What prompted me to write about this topic in relation to the Blues team that player against Chelsea, was a comment at the start of Tottenham v Liverpool game, that Tottenham now possess "a physical presence". The current popular word is "physicality" — more often described as 'tall' or 'big'... which I take to mean "a team of 6-ft+ players" with several towering between 6'-1" and 6'-3".
Tottenham are not only the current team in the 2014-15 season who have size to match potential skill. Man City and Chelsea fit this bill as well. Likewise, "lesser" teams such as Stoke and others have always made sure they possess enough "physicality".
So what about our Blues? I have had to dip into a website that states these facts and hopefully they are accurate. So the team that started was as follows:
Tim Howard — 6'-3"
Seamus Coleman — 5'-9"
Phil Jagielka — 6'-1"
Sylvain Distin — 6'-3"
Leighton Baines — 5'-7"
James McCarthy — 5'-11"
Gareth Barry — 6'-1"
Aiden McGeady — 5'-8"
Steven Naismith — 5'-8"
Kevin Mirallas — 5'-9" (?)
Romelu Lukaku — 6'-3"
So that gives us only five 6-ft+ starters and four who are (in terms of football and other professional sport) quite short at 5'-7" to 5'-9". On the bench we had:
Leon Osman — 5'-8"
John Stones — 6'-1"
Mohamed Besic — 5'-9"
Antolin Alcaraz — 6'-2"
Darron Gibson — 6'-1"
Samuel Eto'o — 5'-11" (?)
Joel Robles — ?????
Then starters who are currently injured, or were ineligible:
Ross Barkley — 6'-2"
Steven Pienaar — 5'-7"
Bryan Oviedo — 5'-10" (?)
Christian Atsu — 5'-8"
Arouna Kone — 5'-11"
Sorry about the long list of heights but it does go to show we are not the biggest team that has ever graced Goodison Park. I used to share the old idea that "size did not matter" in certain regards but, just like in other areas, I think it does in today's version of the Premier League.
While I was brought up on the "Holy Trinity" and love to watch smaller skilful players, I wonder if you cannot afford to have more than two or three players who are less than 6 ft tall?
- How much do we miss Ross Barkley at 6'-2"?
- How much stronger would we be with Darren Gibson in midfield at 6'-1"?
- How much longer does John Stones at 6'2 have to wait?
Some of the intricacy and speed that we showed at times against the best team in the league by a country mile was mindblowing. McGeady, Naismith (who plays above his height) and Mirallas played at a level I have rarely seen an Everton team achieve.
Football, like everything else, is a game of compromise when it comes to selecting a team to compete at the top level. I can already hear some saying "size has nothing to do with making stupid errors" — and I totally agree. But I do fear that Roberto's love of playing the ball out and keeping the ball on the floor is achieved at the expense of our lack of physicality.
Reader Comments (30)
Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer
1 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:08:34
I see you left out our tallest player, Joel Robles, who we have pegged at 6'-5".
You perhaps have a point if we consider that our least physical and (supposedly) most technically gifted player, Leon Osman, is also one of our smallest and definitely suffers massively in terms of physicality, with the propensity for burly opponents to brush him off the ball.
Beyond his particular challenges, I've got a feeling that skill, positional sense, ability to read the game, and a load of other qualities that combine to make the modern footballer are far more important.
2 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:14:57
I am an old fashioned school of science type of fan yet at I am also an enthusiastic supporter of innovation. I allow new ideas some time to prove their worth before casting judgement. Sufficient time has passed the jury is back and the verdict is in and as far as I am concerned it is not good.
Our problems lie in the fact that Roberto's unwavering trust in a short passing game has been ripped apart by other managers. We expect lesser teams to 'park the bus' yet these days what is noticeable is even top teams are content to play a defensive game against us while relying on quick breakaways. Think back to all those games when our overwhelming possession of the ball was undone by rapid transition by opponents from defence into attack.
While the bulk of our side play ticka tacka over the halfway line we have just two defenders, usually our centre backs, patrolling wide open spaces in our own half. It only requires two attackers playing with width to make it impossible for our CBs to apply cover for each other. In such circumstances my sympathy is with Jags and Distin who are trying to cope in a system where only two opponents have a definite advantage.
Our defensive woes are compounded at the other end with too many bodies over crowding the area. Romelu is unable to use his main attributes of size power and speed simple because he has no room to move. That is why he wanders out to the wings.
When Roberto says we need to go back to basics he should also create a positive role for Jags and Distin at attacking and defensive corners.
3 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:54:34
4 Posted 01/09/2014 at 00:40:37
The old adage that 'a good bigg'un will beat a good littl'un' may have some merit, but it is actual performance on the pitch that matters, and pace, maneuverability and distribution probably trump sheer height in every aspect of the game apart from competing for aerial balls or acting as a physical barrier. Darron Gibson may be relatively tall but I don't think he has ever been considered a real aerial threat.
Height is not the be all and end all, of course. There are 'bean-poles' who lack proportional power and co-ordination and 'hulks' who could be considered to be lumbering. Average height has been rising sharply in this country for a while now, and it does seem to be resulting in genuinely athletic giants. It is no surprise that a lot of our youngsters tower over some of the older players, but it remains to be seen whether the additional height comes with proportionally increased physicality and (as importantly) the will to use it.
5 Posted 01/09/2014 at 01:08:02
As for Osman I have seen many taller and shorter players who lack nothing on the technical or physical side of things.
Maradonna was a short yet physically powerful bloke and another closer to home was Bobby Collins. Actually there are far too many examples of all types to name here.
