It's Still There If They Want It

Just when you think you’re done with them, they pull you back in, eh? Thanks to one more of those dogged and disciplined performances away from home, Everton are firmly back in the hunt for Europe

Lyndon Lloyd 09/05/2021 70comments  |  Jump to last
West Ham 0 - 1 Everton

Just when you think you’re done with them, they pull you back in, eh?

With another miserable home defeat, this time to Aston Villa last week, Everton appeared to have thrown away their chances of qualifying for Europe this season but, thanks to Leeds United’s win over Tottenham and one more dogged and disciplined performance away from home, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are firmly back in the hunt.

Indeed, win on the road for a club record-tying 12th time on Thursday in the reverse fixture against Villa and the Toffees will be joint-fifth, level on points with West Ham after beating David Moyes’s side in a genuine “six-pointer” at the London Stadium this afternoon.

While the formula for success at an empty Goodison Park continues to elude Ancelotti to a worrying degree, the Italian’s tactics have proved to be suited to these unusual supporter-less away days and another single-goal victory not only keeps the target of Europa League qualification alive, it’s put the Europa Conference League at the least in Everton’s hands with four matches to play.

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Not for the first time this season, the goalscoring hero was Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a very well-taken goal midway through the first half but the three points owed just as much to superb battling displays by Allan, Tom Davies and Seamus Coleman in midfield and a fine defensive stand by all of the four centre-halves who were needed to see the job through.

Yerry Mina had been a prime bulwark against the muscular presence of Michail Antonio before he was forced off with a recurrence of his persistent thigh issue with an hour or so gone but Mason Holgate responded well to having been dropped back to the bench by matching the stellar efforts of Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey in a three-man defensive unit.

Given that they started the day still with aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League, West Ham were disappointing and they never looked likely to repeat the feat they managed at Burnley last weekend by coming back from a goal down to win. That was all largely down to Everton, however, who remained compact and determined, gave away very little in the air against a side known for their aerial prowess and frustrated their hosts almost from start to finish, with Said Benrahma’s bad miss in the first half and Vladimir Coufal’s shot off the post in the second the only times the Toffees’ rearguard was breached.

Indeed, Moyes’s complaints afterwards that his side didn’t deserve to lose rang a little hollow seeing as the visitors scored the game’s only goal, forced three good saves from Lukas Fabianski and hit the woodwork themselves late on. The Hammers ended the match having had 69% of the ball but no shots on target and, as Ancelotti remarked afterwards, “possession doesn’t mean that you score goals”.

That didn’t mean that that the second half, in which the Toffees displayed very little interest in keeping the ball for more than a few seconds (apart, perhaps for Jordan Pickford, who held it for 19 seconds in one instance before launching it forward once more) was an easy watch from the Everton perspective. Though Pickford’s goal was rarely threatened, the fear that one of West Ham’s set-pieces might pay off or a shot might deflect in off someone’s backside was ever present as players in blue displayed a maddening inability to keep possession, particularly in the closing stages.

All’s well that ends well, though, and it ended well thanks to Calvert-Lewin and a brilliant assist from Ben Godfrey. The three-man central-defensive unit afforded the young defender a bit more license to push forward with the ball and he did so to great effect in the 24th minute with a perfectly-weighted pass between the Hammers’ defensive line. Calvert-Lewin eased onto the ball as he accelerated away from his marker and beat Fabianski with a tidy finish into the far corner of the net to hand Everton the lead.

Fabianski then had to be alert to push Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick over his bar in the 27th minute and then to deny Richarlison after the Brazilian had latched onto Calvert-Lewin’s flick-on and struck a powerful shot that the Pole beat away.

The hosts were effectively shut down in the first half but they should have levelled six minutes before the break when Benrahma arrived unmarked at the back post to meet Pablo Fornals’ cross but, thankfully, he steered his header off target.

Everton’s offensive production waned in the second half as Richarlison’s decision-making and curious hesitancy to lay the ball off to his strike partner saw promising situations evaporate. The Brazilian worked tirelessly for the team, had caused West Ham all kinds of problems picking up Calvert-Lewin flick-ons in the first half but he was found wanting going forward in the second half before sulking off the pitch seven minutes from the end when he was replaced by King.

