McCarthy on course for return against Palace

, 26 January, 88comments  |  Jump to most recent

James McCarthy has resumed full training and been declared "fully fit" by Roberto Martinez, putting him in line for a return to action against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The 24-year-old has struggled with a recurrent hamstring problem for much of the season and has been out of action since he was substituted as a precaution at half-time against Newcastle on 28 December.

That wasn't the first time McCarthy was unable to complete 90 minutes this term and he has now been given extra time to get his fitness back up before being re-introduced to the starting line-up.

Both he and Sylvain Distin, who was withdrawn from the first FA Cup tie against West Ham because of a groin strain, have participated with the main group at the team's warm-weather training camp in Doha, Qatar this week and their manager is pleased with their progress.

Sylvain Distin and James McCarthy are really progressing a lot in this warm weather and that's really positive news," Martinez told

They have both joined the group in training and have come through really well.

I see James as being fully fit now but we will assess everybody before the Crystal Palace game.

This week has allowed James to build up his fitness levels and I do expect him to be fully fit and ready for Crystal Palace.

Both players will be assessed prior to the game at Selhurst Park to determine whether they are completely ready to return. Meanwhile, Kevin Mirallas and Leon Osman were involved in some light training as they bid to recover from a hamstring and foot injury respectively.

Quotes sourced from

Reader Comments (88)

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Ian Jones
1 Posted 26/01/2015 at 06:22:01
Some good news to start the Monday. Looking forward to his return.
Craig James
2 Posted 26/01/2015 at 07:23:13
Sorely missed; he will be a big bonus and hopefully help us grab a win we vitally need this weekend. The only issue now is who Bobby partners him with? I’d go with Besic.
Tony Hill
3 Posted 26/01/2015 at 07:45:35
Excellent news. Must be Besic but he could play all three including Barry and drop Barkley, with Besic playing further forward.
Mark Tanton
4 Posted 26/01/2015 at 07:51:25
Besic to drop to the bench then probably as Barry would play even he lost his legs in motorcycling accident.
Colin Glassar
5 Posted 26/01/2015 at 08:01:26
He won’t drop Barry so I’d play Besic cb next to Stones.
Darryl Ritchie
6 Posted 26/01/2015 at 08:08:51
He won’t drop Jags, so that won’t happen, Colin.
Tony Draper
7 Posted 26/01/2015 at 08:11:15
Good news that McCarthy is "declared fit", no question that we have deeply missed him.

Longer term Mc and Bez are the CM pairing, both have plenty more to learn and Barry has it to share. Barry "Takes it for the Team", and deliberately. Anyone that doesn’t understand that doesn’t really understand the basics of football.

I don’t see RM immediately ditching GB or MB, after all the repeated, enforced changes have contributed to our situation this season. Personally, I’d start Barry and "gently" introduce Mc after half time....probably after the hour as a straight swap for GB.

By which time, hopefully, we’re already 2 or more to the good and can play with fluency again.

Phil Walling
8 Posted 26/01/2015 at 09:45:13
Knowing how Martinez loves his favourites, Barry will retain his place as Mo is reduced to the bench. That will be his reward for his fine display against WBA.

Roberto is not for changing.

Lee Mandaracas
9 Posted 26/01/2015 at 09:51:28
Get in there!
Iain Love
10 Posted 26/01/2015 at 09:41:15
I think we have really missed McCarthy in the engine room, none more than Barry, whose lack of pace and titanic like turns have been badly exposed without McCarthy’s tireless running. The question is: Does Martinez keep Barry in and hope that last season’s partnership flourishes again? Or Besic, who has too my mind has been our best player in the last few games? The crowds reaction to his substitution says I’m not alone in this.

Martinez knows his players better than us, but watches the same games we do. I’m still on his side at the moment... just, but, if he chooses Barry over Besic for the next two games, I’m switching to the Out brigade.

Jim Bennings
11 Posted 26/01/2015 at 10:02:35
Let’s hope being declared "fully fit" doesn’t mean he’s going to go off after half an hour clutching his thigh again.

We have missed McCarthy but only a fully fit McCarthy, it’d not worth playing him if he’s not absolutely 110% because we have seen him out there this season and he’s been a shadow of the James McCarthy of last year.

Do we need him back? Yes.
Do we need to rush him back if he’s not totally there yet? No.

Let’s hope Martinez learns from rushing back players this season has resulted in further setbacks.

He should be out there looking to bolster the squad and sign a player who can add a different dimension to our stagnant attacking play.

I’m not holding my breath though.

Jimmy Salt
12 Posted 26/01/2015 at 10:20:39
Colin, Besic next to Stones is something I’ve thought about before; maybe one for the future. He has played there before and it would give us two CBs comfortable with the ball.
Jim Bennings
14 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:01:42
I might be in the minority here but is Stones actually a good defender?

