.

The confidence has visibly been drained since those games and the manager has allowed it to. Any manager worth his salt wouldn’t have let that happen. We are not the only side to have a slow start but others have not blamed two draws at the start of the season for a miserable campaign – our manager did.

Consistently changing a team, not letting players get any kind of rhythm developing, playing players out of position, not reacting to developing situations on the field (re Southampton away etc) playing with two sometimes three defensive midfielders is hardly the way forward to playing exciting progressive football.

To be honest, when Barcelona were in their prime, I could admire their technical expertise and their ability to strike at will when they saw fit; however, for much of the time I watched them the games were dull, keep ball and bore the opposition to death before hitting them. They were the best in the world at doing this and yet a lot of their games had me switching for the off button.

Fast forward to EFC: our players clearly donÂ’t like this style of play and clearly are not very good at it so ultimately you end up with dreary, tedious excitement-free zones we have now. These players are good players but look like rank amateurs, not enjoying their football, making mistakes, on the receiving end of crowd anger, not scoring, conceding goals. I am afraid all these issues can be laid at the doorstep of the manager and ultimately our chairman for allowing this eyesore to fester.

The players can obviously play with verve, style, pace when sent out with a balanced team and the freedom to do so – just look at certain games from early last season and towards the end of Moyes’s reign – so why the manager persists in playing such a dull unproductive and sterile style of play is anybodys guess.

I, like a lot of other supporters do not want a revolving door of managers going in and out of the club but we need to wake up and show some ambition and not a touch of reality and show what is and is not good enough for EFC. What we have seen this season is not even remotely good enough, the fall from grace has been spectacular and depressing, the manager has shown absolutely no idea how to stem the tide and even yesterday in the 2nd half went back to the sterile boring football that has summed up our season so far after showing a bit of fight in the 1st half.

To compare MoyesÂ’s second season with Martinez is utter nonsense, Moyes inherited a very poor team and poorly run club; supporters were patient because we all knew this. Martinez inherited a club in rude health and a decent squad of players and has turned us into a laughing stock with poor displays, poor attitudes and ridiculous after-match comments which, any sane supporter knows, is total nonsense.

If we persist with Martinez next season, I canÂ’t see anything other than the struggles we have seen this season. Martinez has not shown any kind of remedy to change the run of form we have showed most of the season or rewarded any players which have showed any kind of form by continually dropping them for players not in form.

We play with no width, yesterday highlighted that. Baines and Coleman have both come in for a lot of critisism this season, some justified, most not. Many times this season, they have found themselves in acres of space but nobody passes to them. When they do get the ball, because the manager insists on not playing proper wingers, they have no cover behind them if they lose the ball. They end up out of position and hence get slaughtered for it so they end up reluctant to move too far up the pitch.

A few years ago Benitez called us a small club which, quite rightly, sparked anger amongst the faithful. If we persist with Martinez into next season we are effectively saying its okay to cheat supporters with dour football and nonsense excuses, its okay to languish in the lower reaches of the Premier League and its okay to find our level with the likes of Burnley, Hull, QPR. Its 20 years now since we last won a trophy and we look as far away from winning one as we have ever done.

I will still have my season ticket for next season because, as with most diehard blues, we just go to the game – regardless of who is in charge – because its OUR club... not Martinez’s or Kenwright’s but OURS. But if we don’t make changes for next season, starting with the manager, then maybe Benitez had it spot on... we are a small club with small ambitions. The phrase Nil Satis Nisi Optimum has never felt less apt.

Jay Harris
30 Posted 05/04/2015 at 14:15:18
Very enjoyable report as always Ken.

I thought Jags and dare I say it (or even think it) Howard were contenders for MotM.

I thought Lennon brought exactly what we need on the flanks always showing for the ball, pace to burn and good defensively.

Unlike some, I thought Ross was atrocious – the only positive thing I could see is that he was at least attempting a challenge. There is no doubting his skill but he has a mountain to climb in improving his application.

Overall, I remain concerned about our inability to trouble opposition goalkeepers.

