From My Seat: Aston Villa (A)

Overall a disappointing day out – not because we lost but the manner in which we lost. It was as though the mental state of the players was that they knew there was nothing to play for, they were safe and could not challenge for anything and put in a display that professional players should be ashamed of.

Ken Buckley 02/05/2015 37comments  |  Jump to last
Villa away so M6 to negotiate bearing in mind a closed Jct 6 and a game to cement our recent good form by gaining our 7th match unbeaten in our 200th meeting with the Villains. Some record that. Teams arrive via cyberspace and two changes. Osman and Barkley on the bench and Mirallas and Naismith start. Considering our display last week many of us wondered why.

The game kicked off with the travelling faithful in good voice and expectant. From the off we looked a little hesitant and in no more than two minutes Naismith in our half played a perfect pass to a Villa man from an attempted back pass and after clearing a corner Lennon put Lukaku through toward goal with the ball at his feet but he looked cumbersome and half- hearted and had the ball taken from him without much of a fight. These two cameos would tell the story of the first half.

On ten minutes our worst fears were realised when Jags won a tackle and put the ball out for a throw. From the throw, Delph out on the left put in a high cross that saw Benteke in between Jags and Baines for some reason Jags didnt jump and Benteke was well above Baines as he headed a fine goal leaving Howard stranded but with no blame attached. They say teams are vulnerable after they have just scored and Villa had a novel way of ensuring that didnt happen by keeping the ball whilst they passed all around us from side to side preventing us touching the ball for about a minute or more, actually it seemed like an hour. It was brought to an end when Barry clattered Delph and from the free-kick some 20 yards or so out Howard made a tidy save from a well struck shot.

At last, we put a move together when Jags brought the ball out of defence and into the heart of their defence and forced a corner. Unfortunately the corner was poorly taken. We then went back to giving the ball away and getting deeper whilst trying the passing across the back bit which always ended with Howard having to lump it up field and give possession back to Villa. The faithful were getting restless. Villa forced a corner which went to our far post and the only person there was their centre back Vlaar who managed to miss the open net and we had a goal kick. The term "missing a sitter" certainly was true in that case.

The half hour came and not one shot recorded for the Blues or in todays colours The Whites of our third kit. We looked the part but playing like novices. Stones did play a superb cross field pass to Baines who made ground but his attempted through ball was only through to their keeper. Great pass by Stones just a pity that had to be our highlight of the half.

Whilst waiting for the board to go up with the added time, I thought how lucky we were to be just one down after that performance... when Villa gained a corner and scored. It was defending we should be ashamed of as the ball was regulation to our far post but their main man Benteke was allowed a free unmarked run at the ball and nod home. Shocking, we're better than that. There were two mins added but we got no better.

Half-Time: 2-0 down. That was a half the like of which I have not seen for a long, long time. Lacklustre, no aggression, no concentration, sloppy passing and no shots at all on goal. Surely the second half would be better, it would be hard to get worse.

Everton were out very early for the second half and no doubt harsh words would have taken place. It seemed that way as the half started and we looked more up for it and right away Lukaku went on a run at their defence from our half and had our first shot that Given turned away for a corner which was cleared bur Stones kept us forward and we gained another corner that Lukaku headed past the post when under pressure. Those 4 or so minutes had been better than anything we had shown first half.

Villa attacked and forced two corners which we defended with much more purpose and aggression not to mention actually marking people. Roberto must have had a word.

We were getting more into the game now and some crisp passing took place from time to time but still you were always on edge when Villa moved forward as we just did not look as solid as we should yet on the hour we had a break and Lukaku woke and had a power run to the edge of the box and tried to slip a pass forward for Mirallas but misplaced it but Naismith got on to it in the box and was bundled over. Our ref Clattenberg immediately blew and a pen it was. That ref giving us a pen, eh. How times change.

