From My Seat: Leicester (H)

Not the best way to start the festivities and made worse by the fact that we managed to gift the opposition their win with sheer sloppiness. I know Christmas is the time for giving gifts but not like that

Ken Buckley 19/12/2015 36comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 3 Leicester City

We assembled in the Room of Nonsense full of Christmas cheer and good will. A festive occasion plus a sell-out crowd and it was soon heaving. There was a match on the screens but no one seemed bothered as the chat was of impending festivities, with only the team selection and the need for three points being paramount as far as football was concerned. The walk up was wet but atmospheric as each ale house we passed seemed to have its own choir and, as the junction of Spellow Lane and Goodison road was reached, there were young ladies handing out mince pies for free and NSNO were handing out their excellent printed fanzine. Their editor, Simon Paul, deserves congrats for its presentation. A little corker it is.

All the outlets were doing well with long queues and who was lucky enough to get a Blue Nose and a Blue and White Everton Santa hat?

Into the ground for Z-Cars with the Alder Hay Heroes, as mascots. Our Ref was Jon Moss which always brings a sinking feeling as he is not the best I have seen but is usually bad for both teams. The game commenced with us attacking the Park End. The game started in regulation fashion with some sparring and generally eying each other up with Everton playing the keep ball stuff and the visitors all workrate and closing down. The first action that resulted in loud crowd noise was when Barkley lost the ball and then made a fair but ferocious tackle to win the ball back but he then lost it again with a poor pass. Then a decent move saw Deulofeu on the ball down the right and put in a first time cross that was meant for Kone but deflected for a corner. Baines took one of his better ones which was defended at the expense of another corner, this time played short which brought groans from the faithful as whatever was supposed to happen didnt and once again we gained no reward from a dead ball kick.

We were in keep ball mode now until it was punted forward but each time the Foxes' defence was comfortable. We tried getting Deulofeu going down the right but the opponents were ready for him and marked tight and threw in a few dark arts which had the Spaniard throwing tantrums and squealing which brought a response from the home crowd for him to get on with it and dont be a tart. He did it a few more times which did not endear him to the faithful at all and comments were ripe and to the point. He didnt seem to like tight marking and when he did get a cross in it wasnt of his usual quality. He will have to learn that he has started to make a name for himself and easy rides will become rare. That undoubted skill will need channelling and using in the right way.

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The game continued with us looking to attack and the Foxes looking to nick it and counter at pace. We had some goalmouth action but without much conviction, with Kone being the biggest culprit for not getting a shot off quickly as he tried to manoeuvre into a perfect position which Leicester were not interesting in affording him. The crowd gave him a few hurry up instructions but he took little notice and repeated the act a couple of more times. Leicester were playing the sort of game that had me thinking that we needed a goal to see if they had a plan B.

Well, on the half hour mark I got my wish for a goal unfortunately it went against us after Mori gave away a daft penalty when instead of booting the bloody thing he tried to wrestle his man to let the ball run out for a goal-kick. He got it wrong and pushed his man down. The ref said foul and pointed to the spot and Mahrez converted with aplomb, even though Howard dived the right way and looked to get close to it. What a downer.

Five minutes later and Deulofeu did better and put in a decent cross which found Cleverly beyond the far post who shot but the ball came out to Barkley. He had a shot cannon back to him so he shot again and beat the keeper but it was headed out from the goal line, only to Lukaku who does not miss those chances. Some fine celebrations which left the faithful with the thought that perhaps now we could press on and pick up three valuable points. We pressed forward but despite getting in some good positions that final ball was always almost but not quite. We got crosses in that the keeper fisted out, Lukaku was having trouble with a lively bouncing ball and Kone was narking the crowd by not shooting first time. Leicester were always looking to counter with Vardy being a strong runner and but for a timely tackle by Mori that robbed him at the expense of a corner. Stones showed a good turn of pace to thwart a fast move into our box that had danger written all over it. He got a clap for that.

1-1 at the break and I thought that we had been too concerned about Leicester which had stopped us from really opening up in the final third. Their reputation on the break seemed to have gone before them so making us that bit more hesitant despite the tireless promptings of our captain Barry.