The Blues increasingly dropped off in general to contain West Ham’s search for an equaliser, one that almost came to fruition with an hour gone when Coufal’s side-foot shot searching out the far corner came back off the post with Pickford beaten and Jared Bowen couldn’t turn the loose ball over the line from close range.

Coleman, who epitomised the fighting spirit that was required on the day, was denied a goal in the 76th minute by an excellent saving tackle by Jesse Lingard and King came within an inch or so of notching his first Everton goal within a minute of coming on for Richarlison when he rose to meet Calvert-Lewin’s chip but couldn’t plant his header inside the post before it bounced across goal to Fabianski.

All in all, it was another obdurate away display, the kind of professional job that, ironically enough, epitomised Everton under Moyes when they finished fourth in 2005 and that will have carried the Toffees into Europe if they do, indeed, finish in the top seven come the 23rd of May. The return of Abdoulaye Doucouré — he wasn’t needed today and remained on the bench as Fabian Delph was introduced instead for Gylfi Sigurdsson late on — and, potentially, some minutes for James Rodriguez could restore that elusive first-choice XI at just the right moment to conquer the Everton’s mystifying Goodison Blues.

One game at a time, though. Beat Villa first and then worry about the permutations as they pertain to Europe…

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Paul Birmingham
1 Posted 09/05/2021 at 23:38:05
Good summary, Lyndon.

Now to beat Villa. This for me is as important as the 1984 Milk Cup battle-semi in context of progress and building a plan to progress the club.

I'm confident Everton can beat Villa this Thursday night.

John Raftery
2 Posted 09/05/2021 at 00:00:33
Less is more. This was yet another game which demonstrated our team play more effectively with less possession. We ought to have made life easier in the second half by snapping up one of the opportunities on the counterattack but the team can be pleased with their overall performance.

I thought Allan had his best match since returning from his hamstring injury. He lacks pace but his covering, intelligent interceptions and quick, positive use of the ball were key to the team managing the transition from defence to attack.

The performance did not tell us anything new. It reinforced the need for the club to find more players who are comfortable dominating possession and taking the game to opponents.

Paul Kernot
3 Posted 10/05/2021 at 01:47:36
Lyndon mentioned it but I think Seamus's performance today was pivotal. Whether or not he wore the armband, it was a real captain's game. With only 10 mins to go he put Lingard under massive pressure not far from the half way line to give the defense a breather. With a home crowd, that's what really lifts the team & supporters.
Jamal Paktongko
4 Posted 10/05/2021 at 04:37:52
Richarlison is the reason why we didn't attack that well at all for the last couple of games. He is selfish and is not interested to pass the ball at all.

It's time he is dropped to the bench. The dude is getting more and more useless.

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 10/05/2021 at 07:04:10
Jamal #4,

Very extreme for a crucial player who maintained the high press, retained possession, won fouls in dangerous positions, gained ground going forward, and provided the run diverting a defender to give Calvert-Lewin the space to score the goal.

Richarlison's final-third passing is hindering his game, not allowing him to thread the ball through or play one-twos and causing him to keep possession too long. He can still shoot, though it is from in front of the opposition defence and engages at least two defenders to stop him.

I am sure Ancelotti, who has made great strides in Richarlison's runs and positioning, will be working on the passing, Richarlison will be first to be selected by Ancelotti for what he is already doing.

Danny O’Neill
6 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:08:23
They always pull us back in Lyndon! We can't help it.

John Raferty (@2), just said on the other thread, Allan doesn't get enough credit for always wanting to play forward, something we criticise this squad a lot for.

Tony Everan
7 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:15:12
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad season.

We lost at home to Aston Villa last week with the most dire performance. Now we are set to play them away on Thursday and I am expecting a good performance and a win.


Christopher Timmins
8 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:31:31
Seamus, Dom and Ben were just immense. We are not an easy watch but, with only one of Sigurdsson and Gomes in the team, we are very hard to beat when we sit in and play on the counter.

