Couldn’t tackle their way out of a paper bag

by   |   20/01/2019  31 Comments  [Jump to last]

I am just watching the Fulham v Spurs game and I cannot for the life of me believe that so many so-called lesser teams have players who win tackles and physical challenges.

Watching yesterday’s excuse for a performance at St Mary's, I tried to count how many of these types of challenges we won. It was not difficult as only Zouma and, to a lesser degree, Digne won more challenges than they lost.

Yes, Gana pinched the ball away from players on several occasions but was shrugged easily off the ball by Ward-Prowse for the Saints' first goal.

Maybe everyone at Everton FC and us, the supporters, look down our collective noses at players who are known for their passion, desire and competitive drive. We have at least a couple players at the club, James McCarthy, Jonjoe Kenny and maybe Yerry Mina, who have shown some of these qualities but are either overlooked or are in and out of the side. You cannot play the possession sort of football, I think, Silva wants us to play without winning the ball and then doing something meaningful with it.

We have a long list of “quality players” who started yesterday who are supposed to be good with the ball such as Sigurdsson, Gomes, Richarlison, Bernard and Lookman but rarely win the ball. That leaves the other five outfield players to do it for them. In any level of football, this 5:5 ratio is rarely successful.

It is very hard to understand why we can see this most weekends but Silva cannot. If he doesn’t pick a team to battle Millwall next week, we will be in trouble and will only survive based on Pickford’s or someone’s brilliant individual ability.

We can only live in hope! But it is the hope that kills you!

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Reader Comments (31)

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Derek Thomas
1 Posted 21/01/2019 at 05:20:19
Is it can't or won't? — or worse, can't be arsed. I read Sarri's comments and he could have been talking about us.

One comment on that said they've done it now for 3 managers... again, this could be us.

Jim Bennings
2 Posted 21/01/2019 at 09:49:19
It was touched on a few years ago during the Martinez era that we are just “too nice”.

We lack leadership qualities all over the park: no aggression and no mouthy bastards in the team – and if you add that up it's easy to see why all we have is players that are pretty clean cut boys that don't enjoy a battle.

Look at the Moyes teams: Cahill, Carsley, Gravesen, Stubbs, Weir, Distin, Hibbert, Neville, Fellaini, even Arteta was a little narky bastard, not many sides fancied getting into a battle with those characters.

I remember even when Walter Smith was here and Richard Gough and Don Hutchison had a major falling out during a match, nearly coming to blows over a poor performance – men who were vocal and big characters.

The best teams of the 1980s had it in abundance and being able to show aggression and leadership was practically the trademark of the Joe Royle era.

I look at this Everton team and all I see is some nice pretty footballers that don't seem to want to battle for the cause.

I've always said also that I hate seeing my teams players wearing gloves, it shows that we are weak and not up for digging in, I'm not arsed how many City or Liverpool players wear them – I'm talking about Everton and I don't think it sends out the right message.

One of my favourite wins in recent years was a freezing Monday night in 2010 at Man City, all their players were wearing snoods and gloves, our lads rock up in short sleeves and we outfought them in the battle.

I look at our current crop and on that front they all disappoint me and particularly our captain Seamus Coleman.

I thought Seamus would have been vocal and a strong character but the best he offers is going over to the referee and covering his mouth for a quiet little natter.

Fans want to see passion and aggression. We want to see a siege mentality when we play the top six and we want to see the players have a damn good go.

Crystal Palace have just scored six goals away to the top two teams in the space of four weeks by getting in their faces and having a right go, not because they have better players.

Let's see some damn passion shown in that Blue shirt again!

Fran Mitchell
3 Posted 21/01/2019 at 10:42:09
2 points gained from games where we have gone behind this season.


A complete lack of fight in this team.

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:05:58
Good points being made but I think the biggest problem is the formation. It's very rare that you can just go and win the ball with a hard tackle, especially now in modern football, but you can put pressure on your opponent and the ball which can help your team-mate, go and win the ball?

I look at Liverpool, the players get close to each other, and force mistakes out of their opponents but Everton's players are too far away from each other, which means that real pressure on the ball has become non-existent, and has been replaced with a formation that is only putting pressure on ourselves.

Eddie Dunn
5 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:24:44
Jim, we do have some narks... Digne and Coleman spring to mind, but we have some whingers in Bernard and Richarlison, and some wet lettuces... Walcott.

We just need a Mark Noble (but younger) in the middle of the park and a right twat like Ings or a brute like Deeney.

Jim Bennings
6 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:52:02

I don't see it enough from Coleman and Digne. I'm talking about when we concede a goal and I'm looking to see who's busting a gut to gee up his men with some aggressive hand clapping or finger pointing. All I see is them traipsing back to the halfway line shoulders slumped and heads down.

