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Mejor amiga

Following Jim Keoghan's piece on the comparisons between Mike Walker and Roberto Martinez, I started to think about our two most recent departures from the office at Goodison. David Moyes left the club with supporters grateful for his contribution but aware that a change could bring a little excitement as stability grew into stagnation. His decision to elope down the M62 was seen as a good fit for everyone. In March 2014 as Goodison rocked to a comfortable win over his meek Manchester United side, leading to his quick dismissal from that post, it looked like we had got the much better end of the stick. That stick has now become a rod for our own backs.

It is tricky in some ways to compare things such as win percentages with Martinez and Walker; as Jim shows, collective memories tend to reflect things better. Expectations have rightly increased. Circumstances around player sales have changed drastically. The entire Premier League landscape has shifted.

Even our campaigns under Moyes become difficult to pit statistically against the current term. There is no longer a breakaway top four, the financial gap is there but not quite the unassailable chasm it used to be. Yet if we are looking for comparisons based on the feeling of almost unequivocal discontent, we need look no further than the last manager who faced the sack from our club: Walter Smith.

We all know the story and we all know how it ends. We know that Smith, much like Martinez, came with a good reputation, albeit built on shaky foundations (for Martinez’s cup success read Scottish titles). We know that it ended with some disastrous results that left us teetering on the brink of survival.

Again, comparisons are tricky; Smith was haemorrhaged by the broken promises of Peter Johnson, his football was often lumpen and appalling to watch and he certainly did not possess the positivity of his Spanish successor. But these examples only add to the growing sense that something is desperately wrong at Goodison under Martinez.

Even before the arrival of Moshiri, our finances (and crucially assets on the field) are better than they have been for some time. Certainly better than in 2002. Reading the reports on Smith’s final game in charge – that ill-fated FA Cup quarter final against Middlesborough - make grim reading. Names like Nick Chadwick, Niclas Alexandersson, Steve Simenson, Paul Gascgoine, Jesper Blomqvist – the list goes on and provokes winces and painful memories.

Our current passing game is not the tika-taka dream we were led to believe it would be. And perhaps a bit of dour reflection on one our many, many poor displays would at least make a change from Martinez’s incessantly positive/unnervingly naive post-match interviews.

With our league campaign essentially over – the appalling display against Arsenal rubber-stamping this – we are left hanging on to the FA Cup to salvage something from another year of disappointment. I’ll leave you with these quotes from Phil McNulty after Walter Smith was finally cut loose. Perhaps Kenwright will once again put friendship to one side and say “adios” to the man in the Goodison hot-seat. Another bad performance on Sunday and an FA Cup exit would surely see to that.

"As always, results have been the judge of Smith, and most managers would have found it hard to survive such abject fare as that served up by Everton at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup quater-final. Everton's fans have never warmed fully to Smith, and the under-current of disapproval for his regime has recently turned to open revolt.

Fans do not sack managers, but when the discontent becomes as poisonous as it has against Smith in recent days, it left Kenwright with no option but to sack his manager. It will have hurt Kenwright bitterly to have that conversation with his close friend, but he has taken the brave step and will hope fortune favours him."


Adam  McCulloch     Posted 25/03/2016 at 16:11:29

Let's not miss the boat

I can't help thinking that we are wasting a golden opportunity by not challenging for a top 4 place in the Premier League. We have a talented group of players which includes one of Europe's most prolific strikers in Lukaku. But the biggest reason why it is imperative to start challenging for the Champions League places (that is next season obviously) is because the so-called top sides are so poor at the moment.

There's no doubt that all the extra broadcasting revenue in the Premier League has evened up the 'playing field' because the likes of Watford and Crystal Palace can outspend most teams from the other leagues in Europe. This obviously doesn't include the elite clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Juventus etc... But nevertheless, the lesser teams in the Premier League have a larger pool of better players to buy, which wasn't the case in the past.

I still feel that the 'playing field' isn't as even as some people may think; the openness of the league and the success of teams like Spurs and Leicester, is a result stemming from the demise of the Sky 4/5 clubs. Sir Alex, at Man Utd, left an aging squad behind that needed a major rebuilding job doing. Sadly (for them that is) Moyes and Van Gaal have made a right mess of that process. Van Gaal has spent countless millions on average players and therefore, they are a very average outfit.

Chelsea are also a shadow of their former selves; their form took a real nosedive after 'the special one' lost the respect of his players, starting with when he sacked the very popular female physio: Eva Carneiro. There's still some very good players at Chelsea but a rebuilding job will need doing. Same goes for Man City, they are the poorest they've been for many years.

Make no mistake about it though, these financial powerhouses will be back dominating the top 4 and winning the Premier League title – normal service will be resumed. These clubs can buy the elite players because they can pay them £200k a week... a luxury that a club like ours and the others don't have. This season was the perfect opportunity for us to take advantage of the openness of the Premier League. Instead, Spurs and Leicester have done that.

