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Is it just me or is Roberto right?

by   |   09/08/2014  Comments (100)  jump

I was expecting a flurry of players arriving before and after the World Cup; I suppose like every other Evertonian on the planet, I came to realise that it wasn’t until the Lukaku situation was resolved would we see the incoming of other players particularly a couple more forwards, as Roberto said in June we need seven new additions to the first-team squad.

Well, we signed Barry, Besic, finally Lukaku and now hopefully Atsu on a loan. So one new player to last years squad – Besic. OK... did Roberto mean seven players after losing our loanees from last year? So four new players... and you could possibly add Garbutt to that, and maybe, after today, Chris Long.

Now I’ve reached a point where I’m trying to convince myself all is well...but – after five senior friendlies, no wins and four defeats – there is no sign of the fitness, readiness, sharpness, style or shape we will need. The team are playing as though last season didn’t actually happen... playing like Wigan did 2 years ago, giving goals away left, right and centre and never ever looking like we would score more than one a game.

The boss making positives out of utter garbage... "Yes, just as we planned, we went in ready to lose four games; we went on knowing that our “top” players weren’t playing or weren’t at the races, as we gave them an extra two weeks off."

Oh, by the way, Roberto, the winners of the World Cup – Germany (alias Bayern Munich) have had their players back and actually playing in friendlies... but, hey ho, our lads will be peaking in November when we're 12th in the league.

Hopefully I’m way off the mark but no-one can convince me we are ready for Leicester, and we are miles away from being ready for the Arsenal and Chelsea games to follow. I’m seeking Roberto’s psychologist as I need to find some positives.

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Reader Comments (100)

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Lyndon Lloyd
1 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:25:06
Here are Roberto's latest comments via the Sky Sports website today:
"Towards the end of last season I said we needed six more players, but it wasn't six new players, it was six players," said Martinez.

"We have added Barry, Lukaku and Besic and we also have Tony Hibbert who re-signed.

"We still need one or two, depending on how quickly Arouna Kone and Bryan Oviedo recover from their injuries."

If you can get past the comment about Hibbert, he is now more or less in line with where he started. Garbutt, Duffy and maybe McAleny at a stretch could potentially be senior squad members now, which adds two or three and Atsu will add another one, medical allowing.

Personally, I still don't think it's enough. We need decent cover at right back and another striker for if/when Lukaku isn't available. We struggled without him and as important as Steven Naismith has been in weighing in with important goals, he isn't capable of reliably leading the line in a team with top-four ambitions, in my opinion.
Kunal Desai
2 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:26:00
When Roberto meant 6 or 7 players he would have meant that included replacing Barry Lukaku and Deulofeu. Barry and Lukaku re-signed. We have Besic in, Galloway in and probably Atsu as well. This would leave another player or two still to come in. I expected another striker to still come in (presumably on deadline day and maybe another creative midfielder).
Lyndon Lloyd
3 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:34:37
Galloway doesnÂ’t count, Kunal, as he is for the U21s side for now. Henen would be the same.
Patrick Murphy
4 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:32:24
I thought we had drawn two games and lost three - let me think Tranmere (2-2), Porto (1-1), Celta Vigo (1-3), Leicester City (0-1) and today (1-3). I have checked RMÂ’s previous with Wigan and usually they won more games in pre-season than they lost whilst Roberto was in charge.

It isnÂ’t the lack of numbers or additions to the squad that has me worried it is the abject displays of those who have been at the club for a number of years which has my attention and their lack of drive.

Although that has been a factor for many seasonÂ’s and I have been as bemused as the next fan as to why it happens so often and usually against less glamorous opponents. LetÂ’s wait and see what next Saturday brings although IÂ’m a little less optimistic than I was the day that Romelu signed we should be in for a decent season but itÂ’s the managers job to get the right results and he will have to somehow transform a side who appear to have lost their Mo-Jo into a side that demolished Arsenal and Man U last season very very quickly.

Kunal Desai
5 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:37:43
Ok. Assuming the Atsu deal is a done deal then that would leave two more in a striker and another one. Lets judge the side once Mirallas, Lukaku and Coleman are all back in the side hopefully by next weekend. I still think even if we did get two more in, with all the demands of Europe and the domestic fronts we still need further quality in the side to cope on all fronts.

I donÂ’t know what people expectations are. I believe we have the nucleus of a good side (first eleven) but the strength in depth is still a worry - Osman and Pienaar are no game changers from the bench and Alcaraz doesnÂ’t instill any confidence in a backline.

5th or probably 6th is where we will finish but to finish 4th Bill is going to have to cough up alot more than the 㿈 million paid for Lukaku and we donÂ’t have those sort of funds.

Mark Tanton
6 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:03:41
He is inviting ridicule by mentioning Hibbert there – fuck me... And I’m a massive Roberto man, but that is the bordering on insulting our intelligence.
Tony Draper
7 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:44:32
When Roberto mentioned six more players, being greedy, I assumed six new faces. At that time I felt that both Geri & Rom weren't coming back again.

Similarly, I did expect Barry to sign up permanently (because that really did seem to be the original plan).

So, with Rom & Gareth secured, I scored that as one added.
Besic was a bolt from the blue, but that would make two for me thus far.

I wouldn't discriminate between signings or season long loans. Therefore, being generous, should Lacina Traore join us on a repeat loan that would bring the tally to three.

Hennen (if he does join), well I'm not sure if he's first team or U21, so score is still three, whether he joins or not.

Galloway seems clearly to be U21. Score still three.

Atsu, when confirmed, would make four.

So as things stand, I would like Atsu +2 to make up the six.

Browning (possibly enforced by the Coleman hamstring concern), McAleny, Garbutt & Duffy have not been first team regulars last season, not even as "walk on, non-speaking players". So if they were formally "promoted from within", then OK the numbers do add up overall.

A player promoted within our system is not necessarily a "cheap alternative/cop out" if the player genuinely is an addition.

However, before the door closes, I would really like to see two more new faces added who are able to contribute to the four challenges for the forthcoming season. And I don't care if they are "test drives" or permanent (TBH the more expensive they would be, then the keener I'd be we took a "test drive").

Darren Hind
8 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:04:45
Some pretty serious back peddling going on here. I think Roberto thinks we were all born yesterday.

28 April — "It's not about improving the squad, it's about increasing. When you are playing in Europe, you need six or seven NEW players, that's the reality and we will do that. I get excited about bringing NEW players in. You need fresh blood."

9 August — "Towards the end of last season, I said we needed six more players, but it wasn't six new players, it was six players."

Just get the boys ready, Robbie lad, and everybody will love you.

