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Barkley: My best position is up front

by | 30/03/2015  Comments (110)  jump

Barkley slots home Everton's third against Newcastle
Reflecting on what has been a difficult season personally, Ross Barkley says that "everything is a learning curve" and that he feels he can make his biggest impact as a striker.

The 21 year-old is preparing for what he hopes will be a bigger role than his 20-minute cameo the other night against Lithuania when England take on Italy in tomorrow evening's friendly in Turin.

Should he start, he will likely be deployed by Roy Hodgson in a central midfield role but the Wavertree-born star believes his best position is one where he has rarely played for club and country.

I'm a striker, he told Premier League World. I feel I can have my greatest impact there because I'm free to roam around the pitch, take players on, have shots and create chances.

His most recent performances would certainly seem to bear that out — he scored a composed third goal on the breakaway in the 3-0 win over Newcastle and struck the post twice with terrific efforts in Kyiv as the Blues went out of the Europa League — but he has been used primarily out wide, as a "no.10" and as a deeper-lying midfielder this season by Roberto Martinez.

Indeed, his manager was quoted in the media just this week as saying that he feels Barkley can be successful long-term in a "false nine" role.

Together with a serious early-season injury and Everton's own struggles, that inconsistency has contributed to a case of "second-season syndrome" for Barkley but he remains pragmatic about his progress.

From my point of view I haven't done as well as I know I can, but things like this happen, he continued. You have to go through bad days to get to the great days you have in your career.

Everything's a learning curve. I don't feel pressure. I believe in myself and I know what I can do. It's not me feeling pressure, it's just me putting pressure on myself if I don't do my best, and I know I can do better.

I just focus on getting better every day, putting things right in training and then hopefully what I'm doing right in training I'm doing to show in games as well.

Whether he feels it or not, there appears to be a measure of pressure on Barkley to perform from an expectant home crowd based on the reactions from some supporters to his more cagey displays at times this season.

The boyhood Blue appears to have been taking a more cautious approach as both he and the team have tried to rediscover the form that lit up Martinez's first season in charge but he believes the adversity faced this term will stand the Blues in good stead. Furthermore, it certainly hasn't diminished his pride in pulling on the Royal Blue jersey.

We haven't been going through the best period at the moment, but we're going to come through this and be really good at the end of it," he said.

I've been an Everton fan all my life and being able to play for Everton right now is a great feeling. It's an incredible feeling, coming out onto the pitch. I dreamt of it ever since I was young, looking around at all the fans cheering us on, and I got my debut when I was 17. It was a dream come true."  


Reader Comments (110)

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Chris Williamson
1 Posted 30/03/2015 at 17:53:48
Been thinking this myself for a while. I don't think he consistently has the footballing brain or awareness of a top class midfielder – which is why he always looks to have a run and shot, or runs into a melee of defenders – just like every other young midfielder who plays for England, as far as I see it.
Eddie Dunn
2 Posted 30/03/2015 at 17:59:11
I was saying on another thread that his best position may be up front. He has height, strength and two good feet and, if he loses the ball while trying something, he is less likely to cost us.
Trevor Peers
3 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:04:57
It would be worth throwing Ross up front with Lukaku for the remainder of the season just to see if he has the composure to score goals, it would certainly be worth a try ! Sounds good on paper he has great pace and strength something Kone lacks and against Kiev he was very unlucky not to score twice.
James Stewart
4 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:08:36
Curious statement. Has he ever played up front at any level for us?
I find it hard to believe this has always been his opinion of where his best position is. There isn't a lot of difference between a second striker and a no.10 these days so its more likely that is what he is talking about. Or translated he wants a free role with licence to roam and not track back. That luxury is afforded to very few players he has to improve to earn that. 2 in 28 is a terrible record for any 'striker'
Gerry Morrison
6 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:25:35
Hey Ross, let Roberto know.
Lyndon Lloyd
8 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:27:00
I too have had the same thought watching him recently because he has no defensive role.

I'm not sure he's predatory enough to be an out-and-out striker but we have the luxury of giving it a go now.

Kristian Boyce
10 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:24:36
Didn't he start off as a defender, based on the fact he was the size he is now when he was about 10? Perhaps you'd be considered a striker if you actually took a shot inside the box, instead of skying it from 30 yards out.
David Hallwood
11 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:29:16
Like Roberto, I think he's better on the wing
Patrick Murphy
12 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:19:48
It was reported recently that Roberto feels Ross will be a Midfield Powerhouse, so it is curious that Ross believes his best position is one that Roberto or Roy Hodgson don't ever play him in. That's not to say he can't play up front - perhaps Roberto should grant him his wish and play him there on occasion - we might need a new centre-forward for next season so it wouldn't be a futile move to try him out - although I don't think that Ross will make an out and out forward.

Tony Hill
13 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:29:01
He will have to learn to head the ball. He's a number 10 isn't he?
Tony Draper
14 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:22:03
Until you know who you are you can never work out what you want to be.

A few years back I listened to John Patrick McEnroe talking about what he believed that Tim Henman had done in a vital Wimbledon match.... maybe it was Vs Goran Ivanisevic.

McEnroe was extremely clear that being the very best of what you are is the very best that you can be. McEnroe also was clear that there is no shame in being your very very best, no matter what the outcome. McEnroe was equally clear that being other than yourself or of yourself will never allow you to be your very very best.

McEnroe was asked...."So if you, at your peak, had only ever finished second, would that have satisfied you ?". McEnroe replied "Being yourself at your very, very best is ALL that you can be. Coming second, having been your absolute best would be the very, very best you could achieve. Not being your very, very best and being other than yourself, that's failing".

Ross has laid it out, I hope that he is right.

John Daley
15 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:34:50
"He will have to learn to head the ball"

To be fair, the same could be said about Lukaku.

Kieran Kinsella
16 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:38:34
He's got a similar build and movement to Shearer
Paul Holmes
17 Posted 30/03/2015 at 18:48:15
The problem I see with Ross after hearing his interviews is that he does not come across as the sharpest tool in the box. I think his decision-making is bad and he never lifts his head to see what options are on when he has the ball.

Maybe this will improve, but when I listen to John Stones and Luke Garbutt (who are roughly the same age) and speak very well, then I listen to Ross it worries me. .Just my observation and opinion for what its worth.

