Impressive Blues draw first blood in Capital One Cup semi

by | 06/01/2016  255 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 2 - 1 Manchester City

Muhamed Besic earned a start with his performance against Spurs on Sunday and didn't disappoint with an excellent display

Everton will take a 2-1 lead into second leg at the Eithad Stadium later this month thanks to Romelu Lukaku's 12th goal in as many games that restored the Blues' one-goal advantage with 12 minutes to go.

Jesus Navas's equaliser that cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori's first-half opener just four minutes earlier had put a different complexion on the tie but the Toffees responded superbly to the setback, with Lukaku heading home Gareth Barry's cross and Roberto Martinez's side seeing out the final few minutes with 10 men after the Belgian and then Seamus Coleman hobbled off with injuries.

With the exception of Joel Robles coming in for Tim Howard, Martinez had named the same team that finished the 1-1 draw with Spurs, Gerard Deulofeu and Muhamed Besic both selected in the starting XI, and Everton began this evening's game in the same cagey manner. Both teams were seemingly aware that the two-legged affair will be more of a distance run than a sprint and neither 'keeper was troubled in the opening quarter of the contest.

A couple of quick passing moves by the visitors was shut down by the Blues' defence while the home faithful were given a scare when Ross Barkley went down clutching his ankle but he was able to continue with no obvious ill effects.

Everton then began to grow into the game and forced a couple of set-piece opportunities that came to nothing, while Deulofeu flashed a cross into the side-netting.

Nicolas Otamendi powered a downward header wide from a corner and Sergio Aguero fired well wide while, at the other end, Deulofeu slipped Lukaku in with a lovely pass but the Belgian couldn't get his shot away before being closed down.

Fernandinho's trip on Barkley 10 minutes before the break gave the Blues another chance to hurt City from a free kick and Stones looked to have broken the deadlock when he swept home Gareth Barry's knockdown but his effort was chalked off for offside.

It was Everton's goalkeeper who would be forced into the first save of the match when Aguero was initially foiled well by Stones but the Argentine managed a snap shot that Robles pushed away. Baines's clearance was a dreadful one that went straight back to Aguero but his tamer effort was kept out by Funes Mori.

Back to back corners and a spell of pressure by Everton at the other end finally yielded the opening goal just minutes after Lukaku had had the ball in the net only to be denied by the offside flag.

Cleverley's dead-ball delivery from the right came all the way through to Barkley who hammered an excellent shot from the edge of the box but when Caballero could only parry it back towards the penalty spot, Funes Mori was perfectly placed to react quickly and turn it home to hand the Blues a vital half-time lead.

Martinez was forced into a change at half time when Cleverley was replaced by Leon Osman because of a calf injury but Everton continued to be the more purposeful side early in the second period. Three successive offside decisions underline their attacking intent, Lukaku just unable to convert another goal that wouldn't have stood as he stretched for Barkley's centre, while a couple of counter-attacks came to nothing.

With the quality at their disposal, the visitors were always a threat and they enjoyed a dangerous spell around the hour mark. Aguero looked for all the world to have scored but sliced uncharacteristically high and wide before the Argentine was released by David Silva but he was well tracked by Baines and Funes Mori who blocked his shot behind for a corner. Fernandinho headed the resulting kick straight at Robles.

And has the game opened up and Everton became more stretched as they tried to balance the desire for a second goal with the need to stay tight at the back, Kevin de Bruyne lined up an accurate low drive from 20-plus yards that Robles turned behind with a fine one-handed save.

In between, Barkley had out-muscled Otamendi in a duel before advancing on Willy Caballero's goal but with Lukaku not quite advanced enough for a cut-back, the 21-year-old tried an ambitious effort from the angle and his shot was beaten away.

Later, however, Baines stole into the box and he looked odds on to double the lead but when his shot was deflected behind for a corner, Everton were caught on the break when the resulting set piece was eventually cleared.

Aguero latched onto along pass from the City defence, turned Coleman and then waited before threading the ball to Navas to tuck it past Robles for his first goal in 66 matches.

The Blues were back ahead almost immediately, however. Barry teased a perfect cross into the six-yard box and Lukaku was on hand, level with the last man to head straight past Caballero to make it 2-1 with 10 minutes left.

It would be the Belgian's last significant contribution. He appeared to sustain a knock to his ankle in the moments before the goal and he was replaced by Arouna Kone.

The home side's need to see out the game from a winning position was made more challenging by the loss of Coleman to an injury of his own which meant that they had to play the last few minutes plus stoppage time with 10 men.

Kick-off: 8pm
Referee: Robert Madley
Everton: Robles, Coleman, Stones, Funes Mori, Baines, Barry, Besic, Cleverley (Osman 46'), Barkley, Deulofeu (Mirallas 68'), Lukaku (Kone 82')
Subs not used: Howard, Jagielka, Galloway, Lennon

Full details: ToffeeWeb Match Report


Reader Comments (255)

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Clive Rogers
1 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:05:01
That is exactly the team I would have chosen.
Kieran Fitzgerald
2 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:18:42
Good.
Chris Gould
4 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:21:57
Yep, no complaints with that lineup. Looking forward to seeing Besic from the start.
Tom Cuffe
5 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:22:53
I would have liked to see Mirallas start instead of Barkley. Other than that, a strong team... come on, you Blues !!!
Jay Harris
6 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:25:57
There shouldn't be too many complaints about that side but City have put a strong side out too. Let's hope our 12th man kicks in tonight and carries us on.

At least City will try to play football so hopefully it will be a good game with a positive outcome. We are due a change of luck.

Brian Hennessy
7 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:27:17
I can't fault that team selection, good balance of defensive payers and attack. Fingers crossed for a good result.
Julian Wait
8 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:32:16
The right team, probably our best team of who is fit at the moment. All we need is the crowd to be up and the players to respond.

Looking forward to this, from afar...

Christy Ring
10 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:37:17
A more balanced line-up, and the best available. I hope Robles does himself justice tonight.
Mark Frere
11 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:43:12
Good line-up but would've liked to have seen Mirallas come in for Barkley... that is if Kevin is truly part of Martinez's future plans.
Victor Jones
12 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:44:42
No Naismith or Gibson on the bench. Sorry to see that. Osman getting ahead of Gibson. And I almost wish that rumours were not true about Naismith. But it looks ever more likely that he will be moving on. Still think he would be a good man to have around and will he be replaced by some player of equal or better standard. Or will we still be looking at players on transfer deadline day? Anyhow, let's win this game tonight. COYBs.
Gerard Carey
13 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:54:49
As good as what most would have picked. Lets hope we get something to carry to their place, 2-0 would be good!!!!!!!.
Dick Fearon
14 Posted 06/01/2016 at 19:54:57
Before we start lots of us do not have visual and it is great help when as the game progresses could I please beg for regular time updates.
Alexander O'Brien
15 Posted 06/01/2016 at 20:10:25
Goodison's rocking again! All I can hear is the City fans!
Alexander O'Brien
16 Posted 06/01/2016 at 20:17:20
Not missing much dick! De bruyne's starting to influence.
Colin Hughes
17 Posted 06/01/2016 at 20:39:43
Atmosphere is always dead at Goodison until we score. A lot of moans and groans or half-hearted appeals but little chanting or singing.
Phil Sammon
18 Posted 06/01/2016 at 20:48:12
What an absolutely brilliant decision from the linesman! Funes Mori looked a mile offside there!
Dennis Ng
19 Posted 06/01/2016 at 20:50:03
I was afraid right there but it is a good ref decision
Roger Helm
20 Posted 06/01/2016 at 21:00:39
We look a different team altogether with Besic. Hope he doesn't run out of steam.
Pete Ellingham
21 Posted 06/01/2016 at 21:01:45
Besic is quality, Barry having another good game. Cleverley looks tired. Funes Mori has had a good game so far and took the goal really well. All in all not a bad 45 minutes.
Peter Roberts
22 Posted 06/01/2016 at 21:14:36
A nod to the referee who is having a very, very good game. Besic looks a steal at ٢m.
Christy Ring
23 Posted 06/01/2016 at 21:21:12
Besic outstanding in midfield, not sure if Osman was the right change, doesn't have the pace or legs. It tells me Bob doesn't believe in Mirallas.
Stephen Brown
24 Posted 06/01/2016 at 21:59:34
Fantastic performance! Disappointed to concede but surely we deserve some luck in semi! Don't know how the nerves would hold out with a RS final though?!

Besic and Barry my joint MotM!

Gordon Roberts
25 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:01:33
Besic and Barry looked impressive, hope Robles keeps his place on Saturday. Jags and Galloway to start next match with Kone or Mirallas up front.
Barry Morrison
27 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:03:16
Barry was excellent, but how Sky haven't give MotM to Besic is beyond me. He was immense!
Andy Walker
28 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:04:53
That was an excellent, controlled performance. Besic was super as was the whole team. Begs the question why don't we set up and play like that at home to lesser teams. Complacency, who knows, perhaps Martinez does.

Full credit to the team and manager tonight. Mind you it will take just as good a performance to stand a chance at City.

Craig Fletcher
29 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:05:14
I didn't see the game, but by all accounts a magnificent performance! Did the Lukaku / Coleman injuries look bad?
Mike Hughes
30 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:05:33
Same result at Citeh. We'll stuff them. Good job it's FA Cup weekend with those knocks to Lukaku and Coleman.

And with the rs going down like flies ......

Gavin Johnson
31 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:06:36
Mo Besic - Future Everton Captain!

Roberto can now say we gave a complete performance. We were immense.

Tom Bowers
32 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:07:39
Got to get Ossie warmed up for the might of Dagenham !
Andy Walker
33 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:08:30
Gavin, agree that was a complete performance, unlike Villa and Newcastle!
Dennis Ng
34 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:09:43
Good performance. This should be our team for the rest of the year...barring injuries and form...

I noticed how "drifters" (that's how I think of it) gets missed and have open looks at goal. Navas scored from one such opportunity, and city has a few more chances like that where no one picked up the running man from the far side. Defence was decent until those chances.

Steve Roomes
35 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:10:17
Besic brilliant, just edged mom from Barry, but how many goals have we given away this season from our attack? Our final ball at times is very poor but a good all round performance.

Barkley needs a rocket up his arse at times - very frustrating, so much talent. Am I being over critical :-)
John Maddock
36 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:11:14
Despite the away goal and the 1st 20mins, it was a great performance, particularly the hold up play and passing to see the game out. Tough one for MOM, Besic was fantastic (and no booking), but maybe Sky got it right as Barry rolled back the years and was everywhere....almost.

Nice to see Moyes summarising on Sky, time to forgive and forget the way he left us (he was obviously tapped up) and we should welcome him back anytime.

Robert Elliott
37 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:11:52
Carried on from where we left off in the second half on Sunday. Besic and Barry were fantastic, but there were a lot of good performances. Hopefully we can do the job at the Etihad now. Bit of a concern for Rom, Cleverley and Coleman to come off with knocks. Let's hope they are not lengthy ones.
Lee Courtliff
38 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:13:00
Good performance. Besic was my MotM but nobody really played badly. I thought Baines looked like his old self at times too.

If only we'd kept a clean sheet.

Scott Williams
39 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:13:09
Happy with Barry's performance but Mo was by far the man of the match for me. Think he could have better during the Navas goal but besides that, on point!
Liam Reilly
40 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:13:42
Great performance and showed real character to grab a winning goal 2 minutes after they scored.

Besic was excellent but anyone questioning that Barry wasn't MOM should look at his stats:

Passes 71
Accuracy 90%
Assists 1
Passes 85

Awesome

Ray Jacques
41 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:14:42
Barry 24, couldnt agree more. Besic was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, protected the back four, broke up attacks and what did surprise me was how comfortable he is on the ball. His passing was good , he consistently found a blue shirt and he has an edge to him which is what we miss in the middle of the park..
Hopefully he will now be given a run in the side and we will stop playing Kone left midfield!!!!
Graham Mockford
42 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:18:17
Obviously a result we would have taken before the game.

The goal we conceded though was really frustrating and for me it sums up the Martinez approach in a nutshell. From our corner leading 1-0 we find ourselves outnumbered on a breakaway. It's not rocket science it's just counting. And of course 1-0 may turn out to be a better result than 2-1.

However a very good performance overall with Barry, Besic and Baines all having excellent games. Lukaku is looking the complete centre forward and Robles has done enough to be given a run in the side.

Also a mention for one of my favourite players Ossie or as he is known on the forum WTF Osman. Considering his lack of game time he did what he has mainly done for 400+ games. Worked hard, kept it simple, moved it forward and retained possession.

Joe Clitherow
43 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:19:18
Navas scored Lyndon, not Aguero
Tommy Coleman
44 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:21:52
Superb all round performance.
We need to score over there though.
Rick Tarleton
45 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:22:50
Besic was immense. His control under pressure and his composure were hugely impressive, but everyone played their part and it was an excellent team display.
The best performance of the season, I'd say.

Jay Wood
46 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:23:07
Yew bewties!!!!

After a scary opening 10 minutes when we looked overawed by the occasion, we really grew into the game and were good value for the win.

For me, that was the best, most balanced performance of the season by a country mile. By balanced, I mean the team worked as a single unit, defending as a team, moving the ball forward as a team.

As a result our defensive lines were vastly improved, denying the likes of Silva, Aguero and de Bruyne the space between the lines in which they like to play.

The one blemish was their goal from our corner, when we should have had more cover rather than be so gung ho, but the immediate response was brilliant.

Seeing Lukaku limp off in the wake of the winning goal is a huge concern, but praise for all the team - and the manager - tonight for a throroughly professional performance.

And just how immense was Barry tonight? An absolute colossus for me.

Stephen Brown
47 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:24:12
Cancel Naismith sale to cover for Rom in non vital games coming up!
Barry McNally
48 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:25:30
Barry was my MOTM, Mo Besic was a very close second. Barry was one move ahead of all around him. Hope Lukaku stays with us for when he realises his full potential, only at 85% now but rising fast!
Roger Helm
49 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:25:33
The best ninety minutes of the season - frustrating it hasn't actually won us any thing yet. Everyone did well, dome like Besic and Barry were excellent.

A shout also for Robles who made some good stops Nd I think made the defenders feel more comfortable.

Colin Hughes
50 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:26:05
Besic could become our Roy Keane, doesn't score too many but is a vital lynchpin on the pitch.I believe he will get better with experience aswell. Not sure McCarthy has the football brain despite his efforts.
Dave Pritchard
51 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:27:57
Well done every player and well done Martinez. Our best performance of the season when you consider the opposition. Special mention for Besic and Barry. Stones' defending was excellent, much improved. Lukaku would have had another great game even if he hadn't scored. Another 5 million on his price. Baines looks like he is getting back to full fitness. Only negatives are the injuries. Please let Rom's injury be minor and definitely rest him against Dag & Red.
Andy Walker
52 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:29:10
I think Joel would have every right to be really pissed off if he was dropped after that performance, ditto Besic.
Anto Byrne
53 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:29:40
Happy to have got up at 4am to watch a really good game, it surpassed the Spurs game. Looks like Rom rolled his ankle and might need a week off. Besic my man of the match and Barkley a close second.

I thought our keeper was very good and unlucky with the goal as Coleman should have taken the man out but got skinned. I really don't want to play the shite at Wembley if we get there.
Jon Cox
54 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:34:36
I'd put Mirallas up top with Del boy and Lennon either side for the up coming games.

Besic has to be the first name on the team sheet after the performance.

Outstanding bit of graft.

