Ferguson gets fight but little finesse from struggling Everton

Lyndon Lloyd 22/01/2022 49comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 1 Aston Villa

Evertonians had envisaged this going differently. Duncan Ferguson was back on the touchline in a caretaker capacity and an expectant, hopeful Goodison Park crowd was ready to back him and the players to the hilt for 90 raucous minutes. Meanwhile, with Farhad Moshiri’s long-overdue communication with supporters via email yesterday, the Everton hierarchy no doubt felt that they had blunted one of the 27 Years Campaign’s chief gripes ahead of a more unified atmosphere around the club.

By the end, the most feared outcome had occurred and the post-match protests by supporters aiming their ire at the owner and the Board of Directors felt as justified and as urgent as ever. Not that any immediate change off the pitch will address the very real near-term threat of relegation; the Blues find themselves in a mess created by many, many years of mis-management but those in charge’s next act — the appointment of a successor to Rafael Benitez — will have a huge bearing on whether this famous old club remains in the Premier League after this season.

You had to feel for Ferguson at the final whistle. There isn’t a soul who doubted how badly he would have wanted to lift the gloom around Goodison a little by seeing Everton to a badly-needed win. That “lightning in a bottle” first match as caretaker boss against Chelsea a little over two years ago is hard to replicate but the Scot clearly felt that a repeat of the passion and the high-octane, more direct football that delivered that famous win would be enough again today.

That was evidenced by his team sheet which put its faith in local pride in the form of Jonjoe Kenny at right-back and the grit of Ben Godfrey on the other side of defence and which was, perhaps, predicated on that determination and fire overcoming the well-established deficiencies of a two-man midfield.

Unfortunately, Ferguson came up against an Aston Villa team that is reaping the benefits of making their managerial change early this season and of savvy recruitment in a squad that balances silk with steel. Everton had plenty of the hard stuff themselves but little of it was constructive and when the intensity of their spirited start inevitably abated, they didn’t have sufficient guile to fashion a vital goal.

And it was supremely ironic that one of Benitez’s most controversial acts (sanctioned, of course, by the club), namely the sale of Lucas Digne to Villa just nine days ago having taken the Frenchman off set-piece duty at the start of the campaign, should come back to haunt the Blues. It was Digne who provided the assist for the game’s only goal by Emiliano Buendia from a corner in first-half stoppage time.

Everton started in hectic fashion, with the aggression and tenacity normally associated with the Merseyside derby, but Steven Gerrard had clearly prepped his side for the febrile atmosphere they would face in the stadium and the burst of energy expected from Ferguson’s men. Villa were more confident and accomplished with the ball and with Buendia, John McGinn and Philippe Coutinho up against Abdoulaye Doucouré and André Gomes in midfield, they used possession to quell the Blues’ fire.

Doucouré was not short on effort but he did not have one of his better days, epitomised by his wayward ball for Richarlison that ruined a really promising two-on-two counter-attack in the 28th minute. Gomes, meanwhile, without the assurance of someone like Allan alongside him, was a massive disappointment once again and was deservedly substituted six minutes into the second half. Making his way back from a Covid-19 infection, the Brazilian hadn’t been deemed strong enough to start but he offered much more in the Portuguese’s stead.

Employing a less refined, more direct approach than the visitors, Everton hoped to make the most of Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s aerial prowess and Richarlison’s own physical attributes but the pair got little change from Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa, particularly in a first half where the Toffees failed to register a shot on target.

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For Villa, Buendia had a couple of sights of goal from distance, one of which required intervention from Jordan Pickford to palm the ball to the side while the other fizzed wide.

Ollie Watkins had the best chance of the half from open play when he latched onto a ball over Yerry Mina's head but Pickford did enough to put him off and the striker stabbed it wide before the England keeper pushed Coutinho's header over his crossbar.

It was from that corner that Villa scored. Buendia beat Richarlison to Digne’s near-post delivery and looped a header towards the far corner of the goal off Pickford's despairing fingertips. Ugly scenes followed as bottles and other projectiles were thrown from the stands as the opposition players celebrated in front of them and there was word afterwards that one fan was arrested as a result.

Demarai Gray had shown flashes of his talent in the first period and he took charge of a direct free-kick opportunity early in the second but his shot deflected wide off the defensive wall.

It took the introduction of Gordon, a surprise omission from the starting XI, for Everton to carve out their first genuine goalscoring opportunity of the contest just a couple of minutes on the field when he whipped a ball in from the right that Richarlison could only steer high and wide of goal.

