Allardyce content with victory but sees room for improvement

Wednesday, 13 December, 2017 47comments  |  Jump to most recent

Sam Allardyce reflected with satisfaction on Everton's fourth win in five games in all competitions and their first away from home following the 1-0 victory over Newcastle United but wants more when his side have the ball.

Wayne Rooney scored a typical poacher's goal, reacting quicker than anyone to prod home the loose ball after Karl Darlow had spilled Aaron Lennon's 27th-minute header.

And a stubborn defensive stand against the Magpies' diminishing attacking efforts, coupled with some fortune as Mark Ritchie and Mikel Merino each saw shots hammer back off the post in the first half, helped the Blues hold on to register three more important points.

“We came here to open Newcastle up whenever we could and exploit their defensive weaknesses which have been apparent over the last six games,” Allardyce told evertontv's Darren Griffiths afterwards.

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“They've lost all six so there wasn't a lot of confidence there so if we got at the back line as often and as quickly as we possibly could then there would be a chance for us to score today. Gratefully that chance came to us first and we could get in the lead.

“We had a bit of a slow start as I think there was a bit of tiredness left in the legs from the effort on Sunday. Newcastle had the extra day to recover and they made a lot of changes to the team as well so they had fresher legs.

“But our lads with their experience and as a defensive unit limited Newcastle, shut the crowd up, kept them quiet and Wayne Rooney pops up with a goal. That experience and reading of the situation… it was only Wayne who decided for himself that he would just take the chance to run in in case the ‘keeper spilled it. He did and he put it in the back iof the n

“After that, Gylfi would be a little bit disappointed he didn't score tonight which is good news. He's getting in those areas and we all know how good he is at scoring normally.

“And young Dom (Calvert-Lewin) up front is getting better. He seems to cope with the pressure and he held it up well.

“So, all in all, I think the overall performance in possession could have been better but the defending most of the time was very, very good. And some of our play when we did play it right was a bit more encouraging and is something more to on from going forward to [the] Swansea [game].”

Allardyce was asked about the impressive form of Mason Holgate who came into the side in his natural position at centre-half for the home game against West Ham and has kept his place despite both Michael Keane and Phil Jagielka recovering from injury in the interim.

The manager was fulsome of his praise of the entire rearguard, and not just in tonight's match.

“Well apart from being too good looking to be a centre half, I'm very, very pleased [with how he's been performing],” Allardyce quipped about Holgate.

“I think the young man, along with Ashley Williams, Jonjoe Kenny and [Cuco] Martina have given us a solid defensive base with Jordan Pickford to go on and win the game.

“With these lads defending really, really well, nobody seems to be able to get through [the back four] or around it so I'm really pleased with that. It gives the creative lads more opportunity to get the ball and create and move the ball and try to get more goals.”


Reader Comments (47)

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Gordon White
1 Posted 14/12/2017 at 07:51:31
I'm relieved we got a win. But my god, it was boring. We didn't need to just be hanging on all the time and hoofing the ball out of defence. I hope we're not going to be grinding out draws and 1- 0 wins all the time.
Russ Quinlan
2 Posted 14/12/2017 at 08:01:51
Given the way we were playing a month ago and the points and goals we were losing, I'm not bothered how we play at the moment. We will improve in general play and I'm looking forward to seeing who comes in (and goes!) in January.

At least we are getting a solid base to build on; fancy footie can come once we have the players. Confidence and organisation to do it, that will come with time.

Dermot Byrne
3 Posted 14/12/2017 at 08:12:22
What I like is that he also is implying that getting solid at the back is the start not the end. Think we have a coaching set up that may makes us better going forward with a new striker and Coleman and Bolasie back. Room for optimism? Main thing over Xmas is grind out points.
Ajay Gopal
4 Posted 14/12/2017 at 08:31:31
Not having a go at Allardyce, but he got lucky that Unsy stumbled on the right Back 4 combination in his last match in charge. Sam has been smart to continue with that and, of course, combined it with some good coaching and instilled some self belief in the side. When Baines, Bolasie, and Barkley return from injury, would go with a 4-3-3:

Kenny Holgate Williams Baines
Rooney Gueye Sigurdsson
Bolasie Calvert-Lewin Barkley

With: Schneiderlin, Jagielks, Vlasic, Lennon, Davies, Lookman as subs.

