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Man Utd shambles means 4th place is up for grabs

by   |   17/08/2014  Comments (58)  jump

Ok, ok, I admit we didn't look like the 3rd best team in the league yesterday. That would be true even if we had sneaked out of Leicester with the full three points. And letting two of the points slip away on a late goal was a punch in the gut, with the bad news about Barkley adding injury to insult.

But the good news from yesterday is, Manchester United look a shambles, and that is HUGE for opening up a spot in the Top 4. Spurs were lucky to sneak past West Ham, the RS have lost Suarez... so, if Man Utd bollocks things up, 4th place could be wide open for the taking this season.

Witness the panic in the Red Devils' camp in the press. They think they are in far worse shape than us right now. Already, for example, an ESPN FC poll shows only 40% of respondents believe Man Utd will finish in the Top 4.

On top of that, van Gaal appears shaken and shocked and publicly states that his own team's confidence has been smashed! Thank God we have a positive manager in Roberto who would never say such a thing.

If Man Utd believe their own panic, and Roberto keeps our side positive, that could be a huge edge for us in the race for 4th. COYB!

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Reader Comments (58)

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Yair Kaye
1 Posted 18/08/2014 at 07:22:44
One swallow doesnÂ’t make summer and one football game doesnÂ’t make a season. And before we blossom with joy regarding other teams failures , we must make sure we have an adequate team at home. At the moment, I am more worried how we overcome the likes of Swansea and Crystal Palace.
Ajay Gopal
2 Posted 18/08/2014 at 07:57:30
I think Spurs will be strong this year. I agree Man U look weaker, but this is early seasons yet. The RS looked shaky when they were pressured yesterday against Southampton, but I think they will get another big signing before the window closes, so let us not write them off yet.

The Top 3 look assured - Mourinho, Pellegrinin, Wenger. Who among the 4 upstarts can break-through to the Top 4 - Van Gaal, Pochhetino, Rodgers, Martinez? I know who has the least resources to compete.... ;-)

Ernie Baywood
3 Posted 18/08/2014 at 08:59:51
No-one particularly impressed at the weekend so I'll not be making any rash judgements on the basis of performances.

For Utd the equation is simple. They've bought fewer players than they've lost. The idea they're going to improve is nonsense unless they pull off some late transfers. Even then they can't achieve our stability. I'd be really disappointed if we finished below them.

Spurs and Liverpool are our rivals. Both have issues. For Liverpool they need a Plan C and D because Plans A and B left them. Spurs were poor last year, have a new manager to bed in, and haven't really strengthened. Where's their improvement coming from?

Nick Entwistle
4 Posted 18/08/2014 at 09:28:37
You'd have to go pretty far down the league before you got to a squad you'd put second to Man Utd's. And with Evra gone there's nothing but Rooney, Van Persie and Mata to get excited about.

I made my Utd mate cough up his beer when I said it comes to something when Utd are holding back Fellaini's career.

Tony Draper
5 Posted 18/08/2014 at 09:36:33
First games of the season, for everyone.

No-one fighting for survival, no-one throwing caution to the wind in search of points as Champions, no-one coasting through a meaningless fixture with a suitcase packed & ready to go.

Far too early to make rash statements so far as I'm concerned.
Or as a mathematician might say, statistically invalid sample upon which to base reliable probabilities.

Come the conclusion of the season, the PL Table will not look as it does by the end of today (Monday).

Tony J Williams
6 Posted 18/08/2014 at 09:44:11
It's a little too early to consider a Top 4 position based on one game of the season.

We will not get top 4, we aren't consistent enough and the Europa League will screw with us big time.

It's Man Utd's first game of the season,

Man City lost twice and drew once in the first 6 games last season but still won the league.

Karl Graham
7 Posted 18/08/2014 at 10:10:02
3 at the back will never work in thus league so the longer United persevere with it the better. Spurs have good players but a new manager so hopefully they will not get running until too late. Liverpool are over reliant on there quick forwards. Unfortunately we are sloppy at the back so the race for fourth is open.
Carl Taylor
8 Posted 18/08/2014 at 10:26:20
Tony, if itÂ’s too early to consider a top 4 position, why did you just write our chances off for not being consistent enough?
Craig Fletcher
9 Posted 18/08/2014 at 10:41:01
Too early Geoff, far too early.