6 Posted 01/09/2014 at 03:52:51
As with a lot of things, it's not what you've got it's how you use it... or don't, like Big Vic, built like Tarzan, plays like Jane or Rodwell, too much Birkdale, not enough Kirkdale. Trite phrases I know, but all true. I remember John Hurst and being ever so slightly under whelmed when I met him, he wasn't 'that big' but on the pitch a monster.
One of my earliest Goodison memories was seeing 5' 4" Bobby Collins square up to a big grok of a WBA defender and the defender having the sense to back down.
7 Posted 01/09/2014 at 05:11:18
However, the article does point out a major problem I see in Everton's defense this season... attackers running free through our defenders without physical contact. For an example, check out the difference in Jags' play from just a season or two ago... he was continually making hip and shoulder contact while man-marking, while now he's giving half a yard of space. Others are guilty of the same thing... it's a key to our difficulties in defending set pieces.
Physicality is an attitude, and this team needs to get back to it.
8 Posted 01/09/2014 at 06:19:32
9 Posted 01/09/2014 at 08:20:32
When I think of players from an earlier era like Roy Keane, Dennis Wise, Barry Horne, to some extent, John Ebrell, these players were not big by any imagination, but they could hold their own in any midfield, and they can also play a little.
It comes down to how we want to coach players to be more physical in the way they chase down players, or while shielding players from opponents.
I'm not hopeful though, that this can be improved too much, as a lot seems to depend on the player's ability to adapt this aspect of the game, without compromising their overall play.
10 Posted 01/09/2014 at 09:45:42
11 Posted 01/09/2014 at 10:42:23
12 Posted 01/09/2014 at 12:37:35
I thought I was on a medical advice site when I read the first six words of your post!
13 Posted 01/09/2014 at 15:41:11
Recently, he met British Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips; who is 6'-3" and 16 stone. He was also invited to Sale Sharks, and watched the 1st team train. He was particularly impressed with Richie Gray (Scotland) who he said was fast, athletic and quick off the mark.
Gray is 6'-10" and 20 stone! However, talented you are, if your'e 5'-9" and 11 stone, in that company, you're just going to get blown away!
15 Posted 01/09/2014 at 16:54:14
I've said for a while though, that we are way too soft all over the pitch, too many nice guys and not enough aggression in just about every position. The only one with any real fire in his belly is Mirallas, we need that all over the pitch.
16 Posted 01/09/2014 at 17:14:56
Andy Gray was another mystery also.
Pencil thin,only about 5' 10' but didnt half dish it out.
Puts Lukaku to shame
17 Posted 01/09/2014 at 17:37:00
Peter (12), just call me Doc.
18 Posted 01/09/2014 at 19:37:08
19 Posted 01/09/2014 at 19:42:59
Ged Dwyer kills this non-argument perfectly.
20 Posted 01/09/2014 at 19:59:46
I have watched EFC since 1948 and my fondest memories were of watching Collins, Ball, Young, Vernon, Ring, Harvey, Kay, Kendall, Wilson, Parker, Morrissey etc etc etc. Â— All average height or less.
21 Posted 02/09/2014 at 05:01:12
I am particularly interested in the reference to one Charles Hughes of 1970's Football Association fame. I remember taking my FA Preliminary Badge and using his book as the bible of tactics!
Can you go back to Alan Wade and his like of 6-aside football and keeping possession?
22 Posted 02/09/2014 at 09:08:25
23 Posted 02/09/2014 at 10:49:11
Trevor at 20 gave us a list of players that he enjoyed watching in the 60's. I never saw Tommy Ring play but I can tell you that all the rest of them could look after themselves on a football field. Three of them Collins, Kay, and Morrissey were amongst the toughest footballers I have ever watched.
We won the league twice and the Cup once in the 60's.
Johnny ( put that in you little black book) Morrisey was a rugged individual who was also a beautiful footballer. I saw him flatten Tommy Smith in a Goodison Derby once.
Listening to Derek Temple being interviewed on you tube I recall he reckoned Bobby Collins 5'4" was the best footballer he ever played with but also said he was vicious. Not surprisingly he fitted in very well when he went to Leeds.
I only saw glimpses of the great and successful 80's team on television but Going by what I have read on Toffeweb they had a physical presence on the pitch. A winning team.
Last time we won anything - Joe Royles Dogs of War.
So for Everton FC at least it would seem that we are successful when we have that "physical presence" on the pitch.
I think that maybe Besic and Gibson will have to become more involved this season if we are going to do any good.
24 Posted 02/09/2014 at 12:14:30
25 Posted 02/09/2014 at 13:17:34
26 Posted 02/09/2014 at 13:21:20
I once stood next to Barry McGuigan at Gatwick Airport and even at my 5'-9" I as way taller than him and he was a big girl's blouse as we all know.
27 Posted 02/09/2014 at 14:41:01
Still not a big fan, just like 'bouncebackability' made up by Dowie but now widely accepted.
28 Posted 02/09/2014 at 15:44:06
My question is: Could it be possible that Roberto inherited a team that had the fitness levels required and simply added the technical stuff?
As time has gone on, the training Roberto does means that the physicality has gradually left them over the past 14 months. In the last two games, the players have been treading water for the last 15 minutes. I don't think they are fit enough.
It's just a thought.
29 Posted 02/09/2014 at 22:25:20
Most PL players are built like light-heavyweight boxers. Over a long tough season this is an important factor. How often have we seen how difficult it is to break down teams of well-drilled athletic big blokes. It may be the beautiful game but you have to earn the right to play, as the saying goes.
30 Posted 03/09/2014 at 05:00:23
Add Your Comments
In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.
Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.