Slalom at Stoke

By Andre James 17/03/2018 16comments  |  Jump to last
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Stoke City 1 - 2 Everton

Intrigued by my trip to Stoke-on-Trent (as I’ve never been), I jumped on the train at Euston having had no breakfast and not taken any cash out.

Two hours later and I walked in the bitter cold to the stadium along the Trent. Bet 365 or the Britannia as it is signposted, is an out-of-town stadium which looms large high above the Trent but is essentially within an industrial estate. It reminded me of St Mary’s although seemed bigger inside. I don’t want this sort of stadium for Everton.

A snow blizzard was coming in and so when I reached the ground, I was eagerly awaiting some Bovril. I was to be disappointed as they don’t serve it but worse, they were only taking cash at the refreshment stalls inside so I remained very cold and hungry. I know we moan about the facilities at Goodison but I have experienced shocking service at Vicarage Road and today which the Gwladys Street End is better than.

I was a little perturbed sitting in the home end and resolved to keep my head down. The line up was sensible – keeping with the same one from last week’s win – apart from the injured Gylfi being replaced by Gana. Suddenly I fancied us to win or, at least, not lose.

The game was end to end early on and the home fans made it clear they disliked Davies and Rooney, the former who was really out of sorts, going down on several occasions before he was subbed in the second half. Carrying an injury? Stunned by the headed miss he had early on? Bothered by the snow? Because the snow came down in a heap about 20 minutes in and certainly curtailed the quality of the football. It did encourage a whole string of sliding tackles which resulted in a studs-up challenge from ex-RS Charlie Adam on Rooney and, to a resigned silence of the home fraternity, he saw a red card.

We didn’t press this advantage home for the rest of the half, were clearly missing Gylfi, Walcott and Coleman couldn’t quite punish them on the right and Bolasie was…sigh…doing his usual Nike Exhibition Player Impression down the left. Gana was also a cause for concern. His passing is too often into players surrounded by too many opponents or too short.

The second half started and just before it got underway, there was some amusement at the ground staff not clearing the snow from what would be Everton’s area so that Pickford acquired a spade of his own to try sweeping away at the areas he deemed important.

We were locked for over 20 minutes and the weather was still a problem. Tom Davies went off with a knock for DCL who ran about as enthusiastically as ever. What became clear to me was how lacking in confidence Stoke are. Secondly, you’d think we would deploy Keane on Crouch but surprisingly it was Jags and he was cutting him out every time. On multiple occasions our Captain beat him on the ground and in the air by just getting their first.

And then, just when I was thinking we are 10-men ourselves with Bolasie involved, we pushed and pulled at them long enough for Tosun to finish. The away end leapt up to celebrate about three times before I could tell a goal had been scored.

But now we did what we have been doing a lot under Allardyce. Drop deep and pass around in our own half before we eventually lose possession and are attacked. We conceded a host of free kicks which Stoke launched long. To be fair Jags conceded one of them and got a yellow card but from his body shape running to the right side of the pitch which was where all the snow lay, I think he slipped and that’s why the challenge was so clumsy. Indeed, Walcott and Coleman manfully soldiered on down the right but most of our attacks were happening down the much cleaner, green left.

They scored after we had kept them out of several chances and it was galling. Their tails were up and they continually aimed for Crouch. But finally the extra man and additional space paid off as we over loaded them again with Tosun getting a bullet header.

Given many of the natives had walked out after our first, now was the time for silence and mass exodus. They’re a rowdy bunch this lot but I think they know they’re going down.

As for us, I will have to caveat a lot of what I saw with the harsh conditions. It was like going back in time.

Pickford – didn’t have much to do, coped with some high balls, struggled with conditions, nice bit of ground keeping – 6.

Coleman – always on it, chasing down and intercepting, twisting and turning – 7.

Keane – is improving again after the blunder at Burnley, tidy and a shot which led to a goal in the next sequence – 7.

Jagielka – I read fans saying he needs to go in the summer. Not for me – 8.

Baines – the Bainlassie combo is in it’s early days. But Baines was rock solid and skilful enough to evade pressing – 7.

Gana – he did some good sweeping up but sometimes he caused the problem with his passing. For me we should give Beni game time – 5.

Davies – Gana doesn’t help him as the two continually link (or don’t) but this was one to forget for Tom. However, the Stoke back line did foul him a lot in the early part of the match – 5.

Rooney – ticked over, seemed to enjoy the conditions and adapted to them – 7.

