Everton 0 - 0 Stoke City [5-4 on pens]
Phil Jagielka scored the winning penalty with a precise shot into the top corner (Lionel Ng/Getty Images)
Phil Jagielka hammered home the winning kick after Tim Howard's excellent save from Marco van Ginkel to end a promising exercise in the Singapore heat.
The Blues looked the sharper and more prepared throughout, although it was the Potters who had arguably the better chances in the first half.
Kevin Mirallas had the first chance, cutting in from the left but seeing a tame shot saved before Peter Odemwingie fired a dummied low cross wide and Jagielka had to execute a brilliant saving tackle on Marco Arnautovic after Tony Hibbert had misjudged Stephen Ireland's punt forward.
Romelu Lukaku, who would play the full 90 minutes, had the ball in the net in first-half injury time off a wonderful through-ball by Steven Pienaar but was correctly adjudged offside.
A raft of changes for the second half saw Gerard Deulofeu, Tom Cleverley, Leon Osman and Steven Naismith introduced and all four were heavily involved as Everton stepped up their attempts to win the match.
Like Ross Barkley in the first half, the Spaniard looked purposeful and lively but it was a one-two between Naismith and Osman that nearly provided a decisive gial in the first minute after the restart. The Scots shot was tipped over the bar, however
Ireland almost netted at the other end but Tim Howard was able to block his shot near the goal line before another clever one-two involving Naismith released Deulofeu but he couldn't place a weak effort past the 'keeper.
The best chance to win it fell to a slightly rusty-looking Lukaku at the death when he seized on a loose pass in the Stoke defence but under pressure from a defender he slipped the ball the wrong side of the post.
That set up a penalty shoot-out to decide the match and Howard's excellent save to deny Marco van Ginkel proved to be the decisive moment.
Jagielka elected to take the final kick and he belted an unstoppable shot into the top corner to send the Blues into the final against Arsenal on Saturday.
Overall, there were pleasing signs from Martinez's side, not least the willingness to try one-two exchanges outside the opposition box and the desire on the parts of Mirallas, Deulofeu and Barkley to try things from deep.
And if the manager was keen to get this players accustomed to the physicality of 11v11 games in the Premier League, 90 minutes against a robust and at-times overly aggressive Stoke was a good test.
Pienaar, in particular, was kicked around for much of the first half and there were worrying moments when he had to undergo treatment on his knee but he was able to finish the first period.
The match was also notable for the performances of Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning who displayed maturity and resilience at left back and centre half respectively.
Everton: Howard; Hibbert (Stones 46'), Jagielka, Browning, Galloway; Barry (Cleverley 46'), McCarthy (Kone 80'); Pienaar (Deulofeu 46'), Barkley (Osman 46'), Mirallas (Naismith 46'); Lukaku.
Subs: Robles, Stones, Kone, Naismith, Cleverley, Deulofeu, Osman, Coleman, Garbutt, Kenny, Williams, Robinson.
Stoke City: Haugaard, Bardsley [Y:30'], Cameron, Muniesa, Teixeira, Sidwell, Shenton, Odemwingie, Ireland, Arnautovic. Joselu.
Subs: Given, Whelan, Johnson, Wilson, van Ginkel, Adam, Diouf, Walters, Crouch, Moha.
Referee: Craig Pawson
Reader Comments (91)
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1 Posted 15/07/2015 at 08:47:37
2 Posted 15/07/2015 at 08:56:35
South East Asia is I think 7 hours ahead so if it's correct that in Singapore it kicks off at 6pm then it's 11am over here.
3 Posted 15/07/2015 at 09:30:10
4 Posted 15/07/2015 at 09:34:36
5 Posted 15/07/2015 at 09:51:08
7 Posted 15/07/2015 at 11:24:06
8 Posted 15/07/2015 at 11:37:08
We've looked very pedestrian again and created absolutely nothing. Mirallas has been the pick of our players and is trying to be positive. Lakaku's touch hasn't improved and he's looked lazy. Barkley's been wasteful at best. Galloway / Browning have not done anything wrong and don't look out of place at this level.
