It's time for Everton to sensibly reintegrate John Stones back into the starting XI

If the 21-year-old can recapture the form that made him the most sought-after young defender in the country, he could improve Martinez's struggling team.

Matt Jones 22/03/2016 129comments  |  Jump to last

After another meek effort against Arsenal, it's tough to think of salient points to make about this team which haven't been stressed already, very eloquently on this website or further afield.

So instead of forcing myself to delve through the minutiae of a truly moribund performance and again cast aspersions over a manager who is beginning to lose more and more support from a disgruntled fanbase, I thought it'd be better to try and find some factors which could potential catalyse the recovery process.

One tweak which could assist Everton for the better at this juncture is a shift in defensive personnel; it's time for John Stones to come back into this team.

Of course, the latest impressions of the young defender are not positive ones, as he toiled as part of a back three once again against Arsenal in the second half on Saturday.

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The 21-year-old has clearly lost confidence in recent weeks, struggling to recapture the swagger and steel which he blended so well in his first two seasons at the club. He was dropped, injured and has had to watch on from the sidelines lately, with Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka doing an overall decent job at the base of the side.

But in the wake of the loss to the Gunners, where Everton were bereft of composure at the back – an issue amplified by the absence of the assured Gareth Barry – and the Argentina international was again culpable in the build up to both goals conceded, it was tough to imagine Stones' presence not making a positive impact in various aspects.

It was right for the youngster to come out of the side when he did. Errors against Leicester City, Swansea City and a few reckless challenges were indicative of a player whose focus seemed skewed. Questions were raised about his willingness to still be at the club following the summer transfer wrangle with Chelsea.

Watching on from the dugout will have likely done him good lately and there have been clear signs that Roberto Martinez is fighting off a reflex to get his prized asset back in the side in Everton's recent contests.

Now, with the Toffees' defensive woes rearing their head again, would be the right time to reintegrate him fully. But it's imperative it's done correctly.

The manager has done little to help the youngster's return since he was dropped from the side. At Aston Villa he was deployed in a hybrid full-back-centre-back position, while against West Ham United he was part of a back three, a system Everton were using for the first time in 2015-16, and pushed to right-back following Kevin Mirallas' red card.

Then in his latest cameo from the bench'being introduced at half-time against Arsenal'Stones again made up a back three, although the set-up in front of him was without any structure whatsoever. His frail mindset was exposed.

It's reminiscent of a similar situation involving Ross Barkley last season. The midfielder had been injured, been out of the side and as Martinez sought to strike up some form in the England international, he played him wide on the right, wide on the left and in a deeper role; such positional inconsistency was not conducive to his revival.

That "positional consistency" is something Stones needs too. Everton have been at their finest under Martinez with the ball-playing defender next to Phil Jagielka in the centre of a back four. And while Funes Mori has done a decent job in his debut term in English football, Stones has the edge on him in a lot facets of defending.

It's been forgotten that this is a young man who is an exceptional player, one supporters were swooning about as early November, when Stones turned in a Man of the Match display at West Ham. His assuredness in possession, reading of the game and telescopic legs were an aesthetic joy; those qualities don't just disintegrate.

It's a revisionism which can hopefully be reversed between now and the end of the season. "I thought when he came out he looked refreshed, he looked full of energy, like the player he looked like at the start of the season," Martinez said in the wake of the defeat to Arsenal, suggesting a return for the youngster could be on his mind.

The manager has a critical role to play if he does opt for the 21-year-old in Everton's next clash too. He needs to ensure Stones' cavalier traits are tempered, that he has ample protection in the side and, as aforementioned, facilitates an environment in which the centre-back can gradually showcase the levels which prompted the Toffees to turn down '40 million for him this summer.

Should Stones return at his pomp it won't solve the multitude of issues which are gripping this team at the moment. But with some key games still to come this season, there's little doubt that this is a side that would be richly improved with the youngster in the XI and performing well again. Hopefully he'll be handed the chance to showcase a timely reminder of his undeniable class.

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Reader Comments (129)

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Helen Mallon
1 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:05:43
All this side need to do is defend from the front from the first whistle. Football is not rocket science it's easy. Once that has been achieved stop the full backs being cavalier and the wins will come
Keith Monaghan
2 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:18:06
All our current on-the-field problems will not be solved by getting John Stones back in the side; however, I fully agree that he does need to be re-integrated asap. He should be played in his best position, right-sided centre back.

People rightly criticised Funes Mori on Saturday, but he was a long way from the sole cause of our defeat.As good as a defender as Jags may be, he has not played well since returning from injury last season, and his distribution has always been shocking.

John Stones should be a big part of our future – and should be paired short-term with Funes Mori – Jags is also not a left-sided defender. John’s lack of confidence has been partly caused by the crowd – we must not drive this great talent out of our club.

Our defence has been blamed, unfairly IMO, for a lot of our troubles this season – people need to take a close look at the midfield, particularly the lack of effort and contribution from McCarthy and Barkley. The latter is very talented, but lazy and non-existent defensively. I don’t expect him to be making great tackles, but he could get tight etc to opponents when we don’t have the ball. McCarthy, in spite of his great first season with us, is at best a mediocre Championship player.

All top teams attack & DEFEND AS A TEAM – we do the attacking bit, but not the defending.

Liam Reilly
3 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:22:47
It’s not the personnel, it’s our shape when attacking at Goodison that is our Achilles heal. The fullbacks push too far forwards when we have the ball and when a team sits and condenses the space and the ball is lost a a quick counter has our center backs seriously exposed.

This is the same reason we are better equipped away from home, because the onus is more on the home side to push forwards and that leaves space for our front 3 or 4.

Steavey Buckley
4 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:24:01
The problem with Stones: who do you drop from the starting 11? Jagielka or Funes Mori?

You might say Funes Mori, but both Stones and Jagielka are right-footed and it is more easier to be caught out when defending on the wrong side.

Then there is a case for 3 at the back, but Everton have not adopted this permutation on a regular basis, even under Moyes as manager.

Eugene Ruane
5 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:29:13
’And while Funes Mori has done a decent job in his debut term in English football, Stones has the edge on him in a lot facets of defending’ -

Well maybe, but deffo subjective.

If it’s fair to say Stones has the edge in ’a lot of facets of defending’, it’s fair to say Funes Mori has the edge in a lot of other facets of defending (the not creating fucking panic facet for one).

My own opinion is that a bigger (defensive) problem is (or has been) the performances of Baines and Coleman.

I’m a big fan of both as players and fellers, but their recent form and concentration has been all over the show.

In my (current, long) list of defensive concerns, Funes Mori’s performances are nowhere near top.

If it’s close, I’d probably go with the Seinfeld look-alike until the end of the season, if only because he looks like there’s more chance of him getting a couple of goals for us.

Iain Love
6 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:31:08
Stones was dropped after poor displays. Funes Mori had a 'mare against Arsenal so drop him and tell Stones not to have a 'mare or you're dropped. Simple really.

Helen, there are certain aspects of football which are simple ie, above, but "defend from the front" – can you explain that statement?

Jack Mason
7 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:33:38
I personally I don’t think Stones was or ever has been the problem. In my opinion it’s the system implemented that’s the problem and the emphasis on defenders to play out from the back in any situation. By all means bring him back, I don’t believe results would upswing on one player though.

Either the players can’t grasp/deliver what their manager is instructing them do or it just doesn’t work. Stones, Jagielka, Coleman and Baines didn’t become bad players over night. We’ve all witnessed them perform consistently over a period of time. I’m still waiting on the "philosophy" to do the same.

Les Netherwood
8 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:37:17
The defensive problems are mainly around Jagielka, but nobody ever blames him. He is hopeless at corners and set pieces and is always easily beaten in the air by everybody and a liability in the penalty area.

The first goal on Saturday... Jagielka moved towards Welbeck and then stopped allowing the centre-forward to move past him and score. On numerous occasions, pictures in the papers show Jags watching from a few yards away as someone scores against us. Remember in the World Cup as Suarez scored twice with Jags a couple of yards away watching as usual?

Stones will not solve the problem either because the idiot manager wants him to play out of the box, and he likes to showboat on the goal line. There is too much slow passing at the back... sideways... backwards etc. It will not change until Martinez is gone... and it will need BK to go before that happens.

I think the FA Cup will be lost as well – there is no resolve among the players... I hope I am wrong.

Eugene Ruane
9 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:44:49
Iain (6) - 'Helen, there are certain aspects of football which are simple ie, above, but "defend from the front" – can you explain that statement?'

Really, you've never heard that and/or need it explaining?

I think I can help.

See if you can get a copy of our defeat from last Saturday, watch what Arsenal do when they haven't got the ball, then you'll know exactly what it means.

Or watch what Lennon does when the opposition are in possession (then watch what Lukaku and Barkley don't do).

Craig Walker
10 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:45:17
Stones takes too many chances. We need a defender first and foremost, not the next Beckenbauer. I say sell him to the highest bidder whilst his stock is relatively high.

I agree with Eugene. I think Baines looks nowhere near the player he was. Coleman is not the same threat going forward as he was a few seasons’ back and is struggling defensively.

What annoys me is when you see our games on television and the commentators/pundits go on about Coleman’s marauding runs and Baines’ set-piece delivery. Have they watched an Everton game in the last 2 years? Coleman goes up to his defender, makes no headway and turns back. Baines hits the first man 9 times out of 10.