Have Leicester actually got a better squad of players than us? My opinion is no. What they are, is a very well-drilled organised unit... everything that we aren't. I think that is a reflection of the quality difference in Martinez and Ranieri.

We really need a competent manager in charge while the mega-rich clubs are still in transition. We have a quality squad of players and perhaps the likes of Lukuka and Stones would stick around for one more season to see if we can match their ambitions, with a new manager appointed. Many of the players (like us fans) will be bewildered with Martinez's naive tactics and will know there's no chance of progress under the current regime.

So, who should Moshiri appoint? I'm sure we all have our own preference, but mine would be Marcelo Bielsa. He's currently out of work and has (mostly) done a fantastic job wherever he's been. If you like the way Spurs play then you'll like the style of Bielsa, as Pochettinho is a disciple of his. I really think the Goodison crowd would appreciate his style of high intensity and pressing football.

We are not like West Ham fans who demand attractive football; we like to see lots of energy and commitment – that's what gets us excited. We can't afford to keep writing-off seasons and risk losing our best players every summer while the Premier League is so open. Let's not miss the boat.
Mark Frere     Posted 28/03/2016 at 17:26:11

What exactly is happening at Goodison?

There has been a lot of talk about the fans being a major reason for the pitiful home results this season. I'm a long way away, but I catch every match on the tube, and I can't help but notice that since midway through last season, Goodison has been a lot quieter. At times the only noise is from the away fans.

I'm not oblivious to the fact that the silence began about the same time Martinez's master plan for revolutionization of Everton football really started to take effect. People were/are just plain bored with Roberto's possession football. Not only is it boring, it's obviously not working. Not at home anyway.

It's obvious to the fans and it must be doubly so to the players. They push to make it work, and in doing so leave themselves vulnerable at the back. Add to that, the rearguard are lacking chemistry. They are all quality talent, but I don't think they play as cohesive unit. Whether we play two CBs, or three, it's edge of the seat stuff every time there's a cross or a corner. The Everton Achilles heel is common knowledge around the league.

The players get anxious, they get tight, they make mistakes they usually wouldn't make. The fans get restless, they get quiet. Instead of waiting in anticipation for the bit of magic that makes football a joy to watch, we wait for the inevitable bad pass or missed header, because with Martinez's system, there will be more than a few, and pray that the mistake doesn't end up in our net.

There is no joy at Goodison. The squad loses... they're not happy. When Everton lose, especially in the manner that they lose, WE the fans, are not happy. Some may boo because that's the only way to let their feelings be known.

There are some who say that booing isn't acceptable; we should be encouraging the players, not criticizing them.

Are the fans the reason for the terrible results at home? The supporters reactions aren't the disease, they're just a natural reaction to what's happening, or more precisely, what's not happening on the pitch.

It's up to Martinez to turn thing around on the field. To lay responsibility at the feet of fans who pay good money to watch the games, is not helping. It's making things a whole lot worse.


Darryl Ritchie     Posted 30/03/2016 at 05:57:35

Our new manager

There's been talk on here for a while with regard to who we should go for if Martinez is given the boot at the end of the season.

I just read the Mirror this morning and had to wonder if one of the stories in it might just be the little break in the grey clouds hanging over us.

Bilic will not be offered a new contract at West Ham Utd until January, as opposed to this summer's close season, in case he's a "one-season wonder".

Bilic appears to be a good fit for us in my opinion: he knows the club, has international experience, is fiery (and maybe a bit mad), and most important of all (at present), he's a defender with experience in DEFENDING.

Now I know that's not the be-all and end-all but I think he's proved that he recognizes and welcomes flare players too.. I don't need to say the name but I will: "Payet".

He's done wonders with The Hammers this season and he also proved recently at Goodison that he has a Plan B and is prepared to change things when things are going wrong. Two-nil down... win three-two!!

The West Ham chairman is quoted as having said that Bilic isn't really interested in big money, but more in a big project sort of thing.

With no disrespect to West Ham, I think ours would be a bigger project with the possibility of a new stadium on the horizon too, to rival WHU's move to theirs, and an effort to get us back to somewhere near our former glory.
Brian Williams     Posted 25/03/2016 at 10:03:50

Fact or fiction?

Why do people persist in making comments as “Fact” when they actually cannot confirm that the comment is indeed true? It's like the media with their “We can confirm Stones will be a Chelsea player by Friday” (Daily Mail). It is of course bollocks to sell a ruddy news paper... but it is used as “fact” by the radio, the TV and anyone else that is daft enough to believe the sh#te they print.

We have the “I heard from the steward next to me” scenarios, “Bill died three weeks ago” junk. Really? Seriously?

We have a recent article on TW where the poster states “We know one thing. Kenwright hired him, and continues to back him. That, like it or not is a fact.”

There's that word again. The only “fact” is that the nutter in charge hired RM or told someone else to hire him. We have no idea whether he still backs his choice, the Chairman is now just a figurehead, he has not got a means to force his will on the other board members. The Farhad fella is the guy that will make the decisions now...I don't know that for a “fact”, but it is safe to assume you ain't going to become a majority shareholder, spend millions, and leave it to others to control the fortunes of your investment?