Second half and more of the same we were intent on playing out from the back through midfield and create a chance in the box. It was working to a point... that point being the final third. Barkley was suffering with this as he would strongly stride to the edge of the box but his final ball always seemed to be within reach of a defender. He did feed Coleman wide who let rip a cross-cum-shot that the keeper had to stretch to tip over. Deulofeu showed us a rare piece of instant trickery and won a corner that Baines took well and right into the mix a melee took place and those nearest put up a mighty roar of Hand Ball but a corner was the best the ref could allow.. Annoyingly, this corner was taken short and we made a mess of it and allowed Leicester to break on us but we smothered that wide left and played some delightful passing triangles to get us out of trouble and set up another attack. The faithful liked that one and clapped.

The hour mark came and many were calling for Kone to be replaced by Mirallas but no sign of activity. Barry hit a beaut of a pass to Lukaku who looked through on goal but the linesman flagged, that must have been close. Just five minutes later and we shoot ourselves in the foot again when Leicester broke very quickly and Vardy was put in chasing the ball toward the box. Howard came out and for some reason, although Vardy had kicked the ball well beyond him, the keeper went to ground and Vardy did not need a second invitation to find contact with Howards leg to sprawl in the box. Penalty said Mr Moss and once again Mahrez obliged sending Howard the wrong way. Now giving away one pen when no need is sloppy, to give a second was just plain careless. No one was happy of a Goodison persuasion.

Still no sign of Mirallas and with Deulofeu now almost invisible getting back into the game seemed well away from us and, after a couple attacks that came to nought again in the final third, we managed to shoot ourselves in the foot again in a most unprofessional way. We seemed in control of a situation near the junction of Bullens Road and Park End when, from an attempted clearance, a mighty shout of Hand Ball went up from players but the ref showed no interest. We stopped playing, they didnt and the ball reached Okazaki who unceremoniously lashed past Howard into the bottom corner. Well that looked very like all over and just a few minutes later our present manager changed Kone and Deulofeu for Mirallas and Lennon. This caused some ribald comments toward the manager to be heard around the ground.

We gave it a go and attacked well trying all routes but without much luck. Then just before the board went up Barkley at last got a first time pass in the box to Lukaku who had his shot blocked, the ball came loose just to the left of goal and the man we had been calling for some time, Mirallas, smashed home.

Four minutes up on the board and despite a Goodison Roar an equaliser could not be found.

MotM Barry

Not the best way to start the festivities and made worse by the fact that we managed to gift the opposition their win with sheer sloppiness. I know Christmas is the time for giving gifts but not like that.

Today I thought our only consistent player was Barry and when you think he is 35 then its not saying much for these Fab players we are supposed to have. We had an attendance of all but 40.000 and we serve up a show like that no wonder there was little but grumbles on the walk back and its a long time since I have heard a match-going crowd to be questioning the manager's worth and suggesting change may be needed. That is up to the board of course but there sure is some disgruntlement building.

The airplane with the banner reading Thanks Bill Kenwright was spotted and I have no doubt some would be thanking him if he did make a change. The big fear seems to be that if we carry on like this then our top players will want away and someone will have to start over. The next two games come very quickly, neither is a gimme so it will be very interesting to see how our manager and players handle them. Then hot on their heels comes Spurs, Chelsea and City twice. Oh dear. Let us hope we win them all.

May I wish you all a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

All the very best

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (36)

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Dave Cooper
1 Posted 20/12/2015 at 01:53:53
Last Monday, I wrote that I was feeling strangely confident based on the fact that we were playing the top team who were not one of the Sky 5. How wrong can I be!

I'm not sure how the players feel after losing today. Do they go home and feel depressed because they have played so poorly? Does the loss mean that their Festive season will be less festive because they have managed 3 points from a winnable 12? The players may not feel it, but we certainly do and there lies the rub.

Supporting Everton should carry a health warning because of what they do to our emotions. While it was still 0-0, there was a fleeting glimpse of a poorly Bill Kenwright back in his favourite seat. But the man did not look well and no matter what some think of him, I think he suffers like we all do only he has the responsibility of running the club, while we can just make comments. So best wishes Bill for a speedy recovery.

Next, onto Boxing Day and Newcastle; I really hope when I open my present that I find Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith are starting, and James McCarthy is back. We can only hope.

