QPR 2 - 2 Everton [8-7 on pens]
An Evertonian of any pedigree knows there was nothing shocking about this result which sees the club out of the League Cup before autumn has officially begun. Everton have never won this competition and it’s highly unlikely they ever will; not just because the Carabao Cup is under threat from the burgeoning international calendar and calls for the fixture list in England to be pared down but also because the perennial down-playing of the tournament by playing weakened sides means that successive Everton managers are always playing with fire.
Rafael Benitez was the latest to get burned, the first since Marco Silva oversaw a home draw with Southampton and also saw his team eliminated on penalties in the third round three years ago.
The rationale for making wholesale changes is well-established, of course. It’s an opportunity to rest your stars and give some game time and a chance to impress for fringe or younger players against the calibre of opposition that Everton should be beating regardless of which mix of the first-team squad is out there.
In this particular instance, Benitez’s impulse to rest some key players was justifiably strong. He was already without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Seamus Coleman (although none of them played in the previous round at Huddersfield) and could ill afford losing any more ahead of Premier League matches against Norwich and Manchester United. As it is, he might have to be without Lucas Digne depending on the extent of the injury that forced him off this evening.
The bigger inquest really surrounds the paucity of Everton's squad and the disastrous recruitment decisions that have left the squad so shallow in terms of quality. But whenever you make wholesale changes, you leave yourself wide open to the danger of being picked off by a lower-division side and on this occasion it came at the hands of Queens Park Rangers and the lottery of a penalty shoot-out.
Still, given that six of the 11 that started this evening were in the line-up at Huddersfield in the previous round, where his charges still squeaked through despite going down to 10 men in the second half, the Spaniard might have expected better than the dreadful fare Everton served up for much of this contest.
He was let down badly, particularly by the centre-half pairing of Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate who struggled to cope with veteran striker Charlie Austin before improving in the second half and a limp midfield duo of André Gomes and Tom Davies that contributed to QPR enjoying, at one stage, 70% of the ball… against a Premier League team!
He hooked Gomes and introduced both Abdoulaye Doucouré and Demarai Gray but there was never enough cohesiveness or penetration about the team to enable either to fashion or score a winner… although the Frenchman probably should have been awarded a penalty in the 74th minute when he appeared to be tripped in the box.
If Benitez was relying on a repeat of the Huddersfield tie, the early knockings might have given him comfort. Andros Townsend, who would end up head-and-shoulders the best Everton player on the pitch, offered some signs of things to come from him when he fizzed a dangerous ball across the QPR box in the seventh minute but there were no takes in black jerseys in the middle.
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And more great work by Townsend six minutes later ended with the mercurial Alex Iwobi centring for Anthony Gordon and the youngster forced the first save of the match from Dieng, a strong one-handed stop down to his right.
Unfortunately, the porous nature of Everton’s below-strength midfield and right flank, where Jonjoe Kenny offered little resistance, was underscored on QPR’s first meaningful attack. Chris Willock twice made a mug of Davies before finding Ilias Chair who in turn knocked it to Sam McCallum and when Asmir Begovic could only palm his cross straight to Austin, the striker simply nodded into the empty net to make it 1-0.
After two dreadful attempts from outside the box by Gomes, Iwobi really should have put the Blues ahead a minute before Digne eventually did after an awful error by a Rangers defender who presented the Nigerian with a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper, albeit with a square pass and certain goal available to his left. Iwobi went for goal himself but was denied by an excellent save with his leg by Dieng.
The keeper was powerless to stop Digne from evening things up, though, when QPR’s offside trap was marginally sprung by a delicious ball over the top by Townsend that picked out the run of the Frenchman who calmly side-footed it home first-time.
Parity lasted just four minutes, however, as Everton’s soft centre was exploited again. This time it was Chair who swung the ball in from the Rs’ left and Austin capitalised on the yard’s worth of space afforded by Godfrey by rising above him and glancing a header inside the far post.
Two minutes later, Willock tested Begovic with a low shot as QPR threatened to embarrass the visitors but Everton made it to the break at only 2-1 down.
And with their manager’s half-time team talk no doubt ringing in their ears, they got the early goal they needed once the second period resumed. Gomes scuffed a corner to the near post, Holgate managed to knock it across into the melée in front of goal where Townsend converted from close range to make it 2-2.