Kenwright may be begging for them to keep RM, he could be raging and telling RM to win the cup or he'll hit him with a baseball bat OR he could be spaced out on whatever medication he's on!!

None of us are privy to the truths at our beloved Everton, we have no idea what passes between the manager and Billy Boy, or Farhad and the CEO etc etc
I certainly would never assume anything, I can guess that the Chairman took on RM because he thought he could get us into the Champions League... he talked a phenomenal game... there is no foundation that he was given the “MO” to “just avoid relegation”.

Some of us did not want a relegation manager. Doesn't make us football genii (someone check the spelling) it just means we are “nervous” fans.
Some thought after season one he was the right man. Doesn't mean they are stupid, they looked at a league position or a “fact”.

But here are a few “facts”.

  • We have a good team (not the best squad in 30 years etc) that appears to be underachieving.
  • We are in the bottom half of the table.
  • We have a shot at the cup....hurrrah!
  • We have a new owner and decision maker (he may make a decision to leave the decisions with someone else...who knows...we don't).
  • Some of us will be happy with the Cup and “give him a chance”.
  • Some of us will be happy with the Cup but “get rid of him anyway”.
  • Some of us want him shot, hung, drawn and forced to listen to PM's question times (actually that's not a fact...I lied).
  • We ain't set the world on fire under the previous owner of Everton FC (but don't state as facts that he didn't want us to win trophies).

Everyone gets an opinion, and I for one respect everyone's... but please, please stop stating “facts” that cannot be proved.

COYB


Ian Robert     Posted 25/03/2016 at 08:03:02

Niasse – where is he??

We recently spent £13 million pounds on a striker, Oumar Niasse... where is he?

Most other clubs put their new assets on show as soon as possible. We seem to be dragging our heels in this respect.

Is there something wrong with him? Is he sick?? Is he injured??? Or have we sold him without telling anyone???? Whatever the reason, we seem to have lost him on the EFC news, no mention of him anywhere.

Is EFC that strong we can afford to leave him off the team sheet? And if that is because he is not up to standard, why did we spend so much on him... and so late in the transfer window?


Alan 'Thommo' Thompson     Posted 24/03/2016 at 07:43:32

Tim, forgive them for they know not what they do

I find the chorus of ingratitude and dismissive criticism of Tim Howards contribution to Everton astonishing. We hear all the time that players should be more loyal to clubs and fans than they usually are but the reality is that many fans dont offer much loyalty either. Howard deserves to be defended.

In his first season, Tim Howard conceded 36 league goals, 14 fewer than his predecessor the previous season. Over the seasons since, he has regularly conceded fewer goals than all but the top four or five clubs. In 2007/8 for example, he conceded 33 goals. Only Man Utd, Chelsea Arsenal and Liverpools keepers did better. In 2011/12 he conceded 40, but that was still fewer than all but the top 2.

In 2013/14 he conceded fewer goals than the runners-up and in In 2012/13 he conceded fewer goals than the Premier League champions. Did he also have some poor performances? Yes. He is getting slower. He is 37. It is ridiculous, however to claim, as some have done, that he is a mediocrity or merely average. The whole world saw his record-breaking performance performance for the USA vs Portugal [ It was Belgium Ed]. That was not the work of a mediocrity.

There have been plenty of great performances for Everton over the years too. And one great goal! No matter how you cut up the numbers he has been statistically one of the top performing goalkeepers in the Premier League for most of a full decade.

Despite his recent form, I doubt he would have let in either of the goals which Arsenal scored on Saturday. So I for one, while accepting it is time for him to move on, thank him for the last ten years and wish him well. We should all hope his replacement does as well.
Peter Fearon     Posted 21/03/2016 at 20:14:25

Insulting and Embarrassing

As a lifelong supporter, I feel entitled to vent my anger and frustration over the past nearly three years.

On the credit side I've nothing but admiration for a genuine true Blue. Chairman, Bill Kenwright, isn't the wealthiest of such people in the Premier League but he's previously talked significant people onto the Board. None of them seemed keen too part with their dosh, but I assume their business acumen contributed something somewhere.

Bill's inertia and ducking of decision-making is legendary. He might have functioned with less caution in the works of theatre, but not at or about Everton. The ground issue may now get the impetus it needs from the new guy, Moshiri and his mate and fellow Board member he brought with him. Pray tell me what Robert Elstone is doing on the Board or couldn't they afford to sack him?

Anyway I'd also mention all the brilliant Community stuff the Club does for the disabled kids and beyond. Naismith before he left was a shining inspiration and example to all pro footballers with his generosity and caring attitude... I loved him and his approach.

On the down side, what credentials did Martinez have that persuaded Kenwright to recruit him? He's proved to be so out of his depth and clueless. If reaching the FA Cup semi-Final is so down to him, then so is the appalling state of affairs re our results and performances in the Premier League.