Ross Edwards
55 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:35:30
Excellent result and performance. I think Martinez got his tactics right and outclassed Pellegrini. We were a lot better defensively which he should be credited for. Besic was exceptional, providing us that tenacity and steel that we've been missing.

I think we're looking good to go through. If we get the first goal we're there. I wasn't impressed by City and without Kompany they are awful defensively. If we play like we did tonight and keep the likes of Aguero quiet again, we will be at Wembley.

COYB

Brian Murray
56 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:36:17
Any chance the real Stoke turning up like they did at L4? I couldn't handle hole-in-the-wall shiesters with fan club Clattenburg or Atkinson etc.
Dave Williams
57 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:37:43
Best performance against quality opposition I have seen in years. After the first 20 minutes we were the better side and did it with thoughtful and skilful play .

Funes Mori and Stones had their best game together and Baines looked back to his old self and very committed. Barry – what can you say about him- a marvellous display and kept going well to the end in a quite remarkable show of fitness.

I thought Ross played well especially second half and showed great maturity at the end in keeping possession when down to ten men – the Sky boys would have wet themselves had that been City or Arsenal keeping possession like that.

Everyone played very well but for me Besic was the crucial man. Ray #36 sums his display up beautifully and he is looking a bit of a Peter Reid type to me.

Bit harsh to criticise their goal – it was a good break away and this can happen against such a good team. I'd rather give enormous credit to the team for regaining the lead so quickly.

I bet Bill is feeling a lot better tonight!

Very well done everyone – fantastic evenings entertainment!!

Dave Pritchard
58 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:39:31
We expected the running and tackling from Besic but his skill on the ball was a big surprise. Where did that come from?
Eddie Dunn
59 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:39:56
Great to see the confidence in the side. Well done RM, let's hope that we carry on from here.
Steven Jones
60 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:40:05
Shout out for Barks tonight ...

He is so powerful, controls, buys time and gets us moving forward ..

Unlucky with his on target shots from runs .. could have got a couple ...

In the last 5 mins - his running down the clock and game management was what we can expect from him over the next ten years!

Ian Brandes
61 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:40:31
DELIGHTED for the fans, the players, and even Martinez, who got it right tonight. Lukaku, Barry and Besic fantastic, Ross very good too, as well as Mori. And Robles was assured in goal. In fact, no bad players out there.

Like Graham earlier, Ossie, also one of my favourite players, did us proud in his sub stint. Precision passing, slowing it down when we needed to hold onto possession, and as usual, great reading of the game.

Great night for all Evertonians, and the away leg should hold NO fears for us if we play like that.

Nick Entwistle
62 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:41:08
Good performance, but City stayed in second gear all night long. They'll be up for the second leg and I fear the worst. One goal lead is not enough.
Steven Jones
63 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:42:23
Agree Dave P ... Baines is getting back I the groove ... it would be good to see one of his blockbuster goals and a Barks goal take it away from the opposition in a match in the coming weeks ...

Free kick away to City in the second leg might be nice ...

Colin Glassar
64 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:43:13
Depends which City team turns up Nick. They've been blowing hot and cold all season.
Colin Glassar
65 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:46:20
BBB (Baines, Barry and Besic) were all great tonight. Even BOssie played well.
Nick Entwistle
66 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:47:31
Home hot, away cold, Colin. Aguero will be match fit, Sterling, De Bruyn and Silva behind. Can we handle their A game? Going to be a great night. Looking forward to it behind my beer glass.

Really pleased though with the play tonight, and defensively their was solidity when they shut up shop.

John Francis
67 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:48:07
RM has found the formula through luck or judgement.We wait to see if he keeps it and works on it, or will he tinker?

Yes Barry was a worthy MotM but Besic was the difference from the insipid lethargic slipshod nonsense we have been watching all season.

Big mention for Bainesy tonight too, he was back to his best all night. Great show all round though, keep it up lads.

Dave Williams
68 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:48:37
City didn't stay in second gear -– they weren't given the time to play just like we weren't allowed to by Spurs for so long on Sunday. Give them time and space and they can destroy but Roberto got it right tonight in much the same way as Moyes used to against City albeit we showed a lot more skill.

I forgot Ossie before and the other guys are right – he was neat,passed well and kept possession showing the class he has always had.

James Stewart
69 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:48:46
Besic MotM by far for me. He has galvanised us with his energy and work rate. He is a far better player on the ball than McCarthy, should be one of the first names on teamsheet.

Robles was also solid. Lukaku has to keep fit, his injury is a real concern with no backup. Great performance though credit where it's due. Defended like a Moyes side for once.
Dennis Ng
70 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:51:07
Except for some key players (ahem Hart), City is nearly full strength. City is not doing well and hopefully they continue to sit back like they did here. Besic and Barry in cotton wool for 2 weeks!
Christy Ring
71 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:52:11
Thoroughly deserved, some great performances. Besic was my MotM. Robles has to get a run in the side now, one great save tonight, played with confidence and a lot better understanding with the back four. Mirallas was lucky not to concede penalty, and I thought he was very subdued, maybe trying too hard.

I'm hoping the injuries aren't serious, Seamus didn't look good, (Browning his understudy, is out for the season), should offer £3m for Byram, would be a good addition anyway. I hope Lukaku is okay, and available near Wednesday.

Dave Abrahams
72 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:53:47
Great result, better performance, Coleman out for three or four weeks puts a bit of a dampener on, no news on Lukaku.

I don't think City were in second gear, we just never gave them any space or peace after the first fifteen minutes, a well deserved victory, now stop messing about and play a balanced team every match, Robbie. Oh and leave the goalkeeper in the team for Saturday.

Dennis Ng
73 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:54:07
They tweeted Coleman to be out 3-4 weeks I think. No news on Lukaku yet.
Phil Sammon
74 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:54:30
We looked so much more assured against a top class attack. That back 5 has earned the right to be 'first choice'. I don't think I can take if if Howard walks straight back in next week.
Jim Potter
75 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:55:22
Top performances all around. Unlucky not to have two goal advantage.

Hope the injuries are minor.

We can do this - then beat the shite at Wembley.

Gavin Johnson
76 Posted 06/01/2016 at 22:59:58
If Coleman's out for 3-4 weeks we should buy Sam Byram immediately. I'd have no problem with him going straight into the side, even though Stones is decent enough RB cover.
Dennis Ng
77 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:02:57
Gavin, unfortunately it's RM who decides if he's first team material... Fingers crossed. Aren't we going to have a clout of defenders when everyone returns from injury?
Colin Glassar
78 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:02:58
Or Stonesy at RB and Jags and FM at CB Gavin?
Gordon Crawford
79 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:05:12
Nick, have a little bit of faith. Let's just take it one game at a time. Tonight we were better than City.
Hopefully all the injuries weren't too bad.
Besic and Robles need to start in the next game.
Tony Abrahams
80 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:07:43
Nick, maybe City will be up for the second leg, because after all it is a semi final? To say they played in second gear tonight is your opinion, but that is just not giving Everton any credit that though, especially considering it was also a semi final tonight.

I usually have respect for everyone on ToffeeWeb, but you actually posted today that you would prefer 3 points in the next league game rather than win a semi final tonight. Admittedly we have still got to get a result in Manchester to make tonight worthwhile, but to say that other fans aren't interested in the cups unless their team is playing, is ridiculous.


Who would give a fuck what the fans of any other club thought, if Everton were running round Wembley with the cup?

Dave Ganley
81 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:08:27
Just back from the game. Great night and great performance especially, as others have said, Besic and Barry. Pity we couldn't get another goal as we deserved I thought.

Probably contentious but the only downside tonight was Barkley. I thought he was awful. Stuck in no-man's land for most part and when he did get the ball, yet again ran down blind alleys and didn't pass when the opportunity arose. Shit out of every tackle also.

Aside from that, I thought it was probably the best performance at Goodison all season. We can go to Man City with some confidence now. Yaya will be having nightmares about Besic.
Charles Brewer
82 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:08:47
That was an outstanding display. The difference Besic makes is vast. Martinez appears to have created a very well balanced team apart from two important respects.

First, Howard is a complete disaster. If the players are anything like the supporters, they are put into a state of complete panic every time the ball is loose near the penalty area.

Second, absent Besic, the team does not have a destroyer. Stones is a beautiful footballer, Baines gives great confidence, Lukaku scores goals, Barry keeps the defensive to attacking transformation solid, Coleman and Duelofeu put the Fear of God into opposition left backs, Barkley - when on form - does wonderful and effective things. These players show the way in which raw talent can display itself on a football pitch.

But tonight, Besic imposed himself on the game in the way that the real leaders of football teams do.

I hate to say it, but Hughes, Souness and Gerrard were the three Liverpool players who were the difference between that team as a reasonable contender and European level successes. Tony Adams at Arsenal, Keane at ManU, Terry and Lampard at Chelsea. These were the difference between "quite good" and "ruthlessly successful".

There is a wonderful story about Mike Brearley's approach to team spirit. England had been regularly humiliated by Australia who cultivated an image of being "more macho, manly etc" than the "Pommie poofters". This was epitomised by Merv Hughes the wicket keeper (and No1 sledger) who had a huge "super-heterosexual" moustache. England went on an Ashes tour to Australia and, unusually, went by ship. On the way, the entire team ceased shaving and by the time they arrived had all grown impressive, bushy and definitely "manly" beards. Given that it takes a while to grow a beard, the Aussies psychological intimidation was note only trumped, but reversed. The "Pommie poofters" were more macho than the Ockers, who, of course, could not speed up the rate of beard growth!

England, series underdogs, won the Ashes.

Brearley was probably the best captain in the history of any sport (I hosted a dinner for him once, he's a charming and very intelligent man), and understood that the enemy is defeated not by playing better / having more talent, but by winning the mental battle.

Martinez would be very foolish not to eliminate the source of fear (Howard) and introduce the match dominator (Besic) in the next half dozen games.

Ernie Baywood
83 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:09:13
Losing Coleman is a big loss in a defence that isn't that experienced. Conceivably our back 5 could only have Baines as an old head and even he's returning from injury.

Coleman and Besic my MOTMs. Besic had a stormer.

Thought we had a nice defence/attack balance tonight. The goal was a bit silly though. We lost the ball upfield and Stones' instinct was to close down on the edge of their box instead of getting back. Then Aguero should have been pulled down for a yellow card. Then everyone got sucked across and left Navas alone. Bit of a catalogue of errors even before you consider we were over committed.

Nice to start with an advantage which means they have to force the play but realistically it's anyone's game at 2-1.

Kunal Desai
84 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:10:42
I think we need to ditch playing Kone with Lukaku together at Goodison. It doesnt work and instead leaves the midfield and defence highly exposed. Play 451 at home.
Ian Hams
85 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:12:28
Coleman out for 3-4 weeks?? Oh dear... but with Jags coming back that means Stone to right back and Jags to partner Funes Mori in the centre.

Might just be very good.

Gavin Johnson
86 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:16:47
Colin,

Totally agree that Stones at RB and the returning Jags with Funes Mori should be solid enough. Although I'd still like us to sign Byram if there's any substance to all the rumours floating around. If we want him I reckon we should get him now instead of transfer deadline.

Dave Abrahams
87 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:17:18
Charles (74) good post and great story about Mike Brearley.
Tony Abrahams
88 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:17:44
Great story that Charles, and that's why I was wrong when I asked who would give a fuck, what the fans of any other club thought if Everton won the cup. Because if we could beat the other crowd, I would definitely want to know how much pain the bastards were feeling!!
Steve Mink
89 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:18:24
Agree with all of the above - best performance for a long time.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect was for the first time since Arteta left, Everton have rediscovered the art of killing a game - passing it round, taking the fouls, sending Lukaku back on just to go to the far end of the pitch before being subbed. It was like vintage Mourinho.

Paul Jeronovich
90 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:22:31
Buzzing and loved the commitment of the players. Big second leg but we can deffo score at their place. As much as he has been justifiably criticised of late, good team selection by RM particularly Mo Besic.
Mike Hayes
91 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:27:09
Great scoreline to go to Etihad with – players deserve credit Robles played well but can see Flapper back in as stubborn arse had favourites – we need to play like that over the remaining games to cement a decent drive up to the top spots it is possible providing Martinez just stops being an arse.

Unfortunately for the damage he's done in last two seasons I can't praise him for any win as he had let us down time and again when we have been on top of several wins. I want the League Cup as does every Everton fan near and far but don't want Martinez as manager for another nail-biting frustrating season, the faithful hearts can't take much more.
Mark Boulle
92 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:27:37
Very good performance overall. Maybe this is the new pattern, same as Spurs on Sunday, caution in the opening twenty minutes or so, allow our defensive players to get the measure of what they're up against, then go for it...

Totally concur that Mo and Gazza Bazza (as my villa supporting friends called him) were superb. Besic had certainly earned an extended run now.

Robles hardly had anything to do in truth. One decent save from Aguero, a header he caught on the line and that was it. No chance with the goal, but what he had to do, he instilled confidence in me watching from the sofa at least. Of course he should keep his place, but we know he won't, so pointless having the debate anymore until this season is over at least.

City's goal was mainly down to the fact that Aguero is one of perhaps only 5 players in the world who could have pulled down that punt out of defence so beautifully, in the same motion turning the defender to give him time to run into space. Stones then made it easy for him by going to the ball (which RFM had already done) instead of dropping off on Navas, but as I say that long ball would most probably only ever have stuck with geniuses like Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo, Neymar or Aguero in the first place. Sometimes, you have just to recognise footballing brilliance when you see it.

Bad news about Mustard, hopefully not as bad as it sounds. If it is though, emergency cover this window is a must. I don't want us to be relying on our only three fit centre halves filling three of the back 4 slots for the next month.

My guess is Rom is fine, looked like an impact injury. Rest him for the FA cup and maybe city next mid week and hopefully gel  

Mark Boulle
93 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:29:04
Hopefully he'll be fine, I meant to say at the end there!
Anthony Dwyer
94 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:29:59
Great performance against a top top team.

Gave them nothing all game whilst still looking like a team worth watching .

On the way home I listened to Ronny Goodlass on Merseyside, he was asked why the crowd was so different tonight compared to some recent league games .
He said he thought it was because the team gave us something to shout about but I don't agree.

My opinion is the manager gave us something to shout about with his starting team , that was what boosted most of the crowd .

Evertonians can understand the game , and almost every blue wants to see a starting 11 without Howard and Kone , today we seen that and responded.

I'm no Martinez fan but I think he got it spot on tonight , and the inclusion of Besic was great to see too.

One slight worrying thing for me is del boys attitude and lack of fitness.
He has to learn to last a game and really needs to stop throwing his arms out when people get it wrong , it looks awful.

Tony Hill
95 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:32:26
The team was superb tonight and it is indeed Besic who makes the fundamental difference. He single-handedly wrenched us into life after the dodgy opening 20 minutes.

Stones at right back has not been a success in the past, but I'm sure we'll find a solution.

I share the view that City will be a different proposition at their place but this was a fine effort.

Terry Hayes
96 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:34:20
Watched the game on my own with 'a few beers'...couldn't decide who was my Motm between Besic and Barry and I'm now too pissed to toss a coin...but every pissed up bone in my body is telling me we will win this cup.

I loved the way we started tonight - nice and easy instead of the usual first 20 mins where we go hell for leather with no end product. Just one criticism: Please Barks, take one less touch and shoot.