Three minutes later on the hour mark, a Richarlison effort was also blocked behind and when Calvert-Lewin headed the ball back across goal and Godfrey sent a brave header goal-wards, it took Tyrone Mings to head off the line.

That was as close as Everton would come to scoring, although Mina should have done better with a raking Allan cross after he had stayed forward following a set-piece but, unfortunately, he couldn't keep his header down.

Gordon, the most likely source of a Toffees goal, saw a late free-kick break through the wall but saved low by Emiliano Martinez and though five minutes were added due to Villa's time-wasting, Everton were out of ideas and out of energy.

Norwich City’s victory at Watford yesterday and the three points Newcastle would pick up later this afternoon mean that Everton are now very much in the thick of a battle to avoid relegation, a notion that was unthinkable just a year ago when they had Carlo Ancelotti at the helm and were sitting in fifth place.

The belief that this team is too good to go down isn’t misplaced. It’s been stripped of its most creative elements over the past few months but there is still talent there if it can be harnessed under the right system and they remain as motivated as they were today. Not every team they face this season will be as organised and hard to beat as Aston Villa were today.

Things will likely hinge on the Blues’ best players remaining fit, however — Doucouré’s departure after 65 minutes of today’s game with a thigh injury doesn’t bode well on that front — the club hopefully making a move to bolster central midfield before the transfer deadline, and, more than anything, the hierarchy making one of the most important decisions they’ve ever had to make in terms of a new manager. This is a team crying out for a fresh approach from new eyes but it’s an appointment we can’t get wrong.

Harrowing times to be a Blue and a hugely important month in the history of the football club lies ahead.

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Reader Comments (49)

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Brian Ronson
1 Posted 22/01/2022 at 19:34:53
Message to Board. Don't spend your time finding a manager who will not know the players. Given the job to Duncan to the end of the season.

Spend your time bringing in a quality playmaker, probably on loan. You will have to pay over the odds but, without bringing quality to the middle of the park, we are doomed.

I find it hard to criticise players who clearly wanted to do well for Duncan.

David Pearl
2 Posted 22/01/2022 at 19:40:19
Hard to see El Ghazi, Patterson and Mykolenko coming in. To replace who exactly? Really need a number 10, and Barkley looking more likely on a loan regardless of the past.

Shape wrong again today but we will pick up points soon. Something to build on... but let's stay together.

Peter Neilson
3 Posted 22/01/2022 at 19:58:54
Christian Eriksen is keen to get a contract and he's focussed on playing time rather than salary as he wants to play in the World Cup. Newcastle, Spurs, Brentford, Leicester considering him. After all he's been through, maybe he'd consider us too stressful a challenge.

Fair play to him wherever he ends up. Pure class.

Rick Tarleton
4 Posted 22/01/2022 at 20:01:54
Three excellent chances missed today, but a bit of fight, a bit more effort. However, fight and effort at this level don't really make up for craft and nous. I even felt for half an hour that Gomes was putting in a real shift!

We need some midfield skill. Gordon showed what was needed, but he was rather alone. Lingard? Barkley?

Mal van Schaick
5 Posted 22/01/2022 at 20:13:33
Huff, puff, not many clear cut chances! Service is an issue.
David Pearl
6 Posted 22/01/2022 at 20:27:50
It is, Mal.
As per usual in recent dealings, we knew James and Sigurdsson are not here, a big influence on goals, assists and creativity and don't replace that what's needed. Instead, we just blow £20-£30 mil on 2 players that won't help us out right now.
Pat Kelly
7 Posted 22/01/2022 at 20:40:47
A Club in dire straits brings in three players in the final window to help save it from relegation. The manager is sacked before the window closes. None of them get a game today. It's bonkers!!!

But the owner has total faith in the Board. The permanent fixture, who has survived numerous managers, drops the best in-form player and runs out of ideas.

Yes, we need fresh eyes and some tactical nous. Don't think that's going to be Ferguson. Rooney probably has a better football brain and might just find a way to get something out of this lot.

John Raftery
8 Posted 22/01/2022 at 20:56:14
As a matter of urgency, we need not one but two additions in midfield. Allan and Doucouré are clearly struggling for fitness. Delph and Davies are probably out for the rest of the season and Gomes is no more than an occasionally useful bit-part player. Gbamin is not up to the standard required.

Given our predicament, recruiting a manager from abroad at this stage of the season might actually make things worse. This is not a squad with underperforming stars who can quickly be put back on track.

