Everton stagger one point closer to safety

By Lyndon Lloyd 21/01/2018 66comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 1 West Bromwich Albion

40 points and the end of this train-wreck of a season can’t come quickly enough. What lies beyond it will, no doubt, make for an intriguing summer but at the moment, Everton are slogging through the remainder of their Premier League programme hoping to accumulate enough points to justify the appointment of Sam Allardyce and stay in the top flight.

If the team’s goals are any higher than that, it’s not being reflected on the pitch. The Blues avoided a fifth successive defeat to start the year thanks to a rare moment of incisiveness, a deft assist from debutant Theo Walcott and the predatory instincts of Oumar Niasse but there was no escape from the feeling that the Blues were flattered by the 1-1 scoreline.

They haven’t won a Premier League game for over a month now and the threat of relegation that appeared to have receded following the new manager’s encouraging start is beginning to creep back into the Everton consciousness now that just six points separate them from the bottom three.

To say that things feel like a complete mess at Goodison is to understate it. On the face of it, football is a simple game but the complex relationship between key individuals and the team as a collective, combined with the driving force of confidence, is what keeps managers up at night and the best coaches in their jobs.

Right now, Everton have no confidence, they have no discernible leadership, direction or drive on the field and the consistency in team selection that helped Allardyce begin his Goodison reign with a seven-game unbeaten run has disappeared. Furthermore, big questions continue to be asked around the continued use and commitment of certain players.

It’s unlikely that his appointment was made with the expectation of much inspiration in terms of how Everton play the game but you would think that with his experience at the top level, Allardyce would be capable of coaching players to find a team-mate with a forward pass.

Once again, the Blues were shockingly bad on the ball — it starts with them routinely giving it away right from the kick-off and it goes from there. It’s staggering that such an expensively assembled a collection of players can exhibit such poor use of the ball, so little movement and so little invention at times.

Time and time again, the man on the ball was left searching for a passing option with the nearest blue shirt 20 yards away. So often, it was cycled back and forth behind the halfway line between the holding midfielders and the centre-halves with the frustration in the stands rising in tandem.

In one particular instance, of course, it had painful consequences for James McCarthy who got into a muddle with the pedestrian and crab-like Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield and ended up with a season-ending broken leg following a freak accident involving Salomon Rondon. That just seems to be the way of it at the moment.

Allardyce changed things up once more for the visit of the Baggies, somewhat predictably given what transpired at Wembley last week, but, again, it came at the expense of any of the continuity in terms of personnel that was evident when he first arrived.

A central defensive pairing of Mason Holgate and Ashley Williams that was in place as the manager won three of his first four Premier League matches and which allowed the much-criticised Williams to re-find his form and Holgate to flourish in his favoured position was finally restored yesterday.

Wayne Rooney dropped back to the substitutes’ bench along with Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie, who made way for Walcott to make his debut, while McCarthy and Schneiderlin were preferred as the manager retained his much-maligned preference for two holding midfielders in home games. The surprise inclusion was Nikola Vlasic in an unfamiliar left-side role.

Everton never got going, though, and were 1-0 down inside eight minutes. Grzegorz Krychowiak had already exploited the space in the home side’s rearguard with an early chance that he ballooned into the Park End when Rondon dropped back to chest the ball down in his own half and knock it on to the Polish midfielder.

With Williams dragged way out of position, Krychowiak sent Jay Rodriguez away with a weighted ball over the top and the striker slotted it past the stranded Jordan Pickford with Holgate vainly appealing for offside.

The hosts’ response amounted to little more than one teasing cross by Walcott into a penalty area devoid of blue shirts save that of Cenk Tosun, who would spend his 56 unproductive minutes on the pitch painfully isolated, and a first Everton shot on target in 251 minutes of football from Jonjoe Kenny that was saved by Ben Foster.

Vlasic, who had understandably struggled to make an impact in an malfunctioning team, was withdrawn at half time by Allardyce in favour of Bolasie but the pattern of play remained largely unchanged until the disaster that befell McCarthy forced a change in formation with an hour gone.

Caught in his own half with two West Brom players in close attendance, the Irish international overshot Schneiderlin with an awkward pass. The Frenchman threw in late, half-hearted tackle on Gareth Barry (for which he was rightfully booked) while McCarthy was left to chase back in typical fashion and deny Rondon a clear goalscoring opportunity with a brilliant saving tackle.

Sadly, having taken the ball away from the Venezuelan after he had committed to the shot, McCarthy’s leg took the force of Rondon’s swing, with both tibia and fibia breaking leaving him prone in agony on the turf, Pickford urgently summoning the medical staff and the visiting striker in tears.

McCarthy was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Rooney and following the introduction of Niasse, Everton carved out the equaliser, with all three substitutes involved. Bolasie laid a pass off to Rooney, he curled a ball to Walcott at the back post and Niasse swept his header into the net from close range.

A platform and the confidence on which to build and go on to win the game did not result in an improved display from the Blues, though. Instead, it was the visitors, who had only won their first game since August a week ago, who should have claimed the points.

While Foster was really only called upon once in the final quarter of an hour when he pushed away an excellent volley from Walcott, Pickford had to beat away efforts from Krychowiak, Matt Phillips and Rondon and also watched relieved as a header from the Venezuelan marksman dropped inches wide of his left-hand post.

And, having recovered mentally from the anguish of McCarthy’s injury, Rondon was unfortunate not to win it when he curled a shot over Pickford’s fingertips and off the face of crossbar in stoppage time.

Just as Leicester’s resurgence under Claud Puel and West Ham’s improvement under David Moyes are a study in the impact that new managers can have on a team, the approach of West Brom, whose squad is almost certainly inferior overall to that of Everton, to this game throws the chaos at Goodison into sharp relief. Pardew, who, it should be noted, played two strikers away from home, has only been in the job a month but his team came out of the “traps” with a purpose and an incisiveness that Everton have barely shown all season under three different managers.

This was a home match against a team sitting in the relegation zone that provided Allardyce and his players, with two new attacking players in the lineup, an opportunity to come out and play. Instead, with another defensively-minded starting XI they buckled early on and spent the next hour trying to summon the confidence to string more than two passes together.