Great all round team performance, though.
John Aldridge
97 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:40:37
Flappy Tim taking some stick on Twitter
Colin Glassar
98 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:41:04
Is Besic the missing link? A bit like Reidy back in the day?
John Aldridge
99 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:44:15
I was hugely impressed with Besic, seems he has matured a lot from the hot headed card magnet we saw last year. He got a warning early on, took it on board, got his head down and put in a great performance. A great link from defence to attack. What we have been missing - he's got to be a shoe-in now for the first team alongside Barry.
Kase Chow
100 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:45:30
Brilliant brilliant win

We should have taken a yellow for their goal to prevent it

What's interesting me is that our young team ARE growing and ARE learning

Are we just too impatient as fans? Or am I chatting crap cos I'm buzzing about a superb win?!

We NEED to keep Lukaku and also get a replacement for when he's injured, tired or out of form. We have a real goalscorer there - let's value him, love him, worship him and make him stay!

Tony Hill
101 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:45:35
I think he's fantastic, Colin, and could make a huge difference to us. He will have some wild moments and will make some big mistakes but you could feel the crowd being lifted by him tonight. Excellent though Barry and others were, Besic has the gift of galvanising the side and the supporters.
Kevin Tully
102 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:46:56
Sick of hearing the players the manager has signed are ace, but the way he sets them out on the Pitch is shite.

Give me 11th every season and a cup final. Brand new.

Or let's fuck off all the cups and concentrate on upper midtable so we can brag about a top 7 finish (look at the stat's)

I can only comment on the football I witness. Tonight, we were better than the richest team on the world. Football wise. Not outfighting. Or running more. You know what I mean. For those who know.

Andrew Clare
103 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:48:17
Best performance of the season.
For ages I have been saying that we need a midfield general and all the while he was already here. Besic must now be a regular first team player.
He made the difference on Sunday and again tonight.
He is class and he is hard. Just the extra ingredient to make this team click.
Christy Ring
104 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:48:47
Stones is not a fullback, he's played there before, but it doesn't work. As I said earlier, we should sign Byram, as Seamus is the only natural right back we have.
Ray Roche
105 Posted 06/01/2016 at 23:54:28
Barry and Besic were magnificent. I noticed that, when we scored our second, Besic ran to the touchline for instructions, the way Neville used to, rather than celebrate.He is our next captain, not Stones.
Colin Malone
106 Posted 06/01/2016 at 00:01:09
Besic or McCarthy? I know it's early days with Besic but McCarthy does not do enough going forward as Besic does and it is no coincidence that Gareth Barry has been marvellous since James has been out of the team.

James McCarthy has got to add a lot more to his game.
Kase Chow
107 Posted 06/01/2016 at 00:01:49
Getting very annoyed by people saying Barkley had a poor game. That's nonsense

He kept driving at the opposition, pushing them back. How many players in the Prem league actually run at defences these days? Not many

His passing and in game play has vastly improved as well as his ball retention

We're gonna drive this gem away before we know it and then jeer him when he returns for being greedy

Love Him and treasure him and appreciate him. The guy is a superb talent

Peter Lee
108 Posted 06/01/2016 at 00:06:22
Mike Hayes: When the players don't perform it's down to the manager you suggest. When they do it isn't? Don't get it.
Andy Crooks
109 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:16:59
Great show by players and coach. Charles, # 74 , I agree with you about Brearley, he was a truly great captain and inspired Botham to greatness. I doubt , though that he ever crossed swords with Merv Hughes. Lilee perhaps.
Gary Heywood
110 Posted 06/01/2016 at 00:18:20
Nearly a perfect performance and result. This game has proved that we can up our game defensively and perform well for the whole match, a rarity so far this season. A clean sheet was so important but sadly not to be. We now need to maintain and develop from this level. There must be no going back to chaotic shambolic defending.

Martinez must now show to the team and the fans that he gets it. Good defending allows this team to attack with confidence and purpose and winning above all else is the main point of a football game. He must show that he can learn from mistakes quickly and abandon his stubborn stupidity. Martinez be ruthless and we'll love you for it. Robles and Besic now deserve your loyalty.

It's now a really big ask for us to win this cup tie. We have to be super confident going into the return game that we now have a style of play that is successful and the right players to do it.

Ian Riley
111 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:20:05
Besic is a class act. Has it all on the ball and between the ears! New long term contract please! When he told yaya toure to shut up was a classic! Future captain? Yes, not scared to tell players to pull their socks up!

Well done reberto, spot on, tactics, work rate and team selection.

Dare we dream yet???

Peter Cummings
112 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:23:04
It's all been said,a great performance and an all round success story,pity about their goal though means they only need a 0-0 draw at their place to go to Wembley but as I have said before '' Hope Springs Eternal'' Well Done You Blues
Colin Glassar
114 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:30:18
Kase, Ross was great tonight. He, Lukaku and Besic have revindicated the trust I've always had in them.
Christy Ring
115 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:32:01
Peter #101 Check again, I'd love an 0-0 at their place, we'd be on our way to Wembley.
Aiden Doyle
116 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:33:07
Some good news for you, Peter: If the game at the Etihad finishes 0 - 0, we go through. City's goal tonight will only be relevant if they win 1 - 0 at the end of the month.
John Daley
117 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:42:22
"Probably contentious but the only downside tonight was Barkley. Thought he was awful."

Really Dave? I thought from around the 20 min mark onwards he was instrumental in driving Everton forward, key contribution for the first goal and the City midfielders were at a loss how to handle him. A couple of times he seemed to get caught in two minds whether to release the ball or have a go himself, but apart from that he looked a class act tonight.

Iain Thomson
118 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:52:16
Echo the sentiments re Besic......contagious effort and drive..Dont see how he can be dropped... Favourite moment was when he was screaming at himself for misplacing a pass...played like a fan would..all heart....awesome. Far more technical ability than I think a lot of us expected. Given a run of 10 games or so he could be tremendous for us
Colin Gee
119 Posted 07/01/2016 at 00:54:19
Superb performance from the players tonight, the fans got behind the team as we had been asked to, there's nothing better than the Grand Old Lady rocking under floodlights. Cancel that Taxi for Martinez for the moment!
Besic was my MoM, what a difference he had made since coming on as sub against Spurs. Has Martinez finally stumbled across a team and performance that works? All he needs to do now is permenantly drop Howard......

It will be tough at the Emptyad in a couple of weeks but I think we can do it. Lets hope that Seamus and Rom's injuries aren't too bad. As we will need everyone fit as City will throw the kitchen sink at us in the 2nd Leg.

Brent Stephens
121 Posted 07/01/2016 at 01:03:21
Buzzing! We pressed so hard and didn't allow them to dwell on the ball, and broke in numbers - Roberto take a bow. Great team selection - Roberto take a bow (esp re Besic's inclusion).

"FFS, Ossie coming on, now we're dead". No we're not!

Si Cooper
122 Posted 07/01/2016 at 01:18:07
Besic's was excellent but I hope people realise it is likely he will at some stage get himself sent-off needlessly or get caught in possession in a poor position on the pitch, simply because he is the sort of player who will always play on the edge. Most teams need a few players like that to both disrupt the opposition and create chances, and I think that is why Martinez bought him in the first place but has been too nervous to take a chance on him this season with safer options in the likes of Cleverly and McCarthy.
Hopefully now the manager will be convinced that Mo has tempered his risk taking enough to be trusted with a starting spot. James McCarthy will then need to stretch his own creative abilities to get a look in, or Ross will have to get tougher in the tackles.
Clive Mitchell
123 Posted 07/01/2016 at 01:31:43
Watching Ross Barkley play is an absolute privilege. What a Rolls Royce the lad is. I love the way opponents can recede like the tide going out when he gets on the ball. Pure class.
Brian Wilkinson
124 Posted 07/01/2016 at 01:50:09
I really hope Moyes is there for the second leg, hes certainly got the indian sign over City.

Besic was outstanding but Barry edged the motm for me.

Our defence also looked better, whether that was down to Robles in goal who knows, but he has to stay in the team against City in the league, I really will flip if Howard plays.

Cannot fault a single player tonight, a great team effort and spot on tactics and team selection from Bobby.

Anthony Dwyer
125 Posted 07/01/2016 at 01:54:08
I agree Clive (118), Ross plays with such style and maturity, he is so undervalued by a lot of our fans its untrue.

Dennis Ng
126 Posted 07/01/2016 at 03:01:43
Si, I think at this moment, the chances of him getting sent of are far more desirable compared to the frustrations of inadequate results. I noticed a lot of forward involvement by Besic in our game going forward, so I don't see a problem him starting besides McCarthy if we're to give Barry a rest. The 2 need more game time together to form a good partnership anyway.
Jamie Crowley
127 Posted 07/01/2016 at 03:31:04
Had to watch on delay... work. Those 3 pm EST kickoffs can either be a bitch (like today) or heaven playing hooky and drinking beer while you should be working.

We were marvelous. Good lineup by Roberto. Great game.

How good is Besic??!!

Jamie Crowley
128 Posted 07/01/2016 at 03:37:29
Food for thought me and my sons were discussing while watching...

For those folks slating Martinez, and yes there's been some valid criticism of late, consider this lineup of 10 outfield players:

Coleman Stones Mori Galloway
Besic McCarthy
Delo Barkley Cleverley
Rom

Anyone see a player over 25? Coleman maybe can't be bothered to look but the core of that line up / average age has to be 22-23 years old.

Not a bad team our manager is building for the future.

Patience...

Phil Smith
130 Posted 07/01/2016 at 04:02:35
So refreshing to see nothing but positive (for the most part) comments on here. Has Besic turned our season around?
Phil Smith
131 Posted 07/01/2016 at 04:10:24
Seamus is 27 now, I believe. Isn't Clevery older than 25 also? MaCarthy has to be close an' all. Get what you're saying though, Jamie. Looking good, with great kids still to come through.
David Chait
132 Posted 07/01/2016 at 05:09:57
Glad that Besic got his run.. And let's be honest forced on RM by injuries! So overdue its been criminal! What's your next move Martinez? Martinez is worse than Moyes with regards to picking his favourites... And never even substituting them.

Barkley deserved the bit of love in the last few comments. I thought he was the outstanding player of the 2nd half. There were 10 minutes there he had their defence all over the place. It kept City pushed back and defensive which trickles all the way down to our defence! His shot for Mori's goal was a thunderbolt!

Terence Leong
133 Posted 07/01/2016 at 05:49:44
Brian Wilkinson#119, while it's true that Moyes had the Indian sign over City (he beat them home and away in two successive seasons, I think), he was also the one who made the "knife to a gunfight" comment when we faced City in one of the games that we lost.

So, while Moyes' safety first and "keep it tight" could help the team close out the tie, he is less likely to get the team to win when the chips are down.

I don't think Martinez will ever be able to close down teams the way Moyes or Mourinho does, but he has demonstrated that his teams can outscore others, and they can come back from behind.

This is what we can possibly hope and bank on i.e. even if we go a goal down, we can always come back up and win the game.

Harold Matthews
134 Posted 07/01/2016 at 06:10:05
What a fine performance. For me, Besic and a fit again Bainsey made all the difference. They grabbed us by the scruff of the neck, tackled and moved with fire in their boots and thrust us forward. Great stuff indeed.

After a start where we looked like a bunch of amateurs passing to the opposition, everyone rolled up their sleeves and gradually pushed them back. A great test of character for everyone involved and they came through with flying colours.

Hopefully we'll be at full strength for the 2nd battle but Seamus and Cleverley definitely need time off. Don't know about the big fella but he's so hungry for goals he'd probably play on one leg.

David Barks
135 Posted 07/01/2016 at 06:10:12
Terence,

I'd agree with you that Martinez' teams can out score others, except mostly we don't. Our win record under Martinez is poor.

So while we had an excellent performance against City, sadly it was against the norm. And Besic being a dominating force was only brought about due to injury. And Kone being dropped was only brought about due to months of horrible performances. And Howard being dropped was only because Robles is the cup keeper despite far outperforming Howard.

So we may go a goal behind, quite often in fact. But we rarely come back to win. I'm very happy for the win and hope to progress to Wembley. But it doesn't erase this horrible season or the prior season, where we've seen a deteriorating defense and continue to sit in the bottom half of the table.

Brian Porter
136 Posted 07/01/2016 at 06:45:39
Best game I've watched all season. City had us on the ropes for the first fifteen minutes, after that we grew into the game, lost the 'fear factor' which had a lot to do with the defenders having some faith in the goalkeeper, and never looked back. Funes Mori had his best game for us and I don't see how RM can simply drop him and put Jags straight back in his place, Besic was the powerhouse we've been missing and Baines is back to full fitness. It was a smart move to bring Osman on, despite some groans. His level-headedness and football brain made a big difference in midfield. Not so fast as he was but played intelligently and rarely wasted a pass. I like the fact that Baines has learned to shoot on sight and has now come close in the last two games. Mirallas did well considering his lack of game time, and Rom even scored while crocked. Shame about Seamus, but surely RM can keep the defence solid by using Stones at RB, which would suit Stones's style of playing the ball out of defence and paring Funes Mori and Jags in the centre with Baines at LB. Could be an awesome defensive line-up I think. City's goal was unfortunate, but typical of their style of hitting teams on the break. We were all over them at that point and could easily have gone two up before they scored. As usual, it must be said, Everton's generosity towards non-scorers came into play here, with Navas scoring for the first time in 66 games! Why do they always do it against us? Our response was terrific however and I disagree with those who think Ross had a mare. He was pretty awesome especially in the second half, (even Moyes said so), and yes, he did mess up a couple of chances to play Rom in but overall he was highly effective. Gareth Barry was awesome, yet again, and showed his class throughout, his cross for Rom's goal, left footed, could only have been played by him. Special mention for Robles. His positioning was spot on, he commanded his area, made one terrific save and the one he caught on the line would probably have had Howard having kittens, doing a star jump, and letting it in. Make no mistake, Joel Robles DID inspire confidence in those around him, something Howard is no longer able to do, yet we all know RM will bring Tiger Tim back for the league match with City. It'll be very interesting to compare our defensive performance with tonight's display.

All in all, a five star display, well done to all the team and if Roberto actually learns something from the way the team played tonight, then well done to him too, if he doesn't, shame on you Roberto.

Darryl Ritchie
137 Posted 07/01/2016 at 07:38:04
I didn't see the game. I haven't even had a chance to watch the match highlights, but from what I've read on this and other threads, City was lucky to escape 1 goal down.

With three of the starting 11 going down in the same game, I truly believe we should reexamine downsizing the squad this window. We need more quality, less excess baggage. Nobody out without a better player in to replace him.

Out of curiosity, I checked out a City fan site. They are NOT happy!!! They are pissed off with everybody connected with the club. No mention of missed offsides; no mention of fouls in the box; nothing but praise for Everton.

I really wish I could of witnessed it, but I am over the moon with the win. One large step closer to Wembley.

Mike Green
138 Posted 07/01/2016 at 07:43:25
Liverpool have one foot in the final, and after last night I would say both Evertonians and Citizens can tentatively feel like they have one too. The second leg is beautifully poised now for the neutral but I fear that away goal will come back to haunt us - the sign of pure quality.

Staying positive, Roberto couldn't play for a draw if he tried so we will no doubt go all out on the 27th and hopefully come out with something. And if we don't, well at least we went for it - isn't this what we were baying for during the KITANO Moyes era?

Another thing to be certain of is Robles will be in goal, so we can save the Howard debate for the League. What will be intriguing is if Martinez plays Joel in the FA Cup on Saturday, that at least would be something. It is Howard's contract that is keeping him in, not his performances. Within 8 weeks Joel could have an FA and League Cup medal in his sock draw, now wouldn't that be something?

