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December 2015 Archive   |   Submit a topic

Blue leadership?

Watching from afar as I do every match that I can, I am struck by the lack of apparent "leadership" that is currently shown by our boys in blue. However I only get to see what the TV cameras decide I should see. As much as I would love to watch each game at Goodison, that is nor possible. It was made even worse on Monday when there was no coverage available in Canada, but I was saved listening to the "Snods and Griffirth" show on EFC which I quite enjoyed apart from the last 10 minutes.

So the question I am asking from the long suffering 40,000 who watch the Blues in the flesh, is "Who is the most vocal of our team and who stands out as a leader?" My fading memory of leadership on a football field goes way too far back to bear any resemblance to what goes on today. Names that jump out at me from the glorious 80s and are Reidy, Rats, big Nev, Sharpy and before that group Bally, Howard, Labby and others too many to mention.

How did these famous sons of Goodison demonstrate their leadership? In their days, the clattering tackle, the voices that could be heard and the ever faithful fist pump were all backed up by supreme performances and they became leaders. I am not a believer in the oft quoted statement "Leaders are born not made" having just watched on TV Lieutenant John Chard leading the defence of Rorke's Drift for the umpteenth time.

It is very rare that young players display leadership talents and at the moment we have a team that is basically a very young and inexperienced team as RM continually points out. The burden of leadership then falls on the senior members of the team of whom Howard, Bainsey, Barry and Kone (and Jags) are the ones who fill that category. Of those it is Barry that stands out as the obvious choice, dictating play and in great form, but does he LEAD the team? I really don't think he does. He seems very happy to do what he does without being particularly vocal or demonstrative.

Maybe it is not in his nature. Maybe he was not born to be a leader nor does he want that responsibility. As for Bainsey, I think he could do the job if encouraged to do so. Of the the 2 others, neither fit the leadership job description. Will everything change when Jags is fit again? I remember many times that Jags was criticized for being "too quiet" and not an inspirational leader. So where have all the on field leaders gone? Have they been replaced by the "non playing coach" barking orders from the touch line as I used to do when coaching the Burlington Danes U12 school team? RM and others seem to love that role, while Wenger and others rarely move out of their dugout.

So will Stones or Barkley ever develop leadership talents and skills? If they are not encouraged to do so, given the opportunity to do so or they don't feel it is their responsibility because they are more focussed on their own game, we will not find out. Young players make mistake, hopefully they learn from them and don't repeat them. RM comes in for ton of stick but in his defence, and as he always points out, this is a work in progress. He has been forced or chosen to rely on a very young group of talented players who are not "street smart" when it comes to winning football matches. Learning is a slow and often painful process as many teachers and coaches can confirm.

Football in the Premier League in 2016 does not allow managers, coaches and players time. I would love to think RM has got it right and in the long term his plans will be fruitful, right now we are definitely in the painful part of the process. How much time will he be given? Luckily for him, we do not chop and change managers as other clubs do. This is an Everton way of doing things which I applaud.

So if I go back to my original question to those of you who watch the games live without the benefit of TV slow motion replay, close ups etc., who does show any leadership skills or has this all been removed by the manager who tries to influence the game from the touch line.

Happy New Year from Mississauga, Canada!
David Cooper     Posted 30/12/2015 at 15:47:56

Martinez needs a good No.2

Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that as a club we have better of a chance winning some silverware under Roberto Martinez than David Moyes. Though that chance only seem slightly better.

Whilst I have heard many Blues mention lately that we would have more chance of winning our upcoming games against Man City under Moyes, I find myself reminding them that a Moyes side would probably not have beaten Barnsley or Reading.

Both managers are total opposites when it comes to style, substance and tactics, but they do have one thing in common, both men are incredibly stubborn! Moyes was stubborn in an authoritarian, aggressive way, whilst Martinez seems to be stubborn in a more passive and almost deluded way.

The similarities dont end there, both managers seem to have had very similar No2s – Graham Jones and Steve Round in my opinion are both yes men, nodding dogs at their master's beckon call.