The current Everton team reminds me of Brazil. When the Brazilians last won the World Cup, it was based on Cafu and Roberto Carlos bombing forward. This created width. They had enough attacking flair to win games and were fairly solid at the back with a holding midfield player in Gilberto.

At the last World Cup, they had fullbacks who couldn’t attack and critically, couldn’t defend. They had no width and no pace, lots of sideways possession and constantly trying to go through the middle, a dodgy goalkeeper, a dodgy centre-half in Luiz and only one player who could get them goals. They got hammered on home turf, despite being fancied.

Jay Harris
11 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:58:05
WE have international defenders and MF players who have no problem at international level and under DM we had the third best back 4 statistically in the premiership.

There is only one man to blame and it isn't John Stones, Jags, Bainesy or Seamus.. The system we play is suicidal and history bears that out. Martinez has a record of shipping goals.

If you only play with 2 MF players (the others are all forwards) and you push your full backs over the halfway line of course you are going to ship goals. The confusion on the pitch is obvious for all to see.

There is no sense of purpose for Everton except to keep the ball. In a lot of games we don't even trouble the opposition keeper in 90 minutes. If we get rid of this charlatan we will see how good some of these players are.

Patrick Murphy
12 Posted 22/03/2016 at 17:58:37
Jack (7) Roberto insists that his defenders are creative rather than destructive and as you say this leads to inconsistency of performance, only Jags – because he isn’t capable of much else – is a stopper in the true sense of the word, but even he finds himself pulled out of position more often than not, because one of the other defenders has gone awol further up the pitch.

Conversely, Roberto wants his forward players to concentrate on things higher up the pitch and they either don’t feel the need to defend or are unwilling to help out.

Add to all of that Roberto’s insistence that his full-backs are to be the supply line and you have a recipe for what we have seen for the last two seasons, no individual responsibility, no collective responsibility and a mish-mash of performances from mostly seasoned professionals.

What it is, that Roberto sees in his style of play, which somehow works away from Goodison albeit only slightly better is a mystery to me and many others.

Anything that undermines any player’s confidence has to be avoided if we want to win games more often, however, our manager seems to have different ideas. Let’s hope the man can see sense before his contract expires in three years time!

Peter Fitzpatrick
13 Posted 22/03/2016 at 18:20:53
I wouldn’t mind seeing them using the 3-4-3 that they started with against West Ham again. They’re not as likely to get caught on the counter playing with three centre backs, and the three up top means there is natural width on both wings meaning we are not over-reliant on Baines and Coleman pushing forward.

It would be dependant on whether Mirallas would be brought back in, and we wouldn’t have to see a centre mid playing on the left. I think this would be a way of getting all our best players playing in positions that suits them.

Jim Bailey
14 Posted 22/03/2016 at 18:27:50
Pat (#12).

Let’s hope that Moshiri sees sense either now or at the end of the season and gets shut of Martinez, 3 more years of this???

Colin Glassar
15 Posted 22/03/2016 at 18:51:30
Jags has played for us and England on the left side so it would have to be Funes Mori who makes way. The lad has done brilliant since he came into the side but his passing, and decision making, still need some work.

If John is to leave in the summer, it’s in everyone’s interest to put him in the shop window.

Jay Wood
16 Posted 22/03/2016 at 18:56:16
Apart from the less than catchy title Matt ;-), a good post.

There are systemic reasons as to why we are losing out and conceding so badly at GP, epitomized if you like, by the Gooner’s 2nd goal on Saturday.

Freeze frame the action when Funes Mori and Besic contrive between them to meekly lose the ball, deep in the Arsenal half. Near the ’D’ of the Arse penalty area are Lukaku (fair enough) and incredibly, the closest most advanced players almost alongside him are Cleverley and McCarthy. Seamus Coleman the next most advanced player, is almost at the corner of the Arse penalty area on our right.

When the Arse win the ball (taking Besic and Funes Mori out of the game) there are 3 Everton players in a line across the park, 10 metres in front of the centre circle in the visitor’s half. Baines left, Ross central, Lennon right. There are NINE Everton players squeezed into the 20 metres to the edge of the Arse area.

When the Arse turn over the ball, a simple lofted ball wide right into our half reveals Jags in the centre and Robles in goal as the only players in our half when the Arse break with 3 players. Jags is mindful of two players, one centre, one left, running at him, and leaves the goalscorer to Funes Mori who has made great strides to get back, but is blowing out of his arse as Iwobi slots it past Robles.

Seamus gets back into the penalty area, only after the goal is scored. Baines never made any effort to seriously track back.

It is on record from the man himself that Roberto Martinez ’studies every goal Everton concedes in detail’ to get to the root cause of the problem, with the intention of ensuring any error is not carelessly repeated.

I’m guessing that he has such a backlog and ’wealth’ of material to study from this season that he hasn’t got round to identify the root cause of our defensive woes.

It is this, Roberto: the template of how you set up and instruct the team is flawed, as demonstrated above. When the ball is turned over to the opposition, no matter where on the pitch, our shape and ’default’ positions of our players is shambolic and immediately exposes our (denuded) back line.

With full backs pushed on and our centre backs exposed, I feel sorry for the latter when – as was the case with Funes Mori and the FIRST Arsenal goal – the midfielders (in this case, Barkley and Besic) are statuesque, the full back (Baines) is also out of position and the centre back reacts to close off the danger, which is easily picked off by a side as slick as Arsenal.

John Stones’ injury gave RM the excuse to remove him from the side. Jags and Funes Mori initially did well, but since the Villa match when the young Argentinian had a monster game, he has looked dodgy. It is now his turn to be taking out of the firing line.

I fully expect Stones to get the nod over him in our next game and I hope Stones can recapture the outstanding form he has shown for the overwhelming majority of his career.

Andy King
17 Posted 22/03/2016 at 18:56:57
From what El Bob has been saying recently, I reckon Funes Mori might be conveniently 'tired' after all his travelling during the international break.
Ray Robinson
18 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:05:22
Why should he be re-integrated other than he deserves to be? Funes Mori had a poor game on Saturday and so there is an argument for bringing him back but, in my opinion, Martinez has been bending over backwards to accommodate him – to the point that it got in the way of his proper decision-making. Bringing him on against Villa and at the weekend (why?). I’m still not convinced that he’s an out-and-out better defender than Funes Mori, although from a footballing ability point of view he’s streets ahead.

Of course, re-integrating him might give the club chance to enhance his value when they sell him but that’s a non-footballing decision.

Andy Walker
19 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:07:33
I very much suspect that the emphasis in training for our defenders is very different than it was under David Moyes. Under the latter, I bet defenders concentrated on how to defend and getting used to different systems, whilst under Martinez I suspect the main emphasis is how to play the ball out of defence and set up attacks so there's no need for a defensive coach.

At the end of the day they are defenders and I think they will be lacking in confidence if they don't believe they are practising defensive duties enough in training. We all know that if we practice we get better at stuff, but just as importantly we also know we are better because we've practiced. The confidence that practice provides can't be understated.

The thoroughly misguided views of our casino manager have been there for all to see throughout his years at Wigan and now at our great club. He's transferred those views to our players and it is clearly now having a massive impact on their defensive abilities and mentality. Can't wait 'till he's gone, at least I can stop typing the same stuff as I have been since July 13. On the plus side at least my view is now that of the majority, so I don't have to put up with some of the disrespectful shite I had to in 2013 from posters who've now disappeared (in the main). This last bit is more a cathartic indulgence on my part, apologies.

Darren Hind
20 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:07:58
"Stones takes too many chances" ... probably, but Funes Mori doesn't take any and he still manage to be at fault for all five of the goals scored by Arsenal and West Ham.

There are things to like about Funes Mori, eye-catching with his slide tackles, brave and committed when we have ten men working hard in front of him, but he has been exposed when he has been up against it. He can be pulled all over the place and has a really bad habit of getting himself under high balls. He will be out of the team as soon as a decent manager comes along.

I couldn’t agree more with this article.

Dan Davies
21 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:09:40
It’s not down to the individuals; collectively they're seemingly just not well coached defensively. Under Martinez, it’s horses for courses – it doesn’t matter who plays at the moment, they're struggling because they're not drilled enough. Or am I wrong?

Funes Mori getting the finger pointed at him this time; next game, it will be someone else! Phenomenal!

Colin Glassar
22 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:10:23
Ray, his face and body language on Saturday were clear indicators that he's not happy (once again he had to do the 'calm down' gesture). If this is the case then tell him to give it his all until the end of the season and we can part ways amicably.
John Keating
23 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:24:59
I would like to see us play a simple 4-4-2

Lennon in front of Coleman and Baines in front of Oviedo/Galloway

Let the 4 defenders hold back and allow Baines and Lennon to support the attack and defence when needed.

Cleverley is out of position wide left and as Saturday showed we are imbalanced and prone to break aways when the full backs are up front.

Lukaku needs support and holding the ball up until runners i.e. Barkley arrives, is still an issue with him. We really need Lukaku running on to balls rather than back to goal.

We have to try something because the way Martinez is lining up is not working.

Les Martin
24 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:29:29
Craig (#10),

Best bit of reasoning I have seen posted on here for a while, regarding any subject! Also, the analysis of Brazil’s failings in the World Cup was spot on, demonstrating the need to have certain players to serve certain roles to ensure success.