Seeing as a pattern that emerged under Ronald Koeman is being perpetuated under his successor, it begs the question of how much responsibility lies with the players — experienced individuals like Schneiderlin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Williams continue to let the side down — and how much rests with the management charged with re-instilling into them the basic notions of pass-and-move and showing some tactical imagination.

If any of that is happening on the training field at Finch Farm, there is precious little evidence of it. Worse, too few seem to be all that upset about it.

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Reader Comments (66)

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Iain Love
1 Posted 21/01/2018 at 19:53:51
Agree with almost everything you've said. What really gets my goat is the way we cannot pass the ball quickly or forward. The West Brom players obviously sensed this and closed us down quickly splitting us into attack and defence rather than a coherent team. I actually thought that Martina was probably our best defender due to the terrible distribution of the others.

It did appear after their goal we went into our shell and kept taking an extra touch allowing the closing down and causing the continued use of the back pass to Pickford who just lumped it forward. Awful awful football.

On a brighter note Walcott looks both a threat and an outlet . Although Cenk our other newbie didn't, I suppose early days yet.

Can't wait for our injured fullbacks to return and give us some impetus and thrust into the opposing half.

Chris Perry
2 Posted 21/01/2018 at 19:56:14
To me it's simple, Sam steadied the ship, he will be here for 18 months so get use to boring Moyes type football, but worse than under Moyes. The youth will be sacrificed to preserve Premier League status, and then we go again: buy shite, piss-poor performances bla bla blah.

We are shite, the signings are shite, the stadium will not happen, and Bill will be looking 24/7. Bullshit city.
Rob Young
3 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:00:14
Feed Oumar and he will score. I fucking love him! Good finish too, I don't care what anyone else says about him.

But, my God, are we terrible! At least Goodison has had enough and is letting the board know.

Christopher Nicholls
4 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:00:24
Can't argue with any of that. Difficult to see where the turnaround is coming from. Need to win several games to make this season safe and even then, the looming question of what happens in the summer.

A squad of over 30 players and 3 managers this season who cant find a winning 11. I can't see what the team is working on at Finch Farm. No discernible relationships between the players and a complete lack of movement and support to even create the opportunity of a forward pass.

Having players out of position, certainly weakens the team and having no fit left-sided players in a squad, beggars belief. I'd like to understand what the recruitment and talent development strategy is. Seems to me thats the minimum you should be expecting from a professional coaching staff and Director of Football.

An an organization we seem to be miles away from this century, yet alone the top 6. Hard times, but the team will need to find some effective answers and quickly.

I don't think that another massive round of expenditure, on it's own, is the answer. We have just witnessed a significant expenditure of funds for new players and the team is still in freefall and devoid of identity. It's starting to look more that the recruitment and coaching systems at the club (with possible exception of U23s) are uncompetitive.

Jay Harris
6 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:13:19
I think the majority were happy with the team selection before kick-off yesterday but, once again, the players' minds were somewhere else.

It sums it up when you say Martina was our best back 4 player.

Midfield seems to be the main issue when you compare us with other sides.

We have little or no mobility in midfield; Schneiderlin is just like a lamppost with the odd Hollywood pass but invariably backwards or static.

All the players are like mannequins – no movement whatsoever.

It seems like we need a bomb to go off to liven them up.

Malcolm Bardgett
7 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:14:27
I think Holgate just had one of those games but how we still persist with Williams, I don't know as he must be one of the worst defenders to put on an Everton shirt.

We also seem obsessed with a possession game with players who cannot pass a ball. Rant over!
Andy Crooks
8 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:16:03
Good report, Lyndon. I feel you are holding back a little, though.

We have players shot of confidence coached by a man who is devoid of inspiration, imagination, talent and integrity. He was hung out to dry by the FA but his comments about Roy Hodgson – a man whose boots he is not fit to lick) show him for what he is.

Someone at our club actually thought that Sam Allardyce(!!!) is fit to manage our club.

Dave Pritchard
9 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:18:21
Very good report of the situation, Lyndon – unfortunately.
Jim Bennings
10 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:33:46
Everton need a man to come in with a mantra of “rip it up and start again”!!!

We need to stop pussy-footing around pretending we have a squad of quality players and an academy that is going to produce players capable of pushing us into a potential top 6 team; we haven't!.

We need a man to come in and say “This isn't good enough, that isn't good enough and I'm going to be making drastic changes to this club”.

To come in with the attitude Allardyce has now adopted of “great points against West Brom“ is just unacceptable really.

Now I'm not blaming Allardyce but over this last half dozen matches we may just as well have had David Unsworth or Koeman still at the helm such has been the paucity of effort, attempts to win or actually do just that and WIN.

We need to take a good long hard look at our training methods, why not one of our players looks composed when on the ball, why we cannot do the basics of pass to a teammate then move into space offering a ball, why can we not do the basics that they teach 10-year-old kids???

This is not just one player, it's not just fans scapegoats Cuco Martina or Ashley Williams, it's EVERY player!!

Not one of our players ever prospers at Everton. We sign players but within a handful of games we have made them a worse player instead of a better one.

Look at Liverpool, they seem to improve players that they sign by training them to be fitter, stronger ,and more confident and self assured on the ball.

Don't even get me started on the woeful lack of fitness at the club. Everton play “walking football“ while other teams you watch even down at the bottom play energetic running football (look at Southampton today against Spurs?)

This is not down to one player; signing a left back will not make Everton a greatly improved football team just as we knew the goal crisis wouldn't be so easily solved by throwing a shitload of cash on Tosun.

We need to drastically change the way we play the game; we need to be far more adventurous, fitter, stronger mentally and we desperately desperately need to greatly improve in possession of the football. At times yesterday the ball was in the air so much I was half expecting to see some falling dying pigeons.It was a grotesque football match.

Throwing money on players is all well and good but it's just papering over cracks because – unless you sign absolute world class talent like Manchester City who are so good they don't need coaching – the basics of pass and move, then every single player you buy, be it a Tosun etc, they will all fall victim to the lack of coaching at Everton Football Club.