That should have provided the platform from which Everton went on to win the game but they lacked the requisite cutting edge or drive in midfield even after the substitutes had been introduced. Salomon Rondon had toiled fruitlessly up front without really getting the measure of the centre-halves deployed against him and he scooped his best chance over with an ugly left-footed effort.
Doucouré, meanwhile, had a strong case for a penalty waved away 15 minutes from the end by referee Kevin Friend while Michael Keane, on as a late replacement for Digne who had picked up an ankle knock, missed a great chance to win it in the 80th minute when he pounded a corner over the crossbar with his head from a couple of yards out.
Once it had gone to penalties, Everton’s League Cup curse took over, manifesting itself in the worst spot-kick of the shoot-out from Davies who invited Dieng to save it at full-stretch and set Dunne up to be the hero with QPR’s eighth successful kick.
Gary Lineker quipped before the last round that the Carabao Cup is where a bunch of teams enter a competition and Manchester City win it at the end and there is more than element of truth about the futility of this tournament where teams like Everton are concerned.
By the same token, though, every round you progress narrows your odds and for a club like Everton, trophy-less for what will be 27 years by the time the finals of the domestic cups come around next spring, can you ever not put your best foot forward in every round and do everything possible to win a piece of silverware?
It seems as though where that question is concerned, appeasing fringe players and the Premier League are bigger priorities and the longer that mentality persists, the more slender Everton’s chances will be in one of only two competitions they actually have a realistic shot at in a given season. The 3,000 fans who packed the away end on a Tuesday night deserve much, much better.
Reader Comments (46)
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1 Posted 22/09/2021 at 06:09:17
No, they run round, and I am flattering them there with saying 'running', like headless chickens, looking very inferior to their Championship opponents. What is up with them?
Ah, I think I've got it: they are on too much money and long-term contracts and they know they will get paid whether they play well or not.
Disgrace, the sooner the likes of Gomes, Holgate and Davies are booted up the arse and out of the door, the better.
2 Posted 22/09/2021 at 07:05:16
3 Posted 22/09/2021 at 07:11:34
No excuse having key players out – we should have more than enough in reserve to beat any Championship team. Really does highlight how poor we are outside our first XI. Rafa's got to be backed big time in January.
Now onto Norwich – a team who hasn't won yet this season; you can write the newspaper headlines now... I'm nervous about that game. COYB.
4 Posted 22/09/2021 at 07:31:26
I do not envy Mr Benitez's options for this game: whichever way he had jumped had potential consequences, either for the game itself, or further down the line. I personally believe he was right to try and rest for the weekend game and beyond certain of the players.
But, as Derek outlines, once and for all, some players need to be shown the door – they are not good enough, never have been good enough, and never will be good enough to put Everton back where we belong.
5 Posted 22/09/2021 at 07:59:48
As I said on ToffeeWeb at half-time, I was not surprised after the first-half display at Huddersfield and didn't think that there was enough on the bench to turn it around. They did a bit better than expected.
The accumulative inability of Medical Services to keep players fit and recovered, poor recruitment, and a half-arsed transfer policy, including the Summer window (recent example: James), and youth development that left two available over 2 years, one not 100% fit and no back-up at left-back, have now resulted in the chickens coming home to roost.
Any manager would have difficulty fielding a sufficient strength team, with an off-pitch regime that reeks of lack of competence.
As I said earlier, I missed the game. I was having a meal, but got a glimpse through an open door of Liverpool beating Norwich with quite a few unknown faces. I am not looking forward to Saturday.
6 Posted 22/09/2021 at 08:32:57
Leaving Gray, Doucouré and Allan on the bench was stupid… and as for some of the imposters that took their places, words fail me – almost!
Jonjoe Kenny, God love him, is a footballing simpleton who is just not good enough and never will be. Ditto Tom Davies. His penalty summed up him up really – powderpuff. Enough now, Tom, enough. And take your skateboard with you.
Rondon and Begovic look like exactly what they are, players who haven't kicked a ball competitively for years. And as for Iwobi, Jesus wept… just give it up, lad.
Positives? An improvement from Digne, which was needed after Villa, and another energetic display from Townsend.