The sooner we change the manager the better IMO.

Jon Withey
31 Posted 05/04/2015 at 14:21:28
Can we honestly afford to keep a 㿈M striker finishing where we will and not being in Europe?

Without him, we'd have been relegated though.

Paul Thompson
32 Posted 05/04/2015 at 14:49:40
One shot on goal. At home. Incredible how many times in the second half we broke forward only for the move to break down. Nobody passed it well. As others have noted, serious rebuilding needed, with or without Martinez. I have mixed feelings on Lennon as part of that for all the well-rehearsed reasons. But if we can get him for about ٣m his pace and work rate would probably make it worthwhile.
Charlie Parker
33 Posted 05/04/2015 at 15:03:48
Good report, Ken, but I did not enjoy the match (the result apart) and I have not enjoyed much of the football this season. I am not a fan of sacking managers but I do not relish next season whatsoever.

I have always had doubts over Barkley – what is his position? Why does he fade so in games? Why does he run towards defenders and end up crowded out? Add to that giving the ball away.

I followed his progress when on loan and none of the fans of those clubs saw what all the fuss was about. I hope I am wrong and he dosen't come back to haunt us in the future (no matter how much money we get for him).

Phil Sammon
34 Posted 05/04/2015 at 16:23:03
Charlie 33

Well I'm sorry Charlie, but that is utter bollocks. I'm from Leeds and every fan I know was utterly aghast with the way Warnock treated Barkley. I have many friends who are Wednesday fans too. Everyone agrees that Barkley has something very special. He is the diamond that Martinez proclaimed... he just needs one hell of a polish!

Ray Roche
35 Posted 05/04/2015 at 16:28:40
Charlie (#33),

I'm with Phil on this one, I actually posted some of the comments on ToffeeWeb recently from Leeds and Sheffield fans after Barkley's loan spells and for you to say that "none of the fans of those clubs saw what all the fuss was about" is disingenuous in the extreme. Warnock was roundly criticised by the fans for the way he treated Barkley. The man is an idiot.

David Hallwood
36 Posted 05/04/2015 at 16:41:46
Great report as ever Ken, and you ask a good question in Is the change in footballing philosophy pragmatic; maybe a journalist should ask our Bob that.

Mike Allison (#5), while I agree that Lukaku may not be in the 'promising youngster' category, he's nowhere near the top striker category either. Another poster sated that he would be the first name on the list if he was creating a CL team: What? – in front of Ratboy, Rooney & Aquero? Really?

While it's all very well agents of footballers bigging up 'their boys', but where would Lukaku go that would give him the: (a) CL he craves; (b) a club with a possibility of reaching the semis, let alone winning it?

Obviously Mourinho didn't fancy him – and, let's be honest, if he would've stayed at Chelsea and produced the form he did before Christmas, he would've been a bench warmer or on-loan in the January window. Looking around Europe at the big clubs, who would've paid the fee Chelsea were looking for.

Lukaku, like Mirallas, lacks consistency in their performances, and teams with a big squad, it would simply be a case of the survival of the fittest, his career path is better served here where he can make his mistakes; the big clubs just don't do rough diamonds, just ask Deulofeu.

Andrew Clare
37 Posted 05/04/2015 at 17:06:07
Dave (#29),

Apart from the Barcelona bit I fully agree with you.

Also I would add that any team with Howard, Lennon, Kone, Osman and Barry playing for them is not going to be challenging for Champions League places.

I am worried that we are going backwards with Martinez – not that we went forwards with Moves either.

Really, we haven't gone anywhere for over 25 years. We have been very badly let down by Kenwright & Co.

Mike Oates
38 Posted 05/04/2015 at 17:05:21
3 pts is 3pts and that should make us absolutely safe , but what a shambles we have become. Outplayed by QPR and Southampton, but with luck on our side we scramble through.

I really think we have gone backwards big time this season and if we don't either get a new manager or get rid of at least 7 or 8 out of their depth or injury prone players – Distin, Alcaraz, Besic, Pienaar, Gibson, Kone, Atsu, and Hibbert and replace them with quality bought players then all I can see is more trouble next year even without the Europa League.