As for Lampard, he does not strike me as the sort of tough, hard nosed bruiser we need to eke out a few wins as well as deal with all the stuff going on in the background.

That leads me to agree with those who argue we should leave Duncan in charge. Give him a rolling 6-month contract and send a message to the players that he is here for the rest of the season.

David Bromwell
9 Posted 22/01/2022 at 21:05:33
I don't think we need to add anything to Pat's words as he has summed up the whole sorry situation in two paragraphs.
Mal van Schaick
10 Posted 22/01/2022 at 21:42:04
Well said, Pat. If only the owner and the board read your comments.
Ernie Baywood
11 Posted 22/01/2022 at 22:30:41
It was telling that Ferguson got a cup final type performance out of that team. And it was still well short of the mark.

While we struggled to have any kind of possession or attacking creativity, largely down to the fact that we have players who just outright lack the ability to use the ball, we had to watch Villa be improved by the player we sold them on the basis of a taking out with a manager we then immediately sacked!

I've been an advocate of taking time with this managerial appointment... but who is going to identify the players we need in the next week?

Without recruitment, I just don't see us staying up. We need full backs who can use the ball, midfielders who can offer some creativity.

I was desperate to be excited by a raucous atmosphere and swashbuckling performance, but the players simply aren't up to it.

Neil Lawson
12 Posted 22/01/2022 at 22:31:43
Slightly off piste, but I am troubled by the bottle throwing. It is disgraceful, despicable and utterly unacceptable. However, did a bottle of any sort actually hit Cash or Digne on the head? From what I have been able to see, the answer is No.

If I am correct (and I apologise to either/both players if I am wrong) then their behaviour is also despicable and reprehensible. Has this aspect been picked up anywhere and commented upon?

Mark Dunford
13 Posted 22/01/2022 at 22:38:10
Is there an Evertonian who wouldn't settle for 17th place? Anything above this will be a bonus.

We keep losing in embarrassing fashion to out-of-form teams. Watford, Palace, Norwich, Villa, etc. Our one chance to escape this spiral was the transfer window in January yet this has been played so badly it almost defies belief – two rookie full backs, an incoming loanee that no one sought and the sale of one of our best, most creative players before that manager sanctioning all these moves was understandably relieved of his job.

Hemingway wrote that bankruptcy happens gradually then suddenly. Similar could be said about Everton's decline under Moshiri – we could easily drop badly after years of thoughtlessness yields it's reward.

Ernie Baywood
14 Posted 22/01/2022 at 22:39:53
There was plenty of stuff being thrown, Neil.

The BBC didn't see fit to mention Buendia's role in the incident, which was silly given the atmosphere.

Doesn't excuse throwing things but actions do have consequences.

Trevor Peers
15 Posted 22/01/2022 at 22:45:09
No more managerial changes, it's Duncan until the bitter end in my view because no-one else available has got a fookin clue. God bless Duncan, I hope you make us survive the poison chalice you've been handed.
Ernie Baywood
16 Posted 22/01/2022 at 23:04:02

I'd snap your hand off for 17th and a few months for the club to attempt to start a turnaround in the way we operate.

If we end up relegated, I think we'll look back on a few decades of mismanagement, lots of poor decisions, but a huge misstep in appointing Benitez that ultimately dropped us.

At Everton, we need to make more good decisions than bad, but it's accepted that when you're playing catch up, you're put in tough positions and have to make decisions that don't have a great chance of working out.

The worst thing about the Benitez decision is that it was completely avoidable – we didn't need to appoint him and what happened was so predictable. Anyone could have told him what would happen, and I imagine they did. It really wasn't a hard decision to make – don't appoint him. The support he got just made the situation worse.

Simon Crosbie
17 Posted 22/01/2022 at 23:04:25
My observations: several of the players returning from injury are two maybe three games away from match fitness, and some of them are still playing with injuries. Unfortunately, and regrettably, one player we miss is Sigurdsson for his passing ability.

The linkage between midfield and the forwards is letting us down – Gomes and Doucoure overhit the ball at crucial moments during the game. The aggression was there but not the subtlety. We desperately need a quality midfielder.

I am getting increasingly pessimistic about this club. One truism about this game is that, if you want to see the future of a player, a manager or an owner, you look at their past.

Too often we recruit players that have fundamental flaws in their game, thinking that these flaws will be ironed out with the promise of a new opportunity. Too often in recent years we have hired managers that are more 'safe' than fresh in their approach to the game, or people that have been round the block too many times, or even those who are willing to jump off the bus when they get a better offer.