The analogy to Everton proves we are trying to do what our personnel are just not capable of. Stones of course has ability in quick feet, but can he really defend and have that canny nous at his young age? I am not sure that he can be fully trusted just yet, but without games, how does he develop?

Denis Richardson
25 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:43:16
Have to disagree sorry. Bringing Stones back will make fuck-all difference on its own. Even with Jags and Stones in the middle, we were leaking goals (this season and last).

Not sure what to do with him now but his confidence is certainly shot so not sure now is the best time to bring him back. Certainly not for a home match anyway.

Phil Walling
26 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:46:13
Certainly, if Everton hope to get anything like £30M for Stones this summer, he will have to be reintegrated into the side pretty sharpish. Top clubs don’t pay that sort of money for reserve defenders!

And, when he comes back – as he surely will after FM's poor most recent league performances, he will have to hit the ground running. He needs to be the John Stones who created such a stir last season rather than the over-confident and sloppy defender we saw constantly before his omission.

Ray Robinson
27 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:53:24
Colin (#15). I thought that I was imagining the hang dog facial expression last Saturday but there was one incident when he simply wellied a clearance aimlessly towards the Park End that certainly made me think. I never saw him gesture towards us though. Did he?

I like Stones, just think that he has a lot to learn yet. I don’t think he’s a good man marker (he tends to watch the ball and then try to intercept) and he isn’t brilliant in the air (can’t jockey the forward like Jagielka does) but somewhere in there is a very, very good player.

Ever get the impression that he might do better overseas? I always got that impression with Osman too. Perhaps the Premier League is too hurly burly for some players who are good on the ball.

Oliver Molloy
28 Posted 22/03/2016 at 19:59:31
John @ 23

I would also like to see Baines play left midfield if only to put me out of misery if it would work or not.

Ian Bennett
29 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:02:11
Jay (#11) – bang on. We don’t seem bothered in making the other side work for goals. Moyes was too negative, and this fella is to naive.

Our defence has been bad going back to pre season of the second Bobby season. Chelsea told you everything that was rotten from the preseason 18 months ago! Padderborn, Celto Vigo and Tranmere pointed to the return of the Wigan days – clueless.

Eugene Ruane
30 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:02:53
John (23) - 4-4-2 is fine with me too (worked well enough for Leicester), but our problem isn’t formation (or sticking plasters like ’bring on Deulofeu earlier ffs!’) it’s mental fragility combined with a big helping of dumb.

As long as our present players continue to switch off and as long as there is a general lack of ’intelligence’ (guile, decision-making, leadership etc) you can play any formation you want and nothing will change.

For real change, it seems (to me) we’ll need a new manager in the ’technical’ (ie: shouty) area and some new (playing) blood – new blood that will add brains, physical strength/presence and the ability to intimidate and lead.

We have very little of those qualities at the moment – other teams know it and are exploiting it.

Colin Glassar
31 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:05:21
Yeah, he definitely made the same gesture Ray. I guess the lad has total self-belief and doesn’t know why the crowd gets so antsy so it’s just his way of saying, "Don’t panic. I’ve got it under control".

He’s a pro and he’ll do his best until the end of the season but I think he’s made up his mind already.

Eddie Dunn
32 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:12:40
Some interesting comments above. I think we need balance and as Funes Mori is left-footed, he should keep his place. The lad isn’t the finished article yet, but he has done a good job. Jags has been exposed when on the left, for us and for England. So I would leave Stones on the bench until someone gets a knock and he will have his chance again.

One of our problems is that Baines and Coleman used to be dangerous getting down the wings, but now Seamus has Lennon (or previously Deulofeu) in front of him, and he runs into the space already occupied.

We are sadly predictable with Rom our only danger man, and with Mirallas out of action, it leaves only Lennon or Barkley to provide a spark of creativity. Barkley is often too deep to make an impact and the rest of our midfield seem incapable of hitting a defence-splitting pass. Cleverly may be capable, but he is often used as a left-winger which is not his best position.

We are constantly opened up when the full backs are caught over the halfway line. Our holding mids are often too slow to cut out the threat and our defenders are exposed. Funes Mori lacks pace, Jags is getting on, Oviedo was done for pace against West Ham, so we don’t get out of jail like we could with Jags in his pomp, with Distin alongside him.

I watch Spurs with Walker & Rose making runs on the flanks, Alli pushing through the middle, and Kane willing to go wide when needed. Their defence is well rehearsed and they have Dier in front of them destroying all in his path. Like Leicester, they work hard off the ball, closing down space from front to back.

We do not.

Tony Hill
33 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:19:29
Eugene is right, the damage is now too deep. We are disorganised and soft, unless we change radically we will just carry on doing the same things wrong. What formula is RM going to discover after 3 years that he hasn't discovered before?

It's all there staring us in the face. It has been for 15 months at least.

John Keating
34 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:19:59
Agree Eugene

There are so many issues with the Club and team in general.

Over the last 2 seasons we have given so many late goals away. I believe a lot of that is due to us being totally unfit physically and mentally. Come the 70th minute most of the players are knackered. The game becomes so open it’s a disgrace. Tiredness hits, mentally they switch off and... well we know the outcome.

The first thing the new manager needs to do apart from get these wasters fit, practise defending and dead ball situations, and... and... and... and... is get someone in that’s maybe not the best footballer but is the world's biggest nark and is quite happy to kick his own players as well as the opposition! (Preferably 3-4 narks...)

Armando Canaj
35 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:26:02
Easy. Sell him to the highest bidder. A luxury we can’t afford. We need proven players to get us up the league not players who need to be developed over the years.

His head has been turned. Looked like it against Arsenal, as also stated by Mr Buckley.

Deal him to the highest bidder. We can brag in a few years that we made him what he is, if he ever does change into a Swan...

Tony Abrahams
36 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:30:22
I think that is Leighton Baines's biggest problem, in most games. He's a left back with no cover infront of him. Fucked, basically, because he doesn't get much support, in either defence or attack.
Ken Buckley
37 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:32:41
I don't think it will make much difference which players he brings back or what system he plays until our present manager changes his mind set.

To date he has managed to rile home matchgoers to fuming point indeed it could be said he has lost a significant number of the fans. It's one thing blaming the fans for our home form but surely he must realise that they are only reacting to what they see being offered up out there on the pitch.

He needs to get the fans back on board it may not yet be to late but he will need him and his players to be as one and putting real shifts in and be playing to a system that plays to their strengths rather than some game and system that only exists in his head.

I am not one for advocating getting rid of managers at every downturn but my hope is that come end of season the board look at our progress after three seasons of his stewardship, the relationship between manager players and fans and make a decision on our next move.

Surely we cant keep on sending fans home fuming as eventually many may not come back.


Patrick Murphy
38 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:36:23
Ken (37) Exactly right sir, if the manager doesn't care what the fans think, they'll eventually stop going until he has gone.
Jack Mason
39 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:46:40
The reason, we are all repeating ourselves over and over. Is basically down to watching the same thing happen over and over again. And it's not just this forum either. Even ex-players and journalists are repeating it. Are we all dumb? Most on here, have played at some level, been watching the team for all their lives. (over four decades now in my case).

We all know, that Stones has potential to be a brilliant defender. We've seen enough of them over the duration in our lives play at Goodison. I don't even have to name them, we all know who they are. Will Stones become one of those legends here. I don't think so, unfortunately it looks like it'll be elsewhere.

Primarily because and his record shows this for all to see. Martinez simply doesn't know or refuses to defend. And Stones in my opinion has gone backwards as a defender under his coaching. Our entire back line has gone backwards under his coaching. It won't change because he fundamentally believes a defensive performance is "parasitic". Like Catterick, give me a 1-0 any day over a 5-4 entertaining game. But that's not how Martinez sets his teams up. He doesn't mind that, his teams actively encourage that type of scoreline. And we're back to the same point being repeated over and over again.

Kenn Crawford
40 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:47:24
I do not think putting Stones back in will change anything... in fact, it might do his confidence more harm – because the fact of the matter is we are just very poor at defending – and our manager's past record is more than enough proof of who is to blame for this problem.
Phil Walling
41 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:53:59
Who is 'the new manager' who has all these things to address then, John? Do you know something we don't?
Nick Armitage
42 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:57:03
Nothing changes until Martinez is sacked. Stones will never be the player he is capable of becoming with Martinez in charge.
Darryl Ritchie
43 Posted 22/03/2016 at 20:59:34
Stones, Jags and Funes Mori are quality players, but the difference in the back four, between Moyes and Martinez, is a fit and in form Distin. Jageilka is geting a little long in the tooth, and while Stones and Funes Mori may develop into CBs of that quality, but they're not there yet. Time will tell.
John Keating
44 Posted 22/03/2016 at 21:05:39
Anyone could be the new manager.

Hibbos dog. The barmaid from the local.
Absolutely anyone could do better than the clown we have at present

Joe Clitherow
45 Posted 22/03/2016 at 22:18:08
The ’problem’ with John Stones is not that he is a poor defender or that his talent is overstated or his attitude is poor or anything else that gets mentioned on a regular basis. The ’problem’ with both John and Ross is that the weaknesses in their games are not being addressed or corrected by coaching which I thought was the whole effing point of a coach, ie, to cast a critical eye over the things they are not so good at and correct them – based on more experience and passing on wisdom, and practice, practice, practice.