Let’s wait till Christmas before we start crapping over the top four aspirations of former PL champions (ahem, several times over PL champions).

But on a side note, yes I sincerely hope Man Utd go completely tits up.

Sam Hoare
10 Posted 18/08/2014 at 10:46:17
Even if Man Utd don't sort it out (and I think that's a big 'if' given their resources) then we still have to beat two of Chelsea, Arsenal, RS, Man City and Spurs who all have bigger and dare I say better squads than us with probably more players incoming.

We can beat anybody on our day but fact is we don't have the same depth of squad with very little top class cover especially at RB and ST. I hope I'm wrong but I reckon we are nailed on to end somewhere 5th-9th unless we get very lucky with injuries which already looks to not be the case....

Simon Jones
11 Posted 18/08/2014 at 11:23:31
This would be a great thread if it was late October, players can still be signed and sold (lost) before we jump to any conclusions.
Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 18/08/2014 at 11:37:35
If Everton finish above Manchester United, then they will get Champions League Football, next season.
Terry Murphy
13 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:01:37
"3 at the back will never work in this league" Karl #7

Not sure Roberto would agree with you there. I haven't seen it work too well either, but if any manager can make it work it would be Senor Martinez. Right???

Jim Knightley
14 Posted 18/08/2014 at 11:42:55
Manchester United clearly have some issues with acquiring players (I blame Woodward not Moyes or Van Gaal). It is shocking that the season has started, and they've only managed to bring in Herrera and Shaw who were both identified as targets before Van Gaal arrived.

That said, Rojo looks like he will come and apparently a bid for the brilliant Benatia has been accepted. If they come, their defence will be a different prospect. They've got a fantastic strikeforce; it would be madness to downplay how good Mata, Rooney and Van Persie are. Rooney and Van Persie, if both played up front, will each return over 20 league goals during the season. How many teams have two strikers capable of that? City obviously, but Chelski don't, or Arsenal, or Spurs, or us or Liverpool anymore.

People may have short memories, but Mata was arguably the exceptional playmaker in this division for two seasons, and did well after arriving in January in terms of goals and assists. They cannot win the league, but I'd be very surprised if we finished above them. They have no European football, and we do.

Their midfield has some issues in terms of depth, but the arrival of Strootman in January will sort that. Ferguson won the league with a squad which should not have, and the problems were exploited last season.

But Moyes, whilst I admired what he did for Everton, completely lost the plot. He had no definable style, the pressure got to him and the players knew it. With his experience, and free from the problems created by European football, Van Gaal will get them up the league.

Liverpool have lost Suarez, and will be weaker for it. Moreno, Lovren, Markovic and Lallana are very good buys in terms of strengthening the squad, and parts of the first team. But they've not brought any world class players (Vidal/Di Maria/Reus), and in Suarez, have lost the best domestic performer in the world last season in my opinion. But, they still came 12 points above us last season. I think they are the favourites for fourth, but much will depend on the fitness of Sturridge and Sterling, who I feel they will increasingly rely on this season. If they lose those two, they lose the two who best represent their philosophy now that Suarez has left. Gerrard is getting old too, and they haven't got anyone capable of picking the passes he does. The failure to bring in another striker is surprising too. Remy would have been perfect.

Spurs will be better this season, but have weaknesses. CB is uncertain, and they've stockpiled too many CBs (Spurs have a history of stockpiling in positions, most notably cm). Walker is not a great right back, and is a big drop on Coleman. The same can be said for Rose, who surprisingly started above Davies. Erikssen is a superb player, but a move to the left could slightly negate his influence. Much will depend on Lamela for them, but aside from that, their team lacks top four material (I'd take Eriksen, Lloris, Vertoghen for our first team, but no-one else). Townsend is a greedy bastard: he is an older poorer version of Barkley, and has been over-hyped because he is English. Lennon is the predictable Lennon of every season. Sandro and Paulinho are very good, and Dembele is a superb player as is Hotlby (who I feel could emerge this season). But how will they keep them all happy? If Bentaleb also becomes a first team fixture, then they have six players vying for two roles (including Capoue, who also offers a sixth choice CB option). Soldado is not made for this league and Adebayor can be brilliant..but it all depends on whether he can be bothered. There is no reason why we can't finish above Spurs, but they will be threat as they will have more unity now.