Best wishes, Bill, for a speedy recovery.
Andy McNabb
3 Posted 20/12/2015 at 03:12:56
Thanks for the report, Ken and back at you with the best wishes.

Dave Cooper, you encouraged me to be optimistic for once regarding Everton. I took heart from your comments and also thought we would win – idiot that I am.

"The players may not feel it, but we certainly do and there lies the rub." I wonder what they do think?

David Flanagan
5 Posted 20/12/2015 at 08:27:15
The manager is clueless. The set-up of the team is predictable to everyone. Nothing down the left so teams double up on the right.

The most worrying aspect is the constant poor defending. Leicester were organised and well coached and put their bodies on the line time after time.

We are underachieving: 5 wins all season is pathetic and the teams above without doing much are starting to pull away.

I’ve no faith in Martinez to turn things around despite all his ramblings. Another mid-table finish will see an exodus of players.

Christopher Dover
6 Posted 20/12/2015 at 08:44:26
Thanks for a great report, you put how I felt at the match.
A few weeks ago Funes Mori would have kicked the ball out but I do believe he did not by playing the RM keep-ball, which he did not do.

I got tired watching the subs warming up! It took so long to put them on... and Deulofeu, what is up with him? Ken you are so right he wants a foul every time he is touched, but what is worse is he stops playing. I hope he gets a whistle for Christmas with instructions to play on until he hears it.

Cannot see us getting top 4 and top 6 is fading fast with the results. The same old, Leicester where good but there was no way they were going to score three goals – until the early Christmas presents from Everton.

RM keeps saying they have to learn; I just hope he's not saying the same with a couple of games to go as we hang onto 15th place.

All the best to all ToffeeWebers.

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 20/12/2015 at 08:49:33
Thanks, Ken, for a smashing report.

Dave, I went for an optimistic 2-1 win, but we really did shoot ourselves in the foot. A slippy ball, tough conditions, lots of possession, but silly errors cost us again. When will we outplay a decent team?

Geri’s emergence has been Rom’s best hope of a goal, and as teams wise-up to his threat, and cut off that supply line, we see Rom come deeper, looking for the ball, and only Barkley looking to play him in, and usually getting the pass wrong.

We had to wait for the overdue appearance of Mirallas to look more dangerous. Why, oh why, didn’t Martinez put him on earlier (ie, half time)? Also it would have been good to have Deulofeu and Mirallas posing problems on both wings, as nothing had been coming from our left-hand side.

Kone was awful again: slow, ponderous, poor lay-offs and indecision. Why does Martinez give him so much leeway, when he fails to produce?

A left-sided player is a must; Oviedo could be the answer, if he ever gets fit again.

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 20/12/2015 at 09:13:37
Ken, your report matches, I suspect, what many of us are thinking. I liked that part, "our present manager"... was that wishful thinking, Ken?

Most of the players' heads slumped after the third goal; as you say, Barry was one of the few who kept going. I thought Cleverley matched him as well.

What’s next for this club? Martinez will stay, that’s for sure, but many will wish him gone, including me.

Interesting that Kenwright was present on the day the plane flew over, thanking him for his efforts towards Everton... thanking him for what exactly?

Merry Christmas, Ken, and thanks for your excellent reports throughout the year.

Christopher Timmins
9 Posted 20/12/2015 at 10:14:11
Ken, thanks for all the reports during the season to date. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Regarding the events of yesterday, how long is it since we kept a clean sheet, the Villa game? It’s time that this mid-table team got a bit of a shaking up on St Stephen’s Day. Robles and Mirallas and McCarthy to start.

With two games to go to the mid point in the season it looks to me that we won’t finish ahead of any of the teams occupying the top 4 at present and are unlikely now to finish ahead of Manchester United and Crystal Palace.

Given our relative lack of injuries, it's very disappointing.

Nitesh Kanchan
10 Posted 20/12/2015 at 10:50:23
Rooney might be available in January. We should go for him and sell Kone and Naismith. We are scoring in every game, so clean sheets should guarantee us wins, but we can’t keep one.

Galloway is the only good defender we’ve got who sticks to the basics of man-marking and doesn’t lose his man often, like others do. I want to see a good defensive performance now; enough is enough.

This was the period of games where we were supposed to get back in contention for top 4. The next 3 games should decide Martinez’s future: 7 points is a must.