I thought "I wonder who will take this?" but Lukaku had the ball and although the keeper guessed right his shot was true and hard and hit the net. Moans and groans turn into great celebrations and the Lukaku song is belted out. The goal seemed to have enlivened the team and the fans as all the songs and chants were rolling down the terraces but, amid this euphoria, Jags from half-way elected to pass back to Howard instead of going forward. As we had players forward, this forced the keeper to kick long and for some reason Lukaku didnt challenge for the ball leaving the Villa man to play the ball forward and we are caught short at the back. Two passes and Cleverly is running free on goal and makes no mistake two goals behind again and we had gifted another. The language of the faithful was not for delicate ears. It stopped the singing too. The optimist in me wondered if we could yet see one of those unlikely 3-3 draws with last minute action. Perhaps not, yet we were to come close.

The fightback started when Barry strode forward and hit one from the edge but at the keeper, then Lennon played a poor pass that put Coleman in right lumber and he had to take a yellow for the team. I look at the clock it says 20 mins to go, time for a change I thought but no on we go and at last we got Mirallas into space but he was fouled and before the kick was taken the Belgian along with Naismith were swapped for Barkley and Osman. From the restart both our subs look up for it and make a difference and we are actually in their box looking for a final ball but alas we keep getting thwarted at vital times but Osman did have one on target but again down the keepers throat.

On 80mins Coleman was felled in the box but the ref would have none of it but we regained the ball and once again got the ball to the raiding Coleman who was felled again this time just outside the box the ref gave that one he sure was not going to give us two pens. The free kick was cleared but only to Barkley near the edge of the box and he elected to pass back to Jags to a loud round of booing and verbals that when deciphered said something about forward movement. The clock was ticking down at a great rate of knots and we look no more than desperate as every final ball is wasted. 4 added mins goes up on the board, time for one last hurrah I wonder as we force a corner. The corner forces a melee and the ball is hoisted toward goal and drops from height, the keeper misses it and when the ball bounces up Jags heads home. The players hurry back to positions and the fans are not sure what to do I immediately wondered if that unlikely 3-3 score-line would materialise but no the final whistle went and all we are left to wonder is, which was that Everton team that turned up today.

MotM --- Howard on the basis he made least mistakes.

Overall a disappointing day out not because we lost but the manner in which we lost. It was as though the mental state of the players was that they knew there was nothing to play for, they were safe and could not challenge for anything and put in a display that professional players should be ashamed of. Sunderland will be even more desperate for points than Villa were today so when we play them next week I hope manager and players will take into account we fans pay good money to watch them play with some purpose even in games with nothing on them. They are forever in the Echo saying how good the fans are and how they are striving to reward them, well could I ask them to do it on the pitch rather than in newsprint.

Some games leave you with not a clue why such good players can perform like that. It was dreadful. So I will carry on as normal and hope to hell that the trip to Goodison provides the full home contingent something to cheer rather than this dross that was served up for the away 3,000 to swallow. Still no two games are the same so as ever --- UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (37)

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Ajay Gopal
1 Posted 03/05/2015 at 07:51:41
I feel sorry for the fans like yourself, Ken, to get a performance like that. Villa were hungry for the win, and I actually fancy them to beat Arsenal for the Cup. They have some super players – Benteke, Cleverly (not looking half bad now, is he?), Delph (what a player!), Vlaar, and others. Under Sherwood, they could be a force to reckon with next season.
Dave Abrahams
2 Posted 03/05/2015 at 08:31:00
I can only add that I feel sorry you and 3,000 true blue fans who had to watch that utter drivel. Sorry, I can’t agree with you about Howard, a real goalkeeper commands his area and gives confidence to his defence; this player does neither.
Jim Bennings
3 Posted 03/05/2015 at 08:46:29
I said a while ago that Sherwood reminds me very much of a young David Moyes when he first took on our club 13 years ago. A young hungry passionate manager and a point to prove.

What most alarms me with Everton under Martinez is how many games we don’t turn up for and become very quickly outfought; if anybody notices, more often than not whenever the opposition wants it more, we generally aren’t up for the battle.

The fact is that, on way too many occasions this season, we have been outfought and turned in a performance where you think "we can’t play as bad as that again". I thought that after Southampton and Newcastle in December, then Hull in January but it’s happened too often. Our away form has been dreadful, our performances in away games have been dreadful and frankly we have got what we have deserved with 10 defeats.