Dave Abrahams
11 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:35:02
Football is a very simple and enjoyable game to play if you are in the mood. Everton players never seem to be in the mood. It's a chore and an effort for them, they should be dancing when they come on the field the money they are on for playing a game they should love.

I can't believe the attitude of most of them, frightened to death of playing a game of football,; most of us would kill to be in their position.

Get out on the pitch with a smile on your faces for pity's sake, you might bleedin' surprise yourselves.

Pat Kelly
12 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:50:18
We need Allardyce replaced as soon as possible after the end of the season. I don't think the fans could accept another season with him in charge.

He can't motivate the players with his "style" of football and constant chopping and changing the team. So let him go in the Summer and get Walsh out too. The Director of Football experiment has failed; let's get back to basics and give a decent manager control.

Nicholas Ryan
13 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:54:09
Go back through the 'stats' for this season, and remove the goals scored by Oumar Niasse; it makes for very sobering reading!
Brian Williams
14 Posted 21/01/2018 at 20:59:31
What Jim Bennings said!
Barry Williams
15 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:08:20
Jim Bennings - 10

Perhaps Vlasic didn't help himself when speaking to the Croatian press last week and revealing the brekkie options at Everton: “The choice is really rich, you can even eat a classic English breakfast with eggs, sausages, beans and ketchup. I'm avoiding it as it's large portions, I don't know how to eat it and run before training. I keep with the proven, what I'm used to eating and at home, and only fish is missing. There is also fish here, but it's not as good as ours.”

Things like this give an insight to fitness issues!

John Keating
16 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:11:35
Lyndon, a few days ago you were calling for the youngsters to be given a chance. Well Vlasic was and was lucky he wasn't pulled before half-time.

If we were sitting pretty in the league then Vlasic having a nightmare wouldn't have been such a big thing as hopefully the others could have taken the slack up; however, when the rest are as bad?

The players are just not good enough. Getting a left back in will not appreciably change things, were we any better when Baines was fit and playing?

Did anyone really think when Allardyce came in we would become a top 7/8 team overnight? We were relegation candidates, regardless of what some say, and I believe his only remit was to keep us up.

Like Unsworth, Allardyce was left with a load of dross. Trying to get this dross into some sort of order is the problem.

I fully agree it is a train wreck of a season that can't end quick enough. We are an embarrassment to ourselves and also within the Premier League. If anything good can come out of this season it is that there have been youngsters blooded and it may put them in a good position in the future.

Some were made up getting into the Europa League, well that and the non preseason really helped us out. Mismanagement at all levels, disastrous transfers both in and out all contributed to the train wreck. Unsworth and Allardyce were left to deal with it

Let's hope we can average a point a game for the rest of the season and learn by all this.

Denny Kerr
17 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:23:19
Most of us have played the game at one level or another, and even at the lowest level, as a kid where we just picked sides and started playing. Inside a few minutes your teammates would instinctively find their positions, play one twos, recognize the other team's strengths and weaknesses and before you know it, you had a game of football.

To watch Everton right now, you would think some of them have never played a game before. It's just unbelievable and defies any logic.

It doesn't seem to make any difference what manager we have, or what the team selection is, the style of play and results are the same.

I believe the only way of fixing the situation is from the top down. The owner has to take hold of the club, become a leader, be ruthless in getting rid of the deadwood, Kenwright, the board, etc. He has to change the whole attitude, thinking, and dynamics of the club.

It's going to take strength, guts, ruthlessness, leadership, and money to bring Everton into the 21 century, and it has to happen soon.

The alternative is to see our new stadium go the way of Kings Dock, our fan base diminish, and possibly lower league football in the future.

Somebody better take the bull by the horns and start leading this club forward, and quickly!

Lyndon Lloyd
18 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:24:35
I did John (15) but it has to be done wisely and consistently. I was going to get into it in the piece above but held off. I felt for Vlasic because it was an unfamiliar role for him since he's been with us and he was playing in front of a player who is not a natural full-back.

My argument would have been, though, that the likes of Lookman, Vlasic and Davies need to be on the bench week in, week out where they can be used to change games with some energy and enthusiasm.

Not left completely out the squad of one week and then thrown into the starting XI the next – that's just poor management. Use them regularly but sparingly so they can learn, adapt and not die on the vine in this massively under-performing team.

David Barks
19 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:35:47
To echo Lyndon's point about how Lookman and Vlasic and company should be used, take a look at Man Utd. Mourinho has used Rashford, but prefers to use him off the bench. But one thing is for certain, if he starts one week he isn't dropped and not included on the bench the next. He knows that most likely he will play every week, whether from the start or for 20-30 minutes in the second half.

He did that with Lingard, Rashford and Martial. Lukaku is the striker, but those players know that 2 out of 3 will start, and the other will get time off the bench.

The way Allardyce is handling these players, giving them one appearance and then not even seeing them on the bench for a month, it's as if he's intentionally sabotaging any impact they could have. As if he's trying to make it as difficult as possible for them to impress and gain form. In short, it's makes no logical sense.

John Keating
20 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:36:09
As I said, Lyndon, that is all well and good in a performing team but it is not possible and totally unfair in a train-wreck team
John Pierce
21 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:41:09
Lyndon, nothing emphasises your point about Vlasic more than the performance of his replacement, Bolasie.

A mature player used to playing the position at Palace and Everton yet he was as woeful as Vlasic.

The lack of left footed play meant every ball was played right footed into him. Without any credible player going on their outside then they came inside everytime, into traffic.

The fact in the first half Cuco had most touches of the defenders tells you a lot. If you wanna pick Martina, even under these circumstances, he has to do more and get in positions to help the wide player.

Vlasic was hung out to dry there, and yes didn't do himself any justice but very much on Allardyce.

James Flynn
22 Posted 21/01/2018 at 21:50:05
When we started pretty well under Sam, I started thinking strictly upward.