I mean defender? I know he’s great on the ball but a defender needs first and foremost to be able to stop the opponents scoring, he and his partner are the final line before goalkeeper, and it’s not about bringing the ball out and looking sexy doing it, it’s about getting your head on anything you can.

Stones at West Ham was savaged to be honest, I know he’s not played much but for me, he needs to develop more before I make "phenomenal dreamteam" superlatives.

Jim Bennings
15 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:05:31
Stones and Besic centre halves in the English Premier League would be a total disaster.

Besic is a MIDFIELDER guys, he has not won a single header since he’s been here. Remember Gareth Barry at Hull?
A midfielder, not a centre half.

Fuck me!

John Keating
16 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:14:00
Great news, McCarthy fit – again!
Tony J Williams
17 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:17:56
The rate that Besic and Barry get booked, it won’t be too hard to pick one out of the two. The one who is not banned.
Tony Hill
18 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:19:38
I share some of your reservations about Stones, Jim, but let’s see how he goes over the next 12 months.

I also agree about Besic in defence. He did well at the back for his last club apparently but he’s not a defender in the PL in my view. I think he’s showed a bit of promise further forward, including against WBA and that might be worth encouraging when Macca comes back.

Jim Bennings
19 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:27:43
Yes Tony, I’m with you, Stones needs to be allowed to develop more physically over the next 12-18 months.

I think it was Kevin Ratcliffe who said that we can’t and shouldn’t really expect a guy Stones age to be our big defensive leader.

I agree, it’s all expected too soon at this level, he has ability on the ball but needs longer to develop.

John Keating
20 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:33:36
We’ve been moaning for months about Martinez playing people out of position and now we’ve got folk on here calling for it – unbelievable!
Ross Edwards
21 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:45:24
That’s Besic dropped. Despite being excellent in recent weeks. Martinez is going to stick with his beloved Gareth Barry despite him being absolutely dreadful all season.
Clive Mitchell
22 Posted 26/01/2015 at 11:49:05
It’s simply not true that Barry has been dreadful all season. It took him time to get back after injury but eg he did alright in the very difficult WBA game and was doing his best to drive the team forward with a bit of energy.

If we get out of this mess Barry will be one of the reasons we do. If RM did leave him out at Palace, it would probably be to avoid him being suspended for the derby. I tend to agree with Tony (#7), best to ease McCarthy back in.

Neil Wood
23 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:10:18
Besic at CB?!!? Noooo. If anything then push him further forward. Besic is in my opinion an integral part of both our team now and moving forward our team of the future.

He’s not a defender. We need to buy a good solid defender. One who is v comfortable winning headers!!!

We need Del Boy in.... I like the look of that lad el castaway that people are mentioning but I’m not sure I can see it happening. Him and Del Boy on the flanks and Mirallas scratching his balls on Tottenhams bench?? Possibly, just possibly.

Somebody pays say £15 million for Mirallas then we get Del Boy and El Castaway for £8M and £5M respectively..... That’s £2 million left over to put towards that Norwegian stopper..... Then just a centre back needed..... It’s easy this management lark I should be taken on...

Nigel Gregson
24 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:31:34
Neil Wood – yes Mirallas at Spurs bench – I couldn’t agree more. Flog that selfish twat for as much as possible.
Al Reddish
25 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:43:09
Agree with Neil, push Besic further forward. Drop Barkley and bring McCarthy back.
Stephen Brown
26 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:45:58
Besic, McCarthey and Naismith in Barkley ’role’ for me!
Henrik Lyngsie
27 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:51:17
For me, neither Besic nor McCarthy offer much going forward. They are fantastic as hardworking, running defensive midfielders but they have not much creativity and very few constructive forward passes. I can’t see any of them playing anything but defensive midfielder. And maybe when you play Real Madrid away you will need two such defensive midfielders.

I think in most PL games you will need just one and pair him with someone who can actually pass forward. I would pair either Besic or McCarthy with Barry who seems to be slowly regaining his form. For me he just offers a completely different dimension than Besic or McCarthy. When we play the defensive minded teams like WBA at home, I would pair McCarthy or Besic with Barkley.

Martin Mason
28 Posted 26/01/2015 at 12:59:09
It’s interesting that people rubbish a potential defensive pairing of Stones and Besic because they are both ball players. Liverpool at their best always had a defensive pairing of two who could also have played in midfield and were beautiful ball players rather than defenders like Phil Thomson, Alan Hansen and the lad they got from Brighton.
Andrew Ellams
29 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:09:05
I think the game has changed though, Martin. Most teams now have at least one defensive midfielder in front of the back four and much more attacking full backs who do that job of bringing the ball out. In the 80s, virtually all English teams played 4-4-2 and a defender who could bring the ball out into midfield comfortably was a prized asset.
David Hallwood
30 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:13:33
I think McCarthy’s been struggling with form/injury all season and IMHO that has been the foundation of our dreadful season. McCarthy/Barry was the glue of the system in that they filled the holes in front of the back 4, tracked runners and allowed Coleman & Baines to play practically as wingers.