I can’t really see that much changing next season under a manager that seems completely clueless as to what his best team is or how to motivate them on a regular basis. The Manchester United game was the ONLY game all season where the application and motivation has been there from start to finish.

Rob Teo
4 Posted 03/05/2015 at 08:55:08
I agree with Dave. Howard was rooted on his goal-line for the first two goals which came from crosses which could have been claimed by a more commanding keeper. At the very least, I’d have expected him to have some awareness of the opposing players in the box and anticipating and making an attempt to save their shots. He did neither and was really static.

This is not what we would expect of a good keeper. Can’t imagine Martyn or Southall being similarly rooted to the spot.

Colin Glassar
5 Posted 03/05/2015 at 09:12:06
I’m sorry Rob but Baines was at fault for both of Benteke’s goals. The first one he made a feeble, halfhearted, "jump" into the back of Benteke with his eyes closed. The second he left his place at the back post and ran across the box leaving a massive gap for Benteke to score.

Now I love Bainsey but as a defender he is seriously lacking in many areas and he was at fault for both goals.

Mike Oates
6 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:01:47
Good report Ken, but I have to disagree with MotM, Howard looked a bag of nerves all day, he has to position himself at least 2-5 yds from the line, ready to take crosses. The first goal was a looping cross, which he had time to come and attack instead of being rooted to line; likewise their 2nd goal, Benteke was in the 6-yd box, again Howard rooted, but Barry was supposed to be picking Benteke up and completely lost him.

No wonder Hodgson much to disgust of this site is picking Delph instead of Barkley for England. He was pure class yesterday, defending, attacking, linking up play, he made McCarthy look a fool.

Barkley is as always by Martinez being hyped up far too much. Again Martinez this week talks about his world class centre halves and they both got roasted by Benteke. Martinez please keep the gob shut for once, we didn’t deserve anything yesterday and he tried to say we probably deserved a draw on our 2nd half performance – what claptrap.

At least Jags in his post-match interview said we deserved nothing, and that's what we’ve got. I can't see Cleverley wanting to leave Villa for us next year, they are a young side going places under Sherwood, whereas we will still have too many geriatrics around.

I always felt Lambert was a Moyes disciple: dour, defensive. Sherwood has come in and transformed Villa with the same players. The only problem will be Sherwood himself who tends to implode after a year or so.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:09:23
I couldn’t believe a statistic that I just read but after checking, found out it was true.

Lukaku has scored just ONE GOAL in open play since Hull at home on December 3rd!!! And that was the fluke at Crystal Palace.

That is bad news.

Ray Robinson
8 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:08:38
For me, the first half plumbed the depths of performances this season – even worse than the game at Stoke. No attempts on goal in the first half, and I paid £41 to watch it! A slightly better second half but the scoreline flattered us so I don’t feel in any way that we deserved better. We had two 10 minute spells when we looked half-decent but the remaining 70 minutes were on a par with Newcastle’s abysmal performances of late.

I really don’t understand why Martinez tinkered with the side that beat Man Utd last week. Naismith is a thoroughly decent human being but doesn’t warrant a place in the team. Mirallas chickened out of several challenges and looks as though he’s mentally somewhere else already. As others have said, and even though I have been a supporter of him in the past, Howard is way past his peak and doesn’t inspire confidence.

So the omens for next season do not look good. I have little faith in Martinez to correct things. Sorry to be negative but wasting good money and time on yesterday’s performance leaves a phenomenally bitter taste in the mouth.

Ray Robinson
9 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:28:37
Just to add to previous comment, does anyone else feel like me about Lukaku’s penalties? I know that he’s scored 4 out of 4 but he looks the least capable penalty taker that I’ve ever seen at Goodison. Please absolve him from penalty taking duties before his luck runs out!
Joe Foster
10 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:44:00
There are rumours that Rom will not be with us next season. We know he is not worth the £28 mil we paid but some club probably in Europe may take a punt. His CV is still good enough without taking this season into account.
Jay Wood
11 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:49:05
A sensible balanced report as always Ken.

Your most telling line for me was "Overall a disappointing day out – not because we lost but the manner in which we lost."