The most worrying aspect for me is how the game is playing out as the majority of games last season did - we have the ball and do nothing with it and the opposition hit us on the quick counter. We don't seem to have learnt. Stoke have had the 2 best chances of the game but the half finishes 0-0.
9 Posted 15/07/2015 at 12:16:01
I know it's only pre-season BUT it's now that new methods, strategy and tactics should be in evidence. The fact that it might not always come off can be put down to rustiness in pre-season But little or no evidence of new style and tactics is unforgivable because when (if ever) will a new style/tactics be taught and trialled??
If Martinez plans to serve up another load of crap like last season then he should be sacked. But he won't be because the ambition of the current board is merely to remain in the EPL and watch their investment and returns grow.
10 Posted 15/07/2015 at 12:11:08
11 Posted 15/07/2015 at 12:15:09
Much improved 2nd half and multiple good chances created - a little worryingly we weren't able to take any. Naismith linked up better with Lakaku than Barkley had in the 1st half. Cleverley looked lively and split the Stoke defence with a few excellent through balls. Delufeou was very predicable and made the wrong choices when in really good positions.
Overall we were the better side and with players like Baines and Coleman to come back, and this only being our 2nd game of pre-season, we should be pretty satisfied.
12 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:11:51
15 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:18:29
What he WILL do is create 5 more chances than any other player every game he plays, minimum. He will learn and grow with these mistakes and his decision-making will improve.
16 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:21:30
17 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:26:20
18 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:26:31
19 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:09:52
Howard: 7/10 Â– Didn't have a lot to do but made a couple of decent saves.
Browning: 6/10 Â– Looked solid but was caught out a couple of times.
Galloway: 6/10 Â– Looked good on the ball but caught out of position a few times.
Stones: 7/10 Â– Looked composed.
Jagielka: 8/10 Â– Very solid and made some great last ditch tackles in the 1st half.
McCarthy: 6/10 Â– Done his good without too much bother.
Barry: 5/10 Â– Looked unfit and struggled to keep up at times.
Cleverley: 7/10 Â– Looked composed with some great passing.
Osman: 6/10 Â– We looked better in the 2nd half with Leon in the side.
Barkley: 5/10 Â– Disappointing. Struggled to get into the game.
Naismith: 7/10 Â– Linked up well with Lukaku and should have scored.
Deulofeu: 6/10 Â– Lots of promise but made the wrong decisions when it good positions. Looked like he was carrying a bit of weight.
Lakaku: 6/10 Â– Improved in the 2nd half and should have scored. 1st touch has not improved much.
Kone: 4/10 Â– Didn't have much time and don't remember him doing anything.
21 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:45:02
Hope we play Arsenal next, I think the more Premier League opposition that we play in the run up to the first game the better!
22 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:43:57
23 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:47:08
Would like to see this team start the Arsenal game and try to catch them on the break:
Coleman Stones Jagielka Galloway
Cleverley McCarthy Barkley
Mirallas Lukaku Deulofeu
24 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:39:54
As for the game tonight, it was a typical thuggish Stoke with a very good keeper and some decent defenders keeping Rom quiet. He had three very good chances and Cleverley feeding him with through balls. I'm hoping Gibson can come back and play alongside him. We're still short of that playmaker. Howard looks refreshed and ready to play.
Overall it was a bit pedestrian at times but we kept the ball and played it on the floor. Now we just need to crank it up a bit each game.
Oh well... back to the cricket and the ashes.
25 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:55:45
26 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:53:37
27 Posted 15/07/2015 at 13:54:36
Derek, totally unrelated, I will be in Brisbane in December. Anything I really should see that's not on the standard list?
29 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:05:12
30 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:05:00
31 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:23:46
New Boys: Cleverly looked decent. Deulofeu will (should) get there, needs to cut 2-3 kilos of the holiday weight.
Barry and Barkely both had off days I think.
We can see why we need Pienaar, but sadly it doesn't look like his body is going to take the punishment much longer.
Rom - again, not there yet but hopefully will be peaking in time for kick-off day.
32 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:39:54
It did occur to me that finding a role for Ross Barkley is becoming harder with each new midfielder we sign!