Mike Oates
9 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:14:14
#4 Patrick

Sorry, you're right: we drew against Porto but in my negative thoughts today all I could think of was a drubbing from Porto, Celta Vigo and the German outfit today, can't even or don't want to remember their name.

Raymond Fox
10 Posted 09/08/2014 at 18:44:25
Not sure how much the players are putting into these games, they don't look too lacking in effort to me, just quality.

Its a pity we don't have a couple more in the side like Besic, he's looking way, way better, than a ٢m player, he will have to clean up his tackling though or he will be missing a fair chunk of the season.
There's not enough movement in the middle of the field for me when our defenders have the ball, consequently were playing in our half backwards and sideways unable to see a player free to pass it forwards.

If we cant buy a quality creative midfielder I'd be inclined to give that role to Besic, I know we have Gibson but will he stay fit for any length of time!
Ross looked lost today, the lad needs to try and be more inventive with his passing and take a lot more chances.

We've had 1/2 our side missing in these friendlies, but I did expect to see a bit more fluency and creativity from the players on the field.

Jesus, I'm beginning to sound like Phil W.

Michael Winstanley
11 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:25:09
Slightly off topic but what do you think Barkley will bring to the table this season?

What are we expecting from him?
Genuinely interested in people's expectations.

Phil Walling
12 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:26:09
So here we are with a week to go arguing over whether 'six or seven' really meant 'two or three'.

They tell me it used to be like this at Wigan. Roberto said so much, he contradicted himself and/or forgot what he'd said previously.

It just amazes me that so many hang on his every world, treating it all as 'gospel'. Martinez is a football manager not a religion.

Last season he gave us a side - and football - to be proud of and I'm hoping he will repeat the dose this time. If he 'cuts the crap' it will be an added bonus.

Mark Tanton
13 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:55:54
Good point Phil but it might not be very well received by the True Believers! From a Roberto fan.
Jackie Barry
14 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:00:21
In the past we may have had a good pre-season but it didn't translate to a good start quite often. Last season we may have played more friendlies but again there were a high number of losses. I'm just not going to panic and give our manager a chance after all based on last season I would say he knows what he is doing, more so than all of us would be managers any way.
Dean Adams
15 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:58:27
Phil Walling
Have to say that I support EFC, who currently are managed by RM. He aint perfect, wasnt my first choice, however, I have to say he exceeded my expectations last season. To add to that I believe the signing of Lukaku will see us being more positive this season(injuries not withstanding) and possibly winning something. If you cant get enthused by RM and his happy ramblings, then I suggest you don't listen. Wouldnt want you having an episode or something sinister happening as you do add a dimension that makes me smile.
Peter Z Jones
16 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:02:35
Does anyone know the medical details of Kone's injury? I've seen guys come back from ACL and Achilles tears faster than this. It's getting ridiculous to be honest. If his fitness is gonna continue to be this big of an issue, I agree with the general consensus that we need another decent striker.

I was under the impression that he'd be ready for the season opener when the World Cup ended so I wasn't worried initially. But now, it's kind of irking me more and more with each terrible Steven Naismith touch.

Hibbert's gotta go. Either promote Browning to backup right back or sign a cheap one to fill the numbers. Everywhere else looks pretty strong numbers-wise.

Chris James
17 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:36:50
To be honest, Mike, it's not just you, I'm increasingly of your view.

From a transfer perspective I don't think things are actually too far off course really, we needed 6 or more players and so far we've got class first team acts in Barry, Lukaku and Besic plus hopefully Atsu then a couple of the youth team contingent of Garbutt, McAlney, Duffy, Browning and Long drafted into first team squad. We've also tied up the young stars to contracts and not lost anyone we'd not want to.
Granted, we need another striker admittedly, but we have time in the window and loan spaces available for that.

What does seem worryingly off course is the apparent readiness of the players, the depth of quality in the side and our general playing style and spirit. As has been mentioned elsewhere, it really does feel as if the last 12 months of passing play and top 4 challenging quality hasn't happened and we're faced with the unknown managerial quantity whose methods and tactics the team don't fully understand.

I couldn't give a rats arse if we won the games 8-0 or lost by the same margin, what I do care about is the fact that in the last 3 games the team played as if they'd not met one other before, couldn't seem to keep the football in their possession for more than 2 or 3 passes and defended exceptionally poorly. Basically this was sub-Moyes football we were watching, with all the hallmarks of the direct, sporadic attacks but none of the defensive nous.
You can argue about fitness as the main priority, but I don't buy that really, certainly not with these later games - training is for fitness, the matches are to get the team playing together and back into the tactical shape and combinations of the season ahead.

Everton don't have the cash and star power to compete with the rest of the top 4-6, but we've battled against this with team spirit and togetherness plus adherence to the team tactics (be it Moyes dogged 10-man defending, or Robbie's total possession game), there's been very little evidence of any of these elements in the games I've watched.

The alarming lack of quality (and the accelerating speed of descent) of our second string squad players is another area that's cause for concern. Osman is quite literally a pointless presence on the pitch (and we'll likely remain pointless if he gets much game time early on), Hibbert despite being a solid pro and a real grafter just flat out isn't good enough for us these days (I'd rather have Stones on the right) and to an admittedly lesser degree Alcaraz and McGeady have both looked out of their depth. The first 11 aren't immune to this either, with Pienaar looking ineffectual and even the all-conquering Baines seems to have been delivering his England form rather than what we've seen for the last few years.

Perhaps some of this is down to not being up to speed yet, and that harks on to my preparedness point. Overall it feels like somehow the impending Premier league kick-off is coming as a bit of a shock, as if the date had been brought forward or something.
Whilst Seamus's absence is unfortunate and Oviedo's understandable, the continuing absence of Kone is seriously disturbing. The guy's been out for almost a year now and was supposed to be not far off coming back in at the end of last season, that there's not even a date for return is just a joke (at least Whelan's laughing I guess).
Likewise, the fact that Mirallas and Lukaku haven't kicked a pre-season ball in anger is frankly verging on poor management in my view. This whole schtick about World Cup players being burnt out is just nonsense, I think Kev and Rom played less than 180 minutes of football each in Brazil and Belgium bowed out early, neither of them was injured and they'd both had time off with injuries during a season in which we didn't have prolonged cup or European campaigns.

Generally, I don't feel like we're ready for Leicester at all and I think they'll be coming at us hard from the first minute. I must admit also that a small part of me is just beginning to wonder how much last season's performance levels were raised by the adversity and the effective lowered expectations on Martinez and team post Moyes.

