Bournemouth Surrender Exposes Everton’s Lack of Leadership

Everton's young attacking side had been thrilling supporters in recent weeks but a lack of leadership and communication was exposed at Bournemouth in the 3-3 draw.

Matt Jones 29/11/2015 28comments  |  Jump to last

There’s nothing more uplifting than a late winner away from home. The contrasting emotions of each side, the wild celebrations of the players and for the supporters who have made the trip, some sweet vindication for all their time, effort and money invested.

Yet within these rare, magnificently anarchic moments, there’s often a composed figure. A player for the scoring side who remains assured, converses with his team-mates and realises, as is always the case with a goal like Ross Barkley’s for Everton at Bournemouth on Saturday, there will still be a spell to see out before the game is done.

Sadly, that presence was absent for the Toffees in the dying embers of a remarkable match at the Vitality Stadium, as the Cherries equalised what looked set to be a 95th minute winner. In truth, the dearth of any calming influence was evident long before Junior Stanislas levelled things up for the game hosts in the 98th minute; it’s been absent for a lot of this campaign too.

We’ve all rightly revered at the merits of this effervescent young outfit in recent weeks and as the team turned in a mature performance in the opening half on the south coast, it seemed set they were ready to make another key step in their development.

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Yet one of the obvious downsides to having such a green first XI revealed itself as the carnage unfolded during the second half of the 3-3 draw: a distinct lack of leaders.

It’s the first time team captain Phil Jagielka has been a notable absentee since his injury. While not the most boisterous of skippers, the centre-back is a strong organiser when Everton come under pressure. Without him and without the industry of James McCarthy protecting the back four in the final stages, a soft underbelly was ruthlessly exposed by the rampant hosts.

Missing the captain would be detrimental to any team in the division, but Everton need to find more leaders on the pitch who aren’t in possession of the armband. That much was unsettlingly evident at the Vitality Stadium, as Everton’s older statesmen, the men who should be fulfilling these duties, were engulfed by the mayhem.

Tim Howard was erratic, stand-in captain Gareth Barry gave away cheap free-kicks and Arouna Kone was profligate in possession. In addition, the manager, who was inexplicably naive in his game management in the second period, stood on and watched as Bournemouth grew in stature.

The likes of Barkley, John Stones and Romelu Lukaku will be chastened by this experience and should the Toffees score a similarly late goal in the weeks to come, be a little more savvy seeing out the win. Indeed, a leader could yet emerge from the talented crop in the months and years to come.

But if this team is to achieve anything this term, Everton need more generals in the ranks. There have been many times this campaign when the Toffees have descended into blind panic, with Barnsley, Manchester United, Arsenal, Sunderland and now Bournemouth all netting goals in quick succession in chaotic spells. They’re instances which reek of a lack direction and composure.

As the pressure from the Cherries grew in the second half, Everton needed someone to get a grip. Someone to take the sting out of the match, help address the obvious tactical flaws on the field and settle the side down despite a 95th minute “winner”. Howard, Barry and Kone, the three players over 30 in the starting XI, must do more in these precarious periods

So too must the manager. During his first campaign at Goodison Park, Martinez was marvellously proactive on the sidelines, altering the course of games with astute substitutions and shrewd systemic tweaks. Yet the manner in which he left an exhausted Kone marooned on the left flank was staggeringly inept, thus heaping more pressure on what was a creaking defence.

Last week I wrote this is a team which looks increasingly adept at coping with a variety of different challenges and the south coast surrender doesn’t alter the fact Everton are an enthralling young side. But there needs to be a shift in mentality and an injection of governance if they are to achieve anything in the immediacy.

Martinez must encourage this burgeoning group to be more vocal on the field to prevent these kinds of deteriorations occurring in games. It’s a step which may feel unnatural to some, who may not envisage themselves as communicators, but vital in their development if they are to evolve into the complete players so many anticipate.

With five players in yesterday’s starting XI 22 or younger, you have to accept there will be times when inexperience manifests and points are subsequently relinquished. But the senior players in this group must puff their chest out in the wake of this shambles, starting with the critical League Cup tie against Middlesbrough on Tuesday evening.

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Reader Comments (28)

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David Hallwood
1 Posted 29/11/2015 at 16:58:45
A well balanced, sober assessment of yesterday’s game, Matt, and I agree with you that Martinez stood and watched the second half in which we wasn’t closing down players or tackles flying in that he should’ve remedied the situation rather than hang on like grim death to the points hoping for one last breakaway to go 3-0 up.

Frustrating, but even more worryingly we’ve conceded 24 goals in all competitions this season and conceded the most headed goals, which points to a glaring problem with the defence and concentration levels. And sadly, Martinez has got 'previous' – as they say in cop programs.