I just don't see any youngsters coming through, McAleny, Long, Lundstram, and Grant aren't getting sufficient game time in the clubs they are on loan to and whilst Pennington is doing well at Coventry – it is League One Coventry! The likes of Henen, Ledson, Green, Kenny and Walsh are still at least a year away and need to develop on loan preferably at a Championship Club.

So, Mr Martinez, as I'm sure your staying, get out there in June spend your multimillions wisely, not on one 㿈M player. Plan a decent pre-season not a fudged up last minute job, and play your best team every game – Chelsea have done it, it works provided the players are fit.

Mike Childs
39 Posted 05/04/2015 at 17:21:35
"We were managing the minutes well (I picked that bit from managers interviews)". What an excellent sense of humor, Ken. As always thanks.
Victor Jones
40 Posted 05/04/2015 at 16:12:46
That was a welcome three points. And it now seems that we are clawing our way to safety. But as usual with Everton, it is too little, too late. We are picking up some much needed points. Which is good. But we could not do the business early on in the season, when it really mattered. And as usual we could not find any sort of form in the cups.

The Europa League rum meant very little to me. We only really beat three teams in this competition. And when it really mattered, we fell short. As I have said, typical Everton. Even under Moyes.

What I would now like to see, is for Everton to pick up at least 4 more points in their next two games (away to Swansea and home to Burnley). That will virtually guarantee Premier League football for next season. Then I would like to see Martinez play a few of the youngsters until the end of the season. Let's see what Robles, Garbutt, Besic, Browning and Long (if not on loan) can do. Those players (should they be the real deal) will save Everton fortunes.

Use whatever transfer kitty, to bring in a couple of class acts, who will make a real difference. Cause I am getting fed up with all the rubbish that Everton habitually bring in (Alcaraz, McGeady, Kone, Barry and now Lennon). Moyes also brought in some rubbish. Let's not forget that... Also, let's get rid of the deadwood and the walking wounded. (Is it really worthwhile persisting with Gibson, Kone, Pienaar, etc?)

But of course, none of what I said will happen. The youngsters that I mentioned will most likely be sold on in the summer. And the walking wounded will most likely be all signed up on longer contracts. You think that I am joking. I only wish that I was.

It is good that Everton are now at least winning a few matches. And it seems that the tippy-tappy nonsense has been dropped. That is good. Because let's be honest, we were rubbish at it. But I fear that what we are now witnessing is a, dare I say it, a "dogs of war" approach. This is not any sort of Plan B. It is just a "win at all costs" approach. That approach only seems to creep up on struggling, desperate teams. Teams that cannot afford to lose. And for now, it will do for me... as long as Everton keep on winning. It's just a shame that Martinez took so long to catch on that that was what was needed. And will he revert to type, for next season?

Sorry for straying away from yesterday's game, but it now looks likely that Martinez will be still at Everton next season. (Remember that he never improved Wigan's league position, they got progressively worse each season. Their cup win was lucky, IMO.) But my point is, would you trust Martinez to get his players fit during the summer? Would you trust him to bring our talented youngsters through, and make them permanent selects in his teams? Would you trust him to bring in the right players, to strengthen Everton FC? We all know his flops. Add Sammy Eto'o to that list. (What was that signing about?) After this season, would you trust Martinez with anything?

Rant nearly over. Always good to see Everton win. And credit to old upside-down head yesterday. He actually played well. But I still think that Robles deserves a proper chance. If not, then keep an eye on the Petr Cech situation. He IMO would be great for a few seasons at Everton. And within Everton's budget. Why not? He will sign for some team. Can we really afford to snub a top class GK?

And Everton should also keep an eye on some of the relegation threatened teams. Danny Ings and Charlie Austin spring to mind, These players will not command an extortionate fee. And how about Shawcross, to bolster the defence... and Delboy to play the wings. Ship out all the rubbish, to accommodate wages. I can but dream. Easy this management game, ain't it?