Personally, with the demands of Europa League football, I expect we will come sixth or seventh. We finished 12 points behind Liverpool last season, and 7 behind Arsenal (who had concentrated injuries and have improved their squad). Our squad is essentially the same strength, and we have Europa League football to contend with. As I've argued before, I also do not buy those who claim that our injury luck will improve this season. Last season we generally had our first 11 players available for the majority of matches. There were some minor injuries, but the worse ones impacted on the squad players (Gibson, Oviedo, Traore, Kone). They were losses, but big injuries to Coleman, or Mirallas, or Lukaku, or McCarthy, or Howard, will expose us more. The Barkley loss is an unfortunate blow in particular. I think Naismith can be as effective as him in the short term, but has that brilliance we need and 2-5 months out is 2-5months of missed development. I'm happy with Martinez and Everton though, and especially with the youth of our squad.

I think our success will be measured in the cup competitions this season, rather than the league. We want a cup, and we can win a cup, because our first team is good enough. I hope we do not put out a weak team in the Capital One Cup, and I expect a good Europa league run. The run in Europe is essential I think, because it will improve our co-efficient in readiness for a champions league qualification at somepoint. The last thing we want is to finally get fourth again, and then get drawn against a Napoli or Bilbao.

Peter Jones
15 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:24:29
A year ago, Martinez was fortunate to inherit what was arguably the best back five in the division, with two first class back-ups in Oviedo and Stones. Up until Jagjelka was injured last season they played to a top level. On Saturday they looked like one of the worst, an impression carried on from all the warm-up games in which they conceded similar careless goals.

If it's too early to make predictions then I will stick my neck out. Unless Martinez improves that defense considerably, we will not get near the top four.

Robbie Muldoon
16 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:26:37
ItÂ’s a funny old game, but our season is in a very precarious position already after just one game played. Such are our expectations now, we all know how costly two dropped points against Leicester could be when it comes to the last game of the season.

But it is the news that Ross Barkley will be out for up to five months that is the cruel handicap we have now been dealt. It also has a knock-on effect for Lukaku, who never looks more dangerous than when he is combining with the drive of the young scouser. That and the fact we now have two games against Top 4 opposition, which if we get beat in both may spell curtains for a Top 4 challenge before it even gets started.

But, the optimist in me knows that it is probably better to play Arsenal and Chelsea this early, whilst the rustiness is still in their squads (as ours) and hopefully we can take 6 points and everything will seem a lot better. But like I say, lose both and the season will be well and truly under grey skies.

Paul Smith
17 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:29:11
I personally think that the top 2 will be Chelsea and Man City and the next 5 teams battling out the next positions between themselves. If I had to decide right now I would just go for Arsenal and the other lot for 3rd and 4th but think there will be lots of twists and turns in the chase.

For us to finish top 4 I feel we need a lot more goals from midfield and a more positive attitude especially when we get ahead as too many draws have cost us in the past. We also need to win more away games than we have previously and need to take our attitude of last couple of months of last season throughout this season.

Tom Bowers
18 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:58:44
Everton scored 2 goals and that should have been enough to defeat Leicester but defending let them down and I think the back four needs a shake-up.

Jags is making costly mistakes and has not been at his best since last seasonÂ’s injury. Distin, still competitive but way past his best, and Baines looking shaky also. Coleman being back should solidify the right back position but certainly a rethink should be in RMÂ’s mind sooner rather than later.

Man UtdÂ’s aging back line has cost them in recent seasons so one hopes something is done to fix EvertonÂ’s; if not, then they can forget about the top four.

Raymond Fox
19 Posted 18/08/2014 at 12:57:26
Really its too early to make predictions about finishing positions, the windows obviously not yet finished plus you have the nonsense of another window mid season.

As it stands at the moment I'd take Man City over Chelsea any day of the week, they're my 1st and 2nd. The Europa fixtures for me will scupper our chances of finishing 4th, in fact I think we will do well to finish 6th. Our squad as it stands is not deep enough in quality, it's not our managers fault, we simply haven't got the funds to go out and spend silly money on players that would lift us to a higher level.