Since then, it's so obvious this is a really bad cast of characters, I've taken the outlook of Lyndon's headline. All that's left for me. Please just accumulate points until we're clear and remaining in the Premier League.

I'll be happy. This season, it's all that's left for me to be happy about.

Just stay up and I'm good.

Barry Williams
23 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:05:28
With regards to the issue of chopping and changing players, I feel due to the short amount of time that Allardyce has been here and the amount of fixtures we have had in that period, well there has been a lack of time on the training ground and the only way to get a proper look at the squad is to actually try them out in a game situation, regardless of age or experience. There is also the option of consulting Unsworth about players too!

Allardyce's first game proper was about 7 weeks ago, we have had 12 games in that time. Not exactly a lot of time on the training ground that. I am neither pro- or anti-Allardyce at the moment, just think a bit of perspective is needed. Yes, the football being served up has been abysmal, how was it in the 3 months before Allardyce arrived?

Comparing things to what is happening at Man Utd and Mourinho's use of young players seems unfair, he has had them for a preseason and inherited a much more stable situation with much better resources.

Stephen Jones
24 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:07:05
Despite his limitations, Niasse is the only real striker we have at the club (I will reserve judgement on Tosun).

Not so long ago many on here were berating Lukaku saying he couldn't trap a bag of cement, couldn't win high balls, couldn't tackle, pass, close down, etc, etc. Despite such obvious limitations, he remained our top scorer and we were sorry to see him go.

It would be utter madness in our current position to sell Niasse in this window. He is worth his place in the squad as an impact sub if nothing else.

Barry Williams
25 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:11:27
Stephen Jones - 24

I'd like to see him given a proper run!

Keith Harrison
26 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:21:47
James, 22, we didn't start pretty well under Sam, we finished one game pretty well under Unsworth.

Unfortunately, Sam seems all about Sam. Everton seem almost an irrelevance to him. Like our last manager.

Tony Marsh
27 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:29:06
How any sane person who has his all faculties in place can blame Sam Allardyce for any of this mess we are in at the moment is beyond me.

Before Sam took over many of you had accepted we were down. A few weeks later, the same fans were dreaming of Europe after a miraculous recovery under Allardyce.

The whole top and bottom of all of this shite is Bill Kenwright. Kenwright the true blue Evertonian chairman the custodian of our once great club allowed that shitbag Koeman to dismantle and destroy everything we had in the summer.

Let's assume Kenwright knows as much as the rest of us about football. Allowing Koeman to squander so much money on so many old or paceless players is a disgrace. Allowing Koeman to turn the squad into a farce beyond all acceptable reason is on Bill's head. Mishiri is just a Thunderbird puppet.

Why didn't Kenwright step in like Abramovich would of done? Like any business man would of done?? Like any real Evertonian would of done? How could you sit back and watch an arrogant prick like Koeman ruin the club you profess to love?? It astounds me how any of you have the nerve to slaughter Allardyce as he inherited a shitheap of crap players and buffoon owners.

We will not be relegated this season but we will never get anywhere while Kenwright is still at this club bringing mouthpiece buffoons like Moshiri in to help his agenda while selling our best players.

We EFC are an embarrassment because of the people in control of the club – not because of the current manager. For the record I don't care either way for Allardyce he just happened to be then only guy prepared to pick up the poisoned chalice the EFC has now become due to Kenwright and incompetent running of the club.

Elstone, Kenwright and Moshiri make me cringe and shame the very name of our once proud club. Aim your anger at these muppets before you have a go at Allardyce.

Jack Convery
28 Posted 21/01/2018 at 22:53:26
Big Sam manages like he really isn't that bothered. Hes been employed to do one thing – get over the line at the end of the season and that's all. He reckons the players are crap and hes got to get results with this crap.

He also knows that he will be f d off in the summer. This is a season to write off, we know, he knows it, the board know it and most of all the players know it. Nearly everyone in the team plays like it's - What's the fucking point?

Someone needs to remind this club and all its staff, we the fans pay to watch and give an awful lot of emotion to them and we need replaying in spades and it needs to start now. Not next August but now. Its not the ability of players and staff that need questioning its their motivation and determination.

Do the players turn out just for the money? If so, bin them. They need to turn out believing they must put a smile on the face of every Evertonian as often as possible and to give their all in every game they play – that's the least they should be doing.

Being a professional off the field too is very important. Performances and antics off the field this season have been appalling from the off. No-one has got to grips with the club and until someone walks through the doors of Goodison, with the main aim of pleasing the fans and getting a grip, we have had it.

I don't know who that person is but they need to turn up very quickly or this malaise will carry over into next season and if it does it will be fatal.

Don Alexander
29 Posted 21/01/2018 at 23:29:18
The story re the mega-fry-ups for breakfast (#15) pretty much sums up what I've been describing for yonks as the piss-poor arrangements/behaviour at Finch Farm regardless of who's manager. It leads to training sessions where fitness is already three-nil down before they start. That leads to ineptitude in play in training and, guess what, an appalling display in front of the paying hordes.

Allardyce at Bolton was lauded for introducing sports science, nutrition etc etc so I can only surmise that his credibility at Finch Farm (or should that be Fat Farm) having been shredded before he started, courtesy of a mere 18-month contract by the numpties ultimately responsible for the joke we've become, he's decided, like the players who believe he's the original here-today-gone-tomorrow merchant, that there's no point in him putting a proper shift in to improve us. After all, some other struggling club will be employing him soon so why would he take steps to introduce best practice to us when we'll be a rival he has to soon deal with?

And no, I'm not an Allardyce fan. I'm an Everton fan and that means hoping for the best from everyone paid to do a job there, including him, but for Christ's sake he needs clout to be afforded him by the owner/board otherwise he's rendered irrelevant to the lazy, complacent, egotistical pricks currently wearing the royal blue jersey at Finch Farm.

The whole blame lies with Moshiri and/or the cretin he still employs as chairman. I just wonder how long it'll take take Moshiri to realise what so many other fans see?