David Greenwood
2 Posted 29/11/2015 at 17:18:17
A great report, Matt.

We lacked leadership on and off the pitch.


Pete North
3 Posted 29/11/2015 at 17:38:13
I sympathise with players like Coleman who can see the sloppiness and clearly voice their disapproval but they are up against a managerial philosophy which seems to assume that we are mostly in possession of the ball and the opposition isn't much cop when they get it anyway.
Patrick Murphy
4 Posted 29/11/2015 at 19:13:13
Wonderful West Ham have conceded 21 league goals, Electric Leicester City have conceded 21 goals, last season’s champions have conceded 23, Everton have let in 19 league goals. On the other side of the coin only Man City (30) and Leicester City (29) have scored more league goals than Everton. Of course we all want the best of both worlds where we have a red-hot forward line and a miserly defence.

I’ve always believed that this season was just a little too early for this particular group of players, at least as far as the league is concerned, due to their ages and relative lack of experience, but I would rather watch a team that scores goals than a team that regularly digs out single-goal victories.

Sometimes you get what you deserve in football and we probably ended up with a point more than our second-half showing deserved, the last minute shenanigans were made in the 45 minutes that had preceded them.

By not pushing on for a third goal, the team once again gave the initiative to the opponents; we cannot be European contenders with that mindset... we have to be looking to score at any given opportunity, no matter what the scoreline.

Hopefully the manager will instil some steel into his team and make them realise that they all have to do the dirty work and can’t afford to rely on one or two to do it. There is much to admire and be complimentary about but, as usual, there is quite a lot to berate the team for. Let’s hope they can show they have a ruthless, professional streak on Tuesday night, but it will probably be another nerve-shredding performance that will test our patience to the limit.

Andy Crooks
5 Posted 29/11/2015 at 19:54:01
Patrick, unfortunately this season simply cannot be too early for this group of players. Barring success, I fear this group will not be together next season. We need a coach who can get the very best from them, a coach who will be utterly inspirational.

We haven’t got one.

Tony Cheek
6 Posted 29/11/2015 at 22:05:00
Good post, Matt, and I was wondering the same myself. Where was the experienced head shouting "Concentrate, it's not over yet" after we got the third goal.

How could they get so much room on the left with only seconds left on the clock? What were we thinking? Easy... we were reading the bleeding headlines of tomorrow's papers, thinking about what to say at the post match interview... So amateur that it's hard to believe.

I would love to have heard Martinez half-time team talk. I mean, what really was the game plan against little Bournemouth when we came in with a two-goal lead at the break?

I accept that a lot of our players are young and still learning, but I do not accept that we can't put a game like this to bed. Martinez and crew need to grow up fast.

Dave Ganley
7 Posted 29/11/2015 at 22:27:50
Crucial game on Tuesday against Boro. A loss could destroy the fragile psyche of our young team. I understand that young players need to blossom but they are all professionals and they shouldn’t be continually going into a blind panic when the opposition score. There's a reason they are at this level and they need to start stepping up to the plate.

Martinez needs to step up to the plate too. I'm all for giving players a bit of leeway to try things and maybe make a mistake or two but he has to realise that sometimes there is no benefit to keeping players on the park who are struggling. He did that last season and he seems to be falling into the same trap again this season. Everybody occasionally has a bad/average game or the legs tire but most good managers recognise this and make a change.

Martinez is back to his stubborn best by keeping players on the park to the detriment of the team. It doesn't make them bad players if they are replaced but it does make Martinez a bad manager if he doesn't recognise the need for change. Martinez at times seems blinded by his need to justify including certain players in the team and shows that by ignoring performance by keeping them on the field. He shouldn't need to be learning and I shouldn't need to be hoping he learns his lessons.

As for leaders on the field, Barry, Howard, Coleman, Kone and to a lesser extent Stones and Barkley all need to be doing better. None are newcomers and all should be more vocal to each other when things go wrong. There's no point going into their shell because if they do then we are not going to achieve anything this season. Tuesday is vital to get back on track.

Paul Hewitt
8 Posted 29/11/2015 at 22:33:16
If we can't close a game out against Bournemouth with seconds to spare, we need to forget the top 4.
Dick Fearon
9 Posted 29/11/2015 at 22:38:25
I've said it many times before, our problem is too many needless passes. In the second half, the Cherries sussed out our frailties in dealing with high balls and began firing them in from deep at every opportunity. It was only a matter of time before we cracked.

In stating our lack of on-field leaders, Matt was absolutely correct. I differ where he says Jags is that type. It has been many a long year since we had a commanding captain.

It is even longer since we had a manager who could change the course of a game.