The fact that our current regime seem neither to have the ability to turn weaknesses into strengths through training and improve both of them overall as players, and instead just massage their egos for the things they *naturally* do well seems glaringly apparent to me.

And it is a crying fucking shame.

In the case of Stones particularly I think someone will buy him and coach his potential into a world class defender, because he really isn’t now, but that will not materialise at Everton under Martinez, Jones and particularly the total waste of space "defensive coach" Mr Dennis Lawrence.

Like I said, a crying fucking shame.

Tom Bowers
46 Posted 22/03/2016 at 22:31:35
Like some others I am not sure Stones is going make the defensive side of things any better just yet as the failings were there even when he was a regular. There's no doubting his talent or that of Jags and Funes Mori but I do believe Bainsey is getting past his best at defending but in all honesty his forte was attacking.

In other areas, Barkley is poor at defending and Cleverley is a little slow in closing down although he works hard. What happened against the Gunners was a total meltdown, worse than any other game this season, even allowing for the quality of the opposition. That told me that RM has not been able to influence this team at all and has wallowed all week long in the late heroics of Rom since the Chelski game.

After 3 seasons in charge, the team has not progressed one iota, so how many will the board give him?

Barry Jones
47 Posted 22/03/2016 at 23:06:23
I would bring Stones back but he needs someone else to play alongside....and not Jagielka or Funes Mori. We need a centre-back with pace, power and aerial ability. Jags and Funes Mori don’t tick enough boxes.

Virgil Van Dijk has looked real quality this season. A player like him alongside Stones would be ideal. Then get a new Goalkeeper.

Ray Robinson
48 Posted 22/03/2016 at 23:27:59
Barry (#47). Wasn’t Jags clocked as the quickest defender in some recent stats?
James Marshall
49 Posted 22/03/2016 at 23:30:08
Ray, I think that was either last season or pre Christmas this – and I have a feeling he was clocked as the fastest player in the Premier League at that point. I could be wrong as my memory is failing me in my old age!
John Malone
50 Posted 22/03/2016 at 23:55:37
John Stones is good going forward with the ball and that is it!

At the moment he is not strong enough physically, not strong enough in the air and not good enough with his decision making he has cost us points all season where as Funes Mori has mostly been good at the back and scored goals at the other end!

No-brainier for me: Stones is too much of a liability, Funes Mori gets another start to make up for the Arsenal disaster!

Anthony Dwyer
51 Posted 22/03/2016 at 23:55:43
I agree it’s time we found a way of playing Stones before he grows tired of waiting, and decides to jump ship.

Jags and Funes Mori look okay together, but Stones has the potential to be truly world class.

I really find it annoying when blues rip into Stonesy, such short memories, most are probably the same so-called fans who tore shreds out of Rom and Ross last season.

The team as a whole has struggled for two full seasons, we need a new manager who can entice our young players to stay at the club.

Stones is the future of Everton FC; so long as he is willing to be at the blues, he should be a starter.

Ernie Baywood
52 Posted 23/03/2016 at 00:28:35
Eugene #5. I recently watched the Seinfeld episode "The Barber" and found myself googling to see how many people had made the association.

So that's two of us. And I've still never seen them in the same room.

Ernie Baywood
53 Posted 23/03/2016 at 00:32:04
On the Stones conundrum, yes I’d be looking for ways to integrate him back into the side. You can criticise him, but against Arsenal he was one of only two players trying to get the rest of the lazy bastards moving (the other was Coleman). He wants to play tempo football and has a big future – so needs to play when the time is right.

The problem is I don’t think the partnership with Funes Mori worked so you could only partner him with Jags.

Andy Crooks
54 Posted 23/03/2016 at 00:51:43
Ray, whoever clocked Jags as the quickest defender must have been involved with sundials or egg-timers. Admirable as I think he is, I do not think he is lightning fast by any means.
Mark Andersson
55 Posted 22/03/2016 at 01:03:01
Patrick Murphy your last sentence made me feel depressed. Surely Martinez won’t be here for the next 3 years.

As for the topic of Stones and the team, it's too late, the season is over and the young man, quite rightly, wants to move on.

Stones should be playing for a top manager and club with ambition. We have neither, unless Mr 50 % shows Roberto the door.

This summer will most likely see some of our players with potential leave. Can we trust Martinez to build a better team and get them winning more than one game in 4. No chance.

If Bobby plays Stones now it will be to raise his stock ready for his sale.

Dan Davies
56 Posted 23/03/2016 at 01:14:22
It doesn't matter who has the most talent or who is the fastest. The fact is as as a defensive UNIT their embarrassing. They are international players. They are letting Everton Football Club down game after game. I'm fed up of saying it now. The management is piss poor somebody please agree with me for my sanity. MARTINEZ OUT
Ernie Baywood
57 Posted 23/03/2016 at 01:37:26
For your sanity Dan, I'll agree with you.

To be honest, how can we judge any player at the moment? They're all playing shite... so either they are being hindered, or they are all shite.

I don't believe they are all shite, I think they're being hindered.

Paul Ferry
58 Posted 23/03/2016 at 01:49:48
For what it's worth – and that maybe zilch – in summer 2015 I was desperate for us to keep John Stones and rejoiced with many others when BK went public. I wanted to keep him, not because I wanted us to make a stand against the Sky teams but because of Stones and his promise.

Today I want us to sell him.

I would grieve if either Ross or Rom left. I would not grieve for John Stones. His attitude has stunk this season; his showboating "Calm down, calm down" is an utter liability; his positional sense and reading of the game is nowhere near £30 million; he does not compete effectively at corners; he loses players. There are fundamental flaws in his game like Lukaku's first touch (now addressed) that he needs to address. Coaching is, needless to say, one-third of this, another third is the gaffer, and another third is Stones.

I do not think that Stones will ever be anywhere near world class but he is English and in the Premier League that matters.

I actually think, contrary to some, that we do not have three great central defenders and I believe that it is critical to address central defence. Jags is getting on – really getting on – and he is IMO an option only for the season to come. Funes Mori, as folks have already addressed, has limitations as well as true qualities and I believe that, out of the three, he is the one for the future.

We should sell Stones while we can for the sort of money we can get now. I do not believe that a new gaffer will change things. We will get an offer of £40 million for Stones unless he is horrid in the Euros but I'm doubting how much game time he will get there. We will get an offer of £35 million because Man City's central defence is awful bar Kompany. And then the bidding wars can begin.

Cash in, I say. If his attitude at 21 when showboating is ’calm down’ to people who pay his increased wages, then what the feck will it be in 5 years time? Cash in. Like it or not, Martinez is gone this summer and we have Moshiri's assurances about cash injections.

We need a Dave Watson alongside a Ratcliffe – Jaysus, folks, watching Ratters bring the ball out!

They are out there. Funes Mori, I believe, could become a Dave Watson (goals thrown in). I have the sort of faith in his Everton future that I do not have with John Stones (I know, homesick!).

But our three top central defenders do not collectively blend and complement IMO and individually there are legitimate concerns ranging from something about Phil's age to John's seemingly couldn't care less showboating.

The new manager with new money and new coaches will make a difference.

Bill Gall
59 Posted 23/03/2016 at 01:49:52
I don’t care who you bring in, it will make no difference. The lack of effort, poor passing and poor defending is due to the lack of fitness that Everton’s players seem to show against the opposition. This should have been taken care of at the beginning of the season and not to have them peak in the last third of the season.
Alex Moore
60 Posted 23/03/2016 at 01:54:16
Let’s salvage what we can from this season and see if we can get Stones back into the form he was playing at before he got too cocky and started holding the ball too long.

We could really use a confident and in-form John Stones to finish the FA Cup campaign.

Anto Byrne
61 Posted 23/03/2016 at 02:02:14
Scrap the full backs getting forward and leaving acres of space for the other team to run into. Stop the sideways and backwards crab football. Play with urgency and intensity and close down and pressurise the man on the ball. Start manning up. My old coach used to say "get inside his shorts and if he goes for a shit wipe his arse". It was always good for a belly laugh but you get the idea.

Drill in the fact that everyone is responsible in a team game for the result so get down and dirty and do your bit for the team even if that means hoofing it into the middle of next week. Yes, I love the beautiful football and the passing. I just can’t see the point if you don't win games playing that way. FFS, mix it up with the steel of a Pulis defence, the guile of a Wenger midfield, the sheer determination and arrogance of that mob from over the park who have an average team yet believe they are good enough to win the Europa League this season and – fuck me – get into the Champions League.
Dan Davies
62 Posted 23/03/2016 at 02:05:28
Ernie (#57) I just woke up and thought. "I wonder if anyone has answered?" Hallelujah!
Amit Vithlani
63 Posted 23/03/2016 at 05:00:55
Agree with Ken Buckley, Eugene et al. Changing personnel without addressing issues such as how open we are at the back, lack of closing down and the mental softness apparent in so many home games will change nothing.

Stones is a really top talent. I like Funes Mori too – different type of player, but talented nonetheless. Both can and will contribute a huge amount to our club if given the right foundation.

We have a good squad and Martinez has done a good job of putting it together. It's a shame he and his coaching staff have been so rank at getting them to at least equal the sum of their parts.

Laurie Hartley
64 Posted 23/03/2016 at 06:51:42
Ken (#37) – "I don’t think it will make much difference which players he brings back or what system he plays until our present manager changes his mind set"

I think you have gotten to the heart of it. The problem is that he has stated won’t – "never" is the word I understand he used.