Coleman has been a very poor skipper for me and I'm surprised by that but then again maybe that's just not in him, a bit like Baines and Jagielka.

True skippers for me are the Ratcliffe's, Watson's, Big Nev, Stubbs, Gough type characters. Leaders of men that command the respect of his troops.

I do agree with you though on the Mark Noble, Troy Deeney points; although not popular amongst fans, that's the type that would play with heart on sleeve.

Tony Marsh
7 Posted 21/01/2019 at 12:52:00
I can't really blame Silva for the squad he inherited but Marco is now showing the signs of the gormless affliction that affected all Everton managers from Moyes to Allardyce to Silva. In my opinion, Silva comes across as passionless which reflects in his team out on the pitch.

The squad at EFC does not posses any real class operators who can change a game or push the others forward. For years, EFC have been a soft touch. The jobs for the boys mentality, the signings of dead-beats, the total lack of fighting spirit has been evident since the departure of Joe Royle.

The recent appointment of Denise Barrett-Baxendale, although very politically correct, was pathetic and all too cosy for my liking. I mean, who is she? What experience does she have of running a Premier League football club?

The passion, the ambition, and the will to win has to come from the very top and filter down to the players and then through to the fans. Everton FC sadly lack real winners from the board room to the training ground. There is nothing for fans to attach themselves to. When was the last time we had a club legend or a real warrior in an Everton squad? Tim Cahill?

Marco Silva is just another piece of a long-lasting puzzle that never gets solved. Bill Kenwright has been the biggest culprit and he is still lingering around. Kenwright is just as much to blame for shocking players being signed as the managers that signed them. No end to this bullshit anytime soon as long as Kenwright is still at the club.

Martin Kulkarni
8 Posted 21/01/2019 at 13:28:47
I read on here yesterday someone say something like our next two games are must win to save out season. I disagree. It is our remaining fifteen league fixtures where we have to somehow get enough points to stay up. That's our season.

Five home games are against teams in the top six, one of the other two is against Wolves. Four of the away fixtures are against the bottom four, just like Southampton, and look how that went. Plus Palace, West Ham, Watford and Spurs. Where are we going to gain 10 or more points from those fixtures?

This isn't alarmist. There are precedents. Norwich and Wimbledon went from around 7th at the turn of the year and were relegated. It can happen.

Tom Bowers
9 Posted 21/01/2019 at 13:53:30
Some good comments here!

Coleman has indeed not been good as skipper and fails to show the leadership one needs in that role to inspire teammates. He has been an excellent fullback but since his broken leg has failed to recapture the form we expect of him and seems to be in a malaise that has beset some teammates also.

I have said for a long time that the midfield players are not strong enough and nobody has the steel or tenacity of a Peter Reid. This is where Everton are failing in almost every match but management and coaching staff don't seem to grasp it. The tackling and closing down has been poor all season and creativity is negligible..

Playing two very alike central defenders has been a mistake as neither knows where the other one is most of the time.

Gylfi Sigurdsson looks good on the ball but is not a factor going forward much these days and in fact Everton's backwards and sideways passing is worse than watching paint dry.

Silva may need more time but it's not going to happen with the current crop of ne'er-do-wells.

By the way, does anyone feel that Liverpool's Milner should get further punishment from the FA for his horrendous tackle on Zaha?

Si Cooper
10 Posted 21/01/2019 at 14:53:07
It can't happen anyway, Tom (referee had his say in punishing the two offences that received the yellow cards) but which tackle do you mean?

I thought the second was late and a yellow but no more although Zaha went about six foot in the air and writhed around as though it was a worse challenge than it was. Milner actually kind of pulled the challenge but momentum carried him into contact.

I don't like Milner, I don't like the RS, but I won't let that cloud my opinion, which is that too many tackles are now judged incorrectly because the refs rely too much on consequence and not enough on intent.

Sometimes a challenge that is merely a little late causes more pain and injury than the reckless or spiteful lunge that the intended recipient manages to largely evade.

Dave Evans
12 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:14:02
Good article, highlighting the reason why we lose so many games.

We need to start owning the central spine of midfield again. No way around it, this is going to take co-ordinated, joined-at-the-hip physicality.

Too often we surrender the centre of the park.

Andy Meighan
13 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:33:21
I'm with Martin @8.

There's tough home games looming and we all know who they are... with another two in Burnley and Wolves. I can see maybe 4 points out of all them. That's 7 games: possibly a draw with Wolves and a Bournemouth-style win against Burnley... Arsenal's defence is shit and can be got at but, going forward, they'll tear us to bits.