Tony Dove
11 Posted 20/12/2015 at 11:11:03
Christopher @9 We have as much chance of keeping a clean sheet as Warren Beatty
Tony Cheek
12 Posted 20/12/2015 at 12:04:57
Ranieri is proving that it can be done without the mega-bucks! Its just about getting the right man in the chair, who gets the players to give everything EVERY game. Martinez will never be that man!

We are just not hungry enough, and that was plainly on view yesterday. Mirallas is the best finisher at the club. For god's sake, get him off the bench and use him!

John Keating
13 Posted 20/12/2015 at 12:49:47
Tony

Martinez’s ego will not allow him to change.

Remember last season he refused to change until the supporters frustration pushed the players to change tactics.

There has been no reason for weeks why Mirallas should not have been starting in place of Kone apart from Martinez’s ego.

His obsession to play it on the deck at all times is so frustrating. Sometimes the ball needs hoofing and that’s a fact.

If allowed to continue his ego will do us in

John Raftery
14 Posted 20/12/2015 at 13:41:17
Our performance was very naive yesterday. Everything from Funes Mori’s dilly-dallying before conceding the penalty to Deulofeu’s histrionics pointed to a team lacking a killer instinct.

One looked at Leicester who provided a huge contrast with every player working their socks off as though playing for their lives, never mind a top-of-the-league placing. They sat deep, made sure the game was disrupted when necessary with players lying on the ground waiting for the referee to halt play and by taking an age over goal kicks.

Our players got drawn into pushing too far forward with the result our back line was badly exposed once Leicester chose their moment to break out. They were clinical and incisive while we looked hesitant and slow. We were fortunate the final score was not 5-2.

Too many of our players are under the illusion they are a good team. It is time they and their manager woke up to the fact that in this league teams can only be successful if they at least match the effort of their opponents.

Good luck to Leicester. They are showing what can be achieved if players operate in a simple structure and work hard.

Dennis Stevens
15 Posted 20/12/2015 at 13:47:21
Thanks for yet another excellent report, Ken. I hope you have a great Christmas despite Everton’s best efforts to spoil it!

All the talk of top four or even Europe seems way wide of the mark to me, it’ll be all we can do to finish in the top half this season. Martinez needs to get the best out of this squad of players otherwise the best will move on & he’ll have to rebuild from scratch.

Frank McGregor
16 Posted 20/12/2015 at 14:11:52
I watched the Newcastle - Aston Villa game and I would say that Aston Villa are playing better than Everton at the moment: more fight and urgency about their play.

If we can cast our minds back to Martinez's Wigan days, the current style of play is exactly the same with the end result being relegation staring us in the face. The way forward for Everton is to get 40 points as quickly as possible ensuring survival in the Premier League and then a recruitment drive for a new manager.

This is not a gut reaction as I was one willing to give Martinez a chance to turn things around this season; however now it is obvious the change has to be made.

Sean Patton
17 Posted 20/12/2015 at 14:22:45
Good luck to Leicester?

Two penalties and a handball, they have had 8 penalties this season I think they are having enough luck already!

Steve Davies
18 Posted 20/12/2015 at 14:47:45
RM drop Howard now! Do yourself and Evertonians a favour.....or you will continue to leak goals and drop points.
Phil Walling
19 Posted 20/12/2015 at 14:53:45
As long as Everton maintain Premier League status, BK will honour Roberto's five-year contract.

To be fair, after the Sunderland and Aston Villa games, our manager's stock was high and the quality of football provided was being lauded to the skies. Only after a loss does the tide turn – so a couple of wins over Xmas will see peace on the blogs restored and his reputation intact.

We are a fickle lot!

David Hallwood
20 Posted 20/12/2015 at 14:57:51
Just think Ken, if our defence was as consistent as your reports we’d be top 4!

The world and mother (seemingly with the exception of Roberto) we play some great stuff attack-wise and defensively we’re a shambles, despite having top drawer defenders, with the full backs at one time considered the best pair in the division and was part of the best defence in the division.

Sadly Roberto has previous; Wigan’s defence was shambolic so he’s not learning from his past mistakes, and worse still he’s got better players to work on. So what can be done? IMHO the answer lies in yesterday’s opposition-Ladeees and gentlemen, I give you 4-4-2!!