Saturday now takes on even greater importance, particularly for Mr Benitez.
7 Posted 22/09/2021 at 08:43:02
When he came in first playing right-back, I thought he had poor positional sense. At centre-half, he seemed to blossom but I think he needs a centre-half who has aerial power.
I hope Rafa can get the best out of him again.
8 Posted 22/09/2021 at 09:31:07
It's become personal since 1977. No matter how good or bad we've been, this always happens. QPR 2021 joins a long list, including Grimsby in 1985.
That was a shocking corner from Gomes. Unless it was from the training ground?!!
9 Posted 22/09/2021 at 09:39:07
10 Posted 22/09/2021 at 09:49:55
The quality of passing, the long ball accuracy was dire for the most part, how can that be excused? The basics of the game were not being executed and that is shameful for these highly paid supposedly elite footballers.
The manager will fully now know that many of his squad players are just not good enough to keep us competitive in the Premier League. Some more big earners come to the end of their contracts in June, thank god.
But then there are others, like the incredibly disappointing Gomes and Iwobi, that still have almost 3 years to run, on major money too. Brands has to try and move them on so we can give some room for better incoming players and / or one or two promising young lads from the U23s.
Any positives? Townsend and Gordon did okay; we looked much better for Doucouré and Gray coming on. Get the A-listers fit and we still have a decent first eleven.
11 Posted 22/09/2021 at 10:04:33
The match confirmed what some have suspected:
1. Begovic is well past his sell-by date. Not good enough even as a backup goalie.
2. Holgate and Godfrey will never make a centre-back partnership as neither is dominant in the air.
3. Iwobi, despite numerous opportunities, always fails to deliver. I don't care how good he is in training – his performances on the field are evidence that he isn't good enough.
4. Rondon should be nowhere near the first team until his fitness level improves substantially.
5. Gomes, Davies and Kenny were destined to fail and bear the brunt of the criticism for failure. Benitez obviously doesn't trust them as they have had very little game time.
My faith in Benitez is rapidly evaporating. He seems to be as tactically astute as the previous charlatan.
12 Posted 22/09/2021 at 10:43:52
13 Posted 22/09/2021 at 11:09:33
By the way, not that it would have made much difference, but can anyone remind me of the current fitness situation of Jean-Philippe Gbamin?
14 Posted 22/09/2021 at 11:14:09
15 Posted 22/09/2021 at 11:37:19
Bernard , Gbamins latest one is a thigh injury out for two to three weeks.
16 Posted 22/09/2021 at 11:43:51
I've just watched it on the OS 90 minute coverage, and you rarely see those sort given, I think the QPR player did clip Doucoure's heel but more accidental than intentional for me.
17 Posted 22/09/2021 at 11:52:57
He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy.
18 Posted 22/09/2021 at 12:15:12
19 Posted 22/09/2021 at 12:56:37
20 Posted 22/09/2021 at 13:03:16
21 Posted 22/09/2021 at 13:09:39
Pickford, Coleman, Doucoure, Allan, Calvert-Lewin & Richarlison.
6 starters out and we're a different prospect.
I know they won't all be back for Norwich but just putting it into perspective for myself more than anything.
22 Posted 22/09/2021 at 13:18:47
Sure it would be nice to avoid defeat in every game but that ain't gonna happen.
This ''competition'' was devised purely as a money grabbing racket supposedly to help the lower league clubs and the top clubs couldn't give a toss, hence the weakened team selections until they get to the semis or final.
Everton played as well as they could considering the dross team they started with against a spirited Rangers side.
Gordon's poor finish early on set the tone although he played quite well as did Townsend but most of the rest were poor.
23 Posted 22/09/2021 at 13:28:49
24 Posted 22/09/2021 at 13:30:26
Only thing left is to kid ourselves the FA cup will be different 🤣🤣🤣
25 Posted 22/09/2021 at 15:19:49
Given the lack of squad depth should have picked a "Catterick style league cup team". I was disappointed with approach reminded me of the "Moyes era" resting players for the next game and then bringing them on to chase a game you ultimately loose, so the primary objective not achieved.
In the absence of a quality squad or promising young players, If you had a strong first eleven then that is what you would pick and put the game to bed then rest players.