33 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:40:19
Deulofeu definitely needs to improve the frustrating aspects of his game. Two or three opportunities he had to break through and feed Lukaku and each time he wasted the chance, with Rom quite frustrated at him towards the end.
I admit that Cleverley was very good and showed a lot of promise, so I'm pleased to have been proven wrong so far, but it is pre-season after all.
Of course we can still improve, we have to be more clinical and we're too static, particularly Barkley who needs to start running in behind and providing an option. But so far I'm quite optimistic about the season ahead but we obviously, like all the clubs have some work still to do.
We definitely do need a replacement for Pienaar, another creative player and some RB cover. Hibbert is finished and has been for some time now.
Galloway and Browning looked impressive and Stones as cool as ever. That penalty just oozed class and composure under pressure.
34 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:51:34
35 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:49:24
36 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:48:15
Some very good displays by the younger generation lads. Some really poor performances by the same old players.... Game after game.... Will Robbie ever grow a pair and get rid!... Before it's to late!
37 Posted 15/07/2015 at 14:45:28
If you like a 'bucket and spade' holiday, then The Sunshine Coast is the place.
Mind you you can have a good night out in Fortitude Valley. Let me know nearer the time.
38 Posted 15/07/2015 at 15:13:39
Our defence looks like it has a really strong future with Galloway, Stones, Garbutt, Browning...
It's all still a bit slow coming forward but Gerry definitely made difference with his more penetrative, direct play.
39 Posted 15/07/2015 at 15:10:53
I don't think this game nor the one on Saturday provide any indication how the coming season will progress. Conditions in Singapore are nothing like what they will be in England during a typical English autumn or winter.
Playing in these preseason tournaments in Asia are just teams fulfilling commercial commitments. Not much can be concluded from the performances.
40 Posted 15/07/2015 at 15:08:10
Howard: 6...very little to do.(glad really... Finished at this level.
Browning: 7.... Very close to an 8, excellent display!!
Galloway:7....again top display, tired in the second half- which can be expected.
Stones: 7....class act as always, great player!
Jags: 7.... Good display.... Very rarely let's you down.
Barry: 4.... Very poor, no legs and no leadership!
McCathy: 6.... Very little other than work hard on the defensive side of game. Needs to find/ develop other parts to his game.
Barkley: 7.... O the ball always trying to probe and create things- people who moan about this lad are way off! This lad will/ is a top player.
Pienaar: 7.... This lad is quality....if only was physically stronger on the ball. Would luv to see him play a central role.... Would be quality.
Super Kev: 7..... Excellent 1st half. Just needs consistancy within his game! One of the best games I've seen from him... Looked very dangerous!
Del-boy: 6.....makes things happen!.... But frustrating at times due to lack of quality on the ball!!! ( things will happen for this lad)
Cleverley: 7.... This lad can play! When he settles... Will be a top performer.( done ok- much better to come.
Kone:6.... Done ok when he came on. Under 10min's on pitch! Done nothing wrong.
The rest of the players were IMO..... Very poor... Would give a maximum of 4, to all of them.
Overall not a bad performance!!... Well done lads!
42 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:09:10
43 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:31:30
As Chris Stubbs said, it was hot and humid today. Try playing football in an equatorial country then comment.
44 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:29:59
Passing looked crisp, miles better than Stoke. Final third needs improving.
I'm feeling better about Cleverley after today. Delboy is still a work in progress who will make some mistakes this season.
45 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:39:57
46 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:39:04
I just wish we had more firepower throughout the team but that costs zillions.
Great to see us win on pens, a real bonus.
47 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:14:42
Dunno where this nonsense about Barkley is coming from. He was showing for the ball and had some nice touches. Wish some folk would get off the lads back. I'm sure we'll see some player if he's allowed to play with confidence.
48 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:15:23
Lukaku divides opinion and will continue to do so but two things stick out for me which are
1) He still can't trap a ball and he is liable to go missing for too many games, much like last season.
2) He needs more support, he still doesn't look at all comfortable as a lone striker.
49 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:11:29
50 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:25:56
51 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:31:21
And by the way the correct spelling of Gerard's name is DEULOFEU.
52 Posted 15/07/2015 at 17:48:16
Deulofeu was exactly the same as last time out, but heavier. Still creates chances by running directly at people, still doesn't out away his chances or lay the ball off at the right time. But we knew that. Still rather have him.