So maybe on that note there is some logic to the pre-season performances, if the idea is to take some pressure and expectation of the players then it's job done. I for one am thinking that based on what I've seen so far I'm not worrying about CL or how we'll do in Europe (against better teams than the last 2 we've played), I'll take 8th and a few kind draws in the Carling cup.

Mark Tanton
18 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:20:11
Hibbert and Osman both have to go. Naismith is an important part of the first 13 or 14 players and can be trusted readily to chip in with goals when needed.
Raymond Fox
19 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:22:18
As far as the manager's job is concerned, I'm sure his job would be made decidedly easier if he had a transfer budget on par with the usual suspects.

As it is, our squad consists of many players past their best, plus a few young players that are lacking Premier League experience at this time.

Two or three 㿊m-㿔m players could get us out of many a hole this season.

Peter Laing
20 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:32:21
Calm down dear, It's only pre-season. We are better prepared than this time last year, we have signed Barry and Lukaku permanently, recruited Besic who on the evidence to date looks like a diamond, secured Barkley, Stones and soon to be McCarthy on long term deals and will probably sign 2-3 players on loan (Atsu, Traore and A N Other) before the window closes. Right back does appear to be a problem with Coleman out injured; Browning has the opportunity to step up to the plate. No worries on my part.
Alan Humphreys
21 Posted 09/08/2014 at 20:33:18
Would seem the 㿈m for Rom has placed all our eggs in one basket. Worrying as I thought we'd paid in instalments.

Desperately in need of more depth and quality especially in attack.

Andy Crooks
23 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:03:23
Much as I admire Roberto I am struggling to see this abysmal pre- season as part of a master plan which will see us peak perfectly.
Mike Allison
24 Posted 09/08/2014 at 19:48:46
Yeah but, Darren, words can mean different things depending on context. 'New' may have meant 'new signings' or it may have meant 'people being in the first team squad who weren't last season'. We had a first team squad of around 19-20 last year, and it's more like 25-ish this year.

Including Hibbert, and I agree with Lyndon that I'd have targeted an attacking full-back to compete with and cover for Coleman; we basically have two players for every position, plus a little bit more. Assuming we get two more in, Traore (or equivalent) and Atsu, I'll be very happy with the state of the squad. Any more and we'd risk having unhappy, none-playing squad members hanging round sucking up wages and pissing people off.

Two more quality, first team attackers by 1 September and this will be an excellent transfer window.

Lyndon Lloyd
25 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:35:12
Peter (16): "Does anyone know the medical details of Kone's injury? "

From what I recall, the surgery he underwent was to reconstruct / repair the meniscus in his knee which isn't, I would imagine, a minor issue.

He is back in training with the first team so we'll have to see how things go but, personally – and I base this on nothing more than a feeling I get – I'm not sure how much we'll be able to rely on either Arouna or Darron Gibson this season.

Ian Hollingworth
26 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:45:27
Sounds like Bill may have given Roberto a reality check.

I have said it before to improve as a team you have to add players who are better than you had before. As we have so far signed last year loan players and extended contracts of existing players we have not yet added more quality. This worries me with extra games due to Europa.

Let's hope Roberto has it covered and Billy boy is not the problem behind the scenes!

Denver Daniels
27 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:51:37
I was gonna post a long rant, but what it boils down to is that, in my opinion, Roberto is full of it. I mean, who is he trying to fool?

The best intentions and all that but he also needs to learn to keep his trap shut.

He played this one wrong and is now trying to save face.

Other than Besic there is no-one new. And Atsu will be a straight swap for Geri.

With the extra Europa League games, this could come back to bite us on the ass.

6-7 players........yeah right.

Kev Johnson
28 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:59:09
I think people have got a bit hung up on (a) the "we need x number of new players" comment and (b) current fitness issues. The former is open to different interpretations and I think there's a rational explanation available for the latter.

Surely the central issue is the pre-season performance of our core players from last season. I mean, if they're going to carry on playing like that then we need 11 new players! If they can remember how to play, individually and as a team, then we should be on approximately the same level as last season - with new additions hopefully taking us forward - but they are a million miles away from doing that. I am utterly baffled by our showings so far. It's what those who didn't fancy RM feared would happen last season.

Our limp-lettuce showings so far do not necessarily prove the need for a bunch of new signings. The players already at the club just need to get their fingers out and start playing like they mean it. That's not as easy as it sounds, granted, but it's what Mr Martinez is paid for.

Matthew Roberts
29 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:15:30
Really not sure how anyone can criticize Roberto at the moment, he gave us a magical year last season with our highest points tally, back in Europe and playing nice football. He's signed us our record signing who for me is the most important signing we have had since I've been alive and supporting the club, and the squad is brimming with talented kids who want to come and stay with Everton.

We lost some pre-season friendlies, get over it. It's not even like the transfer window is over yet, the squad looks better than ever. I also look at the Europa League like a great thing for the club rather than the hindrance that everyone seems to talk about it. For the moment I trust everything he does.

Brian Waring
30 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:26:43
Fucking hell lads, the transfer window hasn't ended yet, why don't we just wait and see what happens.

Dick Fearon
32 Posted 09/08/2014 at 21:56:53
Not having seen a pre season ball kicked I rely mostly on the knowledgeable denizens of ToffeeWeb for all information.
Based on that I can only conclude we are in for a tough opening few games.
Arising from comments of those who either saw in the flesh or via TV were a couple of things that has me concerned.
Top of that list has to be Osman and Hibbert holding down places that should be used to provide future players with vital experience.
Based on past personal observation I doubt either would hold down a place in any team with Champions league aspirations.

My views on Kone have already attracted criticism from fellow Twebbers yet here goes again.
When first signed he was not fully match fit this was compounded by his observance of Ramadan which as stated by Roberto hampered his pre season preparation.
His injury may been caused at least in part by his lack of a proper pre season.
By all accounts even should he remain injury free it could be two years before we see him in action and he is not getting any younger.

Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:37:00
Remember the season when we really signed no one and our opening day team featured Jagielka in central midfield with 16 y/o "wonder kid" Jose Baxter? Or when we had to rush out and but Amokachi after getting ripped to shreds by City in the opener? Or last year when we had three tepid draws before everything changed on deadline day? Not sure why this always happens but think it has something to do with lack of money and incompetence.
Julian Wait
34 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:38:48
This time last year we had no-one new, had just lost our manager off ten years, and had a new manager who had just been relegated. We weren't too far off fourth place and we got our highest points total.

Seems like it's a bit early for the Dad's Army routine to me ...