Which brings me to my point; we have not had a good strong-minded deputy since Alan Irvine? Someone who is not scared to say hang on boss, this is not working? The team (in my opinion) looked at its best during the transition from Moyes to Martinez, when we seemed to play without fear but still defended in a regimental Moyes way. Appointing someone like Irvine as head coach or assistant manager in my opinion would readdress that balance.

This is the only way I could see Martinez succeeding in the long run, but given the fact he is incredibly stubborn and would feel totally undermined this will probably never happen, to add our board would never suggest such a move.

So In the meantime I shall continue to sit in the Park End holding my head between my legs, wondering why someone cant get an obvious message to manager that. hang on boss this isnt working.
James Thornhill     Posted 30/12/2015 at 15:42:10


I think that when it was identified that we were having trouble up front and scoring goals, the decision to put Duncan working and coaching the boys was really good and is proven by the difference in the quality of Rom's touch, his running and most important goal returnsn which are clear for all to see.

Equally clear, unless the blind man's Labrador is looking the other way, is that our defence and goalkeeping are shambolic to say the least. Even when we get Jags back we are still poor. I believe it is down to the understanding and organisation as much as the quality of the player; no one would ever have said Tony Adams and Martin Keown were great footballers but great defenders who protected a goalkeeper who also was able to excel knowing the confidence he had in the teammates supporting him was assured.

You only need to look at the form ofThibault Courtois for Chelsea to see what happens when organisation goes out the window – he looks very run of the mill now, although in a different league from Howard. Then you look at City's defenders who cost millions but look like clowns – Mangala, Otamendi are very poor – so it's not just about expense but tactics and coaching support.

So if every fan can see it why, oh why, can't our manager not? All I read is another winger on the horizon. We do not need another winger, we do need a goalkeeper and strong central defenders. If this means that we must sell the best central defensive prospect (according to the media) then we should cash in and build for our weakness. Also who is responsible for coaching our back line? They need replacing.

To finish on a positive note, it is great watching some of our attacking play. Ross is coming good so a bit of credit. Happy New Year and fingers crossed.

Paul Kennedy     Posted 29/12/2015 at 09:42:01

Defensive coach

Having had the same problem throughout his time with us you'd have thought Martinez would at least have something in place to stop the rot when defending.

I love watching Everton play attractive football, but it's all wasted when you are left frustrated by the end result because we've conceded a sloppy goal.

I have a controversial suggestion, one that shocks myself to a degree as I was so annoyed by this person for screwing us with his contract. But maybe we could get David Moyes to come and do some contracting and give Martinez a few tips on defending and not conceding so often from set pieces and crosses.

I hated the way Moyes kept us dangling over his contract to get his move to Man Utd as I've always hated Man Utd and felt he always planned to move! But he's eaten his own words in a way as he definitely hasn't found the grass greener since leaving, like he often suggested about players that left Everton!

It could be a good combination as the two managers have the different skill sets that could advance each other's coaching ability. The both could infuriate with their lack of action to either be inventive or stubborn in our play. The downside could be that it has no affect on our leaky defence but at least we see something being attempted rather than just saying it is a problem.

So would you consider Moyes as a defensive coach?
Martin Clark     Posted 29/12/2015 at 00:08:29

Martinez out

Once again Everton demonstrate ridiculously naive defensive tactics. This is exactly what happened at Wigan. They conceded shed-loads of goals and ended up relegated.

We have a very talented squad of players and our manager has no idea how to defend. If this continues Lukaku will leave and who could blame him, not to mention other players?

Everton would not ship goals like this with David Moyes in charge.

Also Tim Howard must go, he is well past his best.

I can't remember the last time I left Goodison with a smile on my face.
Tim Griffiths     Posted 28/12/2015 at 18:48:26

Oxford Moment ?

Its been a frustrating time to be an Evertonian, watching all of those priceless points slip from our grasp has been very hard to take. BUT . . . and there is quite a sizeable but. Our football as at times been (for this miserable old git, at least) quite simply better than anybody elses. We`ve been a fantastic watch.

A new phrase has crept in amongst Evertonians particularly on ToffeeWeb. "This could be our Oxford moment " is cropping up almost every time we win. I can understand it, but to be honest it drives me mad. There was only one Oxford moment and even then nobody recognised it until a couple of months later. This current team has been knocking on the door for too long for a sudden transformation to take place.

