Ross Barkley's delicate talent presents an intriguing problem for Roy Hodgson

08/09/2015  17 Comments  [Jump to last]

Sam Wallace on the conundrum facing the England manager in trying to integrate Barkley's skillset into what is a fairly rigid system.

Barkley has the strength and the technical ability on the ball to be integral to England. He is at his best running from deep and he can score goals – although the two in his first two Premier League games of the season for Everton equalled his total from the whole of the previous campaign. The problem has been adjusting the system to get the best from him, and thus far Hodgson has been unconvinced that he should do so.

» Read the full article at The Independent


Reader Comments (17)

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Harold Matthews
2 Posted 08/09/2015 at 15:18:46
No, I'm afraid that Ross is not an intriguing problem for "play it safe" Hodgson. Our boy is not on his starter list.
James Marshall
3 Posted 08/09/2015 at 16:04:45
I think that article is bang-on. Ross does seem to be a delicate talent, one which is difficult to fit into any particular system. He's a bit of a luxury player in many ways, and I don't say that disparagingly.

He does still give the ball away cheaply in key areas, and though he has improved his tracking back and work rate without the ball, can still drop his team mates in it with too much frequency to be trusted as a starter for England.

For us he can make amends over a season, and have an impact over a season as well – England games come around less often, and often mean more in the sense that qualifying and tournament football can be over in a flash – one mistake can mean the end, unlike a Premier League season where a mistake one week can mean very little ultimately.

I would also be cautious about using him from the start in International matches, especially as nobody really knows his best position.

Tony George
4 Posted 08/09/2015 at 16:52:33
'Nobody knows his best position', sums up Barkley's situation perfectly. Both at club and International level he presents a conundrum which none of Moyes, Martinez nor Hodgson has come near to solving.

Some critics say he is superbly built and talented but lacks a good player's instinct. 'He's great until he starts thinking about it', I've heard said. Most of us love to see him in full flight but somehow you always expect the move to fritter out.

I've always had faith in the kid to come good but nearing 22, he's no improvement on what we saw 3 years ago. I cling to the belief that there must be some manager out there who could 'turn the switch.' It would be a pity if it wasn't to be Everton's!

Dave Abrahams
5 Posted 08/09/2015 at 17:04:17
Tony, I agree with most of that, but don't think it's a manager who will change him; it's more down to Ross himself. He doesn't believe in himself enough, hasn't got an inbuilt confidence in his own ability, worries too much about making a mistake.

When he throws off these worries, if he can, and starts to enjoy playing football, then we will have a really great player... but can he? Like you, Tony, I really hope he can. Maybe he needs someone to get his mind on his ability and obvious talent.

James Marshall
6 Posted 08/09/2015 at 17:27:34
Exactly, Ross needs to get some self-confidence, and a bit more of the devil in him like Rooney, Gazza, Cantona et al.

If he was cocky by nature, with his talent, ability and physique he could already be well on his way to becoming a huge star, and world talent. Sadly the difference between good players, and truly world class players is not just ability, but attitude and arrogance – you need huge amounts of both in abundance and Ross simply does not have that built into him from we've seen so far.

The world greats have all been single-minded, arrogant bastards with a mean streak and a will to win that is unstoppable – this culminates in a work ethic beyond that of the average player. I don't see any of that in Ross Barkley, but I'd love to be proved wrong.

Andrew Keatley
7 Posted 08/09/2015 at 17:30:22
I think the beginning of this season has finally seen some significant development in Barkley – particularly in the way that he protects the ball under pressure, and in his long passing.

One troubling thing I've noticed is that he seems to consistently refrain from challenging for headers; preferring to try and stand his ground and draw a foul or hope that the challenge does not come so that he can control the dropping ball with his feet; neither of which tend to work.

There was a lot of pressure on him over the last few years, and he wasn't ready to have that responsibility. I'm not saying he is the finished article by any means, but he is starting to make progress.

John Daley
8 Posted 08/09/2015 at 17:58:49
"He does still give the ball away cheaply in key areas"

It does annoy me slightly when this particular accusation is constantly pinned on Ross, as though it's a problem specific only to him. Of course he does lose possession at times but no more so than any other Everton player. Giving the ball away 'cheaply' is a failing throughout our entire team. At least Barkley has the excuse that he does so when running with the ball or trying to make something happen.

We just witnessed Lukaku, for example, go an entire game (until he was brought off) losing the ball as soon as it came to him, yet it's not flagged up as some massive failing that signals a fundamental flaw in his attitude or psyche. Naismith is forever giving the ball away under little pressure but is let off because he's perceived as a limited trier. Gareth Barry might be a composed presence, possessing a range of passing as varied as Kenny off South Park, but he still comes a cropper a couple of times...every... single ...game... as he's closed down and clumsily concedes possession just outside his own area, often leading to goalscoring chances for the opposition. Mirallas is as likely to give the ball away sloppily as he is to produce something sublime. Coleman can be prone to overrunning the ball, or delaying too much when trying to get in a cross, only to find himself having to scamper back in an effort to cut down the space his fruitless foray forward has opened up.