Let’s hope it’s the long-awaited corner that we turned (allegedly) 3 weeks ago...

John Keating
31 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:14:19
Martin, It’s all very well being comfortable on the ball when bringing it out of defence but, first and foremost, centre-halves need to be defenders. Going back in time, look at Moore, Beckenbauer even Labby, all comfortable but all great defenders.

Stones is still learning and Besic, well we’d give away half a dozen penalties per game. Also as important, there would be no height centrally with Besic about 5’ 8" or 5’ 9"... Can you imagine us against West Ham, Stoke, Chelsea!

Besic has shown what he is good at – leave him be.

Ray Roche
32 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:21:23
I think Barkley is getting a bit too much flak on here. If he needs a break because his confidence is shot, then fair enough, but why is his confidence shot?

Could it be because he’s been played out of position too much? Could it be because the whole team are being asked to play to a system that is largely alien to them? Barkley set the Premier League alight the past season or two and you don’t become a bad player overnight.

Get his confidence back, play him in the right system in the correct position and he’ll be fine again. I bet if he was sold to a club with coaches worthy of the name and he cold retain the fitness levels seemingly lacking at GP this season, you would see a great player emerge.

The crap performances are not ALL down to the players...

John Keating
33 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:37:32
Spot on, Ray.
Clive Lewis
34 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:49:41
Come on now Roberto I know it’s you, Besic at centre back, no! that’s not going to work. I am not even going to waste my time and explain why.

Also the Russian replacement for Mirallas on a free, that won’t work either. Any other carthorses you want to bring in?

Harold Matthews
35 Posted 26/01/2015 at 13:39:51
It will be great to have McCarthy back next to Barry, who is our only choice for the deep-lying DM role where strength, anticipation and heading ability are essential. The ex-City lad took a yellow last week after Besic had cocked up and has played far better than the usual copy-cats have given him credit for.

Managers are not in the business of having favourites. They pick the players they trust to perform a certain role. Unfortunately, many fans do have favourites who can do no wrong and non-favourites who can do little right. This results in a lucky bunch of lads who get away with murder and the usual scapegoats who are blasted before they kick a ball. Happy days.

Richard Reeves
36 Posted 26/01/2015 at 15:14:16
I Iook forward to him returning to the first team FULLY FIT.

Roberto needs to focus on McCarthy and Besic as the preferred partnership. If another team enquire about Barry in the summer, then the manager needs to swallow some pride, admit he got it wrong with the contract, and let them take him. Ledson, with some first team experience, will only get better but I think he is capable of covering for either two if out of form or injured.

This season was the time to take more of a risk and bring through the youngsters, as many were expecting this second season syndrome. In a way, the manager gets a Get Out of Jail card but, due to the massive pressure he must’ve been feeling this season, I’m more concerned that it will be more difficult to bring them through the next one.

Hopefully we’ll get to those magic 40 points as soon as possible; Roberto can then reflect on the mistakes he’s made and be more bold like in his first season.

Dave Pritchard
37 Posted 26/01/2015 at 15:51:31
Well said Harold.

I do feel that Barry has not been as good this season as last. However, we can replace ’Barry’ with virtually any other player’s name and that sentence will still be accurate.

Allan Board
38 Posted 26/01/2015 at 15:33:13
On the subject of centre-backs, you can be as good at heading or tackling as you like – but it counts for nothing if you don’t use the ball quickly out of defence, have pace, and work as unit defensively. Defending is all about being proactive and practice of drills. Stones is a great prospect, but he wont become a great player unless he cuts out the dawdling on the ball and right now needs a word in his ear from time to time – hardly Jagielka’s forte though!

I think he would be a lovely balanced footballer, who wants to be progressive, if played just in front of our defence. A few months down the line perhaps, but such a naturally gifted lad. If Mr Moment knew anything, this team could be very useful if quickened up and the best players were in control of the ball most of the time.

He won’t though because he thinks everyone can be like Iniesta if they play enough triangles in training. I hope he watched the cup games at the weekend – seemed to me the tippy tappy brigade of teams got beat by quicker, direct play.

Henrik Lyngsie
40 Posted 26/01/2015 at 15:59:50
Harold/Dave it probably also shows how important Barry was last season.

This season he was rushed back from injury and was really poor in a few games, for that reason. He is on his way back to form and to me he is key for turning this season around.