As for the away form... forget it. We are atrocious on our travels. I can't see us winning another away game for the rest of the season – not even Huddersfield... maybe a couple of draws. This is where Silva needs to start earning his corn because these are worrying times.

I know it can change quickly but, at the moment, the players look like they don't want to know. As for the FA Cup, forget that as well – we'll beat Millwall on Saturday but, as soon as we get someone decent, it's goodnight.

As Tony said, the whole club is riddled from top to bottom.

Jimmy Hogan
14 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:42:33
Paul Birmingham
15 Posted 21/01/2019 at 19:03:15
The players talk a good one to the press but, on the Park, this current team are more timid than Saints.

Gutless, feeble, and spineless, all the basic must-haves for any footballer disappear whether at home or away. You'd not want to be in a crisis with most of these players.

As it is now I'd get McCarthy fit and team captain for the interim, I don't see anyone else with stomach for a fight and battle for the Everton cause.

Jim Bennings
16 Posted 22/01/2019 at 12:00:36
A good point was made to me last night.

Whilst it may take time to develop a team, surely hard work doesn't take six months?

Silva expects this team to play a certain way wit the ball but you can't be remotely good at anything if you don't work hard without the ball.

Look at the great Barcelona team under Guardiola and his Man City teams that have won the league?

Look at how hard the Southampton manager has his side working within weeks of taking over.

Our team don't work hard enough and that, my friends, should not be part of a 12-month transition. Hard work should be the minimum effort required INSTANTLY.

Jerome Shields
17 Posted 22/01/2019 at 21:31:20
I agree about Lookman being poor or frankly not interested in tackling. I think that is the reason that Walcott was preferred. You would think the coach would highlight this, but it seems not.

In the case of Bernard, his stats show he has a high rate of tackles. In the Lincoln game, he was one of the best with five tackles, achieving some good turnovers.

I think that coordinated tackling is the problem, rather than individual tackling. The midfield trio are too static; they should be attacking and defending as a unit. This static problem means that they are easy to mark.

Paul Birmingham
18 Posted 22/01/2019 at 21:51:34
Jim, spot on — hard work and effort comes from the mindset of the players. This should be instilled by the manager and coaches at Everton.

It's staggering that this is the recurring theme with the recent EFC first teams for the last 6 years, since David Moyes left. At least the team played with some pride and showed guts in most of the games in that era.

It makes you wonder.

Ben Howard
19 Posted 22/01/2019 at 22:16:52
Good article and I echo the sentiments.

We are seriously lacking in the captain department. We all hoped, myself included, that Seamus would be the man to take us to that next level. Due to his own lack of form he seems to be playing within himself, hoping that things will come good, before he feels he can berate others. I say fuck that!

Passion is a different commodity to skill and if he just expected more from others and took the mantle, his own game would improve as a result.

I remember Roy Keane having poor games but still being the man that the rest of the team looked to. If Silva can't get this out of him, then he desperately needs to recruit somebody who can do this job.

Gerard Carey
20 Posted 22/01/2019 at 23:04:48
As others have said, there is not one fighter in the team. When, not if, we fall behind in a game, there is that horrible feeling of resignation that they don't have the cajones to do anything about it.

Those saying that Jimmy Mac might make the difference, well the man will need at least half-a-dozen games to get up to speed. 10 points to reach the magic 40... could be tough going with the team that we have at the moment.

Laurie Hartley
21 Posted 22/01/2019 at 03:15:48
Tom # 9 - I agree whole heartedly with this comment:

“I have said for a long time that the midfield players are not strong enough and nobody has the steel or tenacity of a Peter Reid”.

There is a very good player of Reid’s type languishing at Chelsea:

Danny Drinkwater

I think if we could get him on loan and keep Gueye that would make a huge difference to this team. He is exactly what we need.

Ben Howard
22 Posted 23/01/2019 at 13:41:15
I agree that Drinkwater would be a great addition but we couldn't loan him while we have Zouma. Take the PSG money for Gueye as he obviously wants to go, somehow get rid of Schneiderlin, and invest it in Doucouré and Drinkwater. Make Gomes's loan permanent in the summer.

Our options in central midfield would then be:

Abdoulaye Doucouré
André Gomes
Beni Baningime
Danny Drinkwater
Gylfi Sigurdsson
James McCarthy
Tom Davies

Now that would be a good midfield. A blend of youth and experience, speed and skill.

Clive Rogers
23 Posted 23/01/2019 at 15:16:41
Ben, Doucoure won't come to us, he wants Champions League football. Gomes looked a good bet for the first few games but has been awful the last few and obviously lacks pace, as does Davies. McCarthy may not be the same after his injury while reports on Beni have said he has not been good for the U23s.
Laurie Hartley
24 Posted 23/01/2019 at 21:11:00
Clive #23 – I believe Gomes is a terrific player and the drop off in his form is that he is being man-marked out of games.