One game at a time, Villa next on Thursday and still all to play for with four games to go. You can't ask for more than that given the home performance over the season to date.

Doucouré will surely get some minutes as it's a hectic schedule from now to the finish line.

Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:33:18
John (2),

I couldn't add anything to that post, very good.

I am a big fan of Allan so I was disappointed with his game last week versus Villa, he didn't look like himself at all. I think it was because he was doing two or three men's work.

Yesterday, he had plenty of players doing their jobs with him, particularly Davies, who still gets plenty of stick while doing a very good job.

John Pickles
10 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:43:08
If we continue in this manner, in the Premier League:

Has any team qualified for a European competition with a home record as poor as ours?

Has any team failed to qualify for a European competition with an away record as good as ours?

Has any team's away-to-home percentage of points been skewed as much as ours?

However, if we read statistics a certain way, then a conclusion is:

Home fans are really missed at Goodison.

Travelling Blues, for God's sake stop going to away matches, we're awful when you lot turn up!

Kevin Prytherch
11 Posted 10/05/2021 at 09:51:16
Both Allan and Davies always look to play the ball forward. I'm looking forward to seeing them alongside Doucouré in a 3 man midfield, but I suspect Ancelotti will once again drop Davies and keep Sigurdsson, who is not good enough for a central midfield role, in there.

Allan, Davies and Doucouré all have the tenacity to press in midfield and all instantly look forward. This could be a great combination at home with James wanting the ball and the front two making runs like they did yesterday.

Danny O’Neill
12 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:00:25
Also said on the other thread that Davies and Allan look good alongside each other.

Tom came out earlier in the season saying how he was learning from Allan. Good combination of youth and experience.

Christine Foster
13 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:09:50
Dave, I agree, and Tom has learnt a lot playing along side him but, with Doucouré back, I suspect he will lose his place. While lacking in guile, he is a suitable stand-in for either one of them if needed, something that has been lacking this season.

To have James, Allan and Doucouré playing for the last few games would be brilliant but I still fear for the central defence. I think we may have seen the last of Mina for the season and I cannot see Holgate with Keane in the middle again... We have something to play for and players back, at last.

Danny O’Neill
14 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:16:37
Gives us the option of a 4-3-3, Christine, which seemed to be favoured earlier in the season.

Tom Davies in front of the defence with Allan and Doucouré either side doing the pressing.

The 3 in front of them (all fit), James roaming then Richarlison & Calvert-Lewin.

Mal van Schaick
15 Posted 10/05/2021 at 10:37:57
It’s a pity we sent Branthwaite out on loan. If Mina is out for the remaining games, I agree with #13. Holgate and Keane can’t play together. It may have to be Godfrey and Keane, Coleman right back.

They looked like they want it against West Ham. Perhaps, they can a take a bus around the block, come back to Goodson and pretend that they are playing away, given our home form.

Gaute Lie
16 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:42:38
Mina is not able to play successive games and should be sold. He's like James Rodriguez with glass legs. It's a pity, but I see he's not a player to keep.
John Cook
17 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:45:07
A big mention for Tom Davies for his performance yesterday. He made two fantastic tackles sliding in, fully committed and cleanly won the ball when, fuck me, the dickhead referee pulled both up for fouls. The look on Tom's face said it all.

It aims up how football has gone now, more and more a noncontact sport; it doesn't help when so-called footballers go over as if shot!

Barry Rathbone
18 Posted 10/05/2021 at 11:54:13
Really not arsed about Europe. In some respects, limping into whatever the inferior competition is called nowadays could work against us. It provides another excuse for missing another summer opportunity.

"The side ain't bad – it qualified for Europe" will be the delusional mantra...

Robert Tressell
19 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:09:21
Barry, getting into Europe matters to me because I believe we can win the Europa League and should be aiming to do so if we qualify.

I think that's what Martinez wanted, to get into Champions League via Premier League position or via success in the Europa League. The tactic means you have to accept a drop in league form when you go for it in the (arduous) cup.