Denis Richardson
41 Posted 26/01/2015 at 16:45:01
If he is fit ,it’ll certainly be interesting to see the team sheet. Being fit fit is however not the same as being match fit so not sure McCarthy’ll be straight back in the starting XI.

If he does make a change though, my money’s on Besic dropping back down to the bench as I cannot see RM shifting from a 4-2-3-1 formation and given we’ve had a massive break there’s no need to rest anyone ’cos of fatigue (i.e. Barry). Then again, Besic will get a few games soon enough as I read somewhere that if Barry gets another yellow between now and 12 April he’ll get a two match suspension – so that’s him out of the derby and Chelsea matches!

It’ll be a shame for Besic but at least means there’s decent competition for the CDM places. I just hope Oviedo starts on the left at AML as Palace have plenty of pace in their side so we’re going to need to be sharp tracking back.

I would love to see an attacking 3 of Oviedo / Barkley / Mirallas. Barkley’s confidence is a bit shot but away from home he won’t be getting too much stick from his own supporters so may be ok, especially playing central. Mirallas is still the most creative player we have so has to start.

Unfortunately I can see us starting with one or both of McGeady and Naismith and being overrun in midfield.

Breandan Clarke
42 Posted 26/01/2015 at 16:59:57
’Players playing a system alien to them’ = same system played the season before resulting in record high points tally.
Denis Richardson
43 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:12:19
@Michael & Lyndon - completely off topic but the Oviedo contract saga was making me a bit angry so I went on the OS to see if anything had happened.

According to the OS Oviedo signed a 4-year contract when he joined in 2012 (not 3 years as mentioned on TW). So based on that he’s got another 18 months left at least.....

Think we can all eat a bit of humble pie on that one (me included)

Good news at least.

Eddie Dunn
44 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:33:01
If Macca starts, then so will Barry and Mo will be benched, but if Macca is on the bench we can hope for Mo to partner Barry.

I hope Macca is fully fit because when he has been lacking in that department, he really has not looked like the player of last season(as Jim Bennings said).

Incidentaly Jim, I saw Besic win a marvellous header in our box recently, against either the Hammers or City. He was salmon-like in his leap, so there.

Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
45 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:43:00
Thanks, Denis. And our apologies, of course, for the erroneous information which I’ve now amended.

I did wonder where people had got the impression his deal was up this summer!

Stephen Brown
46 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:44:51
That’s good news, Dennis. Leaving a player like Oveido’s contract to run out would have been criminal.
Ray Roche
47 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:52:25
Breandan Clarke #42

Brendan, I don’t recall Barkley being used as a winger too much last season, hence the tirade of abuse the lad get’s from the stands. Nor do I remember us passing along the back four nearly as much as we have this season.

However, I DO remember us attacking with pace and passing with quick, short FORWARD passes, something that has been missing this year. I also remember us having width and speed and playing to Lukaku’s strength’s which we haven’t done this season. He is not and never will be a "back to the goal" target man.

Colin Glassar
48 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:02:13
Isn’t it Garbutt’s contract that is up this summer?
Darren Hind
49 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:01:04
It will be interesting to see if there is a place in the starting line up for Besic, with both Barry and Macca fit.

There will be ructions if here isn’t...

Steve Harris
50 Posted 26/01/2015 at 17:11:19
"Barry has played better than the usual copycats give him credit for!" Fuck me, I don’t know what games you’ve been watching, Harold, but he’s been an embarrassment all season but you just know that he’s odds on to start Saturday, and every week, for some unknown reason. Besic has been probably the one bright spark in this desperate spell but that won’t count for anything.

I thought the rumour that Barry has it in his contract that, if fit, he plays, can’t be true... but, the more it happens every week, makes me think that there must be some truth in it, no other explanation.

John Keating
51 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:03:22
Brendan, the football we saw last season is different from the shite we have witnessed this season The tactics and set ups are different so don’t try and equate the two.

The only thing that we can say without doubt is that there were times last season when there were signs that we would witness this nonsense.

Keith Harrison
52 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:25:40
Colin - I also understand it is Garbutt’s contract that expires this summer.

This lad must be tied down, as I would almost have him on a par with Baines now. He is physically more imposing, and his delivery of corners is far superior.

Peter Mills
53 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:25:01
Slightly off topic, having been impressed by the ability of Jon Stead to trap a ball and lay it off for Bradford City on Saturday, I checked out his career history. His goal scoring record is limited, but does include one against us on 1 April 2006 when he broke an 11 month drought!

Plus ca change......

Wayne Smyth
54 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:28:34
Steve, Barry’s not been an embarrassment. He played badly in a few games, notably when played as part of a back 3, but generally he’s done ok. He’s drawn more criticism for keeping the excellent Besic out of the team than due to any particular flaws in his performance.