But the most disturbing situation is where you get an owner who consistently makes appalling errors of judgment. At a time when the club is in a mess it is difficult, given his recent track record, to see this owner making the crucial decisions that are needed.

We live in times of rampant excess and where the gap between rich and poor is expanding rather than contracting. Increasingly money is tantamount to power and influence. Being an expert with money does not translate into being an expert in football, but the sense of hubris and status that comes with owning a club can make fools out of the most wealthy.

This situation reminds me of the kid who gets a Meccano set for Christmas but he does not have the aptitude, patience or resilience to get it right. Every little project is compromised by missteps and is half-completed.

Everton is not a toy but this is what this great club with a wonderful history feels like at the moment. With continued failure in ownership, for the sake of the club and the supporters, there must be a realization on the part of these people that they do not have the football knowledge or expertise to make the right decisions.

Vijay Nair
18 Posted 22/01/2022 at 00:16:14
Ernie (14), not sure which footage you were watching, or whether it was the same footage, but the feed here in Australia via Optus Sport had Jon Champion and Jim Beglin as the commentators, and they specifically highlighted Buendia going to celebrate in front of the home supporters, calling it out as irresponsible.

That said, I hope the (alleged) bottle throwing muppet has the book thrown at him.

Ernie Baywood
19 Posted 23/01/2022 at 00:20:57
Hi Vijay, yes I had the same feed. That sentiment doesn't seem to have made it into reports though.

I checked the live reporting on the Beeb and you'd have been forgiven for thinking they were snipered while shaking hands on their way back to the halfway line.

Larry O'Hara
20 Posted 23/01/2022 at 00:34:15
Having attended the game, a few thoughts:

1) Calvert-Lewin clearly isn't match fit: when he is, things will improve.

2) Richarlison tried but was often isolated.

3) I liked Mina: calm, authoritative, encouraging others – a captain's display.

4) Villa were a typical Gerard team: lots of unpunished fouls, and dives Salah would be proud of.

5) Gordon is class and should always start.

6) Much better second half but we need a midfield general… soon!

This wasn't a bad performance and a draw would have been fair. But, as we all know, life ain't fair…

David Hallwood
21 Posted 23/01/2022 at 00:42:11
Good read as ever Lyndon. A couple of points:

a) It was almost a carbon copy of the West Ham game; could have gone either way and yet again we were done by a set piece.

b) We're all screaming for 4-3-3 and rightly so, but how to accommodate our 4 top players, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (both of them some way of match fitness), Gordon and Gray into a 4-3-3? Do we play 4-4-1-1, or even 4-2-3-1 (a formation I don't like, plus it means Doucouré would play as a holding mid)?

But in agreement with most of the posters: we need 2 midfielders and I wouldn't mind Barkley on loan or even a No 6 so Doucouré can push further forward.

Really scary at the moment; we need to scab a win from anywhere. Oh, and a clean sheet.

David Woodworth
22 Posted 23/01/2022 at 01:32:42
Most disappointed with the level of performances. All huff and puff without the nous or skill sets needed.

We are a team that is so one-dimensional and easy to set up against.

Jack Convery
23 Posted 23/01/2022 at 03:12:33
Someone should tell Mr Kenwright his shares will drop in value when we get relegated.

If you really want to depress yourself, think on the players who will stay and who will want out, when we get relegated!!

Now where's that 3rd bottle of Scotch? 6 months ago, I never ever drank!!

Derek Thomas
24 Posted 23/01/2022 at 03:53:39
Now I really know it's bad – I've seen at least 5 shouts for Barkley, for fuck's sake!

Laurie Hartley
25 Posted 23/01/2022 at 04:16:42
I thought we were worth a point today but when you're down, you're down and it's hard to get a break. Let's hope we get one soon but what we really need is a creative midfielder.

David #21 – my answer to your question is leave one of them out because we can't play with 4 forwards.

Richarlison scored a real striker's goal when he came on against Norwich. We should start with a front three of Gray, Richarlison and Gordon and go at teams on the deck. If need be, Calvert-Lewin can come on off the bench in the second half and replace any one of them because the remaining two, whoever they are, will both be able to play out wide.

I was surprised at the back four Duncan picked but they all played well. Our problem is lack of guile and craft in the middle of the park (as every man and his dog knows).