Bolasie – so many attacks break down with him and Tom. I can forgive Tom because he’s often in a crowded part of the pitch. Bolasie has space and time but his control lets him down – 5.

Walcott – looked like he’d hurt them but given his section of the pitch was the worst, he was restricted. Plus there were the usual sneaky fouls on him. Too many flat balls played to him which made him have to turn back – 6.

Tosun – scored two, better first or second touches could have meant a hat trick but still – 8.

Calvert-Lewin – energetic as usual but this kid could do with some goals to get going - 6.

Schneiderlin – idiotic sub by the manager at it brought us deeper – 4.

Holgate – presumably brought on to challenge in the air once the previous sub made us vulnerable to deep defending – I like the lad, he wasn’t on long enough to rate.


Reader Comments (16)

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Andy McNabb
1 Posted 18/03/2018 at 05:34:29
Thanks for your report, Andre. Must admit, found it difficult to make out what was going on when I watched the 5 min highlights on the iPad.

How bad does it have to be before the orange ball is used? Loved that as a kid. As you say – a bit like going back in time.

Derek Thomas
2 Posted 18/03/2018 at 05:47:38
Bainlassie? Lassie go home... as you say, Nike Exhibition Player – half-man, half-step-over. 㿈M down the drain to keep Lukaku happy.
Brian Porter
3 Posted 18/03/2018 at 06:27:24
For me, the defining moment of the game and the final proof that Allardyce is unsuitable to lead us forward was when he brought on Schneiderlin despite knowing the man's total unpopularity with the fans. Once again, he was going to sit back and hang on, so took off our most creative player and thus effectively made it 10 v 10 for the rest of the match.

Great performance from Tosun, also making Sam look an idiot. Doesn't like the cold? He was brought up in bloody Germany, you twat, where it gets colder than here in winter.

I just wish we could get rid of the fat fraudster right now and see out the season under, say Usworth and Rooney, then get a real manager in to oversee the close season and begin to build his own squad and clear out the dross, both on and off the field.

Paul Kennedy
4 Posted 18/03/2018 at 10:13:27
A win is a win. I'll take it any day. Tough conditions, difficult ground to get anything from, so I'm happy enough.

Now we have got 40 points, would this be a good time to say, "Thanks, Sam, but we need to be thinking towards next season and you are not the man to take us forward."?

Let's get rid of him and be preemptive instead of reactive for once.

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 18/03/2018 at 10:42:42
My player ratings

Pickford – I thought he was poor on the goal; he seems since that Van Dijk error in the FA Cup derby in January to have lost a bit of confidence coming for crosses and set-pieces. 5

Jagielka – Fairly solid and looked competent against a limited Stoke attack. 7

Keane – Just read Jagielka. 7

Baines – Did reasonably well, brings the balance the that was lacking a month ago. 6

Coleman – Was okay without really getting in full throttle that we know he can; played the game simple. 6

Gana Gueye – Was the same as always, okaying at doing what he does but his passing is at times so poor but, against a 10-man Stoke team with the loss of the niggling of Adam, the game became easier. 6

Rooney – Played okay, seems so deep these days that any hopes of him adding to his goal tally are remote now. He lost the ball a bit but I still feel he's the most likely by a million miles from the central midfield options to make something happen. 6

Davies – I believe it is now time to give him time out after what's proved a very hard second season for him. Games pass him by with his touch too heavy and the ball often getting away from him. He doesn't really seem to have much impact in either box either. Time to see Klaassen for a run out. 4

Bolasie – Frustrating player. Can clearly make things happen as he's had a direct hand in goals this week and last; has the ability to put great crosses in but doesn't do it enough, preferring to do that stupid drag-over skill which never ever comes off – so why do it? Has to offer more in my opinion. 5

Walcott – At times did okay, looked a threat when running and good cross for Tosun's second goal but again, I think there's more to come from a clearly very good player. 7

Tosun – A goal scorer, a natural goal scorer much like Lukaku. I don't give a shit about other aspects of his game as long as he scores goals and he is the one forward at Everton that looks like scoring comes naturally to him. 8

Subs: Schneiderlin – wasn't on long enough; Holgate – ditto.

Calvert-Lewin – Way too raw. Very greedy when has the opportunity to pass to players better positioned to score. Hits a ball very very weakly (have we ever seen him cleanly striker a ball yet?) and his touch needs working on. Personally, I think a good spell in the Championship on loan next term would act as a sufficient learning curve to see how he develops.