Unarguably we have a pretty good squad,with maybe three or four outstanding talents, complimented by the likes of Barry, Jagielka, Baines, Besic, Lennon et al. We have a manager who looked better than he was at the job in his first season because he inherited a Moyes-constructed defence. Moyes could stifle attacking talent by being in the same room, but he knew his onions about defence; sadly, for Martinez to have that talent in reverse is destined towards disaster.

Martinez has produced teams that can attack like Brazil at times, but defend like Hartlepool, and frankly for Hartlepool these days, read Everton I wouldn't want to insult Hartlepool!

After the World Cup, Howard, Jagielka and Baines looked shot, but Martinez didn't seem able or prepared to deal with that. Ultimately Howard just got worse, the other two mixed in reality. Baines's dead ball expertise long gone and after injury, Jagielka has struggled too.

No Manager worth his salt would have persevered with Howard he was so obviously past his best. When Martinez offered "It's his 300th Premier League appearance" as an explanation as to why he'd picked him yet again after a disastrous previous performance, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Barry on loan in his first season was tremendous, after he signed last season he was repeatedly dreadful, did he get dropped... No? He's been brilliant this, but he illustrates again Martinez ineptitude even cowardice before.

You could write a chapter alone about Alcaraz. He could NEVER be described as a footballer. He was without any shade of or kind of ability. Repeatedly on the bench, even starting on occasions, unbelievable blindness by Martinez.

The Mirallas penalty debacle when he grabbed the ball. No player would have done that if they had a modicum of respect for the Gaffer. I wonder how many of our players have?

I can't believe any other Premier League or even Championship club would not have sacked Martinez an age ago, but not Bill Kenwright.....inertia rules ain't that so Bill?

I trust the billionaire we've now got on the Board is as shrewd as he has to be to have such wealth and sees off the clueless, bumbling embarrassing clown we have in charge. The exaggerations at pre-match press conferences, the promises after, the excuses, the total bullshit and claptrap are offensive to fans. He has to go, and if he was the 'nice guy' others suggest, he'd do it honourably and walk today.


Ray Hughes     Posted 21/03/2016 at 10:50:40

Midfield dunces

All Evertonians have a right to be very disappointed by our underachieving season, as has been reported many times. When you look closer into the reasons, one thing that glares out to me is the lack of goals from our midfield.

How many goals have McCarthy, Barry, Cleverley, Deulofeu and Besic scored this season? Five between them, I think. The problem goes further because it has been the same for every one of the three seasons since Roberto Martinez has been in charge.

Why do these players get into scoring position (occasionally) and then pass or lose the ball? This has to be rectified if we are to the force everyone says we should be. To me, so much is put on Lukaku and he has delivered. Mirallas scores but does not play; Osman is also capable but he is down the pecking order, plus Martinez stopped him scoring.

One player who has really shone is Lennon; another is of course Barkley. But why have these two been scoring? The answer is simple – they have been given more freedom to roam around the field, from which we have seen the benefits. Martinez should let the midfielders have the same freedom; they know their jobs in midfield and when going forward... tell them they can shoot at least, or run into the box to pick up the scraps.

Come on, Blues, let's have our luvvie dovvie play but let these boys express themselves in the final third and hopefully we will all benefit. Eight defeats at home is absolute crap... so, in the final games, let's go for it. We cannot be worse than we are now. Go for it, Roberto, let the team express themselves in the final third for once and all.


Roy Clark     Posted 20/03/2016 at 06:27:34

Death By a Thousand Cuts

Excuse the corny headline, but that's what watching Everton feels like at the moment.

In a previous post, I stated that in every manager's tenure at a football club, he reaches and passes the 'point of no return' in the eyes of the fans. I think Martinez has long gone past that stage, and it's now getting embarrassing for him and the club.

After about 20 minutes of the Arsenal game, I just knew we would get absolutely nothing from it, nor did we deserve to.

It's now patently obvious, and to many fans, it has been for a long time, that this manager does not have the ability to take us forward. Today's game just about epitomised his reign so far: poor team tactics, even poorer substitutions, and a team quickly running out of faith in the manager.

Did anyone notice, around 5 minutes before the end, Seamus Coleman had absolutely no options available to him as he brought the ball forward, simply no-one made themselves available. Many of his team-mates had simply given up the ghost at that stage, and didn't really want to be there in all honesty. Coleman was furious.

And to think last week, Kenwright in true 'luvvie' fashion, with his arm wrapped around Moshiri, baulked at the idea that anyone should have the audacity to question the manager's performance this season. Unbelievable.

What was particularly galling as a spectator, was to see an Arsenal team, fresh from a midweek mauling at the Nou Camp, outplay us completely on the pitch, not only in a technical sense, but in speed of thought as well, we simply looked slow and ponderous in our build up play, as we have done all season.

I don't have a coaching badge, but the much maligned Wenger simply 'did a job on us', pushed three forward to press the Everton back four, and we never looked comfortable all afternoon.