Opposition teams can put two men on him because they know if we play through the midfield the ball is going to end up with him before it gets to the forward line.

We need Gomes and another midfielder who can receive and pass the ball and let Gueye do what he does. I think that player is Drinkwater. Apart from his footballing ability, I like Drinkwater for his attitude. No nonsense honest footballer.

Ben – I had forgotten about the loan rules – pity... but, if Gueye does go, spend some of the money on Drinkwater and find another destroyer.

Ben Howard
25 Posted 23/01/2019 at 21:17:18
Silva would seem to be a big draw for his ex-players so you may see him arrive, if indeed we're interested.

Gomes is suffering from fatigue after a lack of game time, it's not too surprising. He is also a victim of Idrissa not holding properly and poor positioning meaning he receives the ball with less time and space. He is still quality and will be a fine player for us.

Davies although not lightning quick is a terrier and has more than enough pace for this position in my opinion.

I hadn't heard this about Beni Baningime actually, and made my point on the little I've seen of him. That's a shame.

Dave Williams
26 Posted 23/01/2019 at 22:39:04
Tony #4, I agree. The great team of the eighties always hunted in packs and you'd often see three or four of them chasing down the opposition and then having a lot of options when they won the ball.

This team favoured by Silva does not have the aggression to win the ball and, as Tony says, the players are too far away from each other. Look at Liverpool and how good they are at running off the ball; likewise Man City and Spurs. We don't do this and our passing suffers as a result as we pass to where we think a player should be moving... which they aren't, and so the opposition get the ball and we are in trouble.

Silva desperately wants to play a certain way but he cannot do it with this squad and it is he who needs to change as the players are unlikely to. Zonal marking needs to be ditched as the defence is clearly not comfortable or adept at it. Three in midfield with two wide men is not working and we are often outplayed and outworked as wingers are not known for hard graft and winning the ball.

I agree that the likes of Deeney would be a good addition but we can only have one luxury player –at present, we have at least three. Howard Kendall allowed for one in his great team – Sheedy – and the rest worked harder than any other team around whilst Psycho was recruited to compensate for Sheedy's lack of aggression.

Silva must change if he wants to keep his job.

Don Alexander
27 Posted 23/01/2019 at 23:04:16
Laurie (#24), who knows if Drinkwater is the answer? To me, the bloke seems all too happy not playing whilst on a mega wage and we already have a squad stuffed full of characters like that, so I'd give him the swerve.
Michael Kenrick
28 Posted 24/01/2019 at 06:17:34
Ben (#25), I'm not sure Clive (#22) is right in what he says about Beni Baningime. He has hardly played for the U23s this season — just 2 games back in October, when he appeared to be regaining fitness after a bad ankle injury in the summer.

It was enough to get him a full 90 mins against Gor Mahia in early November. However, his subsequent disappearance from view suggests more injury problems to me, but there's nothing in the usual sources... and no word from the club.

I did find this from the atrocious "This is Futbol" clickbait cesspit but it means next to nothing:

"According to the Daily Mirror's Live Transfer Blog (Monday, January 14th, 9:10) the 20-year-old midfield enforcer is seeking a loan move from the Toffees after not featuring much this season. The newspaper suggests that Baningime's mostly likely destination is the Championship."

Laurie Hartley
29 Posted 24/01/2019 at 08:02:54
Don (#27),

My gut feeling is Drinkwater is not a budger but maybe we could buy Zouma and loan Drinkwater?

Kevin Prytherch
30 Posted 24/01/2019 at 08:33:58
Drinkwater blossomed in a team where he could sit deep and collect the ball from a guy who tackled everything in front of him and covered an astonishing amount of ground. He pulled the strings with a pacy front line where he could pick passes and start counter attacks.

If only we had a midfielder similar to Kante and a pacy forward line to stretch defences and open up space for the likes of Drinkwater to shine...

Wait a minute!

Ben Howard
31 Posted 24/01/2019 at 10:42:04
Thanks for that, Michael.

A loan to a Championship club could be just what he needs. But I'd rather he was part of the first-team set-up, learning from Gomes and McCarthy how to be a complete midfielder, though.

Clive Rogers
32 Posted 24/01/2019 at 13:56:36
Laurie, #24, Gomes has not been man-marked at all, he has played badly recently. He was awful against Saints and was hooked before the hour mark. His problem seems to be lack of pace. If he gets his form back, excellent. If not, he won't be signed in summer.

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