Yes people criticise it as ’too rigid’ and ’old fashioned’ but there’s little doubt that two banks of four gives defensive solidity, in addition too rigid? Witness their 2nd goal Mahrez, who’s a wide player, went through the middle unchallenged, despite the fact that, in the system we play, there should be at least one DM to stop the run.

Great 4-4-2 teams down the years have have always had flexibility in the system. But for me 4-2-3-1 has had it’s day. However, I don’t expect RM to change the system anytime soon, so it will be more of the same.

Final point, RM could do worse than sit the players down and watch yesterday’s game and admire Leicester’s workrate. It isn’t just the Vardy & Mahrez show, everyone works for the team, and the old (dare I say it) Liverpool way of working twice as hard when you haven’t got the ball. Final RS point; Leicester’s front 2 gave a Daglish & Rush masterclass of defending from the front.

To state the bleedin’ obvious, there’s lot’s to do to get on track; we’ve got all the right ingredients, but the cake tastes a bit shitty.

Ian McDowell
21 Posted 20/12/2015 at 15:10:39
Dave I think too much is made of formations and systems. 4-4-2, 4-1-2-2-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1... does it really matter that much as long as you are organised, work hard, defend from the front and & #150;especially in the English football – practice and make the most of set-pieces?

Sid Logan
22 Posted 20/12/2015 at 15:16:35
Ken,

As ever a good read. For some reason yesterday we all hoped for more – we should have known better!

If Deulofeu is not on song, the rest of our build-up play is too slow ever to catch the opposition out.

That, coupled with Martinez’s now customary paralysis over substitutions, mean things are looking bleak.

Ken, the editors, ToffeeWebers and Evertonians everywhere have a great Christmas and we should pray that Martinez has a footballing epiphany before Boxing Day!

David Hallwood
23 Posted 20/12/2015 at 15:26:40
Disagree, Ian. 4-4-2 means that players can double up and there have been times this season when we’ve looked short at both the front and back. Think of how Pienaar and Baines used used to overlap, underlap, interact and close down together.

Now we have a system where we have a right winger, and on the left we have a Kone??? The more I see teams playing our system, they’re always vulnerable from wide. In addition, if they play with two out-and-out defensive midfielders, they offer nothing in forward play, goals etc.

I’d like us to change to a mid 4 or Deulofeu, Barkley, Barry (MacCarthy), Mirallas, with Lukaku Kone (Naismith or even Mirallas) and put Lennon or even Baines wide left. We need to stop the goals flying in; a coupe of 0-0, 1-0 scorelines would be nice and needed.

Dave Brierley
24 Posted 20/12/2015 at 16:20:48
Like Dave Cooper and others, I had high hopes for this game. Even now, I think we are a better than Leicester, man for man, but when you have too many individuals under-performing in the same match, well, we saw the result.

It’s a great shame because, if ever there was an opportunity to break into the top four, this was the season.

Ken, thanks for all your reports, which I always enjoy. All the best for Christmas and the New Year.

Mike Oates
25 Posted 20/12/2015 at 16:59:03
Few points to raise, and I know this might be a major reaction but we need some centre halfs with courage, strength, nastiness, the Shawcrosses of this world, as we must have the softest centre in the Premier League. Put Stones in a defensive centre midfield position next to Barry when Jags is back . If you look at their first goal yesterday it came from a Leicester throw in which Stones didn’t even jump for with Vardy, in fact he hardly ever competes in the air, same for Norwich goal last week.

Push him up 10-15 yds and he’ll start more attacks, he’ll drive forward with the ball but to me he is not a PL centre half, he would be in Spain, Germany, Italy but not in England with a lot of emphasis on aerial attacks and big brutes up front.

Second point is someone quickly needs to get a grip of Deulofeu, his screams when he’s touched are an embarrassment to the club. He will be targeted every game and unless he can rise above it he will become useless to us, as recent games have shown once he’s hit he doesn’t want to know.

Jay Harris
26 Posted 20/12/2015 at 17:10:34
Happy Xmas to you and the family Ken.

We all always look forward to your reports as being unbiased and interesting.

I believe that there is a new order this season with good managers such as Leicester, Watford and even Bournemouth (who have suffered some awful luck this season) working out the outdated tactic of possession football.