Things are looking up – we just need a world class striker and a left-back (Baines replacement) in January and we can look forward to significant improvements in the run-in to the end of season. Would also get rid of Mirallas, Besic, Schneiderlin (or McCarthy if he is still struggling for fitness). Keep Klaassen and Sandro and give them occasional opportunities.

James Ebden
5 Posted 14/12/2017 at 09:28:22
It makes me laugh – people keep saying "when Barkley's back".

He will never play for us again. Some fans need to wake up.

Paul Goodchild
6 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:00:54
Who knows, James? Tottenham and Chelsea may bide their time until the summer when one of them can get him on a free transfer, so he may play again for Everton until then.
Tony Everan
7 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:24:34
It is nothing short of amazing the performances our back four are putting in. Holgate has looked a different player now he is in his natural position.

Kenny reminds me of a right back version of a young Stuart Pearce. His commitment and controlled aggression have been an absolute joy to watch. I reckon a partly a catalyst to our improvement.

Martina and Williams deserve credit where it is due.

The midfield have helped the back 4, Rooney's creativity and Calvert-Lewin's tireless performances are getting us points.

I am hoping that more composure on the ball in possession comes next. The wins will have given the lads more confidence. I expect a good performance on Monday night.

James Flynn
8 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:26:39
I would guess any club will wait to see how Barkley plays the rest of the season. Since he's playing out his contract, it's not like there's a rush.

Saw the length of the scar over his hammy. That had to be some major surgery on his hamstring if they had to peal open the back of his leg like that.

Curious to see how long it will take him to get back up to full-game fitness.

John Keating
9 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:45:16
So, 5 days before Swansea. We really don't have the squad just now to dramatically change the way we play. Why change the team for changes sake?

If someone has an injury from last night then fair enough, or if Allardyce sees someone doing better against a Swansea weakness, then also fair enough but if possible I would stick with those who are slowly getting us out the mire.

Will Mabon
10 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:48:41
James @ 5 - laugh at Allardyce too; he's mentioned wanting Barkley's return, several times.

You may prove right ultimately, but it's better to have a manager stating he wants him, as opposed to the one that publicly tried to push him out... whatever the eventual outcome.

Will Mabon
11 Posted 14/12/2017 at 10:55:19
John, joyless as some of the play has/could be, you're right. "Strange" how the opposite of what Koeman did, i.e his rash, widescale changes, has produced the opposite effect in terms of results at least. Not that hard to comprehend, it seems to me.

I hope we start to evolve, but steadily and realistically.

Kase Chow
12 Posted 14/12/2017 at 11:03:59
Will (#11),

Spot on. Good to hear some sense being spoken

Big Sam has only been in for a few weeks – it will take time to alter the style of play permanently. But for now he's battened down the hatches and got results

Can't believe anyone criticising that...

Eddie Dunn
13 Posted 14/12/2017 at 11:34:02
The other thing that Sam has done is to keep the team settled. Many of the earlier problems for Koeman revolved around the 9 new faces to be accommodated. Even Sam mentioned how many games the players have played with our early Europa League start.

Step by step, we are improving and after January we may well see some more joined-up play. Until then, I am happy to see us climb out of the mire.

John G Davies
14 Posted 14/12/2017 at 11:35:14
John 9,

I agree same again v Swansea.

Will, 11,

Did you not think we knocked it around well in stages last night?
Passages of play when we kept possession for 20-25 passes. All on the floor.


Dead right mate but don't hold your breath on the Sam critics maintaining the stick.

John Davies
15 Posted 14/12/2017 at 11:52:05
Steady as she goes, skipper. At least we now seem to have a base to build on. No, it's not exciting at present but it's a damn sight better than shipping goals for fun.

Let's see what January brings and give Big Sam the chance to show us what he can do. He has the players at his disposal to play some expansive football if he can motivate them.

If not, then ship them out because he will be the third manager they have not responded to. That says the players are at fault and cannot be fixed.

A top striker, left back and another centre back on the shopping list please. Rooney and Sigurdsson are slowly coming along nicely. A fit Seamus and Bolasie and we might start enjoying things again.