I see Man Utd are said to be willing to spend 𧴜m on a couple of players to strengthen their team, just imagine what Martinez could do with that sort of money. We can live in hope of a minor miracle, that's our chosen profession!

Mike Gwyer
20 Posted 18/08/2014 at 14:38:51

Peter Jones.

Good post. Both Jags & Distin were poor on Saturday and the sad thing is, this was against a Leicester team who had a limited attacking threat. The Arse & Chelsea will have a field day against similar defending so for me Distin has to make way for Stones, with Coleman returning to the back 4, our back line will be stronger!!!! It has to be or we are in trouble.

For me the positive from Saturday was that we should have won at a canter, but if you defend like we did then you will concede goals.

Ernie Baywood
21 Posted 18/08/2014 at 15:38:42
This might be foolish, Mike, but I can't buy this defensive weakness. We gave Leicester very little and conceded both goals due to a combination of individual errors and dumb luck. First goal Distin has lamped it... you can hardly praise Ulloa for the ball striking him perfectly on the chest and dropping at his feet. Likewise the second... two tackles and both spilled out sideways to Leicester players. It's hard to believe that two CBs who are good enough to perform well for 89 minutes simply can't hack a ball away... the most basic of basics.

Thing is, and this is where the foolishness on my behalf comes in, it seems to happen quite a bit... More than might be considered chance or misfortune. Our do we overplay it because we watch every game and other clubs have the same errors that we just don't give a shit about?

Denis Richardson
22 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:36:29
Lets look at the table in November....then we'll have a better idea of what this season holds.

As stated above, its only the first weekend - manu (however unlikely) may go on to win their next 10 games....stranger things have happened, we won seven in a row last season...

August tells you nothing about the rest of the season.

Mike Gwyer
23 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:02:41

Ernie. I'm as blue as blue can be but those blue tinted specs of yours need some deep cleaning. If you want to believe that our CB's performed well for 89 minutes then got unlucky with two errors then good luck to you, but most blues around me were shitting bricks every time Distin had the ball. To make matters worse and for reasons only known to Howard, every time Howard redistributes the ball he always looks for Distin. All I can say is either Saturday was a bad day or Distin has been found out.

Remember it was Leicester we were playing so watching them use a cheap version of pass and move, that allowed them to have two one on one's with Howard, was mega hair-pulling-out time for most blues in the stands. Being honest mate, if you want to think that Leicester's only chances were the two defensive errors that we made then I'd give the Arse and Chelsea games a miss because your blue tinted specs will seriously get found out.

Peter Z Jones
24 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:38:52
Ernie. I've got to say. We are unlucky as all hell man. Liverpool gave Southampton 3 clear cut opportunities to bury them at Anfield. Steven Davis hits the tamest side foot unmarked from the spot. Schneiderlin only forces a save off the bar from 6 yards and then 㾸M pound Shane Long hilariously misses an open goal from 4 yards with a header right after!

If that's in Goodison, all fucking 3 are in the back of the net and we lose. No doubt in my mind. And in that case, we should. You should be punished for bad defending. But the amount of games where we are done in by fluke bounces and deflections are far and away the most of any team.

Tony J Williams
25 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:55:37
Just a repeat of last season.

That Ulloa will be this season's Van Wolfswinkie. Won't score again after being given a flukey chance to score against us.

On another day Distin's clearance reaches the half way line.

Peter Bell
26 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:56:10
Peter Z, the shot against the bar and Longs header came in the same move.
If the first goes in the second chance doesnt exist.
Not sure were the three goals you refer to would have come from.
Peter Z Jones
27 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:54:27
Mike, I don't think he's saying we were magnificent defensively. It's just that they had 3 chances all game. The only one THEY actually created through good play, they missed when that sub was one on one with Howard and blasted it over the bar.

The two goals we conceded were nonsense. Distin clears like any sane person would after the ball comes to him in the box and it hits Ulloa perfectly, and I mean absolutely perfectly in the chest, and then lands at his feet to toe poke it home in the area.

The second was started by another deflection. That tricky winger smacks it into a crowd, it pinballs a bit, Barry (I think) makes a good reactionary tackle and then the ball rolls across the penalty area perfectly for an oncoming attacker like we're playing FIFA. Honestly, if we scored goals like these, we'd be celebrating them with very sheepish grins.