We are seeing teams like Swansea, Southampton, Chelsea, The RS, us and even the mighty monied Man City troubled by much lesser teams who play with intensity and aggression and a clear sense of purpose while our BS manager makes statements like "it’s a squad game" and "We must defend better" and then sends out exactly the same team and formation with the same tactics and expects a different result.

Phil Walling
27 Posted 20/12/2015 at 17:36:11
Following my post @19, an Evertonian friend has rung to say he disagrees with my assumption that Roberto is here for the duration of his contract.

His view is that Moyes’s availability carries a threat to the Catalan in that if the New Year sees a dip in our fortunes similar to last year, BK will turn to him as a very safe pair of hands...

Gives new resonance to the much used saying "Be careful what you wish for", doesn’t it?

Eddie Dunn
28 Posted 20/12/2015 at 18:08:53
Mike (#25), good point on Stones, he reminds me of David Luis. He wants to bring it out and play, but he is risking a lot when he tries it at the wrong time. He has got himself into trouble on numerous occasions this season, but has managed to put most of them right with his pace and skill on the ball.

He is easy to read, and so his ability to bring it out is less effective. He rarely plays a definitive pass anyway, he normally beats a couple of players and then slides it to Barry or Barkley anyway. So why bother?

He would be better suited to Spain, France or Italy where the pace is slower and teams tend to sit-off and let the opposition have possession. Your idea of using him in midfield could be good, I wonder if they have tried it in training? Personally, I think he can make a great centre-half. He has age on his side, is tall and can play a bit.

I wasn’t that impressed with his partnership with Jags, and think Jags is better with a monster (Distin, Lescott) to take most of the headers. I imagine Stones is hard to play with, as no-one knows what he is going to do next.

Perhaps when Jags returns, we could see him with Funes Mori, and see how two no-nonsense centre-backs get on?

David Hallwood
29 Posted 20/12/2015 at 18:57:01
Good point, Jay (#26)

Souness (yeh I know) made the same point after the Swansea game, as Swansea had, I can’t remember the exact figure, 380+ passes with not a goal to show for it whereas Watford had a 80 passes less and scored 3.

It seems that RM & Co have forgotten the object of the exercise is to score more than the opposition.

Laurie Hartley
30 Posted 20/12/2015 at 20:12:39
Thanks Ken for your report. Best wishes for you and all in the Room of Nonsense for Christmas.

Up the Blues!

Peter Mills
31 Posted 20/12/2015 at 23:17:19
Ken, I wanted Martinez gone before the season started. I believed, and still do, that he is a phoney. I have thoroughly enjoyed some of our football this season, but it has lacked a winning mentality, determination, steel. Victory is a vital part of sport, excellent football which does not result in victory generates the sort of frustration that has been expressed so clearly on this site over the past 24 hours.

He is not going to change. He may temporarily adapt when the pressure builds as it did last season, but his ego will prevail. Some people are hoping for the "Kendall" scenario where a touch of good fortune will change everything, but Martinez is no Kendall, a man who won as a player, saved us from relegation as a player, learned from mistakes as a manager then won trophies and devotion from his players. A manager who knew the value of defending, surprising us when he axed players most of us thought were satisfactory such as Bailey and Mountfield, bringing in stronger replacements in Van den Heuwe and Watson.

I would love us to win a trophy, the League Cup would be great. But should that happen I have to confess there would be some unease in my celebrations as it would prolong the tenure of Martinez, who has it in him to get us relegated over the next few years if he remains.

Thanks for your reports throughout the year Ken, I always look forward to them. Very best wishes to you and yours, and to Lyndon, Michael and everyone out there.

Harold Matthews
32 Posted 21/12/2015 at 02:49:10
I sometimes wonder which way we are playing. Lukaku’s very first touch of the ball was a 30-yard backpass. They all do it. Wish I knew how it all started.

We then have Stones putting his foot on the ball, rolling it about a few times trying to look classy before walking slowly forward wondering why everyone is now tightly marked. Never mind, he passes it across to Funes Mori who passes it to Baines who passes it back.