We have a fantastic young side developing, as Jamie Crowley rightly says. Lukaku, Barkley, Besic, Stones, Galloway, Browning, McCarthy (Robles? He's only young isn't he?) and I'm sure there are more lurking in the background. Martinez's mantra from day one has been you don't need money to create a great team and though he inherited half of those players he brought the others in for good money and stuck his neck out and secured what looks like the best young striker in Europe on recent performances for a club record signing.

On last night's performance Lukaku, Barkley, Besic and Stones are worth getting on for £150m and cost us what - £35m? Roberto's job now is developing them to their potential - the impossible one might keeping hold of them but who knows, new ownership and a bit of success might make all the difference.

I've been very frustrated and critical of Martinez but give me the performances, style and passion of the last two games and I will defend him to the hilt.

As for Besic, in Roberto's defence, he's had a few false starts and has been out from injured incurred in a derby which he started so Martinez clearly has plans for him. I said a couple of weeks ago we needed someone in the middle who can take the team and the game by the scruff of the neck and on the last two games boy we could have found him.

I sense glorious defeat at the Ethiad but this team will go through, or go out, fighting which I'm sure is first of all our expectations.

Exciting times, all credit to the players, manager and club. We might, just might, be going places....

COYB.

Mike Price
139 Posted 07/01/2016 at 07:44:32
It's been glaringly obvious for years now that Howard is a massive weak point.

He is simply not fit for purpose and the rest of the team know it, even though they could never actually say it.

If Martinez doesn't actually see this, then he's a fool that will cost us even more than he already has. If he'd have changed our keeper we would make top 3.

Anyone with any idea would see that the rest of the squad don't really like or connect with Howard. Martinez goes on about his character and experience. Both are sub standard and are literally killing this team.

Robles is a massive boost, no one knows if he's any good long term, but we all know it would be impossible to be worse than Howard.

Ray Jacques
141 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:04:30
Why are some people slaughtering Barkley after our best performance of the season?
For what my opinion is worth, I think he is a skillful player, strong on the ball, able to beat a man and with an eye for goal who is still developing.
His tackling is poor, but a certain Paul Scholes couldn't tackle and he wasn't too bad!!!
My issue is the lad doesn't possess a very good 'football' brain which means his decision making is poor and he lacks awareness of players movements around him and therefore doesn't appreciate how spaces can develop, and as a result either runs into defenders or down blind alleys eg. it is rare that he is able to switch the play. Also he struggles to change his mentality and adapt to match situations when we need to see a game out - poor ball retention.
I don't think this can be taught as it is an instinct in the top players, but hopefully with experience of playing and being in match situations it will improve.
We should lay off him and give him time.
Kase Chow
142 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:15:46
Brian #130

You don't think Baines could have made that same pass that Barry did?

I've seen him do it year after year

I'll put that down to excitement!!!

Paul Mackie
143 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:35:24
I thought we were brilliant last night. We had a very nervy opening 20 minutes where we didn't really see much of the ball, but once Besic got himself into the game we looked the better side. Funes Mori played well too, particularly his goal. He finished that one like he was a striker.

How good is Lukaku now? If anyone ever doubted his desire to score then look at his goal last night. He took a knock and was hobbling around but as soon as their was a sniff of a goal he was onto that cross like a shot, then straight back to hobbling again.

The goal we conceded was a little bit soft and I think is a big part of why Martinez hates corners so much.

MotM - Besic, followed closely by Barry and Lukaku

Geoff Williams
144 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:44:15
Have been saying for a while that we cannot play with two wide players, expect the fullbacks backs to be charging up and down the wings and also be tight at the back. The team selection was spot on with three genuine midfield players and Barkley. The balance was good. The fullbacks could go forward confident in the knowledge that their defensive obligations were covered by others.
Last season I would have given Lukaku away but this season he looks the complete striker.
Dan Hollingworth
145 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:50:08
God Roberto, when you needed a performance boy did the boys deliver. Just when you start to lose me you pull me back in. I am not picking faults in what was an outstanding night. But I seriously hope you realise that Joel is a better option that Howard. Clev is a better (Although still not the best) option than Kone. Besic has to start more.

In particular, the goalkeeper situation. Having watched our defence deal with balls like a bomb in the area every time it has come over last few weeks. It was very refreshing to see a calmness in the defending side of things, especially against a team who have players who can deliver a telling final ball most of the time. Joel is a bigger presence, a better shot stopper, commands his line better, reads the game better. He made an outstanding save in the first half and an ever better one in the second. I rest assure you, if this had been our USA friend in the same situation we all would have been lamenting a 3-1 loss last night. I honestly think we would have 8pts more in the league if you had played him all season. But on the flip side of that, if he was your league golie. Howard would have played last night as your cup goalie. So swings and roundabouts I guess.

Mo Besic playing last night was a beautiful accident. I think most of us agree he was only involved due to injuries. Yet last night he was the difference, and whilst I am a big James McCarthy fan. It's his position now that is seriously under threat. Tenacious, classy, brilliant on the ball. There was a moment about 15 mins into the first half when he was facing the street end. Flicked it back over the city player brought it down and played it forward. Please don't exclude him once more. He needs a run of games.

Build on this Roberto, you have already said Goodison was rockin'. More and more games like that and we will all be on side.

Geoff Evans
146 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:52:42
Besic, thank you, pulled the team together and showed the level of performance that is expected at this club. Hard work, skill and passion. Inspirational.
Darren Bailey
147 Posted 07/01/2016 at 08:55:17
Haven't read through all the comments so don't know if this has been said already and possibly not the right thread for it but with Coleman's injury we have to buy Byram now. I mean now, this week. Coleman's injury had me racking my brains as to how we cover the loss. Play Stones there with Jags back in the middle? Lennon, McCarthy or Cleverley to "fill in"? Or one of the youngsters? Pennington, Holgate, Foulds or Kenny? None of those options (and there are a few there) fills me with confidence at such a critical time in our season so my vote is Byram as soon as possible. Calf injuries can persist so 3-4 weeks could turn in to 5-6 weeks. Has to be addressed.
Please don't say Hibbert!
Dave Ganley
148 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:00:18
Yes John #112, really. Barkley is the most frustrating footballer we have. Yeah he may look great driving the ball forward but his decision making is awful leaving little or no end product to his runs. When he gets the ball its head down time and never looks up. If it was just last night then it wouldn't concern me so much but he does this nearly every game. If just once during last nights game he lifted his head up to make a pass then we could have easily had a 2 goal cushion. Instead, he went up blind alleys and or just fell over the ball. He also has no positional sense when on the defence. Especially in the 2nd half he was just marking space as opposed to a city player. He often left City players with far too much space to run into and as for his attempt at tackling/challenging for headers, well less said the better.

Barkley has all the talent in the world, however, whether he has the application to use that talent is debatable. When you compare the performance of say, Delle Alle last week compared to Ross then Delle Alle put Ross in the shade. He is not a kid anymore, he has been in and around the first team squad for 4 seasons now. He should be able to pick a pass out by now. I take absolutely no pleasure in saying these things, I desperately want Ross to be a success but reading the comments on here about how good Ross is, well we will just have to say that we should agree to disagree and many people around me in the ground share my views. I agree he could be a diamond but not at the moment. I don't even know what his position is. Number 10? CM? Playing in Barrys pocket? He seems to be an amalgamation of all 3 but not doing any of them very well.

Football is all about opinions I guess and we all have one. Unfortunately on this occasion its one that I don't share with quite a few of you.

Danny O'Neill
149 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:03:02
"Defence playing in front of a goalkeeper with no confidence or decision making ability"......"gutless midfield"......"clueless manager"......."dreadful substitutions"......Darryl (130) I too like to see the opposition view and that was the type of sentiment being aired by the Citizens after last night. Sound familiar?!!!! They are a goal down at "half time" with one of the best assembled bunch of players in Europe and play the "second half" at home. What a funny, emotionally fickle and immediate results based bunch us football fans are!! In line with the theme of seeing what the outside world thinks, the BBC on Ross (for Ray at 133): "Barkley had a frustrating evening further forward but once again never stopped driving at City's defence". Exactly the lad is young and has stuff to learn but enjoy what he's good at not zoom in on his flaws, many of which will iron out over time as long as he's afforded the time, patience and understanding to do so by managers, fellow players and us supporters alike. Kevin Sheedy was idle and didn't like the look of a tackle never mind going in for one but my word the sense of excitement that went around Goodison as he waved that left foot of a magic wand around the ball was compensation enough. Job half done...come on Blue Boys!
Rob Hooton
150 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:07:39
I think Ross was great again last night and is learning all the time - he has the rare quality of always being able to make himself time and space that only the best have. When we were down to 10 men at the end he was instrumental in us keeping the ball and we made a mockery of City having the extra man.

I will agree that his tracking back is atrocious when he loses the ball and he seriously needs to make more effort to get back goal side and win the ball back, I think this is what frustrates more than anything else.

He is dominating games more now and his decision making WILL improve, no midfielder is the finished article at his age.

Well chuffed last night, onwards and upwards Blues!!

Geoff Evans
151 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:08:47
Dave @140. Couldn't agree more, to me his progress has stalled and his contribution with or without the ball doesn't warrant a starting place.
Craig Walker
152 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:11:50
Thought it was a brilliant performance by the Blues last night. Besic was my man of the match. He's one of the few players we have who looks like he wants to win more than the opposition and doesn't care for reputations. His tackle on Toure lifted the crowd. Barry played well again and looks a different player to last season. Thought Cleverley showed that he's the only player we have who can take a corner that doesn't either hit the first defender or go into the keeper's hands. Deulofeu was disappointing. Still feel he's a better impact player rather than when he starts. Lukaku has improved immensely. His hold-up player is better and he's getting into the box and finishing more. We'll do well to hold on to him in the summer.

There were lots of positives but I was disappointed with the result. I felt we needed a two goal cushion to take to the Eithad in order to have any chance. How many times do we get a corner and within 30 seconds, the ball's in our net? Can't blame RM last night though. He got his tactics spot on and set the team up to go for it. If we'd played like that in more games this season, we'd be in the top 4 now.

Simon Jones
153 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:34:01
Funes Mori looks to worth every penny, good bit of scouting there. Also happy to see Tom Cleverley's corners NOT being headed clear by the first defender. COYB!!
Tim Wardrop
154 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:36:27
Charles Brewer, 78: Merv Hughes was a fast bowler, not a wicket keeper
Joe Clitherow
155 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:40:16
"What does Barkley bring to the team?"

Is that apart from the the thunderbolt shot from a really difficult half volley that was flying in and the keeper did really well to stop then, and which led directly to the first goal? Or doesn't that count?
Or what about the constant harrying of the City defence which kept them pushed back? You think Kone may have kept them two yards off like that? They were, if not terrified, respectfully wary of what he could do going forward.
The boy is still not the finished article and still has much to add to his game but for a bit more fortune last night would have added a couple of goals.
Criticism of him has been deserved in the past but anyone who can't see how he is improving, including decision making and positional sense, then, I respectfully submit, cannot see anything with balanced judgement

Stephen Jones
156 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:42:18
Ray 133 I totally agree with your comments about Ross, he has some great assets superb running with the ball and very powerful and hard to stop when he gets moving forward which creates so much space.But and here is the problem as you stated he does not have a football brain and is so slow to see situations opening up before him? hence he runs down blind alleys and eventually loses the ball with players throwing their arms up in frustration.
I agree Ross has some fantastic skills but as you state Ray what will let him down in becoming a truly world class player is that football brain ala Alan Ball the best football brain I have ever seen wearing the royal blue jersey.
Laurie Hartley
157 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:46:08
I haven't seen the game but have read through all the posts. Sounds like a great performance from the team.

Well done to the lads and the manager.

Mike Green # 131 - I sense glorious defeat at the Ethiad

Actually Mike - I sense glorious Victory at the Ethiad.

I've had a feeling things were turning since the Palace game.

What is more I think the manager is listening.

Darren # 134 - If fit I would give Cleverley a run out at right back. I actually think that position might suit him and the manager may stumble on another gem.

Alternatively, as I know that Harold rates him, Jonjoe Kenny so maybe him. I'd be interested to hear Harold's thoughts on that one.

I hope Rom has only sprained his ankle - if so that may be a good thing for him to have a short spell. I would play Mirallas as an out and out striker on Saturday. That might also produce a surprising outcome.

Happy days.


Joe Clitherow
158 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:46:50
Might that be down to the fact he is only just 22 and has missed a large part of his early development with very severe injuries?
Dave Abrahams
159 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:52:49
Dave (140) completely agree with you about Barklay, love the lad but he is stilling not learning anything, making the same mistakes game after game.

How some of the senior players are not calling him to task over his lack of effort and non tackling is amazing, he hasn't even got the nuisance value that Sheedy had, let's himself down with this aspect of his game.

We won and deserved it completely and can win the return game with a balanced team.

Craig Walker
160 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:57:31
I think Besic is a far better player than McCarthy. He's a better user of the ball and has a better football brain. McCarthy has a reputation of being a ball winner but I don't see it. He seems to lose most challenges he goes into whenever I see him. He was the same at Wigan. I saw a statistic last year in the Guardian which backed up what I've always thought. It was in an article about surprising statistics and he had one of the lowest percentages for tackles won in the premier league. I don't think McCarthy offers enough going forward and I don't think he's the defensive midfielder that people think he is. It beats me how a player can play centre midfield nearly every game in a season and only score 1 or 2 goals per season.
Michael Polley
161 Posted 07/01/2016 at 09:59:21
Great overall performance,although the away goal could be damaging to us. Lukaku, Besic & Barkley were outstanding. Just a pity Barkley didn't square that ball to Lukaku rather than going for goal himself.
Goalkeeper and back four looked solid & confident.
It's going to be tough in the 2nd leg, but we can do it.
Hope our injuries from last night are not too serious.
Graham Mockford
162 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:04:19
Dave

I think Barkley has improved significantly this season. I suspect the dissatisfaction many are voicing stems from weight of expectation. I don't see the same amount of criticism being levelled at Deulofeu for instance who was particularly wasteful on occasions.

You are right that he doesn't offer much in the way of a defensive shield which is why I was much happier to see him not a part of a central three but in a more advanced role where I think makes more of a difference. His half volley for the goal is another example of what he can do.

The other thing you can't take away from the lad is his willingness to keep going and looking for possession. He never hides away. As a match goer you will have heard the regular moans and groans when he misplaces a pass. I think it is to his credit he continues to back his ability and not take the easy option all the time.

You will also pleased to note I've made no mention of Lukaku's heading ability ( oh shit I just did! )

Jay Wood
163 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:18:08
'Football is all about opinion' someone wrote above in relation to Ross Barkley who continues to draw harsh criticism, not just in this thread, but in each and every post match thread.

Well, here is my opinion on posters who question Ross' talent, commitment, ability to learn or improve, his contribution and worth to the side, his physique, his weight, the colour of his eyes, his closely cropped hair ... whatever:

My opinion is you are poor readers of the game of football and poor judges of a footballer. Sorry if that offends, but I truly believe that statement

Yes, Ross still has his 'blonde' moments, but he is having a superb season, plays consistently well in every game and has aspects of his game almost without parallel in this league.

Like the rest of the team, he was poor last season. I believe but for Romelu's incredible (similar) turn around in form and goal scoring exploits, we would be highlighting even more the vastly improved form of Ross this season.