Shane Corcoran
28 Posted 18/08/2014 at 16:59:17
Peter, do you recall our games against Hull, Swansea and Cardiff at home last year? We were very lucky to win all of those games with all three missing good chances before we put them away.

What fluke bounces and deflections are you referring to? I donÂ’t think weÂ’re any more or less lucky than other teams.

Peter Z Jones
29 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:04:39
Ok Mr. Bell. They scored 1 goal. Still, those 2 chances win them the game if put away. Clearly, that's not even the point of the post. What I'm saying is that we get severely punished for minor mistakes and other teams get carved up repeatedly, only to be saved by lady luck on numerous occasions.
Linda Morrison
30 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:01:52
I just do not see Everton finishing as high as last season.

The squad in terms of numbers is the same as last season and we have an additional competition in Europe.

I really like Roberto and do believe he will get us to Champions League, I just think he could be making a mistake putting too many young players into big matches before they are ready.

We should be looking to bring in at least another 3-4 players whatever the Barkley situation is.

In today's Indpendent Roberto is now saying that Ross will only be out for about 2 months.

This happened last season, can't remember who with, I just wish that they let fans know when they know the real situation

Tony J Williams
31 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:18:53
Is that a Kone/Oviedo 2 months?
Peter Z Jones
32 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:09:27
Yes I do Shane. I've not said that we've never benefitted from good fortune in the history of our club. I've merely said that it seems as though we tend to have a lot more games where our opponents score fluky goals with minimal chances created.

All luck isn't created equal. Flip a coin 10,000 times. It's not going to land heads or tails 5,000 each. It's random. I think we've been on the wrong side more often than not recently. That being said, we still had the 3rd best defensive record in the league last season.

Phil Walling
33 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:15:39
Amazing how so many can determine which club finishes where in the table after just one bloody game!

Man Utd were crap so that's them out of it whilst our lone point means we can be written off.

Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Man City all won so that's the top four sorted – although Chelsea may alter that tonight!

Of course, we can write off all the other teams so let's abandon the season right now!

Shane Corcoran
34 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:25:26
Peter, I understand what youÂ’re saying and I didnÂ’t mean to imply that you thought we were unlucky all of the time.

IÂ’m still not with you though. Can you give me some examples?

Yesterday Barry should have been sent off, no doubt in my mind, so I think in that respect we were quite lucky.

Patrick Murphy
35 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:33:06
Shane yes Barry should have been sent off for a second bookable offence however he shouldn't have been booked for the first incident thereby it evened out. As for the handball on the halfway line the lad should have walked as it no longer matters if there are covering players or not -apparently. Had he not stopped the momentum of the ball Lukaku would have had a clear run towards the penalty area. Swings and roundabouts as they say.

Peter Z Jones
36 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:28:08
Ok. I'll start with Cardiff. The first time we played them, were we not denied a stonewall penalty on Baines? Had we been wearing the jersey of Chelsea, Man Utd, etc, you know the ref is pointing at the spot.

The second game at Goodison, I remember their keeper Marshall making a ton of brilliant saves to keep us out and then scoring off of a fluke goal from Juan Cala. He bundled it in somehow. Guy knew nothing about it. Only chance they had.

Norwich is well documented. The rebound off the bar after the pinball between Baines/Fellaini plus the shanked cross to Ricky Van Wolfswinkel.

West Ham away. Ravel Morrison smacks it into a crowd and the deflection wrong foots Howard to put us behind. Only shot on target in the first half. Furthermore, they also get a penalty out of completely nowhere in the second half, after entering our final third for the first time. That's off the top of my head.

Peter Z Jones
37 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:40:37
Spurs away. After the quick restart, Adebayor hits from a tight angle on their lone attempt on goal. Villa at home. Delph dispossesses Barkley and they score on the one chance of the game for them. Chelsea away. Rubbish free kick awarded in injury time and it's bundled. Once again, minimal opportunities created. Maximum punishment.
James Stewart
38 Posted 18/08/2014 at 17:52:36
Too early to write United off. Highly likely they will add Di Maria/Vidal etc before the window shuts which makes them a totally different side.
Shane Corcoran
39 Posted 18/08/2014 at 18:29:59
WeÂ’ll call it even so Peter. I wouldnÂ’t include MarshallÂ’s saves however as thatÂ’s just an example of a player doing his job very well, or the strikerÂ’s not doing theirs.