He should still be dropped for Besic though, as Besic has been head and shoulders the better of the two in every game they’ve played. Besic & McCarthy for me every day of the week.

On the subject of McCarthy, I read that we’ve won 1 game in 13 without him. I think that says a lot about his importance to the team and also a fair amount about the accuracy of the opinions of a few posters here who posted several months ago about how little McCarthy offers us and how limited he is.

I think Jim’s comments regarding Stones lack of ability as a defender is also wrong. Certainly he’s prone to the odd mistake; something every defender we have has in them. But it’s clear he can tackle exceptionally well, coming away with the ball on many occasions. He’s also decent in the air. We certainly look far more solid with Stones in the team than without.

Stephen Brown
55 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:41:01
Barry has not been great but I don’t think he’s totally finished! Should be used as cover for Macca and Besic.
Steve Harris
56 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:43:00
Sorry, Wayne but I would call being slow and lethargic, continually giving the ball away, passing it square and backwards and giving endless fouls away because he is slow and lethargic, as being embarrassing.

Hold on, square and backward passing? Ah well, that probably explains why Martinez loves him so much!

Peter, on your comment about John Stead, I remember only too well him scoring against us at Goodison for both Sunderland and Blackburn, just another in a long line that unfortunately excelled against us!

Colin Glassar
57 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:51:11
Three points:

1) McCarthy has been a massive loss to us this season. Okay he’s not a Totti or a Zidane but his work rate allows other players to play with more freedom as they know he will have their backs.

2) Stones was immense against Andy Carroll, keeping that pony-tailed thug quiet for most of the game and he can jump and tackle!!

3) Barry, despite having a slow start to the season, is starting to look his old self again. I thought he was our best player against WBA, always looking up to start an attacking move, bossing MF etc....

Like others have said, I hope Macca doesn’t start. The last thing we need is for him to do his hammy in again. Bring him on for the last 15-20 mins to get him some game time before the derby.

Wayne Smyth
58 Posted 26/01/2015 at 18:54:54
Steve, he is slow, because he’s old. When he was putting in man of the match performances last year and people were raving about what an astute signing he was, he was still slow.

I think his passing has been decent too. Our overall passing accuracy has been in the 80-90% bracket and Barry would be an integral member of the team getting lots of time on the ball and contributing to that. He also plays some decent balls forward...but that is not his core job.

The reason we play so much sideways football is not down to Barry any more than it is down to Coleman or Baines. It’s primarily down to the players in front of him not making runs, and not showing for the ball enough, meaning there is no pass on. We’re far too static.

As for his foul count, I actually think he’s quite astute in that respect. Compare McGeady with his red-card lunge when West Ham were in their own half doing nothing, to the challenges Barry makes which are often either well timed and result in us getting the ball back, or give a foul away but also stop the opponent from breaking on the counter.

Criticising Barry, as the most defensive of our midfielders, for ’giving fouls away’ or not making killer forward balls, is like me criticising Jags for his lack of goals or heading the ball out for a corner too much. Sometimes giving a foul away is far preferable to the alternative.

Like I said, I think a lot of the negativity around Barry is because of Martinez giving him minutes instead of Besic. Hate Martinez for that, not Barry.

Jim Bennings
59 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:14:59

I don’t want a salmon playing centre half for us... but saying that, he probably couldn’t have done too much worse than our lot this season.

Steve Harris
60 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:19:19
Wayne, I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree, I’m not going to change my opinion of him although I do agree that he had a decent season last year but I remember going down to Southampton last April and him being cruelly exposed (I know he wasn’t the only one!) and it's seemed like a downward spiral ever since.
Minik Hansen
61 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:35:31
Now we only need to get Osman and Pienaar back! They would put the balance back. And it’s vital others come back as well, Gibson and Howard, to get that challenge feel when the lads are training and togetherness.
Helen Mallon
62 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:27:17
This team needs to play against Palace:

Hibbert, Stones, Jagielka, Baines
McCarthy. Barry
Coleman. Oviedo

With A goalie, Barkley, Distin, Garbutt, Naismith, Kone, Lundstram as subs.

This is a game we must win and in my opinion this team will work. Please, Roberto, play this side.

Pete Edwards
63 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:49:20
Jim, he’s still learning and no doubt growing. A season in the first team and a decent pre season bulking and strengthening and I think we will see a centreback who can play and mix it with the bullies of the league
Andy Meighan
64 Posted 26/01/2015 at 19:44:57
Colin 57 I don’t think Barry had to do too much against WBA to boss the midfield, they never crossed the halfway line all night. Steve is totally right about him. He’s been poor since last February and is really starting to look his age. But the spaniard won’t drop him. Oh no, it’ll be Besic or Barkley.