Sorry for not mentioning, but your report was very good. This season has been surreal. I actually found myself losing interest (which I have never ever done in 45 years as an Everton supporter). I knew that pining our hopes on the Europa League was a long shot. And I was wishing that the season was over. In fact I watched a few matches also wishing that they were over. That the referee would put us out of our misery and we could all go home.

I hope that Martinez finds it in himself to play a few youngsters. They might just do the business, and a new "philosophy "might be born. Or should I say, a new "philosophy" might be stumbled upon. Because that's all I feel that Martinez has been doing this season, "hoping to stumble upon a system". And at the end of the day, he has: Joe Royle's "dogs of war". Would you believe it?

Rant over. FOREVER EVERTON.

Kieran Fitzgerald
42 Posted 05/04/2015 at 17:29:11
It’s been touched on in a lot of the comments posted on the match reports from yesterday but I do think that Martinez is playing for his future at the club.

Yesterday was almost like an admission that his approach has failed this season. The game had a back to basics type feel to it where getting the defence right was the first step in a main plan. While it made us look like the away team instead of the home team, at least we showed to ourselves that we can still defend properly.

Martinez will need to show between now and the end of the season that this current run of games isn’t just his annual pulling away from relegation stunt that he did with Wigan for a number of seasons. He will need to show that he has the brains to change what hasn’t worked and to develop more flexibility. He will also need to show that he has the managerial skills to win back over the squad and the fans.

Next weekend’s set of fixtures could define what we do for the rest of the season and could give Martinez a golden opportunity to really put things right. We play Swansea while Stoke and West Ham play each other. They are the three teams directly above us at present. A win for us could mean that finishing eighth is a real possibility. This could give us the focus and the momentum to rebuild confidence and positivity within the squad again. More importantly for Martinez it may buy him more time if he gets things right.

Dave Abrahams
43 Posted 05/04/2015 at 17:24:56
Another good honest report, Ken, although I'm also surprised you never gave a mention to Lennon. I would have no hesitation in signing this lad, I think he has done well since he came and his level will not drop. What you see is what you get, and I know some do not like him, it's all about opinions.
John Williams
44 Posted 05/04/2015 at 15:35:14
Ken,

Thoroughly enjoyable read as always. I would love to read a preamble from you from a cup final or a game of similar importance. Ending with a win of course.

Some very good posts on here today.

Kevin (#27), I agree with you 100%. This is the main but one of many reasons I'd love to see the back of Martinez. Why has it taken him all season to call time on playing slow ponderous football from the back? Will he revert to it next season? Possession football he advocates has and will not work with this squad of players.

When Martinez arrived at the club, he changed the fitness regime. He said footballers are like no other athletes and so ball work above all else is the way to go and running up hills fitness was wrong. I would agree with this for the youth teams trying to improve technique... but in PL games? Questionable to say the least. To see Ross yesterday blowing for tugs during the game and flagging after an hour is a joke. At 21 he should be in his prime fitness wise, let's face it, he's hardly been overused,

Tony Abrahams
45 Posted 05/04/2015 at 23:50:14
Mike 28, I think I agree with most of your thread, except for your last sentence, which reminded me of that old Talking Heads classic, called Stop Making Sense!
Eric Myles
46 Posted 06/04/2015 at 02:48:21
Kevin #21, my take on the rest of the defense is:

Baines and Coleman nowhere near as good as we are used to due to the manager's tactics. We have no real alternative to Coleman but Garbutt could have been given a few games. Maybe Martinez is holding a grudge due to his comments about the Newcastle game.

Because of a tiff with Distin we've lost a solid defender.

Stones has done well in partnership with Jagielka but is still developing.

Jagielka has been out of sorts for whatever reason but has improved of late.

Alcaraz, never been good enough really.

The defence have also been hampered by our lack of practicing defending set pieces and by the poor form of the midfield in front of them.

So mostly factors I'd put down to the manager's team selection, training methods and tactics.

Trevor Lynes
47 Posted 06/04/2015 at 06:05:06
I reckon we will make about 50 points this season and that is basically all we are worth. We are carrying an ageing squad with a few regular injury prone squad members.