The concern is that we do not have a strong enough first team squad to be competitive in the league and domestic cup competitions nor the abundance quality young players to be back up.
I cannot see any of our younger players being sold for 20 million plus to the likes of Bournemouth or Sheffield United but suspect come January we will be fishing in the back waters of Arsenal, City and United again whilst our own "sprats" move on to Fleetwood, Grimsby and the like.
I get the impression that Iwobi was bought at great expense to feature in the pre-season merchandise catalogue because cannot think of any other practical use that has been served.
26 Posted 22/09/2021 at 15:32:37
I heard it was Marcel Brands who signed Iwobi for around £30 million before wages, but he only came to this major decision after spending the last few hours of the transfer window in one of his nations coffee-shops.
27 Posted 22/09/2021 at 15:35:31
Now, well, I'm not so sure. I think he might not be much good or, have talent that we will rarely see. not the best buy we have ever made. I am confident about that! Had he come from our academy I would suggest that he would currently be on loan at Morecambe.
28 Posted 22/09/2021 at 15:56:34
All the players who came in either have substantial Premier League experience or have been regarded by fans as having the potential to develop into top players. Godfrey and Holgate have been suggested as a long term central defensive partnership. Last nights performance from them renders that suggestion redundant at least for the immediate future.
This is a competition we had no realistic prospect of winning. Better to get knocked out now than have the burden of additional fixtures with a squad lacking the depth of quality required. Previous managers have been criticised for not giving more opportunities for our younger players. For me there is huge disappointment that the younger players, Kenny, Holgate and Davies have failed to train on as they reach their middle twenties.
It is also a concern that Godfrey has returned this season looking very laboured compared with the star in the making we thought we had seen last season. I hope he wont turn out to be another one season wonder. Anthony Gordon has plenty of pace, makes promising runs but there remains a disturbing lack of a tangible end product in terms of goals or assists. Too early to write him off perhaps, but…..?
From the managers point of view if he cant rely on these players against a Championship team, when can he rely on them? And what is the point of them being there?
29 Posted 22/09/2021 at 15:58:48
I can't blame the manager. A very weak squad compounded by injuries to key players.
What did we learn? Begovic is poor, we lack cover at full back, Iwobi and Co lack bottle, and we have nothing coming through in attacking sense. £500m up the wall, and we are weaker now than when Moyes was in the bargain bin for Naismith, Straq and Drenthe...
30 Posted 22/09/2021 at 16:06:43
It's my birthday today and we are having a few friends round for a bit of a shindig, luckily none of them follow football!
I play footy on Sunday and two of my mates are avid QPR fans. I expect a right roasting from them...and rightly so!
Moshiri is a bit like that twit Fernandez, who I recall wasted a tonne of dosh on them.
31 Posted 22/09/2021 at 16:22:18
We're here because we've recruited poorly. Business-wise, largely the same management team as the failing business Moshiri inherited. Kenwright thought we just needed 'money', as many said on here. A rich badly-run business just wastes more money.
On that basis, we have recruited managers haphazardly, given them too much money to waste haphazardly, then put in a DOF who seems to slip between the cracks.
On the pitch, we've recruited talented players, seemingly because they're talented, with no thought of how they fit what we need or fit any kind of structure. No thought of whther they'd pysically or mentally fit into English football. We pay them high salaries that prevent their sale.
Moshiri has been a dreadful high-stakes gambler. The successful gamblers I know are thinkers who learn from their mistakes. In the last year we have recruited better - there's a sense of us buying players for a reason. We've certainly brought in a manager for specific reasons that I agree with.
It's all about what we do from now. It has to start with a demand for success from the top. That mindset that runs through all aspects of the club. Success or walk. There's much talk about City's money, but my experience there shows that their club-wide mindset makes a huge difference. I don't see that in Everton - the happy bumble along club that thinks success happens by accident, that seems to protect staff rather than demand better.
I accept we may have to see contracts run out and unproductive players leave before we get decent progress on the pitch. I don't accept the complete inertia from the board and its apparent unwillingness to tackle a club/business drifting like a boat hoping to find a port.
