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Besic, McCarthy and the endearing vanity of Martinez’s central midfield fixation

26/07/2014  Comments (22)  jump
Chris Smith takes a look at Roberto Martinez's new-look central midfield with the addition to McCarthy, Barry and Gibson of Muhamed Besic

» Read the full article at The Russian Linesman Blog

Reader Comments (22)

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Ant Dwyer
1 Posted 26/07/2014 at 01:54:54
I’ve seen that blog earlier, it’s quite decent... Talks about how under Moyes, he saw centre-back as a main position of strength and how Bobby seems to favour a strong central midfielder.

It also goes on about Barry and McCarthy being much stronger than Fellaini and Neville and how Bobby interested in cover of Besic and Gibson plus Ledson on the way through and the talk of Baines becoming an option at defemsive central midfielder.

Not a bad read.

Tony Page
3 Posted 26/07/2014 at 03:44:13
I think any midfield Everton put out now is stronger than Moyes's Captain Neville set-up.
Harold Matthews
4 Posted 26/07/2014 at 03:37:04
Yep. Interesting read. At least he knows the difference between Barry and Gibson.
Paul Ferry
5 Posted 26/07/2014 at 05:25:37
Perfect Tony, perfect mate, arenÂ’t we in such a better place now!
Darryl Ritchie
6 Posted 26/07/2014 at 06:36:36
The midfield is the "engine room". Very well put and in RM's style of play, very true!
Duncan McDine
7 Posted 26/07/2014 at 06:46:44
Thanks for the link. I’ve not heard about this website before, but have bookmarked it now... great articles and a very knowledgable Evertonian.
Mike Allison
8 Posted 26/07/2014 at 08:43:28
I think there’s a basic premise to that piece which is absolute nonsense. He’s asking, then answering, the question "why have Everton signed a central midfielder when they’re so strong in that area already?" and somehow comes up with the conclusion that it’s because Martinez is vain!

He claims Besic makes six players in the same position, when it could be argued he’s really only the third that we can rely on. He cites Baines as midfielder despite the fact that Baines has never, ever played in that position in his entire career, based purely on one comment that Martinez made once last season.

Gibson, as we all know, has been out for around 10 months with a serious injury and had a poor injury record even before that, and the third option is 17-year-old Ryan Ledson. So the answer to the question "why have we signed a central midfielder?" is that we are desperately short in that area, which is the most important area of the pitch.

Harold Matthews
9 Posted 26/07/2014 at 11:37:40
Yes Mike, the article was very interesting but, as pointed out by Jimmy Husband and yourself, it was also slightly inaccurate. Your last sentence summed it up perfectly. We signed Besic because we are woefully short in midfield. If Barry or McCarthy are injured or suspended we have a hole which invites defensive problems.

People insist that Gibbo is a holding player because he is built like a slow moving doughnut. No chance. He would have trouble holding up his pants. The lad is an attacker. Has been since he was a kid at Man Utd. Loves to go forward and press everyone else forward. Does it really well. Great to watch when he is fit and on form.

Unfortunately, asking him to suddenly adopt a defensive mindset in order to protect the back four is not on. He would struggle, as was clearly demonstrated in the second half against Tranmere. Setting attackers alight with accurate creative passing is his game. Remember how he urged Coleman to cause havoc last season. Great stuff.

Personally, I think it's all quite simple. Roberto has identified areas of weakness and is doing his best to put things right.

Kev Johnson
10 Posted 26/07/2014 at 13:07:17
A very well written blog. I've now subscribed to it.

I think "vain" is the wrong word, but I take his point that managers build teams in their own image. OFM was a defender and RM a midfielder. So on the simplest level those are the areas of the pitch they know most about and prioritise. On a deeper, psychological level it's reinforcing their own identity/ego.

Contrariwise, were we notably attacking under Royle? Not really. Was Catterick a divine midfielder? No, he was a centre forward.