Colin Glassar
18 Posted 30/03/2015 at 19:01:07
I’d play him as an inside right.
Danny Kewley
19 Posted 30/03/2015 at 19:27:23
The lad looks totally lost on the wing and midfield so why not give him a go up front ? It could well prove to be a cracking move !
Harold Matthews
20 Posted 30/03/2015 at 19:47:31
I'd have had a No 9 on his back a long time ago and unlike our recent strikers, he wouldn't miss sitters.
Ben Dyke
21 Posted 30/03/2015 at 19:44:07
I think he should be left back... in the changing room!
It's an oldie but a goodie... lol.

I honestly haven't seen much that suggests he can be a true central midfielder, or box-to-box player. And his form when asked to play so shows his uncertainty in my opinion, which he voices in a roundabout way here. He could perform an attacking midfield role with limited defensive duties or play as a second striker, or false 9 as mentioned here.

He needs to sort this soon with the coaches or he risks losing his confidence even more than he has at times this season.

Frank Crewe
22 Posted 30/03/2015 at 19:47:37
He's joking right?

I don't remember him wanting to be a striker last season when everything was going well. Really he just can't handle the pressure in midfield and thinks he'll have an easier life, less criticism and more hero worship if he plays up front.

He doesn't have the predatory instinct or the aggression to be a top striker. Stick him up front and he'd be another Anichebe.

He's no more a forward than Rodwell was and he's rapidly following his path to football obscurity. A might have been.

Sid Logan
23 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:04:55
There's no doubt he's a forward. Ability to shoot with both feet and far more instinctive in his play.

I'm glad at least he knows where he should play!

Denis Richardson
24 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:19:57
Interesting coming from him as a few TWs have suggested the same in the past.

With his physique, shooting ability on both feet and not needing to think and play by instinct, I can certainly see him being able to play in that position.

Bobby Thomas
25 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:12:16
Well there isn't much call for a non-goalscoring or chance-creating Number 10. So he's going to have to figure out what he is. Does anyone know?

As with Rodwell, I increasingly get the feeling something is missing, but I can't put my finger on it.

There's a lot more to football than picking the ball up, running at the opposition & bladdering it against the crossbar from 30 yards once every 25 efforts. It's the kind of selfish, schoolboy football Mourinho drummed out of Joe Cole.

Uniquely, he seems to be an attacking midfielder with no idea how to actually play in midfield. Plus off the ball he's abysmal.

Striker now then eh? It's the days of the lone striker. If you can't hold the ball up forget it.

John Crawley
26 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:43:52
I think he played for an England youth team at a tournament as a striker because of injuries and did well. Interesting comment anyway.
Craig Mills
27 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:29:49
There's already differing opinions on TW of Ross's best position, now Ross says upfront, Martinez says a midfield powerhouse, all that tells me is he doesn't really have a "best" position yet?

So, at 21 years old, and despite been touted as one of England's greatest prospects, the lad, and his manager don't yet know his best position on the pitch.

Could the same of been said about Rooney, Shearer, Gerrard, Gascoigne? Absolutely not, they knew what they were, and went on to be greats.....

James Flynn
29 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:56:02
Can't recall it ever coming up until Harold proposed it in here a few weeks ago. Couple others followed suit since.

What the hell, we're away from relegation, Kone and Lukaku are nursing injury. Nothing really left to play for this season. And maybe, just maybe, he's been thinking, "Fuck me, I've always been better than Kane. If he can do it..." So, what's to lose?

Give him a go, Roberto.

And...

Phil Sammon
30 Posted 30/03/2015 at 20:57:41
Craig Mills 27

"Could the same of been said about Rooney?"

Yes! It absolutely could. He's played every position going!

Barkley is at his best on the ball, driving at players. Players of that nature tend to thrive on the wings where they have a little room and more one-on-one situations. Barkley has all but proven that he can't play out there.

I don't think he's got the striker's instinct... but I'm all for giving him a go up there. I'd give anything to see us play with him and Lukaku up front. What do we have to lose now?

Gavin Johnson
31 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:04:57
This is like Fellaini and Rodwell all over again. I don't always think that a player is the expert on his ideal position. I remember Fellaini saying his best position was a defensive midfielder. Yet, he's always looked ineffective in that role and only seems to look a player when he's making a nuisance of himself behind a striker.

I should imagine Kone's still going to be out for the next couple of games. So give Barkley a few games alongside Rom. There's no harm in trying him there. The lad can't be any more confused after playing in every other midfield and wing position this season.

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:05:52
Being a striker is a very physical position and Ross doesn't seem to relish the physical aspects of the game, and as has already been pointed out he's not very good up in the air, but what's to lose in trying him there if Kone and Lukaku are not fit on Saturday.
Brent Stephens
33 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:16:57
I would LOVE to see him have a few games as striker. I'd really be excited by the prospect. Strength on the ball and ability round a man, hell of a shot with both feet, less need to keep looking around for the best passing option, no need to defend.

Come on, Roberto. give it a go!

Nick Armitage
34 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:18:37
It was only when Gravesen was spared his defensive duties did he start to excel and that's what Barkley needs, an advanced midfield role. He isn't a striker and he isn't a box-to-box midfielder. I am worried he'll go through his career flitting from position to position.
Neil Pickering
35 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:25:36
He's having a laugh isn't he? Never been a striker. Poor in the air, not a particularly good finisher, and lacks any form of goalscoring instinct in the box.

It does beg the question though where does he play? Because for me when he plays in midfield he can't tackle, his decision-making is poor, and he can't defend. The only thing he can do is dribble on occasion.

I think I have come to the conclusion that this lad flatters to deceive and isn't good enough. We all know a lad like Ross who we play 5-aside with; you know the one, untouchable at 5-aside but shite in an 11-aside match.

Sell in the summer and get what we can.

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:26:57
I personally think that a genuine striker would sometimes struggle with the physicality of playing in midfield, and a midfielder might struggle for the same reasons, up front, Dave.

I think Barkley's best attribute is that he's always looking to turn, and he seems to do it better the closer he is marked. Give it a go, it might be the reason some people are suggesting that he hasn't got a football brain, who knows?

Phil Walling
37 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:43:17
Not much between Ross and Jack in terms of their progress through the ranks.