Having dismissed the chances of history repeating itself in one breath, I`m going to try to claim it is happening in another.

Cast your mind back (those who are old enough) to 68/69. I clearly remember similar parallels to today`s team, Of course we don`t have the "Holy Trinity" but we are dominating games in very much the same fashion, We were a joy to watch. We were also criticised at the time for being a tad "too nice"

There was no "Oxford Moment" for this Everton side, but Catterick who was notorious for breaking up sides, left this one alone. He knew that the only quality his team lacked was maturity. We ran away with the league the next season, by replacing a small part of the dazzle with a bit of steel and know how, we became simply too good for the rest.

Today`s class is a soft touch, there can be no doubt about that, but just because Stones, Barkley, Deulofeu, Galloway, Lukaku, are not do-what-it-takes winners now, doesn`t mean they will not turn out to be. there are already signs of maturity coming into their game.

Having repeatedly called for the manager to be sacked at the end of this season (if he doesn`t deliver) I`m doing a complete volte face. It would be wonderful if these youngsters can win a cup or qualify for Champions League football this time around, but its more important that they are kept as a unit and Martinez has already demonstrated that he can fend off the most determined attempts to take our players.

We don't need a king's ransom to get back into the big time, we simply need to hold on to the talent we have, they will mature naturally, it would be nice to think the manager will too.

Martinez holds the future of this club in his hands, if he can just find that attention to detail which separates the great managers from the ordinary ones, he could become legend. What he cant do is assume that by doing the hard parts, he is doing enough. he has to start getting the basics right too.

Stoke will offer a stern test of our resolve and only by winning games such as this will our youngsters start to understand what it takes.
Darren Hind     Posted 28/12/2015 at 06:26:07

Tactics and strategy?

I am becoming increasingly frustrated with Roberto Martinez. I think he has so many strengths he buys well, he wants to play football, he wants to play attractively but I feel so frustrated at his one-dimensional approach to play and I just don't get it.

We did really well in his first season, and also have done really well in the Capital One Cup this season, but I am spending most games pointing out clear issues that don't seem to be addressed. In his first season, teams started to sit back against us and Martinez seemed to counter it towards the end of his first season.

We also have done tactical numbers against United twice at Goodison until this season's three nil when they sat back and hit us on the break. He can out-think opposition managers when he wants to!

Here are my key issues:

  1. Why aren't we playing Robles until he buys a new keeper?
  2. Why do we seem so susceptible to big balls down the middle?
  3. What is happening to our midfield in terms of defence? We have good players but the opposition seem to be upon our defence within one pass. This is far too easy.
  4. Do we practice the defence of free kicks and corners?
  5. Do we practice taking corners and free kicks? This is a key asset in any Premier League team that wants to do anything!
  6. Why don't we use our squad a bit more in terms of horses for courses?
  7. Why are players who are not really in form kept in the starting eleven?
  8. What are our plans B and C if teams sit eight men behind the ball and harry us with two quick forwards?
  9. Do we actively work on getting the ball forward as quickly as possible when the situation demands it?

These questions and numerous others are driving me insane as the manager does not seem aware of them.

TIm Short     Posted 27/12/2015 at 17:25:30

Goodison Park, a different place

I have to say I am disgusted with things. It seems that everywhere you turn, there are people complaining about everything from Osman to Barkley, from Martinez to Kenwright. Whatever happened to supporting your team at all costs or positive reinforcement?

I remember attending Goodison as a boy, and I always traveled home with nothing but praise for the Scousers, who I wished nothing more to be part of. Their football intellect was second to none, coupled with a massive dose of humour it made traveling to Liverpool an event I look forward to. Now its turning sour, and I dont like it.

I know the world is full of opinion, mine included, I know that people have a right to complain when things are not going as they would expect, but where once there was optimism, it is now replaced with outright pessimism; where once there was humour, it is replaced with vitriolic abuse.

I've seen criticism of some of our best players, particularly Barkley, reach to levels that if I was employed by EFC I would seriously consider my options. How much fun can it be for someone that the minute they make a mistake, or dont make a forward pass that from a birds eye view may seem obvious, that thousands at best groan or at worst hurl unfounded abuse?