Peter Gorman
11 Posted 26/07/2014 at 13:43:25
Gibson is a funny one. He is no defender but his best position seems to be deep, where he can see the whole field ahead of him and dictate the play. Under Moyes he was superb in this position but I can't see how we can have McCarthy, Barry / Besic and Gibson all playing deep.
Julian Wait
12 Posted 26/07/2014 at 14:44:02
I already commented on that post extensively, but in addition I see us playing various midfield formations as needed. Our strongest in the centre will be McCarthy + Barry behind Barkley. Alternatively we could have (McCarthy or Barry) + Besic behind one of Gibson or Osman. In a pinch you could have Baines + 1 other behind anyone. It's all good and it will be nice to have options again; because we didn't last season, we had McCarthy + Barry and when they were tired, injured or suspended, we tanked as a team.

The good news is that we should never need to see Barkley or Osman in defensive midfield again, and I await to see how Martinez will use Gibson but I suspect it will be further forwards, or perhaps a combination.

I agree the premise for the article is a bit too "cute" in some ways, looking too hard for a hook perhaps, but I think it's fair overall and stresses one area, at least, that we should be better stocked vs. last year (noting that really so far we've only signed one player we already had last year and are promised another who hasn't actually signed yet ....).

Onwards and upwards ..

Kevin Tully
13 Posted 26/07/2014 at 15:14:58
We mustn't forget how unlucky we were with injuries last season. From memory, we lost Barkley, Jagielka, Baines, Lukaku, Pienaar, Mirallas for extended periods. Add season-long injuries to Kone and Gibson, and we really were depleted at times.

Let's hope for a bit of luck on that front this coming campaign!

Peter Jones
14 Posted 26/07/2014 at 15:27:42
I liked Osman and Gibson as our central midfield. I think they played pretty well together in the short intervals between Gibson's injuries.
Harold Matthews
15 Posted 26/07/2014 at 15:25:29
True Kevin. That's why I thought he had flipped his lid when he said our target was 70 points, Amazing really. Just goes to show.
Julian Wait
16 Posted 26/07/2014 at 15:53:59
@ Kev #10 - I had to look up "contrariwise" to check it was a word, although it's meaning and intent is indeed clear.

It's my new favourite word.

I overuse "arguably" or "on the other hand", so this will be useful when I am arguing the toss which can be modus operandum for me at times, just for fun ...

Nil Satis Nisi Argumentum :-)

Julian Wait
17 Posted 26/07/2014 at 16:02:57
@Peter (#14),

I can't imagine us ever having to have to resort to Osman and Gibson together again, at least not in the league or against anyone with more pace than Kevin Sheedy. They're both great footballers, and Osman used to have a great engine, but they'd get mullered (1974 version) by every midfield in the Premier League, except perhaps Southampton (and that's because they sold their midfield).

Kev Johnson
18 Posted 26/07/2014 at 15:58:47
I'm glad you like it, Julian! I think I first came across it in 'Alice in Wonderland':


Actually, rereading that chapter a moment ago, I was struck by how obviously John Lennon's lyrics were influenced by Lewis Carroll - and I'm not only talking about The Walrus.

Raymond Fox
19 Posted 26/07/2014 at 16:00:52
Not so sure Roberto has bought him (we hope he signs) exclusively for midfield, I read somewhere that he's played quite a lot at the back in the past ( anyone read the same, and can enlighten us, my memorys going).

Sorry to say, but Jags does not convince at the back and fails to impress in the passing department, maybe Martinez sees him in that roll.

Besic seems a adaptable type of player from what little I've seen of him, we shall see.

Raymond Fox
20 Posted 26/07/2014 at 16:22:25
Just looked at Besic's height, he's a whisker off 5ft 10in so whether he's tall enough for Jags position is a doubt!
Jags is 6ft.
Andy Finigan
21 Posted 26/07/2014 at 16:19:23
One things for sure, pace is always nice to have at the back. I know Distn is fast but age is against him .Jags is looking a bit down on his speed.

If Besic is as fast as Kevin Radcliffe he would be a great option at the back if he can play that role.

Tony Page
22 Posted 26/07/2014 at 17:44:27
Thanks Paul, we are in a better place, but I don't think Captain Neville went to a better place, do you?
Harold Matthews
23 Posted 27/07/2014 at 01:06:18
Tony. Definitely not a better place but they certainly know where the net is.

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