By the time he was 21, Jack had played about 80 games for Everton whilst Ross is about 10 behind him. Jack had bagged 4 goals and Ross has 8.

Both got full England honours without anyone knowing where they were best deployed. People said Jack should have been a central defender and now Ross thinks he's a striker.

Two superkids taking a while to come to terms with their talent as they mature into...........?

Brin Williams
38 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:59:09
"He feels he can make his biggest impact as a striker."

Wherever you play, Ross try and make an impact ffs!!

Tom Bowers
39 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:54:28
Some players are best suited playing just behind the main target man like Fellaini has done for the Blues and Man Utd, and to a certain degree we have seen Ross doing this on occasions.

We know he has an eye for a goal with a great shot but the mental toughness to take the stuff that gets handed out when your back is to goal would be the real test.

As people have stated, his heading ability is unknown as a front man but he does have skill elsewhere to make a go of it should it be necessary.

What it really comes down to is the service from other areas because as we all know, without it, no matter how good you are, you are not going to get the goal opportunities. It could well be that he may be called upon against the Saints to get into the box more.

Jay Wood
40 Posted 30/03/2015 at 21:56:17
Well, this is from way out of left field.

I don’t see the qualities or the attributes that convinces Ross himself or TW posters that his ’best position’ is striker.

Personally, if Ross genuinely believes this, I find it rather worrying and concerning for his immediate and long-term development.

Jay Wood
41 Posted 30/03/2015 at 22:05:44
Phil @ 37

Interesting you mention Jack Rodwell in relation to Ross’s comments.

My recall about JR eventually playing CB did not come from the player himself, but was something mentioned by the coaching staff, recalling where he played his very junior football for Everton and subsequently trotted out now again by all and sundry.

My further recall of Jack twice playing pre-season friendlies at CB for the first team at Coventry and Blackpool was that he was absolutely GASH in the role and should never be seriously considered to play there.

Tom Cuffe
42 Posted 30/03/2015 at 22:12:50
What next, McGeady wants to be a goalkeeper!!! If Roberto says you're a winger, your a winger and that's it!
Dave Williams
43 Posted 30/03/2015 at 22:08:02
He appears to shirk the physical aspects of he game – we never see him in a full-on tackle which may be a result of his terrible leg break. If that is right then any defender will clatter him as a striker and threaten to break his leg again and he will disappear.

He has ability but I don't see any football brain and I would take the 㿞m from Man City or Chelsea like a shot. We can use the money and can't afford to take the (in my view, very significant) risk that he doesn't make it.

Peter Mills
44 Posted 30/03/2015 at 22:33:02
I think he just needs to be coached about doing the simple things right. He's got the talent for the outrageous, we've seen it, do the simple thing 8/10 times, try the special thing 2/10. And try the special thing nearer the opposition's goal than ours.
Chris Feeley
45 Posted 30/03/2015 at 22:33:08
All season he's been the proverbial square peg in a round hole; I'm just not convinced that playing him as a striker is the right fit either. However, his comments do further persuade me that he's not being coached or developed in any other manner than "Just go out and play." This would be all very well and good if he was producing on a regular basis, but this clearly has not been the case.

Maybe this is harsh, but the current glaring difference to me between Barkley and any top calibre player (Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez etc) is not his position but his deficiency in heart and desire. He rarely tracks back, even when he's been at fault for giving the ball away.

Naismith has probably a fraction of his ability, but for all his critics this season he has produced more (8 goals to Barkley's 2). This is down to sheer hard work and determination.

Until this is addressed, if it can at all, unfortunately we're better off cashing in on his 'potential' before he's found out by the Fleet Street peddler of nonsense and the rest of the league cottons on to what many of us recognise already.

James Martin
46 Posted 30/03/2015 at 23:22:21
The lad is completely lost. His performance against QPR was probably the best moment of the whole season.

He's got everything to play central midfield. He doesn't even play Number 10 very well, so why would he want a role with his back to goal and even more defensive attention?

He should be like a Toure type figure, getting goals from deep and just striding past midfielders. Put McCarthy or Gibson next to him in the middle and just let him play his natural game.

I've seen it all now from Everton: Rooney on the wing; Rodwell Number 10 and on the wing; Barkley on the wing and now asking to go upfront... What's the point of having an academy when we do this?

James Flynn
47 Posted 31/03/2015 at 00:52:00
All these opinions on what Ross can't or can do in the striker position.

Let's pretend we actually need 40 points to stay up. I don't think so, but just for arguments sake, we do. We won't accrue 6 out of the last 24? Of course we will.

So why not let our lad Ross have a go at the position he is saying he thinks he's best favored? What's the harm? Relegation is out finally; Top 5 long gone.

In that vein, how about Roberto experimenting with Baines in the mid-field and Garbutt at LB. Baines is going nowhere, so no harm done. Worst case with Garbutt, the Club has a stronger argument at the Tribunal, yes?

We're all looking to the summer and what it brings. We know well our history with money available. "You can have the bulk of the cash in for who you sell." So, who?

I get a kick out of posters declaring a Barkley transfer won't involve 㿔-50 million. Haha. How much did Man Utd pay for Luke Shaw? Remind me. The money's there and our Ross is the real thing. Our young Stones isn't worth as much as Luke Shaw? Haha again.

If Ross at striker works and ups his value, Garbutt getting lots of playing time strengthens us at the tribunal; give me an alternative to what we already know.

The side needs re-building. Form holds, Roberto will have the cash available ONLY if he sells off our top talent.

It's Everton's well-established "Wayne Rooney" standard.

Mark Andersson
48 Posted 31/03/2015 at 01:59:55
Only on ToffeeWeb do you get polar opinions. Makes for great reading. I trust Harold's judgement as he said it weeks ago; maybe Ross read that post Harold.

Anyway I don't know enough about the ins and outs of football, but was fascinated to watch a documentary of how Arsene Wenger coached a reluctant winger to become Arsenal's all time greatest striker. You all know his name, and it ain't Ian gobshite Wright.

Paul Ward
49 Posted 31/03/2015 at 02:23:31
After reading Barkley's quote, my intended reply would have been too similar to Frank Crewe's (#22) and Bobby Thomas's (#25) comments.

After wishing and hoping to see Ross progress, I'm afraid it just won't happen. I see a distinct parallel with Barkley and Rodwell in so many ways, early promise, hype, premature England caps and maybe the probable transfer for a big fee.