Jay Woods
10 Posted 29/11/2015 at 23:02:45
I was thinking the very same thing yesterday, namely, that while this seems like a very good side we have, there is a lack of mental toughness / bloody-mindedness in it.

The unbeaten Arsenal side back in the day (2003-04 season) had real leaders right through the team (Lehmann in goal, Viera in midfield and arguably Henry / Bergkamp in attack); by contrast, we seemingly don't have one player that seems capable of rallying the others.

John Keating
11 Posted 29/11/2015 at 23:05:32
We seem to be repeating issues that were mentioned during the beginning and end of Martinez’s first season. Last season, well, the less said the better.

So far this season, in my opinion, apart from Chelsea at home and Southampton away, many if not all the failings of the first two seasons are there. On paper and on form we have a team capable of beating anyone of the top 4 but unfortunately we can’t seem to do it.

We put ourselves in a horrendous situation against West Brom but got away with it and other games we have shown periods of good play followed by ineptitude. I personally just cannot see any really significant improvement under Martinez.

The Wiganisation of Everton continues...

Danny Broderick
12 Posted 29/11/2015 at 23:26:03
I fully agree. The team that finished the game seemed too nice for me. Barry and Coleman aside, there weren't many talkers out there. Hopefully the younger lads have learnt something about seeing the game out...
Eddie Dunn
13 Posted 29/11/2015 at 23:49:26
I was at Spurs recently with mates to watch the visit of Man City. City started well, and took an early lead. Spurs got into the game and once they had levelled, they were remorseless in their determination to put the game beyond City. 4-1 could have been 6- or 7-1, and guess what? They have lots of young players in the side; age just isn’t an excuse for me. They have some steel too, some right nasty buggers: Dier, Vertongan, Walker and Dembele.

Martinez had already seen several shots straight at Howard. Our flanks were already being breached, as Kone let down Galloway only for Funes Mori to intervene down our left.

The manager looked on grim faced even when we bossed the first half, and why he didn’t try to do something sooner, I’ll never know.

Fuck knows what goes on in his mind? His post match verbage was incomprehensible. Will we learn from all this? Without McCarthy on Tuesday will be interesting.
Frank McGregor
14 Posted 29/11/2015 at 23:51:44
Some time back, the rule of thumb was that every good team has a strong midfield to support the front players and protect the back three or four whatever the case maybe.

The second half yesterday had no midfield whatsoever, a problem that Martinez must have seen but did not correct early in the second half.

I really cannot blame the players, for it is the manager's job to substitute the players who are having a bad game.
Mark Andersson
15 Posted 29/11/2015 at 01:15:14
Great report, Matt. Personally I don’t think much will change from the manager's point of view. The players themselves have to take responsibility. The conundrum there is a player can’t sub himself, but they all can improve their own game.

The first half was great; I was amazed at the contrast in the 2nd half. I kept thinking, "Oh we will get on top sooner or later." But we have to give credit to Borough, they fought like their lives depended on it.

Barkley seemed to be trotting from box to box in a daze, the only time he upped his tempo was to run to the fans after scoring a goal.

We know what happened next. You just knew as soon as they kicked off they would go for broke. It paid off; good on them and shame on us for coming out in the 2nd half with the wrong attitude.

Martinez failed in this one but unlike others who want him sacked every time we have a bad game, I know he ain’t going nowhere; he is building a good young team, if he can keep hold of them.

James Flynn
16 Posted 30/11/2015 at 01:31:58
Is this still a wonder?

Neville and Cahill seen their time. They're two nasty fuckers we haven't replaced, though. None like them will be signed under our manager.

Best we keep in mind that everything AROUND Roberto is ABOUT Roberto.

Been obvious.

Jim Hardin
17 Posted 30/11/2015 at 02:04:36
Everton had a leader up until this season and Roberto took him out of the picture. Yes, Distin. Bournemouth had a leader or several in the game including, yes, Distin. Roberto wants to be the leader from the technical area.

He doesn’t want anyone barking out orders which may go against his style of play and certainly no leader on the pitch to point out his style isn’t working.

It sure does seem that we miss Distin at the back and Fellaini knocking people around up the pitch.
Peter Barry
18 Posted 30/11/2015 at 03:29:14
The buck for this DEBACLE stops firmly on the Manager's desk.
Jim Bennings
19 Posted 30/11/2015 at 08:09:28
Lack of leadership..

Lack of big characters and big voices!

Very likely the main reason why we haven’t won a trophy and we have bottled too many big matches over the last 20 years since the 1995 Cup winning side, a more limited bunch ability-wise but pack to the rafters with big characters and in Joe Royle, managed by one too!