Seriously, you could go through the entire squad and no one would escape the charge.

Duncan McDine
9 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:16:38
Interesting topic, but I would dissagree that no one knows his best position.

For me its plain and simple, he's a box-to-box central midfielder (albeit with certain weaknesses to his game at the moment).

The fact that he gives the ball away cheaply too often (and in dangerous areas) is the main concern to play him there. The other problem is that his awareness without the ball needs much improvement, but I still think he's much more of an asset in centre mid than he is playing the 'number 10' role.

The modern system of 2 defensive central midfielders will probably hinder his progress, and it could be that Roberto needs to tweak our tactics if we are to build a team around our most promising player. I honestly couldn't care less if Roy (Welease Wodewick) sees Ross as someone to build the England team around.

Ged Simpson
10 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:21:24
If it wasn't for Kenwright and the Board borrowing money from loan sharks and...

Whoops - wrong thread !

Peter Morris
11 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:21:47
I don't trust Sam Wallace one bit. He has history with our players, and I'd much rather he did what he does for most of the time, and that is ignore us.

He lobbied to try to get Bainesy to Manure for the whole summer last year, and if Ross does continue to develop as we hope, mark my words, that will be his plan for him too.

David Chait
12 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:24:17
Great post, John... Ross had a shocker last season and is tainted by that. All I see this season is someone that is on the cusp of dictating play and tempo being played closer to his best position. That's all he's needed for him to show his considerable talents.

Play him deeper and the issues disappear. I love watching him play now and still consider him our greatest asset!

Ged Simpson
13 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:28:10
What is not to like about the word "cusp"?

Thanks for reminding me David ((#11)

Paul Smith
14 Posted 08/09/2015 at 18:33:51
I fear a bit for Ross Barkley as the thing which will ultimately stop him being a top player is the lad himself. I can now see why he never played under Moyes as his effort and desire are diabolical without the ball. With the ball, when he stretches his legs, he is like a gazelle; without the ball, he runs like his shoelaces are tied together.

This wouldn't be so bad if he was the only one like that for us but if we play Lukaku, Mirallas and Deulofeu they are all the same putting too much pressure on the defence. This is why it is hard to define a position for Barkley at the moment and I see his best position as playing with a central 3 of McCarthy, Cleverley (when fit) and himself with Lennon as one winger and either Mirallas or Deulofeu the other. The only worry with that system is getting enough bodies into the box.

Ross is getting to an age now where he has to define what his best position is going to be and give him a run of games and instructions about what is expected of him. I had hopes early on he was going to be our Gerrard but his effort and desire sadly don't match his. The quandary looks like rolling on for a while yet.

Tom Bowers
15 Posted 08/09/2015 at 19:00:33
The teams that keep the ball well usually do well because the opposition spend a lot of physical and mental energy chasing and trying to win back possession. Everton are very average at that and have several players who contribute in that area.

Lukaku could be a lot better in controlling the ball and holding up the play until support arrives.

Barkley, in trying to move the ball too quickly, often makes a poor pass. He needs to slow down a little and think a tad longer before releasing.

These are by no means the only players at fault in the Everton set-up and one can only hope the coaching and maturity will help improve this situation.

James Stewart
16 Posted 08/09/2015 at 19:31:54
Duncan @8 is spot on. Box-to-box is his position. He needs to be able to pick the ball up deep on the counter and hurt teams.

He should be studying Toure and coached to play that role. Carrying the ball like he has this season, exceptional and proved a lot of people wrong myself included.

Harold Matthews
17 Posted 08/09/2015 at 20:08:58
Just got in. Holy smoke. Looks like Ross is playing. Didn't expect it. Wow Milner missed a sitter.
Philip Yensen
18 Posted 10/09/2015 at 14:22:41
Ross Barkley is something of an enigma: a diamond in the rough, or a piece of crystal?

What is his position? Striker, left mid, right mid, central mid, playing off the centre forward, box to box, freedom of the pitch... what is his best position? Who knows; the manager doesn't and I don't think he does either. One thing I've seen Barkley do on a few occasions is come back in defence and put a few vital challenges or clearances, so maybe a holding midfielder?

I think he lacks vision; he seems to decide what he is going to do with the ball only when he's got it at his feet. Top players have already assessed what they want to do and where to play the ball before they receive it. Close them down and the ball has gone; give them space and they crucify you.

He has got pace but no engine for covering all parts of the pitch. He has a terrible habit of stopping in frustration if his pass goes wrong or he is dispossessed... there's no time in the Premier League for that.

I see so many flaws in his game that Martinez can't perfect and we can't wait for him to improve because we are virtually a player down while he plays in fits and starts. We need to give him a definite role or bring him off the bench to play where he is needed.

If we can get 㿊 million for him, so be it; otherwise we are walking around without a pot to piss in and a 㿊 million diamond ring on our finger.

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