I agree that Jags is immense and IMO one of the top three or four defenders in the Premier League. Stones is still not there and he will benefit playing alongside Jags. Many times I have mentioned one particular stat and that is Jagielka's disciplinary record. I cannot remember him being suspended or accumulating cards. His record is far better than that of Cahill and Shawcross and he is not a penalty-area grappler either. I reckon he plays in the tradition of all the great Everton centre backs. I am sorry that Distin is out of favour as he is much better than Alcaraz.

I am disappointed in the lack of top youngsters at the club though. Only defenders are coming through and I have not seen any who are groomed for replacing Osman or Pienaar. Creativity is a real priority and is the main reason why we are not as threatening up front as we should be. No striker can score without the right ammunition and without Pienaar playing Baines is unable to overlap and create assists like last season.

Baines has not gone backwards since last season we have not groomed anyone to do the Pienaar role and that is the glaring reason for the threat that they posed being nullified. Surely our coaches should be looking at what is needed and start doing their jobs properly.

Pienaar was the most fouled player in the league and that provided many set piece chances around the opposition box. Baines does not get the chances to get the goals he scored. Pienaar is very clever at getting fouls by dribbling; no-one else seems able to do that.

I would like to see two left-sided players tried. Either Garbutt behind or ahead of Baines as both have excellent deliveries and pace. For home matches, we need a more attack-minded lineup and for away games, we can be less so. Having two defensive midfielders playing together is negative IMO. Surely we could have McCarthy with Baines or Garbutt and keep Barry for away matches. Instead of Kone, we could try Barkley alongside Rom.

Sorry for the rant but I always enjoy your reports and they are usually the most accurate and contain less individual player blaming. Martinez is trying to get as many points as possible as the finishing place in the league earns a lot of money, so winning ugly is better for his value as a manager. Unfortunately the problem we have is the same as with Moyes. Boardroom lack of investment !

Scottie Gower
48 Posted 06/04/2015 at 08:57:33
Just spent nearly an hour reading the report and then the comments, all worthy of the odd 'hmmm' in agreement.

My bullet points comments are these:-

● Martinez is a charlatan (not a 90s Manc) with his post-match interviews. I thought this at Wigan. He baffles people and blinds them. I am afraid Blue Bill has been sold by this bollocks this season.

● Fitness levels are nowhere near good enough to compete for Premier League games. Evidence is Ross blowing out his arse after an hour and loosing out in the last 10/15 mins of games. RM staff are part to blame for this.

● We have a lot of old dead wood and very average players who would struggle to get into mid table teams. RM type of football only works with very confident and very good footballers comfortable and intelligent with the ball. Hence the mistakes we have made which have hurt us hard.

Can RM bring in good players? Where is the evidence of this? Can RM do good business? I doubt it. Alcaraz, Lukaku, Koné... poor expenditure decisions. James McCarthy the exception of course.

● I am going to renew the season ticket with great reluctance as I agree with some of the previous comments: I am bored shitless at games and I've lost my enthusiasm. I can't even be arsed shouting encouragement over the last 2 or 3 games. I blame the management for this. The boring football we are playing is very draining.

● Blue Bill's big blue balls need to drop out and I think he should be considering some strong decisions between now and June. If we stick with RM or if we we go with another manager, either way, next season needs something to change big time or if we stick we will sustain RM's record of never improving his previous league finish. Now that will be frightening.

Peter Roberts
49 Posted 06/04/2015 at 10:51:28
Ken for what it’s worth I was sat in the Main Stand on Saturday and heard no boos when Barkley was subbed. He’d put in a shift but was becoming more of a passenger in the game. Needs to keep his head up as he still goes down too many blind alleys.
Peter Fearon
50 Posted 06/04/2015 at 13:59:33
When we lose, fans call for Martinez to be fired. When we win, fans call for Martinez to be fired! We just beat a team that had Champions League aspirations and defended well, and we kept a clean sheet. Howard pulled off two great saves. Our England international trio put in a good shift. All this without our best striker. Some players look to be coming back to form albeit late in the season.