He, Rom and Barry are our leading lights this season and, as I say, anyone not capable of seeing that really cannot 'read' a game of football very well or is a poor judge of a footballer.

Charles Brewer
164 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:25:31
I stand corrected on multiple items of my post-victory cricket memory. All I can say is, based on archetypes taking over from actual memories, it should have been Merv Hughes, because he was such an ugly bastard, and he should have been a wicket keeper, because that's the best place for continuous abuse of the batsman.

Say well, bloody facts getting in the way of a good story. It was ever thus.

Chris Gould
165 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:33:23
Criticism of Barkley makes my blood boil!! A 22 year old kid who is blossoming right in front of us.

People used to criticise Ronaldo at a similar age. Saying he was a one trick pony who lacked the final delivery.

Barkley has so much natural talent and in a season or two will have every club in Europe after him. I just hope he doesn't read the criticism from his 'fans'.

Thankfully we have a manager who believes in Ross, allows him to make the odd mistake and continue to grow.

When Ross runs at defenders they shit themselves. He runs at such pace that it is hard to play the perfect final pass. Last night it didn't quite open up for him at the vital moment. Other days it will.
It also should be noted that Rom often shakes his head, arms aloft, when in actual fact he wasn't in the best position to receive a pass. Ross was right to shoot when he did last night.

Brent Stephens
166 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:40:54
Dave #151 "How some of the senior players are not calling him to task over his lack of effort and non tackling is amazing".

Dave,

I'm convinced Ross isn't being required (by manager or team-mates) to do anything defensive. I know I've said it before, but I've started to expect nothing defensively from Ross and can now enjoy, much more, his other abilities (ball control, drifting effortlessly past a man, quick feet, two-footed, hell of a shot, ability to find some killer passes). We know he can improve on decision-making and hopefully will. He misplaced at lot of passes last night but most games his pass-completion stats are high.

John Hughes
167 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:46:36
Jamie (122) I do believe James McCarthy and Mo Besic share the same birth date 12.11.1990.
Dave Abrahams
168 Posted 07/01/2016 at 10:59:14
Brent and Graham, fair enough we all see different aspects of a player, if you don't expect a player to give his all and defending is part of that game, well I just don't understand that, if the other players don't expect him to do any of that then they must understand and condone that they are carrying a passenger for a good percentage of the game.

Barklay did a lot of good things last night but spoiled it for me by all the poor things he did as well.Imsaid after the Spurs game that he had started to put a string of performances together but he was poor in that game as well.

Graham keep on telling us how great Lukaku is heading the ball, as I said to you in an earlier post, I bet you are great at holding a grudge and browbeating, but we may have that drink together at Wembley, I'll get them in, wouldn't won't you talking about me!!!!!!.

Andrew Clare
169 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:07:25
I agree with the positive comments about Barkley. We are lucky to have him. He is an exciting, unpredictable top class talent. I love watching him, players of his calibre are very rare especially English ones.
He would be in my team every time.
Steve Jenkins
170 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:15:21
Besic... what a player, outstanding again!

Overlooking the fact that he's a very smooth and comfortable operator on the football, he's brought a winning mentality and leadership that belies his years and was clearly missing before he came in against Spurs.

He sets the highest standards for himself and drives the standards of the others around him. His boundless energy and refuse to lose in your face attitude has has lifted the tempo of his teammates and the fans.

I noticed some other players getting a bit more dog in them last nt - (its contagious when you see fellow player doing it and the crowd reacting to it).

He has made a monumental difference since he has come into the side.

I thought Baines had his best game since I can't remember, Barry was excellent, Robles was solid (I like him and would like to see him given the opportunity to be no:1) - he's a man mountain of keeper).

Rom was again brilliant - such a handful and his hold up play and touch (whilst far from perfect) has come on leaps and bounds.

Chris Gould - nailed my thoughts on Barkley.

Hopefully we can have McCarthy back and Besic for the second leg, I think we'll need that extra bite and dog in midfield at their place to rattle and stifle them.

Brent Stephens
171 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:17:10
Dave, I totally understand your point about somebody like Ross not putting in a defensive shift (though I do think he gives his all over the game as a whole). I just think we have to accept he isn't going to defend. Once we can accept that, we can enjoy the great qualities he has. I'm really not being funny / rude when I say it, but it's worth trying - to reach that acceptance so as to release the appreciation (it worked for me! I'm cured!).

Having said that, his passing wasn't the best last night (I'd always want us to find the killer pass but he misplaced some simple ones last night).

Harold Matthews
172 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:30:04
Yes Laurie, I do like Kenny and Connolly but Martinez is big on experience and will work something out with the main squad. Although massively left footed, Galloway could manage thr RB role, as could Stones and Lennon who have both played there before.

As for new players. Many are calling for Byram who appears to be useful but might cost more than we are willing to pay. Personally, as mentioned on other threads, I prefer Arbour Fejzullahu of Partizan. The same age, a much better player, an Albanian international RB who can play other positions and would cost next to nothing.

Ernie Baywood
173 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:39:57
Ross is such a talent. By all means take it back to http://www.whoscored.com/Regions/252/Tournaments/2/Seasons/5826/Stages/12496/PlayerStatistics/England-Premier-League-2015-2016 if you don't believe it

He's not perfect at 22. Of course he isn't. Just like Stones, he will improve with experience. And don't give me the Rooney argument, he was using physical attributes and natural instincts. His decision making was just as suspect but in a position where he wasn't expected to dictate the game.

I hope to God we don't get a manager who sends him chasing down full backs. Would you do that to Pirlo? Ross is potentially in that category, while blessed with pace, size and strength. He's unique. A diamond. We're so fortunate to have him, even if we don't seem to fully appreciate him or the top end of his potential.

Ernie Baywood
174 Posted 07/01/2016 at 11:41:44
I've put that url the wrong way around.
Here it is
Dave Ganley
175 Posted 07/01/2016 at 12:35:21
As I say, it is all about opinions. However, nearly every pro Barkley post comes with an excuse. "Still a kid", "developing" "had a bad injury" "accept he can't defend" etc.

As I say, I desperately want him to succeed, but when does he stop being a kid? He is 22 now and as I stated earlier, he has been around the first team for 4 seasons now. Somebody earlier made a comparison with Scholes and his tackling. Well yeah we all know Scholes couldn't tackle, but that didn't stop him trying. He may often get the tackle all wrong but Scholes also sent the message that if you come near me I will kick you. Also worth noting that when Scholes was Barkleys age he was winning titles.

Comparing Barkley with his peers, even in the current team, Lukaku is younger as is Stones but both are far more accomplished than Barkley. I have never said he doesn't have talent. He has it in abundance but lacks the application to use it. When Lukaku was struggling earlier in the season, he obviously worked hard on his flaws and now looks an outstanding player, even tracking back when he loses the ball. Going even further with comparing him with peers, Gazza was doing it at 22, as was the United kids, Ronaldo, contrary to someones post, was doing it at 22,, as was, excuse me for mentioning it, Stevie me. Rooney also at 22 was a star.

Barkley has assets but doesn't utilise them too often. You can blame the coaching or Barkley himself, but at the moment, he is wasting himself. As for suggesting that his shot "created" the first goal last night, clutching at straws come to mind. Anybody can have a shot at goal (Jags in the derby last season) but that isn't what I would term an assist. Are you suggesting that Barkley aimed to miss to create the goal for Mori? hmmm.

Brent, you may be right about the manager not expecting him to track back and to be fair thats not my main gripe. My main gripe is his lack of vision. He just doesn't see the pass. This is not isolated, this is a common occurrence. It may well be unfair to single out Barkley and the weight of expectation may well be unfair also. However, we all see how much talent he has and a lot of us can see how much the talent is being wasted or not realised. It wouldn't be so bad if every one didn't keep saying what a blinding game he has when he blatantly hasn't, later being justified by saying he still needs time. Thats fine, he does still need time, obviously, but I fear he is another Jack Rodwell in the making, and by that I mean not realising that potential.

Jay Wood #155, if stating my opinion makes me a very poor judge of a footballer then so be it, I say it like I see it. The phrase not fulfilling potential springs to kind

Jon Withey
176 Posted 07/01/2016 at 12:43:00
Barkley was a key player in a very competitive winning team last night, you are welcome to criticise him for not being Zidane or whatever it is you're expecting but he's still one of our best players.

In fact, he's our best youth product since Rooney and probably some time before that too. Why is it so hard for some Everton fans to be happy about that? I hope it's just because they want to see him reach a higher potential.

He's a very decent player right now, I'll be made up if he improves significantly.

Ernie Baywood
177 Posted 07/01/2016 at 12:53:13
Dave Ganley, I'm very confident that Barkley could be winning titles at 22. But he's at Everton. I'm pretty happy about where he is, if not the lack of trophies for us.

And when you say people talk about good performances when he "blatantly hasn't" played well... that's blatant to you. It's your perception. Those saying he's playing well have a different perception. Your assumption seems to be that others are lying for some reason? While your opinion is considered fact?

I'm seeing a player performing very well. My honest opinion and backed up with stats. You're very welcome to your opinion and I don't doubt your honesty.

Dave Ganley
178 Posted 07/01/2016 at 13:08:01
Yes Ernie, blatant to me and most people around me at the game. I am not for one minute suggesting anybody is lying with their opinion and suggesting my opinion is fact, just an opinion.

Jon, yes I think, in my humble opinion, that he is so much more capable of reaching a higher potential than he is currently displaying and that is the most frustrating thing for me.

Brian Harrison
179 Posted 07/01/2016 at 13:10:22
Seems that Barkley really splits fans down the middle, but I think that the ones who criticize him do it in the knowledge that he could be a very special player. I agree with a lot of what Dave Ganley says about Ross. Not being able to tackle is a skill that can be learnt, not wanting to tackle is a bigger problem for him and the club.

When he first came on the scene he was played just behind the front man, where now RM has him playing just in front of Barry. Which given his ability to shoot with either foot is criminal to play him so deep but that's RMs fault not Barkleys.

Whether Ross turns out to be the special talent we hope for or another Rodwell only time will tell. But I think he should be influencing games more than he does at present. I would like to see him playing close to Lukaku when we have the ball, but making sure when we don't have the ball he gets back and helps out defensively.

Shane Corcoran
180 Posted 07/01/2016 at 13:40:08
I thought the City fans screaming at Del was funny......for a while. I hope the message sinks in as he's a complete embarrassment when he does that.

On the Barkley debate, having not read all the comments, I don't think he was great. Good in some instances before losing the ball or not taking a good shot on.

The most annoying part is his workrate when we don't have the ball. For Navas's goal, Barry sprinted past him on the way back to try to cover Navas. Ross had a wee jog and a look around to see if there was someone handy to pick up. He may improve, I hope he does, he has bags of ability but he frustrates me.

Dave Lynch
181 Posted 07/01/2016 at 13:52:09
The problem I have with Ross is IMO he has no heart for a fight. He is great when things are going well and he gets a bit of room to run at players but he cannot take a game by the scruff and impose himself.

Gerrard had that ability in spades, Ross does not i'm afraid, if he can't do it now whilst he's young and hungry then IMO he will never be able to do it. He needs to develop a mean streak, smash through a few opponents and let them know your there.

Ernie Baywood
182 Posted 07/01/2016 at 13:58:03
I'll agree with that much, he splits opinion more than any past or present player I can think of. Even more so than the great Ossie debates.

In terms of getting more out of him, his stats stand up pretty well. But we can all see there's plenty more to come. For me that's decision making, dictating games, as well as making more use of his ability to beat a man and pop a shot off.

I'd still much rather he focused on developing the attributes he has that could be world class, rather than trying to become less shit at other things.

Ernie Baywood
183 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:03:23
I'll tell you now Dave, Ross will never do that. He's never going to be the bombing up and down, smashing through players type. Nowhere near it. If that's the disappointment in him then why does Ross get that criticism? Why not Deulofeu?

I know it's because he's a six foot three scouser with a shaved head but is that all we can produce?

Jason Thomas
184 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:11:52
Honestly, for those of you who think Ross is not all that, ask yourselves this. Would you sell him for £8M to £10M? And people who criticise his decision making need to realise that they are not the same decisions that any position behind him have to make.

He has the key critical decisions to make, not the ' I will lob this back to the keeper' ones. He's 22, still learning and already pure class!
Dave Lynch
185 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:12:22
Ernie.
I have no doubt he has ability but ability alone doe not make you a great midfielder. I think you will agree the mid is the engine room of the team, its where the nitty gritty takes place and that's why SAF sides where so successful.

Win the battle in the middle and you control the game, you don't have to be skillful to be a great midfielder either. Robson, Scholes, Ried, Bremner, Kean... were not the most skillful players on the planet but they had desire and passion, above all though, they hated to lose and would put their bodies on the line for the cause.

Ross does not have that in his game, I wish he bloody did! Did you see Besic against Toure last night? A man 3 times his size but no way was Mo letting him push him around and gave him a dogs life. Put half of what Mo has in Ross and he would be three times the player he is.

Gary Edwards
186 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:22:13
Was lucky enough to get an invite to the Joe Mercer Lounge for me and the missus, brilliant night. Don't understand why it wasn't a complete sell out, shame.

Besic was unquestionably the MotM, apart from everything he did he also gave Barry more license to get about to greater effect. The aspect of Besic's gameI like is his tackling. For me the seminal moment was when he went shoulder to shoulder with Toure then tackled him (fairly) then running away with the ball leaving Toure to continue moaning on the ground.

Something as simple as Besic putting in some crunching tackles has turned this team around. Now to sort out the imbalance on the left... bring in Mirallas or Pienaar .. and a rocket up Ross's arse and we're sorted.

Dave Abrahams
187 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:22:15
Been out all day, interesting debate regarding Ross, I'm frustrated with him because I can see the great potential he has, can be an outstanding player but at twenty two years of age he should be a lot more consistent than he is.

I'll never understand a lad with his physical stature not being able or willing to share the workload, he doesn't even try to jump for headers in the middle of the park, ducks away from them.

I know how good he can be, and appreciate the good things he can do, he can be so much better, at twenty two he is already a man, it's only football he is playing, we are not asking him to do anything more than do that.

Brent Stephens
188 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:28:38
Accept it: Ross will NEVER have defensive attributes in his locker.... NEVER.

For me the only question that then remains is whether he's worth the space offensively. And absolutely he's worth it. 6 goals, 7 assists, 88% pass completion.

Jason #176 makes an excellent point about the killer passes we're expecting from Ross but which most others aren't expected to make. Those killer passes we've already seen and hopefully will see much more of – this time last year many were saying that it was too late by then to expect Lukaku to develop his ball-control skills, and look at him now.
Dave Lynch
189 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:33:51
Ok Brent you win.

Whilst the defence and rest of the midfield is defending for their lives and Ross is standing in no-mans land with his finger up his arse I wont critisise him.

Promise...

Brian Hennessy
190 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:39:44
I was undecided on Besic until last night. He showed all the defensive attributes that McCarthy has, along with a level of skill and vision which I hope McCarthy would develop but unfortunate has not.

I am still astounded by Barry. What a transformation from last season when I for one wrote him off.

A superb performance by all last night, the only downside ids that Howard will be straight back into the team. Just look at Robles position for the City corners, commanding the six-yard box, what a difference it made.

Eddie Dunn
191 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:40:39
Just watched a replay of the City goal. Baines took a corner on our right, so Coleman went to cover the left back slot. When the corner was partially cleared Kev tried to dribble through but lost the ball. Baines was still in the box, as City launched it long, and a chase back was on. Besic was the nearest to the left right back slot but was drawn to the ball even though Funes Mori was closing in already. Then came the switch to Navas, unmarked, with only Barry slowly chasing him. There was no sign of Stones until the ball was in the net.