The other new boy, TC did well and looked a better bet than Barkley unfortunately (who started well, then started disappearing up his own backside).
53 Posted 15/07/2015 at 18:25:26
54 Posted 15/07/2015 at 18:49:53
55 Posted 15/07/2015 at 18:57:54
I thought we did very well today; everyone put a shift in... 100 times better than this time last year. Looking forward to the Arsenal game; then we will see how much we have improved.
56 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:05:59
McCarthy, Browning, Galloway and Naismith all looked lively. Jags was Jags (just as well). I thought Howard commanded the box more than usual (perhaps it's getting through to him).
Cleverley didn't do anything wrong but didn't stand out much for me.
Deulofeu and Lukaku looked out of sorts and will have to improve drastically.
No comment on Hibbo; I just wonder what is up with Coleman.
Generally tactics were what you would expect from RM. Not much punch up front and MF standing off the opposition when they have the ball. Still, a 0-0 draw with a side that's now on a par with us is not too bad!!
Roll on Arsenal.
57 Posted 15/07/2015 at 16:01:00
For 'limited overs' games, quite separate 'squad numbers' are allocated which, I understand, are at the personal choice of each player.
However, the relevant score card lists the players 1-11 (the order in which they expected to bat) but are not worn by the players. Thus, in last night's Sky game, we saw No 77 bowling to No 37 and even the commentators became confused!
58 Posted 15/07/2015 at 18:08:08
Barkley 7? Not the game I saw. This season is make or break for him following last year's stinker (and I don't think that is too much of an exaggeration).
We were a better side every game Ossie played last year and we were again today in the second half. He gives us better ball retention and quicker tempo. The fact you rated him as 4 says it all.
59 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:33:52
From what little I saw, Lukaku cacked up a few chances and Deulofeu lost possession a fair amount but on the plus side, Browning and Galloway didn't look out of place in the side and Cleverley seems very fit and willing. The penalties were excellent as well so that was pleasing.
60 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:30:56
Odd to see Cleverley so deep, I would've liked him swapping with Ossie.
Lukaku has got to stay focused, give and go, instead of give and stop in tight situations.
61 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:47:08
62 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:40:31
Good to see Galloway and Browning integrated into the first team but we still need 2-3 players by the end of the window. Injuries and suspensions will have an impact on what is a relatively small squad participating on three fronts next season.
63 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:50:26
Promising performances from the youngsters, pretty positive so far!
64 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:06:17
65 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:48:19
And yes Ross was a 7 in my opinion! Just maybe, I see a different game to you! (In fact I see the game totally different to you!) that's the way it goes.
66 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:56:40
67 Posted 15/07/2015 at 19:26:50
Cleverley looked good and has to play in the middle with McCarthy in the coming season, Barry has to make way.
I still think we need to sign a striker to link up with Lukaku. Naismith works hard but hasn't got the skill or touch for this level.
68 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:14:52
69 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:26:04
70 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:25:24
Great to hear such good support from the fans; a mixture of the local Singapore supporters club (top group of lads, many of whom have supported the team for over 30 years without watching them live... they were so proud singing "It's a grand old team..." for real!), Blues who had travelled from back home, and other ex-pats. It should be good fun on Saturday, Arsenal had more local support but we should easily out-sing them!
Biggest disappoint for me was the lack of acknowledgement to the crowd, particularly the above mentioned set around Block 110, from the players... as soon as the last penalty went in, they were off. Guess they were told to do so by the organisers to make way for the immediately following Arsenal match. The only one who did seem to drift over to applaud us, looking very proud to be back, was Mr Deulofeu -- good lad!
71 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:33:08
72 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:37:19
Mike, we are working on one (No 10) but won't know until next week at the earliest.
73 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:31:45
I thought Jags was again our best player and helped both Galloway and Browning. As someone has already mentioned, the team looked better balanced when Osman replaced Barkley at half time.
I also think that getting through to play Arsenal was important as I think the pre-season would have lost a bit of impetus if we had to play the Singapore 11. So another tough warm-up game, and I would imagine Wenger will play a lot stronger team against us than he put out today.