Most of us Everton fans hope Ross will fulfil his promise but we can't wait for ever. So, should one of these huge purported offers from Chelsea or Man City arrive, I would take it.

Rick Tarleton
50 Posted 31/03/2015 at 05:34:39
I think what he is actually trying to say is that he doesn't want to be a traditional up-and-down mid-fielder with responsibilities for tracking back and tackling. He's a № 10, rather similar to the Brazilian lad across the Park, Coutinho. As an out-and-out frontman in a 4-5-1, he'd be lost but perhaps alongside another striker in the Roy Vernon role, he'd be good.
Trevor Peers
51 Posted 31/03/2015 at 08:53:58
Similar to the Brazilian across the park? In our dreams maybe; I hope Ross gets a shot at being an out-and-out striker. If it worked out, it would solve our goalscoring problems. He's been pretty anonymous on the left wing.
Eddie Dunn
52 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:16:39
Would Ross be known as a "false № 9"?
Laurie Hartley
53 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:05:50
Chris Feeley's comment @45 about "heart and desire" struck a chord with me. I bagged Ross a few weeks ago about not tackling or tracking back – it really got on my wick when the team was struggling so much.

Nevertheless, here we have a player with unbelievable natural ability that is floundering in the current set up. Perhaps he is being played out of position and in the wrong system.

I came across this article a few weeks ago which I found really interesting reading. Link

I am not suggesting that we can be compared with Real Madrid but I would suggest that we do have the players to play Ancelloti's system.

For anyone who is interested I suggest you read carefully the reference to the paragraph entitled "Ronaldo's New Role.

Perhaps it is time to play Lukaku and Barkley in a Ancelotti's version of the 4-4-2 system. I think we have the players to fill the spots in behind them. It might just work...

Trevor Peers
54 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:04:22
There are a few popular delusions doing the rounds; one is comparing Ross in the central midfield role to Ya Ya at Man City – that ain't never going to happen after watching him struggle in that position when asked to play there.

The other non-starter is asking Baines to play in midfield; the lad has played there and looked lost. He's a specialist full-back and a great one. We need to get the checkbook out to fill these positions adequately, which will probably be funded by selling Barkley, the way it's looking.

Ken Buckley
55 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:07:09
I get the impression that Ross isn't a naturally confident lad. He has been tried in various positions and only sparked spasmodically so maybe he just thinks he may have better luck as a striker as that is one position he has yet to try for real in a match.

To me, he just lacks that bit of the devil in him that just about all the top boys have. Maybe it's not coaching he needs but a good old-fashioned confidence shrink.

Brin Williams
56 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:33:02
Apparently he is shit hot in goal.
Chris Gould
57 Posted 31/03/2015 at 09:09:51
Ross is not Rodwell!!! Why the constant comparisons? He neither plays like him, looks like him, talks like him, behaves like him....!! Just because he's young and being touted as one of England's next big stars, doesn't mean he will go the same way as Rodwell.

Would you have been saying the same thing last season? One poor season and he's written off. It's fickle and ridiculous. He has bags of ability but has been stifled by a poor manager.

Whether he can make a decent striker is not a question that can be answered until we see him given a go at it. And not just one chance. He would need to train like a striker and play a run of games before anyone could judge.

There are a few strikers about who don't get poachers goals and don't head the ball particularly well. Messi being a prime example. (Not suggesting Ross could ever play at his level.)

The kid has talent. How many times did Kane go out on loan and not set the world alight? He's 5 months older than Ross and has only made the step up this season. He was given time to develop and look at him now.

David Hallwood
60 Posted 31/03/2015 at 10:10:16
If you went back 10-15 years when every team played 4-4-2, where would Ross play? IMHO he'd be a CM all day long. Go back even further to 4-3-3 and he'd be part of the mid 3.

It's only when you go right back to the days of 2-3-5 that he'd be, as Colin Glasser said, a good old fashioned inside forward.

To my mind he should be put I the Fabregas role and be able to run from deep with a defensive mid along side him. Won't happen on Bobby's shift cos he likes two DMs, or should that be Barry and A N Other.

James Marshall
61 Posted 31/03/2015 at 08:36:50
Striker my arse. He's afraid of the competitive/physical side of the game and would get bullied by defenders. He'd be a shit centre forward.

If he's been listening to Rooney tell him to play up front, then he needs to take a leaf out of Rooney's book and learn to be a nasty bastard.

One of Ross's biggest problems is his fear, and lack of toughness. Imagine him up against players like John Terry, or Shawcross? They'd have him for breakfast.

Trevor Peers
62 Posted 31/03/2015 at 11:17:06
The fact that Ross has made that statement probably means Roberto is going to give it a try. With Kone probably not fit for the Southampton game its a fair bet Ross could get his wish to join Lukaku up front.
James Marshall
63 Posted 31/03/2015 at 11:24:10
Oh and his lack of heading ability isn't ideal when you play up front either!
Ernie Baywood
64 Posted 31/03/2015 at 11:21:58
What exactly do people take to be a "striker"?

He's not a Lineker but then how many of them are around nowadays?

He's no Ferguson but there's even fewer of them than there are Linekers.

He's a player with pace, strength, two good feet and skill. Likes to run at players, likes to be creative.

He can't tackle. Isn't a possession type.

So what is he? Assuming he's a decent player.

He's a forward of some nature isn't he? Call it a false № 9, № 10. Whatever. What was Steven Gerrard when it became apparent he wasn't exactly a midfielder? He certainly want a false № 9 or № 10. That lot just played to his strengths and reaped the rewards.

I say play him there. Off Lukaku and in the style he can bring.

There's a handful of games to figure out if he's a game changer or an asset for sale.

Chris Feeley
65 Posted 31/03/2015 at 12:34:27
@58 – If he is our current 'big hope', then why isn't he producing? The ridiculous levels of hype around him haven't turned into consistent performances, so why shouldn't fans expect more?

This season, he has been more often a passenger than a maestro, and that is down to his work rate. Most wouldn't accept it from a foreign player, eg, Mirallas, so why should he be given the benefit of the doubt just because he's come through our youth system? If anything, he should understand better and show more.

Tom Bowers
67 Posted 31/03/2015 at 12:40:02
As far as square pegs go, Everton have had them for years – no more so than Osman... but Rodwell was another who really should have been groomed more as a central defender.