Evertonians forgive many things. Lack of effort and application is not among them.

Brian Donnelly
12 Posted 03/05/2015 at 11:14:33

I love your reports, but like a few other replies, HOWARD????!!!!

The first goal, he has got to come off his line and punch away – it was a high looping cross from way out. I don't blame him for the second, but there was another incident where Jags was about 4 yards out from goal and he had to concede a corner when any half decent goalkeeper should have been there and caught it. He reminds me of one of those goalkeepers on a stick where it's physically impossible to leave the line. Basically the defence is having to defend too deeply because they know that Howard does not come further than 2 yards off his line.

I agree with Ray (#9) on Lukaku's penalties and the tinkering. The penalties are awful and I wouldn't want to rely on him scoring when it really matters. Changing a winning side, to me, doesn't make any sense.

Mike Corcoran
13 Posted 03/05/2015 at 11:14:05
Delph should have been a blue when he left Leeds. Maybe this summer, eh, with Cleverly and Vlaar and Benteke, job done.

[Puts on tin hat.]

Dave Ganley
14 Posted 03/05/2015 at 10:40:43
Poor, very poor... If any of the Martinez apologists need any more evidence that he really isn’t good enough for our great club ,then yesterday was it.

If you can’t motivate the players to give their all for every game then, for me, he should not be there. The players need to accept their share of responsibility for the woeful season we have just witnessed; however, ultimately the manager supposedly prepares the players to take to the field ready to win a football game and yesterday was yet another example of dereliction of duty.

He even admitted it after the game by stating he was worried that this may happen!! FFS, this type of performance should be a complete surprise to him... he should have prepared the players to such an extent that he couldn’t envisage such a performance happening. Instead he stands there saying he half expected it... What is the fucking point of Martinez?? What exactly does he do? What does he practise on the training pitch? – because it sure isn’t football tactics.

Yet again, out fought, another goal conceded from a set piece, and a complete lack of heart shown from the players, resulting in a performance that made a bottom 5 club look like a world beater and making a piss-poor player like Cleverly look like Messi.

I said after last week's result against the Mancs that everyone should have a reality check and not go overboard about a winning run that only consisted of one decent performance and, to be fair, Martinez has heeded my warning to show you all exactly what he is all about. Inept, clueless and an amazing ability to fuck about with a winning team and turn it into a losing one.

I was prepared to give him a couple of months into the new season but now he can just fuck off as far as I’m concerned and take all his backroom staff full of losers with him. He has reverted back to type and shown that there are only certain games (ie, big games) that he can get the players up for. I am terrified what he’s going to do with our meagre amount in the transfer kitty and even more terrified with the prospect of more pointless tippy-tappy, mind-numbing irrelevant possession-based shite football we will witness next season.

I, along with many others, have renewed season tickets for next season and this was the first time I have ever thought long and hard about renewing... I don’t want to be bored shitless again for the whole of next season by playing this passionless, pointless style of football that takes away all the joy and excitement that should accompany going to the game. He needs to go now before he has any chance to destroy the new season.

Ken Buckley
15 Posted 03/05/2015 at 11:49:32
MotM was tongue-in-cheek as there wasn’t a genuine contender.
Derek Thomas
16 Posted 03/05/2015 at 11:29:53
Dave @ 14; Nail on the head, mate.
Jim Bennings
17 Posted 03/05/2015 at 12:00:44

No need for a tin hat, I agree Delphi is far more productive at present than the shite we are subjected to on a near weekly basis!

Eddie Dunn
18 Posted 03/05/2015 at 12:00:59
Howard is part of the problem, not coming out and punching (or catching – remember how keepers used to catch a ball). Poor marking is the other problem at the back, but the poor passing throughout the side was unforgivable.

Naismith is looking worse with every game, his clumsy challenges were lucky not to land him in the book.

Lukaku is a joke, and his penalty taking is horrible – he nearly fucked it up. His previous ones have been poorly struck too – not a patch on Baines.