Lyndon's headline says it all really – plenty of fight but no finesse. If we had a midfielder that could pick a pass from tight situations, the front three will score goals.

I watched Duncan Ferguson's post match interview. He looked heartbroken. I think he loves the club and the fans too much to take on the manager's job. It would kill him.

Pete Clarke
26 Posted 23/01/2022 at 04:50:18
The way Anthony Gordon is coming along, we could do no worse than try him in the middle. The boy battles hard and can pass a ball and you can see he wants the ball. He's becoming a leader on the pitch as the others fail.

If we go on spending, I can see us being punished in someway. This battle is difficult enough as it is without the threat of FFP sanctions.

We have to really dig in for 1-0 wins and the players have got to give it everything. Calvert-Lewin has to stop poncing about and get stuck in. Richarlison has got to be smarter and take defenders on when he can.

Let's hope Doucouré is not injured because we would then be relying on youngsters in the most critical positions.

We simply have to beat Necastle to stay up, in my view.

Andrew Flanagan
27 Posted 23/01/2022 at 06:11:33
Don't give it to Ferguson. That was terrible today. All these people saying it was better must have been watching a different game.

Yes, he got them running and a bit more comittment but that was a dreadful team he picked. Over-run in midfield, Jonjoe Kenny passed to their team more than his own. Three players signed and not even in the squad.

Not all his fault, of course... but, if his answer to keep us up is that, then we are finished. That is our full-strength team now too.

Lyndon Lloyd
28 Posted 23/01/2022 at 06:54:12
Very well put, Simon (17). Couldn't have put it better myself.
Keith Harrison
29 Posted 23/01/2022 at 10:35:39
Anyone who believes our back 4 played well watched a different game from me.

Jonjoe Kenny looked like a rabbit in the spotlights, and whether it was his nerves, or simply a lack of true ability, I think he's not up to the mark for us. Tellingly, his loan clubs did not seem keen to pursue a deal for him either.

Patterson or Godfrey to his natural side would be better. Seamus is a busted flush now, sadly.

Mason Holgate started with an awful ball forward, and did not improve. He appears to believe he has a Bobby Moore or Beckenbaur amount of time on the ball, and must also be partially deaf, as both his team-mates and the crowd start shouting at him like a pantomime villain is approaching!!

Abdelaye Doucouré I can only assume has some sort of post-covid colour blindness as from going from a really driving defence splitting midfielder, he now looks like he needs his feet straightened in a vice. The 2-on-1 break with Richarlison destroyed by a terrible pass is becoming the norm.

Calvert-Lewin I thought was very poor. To me he is suffering form the "Marcus Rashford" syndrome where things outside football appear to have made them forget what exactly they are supposed to be doing for their pay cheque.

During the time he was out injured, his reputation - as so often happens - improved enormously. Even Benitez and Farhad seemed to be intimating 'Wait till Dom's back, we'll win every game'.

He may be a little ring rusty, but I still think he should have been in Mings' face all day yesterday and showing quite a bit more fight than he did. If Richarlison had Calvert-Lewin's physique, he would be unstoppable, as his appetite for the game of late has been superb.

Dom (and Tom) might be better concentrating on getting fighting fit for the team rather than wondering when Rimmell will release their next lipstick range, and if it will match their Michael Kors handbags.

I wasn't really happy with the team Dunc picked yesterday, and I would prefer an outside face to come in who hasn't been too near the coal face for a goodly number of years and pick the best team form what we have.

On a final note, I could even see from the Park End lots of missiles being thrown at the Villa players when they scored. I do not condone it at all, and whoever did it should be banned and/or Police action taken.

However, the action of the Villa players prior to this certainly made them culpable, especially Buendia, and especially Matty Cash, who could be seen from the Match of the Day cameras shouting at and goading the crowd. The latter also systematically kicked every one of our players yesterday, something which escaped the attention of the (very poor) referee.

Those, including Dunc, who thought we weren't in a dogfight had better rapidly re-appraise. They would also do well to remember a local saying – "It isn't the dog in the fight, it's the fight in the dog that matters".

Brian Harrison
30 Posted 23/01/2022 at 11:45:26
I think anybody expecting a massive turnaround in fortunes after Ferguson has only had 4 training sessions was expecting miracles. This is a team that had won 1 in 13 before yesterday and confidence was understandably very low.

As Ferguson said after the game, we didn't really play well in the first 45 minutes but I think probably deserved a draw on the chances they created in the 2nd half.