Tom Bowers
20 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:11:59
I have also been disappointed with Richarlison this season. He is a class finisher but some parts of his game are poor and it doesn't help Calvert-Lewin who has still rattled in 21 goals.

Everton have suffered because of not having that other option of a class striker, and obviously Carlo doesn't really fancy King as a starter, so they have to buy for next season; otherwise, it will be more of the same.

Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:17:28
I'm with Robert on the European thing Barry.

We're not starting next season with the same squad, but if we get European football, we can attract different players.

And I'm being selfish as I want the European trips!

On a serious note, it starts somewhere. Our winning of Europe's then 3rd tier competition still rates as one of our greatest nights along with the home leg semi-final that got us there.

Bryan Houghton
22 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:17:38
I guess every team has a player who – without him on the pitch – are considerably weaker for it. In West Ham's case, it's Declan Rice, and I don't think we would have had the midfield control that we had if he had been playing. They need him; though I don't think they will be able to keep hold of him for next season.

I thought our player like that was Richarlison. But I'm now thinking that actually it is Calvert-Lewin. With the Euros in the summer, and Martial (probably) leaving Man Utd, I fear we will struggle to keep him; I think he will be the player that we would miss the most.

Brent Stephens
23 Posted 10/05/2021 at 12:28:30
Dave #9, I'm one of those who in the past has given Tom a bit of stick. I think deservedly at the time. But the last couple of months he's been well in form. And, as you say, the Davies - Allan axis was a good one yesterday.
Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:21:56
Brent (23),

Fair enough. I don't think any player is immune from criticism except to say some fans will never give credit when and where it is due, and I've got to put my hands up where Richarlison is concerned. I see his good points, but his bad points get enlarged, in my mind, every time I see him.

Dave Lynch
25 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:26:13
Davies has had pelters from me in the past and deservedly so.
He now appears to have the confidence to move forward with the ball and actually pass it forwards instead of backwards and sideways.
He looks to have come on leaps and bounds and long may it continue.
Bob Parrington
26 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:40:36
Hard to pick our MotM from Sunday. Godfrey, Coleman, Richarlison, Keane, Allan or Davies?

Lightbulb moment. We seem to play so well away from home compared to at home. Should we suggest to Carlo that, for the home games, we arrange a team catch a ride for, say, 2 hours before each game...? It doesn't matter where to! The team spirit seems to build on the bus!!!

[Tongue-in-cheek, of course!]

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 10/05/2021 at 13:41:18
I think getting into Europe is about a shift in power to the manager within the club. What it does is force changes in the coaching and preparation in that there are more games to deal with, pushing structural change demands within the club.

The Europa Conference League which will extend more into the second half of the second half of the season, instead of the usual one competition end to the last quarter of the season at Everton. It also means more playing time for squad members, and may make it necessary to engage young players more.

There is also the factor that Ancelotti is experienced at European competition level, whilst many of the backroom management are not. No wonder Ancelotti is so determined and vocal in qualifying for Europe. It changes the whole ball game in his favour, and he knows it.

Robert Tressell
28 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:06:19
Tom Davies at age 22 is now one of our regular top performers. I certainly like to see him start ahead of Gomes.

Mind you he's had his ups and downs and it shows how hard it is to break through. He made 24 appearances in the 2016-17 season having only just turned 18.

That's like Onyango (18 in March) or Warrington (18 last October) making 24 appearances this coming season. Both are cracking players but they're behind Tom Davies in their development.

If they do break through, I hope they're shown a bit of patience.

Brent Stephens
29 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:22:30
Dave #24 I was fuming on several occasions yesterday when Richarlison could clearly have put Dom through with a quick pass to his side and ahead of him. I don't know if it's poor perception, or decision-making, or just plain greed. I suspect it's greed.
Mark Murphy
30 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:27:14
John Pickles - pub landlords all over the country are shrieking nooooo! At your suggestion that we don't travel away in future.
Mark Murphy
31 Posted 10/05/2021 at 14:30:48
Danny at 14
You seem to be forgetting Gbamin!
Ohh, err, as you were.
Danny O’Neill
32 Posted 10/05/2021 at 15:08:29
So easy to forget him Mark and I so want him to recover so we can actually judge him as a player.
Phil Gardner
33 Posted 10/05/2021 at 15:28:41
I see Villa will be without Ollie Watkins due to his red card? He’s their main threat I feel and had a good game at Goodison.
Tom Bowers
34 Posted 10/05/2021 at 16:08:15
We seem to get elated when playing and winning away and then it crashes again when we come back to Goodison and we perform poorly. It may be a good thing we are away again on Thursday and the fact that Watkins may be missing unless he appeals.