Ross can be anything he puts his mind to with the right coaching. At the moment, he suffers under a complex RM system which only RM understands.

Trevor Peers
68 Posted 31/03/2015 at 12:53:54
Chris, I think it's a question of trying to find out what position if any Ross could become a success in at Everton. If he can't perform and we eventually sell him, he can't say he hasn't been given every opportunity. The latest consensus seems to be trying him as a striker; a position he prefers. And as we have a injury crisis in that position, well... why not give him a go?
Colin O'Keeffe
69 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:04:08
A case of brain freeze – A striker!!! Must mean № 10 role, playing off a front man with license to roam a bit. Personally I think he's a playmaker/central midfielder who needs to be played in that position all the time so he can learn the decision-making required. He's got all the attributes physically to play the role. He can see a pass and thread balls through to front men, as well as join up with the attack and get the odd goal.

At the moment, he suffers because he gets shifted from pillar to fucking post and never knows where he's going to be playing next. How can someone develop like that? We should be playing him in a midfield three – with McCarthy and Gibson doing the donkey work and him doing more of the creative stuff.

Best player we've had since Rooney and being wasted – absolute disgrace.

Richard Reeves
70 Posted 31/03/2015 at 12:22:20
Barkley has played his best games for us just behind the striker (№ 10). That is his best position in my opinion – definitely centre and definitely further forward than a defensive midfield position... anywhere from central midfield in a 4-4-2 formation (with a defensive midfielder allowing him to get forwards) and basically going up to the striker’s position.

I hope Roberto doesn’t play him as a striker, though, not until he has learned how to score more from the № 10 position. I would rather see players play in their natural positions and we’ve got a very good natural goalscorer in Chris Long who I imagine is eager to show what he can do.

Denis Richardson
71 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:10:22
Man, these international breaks are so fucking BORING!

Nothing exciting on the OS either...

What is going on at Everton?? No news re the stadium since the crap a few months ago, nothing re plans for the summer, nothing re transfers for the summer, nothing re contract talks for those running out, not a squeak from the chairman for god knows how long....

I wouldn't be surprised if there was tumbleweed blowing about at GP.

Ernie Baywood
72 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:14:42
Chris #65. Is he lacking workrate? Or have we just played most of the season at such a slow tempo that everyone looks like they lack workrate? He can't press the man on the ball on his own... He wouldn't get within 5 yards before it's given off.

Upping the tempo suits most of our team. Especially Ross.

He's been shit this season. But I keep coming back to the question... Who has been anything but shit for us? It can't just be the case that every player stopped bothering?

Colin Glassar
73 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:19:28
Colin O’Keefe, spot on. All this playing him in different positions isn’t helping him one bit. He needs to be given a role and stick to it. He ain’t no Rooney who can play anywhere.
Ernie Baywood
74 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:21:40
Denis #71. Don't know about you but I quite enjoyed this weekend. Checked TW every so often but it was quiet. So I just forgot about the football for a few days.
Ray Robinson
75 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:31:37
Couldn't agree more with Colin O'Keefe. He certainly hasn't got the physical presence to play as an out-and-out striker and, as has been stated before, he looks scared to head the ball. Best attacking from a slightly deeper position running at defenders.
Ernie Baywood
76 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:42:00
Just read the below on the great piece about the Youth Cup win.

"We had seen Tommy Wright and Colin Harvey advance from the Central League. Tommy's progression was seamless whereas Colin, inexplicably, was a Goodison whipping boy for a short time. How could anyone boo the breathtaking skills of The White Pele? "

I hope there's a new paragraph like this written in about 50 years.

Denis Richardson
77 Posted 31/03/2015 at 13:33:55
Just bored at work, Ernie... looked to see if there was any Everton-related news and the cupboard's pretty bare.

I guess will have to wait 'till the pre-match conference in couple of days.... then again, maybe not..

Tony J Williams
78 Posted 31/03/2015 at 14:02:05
"He's been shit this season. But I keep coming back to the question... Who has been anything but shit for us?"

Said this a few times Ernie, it's difficult to judge anyone this season when they have mostly been playing like fuckwits.

I say give him a go up front but have patience.

I remember our wonderkid Rooney being in the arse pocket of a 60-year-old Dion Dublin playing centre half. Bad days happen and they need to learn from them.

Bill Gall
80 Posted 31/03/2015 at 14:38:18
Funny after the last game, when both Lukaku and Kone went off injured, both myself and another TW contributor were commenting on here that, if they both were not available for the Southampton game, with his size, Barkley may have been a better alternative than Naismith up front.
David Hallwood
81 Posted 31/03/2015 at 14:44:41
On a positive note: Breaking news – Barry goes straight back into the side against Soton.
Roger Helm
82 Posted 31/03/2015 at 14:45:29
He was good last season with Lukaku at times. He has suffered this term like all our forwards – with our painfully slow build-up, the defences are set before he even gets the ball. And of course he is constantly played out of position.

He is best at what the rugby types call broken-field play. If Martinez gets his head sorted after this season's shambles then he could have a really good season next time, if we pick up the tempo of play.

Jim Bean
83 Posted 31/03/2015 at 15:16:06
HeÂ’s not great with his back to goal. His decision making is still a bit slow. He often makes wrong decisions in the final third. HeÂ’s not the greatest under close marking, usually taking the safe option. His shots are increasingly being blocked. He doesnÂ’t make late runs into the box like Lampard or Cahill. He never works the channels. Not a goal poacher either. DoesnÂ’t sound much like a striker to me.

But he does have unbelievable ability. For me he should be used like Fabregas, stationed in central midfield alongside the hard working McCarthy. There he can see the whole game in front of him and have a bit more time and space on the ball. He can still dribble forward, take long shots, and generally take the game to the opposition. QPR goal anyone?

Mike Oates
84 Posted 31/03/2015 at 15:48:58

Barkley the Enigma! Why do so many Evertonians criticise or groan at him? Why do so many managers think heÂ’s the next best thing in English football? Is he ever going to be a world class talent? Is he going to develop to become the next midfield Beckenbauer? A midfield Rooney? The best № 10? A false № 9? A forward??? The best box-to-box player? ... and anything else we want to dream.