But if he did have an epiphany and decided to change, I don’t think it would make any difference because I don’t think he would know what to do.

On the subject of the OP – there is no "sensible" way of reintroducing Stones who at this time last season was arguably the best young player at the club.

If he is going to start him, he has to drop either Phil Jagielka or Funes Mori. If it was up to me, it would be Phil Jagielka, but that is not going to happen.

Jim Bennings
65 Posted 23/03/2016 at 08:05:36
You know, not to so much throw a spanner in the works or go against the grain here but is John Stones really that "great going forward"?

I see it said lots that he's great bringing the ball out but he doesn't do what the likes of Vertonghen or Alderweireld do at Spurs, they actually ping forward passes 70 yards to the striker and set up attacks with beautiful passes, all I see Stones do is a Cruyff turn that's successful only half of the time inside his own area then slow the play down to a virtual standstill.

I think it's kind of myth to say he's great bringing the ball out.

I also can't see this clamour for putting Baines on the left midfield.

This guy is supposed to have a wand of a left foot yet I haven't seen him beat the first man hardly with a set-piece or cross for ages.

Helen Mallon
66 Posted 23/03/2016 at 08:29:23
Ian Lowe @6, are you being serious. The forward players chase and harass the opposition defenders when they have it in their own half and don’t allow them any time on the ball. That is a must of all our players.

How many times do Lukaku or Barkley chase back or put tackles in? Erm... never!

Phil Walling
67 Posted 23/03/2016 at 08:40:01
Paul @58. To me, you sum up the position perfectly – apart from your last para in which you assume 'the new manager' is nigh.

My view, Cup winners or not, is that it will take well into next season for 'Mr 49.9' to convince BK that a change must be made.

Peter Lee
68 Posted 23/03/2016 at 08:44:51
2013-14 Howard, Coleman, Jags, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry... Intro of "tippy-tappy" Result – Second best defensive record in league

Next two seasons exactly the same except Stones for Dustin and Jags playing on "wrong foot". Result – Current poor defensive record. Simples.

As for Funes Mori being responsible for last 5 goals – what!?!

We gave the ball away in midfield, loads, when the entire team was focussed on attacking. Lucky to just lose 2 last Saturday, and as for West Ham, the first rule of defending crosses is don't let them come in. We stopped doing that because of the poor substitutions after 75 mins.

Basic rule of thumb is play your best players. Stones is not one of our two best central defenders, therefore... and as for playing him as a defensive CM, well, why not play him CF 'cos he's never done that for us either so he's just as likely to succeed.
Phil Walling
69 Posted 23/03/2016 at 08:53:30
Take your point, Peter, although I have been one of those advocating 'trialling' John Stones as defensive mid. I say so because it worked with Barry at Villa and has been a real hit at Spurs with Dier. There are many other examples I'm sure so well worth giving it a go.

Mentioning Dier, he is currently clearly a better player than Stones so how did he get pissed off from Everton?

Andrew Clare
70 Posted 23/03/2016 at 09:12:29
These players are all highly regarded.The thing is if they are not managed properly they will look bad. I liken it to a film that has a great cast but it doesn’t work because the direction is poor.

Get the right manager and with a few tweaks here and there this team will fly. Keep the same man and nothing will change.

Sam Hoare
71 Posted 23/03/2016 at 09:13:33
I can no longer tell whether our defence is struggling due to the way we are set up as indicated by the amount of chances we give up and times we get caught out of position or because the defenders we have are not good enough as indicated by the amount of individual mistakes and time they get beaten to long crosses into the box.

I have a feeling that both the coaching side and the individuals picked are liable but that ultimately its the system that is flawed.

Leciester as is usually the case this season serve as a good example. Robert Huth is very much a journeyman who was not much rated but Ranieri has found a way of playing that has made him a cornerstone of one of the tightest defences in the league. Martinez has managed the opposite and managed to turn what I think is a strong defence on paper into one of the leakiest.

If that's the case...the individuals, whilst far from blameless, are not the root of the problem.

Phil Roberts
72 Posted 23/03/2016 at 09:17:28
Eric Dier left because Moyes never played expansive attacking football.
Phil Roberts
73 Posted 23/03/2016 at 09:24:01
Now I woke a few up and raised your blood pressure - Good Morning fellow Blues.

Dier was actually on loan to us and simply returned to his parent club at the end of the loan. At the time he was a teenager brought up in Portugal to English parents. He played for the U18s and extended his loan but still only in the youth team.

He returned to Portugal, played two seasons for the parent club and then bought by Spurs at the start of the 2014-15 season. Martinez was the manager at that point – hey, we can have a Martinez bashing as well for missing out on him. Phil, good lead in comment. Will give us a lot to rant about on a quiet day for football.

I’m off for me breakfast coffee!

Dave Abrahams
74 Posted 23/03/2016 at 09:31:59
I wouldn’t mind John Stones coming back into the team but I’m not really bothered for two reasons: firstly John will be going at the end of the season so is not important to Everton’s future, except money wise.

The other reason is, like a few on here have already stated, no matter how many changes are made by the manager, until he changes his way of playing, and he won’t, nothing will alter Everton’s downward spin.

The manager just has to be changed to give some hope to most of this fan base.

John Louis Jones
75 Posted 23/03/2016 at 10:10:55
All I really have to say on the matter is that Coleman, Baines, Funes Mori, Jagielka and Stones are all International Defenders.

The problem of conceding goals is down to the way the team is set up under Martinez. They are not the problem – it is Martinez.

They don’t close down crosses which never seemed to be a problem. In fact, under Moyes, I cannot really remember Everton conceding to goals from crosses or corners. It is evident that we don’t practice set pieces, which is criminal.

People say the that they are not strong passers of the ball at the back, I tend to disagree, The problem is team shape, If you play Barkley, Barry, McCarthy and Cleverley and then one winger, you have no outlet as teams will crowd out your major outlets, ie, Lennon and Lukaku.

You then have 4 players in the centre of the pitch and the only pass on is to go backwards to the full-backs who then get closed down and have to pump the ball forward, then play gets turned over.

It is a joke; I have been watching the same crap for nearly 3 seasons now.

I nearly got chucked out of Goodison for screaming at Martinez in our first home friendly under him. The back two were splitting and a central midfielder was coming deep facing his own goal to collect to ball from Howard. I forget how many times we got caught out. It then happened several times that season, the most memorable time was Barry sprinting across an empty net and becoming superman to stop an goal.

We are coming to the end of the 3rd season and not one thing has changed.

Martinez is a Joke. Martinez Out.

Jim Bennings
76 Posted 23/03/2016 at 10:47:35

Leicester have also got what you call "no shit" defenders that live by the name and trade of defending first and foremost.

A bit like us in 2004-05.

Colin Glassar
77 Posted 23/03/2016 at 10:55:22
And two very average centre backs (Huth and Morgan) at that Jim.

Leicester are obviously compared to Cloughie's Notts Forest team as they both are/were a motley bunch of journeymen. It just goes to show what a bit of organisation and motivation can do.

Michael Polley
78 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:02:51
Nothing will change until we have a new tactics and game management, and that won’t happen until Martinez is sacked. The confidence is been drained from all our players.

Yes, the players need to take some responsibility, but the main problem lies with the manager. His tactics are just not working, but yet he keeps repeating the same old shit.

The squad must be totally pissed off. I’m sure there must be some dissent within the dressing room.

Henrik Lyngsie
80 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:10:30
Imagine to play Huth and Morgan in our side instead of Jags and Funes Mori or Stones. Does anyone think we would leak less goals? I guess not and doesn’t it tell us all that our poor defensive record is due to our organization and not because of individuals being poor. (I could include the goalie in this logic but that would probably start World War III.)
Jim Bennings
81 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:33:34
Well I often wonder by that, when people talk about average, great or crap defenders. Surely if a defender gets his job done then that’s his priority for the team?

He doesn’t have to be stylish. Stylish for me should be left to the silky creative wingers or attacking midfielders.

I don’t get excited anymore when I read that we are linked with "young upcoming classy defenders " because I know it just means the same thing as we see in Stones... We need a defender or two to actually defend.

It doesn’t help our central defenders at times having fullbacks who aren’t great at defending themselves, perhaps Stones would have flourished more having a Tony Hibbert in his younger years next to him for example. I think we are crying out for a couple of men in the team though that don’t get bullied so easily though always.

The former Leicester striker James Scowcroft that said of Jamie Vardy this week, that he’s the best defender in the league due to his constant hounding and relentless pace and workrate. It’s a good point that Scowcroft makes about Vardy, opposing teams must simply hate facing a player like that.

Eugene Ruane
82 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:39:45
Henrik (80) – "Imagine to play Huth and Morgan in our side instead of Jagielka and Funes Mori or Stones. Does anyone think we would leak less goals? I guess not and doesn’t it tell us all that our poor defensive record is due to our organization and not because of individuals being poor."

Er... well if you let us answer your question (rather than asking it then..answering it yourself) you might get a different answer.

You certainly will from me as I do think if we had Huth and Morgan instead of Jagielka and Funes Mori we’d have conceded less goals.

Just an opinion obviously, but one I’ve arrived at based on goals I’ve seen us concede (directly or indirectly) from crosses.