Very likely the reason why, yet again, we will let ourselves down again this season. Ability-wise, great, yes... but it’s what can you do when you have NOT got the ball that matters just as much, and we simply don’t make it hard enough for opponents to score against us.

Trevor Peers
20 Posted 30/11/2015 at 08:40:44
Roberto isn’t a great leader; whatever qualities he does possess, leadership isn’t one of them. He has signed some decent players and there has been an improvement from last season.

A couple of high scoring wins, against poor opposition, have led to a rush of false expectations for the rest of the season. He’s doing a reasonable job, but expecting more than a mid-table finish is unrealistic with him in charge. BK will be quite happy with his record as manager I would imagine.

There are definitely lots more technically astute and gifted managers out there, but no desire by the club to recruit one of them, no matter how disgruntled the fans may become.

Rick Tarleton
21 Posted 30/11/2015 at 10:26:25
When you go two up away from home, you have to be able to close games down. When you fail to do this, you leave yourself exposed to the passion of a home crowd baying for another attack. Good teams can park the bus, concede possession in non-threatening areas and comfortably hold out.

To concede two and then score in injury time and still concede another is naive and suggests exactly what Matt Jones says: a lack of leadership. It’s not a lack of experience: Howard and Barry are veterans and McCarthy, Coleman and Kone are obviously experienced.

Colin Glassar
22 Posted 30/11/2015 at 10:38:47
Wrote about this on another thread. Where were Howard and Barry in the 2nd half? These are the big characters Martinez always goes on about (Kone, apparently, is a very quiet guy) so why weren’t they screaming at people to wake up in the 2nd half?

Yes, Seamus, Macca and Kone are experienced but they are all quiet lads. We need someone with a gob like a fucking fog horn on the pitch.

Brian Harrison
23 Posted 30/11/2015 at 10:59:02
We have now conceded 2 or more goals in 8 of our 17 league and cup games this season, so something needs fixing. To lose a game when leading by 2 is really disappointing.

Although RM did say last year when leading Arsenal by 2 goals with 8 minutes left and only drew that a 2-0 lead was a dangerous score. So next time we are leading by 2 goals... be very afraid.

Patrick Murphy
24 Posted 30/11/2015 at 11:22:45
Have some of you guys met up with the manager on a one-to-one basis? Do you have inside knowledge of his character traits through a third party? I just can't see how anyone can judge another person's character be it for good or ill without at least meeting the person. But obviously we must have some qualified psychiatrists or body-language experts who visit this site on a regular basis.

Criticise the man for what he does with the team on the pitch by all means but character assassination without evidence doesn't sit well with me, but perhaps I am alone in that.

Terry White
25 Posted 30/11/2015 at 15:22:20
Mark Anderson, #15, were we playing Borough? Other than that I agree with your assessment and hope we do not have a similar meltdown when we play the real 'Borough tomorrow.
Dick Fearon
26 Posted 30/11/2015 at 20:57:32
My problem with Roberto’s touchline management is his lack of emotional involvement. From fans to players no-one is there for a lecture on table etiquette. I do not want Roberto to jump around his technical area like a Martin O’Neil or Clippety but a the occasional show of passion would not go amiss.

We have the best young players I have seen for many a long year. Having sweated and dreamed of a Premier League career they are now living that dream. There is nothing wrong in a manager who displaying the same emotional involvement as his players. O’Neill and Klopp are as ready to console a young player who makes a mistake as they are to praise him for a good move. Roberto does neither.
Ajay Gopal
27 Posted 02/12/2015 at 14:37:39
I have slagged off David Moyes many times (and I am happier now that Roberto is our manager than DM), but I do appreciate why Moyes got Neville in as player and captain from Man Utd. Neville was the respected senior pro on the field who had won titles and cups before, so the entire team looked up to him and it was also partly down to knowing that Neville was not going away anywhere soon. Unfortunately, at this stage, we do not have that kind of player. Barry could and should have been that person, but this team has far too many young star players who care little about the reputation of the senior players.

Having said that, we were essentially a man down when we had Neville – due to his generally poor footballing ability. Sure, we could hang on to 1-0 leads and keep the big boys down to the occasional 0-0 draws, but come on, the football that we see now is far more exciting than those days. We will have days when we have last-minute heartbreakers like we did (who doesn’t?) but this team is growing and learning, as is Roberto. I continue to keep faith and believe in this team and this manager.
William Cartwright
28 Posted 05/12/2015 at 04:33:44
With Jags playing, there would have been less chance of conceding the late, late, and even later goal. However, that’s football. Just imagine how great we would have felt if the roles were reversed.

Time to put it behind us and look to the future and support the team. COYB.

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