I think therein lies one of the problems – does anyone really have a clue where his best position is? I honestly feel the likes of Martinez, Hodgson, Pellegrini, and Mourinho all have their own ideas on what to do with him and virtually all would be different. Martinez would accept some luxury in his side, a player who doesn’t track back, who doesn’t tackle, who doesn’t mark anyone, a player who will take risks; whereas Mourinho would only expect a team player, a talent who also works hard. Hodgson wouldn’t want any risk-taker near his team, and god knows where Pelligini would use him, but he seems to be constantly sniffing around.

I really believe the lad is confused, he isn’t a “I know exactly what I’m going to do" 18-year-old Rooney. To me, he lacks the will, the drive, the confidence to take control of a game. When he speaks, it's often a word-for-word repeat of the question he’s just been asked; there is no belief in himself, no personal view, it reflects a person who wants to be led, told what to do. I don’t see a unique individual screaming to demonstrate his talents. He clearly has them but they are only shown fleetingly.

I think Evertonians by nature have a slight mistrust of a player who is technically brilliant but doesnÂ’t put a shift in; those who are old enough will remember Duncan McKenzie, another technically talented player who went missing for large parts of games, particularly the harder, tougher ones. Can Evertonians take to a Barkley who just might become in MartinezÂ’s eyes a carefree № 10, the playmaker, but forgiven team responsibility? Is it really in our DNA to watch a player who, when the pressure is on, just floats about, looking disinterested?

IÂ’m unsure myself how heÂ’s going to develop, can he develop in the Premier League? Would he more suited to a European League (probably Spain) where the game is slower, more technical, where the fans would support a gifted player, rather than a worker?

The one thing I would like to see if nothing else would be for Martinez to find him a position – not as a wide player – give him at least five or six games there on the run, and see if he can actually become the player all and sundry think he can.

Steven Telford
85 Posted 31/03/2015 at 16:14:21
Well then, according to some estimates we have a 80 million pound strike partnership on our hands. In which case, to be were we are in the league speak volumes for the level of managerial competency with which we are graced.
If Martinez can have that translate into a top 14 finish, the Camp Nou is surely his next destination.
Patrick Murphy
86 Posted 31/03/2015 at 17:10:36
Dave Prentice in his column reports that Barkley has taken on more defenders than any other Everton player this season – 24 take ons – with a success rate of 59 per cent. But while he is sometimes accused of being sloppy in possession, his passing accuracy is better than any other Everton midfielder (89%) and bettered in the Blues first team by only John Stones. Put simply, he has better qualities than holding the ball up.

It would be perhaps more telling if the passing accuracy was split into backwards and sideways passing as opposed to forward balls.

John Daley
87 Posted 31/03/2015 at 17:30:45
I don't know if Ross could really shine as an out and out forward. I have a hunch it would work, but there's no real evidence to back it up either way as yet is there?

He is physically strong when on the ball, despite people trying to claim he goes all Ned Flanders at the first sign of confrontation. He can turn, beat a man, run with it at pace and smash it with either foot. As for his heading ability, or lack of, how many times has he actually been in a position that necessitated him challenging in the air at regular intervals? I certainly can't remember him constantly losing out in an aerial duel. Anyway, the ability to 'stick a nut on it' is becoming a less important attribute for a forward to possess as the years pass by.

For me though, his best position and the one he should be played in at all times is central midfield. Not 'attacking' midfield, 'defensive' midfield or token 'short end of the straw so stuck out on the touchline' midfield. A plain and simple central midfielder that used to be common place in the game before rigid fairy on a fucking christmas tree formations and systems became the new managerial religion.

I think back to to the QPR game in which Barkley was paired with Besic and wonder what might have been. It was the best, most mobile and dynamic our midfield has looked all season. It looked like Martinez had stumbled upon something he could build on and offered hope (and a little excitement) for forthcoming games. Irrespective of the quality of opposition, Barkley was electric in that game and was in a place where he'd finally found some form and could kick on. The manager only had to say 'same again next week, son' but, instead, instantly ruined any momentum by reverting to his regulation safe and trusty (but getting really fucking rusty) double defensive drones.

Ross Edwards
88 Posted 31/03/2015 at 18:37:32
He's not a striker. He never will be. Sorry to be harsh but in interviews he comes across as being a bit dim.
Tony Hill
89 Posted 31/03/2015 at 19:04:20
Halfwit Hodgson isn't picking him anyway. Room though for Phil Jones in midfield, so that's all right then.
Ian Brandes
90 Posted 31/03/2015 at 19:00:57
Perhaps it is time to give him a go upfront, but only when we are truly safe.

He has had a bad season, so maybe he sees a change in position as his salvation, and there is no doubt he would be motivated to perform.

It would be an experiment worth trying.

David Graves
91 Posted 31/03/2015 at 21:50:04
Didn't look too "dim" tonight did he?
Dave Abrahams
92 Posted 31/03/2015 at 21:53:22
David (#91), no he didn't when he had the ball, without the ball he looked very dim, no energy, no marking, no tracking back, he's just not learning at all.

With the ball he was very good at times but there is still something lacking in his overall game, hope it comes to him soon, if it ever does.

Chris Feeley
93 Posted 31/03/2015 at 21:38:03
@68 I hope that he does prove myself and the doubters wrong, as long as he's wearing a royal blue shirt. I've just watched his England cameo, and live in hope that we can see an improving performance like that against Southampton. My concern is that, to my knowledge, he's never been considered a striker throughout his time at the club so why are we suddenly hearing about it now? Surely our esteemed manager should've taken the heat off him, when the crowd flak was at its most vociferous, by saying that he's playing out of position if he truly considers him a natural striker?

@72 In my opinion, harsh or not, his performances so far this season have generally been petulant and lacked accountability. I agree that the football we've played doesn't necessarily suit him, but I also think he makes the same mistakes week after week and doesn't learn. His decision making consistently puts the rest of the team under pressure, but I get the impression that he's always searching for his Match of the Day highlight moment. Possibly the worst and most controversial comparison I can make is that he's turning into a Blue Balotelli.

David Graves
94 Posted 31/03/2015 at 22:28:14
Dave - No energy? Completely disagree. Not tracking back? At times, yes, I'd agree but then let the water carriers do the tracking back and get the ball to Ross in the final third.

And I'm sorry, Number 93, but to refer to him as a Blue Balotelli is a fucking disgrace.