74 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:38:44
75 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:45:57
76 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:25:14
Most of the squad looked pretty fit. Barry will look after himself and get there in his own time. Delboy, after a not too active season with Sevilla, definitely suffered the most. All credit to him keeping on and for taking a penalty. He looked shattered and ill.
77 Posted 15/07/2015 at 20:46:34
78 Posted 15/07/2015 at 22:37:39
People go on about Nais not having a good touch but OMG Rom has the touch of an elephant.
79 Posted 15/07/2015 at 22:44:22
Let's hope Gerry will operate in the final 3rd, and that he's learnt to look up.
80 Posted 15/07/2015 at 22:53:29
81 Posted 15/07/2015 at 22:52:43
His conversion in front of goal is pretty good but the rest of his play is abysmal.
I believe he has a weight problem and lugging that frame around may be telling on him.
However for a top striker his ability to head, control a ball or hold up play is very poor IMO.
82 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:13:16
As far as the game went, having a break for cold drinks after 25 mins showed how humid the conditions were, and having worked for 25 years underground in the mining industry, I am aware of how humidity drains your fitness, so expecting a 90-minute flat-out performance was never going to happen.
With Pienaar being used in the first half and Osman in the second, with both coming to the twilight of their careers, it showed how much we need a quality midfielder in this position. The young players who were brought in played quite well, with Cleverley and Deulofeu boy just showing flashes of what they may be able to contribute to the team.
Game against Arsenal may show a bit better the level of what we have to do before the season starts.
83 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:13:43
84 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:37:28
85 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:31:29
Let's wipe the slate clean, he's had one great season and one cack one. Last season has gone, judging Everton after two pre-season games is laughable, get a grip. If it goes tits up by October, then fair enough, have a rant or go. For now though let's all get behind the team and Martinez.
86 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:43:50
Our record last season just does not bear that out. Ossie has never been a showreel player, his value to the team in linking play, finding a pass and is underestimated by many including yourself it seems.
I've said 12 months ago I'd take the money for Ross; the silly money being talked about then is probably no longer on offer. Roberto has been very supportive of him and quite frankly he didn't merit the number of games he got last season because he was extremely poor on numerous occasions.
My issue with him is, despite his physical attributes and his occasional flashes of brilliance, he does not seem to be able to do it consistently. He seems to lack awareness at times or doesn't posses what used to be called a 'footballing brain'.
I hope he proves me wrong because I was as excited as anyone when he broke through into the team. I just see it being less and less likely as I see no progression.
I expect him to be first choice when the season starts and it's probably correct not to write a younger player off after one poor season but I think the clock is ticking for him.
87 Posted 15/07/2015 at 23:58:05
But its Glasstradamous's comments that intrigue me most... an exciting number 10 would set us up nicely for the season and keep momentum and good will building ahead of the season.
88 Posted 16/07/2015 at 00:10:20
"... in the 1st half we had the usual pattern of Chuckle Bros football (to me, to you, to me, to you) in the middle of the park with no midfielder getting beyond Lukaku, leaving him isolated."
Funny... I could've sworn I saw overlapping moves, left (Galloway, Pienaar) and right (Barkley, Mirallas), getting forward to the byeline and putting in delicious crosses that, admittedly did not always have Lukaku on the business end of them. So forgive me if I treat your comment as sadly yet another example of the negativity that wants to replay the cracked record of last season rather than acknowledge what was actually happening on the field, in the first half.
89 Posted 16/07/2015 at 00:39:32
I have not read all the comments above but players that looked sharp included Jags (clear Man of the Match and good news after his slower start last year), Browning, Stones, Howard, McCarthy, Barkley and Mirallas. Cleverley looked neat and tidy and Deulofeu, whilst making wrong decisions, got into the right positions and was a threat.
A couple of the older players such as Barry and Hibbert were a little off the pace but that will hopefully come with one or two more games. Bring on Saturday where I suspect we'll be playing a strong Arsenal side â€” most of their senior players spent yesterday's match sitting near me in the dugout area. I am sure the likes of Coleman, Garbutt, McAleny and Robles will get full run-outs for us.