32 Posted 22/09/2021 at 16:30:33
33 Posted 22/09/2021 at 16:35:34
34 Posted 22/09/2021 at 16:43:49
For me Godfrey was at fault for both goals. The first one he was skinned and unable to prevent the ball coming in and the second he allowed Austin to edge him out of the way for a free header. He has either totally lost confidence or Covid has destroyed him but he is a million miles from last season.
Begovic looks very limp for a keeper and did nothing for the penalty shoot out that suggests he gives a hoot.
Rondon looks as if he left his energy in China and surely Simms would offer far more.
That aside we had far more chances to score and if it had been anyone but Iwobi he would have buried that one on one with their goalie.
Christine said on another thread we lack a number 10 without James and given our Icelanders predicament but I would argue we lack a number 1 to 11 on the basis of last night.
35 Posted 22/09/2021 at 17:03:41
What does that big lump Unsworth and the rest of them do? Surely there needs to be goals/a strategy. Too bloody cosy in the Everton f'ing family!
36 Posted 22/09/2021 at 17:14:40
37 Posted 22/09/2021 at 17:14:40
38 Posted 22/09/2021 at 17:17:52
39 Posted 22/09/2021 at 17:41:57
Kenwright ran us to the ground with a dysfunctional model and then finally found a buyer who he convinced it was just a matter of money.
Just imagine John Moores in that situation – I would love to see him give a critique on Kenwright. He was a hard and ruthless business operator who, even when underwriting a debt for the club, always made sure we had the means and wherewithal to repay.
I have an idea to generate some more off the wage bill – get rid of Marcel Brands; I cannot see what he has added to the club in his tenure. I suppose he is adding to the local economy by purchasing the odd coffee now and then... but a Director of Football, he is not.
40 Posted 22/09/2021 at 18:01:07
We are a Premier League team that has spent £500 million in 5 years on players and you say we had injuries. For fuck's sake, it was QPR, who by the way left out 6 players. It's a total fucking disgrace.
I'm sick of hearing the same excuses; it's not good enough. Yes, we should be beating QPR every week.
41 Posted 22/09/2021 at 19:18:13
It was a tossup game.
42 Posted 22/09/2021 at 20:23:08
I'd take this trophy all day and wish we'd go strong to get through then rest players once the game is won. My first trip to Wembley was the 1984 Milk (League) Cup Final. Magical experience despite the 0 - 0 result and losing the replay at Maine Road. I've never dismissed this competition or any other.
But we were back less than 2 months later to lift the FA Cup. Forget magical, that was ecstasy that I can't really describe.
Don't dismiss silverware of any kind. Once you nearly touch it and then taste it you'll want more. It's addictive. Or should be.
43 Posted 23/09/2021 at 06:28:35
Only when Roy Race and Blackie were playing do wonder displays occur; in reality, most of our fringe players miss the bus and we lose to second- or even third-tier opposition. Without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, our attacking strength is severely limited.
Ben Godfrey has been capped by England and has pace and many attributes, but he is no more consistent than any of our other central defenders and certainly cannot marshall the defence.
Maybe next year but, at 75, I am thinking that this is silverware that I will never see in our trophy cabinet.
44 Posted 23/09/2021 at 07:52:54
Get shut of him before anyone else.
45 Posted 23/09/2021 at 08:07:31
I remember the Milk Cup Final well – it was pissing down; we deserved to win that day... we should have had a penalty for handball.
I was gutted we lost the replay, my first of many visits to Wembley, and watching them win the FA Cup 2 months later is still my favourite Everton memory.
It was addictive going to Wembley, I was a teenager then but I can remember every visit to Wembley in the '80s and early '90s including the Simod & Zenith Data System cups and Charity Shields, it was a regular occurrence.
46 Posted 23/09/2021 at 08:22:47
The only positives of the evening were that my son loved the atmosphere and wants to go to more games (after not being interested in football up to now) and that it was great to see so many kids and their dads going bonkers when they won – QPR have been through some tough times and they were a decent lot in the family stand and I had to laugh at our awful (and inevitable) display.
My son commented that Iwobi seemed to disappear at half-time – he's got his card marked already! Other notes:
Wayne Rooney is a better keeper than Begovic.
Holgate and Godfrey are an awful League One standard centre-back pairing.
Gomes can't shoot or take corners. Or run or tackle.
Kenny is a nothing player.
Townsend was the best player on the pitch.
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