Jay Wood
16 Posted 14/12/2017 at 12:10:07
Ajay @ 4.

"...Allardyce got lucky that Unsy stumbled on the right Back 4 combination in his last match in charge."

Whilst I don't agree with Sam being credited with the 4-0 win over der 'ammers – that was David Unsworth's win – as some do, including Allardyce himself, your statement doesn't really ring true.

In the previous game, the 4-1 mauling at Southampton, Baines and Keane went off injured and subsequently, Jags was also added to the injury list before playing West Ham.

Basically, Unsworth had no other options available to him but to draft in Martina and Holgate (neither of whom made as much as the sub's bench against the Saints), and promote Williams who was a sub.

Our lack of cover at left back is well recognized. The injuries left us with no alternatives at centre back.

This was highlighted all the more so in the Europa League game in Cyprus when Allardyce prudently sent a makeshift team with a back four of Charsley, Besic, Feeney and Baningime – 3 kids and only one of them an out and out defender.

Such limited options available makes the organization and resilience that the whole team – not just the back 4 – is now displaying all the more credible.

Michael Lynch
17 Posted 14/12/2017 at 12:34:54
John G @14

I thought we knocked it around well at times – probably some of the best passages of play I've seen from us this season. It wasn't anything particularly clever, just quick passing and movement, with some changes in tempo. It will take time to turn that into something that gets us on our feet cheering, but it's a start.

Eddie Dunn
18 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:01:12
Jay. a very sensible post.
David Pearl
19 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:06:58
I didn't think Gana and Schneiderlin could play together... however, thinking back Gana was playing well before Schneiderlin arrived. When he then returned from ACON his position changed with Schneiderlin in a deeper role, Koeman wanting him to close down further up. This had a negative affect on Gana's game, and Schneiderlin also. Koeman out! Glad to see Gana playing well again. He had a few games as boss in the middle and got his form back.

Unsy leaving out Rooney wasn't clever either. We should be better with the ball and be capable of making lots more chances with Rooney and Sigurdsson in the team... not that I've seen much from our record signing. Anyway, I've complete faith that Sam will be realising what we need and buy better that the last pillock we had (though I though that was the job of Walsh). I'd take Mhkitarian off the Mancs, Bertrand or Shaw, and have a go at Giroud on loan. Giz a job Bill

Jamie Evans
20 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:08:30
6 more wins needed and we are safe. Then we can appoint our next Manager. In the meantime, let us all remember why our current manager is here – to keep us up.

He will do this have no doubt, but anything more is wishful thinking. If we have learned anything from last time, the recruitment process should already be underway. Paulo Fonseca perhaps?

Altogether now, 'We found love in a hopeless place.'

Bryan Houghton
21 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:21:27
A big plus for me has been Ashley Williams re-discovering his form. He's lost some (most) of his pace, but none of his aggression (as we have recently seen to good, and not so good results). He is an old school warrior of a centre half, and a natural leader, and with young legs next to him – Holgate and Kenny currently, he really seems to be enjoying his game again.

His confidence is back up, I haven't seen him bury his head under his shirt collar in self disgust for 3-4 games now (every game under Koeman). I think he and Sam A are made for each other. His rediscovered form will also take a lot of the pressure of Micheal Keane, and allow him to develop out of the limelight for a bit – which I think he was crying out for, early season.

Jay Harris
22 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:25:03

I don't see the need to knock Allardyce and wish some of our supporters would see sense.

Koeman and Martinez could not organize this bunch to stop shipping goals yet within a few days and weeks the organization and discipline has been transformed even with a back 4 of arguably second choice players.

Our ability to trouble opposition keepers has been an issue for years even with Lukaku on board so lets give Sam some time to fix that problem too eh?

Adam Carey
23 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:43:55
A left-back and centre-forward yes, but do we really need another centre back when Holgate is coming along so well? We still have Browning and Galloway out on loan as well for next season.

Also, Coleman can ease his way back due to Kenny getting better each game. It will be interesting to see how Bolasie, Lennon and Kenny get on raiding down the right side.

Under Big Sam, we are never going to play like Man City but Mourinho isn't exactly playing the Man Utd way these days but they are happy to be second and still (just about) in the chase for the title.