And maybe Barkley rightly so but Barry shouldn’t be getting in ahead of Barkley. Those rumours about him having something in his contract about if fit he plays reared their head last Monday at the game. Now, I can’t believe for one minute that’s true but if there is anything in it its a disgrace.

As for McCarthy coming back, yes we’ve missed him. But it won’t make a blind bit of difference to our attacking play because we don’t trouble goalkeepers enough. I won’t be surprised if Besic Barry and McCarthy all start at Palace I don’t think Pardew is going to be too worried if he sees that the way their playing under him. Personally I just can’t see where the next win is coming from.

Oh, aren’t we signing anyone? After all, we’ve just let a striker go...

Dave Southon
65 Posted 26/01/2015 at 20:03:49
Too soon to say he will be like a new signing?
Oliver Molloy
66 Posted 26/01/2015 at 20:23:49
What’s the betting RM will drop the "phenomenal" Besic to the subs bench if McCarthy is back to face Palace?

John Malone
67 Posted 26/01/2015 at 20:50:06
I’ve got no problem with Besic being dropped for McCarthy against Palace, the teams stats with Jimmy Mac in the side speak for them-self. Besic mostly played well against West Brom and didn’t deserve to get subbed but the fact is the lad has not got an end product yet!

Say what you like about Barry, but he has forgotten more than Besic knows – his positional sense and quality on the ball is still on the whole top draw. He’s getting on but is still worth a shirt for me.

Breandan Clarke
68 Posted 26/01/2015 at 21:07:53
Ray/John - the system is the same is it not? Back 4 - 2 holding - 3 across - 1 up top?

As for the instructions - do you honestly think Martinez has told the players to pass along the back more, play slower than as opposed to what he had asked for last season?

I think not. I believe we are suffering due to a range of factors. Collective loss of form and unlucky injuries to key players at key times have been the main reasons in my eyes. Add on second season syndrome – teams now set up two banks of four at home against us and extra fixtures in arguably the toughest group in the EL – that we topped by the way – then the season was always going to be a struggle.

As for Barkley, Ray, he has played on the wing because the two main points I alluded to – injury and loss of form to other players. Barkley has played in the hole numerous times this season and further back against QPR and I feel he has been equally disappointing there as well. But again that isn’t his fault – second season syndrome again. Players & managers know him and know his threat – we see him getting more attention and you can’t exactly burst into space when there are two banks of four in front of you.

Interestingly enough, I have read that Barkley’s chances created and key passes, while still being fairly low, are greater than last season. His take-ons and successful dribbles are high as well.

The players are not performing to their usually consistent high standard. What is most puzzling to me is that we are supposed to have this great team spirit – seems this is only true when the goings good. It doesn’t look like we have any characters or leaders to take us out of this current slump.

Andrew Ellams
69 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:15:42
Do people really think we will be a better team with Barry in ahead of Besic?
Iain Love
70 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:04:29
Have people not watched the same games I have? Barry has never been the fastest player but without McCarthy alongside him opponents are now taking him on and either getting past him or drawing a foul, playing Besic has helped him recently but if McCarthy is fit is has to be him and Besic.

I would look at playing the 3 of them in certain games though with Barry behind allowing the other two to use their industry to support the attack or in front to provide a 3 line defence.

Tony Abrahams
71 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:00:25
I think he might leave Barry out in case he gets booked and misses the derby? This manager always thinks ahead and Barry is one of his favourites after all.

I actually think Barry has epitomised Everton this season. He took a while to get going, has struggled for his best form and takes a bit to long in getting things done.

I think he is a good player but the speed of the game has caught up with him. Not sure how much he can involve himself in a game anymore unless hes going too deep, because it’s the only way he can make space for himself these days?

Ross Edwards
72 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:30:22
Hibbert? Against Bolasie? That would be a slaughter.
Ray Roche
73 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:16:21
Brendan, I think that we played with much more width last season, Deulofeu certainly helped on that score when he played, and I also think we played with more pace with more balls either played forward to Lukaku’s strengths or with the likes of Stones or Barry picking the ball up from Jags/Distin and pushing forward from there. If the reported comments from Lukaku and others are to be believed, the players also rebelled against the changes to the system this season, resulting in much better,quicker and more aggressive football in the West Ham and City games.

So, yes, I do think that Martinez and his "possession" philosophy has been the problem and, further more, I also think his possession at all costs has been foisted onto the team against their better judgement. Only Stones and Alcaraz out of our central defenders are comfortable with the ball at their feet and both have been missing for stretches this season, and to expect Jags and Distin to change their natural game is, in my view, quite wrong.