The guy is just 22, try to remember what it was like to be at 22... Also remember, he has scored 7 goals this season, in 19 appearances. There are only 9 other players who have scored more and Lukaku is one of them.

Recommendations for changing our current manager, who in my view is making us play of a style of football not seen since the days of Kendall, are ludicrous. Martinez has bought well, and now has the team playing some of the best football I have personally witnessed.

With a bit more luck, the 7 draws we had this season could have had a minimum of another 6 or 8 points (Norwich, hitting the post 3 times, Crystal Palace first half, Bournemouth, and Swansea or Watford back in Aug/sep). This would put us in 4th joint 6th depending on your view. Its not big changes we need, its small tweaks with the team we have and then it can push on.

I occasionally bring my children to watch the game, but less and less these days as at the moment its not the environment I want my children to experience. I know the irony in what I say, but if I had one wish this season, it would be for a sense of optimism coupled with a positive spirit at least until the end of the season and see where that takes us.

Happy Christmas everyone, I wish you well and fantastic New Year.
Joe Duffin     Posted 23/12/2015 at 14:02:50

Something strange happening

This is a different Premier League season. We have had some poor results but the teams we have disappointed against have all gone on, in racing terms, to frank the form.

Money doesn't seem quite as important. Leicester, a club that do not, in my view, have better players than us, are top; Why?

I believe that, for some mad reason, the Premier League has become like the real world. A bunch of lads who get on, who have a vision, who fucking actually like each other, who want to see each other succeed, who are mates, somehow combine (like we did in the eighties) to produce something special.

It all arrives at one time... and money, for a magic moment doesn't matter. Chelsea have had the opposite of it this season. But, it could have been us, a defining season that turns it all round. Is there still time for it to be Roberto?
Andy Crooks     Posted 22/12/2015 at 23:21:54

Gracias Howard, Hola Robles

I have been reading the mixed bag of comments of late, blaming this, that the other for our current slump. To be honest, I disagree personally with the anti-Martinez brigade; however, I have to agree with some of the comments about the boss, in particular the lack of seeing the obvious.

In the past month we have played some of the best football I have seen by an Everton side, dominating games only to be undone by stupid defending. If you look at the team we put out then it is pretty much a first choice 11 (Kone apart) and a very strong bench.

The back four is strong, which brings us to our Achilles heel the goalkeeper, Tim Howard. Tim has been a great servant to our club but for me the confidence is gone. Yes, he's a good shot stopper but so am I from 30 yards. A few things that worry me about our keeper of late: he saves more with his feet than his hands. You can see and hear Stones is not confident in his keeper, but let's get to the obvious: GET OFF THE FUCKING LINE!

All our good work is undone by bad positioning, he is rooted to his line for corners. A keeper should command his six-yard box and corners should be bread and butter. Tim Howard has cost us eight if not 10 points this season that is comfortable top 4. All the negativity directed at the manager would not be as potent had our goal custodian done what most keepers do.

Hinting in today's Echo that he is not happy with the soft goals we're conceding, it's time for Martinez to get some bollocks and drop what appears to be a so obvious problem. I have still not forgiven him for the Derby, never mind being beaten at the near post against Watford, inviting Rooney to chip him, Palace, Bournemouth etc...

Come on, Roberto, give us some Christmas cheer and say Gracas Tim, Hola Joel.
Ian Adams     Posted 21/12/2015 at 10:48:33

Can't Change... Won't Change

The guy sitting behind me in the Upper Bullens is not normally known for his 'gems of wisdom' but I thought he pretty much summed it up when he described Martinez as 'passively stubborn' at the end of the game against Leicester.

It is now becoming a regular trait around about the 60-minute mark (normally when we are a goal down) that he deems it the right time to make a sub. This despite the fact that, for the last two games, it's been so obvious that Kone will never score in a month of Sundays.

For a manager who supposedly embraces the idea of his teams being able to express themselves creatively, he is becoming mind boringly predictable. In a nutshell, he was easily out-thought and out-manouvered on Saturday by a manager who was simply intent on getting the very best out of the players he had at his disposal.