I was a little surprised that both of our recent signings didn't even make the bench, and even stranger, I haven't seen where anyone asked Duncan that question.

I thought for a 20-minute spell in that game was the best I have seen from Gomes for quite a while, but it didnt last. I know Duncan the last time he was in charge set us up in a 4-4-2 formation, but Calvert-Lewin was in better form than he was yesterday, although he still had an excellent chance to open the scoring from a great ball from the fast improving Anthony Gordon.

Demarai Gray always looks a threat when he is on the ball, but playing out wide the opposition just double up on him and limit the space to work in. I thought Duncan may have swapped Gray and Richarlison in the 2nd half and play Gray more in the middle.

But the biggest problem yesterday was Calvert-Lewin, he is coming back from a long spell away after a bad injury, but he just wasn't at the races yesterday. His main attribute is his heading ability and yesterday he hardly won many headers and he has always been a limited player.

I think having Allan come on in the 2nd half helped but we seem very reluctant to go to 3 in midfield for some reason. Doucouré struggles when in a defensive role and he needs to play further up the pitch but to allow him to do this we need another holding midfield player.

But I am still not wholly convinced about Doucoure and that shocking pass to Richarlison when we had a 2 v 1 was awful.

I really didn't think Villa were all that good; apart from their goal and a header from Couthino, we looked quite comfortable.

I don't know what has happened to Godfrey. Since Ancelotti has left, he doesnt look the same player, and has gone very negative. Yesterday, we had a free-kick by the touchline a yard inside Villa's half and, instead of getting our team on the edge of their box, Godfrey passed it back to Holgate who passed it further back to Pickford.

So I don't think anyone is in any doubt that we are now in a relegation fight, and I fear it could well be a bumpy ride till the end of the season. But there are some plusses: Gray and Gordon are exciting players and I think until Calvert-Lewin gets back to full fitness, we should start with these 3 up front and maybe bringing Calvert-Lewin on for 20 or 30 minutes till he gets back to himself.

Dave Ganley
31 Posted 23/01/2022 at 11:46:40
Keith #29, you have pretty much hit the nail on the head with your post.

Kenny was really poor, I thought, as was Holgate in his dithering and being caught in possession. I thought Mina and Godfrey were okay, as was Pickford.

The thing that got me was barely if any shots or headers were on target. We have this uncanny knack of missing the target. On occasion it seems harder to miss that it does to score.

Calvert-Lewin was very poor. I know he's just come back from injury but this is 3 games down the line now and I don't think Mings will have an easier game. Calvert-Lewin needs to work on his toughness and practice heading, please practice heading. I don't think he seriously competed against Mings yesterday for any 50/50 header.

To be fair, he wasn't in his own in that. Our players seem to jump out of the way rather than compete for headers. It's shocking how often that happens.

Villa were no great shakes either and their time-wasting tactics, even when it was scoreless were awful. Having said that, we were weak in the tackle and never really stood up for ourselves when Villa did some cynical fouls. That's endemic of the club these days though, no team spirit and no sticking up for each other.

We also should have been in the ref's ear as he was pretty dire too. It was only when Allan came on that we actually got a bit of steel about us.

We only came alive really in the 2nd half which was a real disappointment given what was at stake.

I was expecting a full blooded guts and glory performance but instead we got a Bambi on Ice, just goes to show how poor this squad is.

As to some suggesting Barkley back, fuck that for a game of soldiers, he can't get a game anywhere else, shat on us from a great height, and can't tackle, work hard, or be a team player to save his life. Another passenger in this team is exactly what we don't need.

I feel sorry for Duncan yesterday. He made all the right noises, challenged the players to show what it means to play for Everton and got it thrown back in his face by a bunch of highly paid mercenaries. There aren't many in this squad I would keep.

As to the bottle-throwing incident, I could clearly see in the Main Stand and while I would never condone that kind of action and am glad the fella got arrested, Villa were shocking really in their celebrations, it was like it was their intention to goad the fans the way they celebrated right in front of them. It was typical shithouse Gerrard behaviour. Wouldn't surprise me if he told them to do that.

All-in-all, though, it was a poor performance from the players and shows why we need a proper clear-out. Relegation does beckon unless they show a bit of heart and fight.

Simon Kenneally
32 Posted 23/01/2022 at 11:51:09
I don't know whether it would change the outcome but I find it bewildering that the manager looked at our dire performances over this season and concluded that going with two in midfield was going to produce a different result.