I agree that we’ve had our share of injuries to key players, but Barkley on the wing? I don’t think so! He offers more than Naismith or indeed an ageing Eto’o when he is on form and in his correct position and I think his loss of form coincides with his being played out on the wing.

I’m not sure that I agree with this second season syndrome business. I regard it as less of a "syndrome" and more of a system being sussed out by more flexible coaching and managers. And OUR failure to have a plan B.

Andrew Ellams
74 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:39:01
Ross, never underestimate Hibbo’s defensive capabilities.
Eddie Dunn
75 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:45:40
Good points, Ray, but one worry is that did Martinez concede to the player's wishes, as regard tactics in the Cup games but revert back to his default mode when facing West Brom in the prem?

Hopefully we will play better away to Palace as they will surely take the game to us, allowing us to hit them on the break, resulting in a high tempo game. We certainly benefit from teams having a go at us and not from those that park the proverbial bus.

Derek Thomas
76 Posted 26/01/2015 at 22:57:32
Bolasie's in Africa but, notwithstanding that, he has done Coleman over three times or more and not many get past Hibbo... all moot though.
Eddie Dunn
77 Posted 26/01/2015 at 23:02:51
Hibbo hasn't put a foot wrong this season, he could be up for player of the year!
Breandan Clarke
78 Posted 26/01/2015 at 23:21:07
Ray I think we sort of agree just our perceptions are entirely different. We did have width last year. But this year we have no Delboy, an injured selfish Mirallas and well McGeady.
I see the exact same system this season but only players who cannot utilise its effectiveness as they are so shot of confidence and of course injuries playing their part.

Players don't play at pace when confidence is low. Players will play the easy square ball and keep possession rather than hear the groans of the crowd after giving it away. Coleman and Baines are most obvious examples of this – Baines more so because of the incredibly high standards he has set these past few years but tbf there were even signs last year before he got injured he was dipping and Oviedo came in with such amazing effect.

Before Martinez I was incredibly nervous holding onto a win. Last year we bossed games right until the very end keeping possession with little worry of conceding. This year couldn't be more different and that's where I think it's a different system argument falls down a little. If Martinez was really setting us up to just keep possession above all then you would think we would be more defensively sound at least. As for Jags/Distin changing their natural game they played alot together last year and they played well. Barry dropped deep into a three to take the ball, the full backs pushed up, there was movement, people wanting the ball and we played with pace = confidence. Seemingly all gone this year.

Martinez wanted to continue with his philosophy that served him well last year, and in my opinion, to play us out of our bad form rather than go for a quick fix which is commendable. I mean what happens if Martinez says right this passing thing is out the window we'll be go direct we'll lump it up. What if the bad form continued? What would the excuse be then? The players said they went more direct at Man City and West Ham. If the philosophy is so wrong how come we didn't win the Man City or West Ham games then? After all the players changed the tactics and we were more direct?

I do agree we don't seem to have a Plan B and are firmly set on playing a 4-2-3-1. Martinez should keep his philosophy, we have the players to do so and to good effect but I would argue that Martinez is short of confidence himself. Where was the man who outwitted Wenger playing Lukaku on the right hand side last year and Naismith uptop? We need those sort of tweaks again this year but I don't see it happening. It'll be a long old slog to get as many points on the table as possible and with a decent EL run.

In short (sorry haha) I believe we have the same old system it just is not being performed well by our players.

Michael Winstanley
79 Posted 26/01/2015 at 21:37:31
McCarthy, Barry and Besic as a midfield to pick from, that's looks pretty good. I don't get the stick Barry gets on here, knows how to play the game does our Gaz, the only player we have who can leave one on someone and not get booked.

McCarthy has been a huge miss, I don't think he's been 100% all season so I hope he's proper fit now as we need him to win the ball back for us. Plus he understands Barry's game and plays to its strengths (that may be an exaggeration but it sounded good).

Besic makes mistakes, he's still learning but we've seen what a player we have coming through to add to the first team.

And Stones is masterful.

Mike Childs
80 Posted 27/01/2015 at 00:48:13
I got through the first 35 replies liking Jim Bennings thoughts but Harold forced me to reply for complete understanding of the situation. Why not play Besic and Jimmy Mac (I pray to the heavens he is fully fit) and push Barry forward? He can pick a pass and his lack of pace won't be so obvious.
Eric Myles
81 Posted 27/01/2015 at 00:58:43
Derek #26, Coleman reckons Bolasie is one of the best wingers he's come up against.
Lesley Evans
82 Posted 27/01/2015 at 10:17:43
Great news.
James Stewart
83 Posted 27/01/2015 at 12:35:48
This will ruffle a few feathers but for me Besic should not lose his place to McCarthy. Besic is better on the ball and despite his admirable engine and work rate McCarthy offers very little going forward.