I will take being tight at the back, bossing teams into mistakes, and punishing them with a quick forward line.

Matthew Williams
24 Posted 14/12/2017 at 15:50:44
It seems to me we just have to keep it tight as in our last four league games & add in our performance away in Cyprus for the right blend to our play.

Most fans I believe would be happy with that till season's end.

Steve Ferns
25 Posted 14/12/2017 at 16:12:38
Jay Wood #16, Unsworth loves Holgate. He only didn’t play him because of injury. Once Holgate was fit he was in the side.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
26 Posted 14/12/2017 at 16:13:46
Seamus is expecting to be back by mid to late January.

Will he get his place back? Or do we turn him into a latter day Andy Hinchcliffe? Full back turned midfield winger providing solidity on one flank. Won't be as good with a dead ball but more likely to score

Darren Hind
27 Posted 14/12/2017 at 16:31:10
Steve @ 25

Spot on. As soon as Holgate was fit, he was in

Jay Wood
28 Posted 14/12/2017 at 16:53:14
Steve @ 25,

Don't quite know why you address me re: Holgate and Unsworth, but two things you perhaps need to consider:

1) when was Holgate injured? I don't recall any reference of him being listed as injured and a deep internet search returns no reference to him being injured. Not doubting your claim, just looking for confirmation that this was the case.

2) Unsworth oversaw 8 games in total as caretaker manager. In 3 of his first 4 games, Mason was an unused sub – at Chelsea, Leicester and home to Watford. Away to Lyon he was paired with Williams at CB. The overall selection was criticised by many because in a must-win game, Unsworth went with an under strength team, including no out and out forward in the first half. So Mason was definitely fit and available for those 4 games and Unsworth didn't love him enough to use him at all in 75% of them.

He was then not selected at all for the next 3 games against Palace, Atalanta and Southampton. If what you say is true, I presume this is when he was (possibly) injured.

He was selected for the 4-0 beating of West Ham because, basically, there were no other alternatives: Jagielka, Keane and Funes Mori, the recognized 1st team centre-backs, were all injured.

I like Mason Holgate. Like many of our young guns I believe he has the potential to have a very good career and at centre back.

But it was circumstances, not 'man-love' between player and interim manager, that has given Mason his opportunity to stake a regular starting spot.

Darren Hind
29 Posted 14/12/2017 at 17:14:25
You don't have to leave these pages to find a report of Holgate being unfit... There's plenty more elsewhere too.
John G Davies
30 Posted 14/12/2017 at 17:22:46
Him being left out for 75% of the games he was available for doesn't fit in with the story Jay.

Good player BTW.

Dave Older
31 Posted 14/12/2017 at 18:24:19
Fair play to Sam, he is grinding out results for us, which is just what we need right now. I like his interviews and his whole demeanour to be honest. At least he doesn't spout BS like Martinez and Koeman did. He has given the squad a lift and hopefully we will smash Swansea on Monday. COYB
Jay Wood
32 Posted 14/12/2017 at 18:52:07
The only reference this season I have found to Holgate being unfit is this one, from the club site:


On 29 August both Pickford and Holgate (a minor ankle injury) were withdrawn from their respective England squads.

It evidently wasn't a major injury as Holgate continued to be selected by Koeman in the starting XI or on the subs' bench for the next 10 Everton fixtures, apart from Koeman's final game in charge, the 5-2 home thumping by Arsenal.

Thereafter, he was selected by Unsworth (and now Allardyce) as I posted previously.

Not saying he wasn't injured as claimed by others. Just saying I do not recall any such notification, that I haven't found any story about him being injured on Unsworth's or Allardyce's watch and those saying he was have yet to share a link confirming their claims.

Sean Callaghan
33 Posted 14/12/2017 at 19:09:15
My take on Holgate's absence was that he was frozen out for a few games to teach him not to be seen grinning like a Cheshire cat when we'd just been thumped at home.

Good management (by Unsie) if that was, in fact, the case: since he's come back into the side he's been quietly getting on with things in a very professional manner.

Jamie Evans
35 Posted 14/12/2017 at 19:12:03
Not knocking him Jay 22, credit where credit is due, it's all about points at the moment, I get that. I suppose I'm just trying to think of the bigger picture.