I want to be the first to say bye-bye to big Rom. He is a 15-stone waste of space: poor touch, can’t jump, slow off the mark, and still gets caught offside too often. Cash-in pronto – along with Mirallas, who is the epitome of a luxury player. A pair of big-time Charlies!

Incidentally, I always rated Cleverley when he played for England: looked intelligent... mind you, Delph alongside probably helped!

Jay Wood
19 Posted 03/05/2015 at 12:19:09
Delph was all lined up to sign for us when he left Leeds for Villa, but for some reason the deal collapsed at the last moment and Villa stepped in.

He has been a slow developer, but last season and this he is showing what a good player he is.

Head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch yesterday.

Jim Hardin
20 Posted 03/05/2015 at 12:40:36
Howard can’t trust Three English internationals to mark their men? Incredible. For those of you once again blaming Howard for the goals, watch the Sunderland game and see what happens to a supposed "good" goalkeeper who comes out when he shouldn’t to try to catch a ball and in the collision doesn’t get it. Goal.

For the second goal, Howard would have been running out to collide with Benteke who had a run himself (thanks to Stones not marking him and picking up Barry instead), not standing stationary. You don’t do that as a keeper because you will likely lose the ball trying to catch it. The collision will take you over so if you punch it away it will come back and you will be on the ground, assuming you can get a punch off before the collision. Third goal he was off his line or did you forget that?

Problem with the haters appears to be that they want a GK who can make up for all the flaws in the defense ahead of him. Do you really think Courtois isn’t better because of the players like Terry, ahead of him not making mistakes in their marking? BTW, the players do have confidence in the keeper which is why they play the ball back to him even in tight situations.

Great read, Ken, thanks for the post! At least you got to see one manager who gets it right on the pitch. Too bad it was Sherwood.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 03/05/2015 at 13:22:23
Jim (20) it would be pointless to argue with you; you think Howard is a good keeper, lots of us don’t... Maybe you are right; I’ll just be glad when he’s gone.
Michael Winstanley
22 Posted 03/05/2015 at 14:08:30
Thanks for the report, Ken; doesn’t sound like we were at it from the off. A game we expected to win, it’s as though when there is expectation we lose... it's been the same way for along time now.

Naismith and Mirallas aren’t good enough to start; without Barkley and Osman we have no forward pass. I’m surprised at Martinez changing it again especially as Osman has a great record against the Villa.

Baines watches the ball in, can see Benteke’s run, yet doesn’t put a challenge in; very weak defensive play again.

Franny Porter
23 Posted 03/05/2015 at 14:50:12
I was sat in the front row of the Everton end and I can tell you for a fact our defenders and clown of a keeper were shit scared of Benteke and never went near him.

Added to this, Barry should be nowhere near the first eleven, Naismith is a tryer but unfortunately he’s shite, and as for Champions League Mirallas, he is one lazy disinterested shitbag.

Why our phenomenal manager felt the need to rotate the team after SIX FUCKING DAYS since the last game is beyond me. He is way out of his depth. Way out,

Andrew Clare
24 Posted 03/05/2015 at 15:15:36
I want to see a slick, fast, skillful football team that looks dangerous every time they attack. Full of confidence running the show. Playing to a high standard, week-in & week-out.

I want a manager who demands this. Is that too much to ask for?

Eddie Dunn
25 Posted 03/05/2015 at 15:25:03
Come on Jim 20; Goalies do come out and catch. You are quoting one particular incident with Pantillimon. You surely can’t use that one event to tell all keepers to stay on their line from this day forward.

You are correct in pointing out that three England internationals failed in various aspects of their play, but it is a problem that has reoccurred, and if the keeper was to come out more to claim these crosses (the defenders would hear a shout and allow him more space to take the ball).

Perhaps Tim has been too used to having more protection in the past, with Distin taking so many headers.

In my opinion, Tim stays on his line too much and a bigger more imposing keeper (Robles) would worry an approaching striker, which puts off many a potential threat.

If I was the manager of a team about to play us, I would instruct my players to press us, to stop us bringing it out from defence. I would put my quickest mid-fielders up against Gareth Barry or bang balls over the top into our box with two chasing strikers.

Alternatively just go out to win set piece ball and watch us cough it up.