James Stewart
6 Posted 18/03/2018 at 10:56:21
@5 spot on with those ratings.
Graham Holliday
7 Posted 18/03/2018 at 12:24:33
Was Davies that bad? I know he can be loose in possession at times but he was really involved yesterday and,even if he's having an off day with the ball at his feet, he never hides.

He's a 19-year-old number 8 being played as a number 10 in a side lacking cohesion in its play.

Okay, he wasn't amazing but I wasn't overly disappointed by him before he was subbed off (with what looked like concussion). I'd be interested to know if others saw it the same way – no harm in taking him out for a game or two if we want Klaassen or Baningime to get game time but I don't think he's doing too badly all things considered.

Hopefully next season he'll really kick on.

Andrew James
8 Posted 18/03/2018 at 12:47:30
Graham,

re: Tom, in the first half he was often the furthest forward but got caught offside and kicked a lot. He then got roundly booed every time he touched the ball.

I was whispering to myself that "FFS, opposition fans booing a 19-year-old – classy" and I think it got to him. It didn't help when Gana shovelled the ball to him rather than go diagonal to Walcott. Tom was surrounded by 4 players and Walcott 1.

Problem is, I think he should play and if we had a Palace at home coming, I'd put him in. But our next couple of games, while at home, could get ugly. And I'm talking about the goals conceded, not Big Sam. They're not going to help Tom's confidence and neither match is one to re-introduce Davy Klaassen into.

John Barnes
9 Posted 18/03/2018 at 13:02:47
Graham,

Yes, Tom Davies was that bad. It looks like he's just not up to the pace of the game, doesn't have the required touch, or pace to cope. Hope I'm wrong and it is just a second season thing cos his temperament is 100%.

He's not alone in struggling in midfield though – it's a very weak part of the team.

Andrew Clare
10 Posted 18/03/2018 at 13:20:06
Very poor performance against a very poor team playing with ten men.

I was delighted with the win but that's all. I fear we will get thrashed in the next two games, but I suppose that's okay because they are games we are expected to lose!

Thinking like that is the reason we are where we are. Moshiri must have got that line from Kenwright – the overseer of the worst period in Everton's history.

Pete Clarke
11 Posted 18/03/2018 at 13:32:57
I try to look at Tom's overall game and I think he is still better than the experienced Gana and Schneiderlin.

He took an elbow in the head from the keeper yesterday but tell me the last time you saw any of our central midfielders near the opposition goal. He generally uses the ball intelligently and never gives up so I love him for that.

If we as a club aspire to challenge at the top of this league in the future then Tom's current form would not cut it and neither would most of the other players form. Tom though has a massive advantage on the others and that's his age. He is going through vital experience right now and I think he could be our leader in a couple of years.

Paul Tran
12 Posted 18/03/2018 at 13:48:45
I love Tom's drive and enthusiasm but his passing and first touch have gone right off the boil. I think he needs a break.

Again, the passing was shocking yesterday. I can put up with Rooney playing the chancy passes; that's creativity. It's the slow, telegraphed passes that are often underhit, just behind the man or plain inaccurate.

Defensively we are much better with Jags, Baines (who actually looks fit again) and Seamus. I thought Keane looked more solid with a solid partner.

Pickford half-came for a ball again. Got to be all or nothing. That was a poor error against a team that didn't look like scoring.

A good day yesterday. The poor mindset showing that Allardyce's days should be numbered and we still got the three points.

On the live forum, Darren Hind talked about the two teams being the ugly sisters. They were. We got a Cinderella, Darren – his golden slippers and head got both our goals. I don't like Sam, but he's got us a good one in Cenk.

John Maxwell
13 Posted 19/03/2018 at 02:02:09
Calvert-Lewin and Davies should be loaned out, Calvert-Lewin in particular.I can see a bright future for him, but he needs games time in his preferred position (centre-forward), to get some goals... then come back with more confidence.

Davies runs a lot but hardly creates anything.

Vince Furnier
14 Posted 19/03/2018 at 13:08:30
I don't understand anybody who goes out without cash in his pocket.
Martin Nicholls
15 Posted 19/03/2018 at 13:24:04
Vince (#14) – I went for a pint with a few old mates last Tuesday afternoon and one of them turned up with no cash! I didn't understand that but am hoping to have my 㾶 loan repaid when I next see him in a few months time!
Jack Convery
17 Posted 18/03/2018 at 18:52:55
Are Taxi Drivers Allowed to Issue P45s ?

Good report - cheers.

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