On paper, Martinez has much better technical players than Ranieri, but is simply failing to get the best out of them. On an individual basis, goalkeeper apart, I'm not sure you would find a better back four in the Premier League, but collectively, we are shambolic. Conceding an average of two goals a game over the last four games must SURELY tell the manager where the problem lies, but he is so focused on his masterplan, it's just not registering.

The manner in which we were 'picked off' on Saturday was alarming. More disturbing was the message sent out to our better players that, under this manager, we are not a club that is moving forward. We may be better on the eye this season but, with just ONE point more than at the same stage last season, that tells me lessons have simply not been learned. Indeed, we have supposedly just finished a spell of games against 'lesser' opposition; it's going to get uglier in the very near future

So what of our manager? What are the likely scenarios? Is he going to develop a ruthless streak and make the BIG decisions that are required? ... I don't think so; he's very much set in his ways and will be backed by a group of directors too weak and lacking in direction at the basic level to demand better.

Meanwhile, the club's impressive and loyal fan base (a near capacity attendance a week before Xmas) continues to become more and more fed-up with the 'mad professor' and his regime at our club. As we reach the halfway stage of the season, we can look forward to maybe a few more wins against feeble opposition like Aston Villa (the 'complete performance', according to Roberto) and Sunderland, but with a record of just two wins in the last eleven Premier League games, don't hold your breath.

As the crowd's frustration grows for the rest of the season, I sincerely hope the don't turn on the younger players, such as Barkley, who was on the end of some dog's abuse last season. Save your ire for the manager whose flawed philosophy and tiresome post-match comments lend themselves to further ridicule.

I noticed even the local and national media are now turning up the heat on Martinez, after giving him a fairly easy ride over the last 2 years; things must really be bad...

Steve Hogan     Posted 20/12/2015 at 09:42:45

Watching the Blues can be dangerous for your health

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.
Dave Cooper     Posted 19/12/2015 at 23:15:48

Feeling strangely confident!

I cannot remember when the last time was that I felt so confident about the Blues playing the team sitting on top of the Premier League! Usually, home or away, it has been against one of the teams who we don't do that well against except for the odd occasion which you can count on the fingers on one hand over the past 20 years. Why does playing Leicester not send those shivers down my back?

I must admit, today was the first time I have watched them. I may be proved wrong but I think we will turn them over on Saturday to give us a all a Happy Christmas! The alternative is too painful to contemplate!

Why do I feel so confident? First of all, they are a BIG team. They have several versions of Huth in different positions and we will need to match their physicality all over the field. But I think we have played well against teams who won't pick anyone under 6 foot.

They also don't mind sticking their boot in when it counts, which we don't do, so we will have to win more 50-50 tackles and 2nd balls. They seem very happy to play without the ball. Today, it was 35-65% possession vs Chelsea and attack on the break.

I hope McCarthy is back and Barkley is told he must run back when he loses the ball upfield. Albrighton, who flattered to deceive at Villa, seems to have a new lease of life playing wide and we will need to defend well against him. Coleman may have to curtail his attacking urges. I noticed several times they hit balls deep into the penalty area for Mahrez to come around the back. So hopefully Roberto and Bainsey will be up for that as he is scoring for fun.

Then of course there is Vardy who can't believe how things are going for him. Time for John Stones to show us how good he really is. But, as others have said in other posts, if we were to match up player for player on their best day, I would pick us every time.

Can we produce our best on Saturday? Will playing the Premier League leaders who are not one of the Sky 5 mean we approach the game with confidence and a positive outlook? For sure the Old Lady will be rocking and I am looking forward to watching us win from 3,000 miles away and set up a Very Merry Toffee Blue Christmas!
Dave Cooper     Posted 15/12/2015 at 03:24:45

Premier League week 16 and the set-piece debate

With Everton's increasingly costly fragility at corners and free kicks and the majority of Premier League goals coming from dead-ball situations this weekend, the hows and whys of defending them are the topic du jour.

Today, West Brom scored twice from set-pieces in their 2-2 draw with Liverpool three if you count the one that was disallowed while Eric Dier notched for Tottenham from a dead-ball opportunity.