That, coupled with a nervous Robles (who was brutally exposed throughout the game) but should have done better with both goals, made the game a recipe for disaster

I'm struggling to think of a player who came out of the afternoon with any credit, McCarthy and Cleverley were able runners, (so was Linford Christie) but that's all, it wasn't just an off day for them, their individual ability levels never once matched the 'one touch' football of their Arsenal counterparts, they never once came close all afternoon, again placing question marks over Martinez's insistence on two holding midfielders in the same team.

The 'Martinez effect', is now starting to materialise in the player's comments off the pitch, with Lukaku starting to make predictable comments to a foreign journal about the team 'underachieving' and his wish to be able to play Champions League football.

In all honesty, who can blame him, as one of the hottest properties in European football, why shouldn't he be entitled to think like that?

If you were an aspiring young footballer, would you put your trust and playing future in Martinez?

What is more alarming off the pitch, is that Kenwright has managed to influence the new majority shareholder (and effectively the owner) to promote the much-maligned Robert Elstone to the board of directors. So, are we to continue in the same 'jobs for the boys' fashion, and settle for mediocrity which has been our trademark for the last twenty years?

The season's end could yet see us win a trophy and in doing so, prolong the lifespan of the manager. I hope not, I just don't see any hard evidence that this manager is capable of change, or that he has the inner ability or acumen to do so.

Maybe he is beginning to realise as well that he is nearing the end of his Everton 'journey'? For the first time in a long long time,in his post match press conference, he was openly critical of the team at the end of today's game. No inane utterings of 'fine margins', 'phenomenal individual performances', 'fine moments', just the plain truth, and maybe the first signs of a manager running out of excuses.

Statistics don't lie, we have the worst home record in the Premier League, and all those at Goodison will have only seen four home league wins in fifteen months. Steve Mclaren got the sack from Newcastle for less.

There are just nine league games left. Roberto said, 'Judge me at the end of the season'. For many people, Roberto, they have already made their mind up.


Steve Hogan     Posted 19/03/2016 at 19:54:40

Transfers and the future

Hi all,

I am a young adult with Cerebral Palsy who played for EFC disabled teams for 10 years. I am a scout and C-certificate coach who has coached home and abroad so I have contacts all over. I do a lot of scouting.

I would love to see us go for something like this:

Tony Hibbert to be replaced by Wolves player Dominic Iorfa. The boy is quick, British and coachable. 6m

Darron Gibson to be replaced by Villa’s Jack Grealish. He has that bite we miss. Different and fun. 6m

John Stones to be replaced by Benfica’s Ricardo Pereira. Quick, young and will be a centre back in time. 8m

Aiden McGeady to be replaced by Bilbao’s Iker Muniain. Spend cash on this boy – he's loyal, a fan favourite and reliable. 16m

Leon Osman to be replaced by Pierre Holbjerg of Munich. He has something, big quality. Suits the Premier League. 8m

Steven Pienaar to be replaced by Thomas Vermaelen (loan). He knows the League, still a decent age and a leader. 4m

Tim Howard to be replaced by Dan Bentley Southend. Young, hungry, coachable, and British. 5m

Conor McAleny to be replaced by Lewis Cook of Leeds. Hungry, versatile, jas a bit of bite, and British. 8m

Kevin Mirallas and Arouna Kone to be replaced by Munir of Barca. He's got big friends in our group, young and versatile. 11m

Loans
Tyias Browning and Mason Holgate to the Championship; Matthew Pennigton and Gethin Jones to League One

Possibles
Goalkeeper: Tonlga Zengin – good age and an international.
Centre Back: Craig Cathcart – good age and and international
Midfield Matt Ritchie – hungry and versatile  
Striker Alexandre Lacazette – good age and scores goals


Aaron Evans     Posted 16/03/2016 at

Is Roberto off the hook?

It was a great win against Chelsea, a fine performance by the players and a good show by the coach. A week ago, there was a tide turning against him. The national press and quite a few pundits seemed to be catching on to the despair that many of us felt. So, a win against Chelsea and he is safe; a good coach, the man to take us forward?

The win on Saturday was special, Lukaku's goal was special, the buzz since is just brilliant. But, it could have been different. We looked negative at times, we set up, in my view, to keep it tight and nick one. Now, that is fine but it was not the Martinez way. Has he changed?

I believe the way we set about Chelsea was fundamentally different to the way he has set about our Premier League campaign... THAT, was different and an example of what might have been. One game should not, for good or bad, decide the future of our coach.

The balance, it seems to me, is that he is very much on the hook until we get something resembling pragmatism and consistency.
Andy Crooks     Posted 14/03/2016 at 22:58:31

Finally all the pieces fit together

Watching the Blues for the longest while has seemed like either doing a jigsaw puzzle without the picture or doing the same puzzle with some of the pieces missing. In the first case it can be almost impossible to do and in the second incredibly frustrating.

