It was just so Everton

By Paul Traill 29/09/2017 19comments  |  Jump to last

Just Ste and I attended this one and with my better half needing the car today Ste kindly offered to drive, even picking me up from work. We arrived at the pub in plenty of time and it was nice to have a good natter over a beer or two. As always seems to be the case at the moment, you couldn’t help but question the team news when you saw it before the game. Why do we persevere with no width? Why was Dominic Calvert-Lewin not starting the game? Why begin with two defensive midfielders at home to a Cypriot team? I’m all for giving players a chance and giving players time to settle in, but given the situation we have found ourselves in and the pressure Ronald Koeman is under, now isn’t the time to experiment much.

On we went to the game. The Z-Cars rang out and drained out with no players taking to the field. I’d say you could have heard a pin drop at Goodison Park if not for the noisy Limassol supporters. While I suppose you could say their supporters showed us how it was done off the pitch, you could also argue their players showed us how to begin a game on the pitch also. They began at a high tempo, kept the ball well, pressed us back and, hey presto, forced an error to put themselves ahead. Well “forced” may be a bit inaccurate, maybe “gifted” would be more appropriate after Ashley Williams howler surrendered possession. He then didn’t stop the cross from Anton Maglica and it was converted at the second attempt by Adrian Sardinero.

The crowd were frustrated and didn’t really hold back in letting the team know it. We did eventually manage to pull a few things together. If Limassol’s goal was a gift, ours was completely gift-wrapped when Hector Yuste’s careless backpass was tapped in by Wayne Rooney. Undeservedly, we were level.

We did have chances for the remainder of the half but failed to make a breakthrough. Sandro Ramirez skied an effort after good work to create space, Tom Davies forced a fine save from Bruno Vale and Gylfi Sigurdsson worked the keeper with a free kick but we went in level at the break.

The second half was much improved and though it isn’t saying much, it was probably the best we have played this season. We were much more adventurous as we tried to force a winner, and we thought it my have came when Sigurdsson played a smart ball in for half time substitute Nikola Vlasic to finish smartly. It looked as though we were getting away with the three points.

With a lot of smart play around the box but, familiarly, no real penetration inside the penalty area, we often looked like we might just get there but we couldn’t quite get through. The introduction of Dominic Calvert-Lewin injected zeal into our attack and he almost scored with a curling effort from just outside the box, but it drifted wide of the far post.

When, with just a few minutes left on the clock, Roberge was dismissed for a nasty, and very unnecessary, stamp on Dominic Calvert-Lewin, you felt that was probably game up and I think I even said to Ste “let’s grab another, goal difference might end up being important”. I really should know by now though that Everton never, ever, sail through these waters, and I should have expected us to sink. If you can’t see out a game against a 10 man team from the Cypriot league, what hope have you got? A straightforward ball from a free kick was easily headed in by Hector Yuste to level the scores. You were just stunned.

With five minutes (including stoppage time) still on the clock, you hoped for one more good chance, and along came a golden one when Nikola Vlasic’s superb ball was on a plate for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head in from six yards, though he instead contrived to head straight at the goalkeeper, and with that, the opportunity for a win had come and gone. And you just knew it.

We trudged off shaking our heads. It’s disappointing and all we can do is pick ourselves up and win our next game at home to Burnley, which, let’s be fair, is hardly a given. The Europa League campaign doesn’t have to be doom and gloom just yet but we are certainly doing it the hard way. If Goodison Park can be at it’s hostile best for home games against Lyon and Atalanta we may have a few magical nights at Goodison Park yet, and we may have found form by the time we travel to Lyon and Limassol respectively, but Jesus, that was just, so, Everton.

Player ratings:

Pickford: Pretty helpless with the goals. Distribution pretty good. 6

Baines: Seemed to grow into the game. 6

Williams: Poor. A bit better and braver second half but will rue his big mistake. 4

Holgate: When you have a senior pro playing alongside a young centre back you want the senior player to nurture the younger one along a bit, but, after a shaky start from Mason, you felt it was more the other way round. Mason showed good composure on the ball on several occasions and was certainly the better of the two centre backs. 7

Kenny: Did OK, probably capable of better and perhaps needed to offer more in attacking areas but he didn’t do badly. 6

Gueye: I thought he was one of our better performers in the first half and I was surprised to see him substituted at the break. That said, we should have began the game with that which started the second half. Why on earth are we beginning with two defensive midfielders at home to Limassol? 6

Schneiderlin: Did OK, but very much playing within himself for me. 6

Sigurdsson: He’s getting there. Seems to be close to full fitness now. He certainly has a good engine on him. He’s making good runs, getting into good positions and using the ball well. The assist will have done him some good and I can see him really coming along these next few games. 7

Davies: While he did a few loose passes and not everything worked, I thought he was one of our better performers and I was surprised by the stick he was getting from some of the people around me. 6

Rooney: Did pretty well throughout really. Won’t get many easier goals than that! 7

Sandro: Struggled. He maybe shouldn’t have started as Dominic Calvert-Lewin would have given them a lot more to worry about I think. Tried though. 5