As Patrick says, and although itÂ’s a cliche, things more or less even themselves out.

If IÂ’m involved with a team I prefer to focus on the controllables. Luck would play no part in yesterdayÂ’s game had Everton put Leicester away. If itÂ’s against a top team and a major decision goes against us then fine.

I bet the teams at the other end of the table have louder crys than those nearer the top.

Bill Griffiths
40 Posted 18/08/2014 at 18:53:47
Geoffrey, I can't recall you posting last season after Utd beat Swansea 4-1 stating Everton have no chance getting 4th place? Saturdays results and even the next few games will give no real indication of how things will pan out.
Phil Walling
41 Posted 18/08/2014 at 19:03:58
Of course 'things don't even themselves out'- ALL the bad decisions go against Everton !

If they didn't, we'd win the Prem every year. It's those bloody refs who stop us.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 18/08/2014 at 19:46:52
Bill 41, Geoffrey is one of our new Toffees from America.

Shane, I think youÂ’re a very fair supporter, but if the likes of Gareth Barry start getting sent off for that, then the game will finally be finished.

Ernie Baywood
43 Posted 18/08/2014 at 22:34:55
My point wasn't that we, Everton, were just unlucky. The reality the is that both of our goals had an element of luck too - the first had an undeserved corner, a deflected Baines shot that was going wide, and a rebound from Distin straight to McGeady. Second had a swing from Pienaar that rolled to Naismith.

What I'm querying is whether the 'freak' events that happen to Distin and Jags are actually freak events. On the face of it, you would say they are... but they happen quite a lot don't they?

With our goals we created our own luck with great build-up play between Baines and Pienaar and we took advantage with brilliant finishes from McGeady and Naismith. So what did we contribute to the goals we conceded to make it more than bad luck?

Phil Walling
45 Posted 19/08/2014 at 07:24:32
I'm sure managers don't encourage their players to dwell on 'bad luck' else they'd have an excuse for every failure.

When it happens, it happens. Just bad shit, so move on!

Geoffrey Caveney
46 Posted 19/08/2014 at 10:24:24
I agree with the folks saying our defense performed poorly at Leicester - I was disappointed too. Not just on the two goals or the one-on-ones with Howard, but more so on corners and crosses in general. On a corner or cross I expect a good defense to get a head or leg on the ball and knock it to a galaxy far, far away. Far too often I saw their corners and crosses landing untouched and bouncing around the box. When you let that happen, you are asking for trouble, and the other team is going to get a couple "lucky" bounces.

Doesn't Besic also play CB? It seems a natural option to try: We already have McCarthy and Barry starting in defensive midfield, but our back line looks a little shaky. Why not try Besic there and see what he can do to tighten up the back line?

Colin Glassar
47 Posted 19/08/2014 at 11:23:49
For the first, hopefully not the last, time I'm in total agreement with Mr Walling: how the hell can any of you say we can't get into the top 4 after one (1) game beggars belief?

Has Sky Sports and the rest of the money-obsessed media indoctrinated you to such a degree that you write off our chances before the season even starts properly? Apart from Chelsea, in the first half, no-one has impressed me. I think some of you must get up in the morning and think, "This is going to be a shit day". Honestly, you need to get a grip.

Colin Glassar
48 Posted 19/08/2014 at 12:13:16
Brilliant article in the Daily Telegraph by Des Lynam (you can read it online). Like Des, I'm increasingly worried about the 'soul' of football under the care of the present day authorities. Don't agree with the last bit though.
Jim Lloyd
49 Posted 19/08/2014 at 12:49:51
I think Jim Knightly's post was excellent. I don't think it's a matter of saying we won't get in the top four after just one game, although some posts have reacted to this game.

I don't see us getting a top four spot and thought so before the season started. It isn't to say that we can't, I just think we won't. Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, I think, are going to take 3 spots and it falls between Man U, Liverpool to take the fourth and a battle between us and Spurs for 5th.

I don't see our squad being strong enough to become a top four just yet. Of it's possible that we might but I think it much more likely that we'll end up 6th or 7th.