90 Posted 16/07/2015 at 02:03:21
It was great to see the new guys getting a run as well as some of the youngsters. It will be interesting to see who plays in the "final". I would expect a few others will come into the mix (eg, McAleny, Robles maybe Garbutt and Coleman).
91 Posted 16/07/2015 at 03:44:23
Michael - I never question the manager's right to manage, nor to choose the players he wishes to play in any specific game. However, I live in Dubai so do not have access to Sky, or BBC iPlayer et al. I only asked about Luke Garbutt because I have not seen his name mentioned anywhere since the news broke that he had signed a new 5 year contract. I know that it was being mooted that he would join Bournemouth on a season long loan, so I was wondering if he had already joined them for pre-season.
92 Posted 16/07/2015 at 00:15:58
I respect your thoughts about Ross and Ossie concerning their positive effect within the game.... Although, when you say about Ossie's "link- up play and finding a pass".... what do you mean?...
Most players develop this pattern of play during their youth years and it carries on throughout their careers! There is nothing special about combination play and finding a pass... That's the basics of technical development and team work.
I just believe Ross is going to be very special during the next couple of years... And he's not on his own. We have the makings of a very strong team, and hopefully Robbie can find the last couple of pieces of the jigsaw to make us a formidable outfit and gatecrash the top four.
93 Posted 16/07/2015 at 05:12:53
Garbutt is in the squad and travelled. He was an unused sub in the Stoke game. Both him and Stones were given extra little time off after the U21s tournament. A little bit like Coleman, RM was being careful with a few and pushing others.
Not heard much about the loan options as Bournemouth went out and bought a left back for decent money. Swansea was another option but that's gone quiet. I am sure something will happen in the week when we are back from Singapore.
94 Posted 16/07/2015 at 05:23:22
At this time of year it is all speculative Â– but I just didn't know where he was and wondered if he may have been injured and kept at Finch Farm along with the others.
96 Posted 16/07/2015 at 09:34:56
In midfield though, it strikes me we have a lot of players with varying skills but of a similar overall quality. Lots of good Premier League players but no 'stars'.
I don't think there's a huge amount in it if you matched up a possible first choice midfield five against a second choice midfield:
Mirallas Cleverley Barkley McCarthy Pienaar
Deulofeu Besic Osman Barry Naismith
My point is that I think we need certain players to stand up, push forward and really make themselves undroppable. None of these players disgraced themselves last season but equally I warrant none of them were close to team of the season. The likes of Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas and McCarthy all have it in them to progress in this way. OR we need to buy or find one or more individuals who really add that something extra to our team and can.
Our midfield needs a certain stardust to help us break down stubborn defenses like Stoke's yesterday and create more chances for our talented if sometimes lazy-looking striker.
97 Posted 16/07/2015 at 09:49:36
To quote the old cliche football is a game of opinions, but my opinion of the 1st half was shared by the commentators on Sky (I think one of them was Niall Quinn) who both commented on our abundance of possession in the middle only to run out of ideas in the final third; as opposed to the more direct style of Stoke.
We mixed it up in the 2nd half and looked all the better for it. But FFS it's pre-season game designed to get everyone fit and you can read nothing into it; my comments were just that.
98 Posted 16/07/2015 at 09:40:43
If it was only that simple.
Ross has all the raw material. He's strong, quick and two-footed. He has already shown he is capable of moments that most players could not do (Ossie being one of them).
But football is littered with unfulfilled potential. It doesn't just happen that players mature and develop the skills to make them top players.
I watched an awful lot of Ross last year and he was on the whole poor. His possession of the ball left a lot to be desired, his decision-making was often wanting and he slowed our play down. On the reverse, when Ossie played, our win record was spectacularly better because he makes others play around him. Unfortunately time is ticking and at some stage he will need to be replaced. Don't be surprised to see Roberto give him another contract extension into 2016-17 though.
It is that lack of footballing nous that concerns me, and I'm not sure you learn that. Take John Stones, it is obvious that the lad is going to be a top player. He already looks like a Premier League player. I'm not sure you can say that about Ross.
Look, after one bad season, he deserves more time; as I said, I hope he proves me wrong. I just don't see it.
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