But yesterday we had the picture and all the pieces and how great did that feel! I am finding it very difficult to watch the Blues these days just because it causes me so much anxiety and stress! Not sure how the 40,000- who were there in person handle it but I find it very difficult. But once Rom's genius put us 2 ahead and Costa departed, I felt great – even if I was screaming at RM to take Barry off after his 1st yellow. Watching the game again on the video was amazing! No worrie... just pure enjoyment.

Rom was the star but I thought everyone gave everything. There were some great performances but Seamus and Tom caught my eye. Seamus is one tough SOB! Never flinched in any challenge and summed up the team spirit that has been missing before. Cleverley seemed to have both speed and stamina to close down for the whole game, not just 75 minutes.

While some may criticise Barry for getting sent off, I loved the way he wound Costa up and never backed down. Maybe he needs a 2 game enforced rest which will give Mo a chance to impress but we will need him back.

Watford have just turned the Arse over! This weekend gets even better! Lastly what introduction for Mr Moshiri! Goodison rocking under lights! The Blues getting to Wembley! A wonder goal from Rom! Good to see BK at the game also. He surely deserves a few days like yesterday .

A performance like this next week against the Arse will make the next few weeks feel like summer is not far away!

COYB
David Cooper     Posted 13/03/2016 at 15:07:31

How good a CB is John Stones really?

John Stones has had a rather confusing season. He gets praise and accolades for his elegant play, with rumors taking him to City, United, Real, Barca etc. On the other hand, he has started to get on fans' nerves a bit, and has got some rough criticisms from old-school football personalities, who are expecting to see some actual defending merits from him.

First and foremost, I do think he is talented. He is very good in possession and has got agility and reasonably quick feet to match. When these attributes occasionally combine, e.g. when he makes a nice interception, bursts forward and hits the right pass, he really looks like a great young _player_. But while his attributes makes him a terrific player on paper, this season (at last) has made me doubt whether he really is a terrific young _centre-back_, and will ever be great in his role. This doubt originates from thoughtful consideration of what attributes/ aspects should be prioritised when determining how good a CB really is. I think that the perspective from which Stones's performances is being examined is really flawed on multiple fronts.

How many headers a match is he really winning for instance? I think that he is often wrong-positioned when the ball flies in, and his body stature isn't exactly something you shuffle attackers around with. This takes me to one-on-ones, and whether if he wins enough of them a game either. Don't think so. He has been praised for his interceptions though, and I have to admit it looks nice when he gets them right. But on the other hand, he makes far too many risky tackles and goes for risky interceptions. Hence, he is caught in awkward positions.

You could blame that on him being young and learning, but let's not be too Rio Ferdinand-ish. Comparing him to other top young centre-backs in Europe, for instance PSG's Marquinhos (13 days older than John) and Atletico Madrid's Jose Gimenez (8 months younger), you can conclude that the priorities in his game are not quite correct. The ones mentioned above are first and foremost getting praised for their agility, strength, tackling ability, decent pace, positional pace etc. Their "second-string" praise comes for what they do on the ball; in their cases their mature and risk-eliminating choice-making in possession. And lets bear in mind that Marquinhos and Gimenez play in responsible roles in teams superior to Everton. Due to their solid and utterly reliable displays, they don't need the classic mantra of "them being young and learning from their mistakes".

My "big point" with all this is that isn't the fact that these two talented young defenders are being primarily praised for their no-nonsense all-round defending and secondarily by their ability to be a safe part of their respective teams' build-up plays a sign? A sign that Stones really needs to stop playing Beckenbauer II (improve his occasionally shaky decision-making on the ball), and instead focus and improve on his all-around defending, which frankly put is very lacking for a _centre-back_ that is so highly rated. Otherwise he's definitely NOT, despite RM's hypnotising linguistics, going to be a world-class defender.
Hannes Eerola     Posted 11/03/2016 at 19:06:31

Howard vs Roberto

Currently there appears to be a majority of posters who would sack the manager. Not too many are constructive in naming and justifying a realistic alternative, but thats not my point.

What I would like to ask is this. If TW had existed from 1980, what might the posters reactions have been from about January 1983, 18 months into HKs first spell with us?

In his first season we finished 8th, scoring 56 goals and conceding 3 or more on 9 occasions.

The remainder of his second season, like that which had gone before, was pretty dire. It was difficult to see any plan or any reason to hope for success, although we did score 66 and conceded 3+ just 5 times. We were to finish 7th.

Disgruntlement was rife. We reached a point where the remainder of the 13,000 fans present at the end of the Coventry home game booed the team off after a 1-0 win (Sharp, pen). The cushions that you used to be able to hire in the stands were hurled in their hundreds onto the pitch.

The following season saw a few more personnel changes but we were still a long way from the team that everyone recalls as our finest of that era both in players and in style/effectiveness.

Things went downhill and folklore suggests that the lack of an equaliser at Oxford in the league-cup game on an awful night would have seen HK in a taxi. What a mistake that would have been eh?

We picked up from there. Older heads were added, younger ones became more savvy, a fighting spirit developed. We finished 7th again but we scored just 44 goals in a 42 game season, conceding 42. But we won the cup.