Still taking some getting used to having him as our Manager and if I'm being 100% honest, I can't see this being anything more than a short-term appointment.

I do love a clean sheet though.

Darren Hind
36 Posted 14/12/2017 at 19:36:06
I have liked Holgate since I first saw him shortly after he signed. I posted on here that I thought he and Stones would eventually become a brilliant footballing pairing.

Unfortunately that's only likely to happen if Pep comes calling... or on international duty .

John Daley
37 Posted 14/12/2017 at 19:39:50
Jay @32,

Ahead of the Atalanta game, Unsworth stated "Mason is recovering from a groin injury".

Paul Tran
40 Posted 14/12/2017 at 20:03:58
Holgate's an absolute gem, Darren. Had one bad game at Stoke and Koeman binned him, terrible way to treat a young player.

Like the other players, he will benefit from a manager that is tactically sound and gives clear, simple instructions.

We caught his post-match interview on the news last Sunday. Straightaway, my (Dutch) wife said, 'Oh, you've got a manager that speaks English now?'

Players want simple, clear instructions. I think they're getting that now.

David Graves
41 Posted 14/12/2017 at 20:40:33
Paul I don't think Holgate even played against Stoke. In fact I don't think Koeman picked him for a league game did he? Unsworth did and he's certainly playing with more confidence under Sam.
John G Davies
42 Posted 14/12/2017 at 20:45:03
What about the games he was fit and Rhino put him on the bench Darren? 3 out of the 4 games he was available under Unsy he didn't start. Why was that?

Scott Bosworth
43 Posted 14/12/2017 at 21:11:04
Ah jeez, folks. Give it a rest- – no one knows what Unsy was truly thinking, and it's clear at this point that no amount of internet searching is going to convince. Let's just all agree that Holgate is doing well at present and move on.
Dave Older
44 Posted 14/12/2017 at 21:23:11
It is nice to see Holgate being played in his preferred role of centre back. Why he was played out of position previously is beyond me. It is not fair on a young lad to be played out of position. We have some good youngsters and Sam seems to be getting the best out of them.
Gordon White
45 Posted 14/12/2017 at 21:23:44
I'm sure everyone is relieved that Sam Allardyce has turned things around and we are now hard to beat again. So hats off to him. And thank you.

The point I was trying to make was – given our situation, the tactics at Liverpool were spot on. However, against certain teams, like Newcastle, in their current rut, we could have offered a bit more threat on the counter without necessarily taking undue risks and throwing caution to the wind.

Furthermore, we actually increase the pressure by simply hoofing balls out rather than trying to retain possession. We also started to defend deeper and allowed attacking players far too much space in shooting positions, hence the post being rattled twice.

Having said all of this, I'm far happier now than after the Southampton game. So credit were credit's due.

Jay Wood
46 Posted 14/12/2017 at 00:13:07
John @ 37.

Thank you for that. I'll take your word for it.

As I say, I never heard or read anything about an injury to Mason and various Google searches also drew a blank, so not a widely reported story as some claim (and were unable or unwilling to reference).

Still, given that Unsworth wasn't shy in restoring and retaining the likes of Kenny, Davies and Calvert-Lewin in the side, as well as giving Baningime a turn, it is curious that a fully fit Mason Holgate was not selected 'as soon as he was fit' as a couple of posters are trying to claim.

Eric Myles
47 Posted 15/12/2017 at 00:41:31


Michael Kenrick
49 Posted 15/12/2017 at 06:04:55
Jay, if it's worth anything, I try to track all games missed due to injury, and my spreadsheet shows those three games he was out injured.
Alan J Thompson
53 Posted 15/12/2017 at 09:27:17
May be it was the injury that Vlasic's sister had.
Hugh Jenkins
60 Posted 15/12/2017 at 22:30:23
Adam (#23) – In addition to the ones named by you, we also have Funes Mori to come back, after injury. A naturally left-sided player and full international.

Many have expressed concern about his performances, but given the success the current coaching team seem to be having, who is to say that they can't turn Funes Mori's natural talent into a long-serving, more than competent left centre-back for the foreseeable future?

Sam Allardyce will certainly like him because of his potential goal threat from set pieces.

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