Baines's corners aren't that good anyway, so why twist the team out of shape, just to let him take them. It would be better to have the winger (Deulofeu or Mirallas) on the side that the corner is on. At a push the left back could take the ones on the left, as this wouldn't pull his opposite number across the pitch. Pretty basic stuff really, but it cost us a goal last night.

Brian Harrison
192 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:50:35
Just on the City goal, while Robles had a very good game with one excellent save, I thought his positioning for their goal was poor. When Navas receives the ball Robles moves towards the near post making the gap to where Navas shoots even wider.

Robles's finishing position was that his body was outside the near post, when he should have been closing the gap to the far post not making it a wider target. Again, he had a very good game but he wasn't entirely faultless for their goal.
Paul Mackie
193 Posted 07/01/2016 at 14:53:23
True Brian, but any time the opposition has a 1v1 with the keeper you know the rest of the team has messed up even worse. I tend to view a keeper saving those as a bonus rather than routine.
Brent Stephens
194 Posted 07/01/2016 at 15:03:25
Dave (#182).

I don't win. It's only a prediction –that Ross will never develop a defensive side – I might be wrong. So for now, and if you accept that he's not going to defend, then do we include him in the team?

Unless, that is, we think we can get him to defend. And I don't know how we do that. Especially because Roberto seems content to leave that side of Ross alone.

I'm all for criticism, Dave, when it's relevant. And criticising Ross's lack of a defensive edge is relevant. It's just ... well, I've criticised him mercilessly in the last year or so and have now come to accept things (like I've come to accept being an old fart!).

Bill Gall
195 Posted 07/01/2016 at 15:19:14
In regards to Barkley the criticism of him always seems to want to highlight the poor aspects of a performance and not on the exceptional talent that he display, like when receiving a ball with a couple of players around him, he has the ability to just turn and stride away from them with ease. Yes his all-round game is not perfect but he has the ability to change the game from defense to attack with skill that other players in his position could only dream of.

As far as his tackling in defensive positions who knows what his mind set is after missing nearly a couple of seasons with a horrific injury. Yes, people will moan about his mistakes and some may not see what all the hype is about him, but remember the people who praise his ability are usually professional people in the sport who take notice of his overall talents, so let us get behind him and support an exceptional player, one who is improving, and someone who I would hate to be sold and come back and haunt us.

Some players take years and hard work to reach a good standard, but other players like Barkley it just comes natural so enjoy it while you can, it could be the critics that make him decide to leave.

John Daley
196 Posted 07/01/2016 at 15:29:05
"His contribution with or without the ball doesn't warrant a starting place"

Now, some might say everyone is entitled to form an opinion and to air it, but it's exactly that sort of laissez faire attitude that led directly to Jonathan Ross being let loose in the realm of "fwilm cwiticwism".

To claim outright that Barkley does not even merit a starting place in this current Everton team is just plain wrong. On what basis do you deem his contribution "with the ball" to be bench-worthy at best?

It can't be current form, or the overall improved form he's shown this season. It certainly can't be based on the statistical data that shows him to be the highest ranked Everton player and one of the top performers in the league this season. Stats which have him ahead of new boy wonder and Carragher sponsored Ross surpasser, Deli Alli, in every department bar....no surprise here...tackling and interceptions.

Yet, I don't see how the fact he doesn't tackle or track back with any great effectiveness automatically negates all that's positive about his game. It's like Commisioner Gordon and Chief O'Hara refusing to call in Batman on his super secret, bright red, flashing hotline, simply because "the lazy bastard can't even be arsed answering his own phone. Get's that arl butler to do it all the time".

("Well, the Gotham City Police Department don't need that sort of shirker to solve a few spazzy clues. An ancient jokebook stolen from The Mirth Museum? Millionaire Harry Le'Quinn's golden golf clubs purloined? A deck of playing cards left at the scene? The sound of smug, self-congratulatory, laughter emanating from the building just before a gentleman with a ghostly white visage was seen gaily goose stepping in the general vicinity? Thick makeup plastered over his unshaven muzzy, bizarrely coloured hairpiece hanging from his head and an unnatural rigamortis grin frozen on to his gaunt evil face, as if to say 'I can't believe I'm still getting away with this shit'? Godzooks!! CHIEF O'HARA!!! Issue an arrest warrant for Bruce Forsyth immediately!)"

It's all well and good people pointing out flaws and areas for improvement, but all encompassing claims that 'Barkley is crap' or that he contributes nothing, or that he doesn't even deserve to be starting games, are way wide of the mark.

For those who say he was plain 'awful' last night or that he 'lacks footballing intelligence', a couple of headlines from todays rags that offer a slightly different perspective:

Daily Mail:

Headline: Ross Barkley too hot to handle for Eliaquim Mangela and Demichilis.

"Man of the Match Ross Barkley tormented Manchester City defenders."

The Guardian

Headline: Manchester City stretched by movement of Ross Barkley

"Barkley took up intelligent positions between the lines and varied his movement to drift wide when City's full backs were drawn out of position"

Now, I'm not saying they're right and you're wrong but.....nah, actually that's exactly what I'm saying.

Kim Vivian
197 Posted 07/01/2016 at 15:39:00
Thank you Everton, for making my rare 2 day pilgrimage from Kent thoroughly worthwhile. I've just got in from a 4½ hour drive and (I have not trawled through these posts yet) from seat M227 in Lower Bullens this was what I saw.

The whole team is worthy of praise and I can not be critical of anyone other than to say Ross is THE most frustrating player to watch.

He is a great talent and demonstrates as such on the pitch but just doesn't quite finish off what he has started whether it is to get a good shot in, make a final pass or just get in on a 50/50. However, he is the real deal and is on the cusp of having that moment which revives or inspires his confidence to an appropriate level, because that is what appears to be affecting his game.

There is no blame to be laid at any individual door for the City goal because by definition all goals in any game have to be the result of some 'error of judgement' or mistake or some such so I care not to analyse or comment on their goal other than to say if it had been us we would be all over it with plaudits.

Barry and Mo (especially Mo) were immense as was Stones. City pretty effectively nullified Del's threat and I think he needs to expand his repertoire a bit as his strengths are now very evident to opposition defenders and managers. Mirallas looked up for it I thought when he came on. Ossie put himself about and Kone did a decent job.

Lukaku's a beast, on the ball skill is great and he's controlling better but on occasions is still trapping it halfway across the pitch. His long ball heading success is in a new league (Duncan's signature there?) but his body language and arm waving is pissy.

Of course, as with any match, passes went astray, opportunities were missed and so on but this is one performance I am made up to have witnessed. We were unlucky not to have a two goal cushion to take to the Etihad and that away goal is a pain.

Anyway job is half done, both semis remain in the balance and I don't care who we have to face in the final TBH as we can beat all comers when we put our minds to it.... But it would be nice if it was 'Them'. Just finish the job you Blues. 1-0 or 1-1 at the Etihad would do me.

Mike McLoughlin
198 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:14:46
Interesting comments about Barkley about his defensive qualities. I have to say I get frustrated when he doesn't put his foot in a tackle and that he has appeared not to track back and support the defence.

I think I would prefer Ross in the side given his attacking prowess. Ross actually tracks back and covers players a lot more than he used to do. He still doesn't put a foot in there but I think that may come from the fear of breaking his leg again like he did in 2010 when he got a double leg break.

That must do something to your psyche. The lad is so powerful when he is on a run and is without doubt a threat to the opposition. Keep it going Ross the magic will come
James Hughes
199 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:32:20
We are all quick to put our players down for anything less than perfection and quick to slate the manager.

Last night Besic was just great, Ross & Stones awesome as usual and we looked organised in defence. The citeh goal was just a break out that can happen to anyone. We appeared to play as team and as for RM, well I have stated my opinion before on here, but well done Roberto now keep it up - COYB

Mike Powell
200 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:42:43
I cannot believe people having a go at Ross, he was outstanding last night. Unbelievable. Every team in the Premier League would love him in their team so let's enjoy him while he is with us.
Dave Abrahams
201 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:44:00
Kim (190) glad you got home safe, it was well worth your while making the very long journey, especially at this time of the year.It is easy to be an Evertonian like me, I only live ten minutes from the ground by bus, it is much, much harder for Bluenoses like yourself. So well done and you will have a much easier journey for the final.
Brent Stephens
202 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:59:12
John Daley - Bruce Forsyth! Cracker! Cried out so loud my wife came in to see if she was at last getting the inheritance.
Alan Bodell
203 Posted 07/01/2016 at 16:59:35
I have long been a massive fan of Besic since when he shone in Brazil when Martinez signed him and to see him play so well last night on the back of little or no game previous game time for a year or so screams a gem and we have to keep him interested in US.

Thank fuck Bosnia are not going to France else he would have squealed (rightly so) to get a move before now due to his bench warming. New team first picks, please start with Robles and Besic.
Dan Aspinall
204 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:03:29
Scholes was worse defensively than Barkley. Does it really matter as long as he's scoring / assisting and he's got players behind him doing the tackling? He seems to have cut out the giving the ball away in our half lately which is a major plus.
Eddie Tully
205 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:17:16
I've only scanned through the comments, but I'm flabbergasted that some are criticising our 'Diamond' – Ross Barkley. I've no idea which game you watched, it most certainly wasn't the one I saw!

It's obvious to me how much he has improved this season, in every respect. As John Daley @189 has rightly stated, his stats are the proof of this. This boy is a very special footballer, who will only improve.

Shakes head in disbelief!

That was a complete performance last night, hopefully we can repeat that on a regular basis.

Well done to Roberto & the whole team.

Geoff Evans
206 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:24:55
I hope the potential Ross has is fulfilled otherwise he could be seen as a luxury player. At the moment he needs to affect the game more when he's not on the ball.
Dave Pritchard
207 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:25:01
On the Barkley debate I would say that he was a little frustrating at times but I do like him in the more forward role that he played last night and in the second half against Spurs. His poor tackling is less of a problem in this position.

I wouldn't have him as MotM last night but I'd have him in the team in that more forward position every week. My MotM was Besic. Was amazed by the level of skill he showed.
Shane Corcoran
208 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:29:33
Regardless of people's opinions on Barkley or anyone else, could we dispense with the notion that his stats prove anything?

They may suggest many things or back-up a point of view but they prove nothing.

Brent Stephens
209 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:36:06
Shane, I sense the stats are being provided as evidence not proof. I think an argument backed by stats is often stronger than one that isn't.
Kim Vivian
210 Posted 07/01/2016 at 17:45:57
Dav #194, thanks mate.

I was thinking the exact same (about hopefully travelling to the final) if tickets can be procured. I've sorted a great system for travelling to the Old Lady now...

Early start from here, check in b&b about 1/4 mile from the ground. Chill a bit, fuel up at the Abbey before and after the game. Stay over, drive home.

Magic.

Dave Ganley
211 Posted 07/01/2016 at 18:46:08
Ah John, the master of quick wit and ready repartee strikes again. You had me nicely amused right up until you started quoting the Daily Mail, a particularly odious rag with about as much semblance to the truth as that other "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" – The Sun!

So Barley was man of the match cos the daily shame says so, so there and yah boo sucks to you? I guess Barry and Besic were just his sidekicks in the Ross Barkley show then? Wow, god knows how we may have got on if Ross hadn't been there dazzling us with his killer passes and setting up goals left right and centre... erm guess I must have missed that.

So, here's the thing that gets my goat, all the hype that goes with Ross. As I have pointed out before, Ross is a very talented lad. We all accept that. He had a horror show last season and we are all glad he is back on the right track. We know he is capable of really good things. The problem is, that certain sections of the fan set are seemingly so desperate for Ross to be the star, they start hyping him up to the point whereby he has had a great game every week. Well, in my obviously uneducated opinion, he doesn't.

Sometimes he is good, other times not and last night, forget about any defensive duties, he was tunnel visioned and lost possession of the ball too easily due to trying to be that little bit too clever and or taking the wrong option. Your case in point John, advocating the daily shame standpoint whereby he was man of the match when clearly Besic and Barry were head and shoulders above him. Let the lad be, don't hype him up to the point of god like status and the uneducated may not have cause to disagree with you

Dave Abrahams
212 Posted 07/01/2016 at 18:54:37
Eddie (#198) you've made me realise I've been wasting my time watching the actual game and forming my opinion over the donkey's years. It's the stats that prove everything, well that will save quite a few pounds, I'll stop going to the match and just read the stats. Thanks for that Eddie.
Darren Hind
213 Posted 07/01/2016 at 19:27:01
Tony 77

Uncharacteristically tetchy, but bang on the money.

Your posts oozes passion. The importance of this cup cant be overstated. This club and its fans desperately need to experience THAT feeling again . . .soon

Andy Crooks
214 Posted 07/01/2016 at 19:40:39
John Daley, that is one of your very best. Just brilliant.
Jay Wood
215 Posted 07/01/2016 at 19:46:08
Dave Ganley @ 168:

"If stating my opinion makes me a very poor judge of a footballer then so be it, I say it like I see it."

Is wrong, Dave. You've got it arse about face.

It's not you stating your opinion on here or anywhere that makes you a poor reader of the game and a poor judge of a footballer (... in my opinion ...). Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

What makes you (and others on this thread and on TW, based on comments related to Ross) poor readers of the game and a poor judge of a footballer is ... (dramatic pause and drum roll) ...


How you 'see' and interpret the game and cast judgement on players!

In this thread you and others have described Ross' performance last night as 'the only downside,' 'awful,' 'running down blind alleys,' 'poor passing,' 'shitting out of tackles,' 'never puts a shift in,' 'lacks heart,' 'no desire.' I've also seen him described as a 'cowardly shithouse.'

A particular criticism of Ross is that he 'doesn't have a football brain, or peripheral vision.' Hmmm ... That may have been the case in the collective amnesia of the team last season and their inability to play any consistent and decent level of football. That is far from the case this season.

You (and others who criticize Ross in this thread) are match goers, aren't you Dave? Well, taking the question of peripheral vision, during the 90 minutes of a game, you have an advantage over the players concentrating on their tasks on the pitch. At any given time, you can take in the whole picture and pitch (putting aside jokes on restricted views at GP...) which the players don't have time for.

People watching at home are limited to a rectangular image as seen on their TV or computers, determined by the match day director sat in a media van at the back of the stadium, making a call on which camera shot to go live with.

Basically, the vast majority of spectators are 'ball watchers.' Their focus is with the ball at any time of the game. Fine. Only ... you don't see the nuances of how the off the ball, out of sight action impacts on the game.

May I suggest when you next attend a live match apply your privileged peripheral vision and focus not solely on what Ross does on the ball (or without it...), but try and take in how what he does on the pitch impacts on the opposition.

I would wager a fair wedge you will see the following examples, pretty much every game and more than once in every game:

* Ross will seek out, demand and accept the ball all over the park, be it in space, tightly marked, from deep, in midfield, out wide or around the opposition penalty area.

* No matter how the ball is delivered to him - standing static, on the move, with his back to the opposition, facing them full on - Ross will almost always get the ball under instant control.

* In possession, Ross can play an instant one touch lay off, turn away from a close marker, run at and past defenders either side (because, of course, he is genuinely two footed with no preference for which side he uses), can play the ball short or long and can make killer perfectly weighted passes behind a retreating defence few other players (certainly in the Everton team) are capable of making.