On the way to Wembley we crushed such giants as Stoke, Gillingham after two goalless draws, Shrewsbury, Notts County and Southampton.

The start of the 84-85 season didnt start well. 1-4 defeat at home to Spurs, 1-2 away to West Brom. We didnt really get going until October, part-into HKs fourth season with us. During that time we scraped past University College Dublin in the ECWC 1-0, a great stop from Neville preventing their equaliser at Goodison to prevent us going out.

Imagine this as a post on TW at that time;

Owen Goal: "Thats it, thats enough!! Weve had 3 years of this clown and hes taking us nowhere. Theres no shape, no plan and the players are clueless. He bought two crocks in Gray and Reid and cast-offs from Stoke, Sunderland and that lot across the park. If Carter cant see that its time to get Bobby Robson here and give him real money to spend then he should go as well. If we can be happy with a cup win against a poor Watford side then we are too easily satisfied!!"

I suspect that for most of the period I described few if any would have predicted what was to come and most TW threads would have had a similar balance to what we see today. Indeed, part of the magic of the 3 years of success that followed was the unexpected nature of it.

There is anger and frustration amongst the posts here much of the time. Perhaps people were less passionate then, though I dont think so, the letters column in the pink Echo certainly contained some critical stuff. The difference may well be that expectations are much higher, but I dont know why that should be so when compared to 30-odd years ago, and people want instant solutions.

Roberto Martinez was given an initial contract for 3 years. It was extended because the board felt they needed to secure his services. He has brought in and brought on a dozen players who others might not, he has built a squad that is worth 250m at least. I have been inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt for that reason alone, although his team selection for last Saturday and his failure to replace Aaron Lennon with someone to bottle up the left flank had me speechless and sure it was time to say goodbye.

Ive taken a bit of time to reflect though; he will certainly not turn us into relegation candidates and without that risk Im inclined to wait and see. He at least deserves the next 10-12 games to make his case.

I would suggest to all, although it would probably mean some pretty thinly populated threads for the rest of the season, that we give it a rest; he's not going anywhere until May at the earliest. Use your energy to get behind the team.

If we do feel the need to post how about focussing on players we could buy to move forward next season?
Peter Lee     Posted 11/03/2016 at 13:49:18

Prentice talk of Rafa in The Echo

This is the first time I have ever submitted an item of news, but I have got to get this one off my chest.

There have been, and still are, a lot of Evertonians who are not happy with the Liverpool Echo and the newspaper has undoubtedly favoured the other side for many years, but yesterday Dave Prentice hit a new low for me.

Is he trying to wind us up, is he totally unaware of previous history, or is he a closet red?

I am referring to his current assertion that Everton could be missing out on having the "Spanish Waiter" as our manager if he goes to Newcastle.

I have been going to Goodison since the 1950s, and the relationship between the two clubs hit a new low for me when Benitez called us 'a small club'. It could have easily been smoothed over if he, or LFC, had made an official statement attributing the remark to a language problem or some such excuse. But then we all know that Liverpool don't do apologies, yes?

Am I too old to be bearing grudges? Would any Evertonian want this man as our manager? As far as I am concerned it doesn't even bear thinking about.

Dave Horne     Posted 11/03/2016 at 09:35:20

Been here before

Should Martinez be sacked and, if so, when? I am now convinced that we are not going to improve enough under him to be any better than a very average team. One that will probably be very popular with many fans in the Premier League because we always make it easy for other teams to play against us.

Perhaps we should let history guide us. It is April 1961, we have a manager who has Everton playing attractive football especially at home (but only average away). We have a new owner, John Moores, determined to succeed. Johnny Carey has created a team that will finish the season in 5th place and is very popular with the fans. Moores then takes a very hard decision and sacks Carey (in the famous taxi).

His main reason was that he wanted the best for Everton and his judgement call was that Carey was not ruthless enough to create a title-winning side. He appoints Harry Catterick who was never as popular as Carey was with the players but who was a hard disciplinarian. Within two year,s Everton are on the way to being Champions.

The players were mainly the same except Stevens had replaced Collins (a hard working professional replacing a genius) and Tony Kay, a magnificent player but also a born winner, had been brought into midfield. Mr Moores had seen what was needed and acted immediately.

So, my call to Everton is to act soon regardless of the cup run. Carey's last game was a 4-0 win at Newcastle!
Thomas Rigby     Posted 08/03/2016 at 18:45:54

1986-87 – Miracle?

What Leicester City have done this season has been truly remarkable, sticking the proverbial two fingers upto the big clubs or Sky's so-called Big 4.

I've just recently watched a film/documentary on BT Sports 'I Believe In Miracles' about Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest about them winning the League Championship and the European Cup (twice) as they were known then.

In the 1984-85 season, we had style, finesse, we could mix it with the hardest teams, we had just about everything. The double over them across the park, the Bayern Munich semi-final only to be undone by the Mancs for the treble.