Danny Broderick
35 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:27:02
I'm not too concerned about the size of our squad tonight to be honest. The main thing for me is that we don't seem prepared for the opening day. We've been crap throughout pre-season, and the fact that Lukaku and Mirallas haven't figured has baffled me. I don't ever remember any players starting the season having played no time in pre-season. Atsu won't have played a minute either. What the bloody hell is going on? It all seems very amateur to me. Leicester are gonna be throwing everything at us - their lives dépend on it. We will probably have Lukaku and Mirallas blowing for tugs after 10 minutes.
Kev Johnson
36 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:42:14
Danny - here's what I think is going on... The manager feels that the players involved in the World Cup need a proper period of winding down then getting back their fitness and match sharpness again, such as they'd get in a normal close season. Don't forget, whether they played in the final or went out in the group stages, they've been active for quite a while - training hard and playing (some more than others, admittedly). He wants them to return refreshed, not jaded.

RM is trying to take the long view, ensuring the players don't burn out prematurely - especially given the fact that we'll have extra Europa League games this year. We'll only know if it's worked as the season unfolds.

RM is no fool, so I imagine there is method in his apparent madness.

Paul Smith
37 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:47:01
I'm not overly concerned about the pre-reason results. I'm more concerned that our main men won't be no where near match fit or ready for the season opener. Puzzling to say the least.

Oh well, best to reserve judgement until next week. C.O.Y.B

Mike Oates
38 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:44:12
Martinez said its a balancing act re players at World Cup, you either let them rest like we have and I believe Arsenal have or you bring them in early with the rest, as Chelsea, Liverpool, City, Utd , and Real, Bayern etc have done.

I believe a good start particularly against Leicester, then Arsenal and Chelsea at home would do us wonders and really make a statement, so to go into first game with the likes of Baines, Jagielka, Howard, Mirallas and Lukaku not match fit is criminal.

I think the whole preseason has been badly planned, if planned is a word you can actually use. No decent your, a daft game in Thailand, a home match, but at Tranmere as Celta Vigo were spending a week in a England and a game against a German team just promoted, to be used as a Europa Cup "trial game" as Martinez has just stated. How the hell was this put together

Danny Broderick
39 Posted 09/08/2014 at 22:57:04
Kev,

I can see what you're saying and that is obviously what RM is doing. But would giving Mirallas and Lukaku a 45 minute run out today have jeopardised their seasons, or given them burn out in March? Hazard has figured in Chelsea's last 3 games.

What RM is doing is a gamble, and it has added pressure to the first few games, because if results don't go our way, he will have left himself wide open to the accusation that we were not ready for the season.

We've all played football. It doesn't matter how many training sessions you take part in, nothing can prepare you like games. I'll be very surprised if we now hit the ground running at Leicester next week...

Kev Johnson
40 Posted 09/08/2014 at 23:31:31
I pretty much agree with you, Danny. I was just putting forward the 'rational explanation' for why we're doing what we're doing. It does make sense, but to be honest it doesn't sit right with me either. Also agree with Mike, this pre-season does seem a bit thrown together. Ho-hum.
Si Cooper
41 Posted 09/08/2014 at 23:37:36
Don't see how you can count Hibbo staying put as an additional player unless you also include Vellios and Gueye in the negative column for the summer trading. They were all squad members last season.

It is obvious that all club employees are given instructions not to make the Chairman and the Board look bad. On the commentary for the game today Graham Stuart thanked them for our new recruits in such a way to make it seem like they had dipped into their own pockets rather than simply releasing a decent amount of available funds.

Eric Myles
42 Posted 10/08/2014 at 00:21:04
Hibbert, just like a new signing!!!!!

At least he didn't stretch credulity by counting Barkley and Stones too.

Ian Daniels
43 Posted 10/08/2014 at 07:22:14
I’m 100% sure the transfer window hasn’t closed yet; we will get another two players at least (including Atsu). I’m already lighting candles for Seamus’s hamstring but Browning starting wouldn’t worry me... Hibbert would.

Hopefully two or three of the youngsters will take their chance this season and the rest of the lads have been saving it all for Next Saturday. And please don’t bring up that other fella, he’s long gone now, it’s boring. COYB

David Hayes
44 Posted 10/08/2014 at 07:48:47
Everything. that I wanted to say has been stated consisely by numerous posters regarding the complete lack of sharpness and poor energy levels displayed so far, there is no way we will
be ready for the start regardless of what RM says . Thats not an opinion thats fact you have all seen it . Whats left is Blind
faith I am, luckily not blind,. and this is not doom mongering. I don't know what the answer is but I am praying with my eyes open there is one. COYB
Tony Cheek
45 Posted 10/08/2014 at 08:05:14
Another three put past us, and a defence leaking like a sieve.....whats going on? Besic looks like a good buy, we payed much too much for Lukaku, and Barry is good for 2/3 seasons at most. But where is Brian Oviedo? Has he had a setback, would love to hear some news about him. Anyone?
Daniel Ford
46 Posted 10/08/2014 at 08:52:28
These were Bobby’s exact words in March:

"If we get in Europe, I think that makes a difference of six players. I always found you can work on a squad of 21 players in the league and for domestic competitions. You need around 27 players plus keepers for Europe. It doesn’t have to be 27 senior players, it can be young players too, but 27."

Brin Williams
47 Posted 10/08/2014 at 09:01:47
Which would you rather the Martinez 'sniper' approach - where he has a clear target and is prepared to wait until he has him in the cross hairs before he pulls the trigger?

Or the Brenda 'shot gun' approach preferring to scatter the targets in the hope of hitting something useful?

The first is much more economical and usually provides better results - but there is usually a lot of stalking and patience involved.

Viva Martinez.

Ray Robinson
48 Posted 10/08/2014 at 09:52:57
Playing actual league matches to get certain players match fit is wrong whichever way you look at things and regardless of the manager's previous achievements. Sorry, the pre-season schedule has been haphazard.
Phil Walling
49 Posted 10/08/2014 at 09:59:09
Dan @ 46. If that's what the man said, that's what he's got. Just add up the mature players (minus Kone) and add Duffy, Garbutt and Browning and I think that's 26. Whether they are all up to it is another debate entirely. But we should know by Christmas.

On the topic of the players' preparedness for action, a Wigan insider told me last night that, unless he's changed his approach, Roberto will be taking most cognisance of the stats on individual players provided by his sports scientists. These figures provide the basis for determining what aspect of training needs attention and he will not deviate from that plan regardless of demands by a player (and others) for inclusion.

Expect to see Rom and Kevin on the bench – at best!