I believe Huth would have butted loads of those crosses away and if not, used his (big twatty) physical presence to put off the opposition forward(s).

None of that is easy to admit I should add

I am sure over the last couple of seasons I’ve not been singing the praises of Huth or Huth-types but (and this goes against my ’school of science’ ideology) I’m forced by the evidence to admit that a big, lumpy, onion-headed, agricultural grock who plays for another team, might actually be a more effective defender than one of our own.

Niall McIlhone
83 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:48:25
Colin (#77), you’ve nailed it: Right now, Everton are the polar opposite of Clough’s rag-bag heroes. We are a team packed with gifted stars, but few are able to deliver game-on-game, and the fitness and motivation appears rock bottom.

Leicester City under Ranieri are an absolute breath of fresh air, and it can only be good for the Premier League if their unheralded squad can pull it off – it will be a throwback to that Forest side.

We, on the other hand, need a complete re-boot at the end of the season, it’s been pfffft all season!

Andrew Ellams
84 Posted 23/03/2016 at 11:49:42
We certainly have the least physically imposing back 4 I've ever seen in an English team whichever combination he chooses.
Jim Potter
85 Posted 23/03/2016 at 12:15:29
Stones is very young, quite inexperienced and is still learning his trade. He is undoubtedly very talented. He is lacking confidence currently in a defence that is not the sum of its parts (due to the management).

He has been very good and average at times. In the future I believe he will be superb. Whether that is with us is open to question. I hope it is.

Jags is getting on but is a great servant to the club and can still produce.

Holgate and Foulds (and Browning and Galloway) will be interesting for our future.

Funes Mori needs to improve his positioning, control and distribution – but is promising.

We are in a good position with players – it’s the system and the confidence that are the big issues of concern.

Colin Glassar
86 Posted 23/03/2016 at 12:27:06
Jags, Coleman and Baines were all regulars under the previous regime in what was a fairly solid defensive unit. So the decline in our defending, in recent seasons, must be laid at the door of the present regime.

Ray Robinson
87 Posted 23/03/2016 at 12:32:54
Defensively we are poor but we don’t have any "work your bollocks off" players in front of it.

Huth and Morgan, no nonsense defenders, might not be so effective if they didn’t have Vardy, Kante, Okazaki, Schlupp, Albrighton, Drinkwater working their socks off in front of them.

We only have Lennon who works hard. Barkley, Mirallas, Deulofeu hardly break sweat defensively. Neither does Lukaku – but I’ll grant him the right not to. We’re set up to look good going forward but are not prepared to work hard enough defensively. Whose fault is that? Martinez’s.

Brian Harrison
88 Posted 23/03/2016 at 12:51:12

You could give RM the best 2 central defenders in the World (whoever they are) and we would still concede the same number of goals.

How do I know? because every club he has been at they concede goals for fun. As Colin Glassar remarked 3 of the current back 4 played under OFM and despite his faults these same defenders didn’t concede anywhere near the number of goals they have under RM.

So, if we want our team to defend better then get another manager.

Raymond Fox
89 Posted 23/03/2016 at 13:06:58
Niall 83, "we have a team packed with gifted stars".

This is where I’m having a problem: did they look like gifted stars against Arsenal, man for man did they look like stars!

There’s too many on here who are over-rating our players in my opinion, they looked well outclassed in that game. I’m not talking about tactics, I’m talking of football ability, ability to beat a man, ability make a telling forward pass, I saw very little in that game.

It’s very convenient to pin it all on the manager; yes, of course at the end of the day he carries the can, he is responsible for how we play, motivation etc, but to pin it all on him is papering over the cracks of where we are deficient.

Niall McIlhone
90 Posted 23/03/2016 at 13:17:50
I think what I’m meaning Raymond is that, by common consent, the likes of Stones, Jagielka, Baines and Barkley are all England picks with Cleverley and Lennon not far off, Coleman for Ireland, and of course Mirallas and Lukaku for Belgium. For me, these are high profile, star players.

I take entirely your point, however; most of them performed like mugs against Arsenal, yet not so against Chelsea. It’s the inability to perform week on week at a high level, and fail repeatedly under Martinez to beat top six teams, that is so very frustrating.

I believe Stones will go, by the way; right now, there appears to be a dearth of talent at CB and a lot of clubs looking for them.

Eugene Ruane
91 Posted 23/03/2016 at 13:43:15
Brian (88) - 'You could give RM the best 2 central defenders in the World (whoever they are) and we would still concede the same number of goals'

The best defenders would concede the same number of goals?


Look I understand that for some, any 'argument' other than 'just fuck off Roberto!!' doesn't go down well but (call me old fashioned) I'm looking for a little illumination.

Oh and that doesn't mean I want him to stay

As I said in post 30 - "For real change, it seems (to me) we’ll need a new manager in the ’technical’ (ie: shouty) area and some new (playing) blood – new blood that will add brains, physical strength/presence and the ability to intimidate and lead."

The second part of that is, in my view, no less important than the first.

Sean Patton
92 Posted 23/03/2016 at 13:55:05
If you think the defence is bad now, it will be even worse with Stones in it – he is rapidly approaching Rodwell levels of delusion from fans with regard to his actual performances.

I think we are missing Oviedo too as well because Baines has been shocking since he got back in the side.

Jay Harris
93 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:06:54

As I have said before, if it was one or two players not breaking sweat it would be down to those players but when it is the whole team including subs you have to ask questions on the preparation and motivation for which the management team are responsible..

If this was a one off period you could look for other reasons but Martinez brought all his backroom staff and a few players from Wigan and – guess what – we have turned into a clone of Wigan with inconsistency and leaking shedloads of goals.

Yes, sometimes we are easy on the eye but the same thing was said of Wigan.

His only motivational skill is to isolate players (and supporters) who challenge his authority.

Surely Moshiri can see through this situation despite the protest from BK about "What a manager" (cough).

Raymond Fox
94 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:12:48
We are getting off topic, so as far as Stones is concerned' it's difficult to know what's best to do: play him or not. I’m in the 'not' camp for now. I think him and Lukaku will be off in the summer unfortunately.

Martinez has lost the majority of the fans so it's best to part company and make a fresh start. Then next season we will need to upgrade the quality in the team, especially in the midfield (the engine room) because that’s where we are getting outclassed on a regular basis.

It's over to Mr Moshiri.

John Louis Jones
95 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:26:04
Okay, Martinez brings Stones back in, we either play a back 4 or a back 3.

Our next 4 league games are:
Man Utd (A)
Watford (A)
Southampton (H)
Liverpool (A).

Even with Stones back in the side, how many points do you think we pick up before the FA Cup Semi-Final?

The reason I asked is because we could be going into an FA Cup Semi-Final in the midst of a relegation scrap.

Raymond Fox
96 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:26:25
Jay, I do agree with you, but not completely.

You have to point the finger at the players also, they were up for the Chelsea game, but apparently not for Arsenal. Now I don’t believe that Martinez was any less keen to win against Arsenal than Chelsea, so who’s to blame?

If the players can't give 100% effort in an important game like that, they shouldn’t be playing for the club.

The problem the manager's got is that he has only so many talented players he can bring in; he’s between a rock and a hard place.

Jay Harris
97 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:27:05

It is easy to see why we are being out classed in the engine room (as you say) and it is because RM insists on playing only two proper midfield players (the rest are forwards) and pushes his full backs up over the halfway line.

When the opposition get the ball our two centre-backs and midfield players are guarding acres of space which can be easily exploited.

John Louis Jones
98 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:30:18
Jay #97

Martinez has played with 1 striker and 1 winger most of the season. Or Kone as a winger/inside forward.

He plays most of the time with 3 or more central midfielders.

Steve Kidd
99 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:33:34
Stones was made a scapegoat and sacrificed by Martinez.

Yes, he made some mistakes, but his presence in the team gave me great joy. He is an elegant ball-playing centre-half, whose ability to read the game is beyond his years. I feel that once he inevitably leaves we are going to realise that we should have appreciated him more.

I honestly believe that Cannavaro and Nesta would struggle to keep a clean sheet in this team, unless Martinez is made and agrees to a specialist defensive couch coming in this summer, I feel that we should cut our ties with him.

Paul Holmes
101 Posted 23/03/2016 at 14:58:32
This season, the amount of goals we have let in at home, especially with less than a quarter of the game to go, is indefensible.

Martinez is a rubbish manager but, let's be honest, the defence – especially Jagielka, Stones and Funes Mori – are not fit for purpose in any combination.

West Ham showed what a lot of teams know is our Achilles heel, and that is defending crosses. None of the above are dominant in the air and never will be.

John Stones is a great footballer but put the ball in the box and he is lacking time and time again. Everton just need two no-nonsense centre backs like a young John Terry or Nemanja Vidic who can win headers and clear the danger – not a centre-back who can beat three men like Cruyff but can't win a header against Aguero.

James Stewart
102 Posted 23/03/2016 at 15:55:04
Personnel is irrelevant. That said, I rate Stones a lot higher than most and am far from convinced by Funes Mori.

Our problem is Martinez and the system, our fullbacks play like wingers (why, I don’t know because we never cross the ball) leaving our centre-backs completely exposed. It’s simply mad. Changing keeper or defenders won’t make a damn bit of difference.

Raymond Fox
103 Posted 23/03/2016 at 16:11:40
Come on, James, you can't say personnel is irrelevant, but I understand what you mean.