Besic has been getting better with each game; I wouldn't want to see him dropped. I would drop Barry in a heartbeat and play both ideally but we all know that isn't going to happen.

Matty Dawkins
84 Posted 27/01/2015 at 12:52:35
Eric, Bolasie is becoming a hemorrhoid to us, I'm delighted that he's at the Afcon.

Michael (79), Barry gets knocked off the ball far too easily (RS last season, Spurs this season) and it has been costly. As for not getting booked...

Anthony Newell
85 Posted 27/01/2015 at 18:34:30
@Derek 71

The fact that you've checked to make sure Bolasie is in Africa worries me!!! What has it come to when we are dissecting the Palace team looking for weaknesses, FFS.

It really is must win this Saturday.

Abhishek Saha
86 Posted 28/01/2015 at 02:05:28
We need McCarthy fully fit for the derby, more than anything else. Hence, I would play him for one half, preferbaly the second for Crystal Palace. Start with Barry and Besic and sub the lesser effective one (on that day) with McCarthy in the second half.

I would also start with Kone and hold back Naismith. If Kone clicks, then we have a deadly combination up front in Kone and Rom.

Injuries apart, there is no need to juggle the back 4. Remember last season, we had a great defensive record since we had stuck to a consistent back 4 in Coleman, Jags, Disitn & Baines. We had Stones and Alcaraz only for injuries. This time we had juggled around our back 4 from the very outset. Coleman, Stones, Jags, Hibbert, Distin, Alcaraz, Baines, problem of plenty or RM being over confident I guess.We had a new back 4 in every match this season. I know injuries to Stones and Coleman had a role to play. We should just stick to Coleman, Jags, Stones, Baines, even if few matches, we let in a few loose ones. We will soon get our solid defensive record back.

Starting XI:

Coleman Jagielka Stones Baines
Barry Besic (compulsory change: McCarthy in second half for the worse one)
Oviedo (L) Mirallas (R) (optional change: Barkley for either, push Kone or Naismith wide)
Kone Lukaku (optional change: Naismith for Kone)

Phil Walling
87 Posted 28/01/2015 at 08:39:29
I'm far from sure that Stones is yet the defensive genius he is being made out to be. He is still very much in the development stage and like Barkley needs ' to train on'.

Viewed widely as more effective than both Alcaraz and Distin, he has much to learn and like those two is very prone to glaring errors.

He will learn much from the involvement in a struggling team and it is to be hoped that we will need less patience than we've needed with Ross to see him 'fulfil his potential'.

Another young man, Besic, is more advanced in his development but will have to play second fiddle to Barry who gets the manager's vote every time. I really do believe Roberto has made a promise to the latter (and also Ross) that he will be in the team come what may as Macca returns to bolster the line-up.

But for all these comments/reservations on these and others of our squad, I feel confident enough in our prospects against Crystal Palace to place my usual 'score' on our boys, having accepted the offered odds of 6/4. (Palace available at 9/5 whilst the draw is 23/10.)

Colin Glassar
88 Posted 28/01/2015 at 18:15:52
Have you become the official TW bookie Phil?
Tony Draper
89 Posted 28/01/2015 at 21:45:43
All the wise words have already been said above for me, but these are the key issues.

Having McCarthy available is encouraging, but I want him playing every week until the end of the season, so gently gently against Palace.

Besic has earned a regular starting place. His feistiness does carry a risk, but for heavens sake a few more need a pint of his blood transfused. Let's also remember that he only joined us in the summer, he's only 22, has made just 15 appearances and he bloody well loves Everton. Mark my words, this lads first season is getting better with every game.

Stones will become a great defender, but he isn't there yet. He's given to dreadful lapses of concentration leading to massive positional errors. The "Gung Heroics" show that he really is a class ball player going forward and do make me wonder if he may not prove to be a DM in the longer term ?

I want RM to have the nuts to protect Barkley and bench him. Hearing the derision (call it booing, jeering or whatever, it's a bloody long way short of encouragement......and it's fucking wrong for a home crowd to treat a talented Evertonian that way) breaks my heart....the lads confidence is shot to shreds and he doesn't know his arse from his elbow at present. He's not a talented Apprentice Joiner, Electrician or Plumber who will go on to run large construction projects. So perhaps the good solid working class souls that pay to watch him need to remember that the rules that apply on site aren't the same as those that are required to see Ross become an Everton Legend like Billy Dean or Alan Ball. Back off him and back him up.

Andrew Beech
90 Posted 30/01/2015 at 21:11:30
If McCarthy is fit, we must play Besic with him. Also, please play Oviedo ahead of Barkley – time is running out.

Plan A failed a long time ago!

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