Matt Traynor
50 Posted 10/08/2014 at 10:17:41
Phil #49, interesting that your insider pinpoints RM as a disciple of Performance Analysis, or Soccermetrics as it's known. Man City developed an analytics department a couple of years ago, and have a team of people working on it.

I think (though am not inclined myself) they make a lot of the data-set open via the web for anyone to use. I also heard from someone that they compile this data for the entire league – as a tool for preparing for forthcoming opponents. I suggested it could be used for scouting players as well, and would not be surprised if similar data was now being collated for all the major leagues.

Two things amaze me in all of this. The level of use of technology, and how managers need to adapt and refresh their approach; and that Harry Redknapp is still gainfully employed.

Steve Guy
51 Posted 10/08/2014 at 10:18:58
I have difficulty in remembering when Everton tonked a load of teams in pre-season. I also cannot remember a time when pre-season form reflected itself in the following season's performances.

There are still 3 weeks of the transfer window left. Last year we made season defining signings with about 3 minutes of the window left. So I expect more signings albeit probably loan players. For once I am not going to get on the Dear Leader's case; spending / committing 㿈m on one player is a fair enough statement of intent, but there is (in theory) plenty of the Sky dosh left. Giving BK the benefit of the doubt there may actually be funds needed to secure the new stadium (announcement due August remember ?!), so maybe all the money won't be seen in new permanent players, but I would expect to see more loanees in the coming weeks.

I also think there is a genuine commitment to giving the young players plenty of playing time this season (League Cup ?) which would eke out the playing time of senior players in other competitions.

All in all I think this will be the transition season we expected last season to be. I would like a cup run to end in a trophy, but think the usual suspects will win out. We will do well to finish top six. Europe is uncharted waters for both many of the players and manager and and we will do well to get to the knock-out stage.

Then again...........

Ed Fitzgerald
52 Posted 10/08/2014 at 10:39:57
Steve Guy,

We have spent ٢M on Besic and ٣M a year for at least 5 years on Lukaku (١ million of the 㿈M is related to performance of Rom and or EFC) so it's hardly throwing the money around, is it? I feel Martinez is frustrated by BK and his inability to provide the investment to allow us to 'push on'.

Phil Walling
53 Posted 10/08/2014 at 11:00:00
Steve, a season of transition in which we finish 6th? I'd hate to hear how you'd describe a poor season – 7th?

I'm all for setting our sights high but be realistic for gawd's sake. This side will do well to make the average of the past 12 years. And we all know what that is!

Trevor Lynes
54 Posted 10/08/2014 at 10:51:40
All the tosh about saying the pre season games are just meaningless ways of getting the guys fit are not at all factual IMO. The teams who have beaten us (3) and Porto, who outplayed us, were trying to win and so were we!! Unfortunately whatever we tried has not succeeded.

Confidence is a major factor in every aspiring top teams make up and winning pre-season games gives that confidence and winning mentality. Players can get just as used to losing as winning. Heads go down as soon as goals are conceded and twice so far we have been pegged back when ahead.

Keeping clean sheets is imperative and our defence has been our mainstay over the past 10 years or so. We are conceding too many goals and that is at least the Number One most important concern that every supporter must have.

I am really concerned about Kone, Gibson and Oviedo returning asap fully fit as they are members of our first team squad and, until they are showing signs of returning, we are three down before a ball has been kicked.

Similarly I cannot understand the tardiness of Lukaku and Mirallas returning to full action. Both have had long periods away from football as neither figured that much for Belgium during the World Cup. Both must have been fit whilst they were in Rio so what is the problem? As has been pointed out, the German players are already up and running and they played throughout the competition in Brazil.

Something is being kept from the fans. Perhaps both of the Belgians are injured or something?? We still do not know if Coleman and Garbutt are back in training and ready to perform. If Lukaku and Mirallas are not at least on the bench at Leicester, then I would like to know how they are earning their salaries.

Dave Williams
55 Posted 10/08/2014 at 11:01:33
As Patrick wisely says at the start of this thread, letÂ’s wait and see on Saturday.

I am as depressed as anyone about our poor showing but the addition of Lukaku, Mirallas and Atsu to the front line will hopefully change everything as their qualities will bring out the best in others.

How would RS have fared last season if they had played without Sterling, Suarez and Sturridge at the same time? – I bet their midfield would have suffered, and their defence without a good front line to play with.

Our opposition pre-season must have looked at the sides we have put out and really fancied their chances as at no stage have we come close to a full strength side. No defender is going to fret at facing Naismith or Long without heavyweight support but put Lukaku alongside them and those two players will carry far more threat.

That said, I do agree that Hibbert, Pienaar and Alcaraz are looking too old and Ossie is coming into that category but Roberto has changed the age-group of the squad a lot already and this time next year may be the time when those players cease to be part of the squad.

I think itÂ’s a bit unfair to castigate BK at this point having shelled out 㿈m on Lukaku. I went to see Exeter v Portsmouth yesterday and it is heart-breaking to talk to Portsmouth staff about how things have gone wrong for them since their Premier League days only five or six years ago. They are starting to rebuild but we cannot risk paying money outside of our budget in the hope that it will land us in the Champions League.

Mike Childs
56 Posted 10/08/2014 at 11:14:23
Thank God for the doom and gloom ToffeeWebers to keep us optimists' feet on the ground. That way, if we don't win the league, I can thank you guys for keeping my perspective.

As for pre-season, I haven't seen any of the games but, by all accounts, we never had our true starting XI out there together and we were constantly changing the formations. So I'm hopping that the bad form can be attributed to these two factors – not the players forgetting everything we learnt last year.

Steve Guy
57 Posted 10/08/2014 at 11:40:10
Phil, I said we will do well to finish top six, NOT we will finish sixth. We are however, at least on paper, one of the better sides and I would say somehwere in the top ten is probable. Hope I am wrong, I would love us to smash the glass ceiling, but I am too long in the tooth as a supporter to get my hopes up too much.

Ed, it's still 㿈M which has to be accounted for. I was trying for once to give the Dear Leader the benefit of the doubt but I my instinct is that BK has indeed snapped the purse shut.

Mike, have you not read recently that the happiest people are those with a healthy balance of pessimism and optimism ? :-)

Sid Logan
58 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:30:46
A great article Mike Oates Which has produced some very interesting and readable posts. The bottom line is at this moment in time I’m confused. Quite frankly for most of the time we’ve looked pretty awful during pre-season. It’s not just about scorelines but how we have looked in various departments. Not good in my opinion. Have we defended well - no! Have we looked creative in midfield - not particularly although Besic looks useful and could be the bargain of the transfer window. Have we created plenty of goal scoring opportunities - absolutely not. Do the players look ready with one week to go – frighteningly and emphatically no!