I agree with you about our full backs pushing forward, it's all out commitment to attack that is overdone as you say.

I think the top and tail of it is that Martinez has attempted to play similar to a team like Barcelona, without having the players with the skill to emulate Barcelona.

Somewhere between Moyes's gameplan and his would be more successful.

Steve Pugh
104 Posted 23/03/2016 at 16:31:23
The problem is the training of our defenders. It goes like this....

Martinez throws the ball to Jags: "You ’ave just won ze ball from ze other side, now play it amongst yourselves without losing it whilst Sharpey and me try to get it back."

25 minutes later, the players have passed it around so much they are bored, Sharpey is blowing out of his arse, and Martinez is grinning like an idiot.

"Fantastic, that was a phenomenal defensive training session, I reckon next week we will keep a clean sheet for sure."

Jags interrupts, "What about tackling, gaffer, or corners, or defending crosses? What about the actual winning of the ball in the first place?"

"Why you need to practice that? We 'ave ze ball all game – we don’t need to defend. If they do get a chance and score, we’ll just score more."


Paul Kossoff
105 Posted 23/03/2016 at 17:01:37
It would be very interesting to look at the type of goals we have conceded at home this season, corners, crosses, goals conceded from breakaways or through the middle or from mistakes, then possibly we could work out the best formation and tactics to make our defence strong again...

Oh wait, don’t we have a manager and coaches to do that, isn’t that their job?

Paul Thompson
108 Posted 23/03/2016 at 18:00:52
It’s been the worst of both worlds for the club and Stones this season. We fought hard to keep him, then Martinez used his partial culpability for defensive lapses to gradually drain his confidence.

If we intend to keep him and he wants to stay, yes we should re-integrate him. I have severe doubts on both those scores, so I suspect we will muddle on waiting for some clarity to turn up. Meanwhile, as many posters have observed, the real problems of defensive organisation will persist.

Kim Vivian
109 Posted 23/03/2016 at 18:09:10
Can't we just de-integrate, or even better disintegrate RM?
Charlie Burnett
112 Posted 23/03/2016 at 18:32:13
I don’t agree on swapping it to a 3 at the back just to allow Stones to be part of the first 11. We struggle with 4 at the back. Can somone answer me why haven't we tried Stones in the Barry position? We have this kid that loves to put on a tackle, calm as fuck, can see a pass and loves to drive forward.

When a CB he does what he does and ends up giving away pens for stupid slides or drives forward or takes players out the game but leaves massive gaps in the back 4. CDM is perfect for this kid – he would be like a Stevie G when he use to do it for them.
Phil Walling
113 Posted 23/03/2016 at 18:37:49
Reading through this thread, perhaps the real trouble is that we've got TOO MANY classy players and lack the element that has always been present when Everton has been successful – the 'nasty bastards' like Johnny Morrissey and his ilk who could do some real damage up front as well as in defence.

Royle's Dogs of War weren't everybody's bag and they didn't go on to greatness but they had more spine and tenacity than any team Roberto will put out – and I loved them!

I don't think you can hope to be winners in today's Premier League with just a bunch of 'quality' players particularly if the manager only gets off on 'playing it out from the back'. Then, I'm a dinosaur!

Ray Said
117 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:09:06
In my opinion one of RM's biggest fault is that, like a lot of 'technical' coaches, he over complicates a simple game. The simple route would be:

One big strong centre-back with instructions to head and tackle plus one faster, postionally aware centre-back to cover him. Two full backs that are fast and can jockey the opposition well.

Two wide players, one of whom can cross well and one who can cut in and support the strikers.

A midfielder who can hold the centre of the park, chase and tackle and a midfielder that can make forward passes.

A striker that drops off, gets the ball, runs at defences and shoots and a striker that can head, shoot and run centre backs off the pitch.

It seems too simple but it's what Ranieri sussed was needed at Leicester... whereas our guy can't see the simple answer in front off him.

Michael Penley
118 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:11:13
Steve #104, I think Martinez will finally have to admit he has big problems when he starts speaking with a French accent...
Mick Davies
119 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:16:04
Haven't read any of the above comments so apologies if I'm repeating any, but what is all this sudden 'John Stones beatification'?

The man asked to leave our great club, then when he was given his chance to re-ingratiate himself with the faithful, he let himself and us down with his arrogant clowning around, then gesturing to the fans.

I personally don't see a great defender in there at all: Penalka's and Cruyff turns are not usually part of a defenders game, and knowing he can't head a ball and has a flawed sense of spatial awareness, I would be happy to see him get his move for as much money as we can squeeze for him.

This could be spent on a no-nonsense centre-half who wants to play for us (and not like Messi).
Colin Glassar
120 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:17:12
Probably thinks he's Napolean, Michael.
Patrick Murphy
121 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:22:12
Mick (#119),

You won't see a no-nonsense centre-half as long as Roberto is the manager at Goodison. I've just spent the last 20 minutes or so listening to a podcast involving local journalists and Evertonians on the Liverpool Echo's website, and the consensus seems to be that Roberto will not change his style – no matter what.

Peter Jansson
122 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:36:51
#113 – Everton's biggest problem is that we have a manager who does not have a clue how to manage a team to play good defensive football when needed. We simply do not know how to play without the ball... especially when we are in set defense. The quality of our team pressure is not good enough. Thus we can't close a game down.

Neither do we know how to play with low risk in the midfield, thus we end up with counter-attack goals/error-prone goals from losing the ball in the midfield.

The 'losing the ball in the midfield' problem is not only a low-risk mind problem but also is a result of having our two wingbacks in offensive positions. When one of our two central defenders loose the ball due to high pressure from the opposition team we frequently end up with 3 or 4 players against our 2 central defenders.

This whole defensive problem will hurt us as long as we have Martinez as a manager. Everything starts with the biggest problem we have – that is Martinez himself. First, he is totally useless as a football strategist as he only knows how to play in one way (4-2-3-1).

He is also totally clueless on how to make substitutions during a game. He does not only make idiotic substitutions like taking of an offensive player when we are one goal down, but he also takes off the players that have been the best on the field (for example, Lukaku and Lennon against West Ham).

Martinez does not either know how to take criticism. I have never heard that he has said he made a bad decision or chose the wrong strategy. It is always someone else's fault. This is pure bullshit. Even the best in the world make mistakes all the time.

He also favors players that he likes, to the extent that he will make them play even though they are not playing well. How this can happen is beyond belief for me. Not mentioning any names.

He makes seriously bad decisions and makes very basic important mistakes all the time and he whistles away the problems like they don't exist. Learning nothing from his mistakes.

How is this ever going to be a winning cocktail? How is Martinez ever going to be a good manager, being a bad strategist making bad decisions continuously?

How is Martinez going to deliver good players to Everton when he cannot see who is playing good out on the field from game to game? He has brought some really good players to Everton but I think, unfortunately, that this is just good luck. His judgement is as solid as a jellyfish. Where did Alcaraz and Kone come from? Naismith to Niasse?

How is Martinez going to know what players he needs to make Everton a winning team when his footballing strategy (that he believes in) does not work? It is like going to the store to buy ingredients for a cake you are going to bake without knowing what ingredients you need... throwing in some things here and there.

The longer we go on, the less the players will listen to him as he is pretty useless as a manager. I believe that we are at the point where he has lost the players. At least I hope he has lost the players to to the point where we can get rid of him as soon as possible.

Mick Davies
123 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:49:03
Patrick (#121), I've just listened to those badly disguised pro-Martinez journos and admit, it looks like nothing will change if they are all toeing the party line. Just the one (almost) dissenter, which leads me to believe Martinez will be in charge for the foreseeable future.
Dennis Ng
124 Posted 23/03/2016 at 19:55:32
Why put Stones under more fire by trying to fit him into a plan (Martinez's formation) that is made to fail? I'd rather the next manager think about that. At least that is a clean slate.
Wes Carmichael
125 Posted 23/03/2016 at 20:15:14
Does anybody really believe Stones is worth ^#;40-50 million??

I know someone will probably bid £40m+ in the summer but why is he worth this much? Apart from looking good on the ball, what else does he offer??

Some people think he's the next Franz Beckenbauer but why? Because he can bring the ball out of defence??

If sold to whomever, Man City, Chelsea, Real Madrid etc... would he improve them defensively??? I think not.

I can honestly see him getting a big move then going down the Rodwell route, I really can. >I really think he would not be missed if he was sold. Fair play to EFC for keeping him last summer but I think we held firm with Chelsea because it was a statement of intent, that we are NO longer a selling club.

I think the Board thought we would challenging for top 4 (at least) until Martinez messed it up.

We can still play lovely footy with two brick shithouses at centre-back. They are there to stop goals. Not look like Fancy Dans. He couldn't make it more obvious he wants out! I'd grant him his wish!!!

Michael Williams
126 Posted 23/03/2016 at 20:15:59
Yes, Stones should be reintegrated at centre-back. As other have said: He's going to be a great centre-back in time. Funes Mori was not very good last week and is not better than Stones and we need to re-establish his value in case he forces a sale.
Christine Foster
127 Posted 23/03/2016 at 21:36:37
I think half of you cannot see further than your noses... The problem cannot be fixed by swapping personnel, Jagielka, Funes Mori, Stones, Coleman, Baines, whoever... the problem is what they are being asked to do.