However I feel we have had these opportunities before and screwed them up so we should beware. With the fixtures remaining, they could conceivably get 12 points, including the Man City game, as City may have other things on their minds.

Derek Cowell
35 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:15:21
Danny at 21. I am of the opinion that the Cup Winners Cup was the 2nd tier European competition with rhe UEFA Cup (formerly the Inter Cities Fairs Cup) in 3rd spot. You actually had to win a domestic trophy to qualify for it.

Tom at 34. I don't think a player can appeal against a red card which was given as 2 yellows, only a straight red.

Danny O’Neill
36 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:19:53
I suppose I go with that opinion Derek because the likes of Coventry and Wimbledon could win the Cup. Even though when they did, they were prevented entry. But the magic of the cup.

To qualify for UEFA, you had to do so through league position in the top flight of English football.

That's just how I saw it. Ultimately a great experience and achievement either way.

Frank McGregor
37 Posted 10/05/2021 at 17:53:43
If Ancelloti is looking for rotation for the game against Villa, I would like to see the first rotation being King starting along side Calvert-Lewin.

Richarlison's body language suggests he needs a spell on the bench.
Michael Connelly
38 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:41:15
Seamus getting praise from lots of quarters. I thought he was great with the ball but poor enough off the ball. He is not quick enough to close down shooting opportunities, and it should have been him marking Benrahma for that free header.
David Cooper
39 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:51:37
I can't agree with you about Richarlison's performance yesterday. The only time he looked really pissed off was when he was substituted. I love that in a player who wants to stay on the pitch till the final whistle. Richarlison does look unhappy most of the time but I think that is just him. Often he is unhappy with his own performance as he wants to score goals as well as contribute to the team. His work rate covering back is phenomenal.

We don't know how he feels about Calvert-Lewinscoring all the goals and getting all the praise. I'm sure he is happy for Calvert-Lewin but wishes he could grab some of the headlines. The only time he looks really happy is when he is scoring goals which he used to do more often than recently.

I would not rest him (or Calvert-Lewin) for King against Villa. We need them to be firing to create problems and hopefully get the win. It will be interesting to see how Carlo shuffles the pack if Doucouré and James are fit and Mina is out.

Dale Self
40 Posted 10/05/2021 at 18:58:43
Hey Barry, I have an actual quote that I can attribute to a known football figure: "If we don't quite make it, whatever we get we'll look at as a good result." — the Great Moyest one!

Now, since no-one actually said what you've "quoted", let's just say, if Everton do make it, we can look at it as a good result.

Barry Rathbone
41 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:06:48
Dale @40,

I hope we do make it. Probably it indicates a storming end to the season. I just worry it will lull us into a false sense of security re the majority of this squad.

We need a huge overall if to challenge and dare I say it (dare! dare!) win something.

Kim Vivian
42 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:11:12
That headline picture which I assume was from yesterday speaks volumes in suport of Richarlison. I have been as frustrated as many by him but clearly no lack of enthusiasm. First to congratulate Dom.

Good overall post from David (at 39). He was obviously pissed at being substituted but I would hope he was primed for that at half time. I think his pissed offness was due as much to not finding the onion bag, rather than directed at Carlo.

I had been all for benching him for King but do think we need to keep the faith with him. His mere presence occupies the opposition defence for the benefit of Calvert-Lewin, as witnessed yesterday, and when he clicks again, eventually he will be awesome.

Is there any way we can play all three?