Michael Penley
30 Posted 21/01/2018 at 23:43:51
Nothing wrong with eggs and sausages for breakfast. Far healthier than toast with marmalade and besides, they've got to get protein from somewhere.
Barry Williams
32 Posted 21/01/2018 at 23:56:29
Michael Penley - 30

I am putting more emphasis on reading between the lines on the quote, not necessarily the sausage and egg thing (though he does mention a full English brekky). There are better ways of protein loading and fat reduction than having a breakfast then running it off! How many of our players actually look muscular, lithe or athletically robust?

Although you could be extracting the urine sir!

Mike Woods
33 Posted 21/01/2018 at 23:56:56
Having watched the Blues since 1955 I can recall many poor seasons but sadly nothing to resemble what passes for football since this one commenced.

I can only recall one display I enjoyed and that was the 3-0 win away in the Europa league which was mostly a second eleven side. Even in the games we won the side were second best in almost every game,the play was slow, the desire not there and no team play.

I don't have the answer as most of the present crop of players were fine last season, indeed 8 or 9 played in the 4-0 win versus Man City. There is a real danger of relegation unless things improve.
Michael Penley
34 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:04:27
No Barry, I'm just wondering what you expect them to eat – boiled cabbage?

The fact is, they need a canteen there and everyone in the squad would have different dietary goals. Some, like Besic, need to bulk up and maybe eggs and sausage after morning training would not be a bad thing. Though Besic's physique doesn't seem to have changed at all so I take your point.

Do we even have a dietitian at the club at all? I agree that none of our players could be called "athletic" and noticed that Walcott seemed noticeably fitter in comparison.

Bob Parrington
35 Posted 21/01/2018 at 00:08:27
David Barks (#19). Good observation. It looks like Big Sam has caught the Evertonitis bug. The bad one. Not the good one. Starts with panic instead of calm, composed strategy.

Looking at the positives from Saturday (Okay, it's a short list), I doubt that any of us can honestly say the players were not putting in the effort. That's a move in the right direction.

We came from behind to get the draw and it was a really well taken goal. Walcott looked up for it and played well in a poorly performing side. We showed some better movement going forward in the second half.

Looking at the bad things:

1. Poor McCarthy. He was starting to play well and looked fit. I'm sure we all wish him as rapid a recovery as possible.

2. If the effort was there, it is clear that the "application" was not

3. Running off the ball is almost non existent and so

4. The available passes are equally almost non existent.

5. The defence is almost always stretched as the opposing team has the ball, specially on our left. This isn't only the left back at fault but also midfield but it's crazy for us to not have a proper left-back in the team.

6. This means we are far too slow in transition and hence we make it easy for teams to defend against us.

I'm sure there are other bad aspects but, one thing I found as an amateur coach is that you never get a good result from players by being negative with them. There is always a positive way to deal with a negative. So my main message to Sam would be this. "If you can't say something positive then shut the fuck up and let the rest of the coaching group get on with building them up!"

As for the booers at Goodison, yes! I understand it must be really frustrating. But . please hold it back because it can't be doing the players any good.

Derek Thomas
36 Posted 21/01/2018 at 00:20:28
Don @ 29; Last paragraph is spot on.

The buck stops with Moshiri...or at least it should. Most by now have woken up to the fact that he's here for the profits generated by the new stadium build... fair enough – we both get something out of it.

He stated at day one that Bill was his man for the football side of things. Both are not based locally, so is Elstone calling the shots... who is he delegating to and so on down the line.

For Moshiri to make his money in a new stadium kick-started sell-on set, there has to be more than the bricks and mortar of a new ground, there has to be a product, a point of difference, some added value.

Bill might've been right... nobody's buying Premier League Clubs. Look at Newcastle (yeah I know but look anyway) 'big name', modern ground, 55,000 every week, in the Premier League... what's not to like; result – no sale.

Build it and they'll come? To snap it up? ... are you really sure Mr Moshiri? If you don't get the football side sorted smartish all you'll have is a financial, debt, and expenditure tiger by the tail you can't let go of, which has you dangling over a money pit.

Don Alexander
37 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:28:56
Derek Thomas (#36) – thank you for voicing the crux of the matter re results vs stadium, you're spot on.

And folks, the fry-up English brekkie will never ever appear on any nutritionist's list as the go-to dish to improve any condition, beyond the Biafran waist-line of course (sorry).

David Barks
38 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:34:03
My God, I can guarantee you that the Olympics will be filled with some of the finest and most well tuned athletes in the world and an English breakfast wouldn't be allowed on any of their menus.

Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and lean meats for those that eat meat, including fish. Most certainly not fried in any way shape or form.

It might shock you, but many of the best athletes today are on mostly vegetarian diets. If we really are serving up English breakfast for the players then someone needs to be sacked immediately.

Barry Williams
39 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:34:38
Michael Penley – (#34),

Boiled cabbage, nah, too flatulent. I can see where you are coming from, but read the quote, it doesn't sound like there is much in the way of assessing dietary requirements or specifying things for individual players whatsoever. I might be 100% wrong, I was using the quote as a demonstration of maybe something bigger.

Of course, a guy like Jagielka, mid-30s centre-back, thick set is going to have different dietary requirements to say Jonjoe Kenny, young, slim, burns things off and needs bulking up. I look at the team and they are weak in comparison to other teams. In relative terms Jagielka and Williams carry too much weight for sportsmen in a top division, Keane as a centre back doesn't have enough upper body strength, Holgate, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin, Galloway look tall and skinny and appear never to have lifted a weight in their lives.

We look weak, unenergetic and lacking stamina; my quote of a quote was just to look at possible reasons for this. The best athlete we have at the club is Niasse, with the exception maybe of newly signed Walcott. Why?

We move slowly, think slowly and react slowly!

Why did Vlasic feel the need to comment on it?

Fry-ups are not really on the menu for most athletes, never mind some of the best paid on the planet. Even sumo wrestlers don't do it, they have chanko nabe for protein loading, oh and a beer/sleep! However, they need explosive short power, not 90 mins of endurance.

When was the last time you saw an Everton team put in a proper 90-minute high-energetic shift like Liverpool do regularly!?