* Ross has power, grace and subtlety in much in what he does, be that shooting, running or passing.

* Increasingly, he is showing greater ability and confidence to receive the ball in tight situations where, as already mentioned, his instant control, physique and pace allows him to completely turn a defender who he then surges away from.

* The latter skill greatly helps the team to break through defensive lines and with Ross running at defences they are thrown into confusion: should we hold our positions, or go out to stifle the threat? The former, they know if Ross gets close enough, he has the power and ability to score anywhere around the penalty area himself. If the latter, that opens up space for team mates to exploit, and Ross with his passing and technical ability can deliver passes that create chances. It's a win-win for the team.

Now, put that altogether and watch how Ross plays impact on the opposition and how they are forced to react and possibly break their shape to deal with him.

Modern football tactics can be determined by the finest of margins. Shifting a player from his default position ... putting a player slightly off balance ... bypassing a key player and taking him completely out of the equation ... these and other strategies may be all it takes to gain an advantage for your team to go on and score.

In Ross Barkley we have a player who can do just that.

Those questioning his work ethic, his tackling abilities and his 'courage,' I have this to say.

Courage comes in many forms. It isn't only about steroid-induced macho displays, like two heavyweights going head-to-head in a boxing ring. It also takes courage to perform in pubic and to try, try and try again, even if just seconds or minutes earlier you tried something and it failed in front of a critical audience of 40,000 people. Ross Barkley never hides on the pitch, no matter how many times something he tries doesn't always come off. Almost immediately, he's back in there, hunting for the ball.

As for his (alleged) poor work ethic and lack of tackling ... GOOD!!!

Ask yourself this, why would you want your most talented on-the-ball footballer expending his energies chasing the ball across the park, or risking injury in tackling? Let him conserve his energies to do what he does best at the sharp end of the field, that no other player in the squad offers. Heaven knows we have enough muscle in the side to practice the 'dark arts' and necessary 'dirty work' in midfield without asking Ross to sacrifice his effectiveness by 'sharing the workload' in this area.

In closing the game out last night, what was the most effective strategy? Allowing City the ball and harrowing and snapping at their heels in a replication of our 'Dogs of War' days, or, as we played it, keeping possession high up the pitch. And who was principally involved in the latter...?

The much maligned Ross Barkley.

Two questions for you Dave (and others). When Ross got clipped on his Achilles and needed treatment in the 1st half last night, how many of us thought (and what did YOU and the people around you think, Dave?) "SHITTTTTT! We need Ross on the pitch in a game of this magnitude." Because ... who was his equal to replace him?

And to follow up that point, particular for those claiming (gob-smackingly) that Ross doesn't merit a starting place, who would you rather have on the pitch in his stead? The aged Osman? The walking patient Gibson? Or would that be the aged AND walking patient Pienaar? A combo of Barry, Besic, Cleverley and McCarthy? Because ... that's it! We ain't got nuffin' else!

Finally, on your claim people make excuses for Ross because of his 'youth.' Well Dave, if they do, it's a legitimate comment to make, all the more so because he suffered the terrible triple leg break at a critical time of his life as an adolescent and in his development as a footballer. That effectively robbed him of 2 years 'growth' as a footballer.

So ... no Dave (and others). I stand by my opinion when I say those of you questioning Ross Barkley's worth to Everton and a footballer are, quite simply, poor readers of the game of football and poor judges of a footballer.

Ross Barkley is destined for a mega career.

Paul Johnson
216 Posted 07/01/2016 at 19:52:59
Tremendous Jay. There is absolutely nothing more to add. Let's enjoy the lad while we can.
Chris Williams
217 Posted 07/01/2016 at 19:59:32
Ross Barkley is a very good footballer. He is also a very frustrating footballer. It is very easy to let that frustration tip over into criticism that is too harsh and extreme. I've done it myself from time to time.

He makes great runs, finds great positions, beats people with power pace and skill, scores goals and makes assists. He's even got a couple of tap ins this season.

BUT he is not consistent, makes wrong decisions and poor passes in good positions. He doesn't tackle or head the ball.

He is playing better this season and more consistently, he's bulked up more, and is in a settled position. He benefits from having three central midfielders behind him.

I guess he's been badly affected by a shocking leg break as a young lad, and he seems a shy individual.

He's getting better, it's there for all to see. Cut him a bit of slack folks and just enjoy the gradual improvement and the journey.

Well all miss him when he's gone.

Dennis Ng
218 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:00:01
Jay, calm down buddy :)

I'm always bemused about people criticizing aspects of a player. People always see what they want to see. Besides, its the manager that picks the team. I certainly hope the manager doesn't base his picks on public opinion. No one is going to be great at everything, though Barkley is pretty good at a lot of things.

Barkley did well. Besic did even better. Why is it a competition within the team for performance on matchday? They should help each other win. Ultimately, the manager picks the team and I would fear for our club if winning is the main driver of that management.

James Peter
219 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:04:30
Do you know what, Jay, I have literally tried 3 times (massive tomes haha) to respond to Ross's detractors as although I came here to revel in last night's performance, I'm really annoyed with the negativity aimed at Ross by the end.

I was thinking of the exact same points you made but just couldn't articulate them without putting too much emotion in it. So thank you for that post and your others. Ignore these fellas and hopefully Ross will too, they're in the minority. When Tim Cahill was asked in an interview who is the best player he had ever played with? Guess who he said?
Brent Stephens
220 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:10:35
James, I'd be interested to know which of Ross's detractors would drop him. And to be replaced with which other player? Any takers?
Stephen Brown
221 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:11:50
On Ross, a young Evertonian living out all our dreams!

He has weaknesses that are totally outweighed by his strengths! He has my 100% support!

He seems like a young man who could be affected by what people think of him (this is my opinion) so I'm sure a supportive crowd rather than groans would help him become even better!

Scoring the winner in the final could just about make the most popular Evertonian about!

Andrew Laird
222 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:14:32
Fantastic performance which was long overdue. Defence looked far more confident, organised and disciplined (except being caught out yet again on a counter attack from our possession!) with the commanding Robles behind them. Well done Roberto, please see past your favourites from now on.

I cannot for the life of me understand why supporters get so strung up about someone who they deem to not "put a shift in". Think back to the greatest attacking footballers who you have seen that have ever played the game, that could use both feet, who could glide past the opposition creating openings for their team out of nothing, players who could make you get off your seat.

Now, ask yourself how many of them could tackle? If we didn't already have him Everton would never be able to afford Ross Barkley and he might just become as good as we all want him to be. Enjoy him while he is still here because he won't be here forever.

James Peter
223 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:24:49
Honestly, Brent, I was thinking the same and not just at Everton. Who would they buy? He brings hope because we can't go and buy Messi we HAVE to develop.

The difference between him, Stones and Lukaku for example is that the latter will very likely go when the money teams start calling. With Ross he might just stay no matter because he's one of us.
Chris Gould
224 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:28:06
Well said, Jay. Summed up what most of us think very succinctly. Ross's detractors wind me up no end, but pleased there are many that appreciate the lad for the ability he has.

Why do people insist on finding any perceived negative when they can enjoy so many positives? The very same kind of people slated Le tissier and Hoddle. 2 of the finest English footballers of the last 30 years. Neither were as fast or powerful as Ross.

How many of the very best players in the world were doing everything right at 22? None of them. His detractors don't deserve him. I really hope he doesn't read the shit they write.

Peter Cummings
225 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:31:20
As expected a couple of you spotted my ahem!! 'deliberate' mistake when I said City only needed a nil-nil draw at their place to go through...

Of course it's US who would need at least a win or 0-0 to go through so I admit that the win we got at Goodison probably went to my head.
Brent Stephens
226 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:32:07
James, my other question would be: if another club wanted to buy Ross, what would be the minimum Ross's detractors would let him go for? Any takers on that one? I'll start a dutch auction and see how low we can get: £30M.
Dave Abrahams
227 Posted 07/01/2016 at 20:39:05
Jay (208) all those superlatives you attribute to Ross, I didn't know he was that good, can't wait to see him in the next game.

I knew he was good, I'll just have to take a much closer look at him,and yes never mind the tackling and chasing back, you never see messi do that do you?

Dave Ganley
228 Posted 07/01/2016 at 21:04:13
Ok Jay, to address your last point first, I really do hope Ross Barkley is destined for a mega career. In all my posts about Ross, negatively or not, I always state that he is a very talented footballer and that I really hope he succeeds as, contrary to popular belief, I want every Everton footballer to be as good as they can possibly be. To clear up another point, I have never stated either that Ross isn't worth his place in the team.

So far as the defensive aspect of his game is concerned, I can accept, grudgingly, that he will never track back but the thing that bothers me is that when the ball is in a 50/50 area right in front of him, he will just shy away from it most of the time. Maybe the bad injury does play on his mind, maybe he is instructed not to tackle, maybe he just can't be bothered, who knows? But in those situations what I do know is that in those situations, we lose possession easily when we could so easily be on the attack. What we do know is that Ross can actually tackle. We saw this in the Palace game recently, he actually tracked back, won tackles and was generally quite impressive in this department. So this begs the question, if he can do it there, why can't he do this in other games? It also leads your assessment of Ross never being a tackler quite redundant really.

Yes I do go to the game and watch live football. I have had a season ticket for years. In isolation, your point about peripheral vision is an interesting one. However, being blinkered and not seeing runners is not an isolated incident where Ross in concerned. I am not particularly prone to being critical of players, particularly talented players, when they make a mistake in a game. But when you make the same mistake over and over then you have to question why this is happening. I accept that we, in the stands, have a much better view than the players, however, the talented players see what we do, that is why they are on the pitch and not us. If I didn't think Ross was capable of such vision then I wouldn't care less. However, he is talented and he should be making these quick breaks count rather than not seeing the players running left and right of him. This is not a knee jerk reaction to just one game, he often makes the same mistakes time and again.

Ross is one of the most talented footballers at the club and I do actually think he has a football brain, but, in my opinion, doesn't appear to have the aptitude to put in into practise. I make no apologies for that opinion. In your post you have elevated him to almost deity status, forgive all sins because he is the second coming. You make him out to be the complete footballer and woe betide anybody who has the temerity to criticise him. Well, with that status comes the closer scrutiny I'm afraid. Is he THE most talented footballer at the club? Well no not yet. That accolade goes to 2 players who are actually younger than him in Lukaku and Stones. That doesn't mean that he can't become the most talented player, but he has a lot of work to do yet. If you weren't so quick to elevate Ross to this status and try to convince us all of how great he has played week after week when there are certain games he has struggled, then maybe I wouldn't be so quick to respond that in my opinion he hasn't done so well in certain games. Ross doesn't always want the ball, he isn't always available, you talk about him driving at defences, well maybe the defences let him run like our defence often let the opposition run at us. We seem to have this mindset whereby let the attacker make the mistake and not dive in (although occasionally we do) maybe the opposition think the same. Ross made several runs from the halfway line last night and the end result was the same, no pass and lost the ball. The criticism of blind alleys was justified.

It was never my intention to have a thread dissecting Ross's game, but the fact that in yours and others eyes that Ross can do no wrong, you have made it into one. Did you do the same for Stones last week, or Lukaku early in the season when they were getting pelters? No I don't recall so. Is Ross a special case where nobody can be critical of Ross for fear of being labelled somebody who is a very poor judge of footballer? Well sometimes criticism is justified and your last statement suggesting Ross CAN be a mega star does suggest he isn't in fact the finished article. He will make mistakes, but fairly or unfairly, the fact that you all label him something special heaps pressure on his shoulders. You make more allowances for one footballer than you do for the whole team combined. This is a team game in case you hadn't noticed. No sum is greater than the parts. Even Lukaku adjusted his game for the good of the team and look at him now. What makes Ross a special case?

If we hadn't seen flashes of what Ross is capable of then we wouldn't become so frustrated. He does it occasionally but not often enough. He finds the killer pass minimally.

So in conclusion, I also stand by my original statement, or your interpretation of it, if how I see and interpret the game and cast judgement on players (as we all do actually) makes me a poor judge of footballer then so be it, I tell it like I see it, without any blinkered views on it

Brent Stephens
229 Posted 07/01/2016 at 21:21:29
Dave G. #221 "What we do know is that Ross can actually tackle. We saw this in the Palace game recently, he actually tracked back, won tackles and was generally quite impressive in this department."

Yes, Dave, I've had that in mind as well. He's shown he can tackle, quite robustly. And it is then a condundrum as to why he doesn't do it more often. Regardless, I still think we just won't see that side of him much - but it can be frustrating (that 50 / 50 ball reluctance).

Dennis Ng
230 Posted 07/01/2016 at 21:37:27
Dave, I wonder why we're not trying to play to each's strengths but picking on player's lack in other departments?

So let's pick on Barkley, he can tackle well, but his best contribution is movement forward.

His pluses, his half volley contributed to the Funes Mori goal. He nearly caught out the city defence with his ball control and dribbling.

Why would I want to risk his health with 50/50 balls that we might win back with our team setup? My heart was in my mouth when he was hobbling after getting kicked in that 50/50 ball near the Man City goal.

There's improving a player as a whole and there's picking the battles you want to win. I want to win the battles that matter, not general deficiencies of a player can improve on that we're not remotely interested to test him on anyway.

Roy Cook
231 Posted 07/01/2016 at 21:57:20
Dave, from the off, it is fair to say that I rate Ross higher than you do... or at least I think he is playing better than you appear to and I guess we'll have to agree to differ there. Couple of things, though:

One relates to your facts. Lukaku is 6/7 months older than Barkley.

The other is the inference that Lukaku's game has evolved; fair enough, but that Barkley's hasn't. Seriously now?

How effective he is, I'll have as a discussion point... but to suggest he hasn't developed his game is absurd.

You say you go to the matches – what do you when you 're there? Look for the Toffee Lady? Check your bet? Come on, Dave...

Tony Abrahams
232 Posted 07/01/2016 at 21:58:32
Darren 206, your right mate, it's been way too long since we last won anything, and when I read Nick saying he would prefer 3 points in the next league game rather than to win last night, I was understandably bemused. When we travel to some away games we usually have in our little gang, my two sons aged 19 &16, my mates son who is 18, and another lad who is 26. These four kids have been watching Everton home and away for a combination of at least 45 years between them, and have seen us win nowt.

Since we last won a cup we have played 21 seasons with roughly 108 points up for grabs in each of these seasons. Nick said he would prefer 3 points in our next league game and it wound me up. He then said City played in second gear, and gave us no credit for a very good performance, which made me think, does he even want us to win?

Great night, but this thread has been spoiled a bit by the Ross Barkley debate for me. He's a scouse kid, who doesn't make the right decision, nowhere near enough just yet. but he constantly puts other teams on the back foot, which means the opposition must fear him. I wish he played more off the cuff, but hope Stephen Brown is right and this kid scores the winner in a merseyside cup final. Something I hope, that would even make Nick's day!!

Andy Crooks
233 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:03:10
Jay Wood, Ross Barkley is the best young player I have seen in many years. We are lucky to have him and if we keep him it will be a sign that good times are ahead. I just do not get some of the negativity towards him.

Perhaps you could answer this. I don't live in Liverpool and don't get to many games now days but is more expected of local lads. I would have thought that they would get a bit more understanding but maybe that is not the case...

To me, the description someone gave earlier (Rolls Royce) is perfect. I agree, he will be an immense talent and I hope it is with us.

Jamie Crowley
234 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:15:21
Jay -

I have to say often times I disagree with your opinions. That's footy, that's TW, that's life.

But...

