The Lack of Patience

By Jim Knightley 29/09/2015  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
When West Brom went 2-0 ahead on Monday, even the most ardent of us expected defeat. What followed was not only surprising, but historic. We overturned a 2-0 deficit away from home for the first time in 30 years in the League; for the first time in literally hundreds of away games. In the process, Pulis lost for the first time in the Premier League from a two-goal league.

The last stat is important. Pulis sets his teams up tightly, and goals are hard to come by. West Brom lost some defenders to injury, but we had more players missing. Three of the back four were out, as well as Mirallas and Cleverley, all of whom would likely have been involved in some capacity (four would arguably have started).

The win says much about the squad strength criticised by some on here during the summer. Indeed, we could have put out the following 11, from players not in the starting line-up:

Robles, Coleman, Besic, Stones, Baines, Cleverley, Gibson, Mirallas, Osman, Lennon and Kone.

A team good enough to push for a top-half finish, in my opinion.

But most surprising of all perhaps, was the belief in the side. A side who, facing the toughest run of fixtures in the league, sit in 5th place. A side fresh off the back of the worst season in a decade. A side who fought all summer to hold onto one of their assets, and had to endure the disgraceful behaviour of Mourinho and the media. But a side full of youth and potential – Lukaku, Barkley, Galloway, and Deulofeu are all between the ages of 19 and 22.

Yet, it's one of those whom this article is about. Our top scorer with 6 goals, and 2 assists, from 9 games in all competitions. A player who has hit 16 or more goals in each of his last three seasons, and 15 or more league goals in 2 of his last 3 seasons. A player whom I have defended time and time again on these boards.

We all know the conundrum with Lukaku. He has a poor touch, and his technical ability is lacking. But neither of these qualities are as bad as people make out, and in spite of bizarre suggestions to the contrary, it is possible that Lukaku will improve in these areas, just as Drogba, the player Lukaku is often compared to, did in his later twenties.

But Lukaku is a goalscorer. There is no doubt about that. Look at his stats, and look at his age. The majority of the world's best strikers could not match Lukaku's scoring record at 22. He may mis-control the ball too often, he may not run around enough for many people's liking (like many strikers), but he scores goals. This season he has more than Aguero, Costa, Rooney, Sanchez, Benteke or Kane.

Yet, he is subject to an absurd amount of criticism, criticism which stinks of a lack reason, perspective, and at times judgement.

It's remarkable that a player who is already sixth on our list of all-time Premier League goalscorers, at the age of 22, doesn't buy himself more time with many Evertonians. It stinks of a lack of patience, and perspective.

We have our best squad of the Premier League era. We have young players literally with the world at their feet. Stones will be world class. Deulofeu could be too. Baines and Coleman are possibly the best full-back pairing in this league. McCarthy is a superb defensive midfielder. Barkley is again looking like achieving his potential. Lukaku, whilst occasionally frustrating, is one of the most promising and best young strikers in Europe.

I didn't believe in Martinez at the start of this season. I thought he made too many errors last season, and was too stubborn to change. He is proving me wrong so far. To motivate that result on Monday shows that he has the faith of the players, and has instilled a winning mentality. Perhaps his positivism has an end result after all?

This team needs patience and we all need it too. Many of these players are young, and will make mistakes. In fact, all players make mistakes, and it might be worth remembering that the next time Howard flaps at a cross, or Lukaku has a poor game.

There are too many entitled fans, in my opinion, and in football in general. Maybe it's the sensationalism of the media. Maybe it's the 80s fans whose expectations are out of sync with our financial reality, and the capacity of our rivals. So please, can we put a break on the negative Lukaku comments? Can we give our players a break? Criticise the board, but give this team time. Perhaps we do have the manager to take us to the next level. We won't know that for a while yet though, just as we won't know for a while whether the likes of Lukaku, Barkley, Stones, Galloway, Deulofeu and the rest become world beaters. One thing is for sure though, they will have good days and bad ones.

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