As for our defence, I'm not so sure it's bad luck that we have, so much as Jagielka and Distin being prone to make errors that often result on a goal. Neither seem comfortable on the ball, Jagielka is a really good last ditch tackler but his weaknesses are going to give the opposition opportunities. Distin has been a stalwart defender but he to makes real boobs that result in panic stations or a goal for the opposition. The almost last minute foul tackle he did when we were winning 3-2 in the Derby last season is a good example.

Like I say, he's been a brilliant player for us but also prone to expensive mistakes.

We haven't come to the end of the transfer window yet, so we might get in some more good players but up to now, I think we could have much more success in the cups than in the league.

Jim Knightley
50 Posted 19/08/2014 at 12:29:23
Colin, we can say what we 'think' based on the information available. That is why forums exist after all.

I know several things: 1) That we finished 7 points off top four last season; 2) That our squad's strength has not markedly improved; 3) That we have Europa League football, which is tougher to handle because of the later matches than in the Champions League (aside from tiredness, it does allow a manager to properly prepare the squad for league matches); 4) That this squad is not used to regularly juggling the demands of European and domestic football; 5) That Man Utd do not have European football.

I'm personally very happy with this team and Everton. I think that in Besic, Coleman, Oviedo, Lukaku, Barkley, Stones and McCarthy we have an extremely talented group of young players who can make up the Everton team for hopefully some years to come. But I'm a realist, and the evidence is obvious.

We failed to get top four last season, because we were not good enough. It is a money thing of course; we have to compete with teams who spend an extra 㾶-50M net a year and have over double our wage bill. But reality is there, and the concept of this article is flawed in my opinion because it ignores: 1) the increased pressures on our squad created by European football; 2) The decreased pressures on Man Utd; 3) What Man Utd will do before the window is finished; 4) The most realistic fourth placed option (Liverpool).

I have expectations, but they relate to the cup competitions. I want a trophy, or a good attempt at one, especially in Europe in order to increase our co-efficient. But I think talking about us as a genuine top contender at this stage, because United have won a match, is completely unrealistic and ignores the difficulties we will have because of Europe this season, and the fact that we finished 7 points off top four last season.

Jim Knightley
51 Posted 19/08/2014 at 13:12:05
I'm with Jim on the centre-backs as well. I rate both of them highly, but I think that Distin is on the wane in particular, and I don't think Stones is ready to become the top four CB he can become yet.

This is where our money issues cost us: Given our net spend last year, the benefits of the TV money, and the nature of the Lukaku payments, it would be realistic to suggest that one of our competitors could still spend 㾻-20M without raising too many eyebrows. After all, our net profit of around 㾼M from the past year, and increased television profits of around 㿊M, would in the most simplistic terms equate to around 㿚M. This ignores certain factors of course, but nonetheless, is not an unrealistic demand given our low levels of net spending over the past 10-15 years.

That extra money could bring us two quality players: Nastastic and Kagawa for instance. Again, this is a speculative assessment, but I do think that these players are unrealistic propositions in view of our upward momentum. These would be exactly the type of additions we'd require. Nastastic is a class centreback, is only 21, and would improve us immediately. Kagawa is a super playmaker and goalscorer, and brings Champions League experience, like Nastastic.

The reality, I expect, will be a loan signing of an attacking midfield, or a budget acquisition. I do think that a CB will come in, and I do not think a striker will in this window either. This is the gap: these will be the points, or the moments, that separate us from the top four, or perhaps a cup win.

However, if we follow our model, continue to develop our youngsters, and buy prudently based on the additional income from television, I think that the likes of Kagawa and Nastastic could be realistic acquisitions in the seasons which follow. When/if we get the additional quality, we will be realistic top four contenders. At the moment, we do not have the quality of those teams which finished above us last season in my opinion, and I fear that Man Utd will add the personnel they need to mount a top-four challenge given their lack of European football.

Colin Glassar
52 Posted 19/08/2014 at 13:14:26
First of all, Jim, let me say I respect your opinion as an excellent contributor to this forum and I totally agree that we all have a right to opine.

I don't know where we will finish this season. Last season I predicted a 4th to 6th position and I'm predicting (fingers crossed) a similar finish this season. Like you said, we have a core of talented, young, settled players who, IMO, make all he difference. It must be great to be able to buy 5-6 top players every summer but, as hindsight shows, it's not a guarantee that they will either settle or gel as a team. This is why I go on so much about the media as we are brainwashed into thinking that only by spending gazillions will we be able to challenge. Athletico Madrid have shown this to be a fallacy (in a positive way) and Spurs have proven the opposite as have many an oligarch owned Russian teams.