So what has pre-season been about. Quite honestly who can tell? Has Roberto simply being throwing players in to the mix and assessing them as individuals using his beloved Performance Analysis stats to determine who is ready for a starting place against Leicester? Weird but possible. Although his reference to being able to look at partnerships – god knows what he’s learned in this respect – means it’s more than looking at individuals.

I’m posting this 10 minutes in to the Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund in the hope that Liverpool will look even less prepared than we look - but I somehow doubt it! And just to prove the point they’re now 2! Shit!

Clearly many of us are worried and with good cause but we really won’t know how justified those concerns are until the Leicester game next Saturday. From how the teams’s looking right now I’m hoping for what would be a minor miracle. A demonstration that all our worries were unfounded and Roberto was on top of it all along! The sooner next Saturday comes the better! Let’s hope it will be worth waiting for!

Colin Glassar
59 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:48:54
Interesting tidbit I've just read; 2010-11 pre-season we won 6 out of 7 friendlies. We then played seven (7) league games without a victory. Correct me if I'm wrong.
James McPherson
60 Posted 10/08/2014 at 12:59:22
There's quite a spectrum of opinion on our pre-season. I agree with those that say it is too early to judge Martinez. Last season's achievement has earned him the right for us to trust him. We will soon enough see how things pan out. However, if things do not go well, then I sense there has to be universal agreement that the source of this decline will lead back to what has actually happened between May - August. Unfortunately (for him), part of that retrospective will revisit Martinez's commitment to ESPN and its impact upon his focus around Everton. What is presently quiet assurance and trust in 'he must know aht he is doing' will soon convert to 'woefully inadequate preparation'. Being honest, and as a supporter of Martinez, what I am seeing in this pre-season leads me to think that there's no real logic to my faith other than he did ok last year.
Thomas Surgenor
61 Posted 10/08/2014 at 13:17:37
FFS lads... weÂ’ve signed Besic, Barry, Lukaku & Galloway, promoted Garbutt, Browning, McAleny & Long. All these people getting worried, tell me this, under OFM how many players did we sign before the season started? Obviously, I donÂ’t have the stats to back this up, but it felt we signed more players after the season started.

Finally, for the group stages of the Europa League, IÂ’d be more than happy fielding a team like this:

Robles;
Hibbert, Duffy, Browning, Garbutt;
Gibson, Barry;
Naismith, Osman, Oviedo,
Kone.

Meanwhile, in the Prem IÂ’d have:Howard;
Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines;
Besic, McCarthy;
Mirallas, Barkley, McGeady;
Lukaku.

Even looking at that, IÂ’ve left out Pienaar, Atsu & Alcaraz...

Mike Oates
62 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:38:19
Probably the last big on this thread but just after watching Liverpool demolish Borussia Dortmund with virtually a full strength team, now City vs Arsenal, both with full strength teams, why oh why have our WC lads been allowed to come back so late.
We seem to be so sluggish at the moment with very few players on their game. Hibbert, Stones, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, have all looked so poor , technically, physically, mentally. I just can't understand it at all, I really do believe this preseason has been poorly planned, both in terms of clubs played, player programmes, individually and team wise.
Phil Walling
63 Posted 10/08/2014 at 13:59:53
I think you are right, James. Martinez did enough last season to justify our confidence although that falls someway short of becoming blind faith.

The World Cup may have come at an unfortunate time for both he and Everton although he has sought to justify his summer 'foreigner' by the signing of Besic. But wherever he had been in June/July, I don't think he could have expected to prize more from the transfer kitty than has been the case so far.

My discomfort with preparations has come more from the ongoing 'holiday' atmosphere surrounding the involvement (or non-involvement !) of our WC contingent which seems to have pervaded the psyche of their team mates although the revolving door nature of players' involvement in these farces has added to the general chaos on view.

But however the season opens for us, I have made a vow NEVER again to subscribe to the OS streaming of these farcical friendlies if for no other reason than to save TWers the punishment of suffering my ire !

Col Noon
64 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:50:38
So we’re hitting the panic button good and hard after another pre-season defeat I see? Great stuff. I’m with the manager (as always) on this one and fully believe that when it matters we will be more than ready. We have a lot of experience and know how in the squad, a few ropey pre-season performances won’t shake them.

We have excellent young players who have had a full summer with the first team and have done well. Leicester won’t be easy and of course they will be up for it but it would be foolish to write off a team as good as ours with the players at our disposal. The aim of pre-season is not to bury teams 8-0 and learn sweet FA about your squad. Relax.

Jackie Barry
65 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:00:19
So one question on this, if everything goes well and we fly out of the starting blocks, do we, myself included, stop the critical analysis of how Roberto does his job? I know it would be breaking the tradition of a big part of what it mean to be an Evertonian in recent years but we would have to then assume he does know what he is doing, right? And we don't.
Robbie Muldoon
66 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:06:46
If a place in the Champions League is the target, then we need to pick by which route we are going to concentrate our effort; Top 4 or Europa League victory. We can't do both and one will drain the efforts in the other.

I think if we start well in the league we need to field fringe players in Europe. If we get off to a stinker in the first few games then maybe take the Europa with all seriousness.

Jay Harris
67 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:25:44
One aspect that worries me is that Roberto seems devoid of that happy smiling confident demeanour he had and is now starting to look like Moyes when he fell out with Billy boy over the transfer activity or lack of.

I hope its not deja vu.

To my reckoning in the last 12 months we have lost Mucha, Big Vic, Jelavic, Fellaini, Deulofeu, Vellios and Gueye and previously Rodwell and Arteta.

They have been replaced by McCarthy, Robles, Kone, Besic and McGeady.

My view is that, with the extra Sky money, we should have had a cash pile of between 㿏 and 㿞 million before this year's windfall.

We have spent up front ٧.5M on Lukaku, ٠.5M on Besic and ٟM on Gareth Barry, together with about ٣M a year projected increase in wages less the wages saved on the departees.

So, if Scrooge has pulled the plug on transfers, I am seriously worried about the effect on the manager and squad – and let me add that I totally disagree with all those posters saying we don't have the clout to compete with the big boys.

That record is seriously old now and needs to stop being played.

Dean Adams
68 Posted 10/08/2014 at 14:58:37
Phil Walling 63

I do not feel "punished" by your views about our pre-season. Your views, although very different to mine are as valid as any. I find it difficult to read posts that clearly state things that are false and that totally twist the facts, but your posts always fall short of being "torturous" (not that TW is like a prison!!).