Things look good for the run-in. No wonder certain Evertonians are unhappy!!! The fact is that Martinez will be back next season. He will continue the process of rebuilding and hopefully we will progress. I know supporting the manager is an alien concept to some of you but try it some time.

Gary Mortimer
51 Posted 06/04/2015 at 14:46:10
As far as I am concerned, Lennon, although his defensive work rate was excellent on Saturday, is not good enough for our expectations.

Bertrand got booked early on, which should have given him license to attack him every time he got the ball – put him under pressure of getting a second yellow. What did he do for the rest of the match? Every time he got the ball he turned infield away from Bertrand, he didn't try and go around him once.

He's better than McGeady but I'd prefer us trying to get Deulofeu back.

Dave Abrahams
52 Posted 06/04/2015 at 15:22:44
Peter (50), I think at the start of the season Martinez had a big majority of the fans on his side, I was one of them, he has since then made mistake after mistake, proved to be very stubborn with his tactics, selections and the general play of the team hasn't been up to what we expected after last season.

I was with him, even though I was less than happy with the performances of the team, thought he would, could turn it around, but over and before the Xmas period realised he just wasn't up to it.

I like your loyalty to Martinez and I hope, really hope he proves us wrong, in fact I would love him to do that but unfortunately I can't see it.

Plato Stavrinos
53 Posted 06/04/2015 at 16:18:40
Peter (50) I'm with you on this one. I'm willing to give him till Xmas next season to show us if he is the real deal.
Trevor (47) I have been saying it all season that we need creative players and if RM does not go out and buy at least a couple of playmakers next season then we in for another long season.

Finally I think we will end 9th this season and if we beat Swansea this weekend possibly 8th.

COYB!!!

Dave Ganley
54 Posted 06/04/2015 at 16:19:01
Peter #50 I take it that you have not watched the previous 7 months of the season. The football played has been as poor as has been witnessed since the Mike Walker days. Any aspirations we had were effectively finished as soon as West Ham kicked us out of the FA cup, the EL was just waiting for us to get drawn against a half decent team and we were duly knocked out. The last half of last season was no great shakes either excepting the win against Arsenal at home....the woeful performances against the RS and Arsenal in the FA cup included.

We are disjointed, unbalanced, not fit and very lucky to have won the previous two league games against a poor QPR side and a half decent Southampton side who seemingly have lost their nerve in front of goal. I cant make up my mind as to whether you are just trying to wind people up with your comments on things looking up.....the game on Saturday was awful really and the only positive was the 3 points. As for players coming back to form, really only Jags has looked like he is performing anything like he should.

If you think that things are looking good then you really are deluded. The sad facts are that we have avoided relegation (a situation that we should never be anywhere near in the first place) were terrible in cup competitions and have played the most boring sterile unproductive football for years. Obviously 1 shot on target for a full game is satisfactory for you. Well its not for me, this squad of players should be achieving far more than it is and that is the managers responsibility. As a club EFC should be striving for so much more and if your comments are anything to go by then its no wonder there is a sense of apathy around the club and that there is no sense of urgency to win anything for another 20 years.

As I have stated earlier on a thread, this is not acceptable, being in the lower reaches is not acceptable, not competing for trophies is not acceptable, having a decent squad of players playing them out of position and not maximising their potential is not acceptable and our manager has displayed all these unacceptable traits this season. I am sick and tired of being a "plucky Everton" fan who should know his place. We got ourselves into a position at the beginning of last season whereby we should have kicked on and been in a position to be competing for trophies and in the last calender year we have fallen so far, we have even on occasion been rooting for the RS to beat one of our relegation rivals.....pathetic!!