"Play the ball out or back, don't whack it into the stands."
"Keep the ball no matter what."
"Get forward at every opportunity."
"Get into their box at every opportunity."
"Don't worry about getting behind the ball."
"Don't worry about tracking back, someone else will pick a player up."
"Don't stand on the posts at corners."
"Mark space not men."
"Keep going forward."
"Attack is the best defence."
"Do as you are told or you are out."

The point is, all of the above is happening when it's clearly being coached as a set of tactics that don't work. Changing the players doesn't matter... until their confidence is shot, their ability questioned and they end up giving up and not believing in what they are supposed to be doing.

Stones is NOT a great centre-half. How many times have you EVER seen him command the penalty area and win headers? Can you count on him to win anything in the air?? Stones is a great player but NOT a commanding centre-half. He is not a full back, he has great potential to be a ball playing defender along side a no-nonsense centre-half if coached by a manager who knows how to set up a class defence. He hasn't got one.

So let's move up a little. Barkley... great star going forward, but needs cover when he runs at a defence, cover that stays back in case he loses it. He needs someone with a head on their shoulders... when we are winning he needs to come off, he has done his job.

You see, the point is, without changing the philosophy of how we play, without changing the tactics from attack to defence when we need to, without the tactics to close shop, we will be Wigan until the man has gone.

We have better players than Wigan ever did, but the tactics have never changed, the theme is the same, the results are the same, it doesn't matter the team until the tactics match the ability and the motivation and confidence is given to the players.

Mark Andersson
128 Posted 24/03/2016 at 00:22:33
All valid and common sense points, Christine. Unless the fans really unite and kick up one hell of a fuss to force Martinez out, we will have more of the same next season.

We are going backwards – not standing still even. Mr Moshiri should be working hard at getting a proper manager. If he does not, then he has wasted his millions.

Darren Hind
129 Posted 24/03/2016 at 06:16:49
Peter Bell @68

"As for Funes Mori being responsible for the last five goals - what !?!"

Read what I said Peter; I didn't lay sole responsibility at FM's door. I said he was "at fault".

Funes Mori got himself caught under the ball on five or six occasions against West Ham. Three of them lead directly to goals. I accept a centre-half will occasionally be out-jumped or out-muscled but I don't accept that he should repeatedly misjudge the flight of the ball.

He was sucked out of position for Arsenal's first goal, leaving a gaping hole at the heart of our defence... and for Arsenal's second? I don't think I have ever seen a defender sell himself so far into the opposition half in my life.

I don't want to jump on Funes Mori, he too is a baby in centre-half terms, but some of the utter nonsense being spouted about Stones defies belief? Where are all these errors that have lead to goals??? He's been playing in a shite defence for two seasons and I can count those errors on one hand.

Since the exceptionally stupid Paul Merson did his famous hatchet job on the boy, it seems half of TW have turned against him. He was the greatest thing since sliced bread until then. Who the fuck cares what a Charlie chasing pisshead like Merson thinks? The guy makes a living on a program where washed-up old has-beens constantly blur the lines between shite and controversy in a desperate attempt to wrestle the spotlight from each other.

So what if Stones told a section of the crowd to "calm down"? I was amongst them and and they needed telling. Do they want entertaining football or do they want Row Z? I could have understood if it had lead to a goal.

I've already lost count of the number of times John Stones has been worth the admission fee alone.

Colin Williams
130 Posted 24/03/2016 at 08:54:42
Stonsey is a class act! (Fact) The so-called armchair coaches scouts who spout absolute bullshit about him being a poor defender (etc) should be ashamed of themselves. Stop talking out of your 'arse'... Get off your sofa and learn about the game/ player development...

Some of the comments especially about Stonsey on here are hard to read, because... they are so far off the mark!

The only thing that makes sense throughout all this is for Bobby to leave our great club before he makes us a laughing-stock, due to his unbelievable poor game management and general shite comments that leave his mouth every week.

I just hope people at the top table can see his obvious weaknesses to manage our great club before it's too late.

Ray Robinson
131 Posted 24/03/2016 at 14:28:23
Colin (#130) "Stonsey is a class act! (Fact)"

Stones is a class act (opinion) – one that I agree with incidentally but please don't tell everyone they're wrong if they think otherwise. He has enough obvious deficiencies (in my opinion) to make it possible to argue the contrary.

Jim Hardin
132 Posted 24/03/2016 at 22:54:53

Stones may someday be the "world class" footballer that you and several others forecast for him. I hope for his sake that it happens or else he may well receive the Rob Green treatment for the concession of goals in international competitions. It shouldn't require a coaching license or badge to see that Stones is possibly farther from the finished product now than where he was two years ago.

However, we should all take your advice and get our badges before commenting upon young Stones. I suggest we all enroll in the Welsh FA courses to become qualified to coach like, er, Martinez.

Colin Glassar
133 Posted 24/03/2016 at 23:00:32
Stones, under a good manager, will become the finest defender of his generation. At least, in the future, I will be able to say, "I told you so".

I hope the lad gets the club his talents deserve.

Tom Bowers
134 Posted 25/03/2016 at 11:48:54
I am not so sure about Stones as I was when he first came in. He looks like he has an attitude problem at the moment. Where can you place him as Jags and Funes Mori are playing pretty well as individuals although the whole team as a defensive unit is still porous.

Each of us has our own ideas and he may replace an aging Jags down the line but perhaps as a defensive midfielder for an aging Barry in a few remaining Premier League games?

The lad has bags of skill but seems to have become complacent and who knows may be better off being sold but they may not get the offer as big as Chelsea were offering now that he is not starting.

Tom Bowers
135 Posted 25/03/2016 at 17:35:32
Reading through some of the previous comments, I think some people are missing the mark by a mile. It's easy to blame the centre backs, the full-backs or even the keeper when things go wrong and sometimes a mistake they make as individuals can cost points. However, in Everton's case, it is the strategy Martinez adopts – or should I say lack of a defensive strategy for the downfalls.

Far too often, Barry, McCarthy and Cleverley get caught too far upfield and struggle to get back when they turnover possession, leaving opponents a much easier task at running at the back four. I have seen every match this season and the evidence is alarming. Even against so-called inferior opponents they look vulnerable but Martinez has failed to change anything.

Against Chelsea, it appeared something was happening early on as they played more conservatively, dodged some bullets and when it looked like a replay was looming we had that wonder goal from Rom. However, they showed very poorly a week later with absolutely no spirit or tenacity.

Returning Stones to the starting eleven won't change anything. It needs changing from the top and an influx of some new players who want to play for this team 100% every week.

Paul Tran
136 Posted 25/03/2016 at 17:49:33
All this talk about Barcelona is nonsense. The closest Premier League team to Barcelona is Leicester City. They fight like Barcelona do when they haven't got the ball.

If Martinez is trying to model Barca, he could start with making sure our players share their energy, commitment and desire. We used to call it earning the right to play.

Brian Porter
138 Posted 27/03/2016 at 10:01:07
Amidst the clamour for Stones to be brought back at the expense of Funes Mori, can I suggest those in favour of such a move watch the game between Chile and Argentina the other night, (not just the highlights). In many ways, watching that game reinforced my belief in Martinez's unsuitability for the job of Everton's manager.

This was not a friendly, but, especially for Argentina a very important World Cup qualifier, given that they'd made a relatively poor start to their qualifying campaign. Also, they were playing away to the reigning South American champions, so this was always going to be a real Latin blood-and-guts, no-quarter-given tie.

So, given the short amount of time Argentina's manager (a step up in class from Martinez), and his coaching staff (same applies), had to spend with their squad, it was still plain to see that they had coached and drilled their defence in the art of working and playing together as a defensive unit. As a result, Ramiro Funes Mori looked calm, competent and self-assured; up against a great side that included Alexis Sanchez, he never put a foot wrong in 90 minutes.

There was no suicidal passing from the Argentine defence, no Fancy Dan attempts to dribble the ball out of defence, and in short, the whole defence looked at home playing together, even though they'd only been together for a few days prior to the match.

Result? A 2-1 away win that revitalised their qualifying campaign.

Now contrast that with Everton. Thanks to Martinez and his staff's (non-)defensive coaching, Funes Mori (and Stones for that matter) have been made to look hesitant, at times incompetent and at times looking as if they met their teammates for the first time just before they stepped on the pitch.

Against Chile, Funes Mori looked like a top class international defender and my point is simply that it takes some bloody poor coaching to turn such a talented player into a turkey on the pitch. We have a first-class international defender in our squad but until Martinez is replaced I fear we will never see the best of him, or any of our other naturally talented players.

So don't be too quick to clamour for Funes Mori to be dropped. Sometimes you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone – and a few scouts will have been watching that game for sure.

It might be time to rest Jagielka, who isn't getting any younger, but not Funes Mori, no way!

Graham Hammond
139 Posted 29/03/2016 at 06:19:41
From the outside, I would go along wholeheartedly with the re-introduction of John Stones into the side; he is a player I would dearly love Everton to keep hold of.

That said, I have heard from what I believe is a good source, that the player is unhappy (and he isn't the only one!) at the club and will be moving on to Man City in the Summer. This (if true) makes dropping Jagielka or Funes Mori to accomodate Stones at centre-back not so clear cut.

Clearly, we cannot defend anywhere near satisfactorily at the moment so maybe we could have a midfield diamond quartet to sit in front of the back four, with Stones on the right side of it? Cannot make things any worse!

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