But here is my main point, the 1986-87 season, we were without Big Nev, Gary Stevens, Physco, Dave Watson struggled at first to take over crowd favourite Derek Mountfield, no first-choice midfield Reidy and Bracewell (long-term).

We signed Paul Power, the wrong side of 30, a one-club man, two untried and tested young players at that level, Kevin Langley and Neil Adams. Later in the season when Sharpy got an injury, we signed Wayne Clarke who chipped in with a few vital goals in the run-in, hardly another signing to set the world on fire at the time. I think that season Paul Power and Alan Harper played in every position apart from goal!

So... while what Leicester City are doing at the moment is great, I don't know if it's me with my blue-tinted glasses on, I'm being biased, miracle?
Pete  Laffey     Posted 08/03/2016 at 09:31:58

Heading

Is there a problem with heading in the Everton team? Does anyone have this seasons figures for the number of goals scored and conceded by Everton directly from headers, and for the number of goals scored and conceded by shots immediately following headers?

If an apparent deficiency can be shown in this area, would we think that is it through the inability or reluctance of players, or a tactical ploy? A number of goals have been conceded from aerial bombardment, but I dont see any of our own attackers with Tim Cahills ability in the air.
John Muskett     Posted 07/03/2016 at 15:26:57

Bargain buys

I read, with interest, the "worst Everton signings" thread. It started me thinking about the opposite point of view. Who was a real bargain buy?

The guy who cost peanuts and turned out to be a diamond in the rough? I disqualify the trophy winning 80's team as most of them would qualify. I am looking for the players in one of many dire sides we have had, players that gave us a little hope, a spark of light in the dark.

Andy King.... 'nuff said

Eamon O'Keefe... A non league buy, hard worker and scored some important goals

Imre Varadi.... I know he was nominated in the "worst" list, but I think he was worth every penny of what we paid for him, just to hear the Stoke match day announcer try to pronounce his name.."immer, er immer Verdi" much hilarity among the away fans.
Terry Underwood     Posted 06/03/2016 at 09:56:26

So you wanna be a wise-guy

I have just purchased Everton and I want my team to be up amongst the big boys in the Premier League. So, who are my rivals and what do I need to be able to compete?

In no particular order, Man Utd, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and now (possibly) Tottenham. They split quite nicely into two geographical areas, North West and London. This is important as I will explain later.

These guys are all players at the top table because of one (or both) of two reasons, money and historical success. The former often attracts the latter but it can also work the other way around.

Man Utd and Liverpool are there based on success, (although Man Utd have the dosh) followed closely by Arsenal, some serious history there.

Then comes a group lead by Chelsea and includes Villa, Tottenham and those chancers Everton. All of these are on 28 or 24 trophies, with Chelsea having won two-thirds of their trophies since the money was thrown in from 2003 onwards. So Chelsea are the team that proves the money brings in the trophies.

That covers all of my main rivals, with the exception of Man City that are somewhat behind trophy- wise and (in my humble opinion) join Chelsea in money section.

So my newly purchased Everton can definitely match or better 3 of my 6 main rivals on the success stakes.

What about money? This is not just money in my back pocket, it's also the amount I can generate from my newly purchased club. That is going to mean match day revenues and marketing. The match day revenues are going to mean a new ground is required, and as quickly as possible. The spades are going to have to hit the dirt this year....anytime this year as it will take me two years to build (approx). So whilst I can spend big on players next year I know I need that stadium building immediately. The marketing side will only take off with success...catch 22 and largely beyond my control.

So I reckon that I can (or soon will) match the big boys on money as well.

What else do I need? I have the history, I have the money, they can see the new cathedral being built. But will they want to come? Here is the sticky bit people. I mentioned the geographical areas at the top. The North West is not as attractive to the imported stars. Money talks, look at Man City? They have a ridiculous pot of gold and I'm not sure we can compete there. Man Utd are very rich but are also very, very successful. Both these two have the facilities and money BUT they also use another weapon to attract the cream of the crop. They employ massive names for managers and this must help. Liverpool have not got the cash and do not have the managers, and we see they are in danger (great isn't it) of losing their position as on of the top table diners (I would suggest they already have). They cannot afford the shiny new stadium and they are slipping away.

Chelsea have used the money to great effect but surely them being in London helped? We may see West Ham use the new stadium and geographical location to their advantage very soon.

So the new Everton owner has to address the ground (TICK), he needs lot of money (from the reports we read he has TICK), he needs the club reputation (TICK), he cannot do anything about the location but he can go for the big named manager?

This is NOT a dig at the Spaniard, it is simply an observation that the North West clubs that are at the top table tend to employ the bigger named managers, it means they can attract the bigger players. It will be obvious as the this effect when Pep arrives next season... players from abroad will not be bothered as to where Manchester is!

My point is, how much of a splash will the new owner want to make? He could go for the brilliant manager (with an eye for new talent) that spends less and achieves great things OR he goes for a name that attracts the established players?

Just a thought, and I think it may be very interesting at the end of this season.
Ian Robert     Posted 04/03/2016 at 16:13:59

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