What gets my goat is when people deliberately change the facts to fit their agenda. That is what I expect from the redshite of course!!

Colin Glassar
69 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:27:30
Jay, have you noticed how he has more wrinkles as well? In fact, I think his hair is going ginger and I've detected a bit of a Scottish brogue in his voice. Omg, do you think he's metamorphising?
Jay Harris
70 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:36:06
Haven't noticed the extra wrinkles nor the ginger Colin.

Are you sure that's not Graeme Jones you're thinking of?

Patrick Murphy
71 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:16:15
There has never been an Everton manager - well at least to my knowledge - who has been free from scrutiny or criticism. That to my mind is the way Evertonians have always operated and I see no reason for it to change now,

Kendall and Catterick were given plenty of stick for team selection, tactics etc.in HK's case he would have been thrown out of the club before he achieved any success if the majority of the supporters had have had their way.

The criticism may well have been ignored in the majority of cases as the said managers had an inner belief that they were right and that the masses were wrong which says al lot about the personalities of those two managers.

Whether Roberto is to be proved right or wrong in the long-term will be seen in the fullness of time, but whatever happens fans will always give their views and offer criticism valid or otherwise and why not? it's all part of the game.

The supporters of Everton are in the main fair-minded but that doesn't mean they can be taken for fools, however, as they always want what is best for the club they can sometimes sound the alarm bells prematurely - mostly because of bitter experience and how soon the two best teams in our history disintegrated and the club fell upon difficult times on the pitch even before we had the time to appreciate how good both the 1970 and 1985 teams had been.

We can only hope that Roberto does in fact know what he is doing but if he does have it wrong he will be duly criticised and it is up to him to address that in whatever way he sees fit.

Rarely are there any mitigating circumstances that prevent a manager from being criticised and it is how they and their teams react to it that sorts out the winners from the losers.

Sid Logan
72 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:25:47
I think a great start against Leicester will, as some have suggested, be greeted with an acknowledgement that Roberto knows exactly what he's doing!

However, none of this angst would have arisen had we the team showed an element of progression/improvement during pre-season rather than the opposite!

After watching Liverpool beat Dortmund today, there is no doubt in my mind that the concern being shown by many of us is not misplaced!

Dean Adams
73 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:50:23
The team that will start against Leicester will be the one that played all too often last season. No unknown quantities and no need to gel or get to know your team-mates. Only Atsu when he arrives and Besic will be different to the 18 named to start. Why would you need to know if they can play together when they showed last season that they most definately can.
Brent Stephens
74 Posted 10/08/2014 at 15:57:30
Dean, surely he wants to see how the (new) Besic and the existing) young lads, Long, Browning, Duffy, Hope, who who all had a run pre-season.

But there might also be a case of tweaking tactical approaches which he wants to try out? I don't know, I'm not a tactician.

Dean Adams
75 Posted 10/08/2014 at 16:14:33
Brent 74

If RM decides to play any of the new or young players, he will undoubtedly only put one in at a time, so as not to create imbalance to his team. The point of having a squad will be to rotate and this will be done after meticulous detail has been analysed and then re-analysed.

Don't be fooled into thinking that RM is a part-time amateur like all of us on this site. He is very much the model professional.

James McPherson
76 Posted 10/08/2014 at 16:17:30
Col Noon...

I think most of us are on board with what you say... and we are prepared to wait and see. However, what some people are saying (and I think they are correct) is that, if things do go wrong, then it squarely sits with the structure and the approach of pre-season.

Like you say, let's sit back and hope it is some part of a Martinez masterplan... a masterplan that kicks in on Game 1 and not Game 6 of a 38 game season. I think we would consider ourselves shortchanged if Martinez's South American sojourn heralded his pre-season running into late September/October.

Danny Broderick
77 Posted 10/08/2014 at 16:14:04
Dean,
Those players all need to be up to speed. You can only get match fit by playing matches, right?
Sam Morrison
78 Posted 10/08/2014 at 16:55:02
Wow, the post-Lukaku high didn't last long did it?

I agree a succession of defeats and sloppy performances isn't ideal from a mental standpoint - but I still think the fans are far more hung up on these results than the players are. It's been a real scattergun approach to try and get several players more than a few minutes on the pitch, so while I'm not as confident as I would have been had we won 3 or 4, I'll reserve my wrath for when it actually matters - against Leicester.

Col Noon
79 Posted 10/08/2014 at 18:32:49
James #76

Absoutely, after all he is the manager and will carry the can IF after 6-10 games we are struggling. Deep down. I can’t see that happening. I would however be very surprised if we get through the first 6 games unbeaten. It is a tough start with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to play. So lets not call for anyone’s head should we come unstuck as many will against the afore mentioned teams.

Raymond Fox
80 Posted 10/08/2014 at 23:13:19
Talk about over reacting!

The manager comes in at the start of last season makes a completely fresh start, changes our playing style, introduces 2 of the country's brightest young players to regular 1st team football, achieves a record number of pts in the PL for Everton, and we are in the running for a CL place up to the last few games.
Wins over everyone at the club + the media, also made a season changing transfer window with the loans of Lukaku, Barry and Del Boy.
This year he's secured on long contracts, Baines, Barkley, Stones, Barry, Coleman, bought Lukaku and made what looks like an inspired signing of Besic for a measly ٢m.

Now because the friendly results have been poor playing with disjointed line ups full of young inexperienced players/ all changed at half time etc, some of you are wanting to give him is P 45 because he obviously doesn't have a clue what he's doing! Give over.

Make no mistake we have a very difficult start to the league season, much harder than last year, there's Arsenal, Chelsea, Utd and rs. in the 1st 7 games, so the chances are we wont get off to a flying start.

Hate to think what it will be like on here if/when we lose some of these games!

Mike Price
81 Posted 11/08/2014 at 01:19:43
My first worry was the 2 year Hibbert contract. It was the first sign of a softness or an over sentimental side that was not right for the new Everton and I'm worried that those things can impact the squad.

These players on our pay role coming back not ready for the start of the season is just bizarre compared to all the other big clubs.

Praying that they shoot out of the blocks on Saturday or our league campaign could be severely damage by the end of this month.