Richarlison King
Davies (or Doucouré) Allan
Digne Keane Holgate (or Mina) Coleman

Dave Abrahams
43 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:12:35
David (39),

I've seen many players look unhappy when they have been substituted but never as long as Richarlison carried on yesterday. That titty lip, walking off, sitting on his own in the stands minutes later, still scowling like a 7-year-old...

He should be shown that after training at Finch Farm with all the team watching it with him; he'd cop for some stick off them, if he doesn't already get it.

Danny Baily
44 Posted 10/05/2021 at 19:17:49
Derek 35, the Cup-Winners Cup was indeed the 2nd tier tournament, hence the winners' involvement in the Super Cup.
Danny O’Neill
45 Posted 10/05/2021 at 20:34:30
Happy to be called out on that, Danny. I'd have taken a Uefa Cup if we'd ever got there as well!!
Derek Cowell
46 Posted 11/05/2021 at 00:29:24
Kim at 42. No Godfrey?
Jerome Shields
47 Posted 11/05/2021 at 06:51:23
Michael #38,

You are right about the free header. Though it was a good result. Everton are still dependent on nicking a goal and a bit of luck defending. They are going to hold on rather than get a second goal.

The good thing was that the goal was well taken and there were more on-target shots. But they are still vulnerable to a goal against.

Workrate and spirit are absolutely essential to get over the line and Seamus is up for that. Ancelotti thought him MotM.

Kim Vivian
48 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:45:34
Derek(46) - Yes, poor omission on my part - I realised that afterwards, too late to edit.

I should have said...

4 of:-

Digne -- Keane -- Godfrey -- Holgate/Mina -- Seamus

Tony Abrahams
49 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:58:08
I don't think that was Coleman's job to stop that free header. I thought it was Godfrey's area. That's why I was happy when Mina went off, because Holgate definitely held his defensive position much better than Ben, who for all his ability does have a tendency to try and over-cover at times.
Alan J Thompson
50 Posted 11/05/2021 at 07:58:31
I don't think we can play Holgate and Godfrey as a central pair as they both seem to have positioning problems albeit Godfrey's pace covers a lot of his with Keane and Mina looking our best pairing, and even better with Godfrey in a three.

And I have to agree with the comments on Davies's sliding tackle being harshly treated. He collected the ball cleanly on each occasion and the player being tackled fell over him. Perhaps referees should ask if they should be giving the free kick to the player on the ground and against the player hitting the tackler with his feet and/or legs. At the very least six of one and half-a-dozen of the other unless the slide tackle makes contact with the player before the ball or takes both at the same time.

Gone are the days of taking both and leaving them the other side of the touchline but unfortunately that classic Bobby Moore tackle would now probably be a bookable offence.

Dave Abrahams
51 Posted 11/05/2021 at 09:37:41
Alan (50),

I just watched the highlights of the Fulham v Burnley game last night. In one of Fulham's attacks, their winger was tackled from behind in the penalty area, bringing him down, the referee waved play on. I don't know if VAR was involved but the tackle was worse than Tom's on Sunday.

I think that's what annoys fans, and always has, the different perspective referees have on the same sort of tackle. Today's football it is just ridiculous with most tackles outlawed but some blatant ones allowed.

Alan J Thompson
52 Posted 11/05/2021 at 10:20:17
Dave (#51);

I don't know whether or not to have some sympathy for referees as some rule changes, particularly offside, make it difficult to determine at ground level and I particularly dislike the almost non-tackling rule unless standing up face to face.

And I'm with you, Dave, as I always thought that the rule was changed quite some time ago so that any contact with your opponent when tackling from behind was a free-kick.

Perhaps, on a lighter note, this is how we punish the ESL 6, make them play the same rules as everyone else and no more 6 years between penalties given against them.

Having said that, I've been critical of the standard of English refereeing for quite some years now and the lack of surprise and shame from the FA etc when none were chosen for one World Cup Final series.

I'd like to see referees, while linked to the VAR bunker, giving interviews and managers being encouraged to voice their concerns after each game, separately of course. I'd probably find it more entertaining than listening to "after the fact" TV studio experts, not to mention getting everyone discussing or reading from the same sheet, rule book.