John Daley
40 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:36:52
Allardyce (and his nutritional experts) once landed in the bad books of lifelong bread and pasta fiend Damien Duff, who was instructed to cut such carbohydrates from his diet completely.

Following that advice, the Irish winger's energy levels and ability to beat a fullback near flatlined and the only thing running through his mind during a match was the mournful theme tune from that old Hovis advert where a young scrote trudges up a cobbled hill with his (probably stolen) cycle.

Duff did find form again eventually, after the repentant nutritional expert began shoving bun after bun in his ravenous face and begged him to neck the bastards like Nellie the Elephant.

Brian Porter
41 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:44:31
Stats show that Oumar Niasse has a strike rate of one goal per 99 minutes of game time this season, making him our most effective striker bar none.

For Allardyce to even consider selling him is close to criminal irresponsibility, when the only player to have scored more goals for us is Wayne Rooney who, like Niasse is not even guaranteed a starting place. Without Oumar's goals, we would be firmly planted in the bottom three.

Can someone at the club please tell Allardyce that no way can he sell the only proven goalscorer we have at this level? Tosun will take time to settle. Meanwhile, we need Niasse and his admittedly unorthodox and at times ungainly goal threat.

Barry Williams
43 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:48:17
John Daley – (#40),

Cutting carbs from the diet completely needs to be done over a period of time from my experiences. The people I know who have done this for a week or so eventually come down with something, especially if they are in training. However, I think most sports folks use carbohydrates wisely and time it right!

A lot of the Thai kickboxers I knew used to eat chicken skin before a fight because it was light on the stomach and full of quick burning fats for energy. Never pleasant seeing someone spew up a chicken skin after a stomach blow though! Ewe!

Barry Williams
44 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:49:44
Brain (#41),

Relax mate!


I think he is excellent myself. I have had this opinion since watching him for Hull!

Michael Penley
45 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:50:15
Re: Fried eggs and ham. Sounds like you fellas are behind the times. Fried eggs were regarded as unhealthy perhaps a few decades ago due to cholesterol concerns, but that is now largely regarded as a myth. Eggs are healthy and a nutritionist would certainly recommend them for breakfast.





David Barks
46 Posted 22/01/2018 at 00:56:54
Fried eggs are one thing, on occasion, and limiting the amount of oil and salt used. Scrambled egg whites are by far preferred by every reputable nutritionist. Add a bunch of ham or sausage to a fried egg, and a nutritionist would slap you. Make it chicken sausage or turkey sausage, and they'll hold back the slap and tell you moderation.
Jerome Shields
47 Posted 21/01/2018 at 00:59:33
Lyndon, I agree that the impact of Allardyce has been minimal. Unsworth could have probably done better; he would have given Rooney an attacking plan to implement (having got him to buy into a midfield role), introduced young players, used Niasse more, found a place for Vlasic (he looked real useful when he played under Unsworth), attempt to provide support for forward players, and would have tried to sort out our defensive problem positions in this transfer window.

Big Sam said the board wanted to give Unsworth the job. Why didn't they? What was Moshiri doing running after a former relegated Manager, who now is sacked?

No wonder the players appear so weak, it's obvious that Big Sam hasn't a clue. The Way Everton play on Saturday was really bad. Niasse saved them and Big Sam wants him moved out. Has he got a brain at all.

Why is Oumar Niasse so valuable to Everton.

Niasse doesn't play tactics. I don't even think they cross his mind. That why under Koeman and Allardyce he scores. They both don't like it, because they know they had nothing to do with his performances.

Niasse's first strength is he gets in front of his marker to get the ball. This is the first rule of a forward at every level of football.

With his back to goal his objective is to get into a shooting position. He will do this by letting the ball bounce of him within the space he occupies. This means defender can never be confident where the ball will be. It looks unskillful, but Niasse has made a career as a professional footballer out of it.

Niasse has spent his life living off scraps and will in most cases get their first, what ever way he can. If he doesn't get there is also a chance, another Everton player will get it,

Once in a shooting position, he will instinctively shoot, 95% of the time on target. If he gets hold of the shot, it will be a good one.

To sell such a valuable player on the word of Allardyce would be stupid. Niasse will end the season as Everton's top scorer.

The situation we are in is that a player who has nothing to do with the tactics of the manager could save the club. Allardyce may not pick him and even sell him, just like Koeman. He has tried to lower Niasse profile.

But Niasse's self-made hero status may cause Big Sam to decide that it's too big a risk to his contract, as the Everton fans express their opinion on such move.

This is what the management of Everton has been reduced to and it shows on the pitch. I would sack Allardyce and let Usworth have another go.

Barry Williams
48 Posted 22/01/2018 at 01:00:38
Michael Penley – (#45),

Fried eggs, not the full English that Vlasic mentions. As I say, I may be wrong and I am happy to be so, but something is amiss fitness wise. Fitness fads and what is good and bad for you come in and out of fashion. It is never as simple as just eating right. What time do you eat, how often do you eat and what do you eat when?

I have a mate who is the fittest man I have ever met and in his mid-40s now. Fought in a number of disciplines, eats one meal a day, late at night, he looks like a cruiser-weight Evander Holyfield still. After sharing the ring with him on a number of occasions, he still fights like one. That diet suits him and took discipline.

He get a modest amount of money as a personal trainer, these guys are paid a fortune and my friend looks like a much better all round athlete than the majority, if not all, the Everton players. The players who have, supposedly, the best training facilities and (one is hoping) dietitians!

The telling part of the Vlasic quote is this:

"You can even eat a classic English breakfast with eggs, sausages, beans and ketchup. I'm avoiding it as it's large portions, I don't know how to eat it and run before training."

What does that tell you. No mention of eggs in isolation, Classic English Breakfast!

He could be overstating, none of us know, but it may tell a bigger picture, or I could be reading too much into it! However, under Moyes we were one of the fittest teams in the division; now, all the teams look fitter.

Michael Penley
49 Posted 22/01/2018 at 01:09:00
Vlasic didn't say that anyone actually sits down to eat a full English Breakfast. He just said it was available. If the staff eat there too then I don't see anything wrong with it being there. I seriously doubt the players have it.