We have one of Europe's most highly rated young managers who will build the team in his image and play the football he wants to play. It will take time, and patience, but he will get there. It might not be this season but it is coming.

James Stewart
53 Posted 19/08/2014 at 13:37:16
Stones is a better CB than either Jagielka or Distin. Martinez needs to wake up to that fact. Our win rate with Stones at CB was over double what it was without him last season. Jagielka and Distin is limiting because neither is comfortable on the ball which creates panic.
Peter Morris
54 Posted 19/08/2014 at 13:44:12
I said recently on another thread, given the lack of incomings and the scale of the outgoings, I simply could not understand the degree to which Man Utd were getting talked up for this season by the so-called press experts. King Louis this, LVG that. One even had them down for a league and cup double!

I thought with their failings last year, that we might get a few more column inches devoted to us based on OUR season last term, but none if it. The press are simply not interested in anything other than the 'punch above our weight' angle, and for trying to get our best players in a cab for Stamford Bridge,The Etihad or Old Trafford.

The aftermath of Saturday's defeat to Swansea was simply incredible – page after page devoted to who they will sign next, what needs to be done to 'fix' things. Who gives a fuck? They haven't got a divine right to succeed any more than the rest of us. Fuck 'em!

Jim Lloyd
55 Posted 19/08/2014 at 15:14:09
It's symptomatic of the papers and the TV stations though, Peter. Sky Advert

Big picture of Van Gaal, Wenger, The Special One, Rodgers and Ponti-wotsit of Spurs. So now the Sky four is the Sky Five, even though we finished 5th and Spurs 6th.

Another Sky advert saw that horrible presenter with at least three ex-Reds and one ex-Man Utd as "Expert" Summarisers.

You mentioned the coverage Man Utd got. I got The Mirror and there's "King Kenny" writing his article! Who? It's like the Kop magazine. The only people who called him that were the Reds.

Sorry it's gone a bit (well, probably a lot) off message, Mike, but it is really galling and I should boycott the bloody lot of them but The Mirror is at least vaguely Labour.

"End of" off message....

To get back to the thread, I think we are getting a really good set of young players together and, if we can keep them together, we'll not only get better, we will attract other top young players who will know that they get a game under Robbie, not just be sent to the Academy. It's going to take a few years though, but I believe we will become regular challengers for a top four spot.

Steve Barr
56 Posted 19/08/2014 at 18:53:31
Colin @ #49. Agree, very good article by Des and I have to confess to experiencing similar feelings about the state of the game.

It's becoming pretty depressing watching the Premier league games now with hardly an English, or for that matter, British player on show. I've heard all the arguments about it being inevitable, the modern game, better quality etc. but I still feel something important is missing from the game now.

One of the most nauseating aspects is the media's total preoccupation with the Sky 4 or 5 clubs (and so called football experts for that matter) and the constant assertions these coaches are just the best in the world!

No doubt they have an excellent level of coaching skill and man management, like many more across the leagues but ultimately if they don't have money to spend they will fail.

This headline in today's Telegraph sums it up for me...

"Manchester United and Louis van Gaal's success this season lies in the hands of Ed Woodward"

Let's revel in the fact that we do seem to have a quality coach as far as it goes. How far can he take us without the money?

David Ellis
57 Posted 20/08/2014 at 03:22:20
Steve Barr - great point beautifully put. The media is drowning in their own irony and yet seem not to notice.
Tony Abrahams
58 Posted 20/08/2014 at 10:05:48
Great post Steve Barr, and isn't this the reason that England fail badly at every major tournament, money?

The press gave Everton a hard time last year for getting players on loan, and that summed up everything that is wrong with football in this country right now, for me.

What was we suppossed to do, accept that we was skint and roll up in a ball? Or try whatever means possible to compete and have ago? It's all about money they are basically saying, and if you haven't got it, no amount of coaching is good enough.

Ask Atletico Madrid, or Dortmund because I'm sure they will both tell you it's true, but only if you listen to The English Media!

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