John McFarlane Snr
53 Posted 11/05/2021 at 11:30:15
Hi Dave [5],

You are correct in stating that tackling from behind was outlawed some time ago. In my opinion, a good clean tackle was a work of art. It appears that, in today's game, a tackle of any description is considered to be a foul; it's no longer a contact sport.

What aggravates me most is the fact that a player can be bumped off the ball, and he either clutches his face or his ankle, screaming in agony. It's not the game we grew up playing or watching.

Danny O’Neill
54 Posted 11/05/2021 at 12:12:21
I've been vocal in not blaming VAR as I see it as the solution.

The problem is the standard of official and the rules.

We need better officials who understand the rules and the game. But, as you say Alan, you do sometimes have to sympathise with them given the confusion and sometimes complexity around some of the rules.

Dave Abrahams
55 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:19:45
Alan (52), John (53) and Danny(54),

Yes, the referees deserve a great deal of sympathy for having to deal with the cheating, diving players with their 'win at all costs' philosophy, along with the managers and coaches who let them do it and never see it but always see the opposition's fouls... hypocrites the lot of them.

Danny O’Neill
56 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:34:25
Fair and valid point, Dave. Players and the culture encouraged into them also plays its part.
Jerome Shields
57 Posted 11/05/2021 at 13:34:56
Tony #49,

I was thinking that way as well, because it has been the case in the past that the centre-back has not challenged when they should have. In my post, I initially disagreed with Michael's post, even thinking it was on the other side.

When I checked Seamus could have covered the run for the header, but was in a nowhere position marking no-one, it could not even be described as zonal and seemed he was totally blindsided by the run for the free header.

Tony Abrahams
58 Posted 11/05/2021 at 14:25:38
Fair enough, Jerome, but wingback is different to fullback, as is playing in a back three, rather than a flat back four. I thought Godfrey was tucking inside a bit much all game, which obviously kills the formation at times but Holgate, possibly because he's played a lot as a right fullback, held his position much better.

If you expect your wingback to be back into the fullback position every time there is a cross to the back post, then don't expect him to play more than one hour – unless you don't want him to attack, that is.

Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 11/05/2021 at 14:43:11
I can only comment on the standard I played to.

3-5-2 and playing with wing backs is the most attacking formation in my opinion. But you can not expect your wing backs to default to full back / defender if the ball breaks down and you lose possession.

In my experience, and again at my level, to make 3-5-2 work there are a few key ingredients.

1. Footballing centre backs who can carry the ball forward.

2. A genuine sweeper / defensive midfielder who can rapidly cover for the "missing" full back and protect a flank if under attack.

3. In the absence of point 2, communication so that one of the wing backs holds back if the attack is on the other side.

Ultimately, you go 3 at the back, you are exposing your flanks for the sake of attacking and, whilst you need to compensate, you can't always point fingers at the wing backs. Those who have played that position will know that no one is super human regardless of level of football or standard.

Tony Abrahams
60 Posted 11/05/2021 at 15:51:01
It's not a formation I like, Danny, simply because I prefer to have two players out wide. I think that once you create a two v one in these areas then it's absolutely impossible to defend. I looked again at what Jerome said, and whilst Coleman maybe could have took up a better position, our three central defenders were all over the place on that cross, and Godfrey ended up more central than Mina, instead of holding his position by being aware of what was behind him.

I expected West Ham to attack us down the flanks at every opportunity after this, but thankfully they never, and once Holgate replaced Mina, it wouldn't have mattered imo, because we even looked better once this happened, and Holgate definitely deserves a lot of credit for this.

The best thing about Sunday was that we were much tighter in central areas, and this is what we've been lacking in a lot of games, especially at Goodison Park.

Danny O’Neill
61 Posted 11/05/2021 at 17:19:26
Don't disagree Tony. It can be a very dangerous formation, especially as it can leave you overloaded in defence.

Like with any formation, it really depends on if you have the right balance of players to execute it. Don't make the players fit the formation, play the best formation for the players you have available. I know I'm boringly repeating myself there!! The danger or 3 at the back is exposing your flanks.