After watching Villa waltz through the midfield and win second balls in key positions several times in the first half, it's even more bewildering that he didn't change it by putting Richarlison on the right and replacing Townsend with a central midfielder. It would have solved so many problems: extra body in the middle; Richarlison getting out of Gray's space; and Richarlison running at Digne who we *know* is weak at defending.

I think we're going down. A team cannot be this bad, badly run and unlucky (and yes I do think things like Sigurdsson being unavailable for the whole season is unlucky for Everton) without being relegated.

It's going to hurt.

Alan Johnson
33 Posted 23/01/2022 at 12:48:07
Simon #17 agree entirely. Great post.
John Boon
34 Posted 23/01/2022 at 13:37:50
I woke up this morning and as usual went directly to BBC Football, looked at the table, and realized that it wasn't a "Bad Dream". We are really in a very bad situation and it is very difficult to be optimistic. I then went to Toffee Web, again as I usually do, and looked for what we all need: "Solutions".

I read Lyndon's article, mainly because I consider him to be more realistic, less aggressive and even more likely to come up with a "Solution" than his fellow writers. And if he couldn't then surely one of the posters may be able to do so. Again generally valid observations but once again no "Solution".

The only consolation is that on Toffee Web I am amongst fellow sufferers and we all have shared miseries in regards to football at the present time. It is good to have company in misery, but that is merely comforting and not a "Solution". Believe it or not, but neither do I.

We have complaints in abundance but no "Solution". We can blame every past manager or player. We can allocate blame as well as any Evertonian. That also may bring some form of relief but once again it does not bring about a cure.

I know I am too inclined, in the relatively few posts that I send in, to repeat myself and even live in the past too often. Mainly because I have had many great times in the past and they were usually provided by very successful Everton teams. However I have also been around long enough to have experienced the worst: Relegation in 1951. I was only 13 but the memories are still vivid.

Unfortunately, I feel similar vibes once again. We have a poor team with no confidence, lots of criticism from all around and no easy way out. However, I think we have a much better team than in 1951 and, for the first time in a while, a possible "Solution" Basically it is relatively simple and does not involve complicated systems.

The one word I have already used in this paragraph: "Confidence". Every player in any league needs to know they are good enough to be a success. All Evertonians need to show a belief that somehow we can get out of this mess. The person in charge can do so much, but not everything. We need to at least "Hope" that we can turn the vicious tide.

If it requires drinking from a bottle as opposed to throwing one, then as one famous Scouser penned "Let it Be". We can get through this.

Give those under performing players some confidence and show the Management that we just cannot afford to be "Relegated". Come On You Blues – we still have time and as faithful Blues we may be deluded, but we are still Evertonians. We really don't have much choice.

Geoff Williams
35 Posted 23/01/2022 at 14:54:04
I have just watched the game in full again having been at the match I wanted to know if my initial feelings about the team's performance were correct.

I am still disappointed in Ferguson's team selection and 4-4-2 line-up. Having read the opinions of others particularly in respect of individual players I wanted to see how valid they were.

Of the starting eleven I don't think anyone played particularly well but then no one was awful. Gordon and Allan were good when they came on. In repect of Gomes, Holgate and Kenny I think some contributors simply 'cut and paste' their negative comments from previous postings and are not based on reality.

I believe Everton will struggle in attack and defence until three midfield players are selected and the best combination currently at the club is Allan, Doucourè and Gomes.

The pairing of Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin up front is something of a conundrum, they are the two most likely to score but they don't complement one another. It may be the case that one of them has to be dropped to ensure that both Gordon and Gray, who are currently the most dangerous players, play.

The fullback position is a concern as neither of the new signings appear to be up to speed at the moment which means Godfrey has to play on the left. I would probably persevere with Kenny on the right until Patterson proves he's ready or not.

Ferguson has a fortnight to get things sorted; otherwise, relegation is seriously on the cards.

Mike Keating
36 Posted 23/01/2022 at 15:04:07
Anyone else having problems ordering their seats for the Brentford game?

Deadline at 1:59 and all I get is a message on the website saying 'no tickets reserved'

Mike Oates
37 Posted 23/01/2022 at 15:37:42
El Ghazi couldn't play yesterday as he's a Villa player, can't play vs Brentford as he's cup tied.

But what about the two new full backs. Surely Patterson (a Scottish international) should have been given the nod instead of Kenny and both new lads not even on the bench!!!! Just what's going on.

Hope it's not a Ferguson vs Kean episode again - does he not rate them or aren't they ready. But for goodness sake someone should have asked Ferguson what's going on.