Vlasic (for Gueye): While I say now is not the time to experiment and we need to be getting our best team on the pitch as much as we can, I make an exception with Vlasic, as he looks an excellent and exciting player who can make a difference in tight games. Get him in the team Ronald. My man of the match. 7

Calvert-Lewin (for Sandro): He will be gutted not to have netted the winner late on. All he can do is pick himself up and make up for it on Sunday. I think he should have started the game. We would have caused them more problems from the beginning had he have done so. Regardless of his miss, he did make a big difference in the time he had on the pitch. 6

Klaassen (for Davies): Did OK and got involved. Will feel a bit guilty for giving away the free kick but we should have defended it better than that! 6

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Reader Comments (19)

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Charlie Lloyd
1 Posted 29/09/2017 at 09:18:15
So supporters are now voicing disapproval of Davies.

Not everything he tried came off. In all fairness he had one of his sloppier games but does it constitute the vitriol abuse banded out straight away.

The lad is all heart and wears the shirt with passion. The consistency will come with playing games. Get off his back and give him the support supporters(!) are suppose to.

There are many culprits who swan around at half pace not this lad.

Iain Love
2 Posted 29/09/2017 at 09:19:43
I thought the keeper made a good save from Calvert-Lewin's header.

We all know we are bereft of pace and our numerous Number 10s get in each other's way. The result is teams really have nothing to fear from us unless Dom plays. We remind me very much of the England team, shoehorning players into unnatural positions and being ultra defensive to the extent it has the reverse effect.

Mirallas, Lookman & Lennon at least would balance the team. I found myself hoping that Rooney would go off with his wrist injury so Koeman could address that imbalance.

I despair that we will soon be looking for yet another manager to guide us to the promised land.

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 29/09/2017 at 09:33:49
I thought Davies never stopped trying, wasn't one of his best games but never gave up while he was on the pitch, Wayne Rooney was the same, never gave up, unfortunately Wayne's best days are long gone, it was sad, for me, to see one of the games best players struggling the way he did, he should be given a rest, particularly in his present circumstances, but even when he gets those resolved I don't think he has it anymore.
Peter Gorman
4 Posted 29/09/2017 at 09:52:49
If true that fans are getting on Davies back then that is unspeakable.

You nailed it with 'why two defensive midfielders at home to Limassol'.

Paul Goodchild
5 Posted 29/09/2017 at 09:57:58
I agree. Davies always gives 100%. His passing was awry last night though. I would put him on the bench Sunday and put him on second half. His energy makes a difference at that stage.

I would drop Rooney back to play along side Gana and rest Schneiderlin Sunday. I think Calvert-Lewin should play up front with Sigurdsson in the Number 10 role. I would then play Vlasic and Mirallas in the wide roles. We need some pace on Sunday. Mirallas must be desperate to be involved at the moment.

Danny Broderick
6 Posted 29/09/2017 at 10:15:31
Where was Davies playing first half? It's not a criticism of him, more of our lopsided formation? I was only watching it on tv, but he seemed to start on the right, he then went on the left, and he looked all over the place to me.

In any case, the lad gives his all and I will never criticise him. He is a quality footballer, but he has no one out wide to pass to other than the full backs, and few options up front. I would not like to be a centre mid in this current team...

Jim Wilson
7 Posted 29/09/2017 at 10:59:01
When you have a shite managers fucking things up big time, I think it is a bit unfair to criticise players.
David Pearl
8 Posted 29/09/2017 at 11:20:19
Davies spent the entire game covering for his mate Kenny... who constantly gave the ball away. Short of pace in wide areas yes. And Sandro... he should be told to calm down, he's running with the ball before he even has control of it. I'd drop him to the Under-23s so he can score a goal and get some confidence.

Other than his costly error, Williams played okay. I thought defending Holgate was bad. At his feet though he is good. Maybe he will improve with a run of games. However the shape of the team and the way we move the ball around is pathetic. Koeman... he is failing badly.

Xavier Spencer
9 Posted 29/09/2017 at 11:57:24
Paul, I love your reports but I think your marks last night were way off. I'd dock one or two points off everyone with the exception of Vlasic.

I agree, the booing of Davies is disgraceful. One mistimed pass led to the crowd groaning and then led to another poor pass. You could see the lad's confidence visibly ebbing away.

Sandro, Klaassen and Sigurdsson? Can they really be that atrocious? Or has the team collectively just lost the plot. Koeman has. He cut a desolate figure throughout. Hands in pocket. Compare his body language with Conte for example. If players were looking to him for guidance they were getting nothing back. The current spell is as bad as anything I've seen under Roberto, Mike Walker et al.

Where to next? We won't win any Premier League games playing like that. A well organised Burnley team and a buoyant Brighton look like huge obstacles. No wins from those games and hard to see how he survives.

Andy Meighan
10 Posted 29/09/2017 at 12:31:25
I like Davies, I really do. But sorry, Paul, he was awful last night and that was probably his worst ever game for us That said, he was hung out to dry by the manager being asked to play wide right. Madness but we've come to expect that under Richard Head.