Is this something that can be coached into defenders or is there an inherent advantage to attacking players in these situations? Discuss!
ToffeeWeb      Posted 13/12/2015 at

No wins when scoring 1 or 2 goals

Here is the league table of each club's number of wins this season when scoring 1 or 2 goals, through 12 December 2015:

1. Crystal Palace 6
2. Watford 6
3. Stoke City 6
4. Man City 5
5. West Brom 5
6. Leicester City 4
7. Arsenal 4
8. Man United 4
9. West Ham 4
10. Liverpool 3
11. Bournemouth 3
12. Chelsea 3
13. Swansea 3
14. Tottenham 2
15. Southampton 2
16. Newcastle 2
17. Sunderland 2
18. Norwich City 1
19. Aston Villa 1
20. Everton 0

Geoffrey Caveney     Posted 12/12/2015 at 23:09:22

Fatally flawed or work in progress?

The sheer volume of anger and disappointment following another massive let down by this current Everton side is totally understandable after the latest debacle against a poor Norwich team.

It's difficult then to decipher whether this is just a sign of 'growing pains' and inconsistency of an evolving team or something more serious?

Critics of Martinez will say 'he's not a defensive coach' and what were witnessing is typical of Martinez style of teams ie 'can score freely but can't defend to save your life'

Sitting in the pub with a mate watching events unfold in the second half he said 'What we need at times is a Skyrtel type centre-half'


Before people keel over in shock horror , is there some truth in this, are our current centre back's too nice?

I love to see John Stones beating three players bringing the ball out of defence in a Beckenbaur sought of way, but I'd love to see both him and Fumes Mori dominate in the air the way less cultured centre half's do.

You can see why Everton were so keen to sign Scott Dan in the summer break.

But back to the original question, are we on the brink of something really good, or are we being hampered by Martinez's lack of a real ruthless streak?

Whilst opinion's on our manager's ability seems to split opinion right down the middle amongst the fan base, his stubbornness is there for all to see.

Why is it fans can see events happening on the field on a regular basis but the manager can't?

Today, Kone was all but finished after 60 minutes and should have been replaced.

The continuing quandary with the ability of the goalkeeper being vulnerable on crosses or immobility in the six yard box continues to haunt us week after week.

Apparently Howard has a contact with us until his 40th birthday, nice work if you can get it.

Perhaps it's his lack of ruthlessness with certain players which will be his ultimate downfall or perhaps we should be more tolerant of the young but talented players we have and the inconsistencies that accompany players of that age.

Lukaku is having a great season, but it was an absolute sitter he missed today to put us 2-0 up and further demoralise an abject Norwich team.

Should we forgive and forget?

I'm sitting on the fence I'm afraid, but enjoying the sheer quality of the football on offer at certain times, I just don't like the sheer frustration that goes with it.

Steve Hogan     Posted 12/12/2015 at 22:11:15

Learning to play with Bainesy again

Although we have waited a long time to see Leighton Baines back on the field and we have been very well served by Brendan Galloway, I feel the Blues have moved on a mile since Bainesy was our regular left back.

We have only seen him in short glimpses recently but when he has been on the field, the pattern of play has shifted away from him. Everything recently has gone right towards the amazing Geri and who can argue with his end result. Yes Geri can be incredibly frustrating but you always feel that he will produce a cross that someone, mostly Big Rom will convert.

Leighton is missing his two main pals that helped him become the number one left back in the Premier League. It is hard to see how Pienaar and Osman can ever get back into the team unless we have a run of unfortunate injuries.

Do we look a better defensive unit with or without Galloway? And where does LB fit into this dilemma? Which is a very nice dilemma to have! Would we be an even better attacking force if LB rediscovers his old form? If Baines returns to anything near his old form, we can at least expect our delivery from corners and set pieces to improve. Or has he slipped too far down the pecking list of dead ball specialists behind Barkley, Geri, Rom etc.?

Personally, I feel we are a better side without Bainese. I never thought I would write or say that! We certainly don't have a problem going forward but we do when we have to defend. Galloway is a much better defender and physically bigger and stronger than LB. Is it heresy to suggest we cash in on whatever value Leighton has left in him?
Dave Cooper     Posted 10/12/2015 at 09:11:50

The case for the defence

I think the majority of supporters feel that defence is our Achilles heel, particularly from crosses.