Jack Cross
33 Posted 21/12/2015 at 03:04:26
Phil Walling (#19) A couple of weeks back, I was talking to a group of lads from Bromborough from over the water. They had been to a charity do in Formby. Cancer awareness, to do with Dalgleish’s wife Rene, think her name is. And Moyes was there, they showed me photos they had taken of him. Maybe there is some kind of connection. Formby, Liverpool, not a million miles away. Or maybe he is just a very charitable kind of man.

One of the blokes was a football agent. I didn’t catch his full name though. Allan, and I’m thinking Parkin, but I maybe wrong. From Bromborough, anyway and was with his dad. One of them did say something strange though: keep an eye on February. That’s why I mentioned that month on another thread. We can hope.

All the best for the New Year, Phil, and to everyone else who reads this.

Brian Hill
34 Posted 21/12/2015 at 04:45:18
Harold, can you imagine RM on Mastermind, specialist subject football:

John Humphrys: Roberto, when your centre half has the ball in a dangerous situation, what should he do?

RM: pass

JH: If Ross has a great shooting opportunity, what is the best option?

RM: pass

JH: When any of your players has the ball, what should be foremost in their thoughts?

RM: pass

JH: Roberto, you scored no points, but you did break the record for the most passes! Phenomenal!

Harold Matthews
35 Posted 21/12/2015 at 09:29:30
Ha ha... Nice one, Brian.
Brent Stephens
36 Posted 21/12/2015 at 10:54:15
Harold (#32),

"I sometimes wonder which way we are playing. Lukaku’s very first touch of the ball was a 30yd backpass."

Harold, I normally associate your posts with common sense but the above seems to be a bit unfair to Rom. It’s not that long ago that most of his first touches were backpasses but he really seems to improved on that part of his game. Unfortunately Kone (changing the subject, not the mention him) while having good ball control (still), seems to have lost any sense of shooting for goal - that frustrated me no end on Saturday.

Agree with your point about Stones. I did post elsewhere that after that age of ambling about with the ball he often passes it to a winger now tightly marked. I remember you stressing weaknesses in the guy’s defending in his early days playing first team football for us and my thinking that a bit harsh (I’m a glass half full guy!). But those weaknesses you highlighted do seem to occur too often for comfort.

What do you think of the possibility of Stones in a creative midfield position, as a few have suggested?

Robert Workman
37 Posted 21/12/2015 at 14:03:32
I am currently enjoying reading Howard Kendall’s latest book. Last night I read the following passage, which related to the team of 1968-69:-

"On other days we’d give away soft goals and draw – or even lose – matches that we should have won easily. Sometimes it left us bewildered. If we had a problem, it was a lack of ruthlessness."

How pertinent, it could have been written about the current Everton team. I remember well what happened the next season!

Geoff Williams
38 Posted 22/12/2015 at 14:22:56
The system deployed should be dependent on the players available and not, ’we play this system and players have to adapt to the system’ as leads to square pegs in round holes. Moyes was guilty of this and so is Martinez.

Over the years we’ve had Arteta, Osman, Naismith etc playing on the wing and now we have Kone stuck out wide but systems are irrelevant when the goalkeeper fails to command the penalty area. The major problem we have though is the lack of tactical nouse exhibited by the manager.

I don’t believe you can play two attacking fullbacks as well as two wide players who lack defensive instincts against the top teams without exposing the centre of the defence.

Everton’s strength lies in midfield, at fullback and with a striker in form. 4-4-2 would be the ideal system.

The first signing Everton need to make is an experienced goalkeeper who bosses his defence. The back four picks itself. The fullbacks should be encouraged to attack the opposition fullbacks at every opportunity BUT they shouldn’t forget that their first responsibility is to defend.

When we have everyone fit we have six good midfielders and all six should be utilised to keep things fresh. Their duties would be simple, win the ball and use it wisely, their first instinct must be play the ball forward, support the strikers, cover the fullbacks and run the legs off the opposition. Lukaku up front with one from Deulofeu, Mirallas, Kone or Naismith depending on form and the opposition. Deulofeu is in the driving seat at the moment.

My team would be:

Anyone but Tim Howard;
Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines;
Cleverley, Barkley, Barry, McCarthy (with Gibson or Besic ready to replace anyone under performing);
Lukaku and Deulofeu (with Mirallas ready to come on if necessary).

Everton have to stop losing games from winning positions, be ruthless in attack and uncompromising when defending. Row Z is there for a reason.


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