Until we play 3 in the middle with a playmaker as one if them we are doomed.

Too many wingers - Gordon, Gray, El Ghazi Townsend, Dobbin, and not enough creativity in team since Rodriquez left and Sigurdsson suspended indefinitely.

Until we replace one of them then it's 4-4-2 with us getting ripped apart through the lines.

John Cartwright
38 Posted 23/01/2022 at 16:31:41
We should never have got rid of Rodriguez; chickens coming home to roost now.
Dave Abrahams
39 Posted 23/01/2022 at 16:41:41
Mike (36),

I don't think you'll have any problems getting tickets for the Brentford cup game; I doubt very much if we'll get a gate near 25,000.

I got mine last Wednesday morning at Goodison, easy for me as I live a 5-minute bus ride away. I just went there and paid cash over the counter, so I think you will be able to buy one on the day of the game.

Rob Halligan
40 Posted 23/01/2022 at 16:49:24
Mike #36.

Whereabouts do you sit in the ground? Brentford have taken up the full allocation of 6,000 tickets, meaning some season ticket holders in the bullens road stands have been re-allocated.

If you're one of those who will be re-allocated, then you may not have a “Reserved Seat”, ie, your normal seat.

Tony Hill
41 Posted 23/01/2022 at 16:56:56
Same, Mike, @36 but, as Dave says, we should be fine. Our obscure ticket arrangements and our under-resourced ticket office are, however, another layer of inadequacy in the club.
Mike Keating
42 Posted 23/01/2022 at 17:37:44
Tony, Rob & Dave,

Thanks for the advice – we are in the Park End but we go as a group, one of whom already booked over the phone.
You can't contact the box office on a weekend and no-one was answering the Everton shop phone in Liverpool One!

Phil Bickerstaff
43 Posted 23/01/2022 at 17:54:02
We need to revert to the Dogs of War mindset. Is Big Joe doin' owt these days!!

Teams around us are winning and we aren't. I am shitting it that we will go down.

Never had this feeling in the past, even in the season when we ragged a win against Wimbledon.

Desperately need a world-class midfielder, but I don't think no-one would come.

Jerome Shields
44 Posted 23/01/2022 at 23:07:22
Strange indeed that the two new signing did not make the bench and the new loanee as well. It could be that there was no football input into these signings????

Patterson was a, Brands/Moshiri project. Digne 's transfer paid for Patterson and as his replacement ( not someone you would expect Benitez to sign). Azhagi loan came as part of the Digne deal. It was reported that Moshiri wanted Coutniho and Benitez did not. Was Countniho a loan rather than a signing?

It occurs to me that Benitez having no input into transfers took the opportunity to offer to go for compensation, as was reported. Moshiri underpressure accepted, meaning that Benitez was not sacked, but left under terms of mutual agreement.

So who was actually involved in these tranfers?

The answer could have repercussions on the Manager selection process.

Don Alexander
45 Posted 23/01/2022 at 23:13:27
Jerome, it may just be that the three newbies just haven't yet been coached enough by the Kenwright Klan at Finch Farm to understand what is required to "get" the fast-descending Everton!
Steavey Buckley
46 Posted 23/01/2022 at 23:15:55
The Aston Villa loanee was not allowed to play against his parent club. As for the other 2 players signed recently, Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko appeared not to be good enough even to make the subs.bench. But why waste money on recent purchases when Everton's playing needs are somewhere else in the team?
Jerome Shields
47 Posted 23/01/2022 at 23:32:07
Don (#45) & Steavey (#46),

It just all seems really strange to me. I accept El Ghazi could not play against his parent club, but he is more a make do, than targeted transfer.

It could explain the pop decision by Moshiri, compensation agreed and then Benitez to all extent and purposes looking out. There is a possiblity that there was no manager involvement in these transfer decisions. If so, no wonder Benitez went quietly.

There is very little that adds up at Everton at the moment. It could be that all January transfer business has been completed. Someone could be skimping and interfering in football decisions.

Frank Wolfe
48 Posted 24/01/2022 at 05:05:49
I've posted this on several threads because, to me anyway, it's most bleedingly obvious (of the many) issue we face. We need a no. 10 (ie creative MF). Without James & Siggy we have nobody in that position and it makes us a one dimensional team who lack creativity and are easy to defend against.
Mick Roberts
49 Posted 24/01/2022 at 21:06:09
Tell moshri to stop interfing with transfers oh and sell up the fuck wit

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