Trevor Peers
95 Posted 31/03/2015 at 22:37:25
Ross does remain an enigmatic puzzle for most of us even his biggest fans admit that. Can Roberto of all people fashion him into a consistent match winner? Don't make me laugh. Wrong manager right player maybe?
Jay Wood
96 Posted 31/03/2015 at 22:38:32
Ross has reminded us in his last two sub appearances for England what he has in his locker.

Under the right manager and with a clear understanding of his role within an effective system, Ross can be a helluva player. He is our diamond and I hope he continues to shine brilliantly for us in a blue shirt for many years to come.

Dave Abrahams
97 Posted 31/03/2015 at 22:56:26
David (94), I said no energy without the ball, he's standing about doing practically nothing, not even a nuisance value a tackling a man.

David, he has got to do his share of winning the ball, even the very best players do that.

John Daley
98 Posted 31/03/2015 at 22:59:11
"..his performances so far this season have generally been petulant....he's turning into a Blue Balotelli."

Any specific examples of Barkley demonstrating on the field petulance? Go on, give us just one... because I must have missed it.

His performances may have been subdued this season, he may have suffered a crisis of confidence and been fearful of doing what comes naturally at times, but he's never sulked or thrown a strop. He's just an honest lad, playing for his boyhood team, who was prematurely built up beyond reason, only to be swiftly subjected to (equally premature and over the top) brickbats from his own fans during his first prolonged period of poor form.

Ballotelli, on the other hand, is basically what is known in scientific circles as a 'right bellend'. He proclaimed himself as being potentially the best striker in the world, before proceeding to stroll, showboat, sulk, sneer, display ill-discipline and disrespect his manager and teammates.

Barkley has never made any fanciful claims to his own ability or potential. He never scrawled 'world beater on his own back. Pundits, other players and his own manager might have, but not the boy himself.

As for the criticism about his lack of 'effort'? It was the same over emphasis on visible 'good solid pro' virtues such as running about a lot, tracking back and closing people down, that saw players like Steve Hodge and Carlton Palmer selected for Enland over Matt LeTissier. Not every player in a team has to end the game aching and panting like a tranny at Brendan Rodgers's birthday party. Especially if the player in question is selected primarily to take the game to the opposition and is playing in a system that sees two others constantly sat behind him whose sole duties are to close down and cover for others.

Chris Feeley
99 Posted 31/03/2015 at 23:50:52
@98 Petulance is losing the ball time after time and choosing to turn away and sulk instead of chasing back and helping the team. Did you miss that?

The Balotelli comment was obviously going to get a bite. However, based on the fact that Barkley has produced little in terms of goals or assists this season I don't see why it's so unfair?

Off the field, I couldn't care less what he gets up to. On the field, I don't see why for 90 minutes he can't put every ounce of effort he has into helping Everton win football matches. Is there any reason to suggest that more effort, or at the very least a more accountable attitude towards his team mates, wouldn't make him a better player?

Andy Crooks
100 Posted 01/04/2015 at 00:56:36
Ross Barkley Is one of the few really good things we have right now. He will be a world class player. He is a great talent and it seems to me he is an Evertonian. We should build a team around him. Selling him would be the final admission by Kenwright that the club is dead.

Evertonians are saying if we get such an amount for him we must sell. Let's not do another Rooney, let's take a chance on a diamond.

John Daley
101 Posted 01/04/2015 at 01:04:33
"Petulance is losing the ball time after time and choosing to turn away and sulk instead of chasing back and helping the team".

Err... except it's not though, is it? Even if he did that (which I don't for one minute accept he does) then where does the petulant part come into play beyond you projecting it onto him?

I've never seen Barkley become visibly irritated, annoyed or uncooperative on the field. Not running after someone wouldn't automatically equate to an irrational childish strop at things not going the way you want them to. It would just be a lack of effort, laziness, slacking off. Not that I subscribe to the view that he displays any of the aforementioned.

As for the Blue Ballotelli label? It's not an 'apt but controversial' tag you've hit on, more 'badly burst contraceptive bag' with some fat birds shit on. It's full of holes and stinks like the inside of a fake leg.

When has Barkley ever displayed an unprofessional attitude on the pitch? When has he ever lashed out at opposition players when things aren't going his way? When has he shown infantile frustration with himself and others? Argued with his teammates? Had a run in with his own manager? All on the field activities that Ballotelli has been known to partake in when things aren't going his way. Ross 'not running back as much as I think he should and not scoring many goals this season' doesn't put him in the same ballpark as that balloon.

Ernie Baywood
102 Posted 01/04/2015 at 01:18:35
Crop haired scouse lad. Surely he must be flying around the park launching into tackle after tackle and bleeding for the cause.

Except he's not that type of player. They're ten a penny. Even Everton can sign of few of those in the summer.

Chris Feeley
104 Posted 01/04/2015 at 03:41:53
@101 All very eloquently put, but I'll have my opinion and you can have yours. I doubt we're ever going to see eye to eye on this, but as I said in @93 "I hope that he does prove myself and the doubters wrong, as long as he's wearing a royal blue shirt."

@102 I'm not asking for the extreme, but I don't see how trying to intelligently win the ball back is a bad thing? All of the best teams generally have attacking players who defend from the front, by hassling defenders and taking responsibility to set the tone for the team. Chelsea's players did that against us better than anyone when they mauled us at the start of the season.

I accept he has lots of raw and (as yet) unharnessed ability, but I don't think that he should be absolved from the graft work that can often help swing games in our favour.

Ernie Baywood
105 Posted 01/04/2015 at 05:32:40
Chris, regarding your "defend from the front, hassle and harry" comments, I completely agree. But as a team we don't do that - seemingly it's part of our 'philosophy'. You can't just hold up Ross as an example of lacking that kind of effort.

The best teams do have a bit of mongrel about them but it's to allow the rest to play. Ross isn't one of our mongrel types. Quite possibly never will be despite him looking like he should be that sort of player. I don't expect blood and guys out of him like I don't expect it of Messi (without exactly making that comparison).

Chris Feeley
106 Posted 01/04/2015 at 06:48:07
@105 Ernie - You make a fair comment regarding our current 'philosophy', and Lukaku has also been guilty at times of demonstrating a similar reluctance to graft off the ball.