Sam Morrison
82 Posted 11/08/2014 at 08:47:07
Mike, even if you don't rate Hibbert as a defender - and most do, though he offers less than Coleman going forward of course - you surely understand that we need a squad, and Hibbert's contract had ended. If we'd let him go we'd need a replacement right-back - to me the decision was based on pragmatism, not sentimentality.
Mike Price
83 Posted 11/08/2014 at 09:31:42
Not sure I agree Sam. Always thought he was too slow, went to ground too much and is always likely to get skinned. Remember the cup final?...and that's the bit he's supposed to be good at. I've always thought he's like a good semi pro player so he's done well to have the career he has.
I'm a big Martinez fan but never would have thought he'd have re-signed him. It's odd too, that most people are already advocating Browning or Stones as Coleman's replacement rather than a specialist right back that's just signed a 2 year contract.
Sam Morrison
84 Posted 11/08/2014 at 09:49:09
We can agree to disagree Mike. (re cup final; In Hibbert's defense, Moyes rushed him back from injury and as I recall he picked up a yellow card early in that game which didn't help…)

Possibly Browning is or will be better than Hibbert and certainly Stones is more creative - but the latter also covers centre-back and to me, Hibbert at the very least can be relied on as cover.

Sam Morrison
85 Posted 11/08/2014 at 09:53:11
Saves us gnashing our teeth over not signing another player, eh? ;-)
Peter Jones
86 Posted 11/08/2014 at 10:04:53
For as many seasons as he has played there has been a chorus of people on here suggesting that Osman adds nothing if he plays or won't play at all or is the worst player to have pulled on an Everton shirt.

At times I have felt that I am the only one who thinks he's any good, apart from the two M's of course. Eventually the predictors will be right as age conquers all but not this season. As long as he doesn't play on the wing!

Sam Morrison
87 Posted 11/08/2014 at 10:23:41
Peter it's a combination of three things: people remember a player losing the ball more than they do them completing 10 passes, confirmation bias meaning that these memories confirm a previously held perception, and the fact Osman was played out of position regularly and did not suit being played wide at all.

Those who enjoy a physical confrontation (between teams) or expect powerful runs will always despair of Osman, because he's not one to make rugged challenges and doesn't have a Barkley physique to surge past somebody. But like you, I like him - in the right position he keeps things ticking over and the possession game we play now suits him.

And he's scored goals for us ten years running.

Gerald Foo
88 Posted 11/08/2014 at 10:44:59
There's something that I don't get. Why are people going on and on about how our two Belgium boys haven't been back in the friendlies etc yet? What is Bobby doing etc etc...

Arsenal's 3 Germans weren't even due back for training till the Monday after the Charity Shield. Neither was Kompany, Zabaleta, Demichelis, etc for City.

Maybe he has a plan? Maybe they're so important to us that he needs to get them fully fit before playing so that they wont break down for half the season? He's a trained physio so I think he will have his own ideas about fitness etc!

Let him manage!

Dick Fearon
89 Posted 11/08/2014 at 10:04:27
Sam 84, Re, during that cup final it was already clearly obvious before impartial TV commentators united in pointing out that Hibbert was totally exposed down his flank due to the total disappearance of Osman. I was amazed that our usually knowledgeable Twebbers ignored Osmans invisibility and heaped all the blame on Hibbert.
Carl Sanderson
90 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:21:45
Brian 30 & Brin 57:

The voice of reason.

Tony Abrahams
91 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:19:50
Although I have never watched the game again Dick 89, I always thought it was Fellaini who never did his job that day. How come Everton never really got exposed down the right during the second half that day?

I think it was because Cahill swapped positions with Mario and stopped Chelsea getting out. If Saha would have scored that header we might have won the cup, because we was a lot more organised as a team at that point in the game.

Kev Johnson
92 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:42:56
As regards, Hibbert's contract, I think it might have been something to do with the fact that for the Europa League we need four players trained at the club between the ages of 15 and 21. Browning and Garbutt fall into this category too, which may be why they've been promoted. I might be wrong about this. Anyone any clearer on EL rules?

I picked this up from the excellent Executioner's Bong. There's a few new blogs at the moment, all highly recommended. Here's the Europa League one: Link

Sam Morrison
93 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:52:17
Agreed Dick. Osman's inability to play wide (and Moyes' insistence on putting him their anyway) did both players no favors at all.
Dean Adams
94 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:20:21
Peter Jones 86

Essentially your comments re Osman and being the only one to support him are crap. I have seen a fair number of posters on this site who regularly state that Ossie has class if played in his best position. Me for one. I agree lots knock him, but please stop the silly exagerating. It does not enhance your stance and devalues a valid point.

Raymond Fox
95 Posted 11/08/2014 at 11:54:01
You're correct, Gerald (#88), our pair of Belgians not being rushed into the friendlies is not exceptional. With all this new tech medical equipment you can find what the physical condition of a player actually is, I think we have to give the staff the benefit of the doubt.

I've been siding with Martinez as usual but along with most fans on here I have been very disappointed with the quality of our play more than anything; it wasn't just a fitness thing – it was the lack of basic skill that was missing and, for a good percentage of the playing time, we were embarrassingly poor.

Tony J Williams
96 Posted 11/08/2014 at 12:23:01
I wish that posters would stop using the 2009 FA Cup Final as the prime example that Hibbert can't cut it in the Premier League (even though he has been a fully fledged player for a decade). It was 1 game out of 260. It's like judging Barkley's whole career on his game on Saturday.

Hibbert was unfairly booked within the first 15 minutes, was rushed back from injury and had no cover from an also injured Osman. Sick and tired of posters trying to use one game as proof against Hibbert.

In regards to Lukaku not being fit, wasn't he training with Anderlecht before coming back to us? He was clearly keeping his own fitness levels up.

Not too sure about Mirallas though, to be fair I have always thought he was a lazy player who doesn't get himself involved in games, he waits for it to come to him.

Carl Sanderson
97 Posted 11/08/2014 at 13:57:11
Dean 94,

If I read him correctly Peter said he felt as though he was the only one supporting Osman. I, for one, know how the lad feels: I came in for barrage of abuse from a right gang of empty-heads for backing my favourite player. Not that I gave a toss, but it taught me that, just because a lot of people disagree with me, they aren't necessarily right. As my late father used to say, always be wary of a consensus.

Mike Price
98 Posted 11/08/2014 at 14:15:35
I'm certainly not judging Hibbert on one game. The final is the one people remember but I've always thought he was a very limited footballer and that includes his defensive play. That's why Martinez signing him for 2 years has me scratching my head and for the first time just slightly concerned.
Tony J Williams
99 Posted 11/08/2014 at 14:27:03
"... but I've always thought he was a very limited footballer and that includes his defensive play"

We'll agree to disagree on this point then

Jim Potter
100 Posted 13/08/2014 at 13:37:41
It is just you Mike. Roberto has to be right (or else IÂ’m nervous as hell).

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