I agree sausage is something I wouldn't have except very rarely (it's not the fat I'm worried about, too many preservatives and nitrates) but I have eggs a few times a week for brekkie and I'm in decent shape.

Barry Williams
50 Posted 22/01/2018 at 01:09:45
Michael Penley - 49

We'll leave it there matey!

Ron Marr
51 Posted 22/01/2018 at 04:31:30
Good column. Everton are six points above 18th, and in 18th position in the form table over the last six games with 3 points. Upcoming games against Leicester and Arsenal will be difficult. Gotta hope the teams below lose. It's going to be a bumpy ride the rest of the way.
John Boon
52 Posted 22/01/2018 at 06:03:58
Allardyce is now becoming just like Koeman. His daily announcements are just plain drivel. He basically tells us all the problems that the team has.

After the initial announcement that extolled Rooney as somewhat of a genius he now tells us that him and Sigardasen can not be in the same team. He then tells us that we are still in a relegation fight. He also announces that he is not satisfied with how the team is playing.

The above are just examples. There are plenty more pearls of wisdom that he tells us. He retells us everything that we all know. In fact, he complains more than any fan of 50 years or more and he has only been here for two months. Us long suffering supporters know all that, but we are not in charge. You are!!!

You were hired to change what we all know. Rooney and Sigurdsson could play in the same team if you worked with them and decided how and where they should play. You were given a huge paycheck to solve all the problems that you complain about to us dumb supporters almost every day. You are basically telling us that you have a very difficult job. So do many people who work every day from nine to five and more for a minimum wage.

I don't know if I speak for every Evertonian but stop complaining about your job and do something about it!!! ...or resign!!!

Christopher Timmins
53 Posted 22/01/2018 at 07:03:09
Hard to see how things are going to change over the coming weeks. Talk of the season being over after our Cup exit were premature, it will be over when we have 40 points!
Dave Abrahams
55 Posted 22/01/2018 at 09:26:39
John (#52), you certainly speak for me and I imagine plenty of Everton fans who love this club.
Alasdair Mackay
56 Posted 22/01/2018 at 11:37:21
So – I just watched the highlights (so my observations may be eskewed by not managing to catch the entire 90), but I thought the problem areas are quite clear and, despite what many people think, we are not a million miles away from turning this around.

1) We need Rooney on the park because of his leadership qualities and will-to-win. We have two other international captains (Williams and Sigurdsson) in the first team with another (Coleman) on the way back, but until Williams finds form and Sigurdsson finds his feet we need Rooney to play to provide that leadership.

2) Defensive midfield is a problem area essentially because of the continual, baffling selection of Morgan Schneiderlin. Whatever you think of his attitude or ability in general terms - he is in terrible form, and we have Baningime and Gueye and Besic who can play in that role.

3) The confidence defensively was incredibly low all game – all 4 of the back line were making school-boy positional errors and hesitating when in a position to make tackles or distribute.

I thought (in the second half, once Rooney had come on) the rest of the side showed potential in an attacking sense. Tosun needs time to gel and get used to the pace of the game, but he has shown enough to make me think he will get there. Bolasie and Walcott offer us genuine goal-scoring/creating threat from both wings and Sigurdsson has a goal in him.

4) The obvious one – solve the left-back issue. Either loan someone, get Galloway back or re-instate Garbutt; if you really don't want to sign anymore players, but we can't continue with a left-back.

I would play 4-2-3-1; with a solid defensive midfield (Gueye, Baningime, Besic) directly in front of the back 4, Rooney sitting in central midfield (Davies and Klaassen as back-up) and 3 behind the centre-forward being Walcott, Sigurdsson and Bolasie. (Vlasic can come on anywhere across that 3 and Lookman on either wing). Tosun up front with Niasse and Calvert-Lewin as back-up from the bench. That's a good, balanced side.

We are not far off turning this around.

Bob Parrington
57 Posted 22/01/2018 at 12:29:58
Fuck the breakfasts, the lunches and the dinners. If we don't have a regime in place to handle these things that have been in place in other countries for 20 or 30 years... OMG!!

Even my daughter who has played Ice Hockey for Australia for about 17 years knows all about this stuff. Mees, it's kids play.

Get a bleeding left-back and put some balance into the side FFS.

Sam A. fuckin' wake up mate!!!! It's not rocket science! Moshiri – release the funds. You'll get it back in multiples!

Derek Thomas
58 Posted 22/01/2018 at 13:00:07
Barry @ 48; Moyes's fitness guy were either let go by Roberto – I've got a certificate in physiotherapy.... Martinez or walked when he started interfering and waving his piece of paper around.

Osman's quote about Moyes's 'easiest' session was harder than Martinez's hardest tells the tale.

Dave Abrahams
59 Posted 22/01/2018 at 13:18:16
Alasdair (#56) – not bad points you make, but I wish you could have seen the whole game, you might have a different point of view if you did.

Certainly over Wayne Rooney, he had a good hand in the goal then nearly cost us the match losing the ball and letting the WBA striker in on goal to rattle the bar.

Wayne is an handicap playing deep, last thirty minutes play him up front, he still has an eye for goal and won't lose the power in his shooting. He can win the game playing upfront; he can lose it playing deep.

Iain Johnston
60 Posted 22/01/2018 at 13:24:36
Alasdair (#56), I thought the central defence pushed up too far to compensate for Schneiderlin's dolly daydream approach v Williams on Rondon for their goal for example. If we've 2 DM's on the pitch why does he need to be in their half?

Plus there was never anyone inside of Walcott where there were big gaps in the old inside right channel, either too advanced or too deep.

Phil Lewis
61 Posted 22/01/2018 at 14:51:56
Watching that debacle on Saturday from the Gwladys Street stand, my mind wandered back to happier times and glorious performances. A far cry from the imposters on show before me.

As we all do, I found myself frantically making revised mental team selections drawn from every available player on the books, attempting to find a winning formula. Alas to no avail. No matter how many permutations I devised, I hit a dead end, they have all been exhausted.