Defending is a team game and therefore it is not just down to the back four. So what can we do about it?

We dont need a rocket scientist to establish some principles.

The first improvement needs to come from preventing the crosses coming in in the first place. It is fair to say the majority of crosses come from our left side but I do not totally blame Galloway for this.

Tactically 4-2-3-1 does exacerbate this problem as we don't have a dedicated left-sided midfielder and while Kone does occasionally chase back it is not enough. What may help however is if we have Baines or Barry playing left midfield as part of a 4-3-3 or even play 4-2-3-1 and revert to 4-3-3 during passages of play.

One of the main problems we have defensively is defending corners and free kicks and while we can put much of the blame for this firmly on RM' s shoulders as "He doesn't practice defending corners and set pieces because they are not significant"

In my opinion, it is imperative we get a defensive coach working with the team ASAP on our set up and ability to defend corners and crosses.

We should also have Lukaku back in the area marking one of the center halves and leave Geri or Mirallas (Yes, I said Mirallas, Roberto) on the half way line with an instruction to clear the ball up the pitch if the opportunity arrives.

I also think we need to asses the goalie's role in all this so we have a clear understanding of what the keeper will and wont do. For example should he clear everyone out in the 6 yard box or should he stay on his line flanked by defenders on the post. Do we go man marking or zonal marking?

My view on this is quite simple. Anything that prevents the opposition getting a touch on a cross is the way to go whether it is a defender or goalkeeper getting to the ball.

On the issue of the goalkeeper my view is Tim Howard has come in for some unfair criticism this season but, nonetheless, if we are to go for Champions League there is no doubt we need a better keeper and goalkeeping coach.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Jay Harris     Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:28:23

Cold, cold sweat!

So, how many are getting excited at the thought of a day out at Wembley? I guess the "young 'uns" cannot wait for chance to see their team walk out onto the hallowed turf. Those of us of a certain age will, perhaps, be more guarded in our emotions. Why? Well there are two reasons I break out into a cold sweat.

Firstly, from my experience, Everton must have one of the worst "appearance vs winning" records of the top teams... yes, I am including us as a top team along with Villa, Spurs etc.

I first saw us in the 1977 League Cup Final (the debacle of the FA Cup Semi-Final still to come) against Villa, a bore-draw but we did hit the bar I think?

The final started in March but it took two replays and we finished up losing in April at Old Trafford 2-3. We had an all English team, bar the defender Ken McNaught (Jock), but he left us the following year to join the very same Villa (and go on to win the European Cup).

The next final was also in the League Cup in 1984, and yet again our mortal enemies stepped forward to ruin our lives. Liverpool escaped with a draw at Wembley by the skin of their teeth (Hansen's a cheating twat). No such luck in the Maine Road replay.

The next final was later the same year and at last I saw Everton lift a cup in 1984 versus Watford.

Then the 1985 treble was snatched from us by a bloody toe poke from Norman Whiteside. It didn't matter, I had watched us win the ECWC in Rotterdam and we had the 1st Division Championship.

Then 1986 and 1989, FA Cup finals at Wembley... the bastards did us twice. Nothing comes close to that feeling driving home. I have to hold my hands up, the hate was well and truly installed in my young heart back then.

A long wait until 1995 and Big Joe managed to take his Dogs of War (and Nev's famous quote "We are a pub team") to Wembley and snatch the FA Cup from Man Utd. Our turn to "get away with it".

Finally, 2009 and after the first-minute goal we just faded away in the FA Cup final versus Chelsea.

So I have watched us win 2 out of 8 cup finals at Wembley. I do not feel lucky... so I will not be attending if we make it this year.

Oh, and the second reason for the cold sweats? Yes, you all know it....the Red Shite. Seriously, it's not a fear of a better team, far from it, but Hamilton's goal, Hansen's handball, Hutchison's goal, Thomas, Clattenberg etc etc. They always get the bounce, the decision or just cheat. Everton appear to have a mental block with them. Only with Joe Royle did you think "yes we will win", even at Anfield.

They are lurking and I pray they lose, please God let them lose. The cold, cold sweat is running down my back.
Ian Robert     Posted 02/12/2015 at 06:34:09

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