I say 3-5-2 is the best attacking formation, but only if you have the right players. My actual preference is 4-2-3-1 in terms of balance, but again, only if you have the right players.

I'm with you, I like width regardless of formation. It goes back to coaching. Win the ball, make the pitch big and make space. Lose the ball, go compact and close the space. I think more so in the modern game that's why formations have to be fluid more than in previous times.

Tony Abrahams
62 Posted 11/05/2021 at 17:42:05
It’s a much faster game on even faster pitches, and that’s why it’s so important for a team to keep its shape, I’d say Danny.

Everton get men behind the ball, and play tight away from Goodison, and have really reaped the rewards, but it’s been a lot different at home, except when we’ve played exactly that same way.

I think we got six points out of Chelsea and Arsenal by playing this way, but since then, six defeats, three draws and only one victory tell its own story, when it’s maybe obvious (to me!) we use a different system that doesn’t seem to suit the squad?

Danny O’Neill
63 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:00:43
Your last sentence says it Tony, play a system that suits the squad. It might not be what some of us want, but you play to the strengths of the players you have.

For me, I hope that changes next season, but for now, yes, just play to the strengths of this squad because right now, that's what we've got.

Tony Abrahams
64 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:09:40
I'd sooner we worked on the system that's given us our best victories, if I'm being honest, Danny.

We are hard to beat away from Goodison, but I'd love us to be hard to beat every week, especially if we could sign a few clever players, who know how to go and punish teams on the counter attack, which is the best, quickest and possibly only way that we will get closer to the very best teams imho!

Tony Abrahams
65 Posted 11/05/2021 at 18:12:20
Great start from Leicester, and interesting that they’ve gone with 3 at the back, because it might just be the only way you can get away with playing two up front in the modern game?
Jerome Shields
67 Posted 11/05/2021 at 19:02:36
Tony #60,

I agree, it was my first reaction as well. Keane tucks in all the time and Godfrey was doing the same to some extent. All those late goals that have cost Everton so dearly are on that side. The right back winging forward caught in possession and the opposition runner unchallenged in on goal.

How Seamus got drawn central only he will know, but he should have been in a more right back position. I agree, Holgate is better, but falls down in distribution. Seamus's distribution and runs forward are better, but he is older, so runs out of puff in the end.

Jim Harrison
68 Posted 12/05/2021 at 05:22:51
Bench Richarlison? Not his best performance but he ran and ran all the time he was on the pitch, forced a good double save from Fabianski. Yes, poor decision making but he is better than King.

I like King, and want to see him on the pitch a bit more but he has barely played and looked well off the pace in the 10 mins or so he had on the pitch.

At Arsenal he made the difference. Lucky goal but, as a poster at the time said, pressure causes leaks (or breaks pipes, can't remember exact quote and I am not going back to find it!)

The lad needs a goal for himself. He loves scoring. And I love that he was pissed about coming off. 84 minutes of running his arse off and he still wanted on. Often players are accused of not caring or not trying hard enough, that cannot be said of him.

Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 12/05/2021 at 08:17:02
Agree Jim, because I thought Richarlison was the liveliest player on the pitch for the first hour on Sunday, and definitely thought it was the best game he’d had in a while.
Dave Abrahams
70 Posted 12/05/2021 at 09:16:17
Jim (68),

A couple more people have said they were made up he was pissed off when he was subbed because they love that desire to stay on. Maybe it was the desire to stay on... to me, it was because his massive ego had been hurt. He'd made a couple of poor decisions and lost the ball too easily in the few minutes before he was taken off.

But only Richarlison will know the truth of why he goes into these very childish sulks, he wants a good smacked arse off his mam!!

Michael Barrett
71 Posted 12/05/2021 at 11:49:07
Just heard Calvert-Lewin on TalkSport... Wow, if you have never seen Everton this season and just listened to Jim White's interview, you would think they were talking about Man City!

See if the interview is on a website somewhere... unbelievable!

Now I know the players are living on a different planet than the rest of us. God help them when the fans are back – they will be in for a little bit of a shock.

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