It then occurred to me how much the old Central League is missed. Every other week, myself and thousands of other Evertonians, could gather at Goodison, at a much reduced entrance fee, to watch the reserves in action, against similarly strong opposition.

It was the perfect opportunity to keep tabs not only on young players coming through the ranks, but also senior players, who were perhaps out of form or returning from injury. To use the example of Klaassen for instance. I have no idea what the state of his current form is, but if he was playing at Goodison every fortnight I could make my own judgement.

Years ago it was often stated, "A spell in the reserves could do such and such a player the world of good". The fact that the facility is no longer available, to my mind, benefits no one. Reserve games gave people young and old alike, who often couldn't afford senior match prices, the chance to see their heroes in action at Goodison.

Perhaps somebody better informed than myself could explain why the system was abolished. I suspect the reason lies in finances.

Barry Williams
62 Posted 22/01/2018 at 16:33:24
Phil Lewis - (#61),

It does seem that there is a massive need for a reserve league.

Those that are too old for the U23s/not considered, such as Besic, Klassen, Sandro etc, those coming back to full fitness, Bolasie etc. would really benefit from the run-outs, as would the first team as you would have a squad of match-fit players. It ain't rocket science. You could still have the U23s (or the equivalent) too.

The Spanish leagues have B teams playing in the lower divisions, which would be a good idea as well, something I believe Moyes championed if my memory serves me correctly.

David Connor
63 Posted 22/01/2018 at 17:21:11
Anyone who blames Moshiri and Kenwright for this disaster of a season needs their head examined. The blame lies clearly at the feet of the inept players that Walsh and Koeman have brought to the club at huge expense. None of them (barring Pickford) have shown any decent form all season and most of them have been a disaster, including Sigurdsson.

I just hope that we survive relegation. If we don't, the stadium plans will be blown out of the water at the first hurdle. And most of the dross that we bought over the last 2/3 seasons will want to jump ship.

They need to start performing now before it's to late because – if we get sucked into the bottom 3 – I don't think these players will have the guts to get out of it because they seem both physically and mentally weak.

Survive and a huge overhaul in players is needed in the summer. That includes the manager and that piss-taker Steve Walsh. Does anyone else think we are being taken for a ride? Because I do and these bastards need to be kicked out of our club ASAP.

Michael Kenrick
64 Posted 23/01/2018 at 06:14:05
Phil and Barry,

The Reserves are still there – they are just called the Under-23s. And they are playing at Goodison Park tonight!!!

Just don't take the age thing too literally – they can field up to three over-age outfield players, so lots of opportunity for, eg, Bolasie to get a couple of games as he worked his way back to match fitness.

But the fringe first-team players never seem to play to maintain their fitness when not being selected. This is extremely rare and I don't know why. Maybe it is a status thing (as in "The Stiffs"). Once you've graduated, you never want to go back.

James Hughes
65 Posted 23/01/2018 at 07:00:42
I see we are only 6 points above the relegation places and could easily get dragged back in.

Also the BBC appears to be ignoring last night's defeat for the RS. They normally have the latest result pride of place.

Kim Vivian
66 Posted 23/01/2018 at 08:29:56
I know he is much disparaged on here but I would play Besic before Schneiderlin every day of the week. He simply couldn't be worse and at least has movement in him unlike the static Schneiderlin, and the times I have watched him, he seems at least to have a hunger for a goal.
Bob Parrington
67 Posted 23/01/2018 at 09:18:21
Getting back to the diet fanatics – with which I don't have an issue as elite sportsmen and women should know well enough what they need – there's something missing, isn't there?

They get paid zillions to perform and the supporters still pay for their meals on top of the zillions they get as salary! Crazy world!

Derek Thomas
68 Posted 23/01/2018 at 10:11:16
Bob @ 67; iirc, a few years ago, a rs player showed his wage slip and he was deducted ٣ per day for his lunch.
Barry Williams
69 Posted 23/01/2018 at 12:27:19
Michael Kenrick – (#64),

I am aware of the U23s and I am also aware that they can have over-aged players, but it is not quite the same as a reserve team and is seen as a tool to develop youth, not give older players reasons to maintain their match fitness, and it also means many younger players going out on loan in order to regularly play in a competitive environment with hardened/seasoned pros. Quite different really in my humble opinion.

I like the idea of a reserve team playing in the lower leagues, like they have in Spain I am led to believe! The likes of Klaassen, Sandro, Lookman, Vlasic, Niasse (to a degree), Besic, Davies, Baningime, Keane, etc. would probably benefit from regular competitive football, as would the squad as a result of this.

Young players, like Davies, rarely seem to go back into the U23s after they have been exposed to competitive first team football for an extended period of time.

Michael Kenrick
70 Posted 23/01/2018 at 17:13:50
I know exactly what you mean, Barry, and there is a puzzler in there, unless it is merely a part of the unerring pattern of change that has taken Football by the nads, squeezing and twisting with increasing pressure in every passing year.

We naturally are averse to change. It makes us uncomfortable and it's frustrating if we think things were really okay and didn't need changing at all. So what was wrong with the Central League?

When I complied this History of Everton Reserves, the big thing that jumped out was the incredible period of stability – over 60 years – that underpinned the Central League:

The composition of the Central League was relatively stable for the next 60 years, with 22 reserves teams from the north of England imitating the structure of the Football League's First Division.

As I noted by way of explanation for dropping the old but familiar Reserves tag for the more specific Under-21s (already changed to Under-23s):

It marked the beginning of a new era for the increasingly irrelevant Reserves, whose history stretches back to an age that pre-dated the formation of the Football League in 1888. The Under-21s were designed to represent the end product of the Academies being strongly promoted at Premier League clubs to address the increasing dearth of decent English players coming up through the ranks.

And yet all we see are more and more of those pesky foreigners, even coming into those Academy teams now, making it increasingly difficult for the young homegrown talent to succeed.

But none of this explains the real puzzle: why don't senior fringe players need, want or get real match practice?!!?

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