Ask yourself this, why would you want your most talented on-the-ball footballer expending his energies chasing the ball across the park, or risking injury in tackling?

I don't think I've ever read something on TW that made me sit up in my chair and say "YES!" so emphatically.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Oh and... Ross plays attacking mid. Normally there will be at least seven to eight players behind him. I've often wondered why in the hell would any attacking mid track back or worry about harrying? Why? Are the 7 to 8 players behind him - tasked with actually defending - that incapable??

Course not.

Let Ross do what Ross does - run at the opposition and scare them shitless. Not run side to side putting in tackles or tracking back mindlessly like he's just done a line of coke and expending all that energy.

So well said sir.

Jay Wood
235 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:20:53
Good to hear your response Dave. To pick up on some points you make.

"You have elevated him to almost deity status, forgive all sins because he is the second coming."

That's pure hyperbole Dave. I do no such thing. I merely list what I see as his positives which, for me, far outweigh the negatives you and others list.

"You make him out to be the complete footballer and woe betide anybody who has the temerity to criticise him."

More hyperbole I'm afraid Dave. He is not, and I don't think there has ever been in the history of the game, a 'complete footballer.' In my earlier post I made reference to his 'blonde' moments. I also believe there isn't a game when at some point I say 'oh FFS Ross,' when a simple pass goes astray, a run not spotted or he shanks the ball Twickenham high.

BUT, ever increasingly in every game I find myself nodding in appreciation at something he's done or on occasion purr with pleasure at his play.

"If you weren't so quick to elevate Ross to this status and try to convince us all of how great he has played week after week when there are certain games he has struggled..."

And this one is pure fabrication on your part. I made no such statement and claim. I merely responded to posters such as yourself claiming Ross was awful last night, that his performance was the only downside, some even arguing he doesn't merit a place in the starting line up. Nuts! Pure NUTS!!!

Next... your claim it was never your intention to turn this thread into a discussion on Ross, adding "the fact that in yours and others eyes that Ross can do no wrong, you have made it into one. Did you do the same for Stones last week, or Lukaku early in the season when they were getting pelters?"

A number of things here. You can never determine the direction a thread will turn, but the fact is you posted some derogatory comments which drew the responses it did. A thread takes on a life of its own, not determined by individual posters.

Again, I and others acknowledge Ross' failings, rather than never see them. Some are more tolerant of those failings because they appreciate the qualities he brings to the team. Others, like yourself, are less forgiving.

And - yes! I did previously defend Stones and Romelu in the past, as I have Howard and Mirallas, so a wrong call by you against me on that one.

Then you say : "the fact that you all label him something special heaps pressure on his shoulders. You make more allowances for one footballer than you do for the whole team combined."

More hyperbole and invention Dave. I believe he has the potential to have a very good career. I have never over-egged Ross in the same manner as the manager did last season when he explicitly stated Ross WILL be the best England player EVER. I grimaced and rolled my eyes at that one. And it's nonsense for you to claim praising Ross heaps pressure on his shoulders while ignoring the obvious counter: unwarranted criticism can undermine his confidence.

And speaking for myself, the team - not any one individual - is everything. Falsely, once again, you try to associate me with an opinion I haven't expressed, or even believe.

You close by saying you "tell it like I see it, without any blinkered views on it."

Well, I did exactly the same. As I said in my original post, sorry if it offends, but the extreme negative evaluations of the likes of Lukaku and Ross this season by some suggests to me such posters are poor readers of the game and poor judges of a footballer.

Kevin Tully
236 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:25:15
Ross Barkley would quite easily command a fee of anywhere between £25-£30m. I don't think anyone is paying that sort of money for his tackling or work rate off the ball, do you?
Kevin Tully
237 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:29:03
These fans were clearly unimpressed by his performance last night:

Link

Dave Pritchard
238 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:36:04
Is there a "Who can write the longest post" competition running tonight?
Dave Abrahams
239 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:36:26
Andy (224),speaking for myself, I don't expect any more from young local lads,I want desperately for them to do well, for themselves and for Everton FC, I don't think there is one Evertonian on here who has a downer on Ross, we all want him to become the player we know he can become.

I think this present thread started when a few fans said that Ross had a great game last night, fair enough that's there opinion, so a few more (including me) gave our opinion that Barklay wasn't all that good last night and pointed out a few of his faults, are we not entitled to give our side of how we thought Ross had played last night.

There is nothing to get upset about, if fans thought Ross had a good/ great game last night, that's okay by me, I thought the opposite, surely we can lol live with that difference of opinion without trying to force one's opinion down the throats of the others.

Dave Ganley
240 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:38:28
Oh for pity sake... No more or less is expected of a local lad just the same level if commitment from all players. It appears that being a local prodigy, Ross is immune to any kind of criticism.

As I pointed out earlier, when Lukaku was having a torrid time earlier in the season, plenty of people were slating him. Tim Howard has been slaughtered, Ossie is a lot of people's hate figure. Stones got it last week. Its ok for all to give those players pelters and forgive Ross everything?

I only suggested that I didn't think he had a good game end of and look whats happened....hes been turned into a martyr. I have been constructive and also praised when necessary. People need to get some sense of perspective. He is not immune to criticism same as any other player. It doesn't mean I want him out of the door. Ffs talk about over the top reaction.

He's not untouchable, he has faults the same as everyone else and people here have made this into something its really not. Lets have the same set of rules for all players and not just one with potential who happens to be a local lad otherwise lets not criticise anybody.

I know for sure that some outraged people on here are some who have been brutal with Howard Ossie and Lukaku in the past. If you're all going to have your opinions on those issues then let's not play the martyr card and be outraged when I have the temerity to suggest that Ross didn't have the best game last night, which, I may add, I did so without malice or using completely derogatory language which is more than can be said for the descriptive choice language used to describe the aforementioned players performances in the past.
Brent Stephens
241 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:44:00
The Dutch auction is running. I started at £30M as the amount we should be willing to take for Ross. Somebody has come in with £25-20M. In the spirit of a Dutch auction, is there anybody willing to admit they would let Ross go for less than that?
Dave Ganley
242 Posted 07/01/2016 at 22:45:05
Sorry, Jay, I just read your post.

It's not hyperbole, you alluded to all of the above points without maybe saying the words but alluded to them all the same. You can take the so-called high ground if you like, that's fine and I shall keep my opinions.

We can go round in circles I suppose on this thread. I suppose in the end we shall have to agree to disagree and hope we eventually have a common ground when Ross finally reaches his potential on a consistent basis.
Geoff Evans
243 Posted 07/01/2016 at 23:19:54
Wonder what Bally would have made of Ross.
Danny O'Neill
244 Posted 07/01/2016 at 23:49:37
I'm normally balanced but way too much over analysis going on here. Ross Barkley is quality. He has his flaws but is a joy to behold and to watch for his positivity.

Seems that until he can defend like Jagielka, track back and break play up like Barry, cross a ball like Deulofeo, score goals like Lukaku and cover for Howard between the posts he won't be appreciated and will continue to be criticised; there are very few (if any) 100% perfect players.

Sky / Football Manager has made us all experts. Ross just keep doing what you're doing son, you'll be fine. Alan Ball would have loved you...
Eddie Tully
245 Posted 08/01/2016 at 00:45:15
Jay Wood – Hear, Hear!

By the way, Ross isn't a Rolls Royce, he's a Ferrari.

I hope he never has to read some of the tripe written about him on here.

Eddie Tully
246 Posted 08/01/2016 at 00:48:22
Phil Neville was a Skoda, and Moyes still played him ahead of Barkley!
Dennis Ng
247 Posted 08/01/2016 at 01:41:03
Yea, Pep is going to Man City and bidding for our entire team for £100m, so that's ~£20m for Barkley. That should be a low enough bid Brent.
Jack Cross
248 Posted 08/01/2016 at 01:57:11
Barkley. He cost us 2 goals with his greedy play. Ask Lukaku?

I'd sell him. I just don't rate him. Never seems to know when to pass to a player who is better positioned to score. Wants to take three players on then loses the ball. That's not exciting to me, more stupidity.

Moyes, could see what he had, and it wasn't what most on here see.

Jamie Crowley
249 Posted 08/01/2016 at 02:28:51
Jack -

I'll go to bed tonight thanking God Almighty you're not manager of Everton Football Club.

Laurie Hartley
250 Posted 08/01/2016 at 04:40:09
Howard (#165) – thanks for your post. I had a look at Fezjullahu the Albanian lad on You Tube. He looks a good player. Six foot, fleet of foot, can tackle, pass, beat a man one on one, and cross the ball.

I don't know what the overall standard is in that league but he looks like he would be a good acquisition.

Lyndon Lloyd
251 Posted 08/01/2016 at 07:00:05
I confess I'm baffled by the ferocity of this debate over Barkley. He's midway through his third season and still too young (relatively speaking and with his injury-disrupted period as a teenager in mind) to make any definitive declaration over whether he's going to be the star we all hope he will be.

I'd say on the evidence of this season, though, he's a damned-sight closer to "making it" than not. He's recovered impressively from a really difficult second season (when he suffered through the audible groans from his own fans at Goodison as he battled for form) to become a vital part of our attacking unit.

I'd urge those who appear to have made their mind up to just watch him and observe how he is hardly ever dispossessed anymore; how he will either shield his way out of trouble with his body or lay off a pass rather than lose the ball. Yes, he needs to work on his more ambitious passes but that will come with time and experience and when it comes off -- see that wonderful flick to Mirallas for the second goal against Leicester -- it's magic. Give him time, FFS; he's far from the biggest reason why we're under-achieving this season.

Stephen Brown
252 Posted 08/01/2016 at 07:42:05
Well said Lyndon. Very true and wise words.
Dave Ganley
253 Posted 08/01/2016 at 09:39:51
It appears that with the exception of Jay Wood (who I enjoyed a healthy debate with) and Brent, few if any have actually read through all my posts. I have never said he wont make it. I have always said he is a very talented footballer. I have also never said that I don't want him at the club. All I said was that I didn't think he was that good on Wednesday, the same as many TWers do for many players over the course of the season.

Maybe I expect too much from Ross, maybe I expect to see a bit of magic every game and perhaps that is a bit harsh on the lad, but I do know that he is an asset at the club. However, if any amount of criticism leads to this amount of furore in the future, I shall keep my opinions to myself.

Brent Stephens
254 Posted 08/01/2016 at 09:49:38
Dave, it's been a healthy and respectful debate. Don't keep your opinions to yourself. Keep posting.
Dave Abrahams
255 Posted 08/01/2016 at 14:49:46
Dave (#246), It was an open and honest opinion, which I agreed with, even if I didn't, it was still an open and honest opinion. Keep them coming, I'm sure your comments are welcomed by many on here, they certainly are by me.
Jack Cross
256 Posted 08/01/2016 at 14:54:51
Jamie Crowley (#242).

I've heard some ridiculous things on here, but that beats them all.

Dave Ganley
257 Posted 08/01/2016 at 15:45:06
Cheers for that, Brent and Dave.
Darren Hind
258 Posted 08/01/2016 at 18:53:47
Dave Ganley,

I love Ross being an Everton player, I love that we have a local boy with his Flair and power, but you make some very valid points my friend, despite the howls of protest from the outraged.

I don't wan't him expending his energy chasing every attack, or trying to cut opposing players in half with with crunching tackles, that's not him, but when opponents who are within a few feet of him waltz past him I want him to show so semblance of effort.

I agree with Lyndon's posts, but that doesn't mean Barkley should be allowed to go through his entire apprenticeship allowing opponents to go past him as if he wasn't there. Nobody should be allowed to be that selfish.

I'm not calling for him to become a tacking machine. I just want him to at least try to get a toe in, or ease his body in front of players, at least make it difficult for them surely that would not be too taxing?

For all his brilliance you'd have to be blind not to see he is getting away with fucking murder. Somebody asked what Bally would have made of him. I think we all know the answer to that, but he'd have gotten the very best out of him.

I'm a massive fan of our boy Dave, he makes me excited every time he gets the ball, but I truly believe Ross Barkley will benefit far more from your criticism than he would from people blowing smoke up his arse, praising the things he already knows he's good at.

Jim Hardin
259 Posted 09/01/2016 at 03:38:53
Decent performances from some, good performances by others, and excellent by Lukaku and Besic and Mori.

As for Robles, did little to distinguish himself. Looks a bit like a giraffe on ice. However, he kept a clean sheet though. ooops, never mind. Came for corners, ooops, never mind. At 23 minutes, he stood 4-6 feet off his line for a corner and as it was being kicked, retreated to the line. The ball travelled to the edge of the 6 and the Man City player out-jumped Stones (flat footed and ducking the contact) for a free header that he put wide. Robles failed to come for any corner.

His save in the first half, he was too deep on the post, it was behind his right shoulder blade. He had to make a left handed parry on a flat angle direct shot which went weakly out into the 6 right in front of goal. Had he been properly positioned he could have put the ball back toward the sideline. He got lucky the ball didn't fall immediately to a Man City player.

As for the goal, first, what was Stones doing running into the box after the first deflection on our corner? He should have been headed back to his goal. Second, Besic chose to mark the only Man City player actually covered by another Everton player and left a huge area. However, Robles should have seen it and reacted sooner. He came out late and incredibly stayed on his feet instead of going down to cut the back post shot. Rather easy goal and keeper to blame. Odd that Howard would have been slagged for all of these things by many TWs for these things.

Still a victory over a good team. But I hope the away goal doesn't come back to haunt Everton.

Dave Abrahams
260 Posted 09/01/2016 at 09:37:47
Jim (252), happy new year Jim, hope you have a good one.
Tony Abrahams
261 Posted 09/01/2016 at 10:18:56
Jim, that free header when Stones was flat-footed was near post? Doesn't matter who is in goal, but it's an area we are going to get done in soon. Last year we conceded to Young Boys and Kiev in consecutive games where they scored from a corner at the near post. Haven't conceded since like this I don't think, but it's more luck than judgement because the way we set up from corners hasn't been rectified.

Good assessment of their equaliser Jim, but I can't believe you never mentioned the class of Aguero in pulling that ball out of the sky. I think Robles could have done better, but maybe he will in the future, if the manager does his job properly and starts playing him!

Andrew Laird
262 Posted 10/01/2016 at 11:20:40
Jim, you forgot to add for balance to your rather blinkered and negative views that Robles saved the first shot after we took the lead, something that Howard has not achieved all season. Also, Stones was immense in much of what he did and kept the best player in the Premier League in his back pocket for most of it with Funes Mori, just like he did with Harry Kane who you predicted would run riot.

Clearly you believe you are a fountain of knowledge about how a goalkeeper should play (and now apparently a defensive expert with your tiresome bigotry of Stones!) but are so equally and blissfully unaware that being sat on the bench for 90% of the time makes it near impossible to be at the peak of form.

Everton and have been blessed in the very recent past to have witnessed two absolutely brilliant goalkeepers in Southall (one of, if not THE best goalkeeper to ever play the game) and Martyn, so they don't need to be patronised into thinking that Howard is anywhere near them in terms of ability because he just isn't and never will be, or that Robles is so bad that he shouldn't play instead.

All you seem to be able to do is pick fault in young men who are still learning in one of the best leagues in the world, is this how you coach your students? Howard is 36 so why does he still make mistakes like he is 22 yet is not subject to the same valid criticism?

It's great to have different opinions, it's what makes this website a must each day for so many of us who are caught up in Everton. So keep posting with your passion but maybe base it on analysis without such obvious bias? Happy New Year.

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