And you're right – we shouldn't be starting two defensive midfielders at home against the might of Cyprus. But Ronnie boy is ultra negative so get used to it. Don't expect anything to change real soon because he's determined to drag us down. And he will do.

Derek Knox
11 Posted 29/09/2017 at 12:42:38
Good report Paul, but like a few have mentioned, a bit generous with your ratings. I am, as a few others are too, slowly approaching the end of my tether, with these insipid displays against teams we should be demolishing.

I can't in all honesty, totally blame the players, although having said that, some are way below what you would expect from a professional. The blame lies completely with the manager, his combination of players, his tactics, no positive game plan?

I truly hope before too soon, he does the honourable thing and resigns, because, he is so out of his depth, and to blame his players for negativity and back passing!

I doubt very much, depending on team selection, whether we will even beat Burnley on Sunday.

Matthew Williams
12 Posted 29/09/2017 at 15:39:01
Davies played poorly but the lad has real heart & desire & always works hard for the cause, he will improve as all our young players will given game time & starting in their proper positions will help too.

Koeman is just so negative & our football is still so fucking joyless.

We have to find a way to beat Burnley on Sunday but, regardless of the scoreline, I still want Koeman gone... Sunday night!

John Pierce
13 Posted 29/09/2017 at 16:33:04
Davies can be forgiven for his passing last night. He takes risks in the opponents half, and as the assists for Niasse's goals show, he is a positive player, one of very few atm.

Can you name any other players who try incisive through balls? Yes, dares dos the formation limits that option!

But take Rooney and Schneiderlin both gifted passers yet all they look to do is either lay it off, or spray a lofted, floated ball cross field.

Right sentiment wrong execution, hard and flat is the answer, otherwise the opposing team has time to adjust.

Tom plays at tempo, as does Kenny & Gana. Rooney and Schneiderlin do not. The lad is almost first pick as far as I'm concerned. Echos of Ross Barkley in the comments, let's not go down that route.

Gordon White
14 Posted 29/09/2017 at 17:32:42
I thought Vlasic had a good game. A real positive. Others were well below par. But you can't blame individual players for that performance. It was an awful TEAM performance.

I'm concerned about how vulnerable we are at the back. Surely that's the first thing we need to put right.

Confidence and self belief are hugely important in football. (Look at Chelsea two seasons ago). Neither were present last night. And I can't see anything changing much before the January transfer window. Until then it's all in the hands of the manager. It will be a damage limitation exercise. If things don't change, will Giroud want to join us?

Going forward, everyone agrees that a striker is required. But we also a need a supply chain. And a more solid defence.

Dropping out of the Europa League may not be such a bad thing.

I think what hurts the most is that I had such hopes at the beginning of the season. I had allowed myself to be swept along on the tide of optimism and I dreamt, but with unrealistic expectations. Realistically, I now think it's going to be the season after next, or even the season after that, when we can properly challenge for a Champions League place. Next year – a good cup run perhaps? And this season? Finishing outside the bottom 3 will be a result.

Martin Nicholls
15 Posted 29/09/2017 at 20:26:05
Davies did have one of his poorer games last night but I can't say that I heard (from my seat in GS4) him getting the vitriolic abuse that others have referred to. Whereabouts in the ground is it coming from?
Andy Meighan
16 Posted 29/09/2017 at 21:32:54
Not once did I hear Davies getting any grief of the crowd. It didn't happen. I personally thought he had a poor game but so what? That kid has been a breath of fresh air for us since he broke into the side.

If the more expensive and experienced players stepped up to the plate every now and then we might not be looking for Tom to dig us out of a hole every game

To say he was booed was a lie as far as I'm concerned and whoever thought he did is lying. It didn't happen.

Andy Crooks
17 Posted 30/09/2017 at 20:58:31
Good report, Paul, as usual. The team selection was utterly abysmal. From that moment it was an uphill fight As a regular match going blue, Paul, what is your view on Koeman? Martinez is the worst coach I have ever seen, at any level. But, my God, Koeman is as blinkered, stubborn and unimaginative as him.

I feel foolish for defending him; he is truly dire. In your view what is the feeling at the ground? He won't be removed by the rants on here but the match goers might have a say? What do you think?

Dick Fearon
18 Posted 30/09/2017 at 22:15:36
I hope young Tom does not let the knockers put him off his game.

Even the great Alan Ball had to rise above that kind of brainless criticism. He was a legend before he kicked a ball for Everton yet he copped an unfair share of abuse for his least error. The sheer volume of work and huge number of passes Alan put into each game more than excused his occasional bad one.

Paul Traill
19 Posted 30/09/2017 at 22:19:59
Andy @17, I'm still very much in the 'give Koeman time' camp. Last season was a vast improvement on the previous two. With having to bed in so many new players we really could have done with an easier start and I don't feel that sacking him is the right thing to do at this stage.

I understand why people are frustrated as the football has been poor, and he didn't help himself with his demeanor. But I like that he does front up. I'm behind him, for now at least. I believe the football will improve and that results will come.

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