Its just not good enough and no matter how much spin you want to put on it, isn't going to change the fact that we are a poor, poor football team with little or no tactical acumen and that my friend is definitely the managers fault

Patrick Murphy
55 Posted 06/04/2015 at 17:08:02
Dave - Just to think that this time last year we were celebrating that wonderful victory over Arsenal and had just five games to negotiate to nab that last CL place - until Palace came to town and took the wind out of our sails. That was the first time I seriously questioned Roberto's management style/ability and he hasn't done a great deal since to allay my fears about him.
Peter Fearon
56 Posted 06/04/2015 at 20:14:45
Dave Ganley, I have been watching the other seven months but the point I was making was not that there are no problems. There very obviously are problems. The point I was making was that some Evertonians will find a reason to be unhappy even when we win.

Howard has been struggling but he had a good game. We beat a very useful side. Some players who have been off form are possibly coming back into form. We have a manager who, despite some missteps, is committed to a higher aesthetic standard than many who have gone before.

These are reasons to be happy but some Evertonians are only happy when their worst fears are coming true. And anyone who thinks Mike Walker and Roberto Martinez can even be compared knows nothing about either Mike Walker or Roberto Martinez. He deserves more than one poor season to get things right.

Jim Hardin
57 Posted 06/04/2015 at 21:15:50
Peter, appreciate your comments but with Martinez hasn't he had 4 or 5 poor seasons already? He sold out to win a cup and move to a bigger club (Everton) but his record at Wigan was atrocious whilst pursuing his aesthetic standard of play. On a Barcelona budget, it is possible but on Everton's it is much the same as at Wigan and we know that unhappy ending.
Dave Ganley
58 Posted 06/04/2015 at 22:00:57
Fair enough, Peter, I appreciate your opinion and I admire your optimism.

Yeah, Tim Howard performed well yesterday (I am not one to knock players, by the way) and we did beat a decent team, but whether you find it a good win or a fortunate win, one swallow doesn't make a summer. We shall have to agree to disagree in comparisons of Mike Walker and Martinez... in my opinion, we have looked as clueless this season as we did then.

We all want what's best for EFC so, if Martinez stays and we succeed, then I shall be the first to eat humble pie and say I was wrong. However, I fear next season will mirror this and we shall be in trouble – especially if our quality players decide we are a sinking ship... I have seen nothing recently to suggest we will be competitive next season, I'm afraid...

Joe Foster
59 Posted 06/04/2015 at 22:22:55
Peter F, are you a wind-up merchant. What have you seen that gives you any reason to believe RM can part the sea and lead us to the promised land?

You are probably just happy to hang on in the Premier League with no aspirations for the team; good for you. Me and many others don’t want that.

We understood OFM had to steady the club but in his last 3-4 years we knew he had gone as far as possible and should leave. RM has shown no evidence he can push us on to another level. He seems out of his depth.

You will probably get what you wish for and he will still be here, but I think it will be you eating your words and I will take great pleasure in reminding you.

Andy Crooks
60 Posted 06/04/2015 at 22:32:42
Peter (#50), name one Evertonian who is unhappy that things are looking better.
Plato Stavrinos
61 Posted 06/04/2015 at 22:35:42
Joe, I think last year's 5th place and record points total gives me one reason to have hope. Don't forget, we had Europe to contend with and that is why next season will be the telling year for RM.

I agree this year has been a disaster but if David Moyes was given 11 years surely RM deserves one more.

Joe Foster
62 Posted 06/04/2015 at 23:19:52
Plato, if I thought that 5th place was solely due to RM, I might be with you. But anyone can tell it was because of part OFM and part FFM styles worked together in harmony during the start of our FFM bedding in(FFM = future former manager).

I know it does not make sense but it’s out there now

Bob Parrington
64 Posted 08/04/2015 at 08:59:34
Looking back 5 to 7 weeks when we were all contemplating the run-in and relegation or not, I wonder how many of us would have counted the Southampton game as a 3 pointer? So, why don't we look at the last 7 and try to predict the final tally of points. Those of us brave or silly enough to do so might try to pick each game.

To start this off, I'm going for:
Swansea A 1 pt
Burnley H 3 pts
Man Utd H 3 pts
A Villa A 1 pt
Sunderland H 3pts
WHU A 1pt
Spurs H 1 pt

Any takers?

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