I do see more though from Naismith, a player who doesn't have the same level of natural ability but won many people over (including myself) by his determination to work hard with and without the ball. He has been accused of many things, but his commitment could never be questioned. A few times this season I've seen him have a go at both Lukaku and Barkley when they've lackadaisically given the ball away and left it for someone else to pick up the slack.

His stats for the season in both goals and assists are much better than Barkley's. Is this a coincidence? Lennon has also come in and shown he's prepared to leave the pitch knowing he couldn't have worked any harder – the QPR penalty typified this.

The difference between Barkley and say Mirallas, to me, is that he's young enough to learn and supposedly humble enough to accept he can still add a lot to his game. If he learns how tough it is to win the ball back, there's a good chance he won't give it away sloppily in future. I hope that this would benefit both his and, more importantly, the club's fortunes.

Paul Smith
107 Posted 01/04/2015 at 07:25:08
For a lad who claims his best position is a striker, this is very confusing. When played just behind the striker, he shows no inclination of trying to get into the box to get on the end of things.

The problem Ross has got at the moment for me is his vision for a pass and knowing when to lay it off. This with his work rate and desire are what he needs to improve in my opinion.

The things he is best at are running with the ball and the power of his shooting with both feet. As with most gifted young English talent, they are put on a pedestal before they have grown as a player.

At the moment, if Ross plays, he has to play the № 10 role and work on his weaknesses. If he does this, there is still great potential for a top class player but, at the moment, he falls into the 'frustrating' category for me.

Ross Edwards
108 Posted 01/04/2015 at 09:14:31
It was an irrelevant friendly where he came on as sub against a 3rd string Italian side with an ageing defence.

This performance didn't really indicate anything that we didn't know already.

Ross Edwards
110 Posted 01/04/2015 at 15:03:43
Barkley tweeted earlier saying 'I don't see myself as a striker and never will. I'm not sure where this has come from.'

Clearly he was misquoted.

Steven Telford
111 Posted 01/04/2015 at 16:25:51
Andy (#100) the problem of saying, "Let's not do another Rooney" is we didn't do a Rooney, we did not have a choice, because Post Bosman, for the most part the power resides with the payer.

I hope Ross stays, but if he does go (which eventually he will), I hope Martinez (or whoever manages us) can be as hard-nosed a negotiator as what Moyes was for the likes of Lescott.

Alas, Hard to imagine Martinez being as effective in that sort of way. Man Utd got Rooney super cheap; as for his premature departure, that's sort of down to Newcastle stupidly lighting that match by thinking he would actually go to them.

Barry Jones
112 Posted 01/04/2015 at 19:22:17
He is talented but someone has to turn him from a schoolyard player into a professional footballer, working on his decision-making, spatial awareness and of course tracking back and tackling. Wanting to be a forward (which he isn’t) is opting out of his professional development and shows a lack of maturity and commitment.
Tony Draper
113 Posted 02/04/2015 at 10:21:01
Paul Scholes piece in "The Independent" today about Ross Barkley is uncomplicated and (I think) very accurate.

Here Link

Tony Hill
114 Posted 02/04/2015 at 10:25:34
I've just posted the same on the England thread Tony! It is a good piece.
James Flynn
115 Posted 02/04/2015 at 14:06:44
Ross (110) - Yeah, no wonder. In the Premier League World article, he's not quoted stating "I'm a striker."

"When asked what his best position is, Barkley said: 'Behind the striker. I feel I can have my greatest impact there . . . . '."

Oh well, fun thread anyway; Barkley as a striker.

Tony J Williams
116 Posted 02/04/2015 at 14:59:20
"He certainly hasn't got the physical presence to play as an out-and-out striker"

A few posters mention this, yet look at Micheal Owen, Eto'o, Henry, Fowler — not exactly giants are they?

Brian Hennessy
117 Posted 02/04/2015 at 16:23:34
Barkley will always give the ball away more than most for the simple reason that he tries to do the difficult/creative option. This was summed up in his cameo the other night for England, he was caught in possession in his own half on occasion and shortly afterwards he did that brilliant turn and run half the length of the pitch.

Players like McCarthy will not get caught out with the ball because they do the simple things 99% of the time.

What Barkley needs to learn is exactly when to be creative and when to do the simple thing. I agree that he also needs to do more work when we don't have the ball.

Barkley is incredibly talented in my opinion, much more so than Rodwell ever was or ever will be; he just needs good coaching – something I fear he will not get with RM.

Max Wilson
118 Posted 03/04/2015 at 10:10:16
So interesting to read this debate and I'm astonished that everyone appears to have missed the fundamental point – Barkley has been asked to make way for Naismith in his most favoured position and play out wide or deeper.

A loss of form or lack of commitment are both unfair accusations in these circumstances. We've heard Martinez covering himself by saying it's good for him to play in lots of positions. It hasn't been good for our results... has it?

Brian Hennessy
119 Posted 03/04/2015 at 15:41:56
Max @118, You make a very good point.

Barkley and Naismith should never be in the same team (presuming Lukaku is fit).

Trevor Lynes
120 Posted 05/04/2015 at 19:48:07
The lad hardly ever shoots except from distance and never gets close enough in the box to score tap-ins. Proper strikers are instinctive, eg, Defoe, Philips, Shearer, Lineker etc. None of these tackle back or work particularly hard.

We earn lots of money for finishing as high as we can which should add to our transfer budget. So far, Barkley does not score often enough for even an attacking midfielder. Fellaini scored plenty for us by creating mayhem and using his awkward but strong assets.

Every top striker misses goals and that is part of a striker's make up. But they shoot often and find space instinctively. Lukaku is strong, quite quick and will score goals. Mirallas is another who scores goals pretty regularly. Unfortunately the rest contribute far less apart from Naismith. Jagielka has out scored most of our midfielders.

I would have Barkley and Lukaku up front without defensive duties apart from at set pieces otherwise they run out of steam. The defence picks itself and I would try having one of the more creative players in either Barry or McCarthy's position to help to provide ammunition for Lukaku and Barkley. McCarthy or Barry with Osman or Pienaar. Lennon, Mirallas to play the flanks with Lukaku and Barkley up front. The bench would be: Robles, Naismith, Besic, Osman/Pienaar, Kone, Garbutt and Distin instead of Alcaraz.


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