Bill Gall
26 Posted 03/05/2015 at 15:47:03

Why didn’t Howard step off his line a yard or two before the cross was made? It would have given him a chance to go back if the ball came at the goal and given him an advantage if the ball was going towards the penalty spot. As the commentator stated on one occasion when Baines crossed from the wing to the penalty area, Given was ready to come out and win the ball as soon as it left his foot, and he did so among a group of players.

I am not a keeper but surely a fully international keeper is more aware that a keeper's job is not just stopping shots at him but to read the game and prevent shots fired at him.

Apart from that, he was just one out of the eleven that let Everton as a club down yesterday with that poor first 45 mins.

Peter Mills
27 Posted 03/05/2015 at 21:26:49
Ken, you are very measured in your reports, and clearly a die-hard fan. But I am beginning to detect, even in you, a distinct lack of gruntle.
Harold Matthews
28 Posted 03/05/2015 at 21:39:57
With time to think, Howard is a big bag of indecision.
Frank Wade
29 Posted 04/05/2015 at 00:18:11
I am in the ’goalkeepers should command their 6 yard area camp’. While browsing the FourFourTwo site I found this ’technical instruction’ piece by one Tim Howard on how to ’Command the penalty box’.
Stop laughing down the back !

Brian Donnelly(12) - comparison with Howard and a Subutteo goalie with stick attached - perfect.

The 3rd Villa goal was typical of our season. We have possession near half way line and Jags passes all the way back to Howard, a clearance arrives 15 yards into the Villa half and Lukaku decides not to bother jumping with Vlaar, who has time to find a passer who splits our defence who can’t track a runner. Plenty of basics to work on in training there - along with defending crosses and corners.

Pantillimon tried to catch a high ball landing about 14/15 yards out and collided with a defender. What about just asking for command of the 6 yard box for starters.

Michael Winstanley
30 Posted 04/05/2015 at 01:12:11
I see the Howard not coming for the cross as a missed opportunity for him to have clattered into Benteke. I like to see a keeper be ruthless in his box.
Dick Fearon
31 Posted 04/05/2015 at 06:11:19
Howard is a very good shot stopper but he does not come off his line for high crosses into a packed six-yard box. We should place a few defenders on the goal line who would face outward and not be caught in a goal-bound mad rush.
Eddie Dunn
32 Posted 04/05/2015 at 08:33:00
Frank, read the link thanks, very funny. He seems to know how to do it!
Gerard Carey
33 Posted 04/05/2015 at 09:34:53
Said it on another thread, its our away support I really feel sorry for. To have to put up with that tripe must be getting harder and harder.

We have a very important summer coming up. The thing is, deep down, we all know there will be little change. That's the most depressing thing. Ken, thanks for your usual spot-on report, only thing is there was no-one worthy of a Man of the Match award, sad!!

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 04/05/2015 at 14:34:33
Frank (29), read the link; strange, all that advice he gives and doesn’t do any of it himself.
Ken Buckley
35 Posted 04/05/2015 at 16:05:42
Gerard @33.

I heard there was a ’Kenwright Out’ banner there but I can’t confirm that.

Paul Joy
36 Posted 04/05/2015 at 16:32:19

Yes there was – at the front of the upper tier.

Some players were in full holiday kit: flipflops, shades, beach towels. Only problem was Shay Given and their defenders bagged the deck chairs and didn’t have to get off them all game. How the hell we got 2 goals was as mysterious to me (and everyone around me); also why our manager waited over 70 minutes before making any changes.

Diabolical, the lot of them. Never mind stumping up 30 grand towards our away fans' West Ham tickets – just raise a fuckin sweat for us. Just imagine our support if they did !!!

Mike Childs
37 Posted 05/05/2015 at 00:50:42
I was out shopping; it was 1-0 Villa when I finally could watch and after a minute I realized for the 150th-plus time he monkied with the line-up.

Naisy is a great guy but starting him is simply throwing away the game. Vlaar missed an easy chance to put them up by two then Benteke did with the good ole beard handcuffed to his line. Changed to La Liga for an 8-0 blasting by Barca

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