Trying to find some balance

Paul Traill 20/03/2022 21comments  |  Jump to last
Crystal Palace 4-0 Everton
Our initial plan was for my wife and I to travel up to London on Saturday, have a day in the capital, and then I’d catch the match the next day before we headed home. Unfortunately, Katja was a bit poorly come Saturday morning and with free cancellation at the hotel already expired, I went up on my own. “I know a few guys down there” I boasted. “Somebody will be about”.

Nobody was as it happened. We’re all a bit older now, most of us with families, and so spontaneous catch-ups are not as easy as they once were. Still, I enjoyed my day out and about in London, taking in a few tourist sites and walking for miles until my feet gave up. This was as good as any opportunity to kick back in a pub with food, beers, rugby union and football, before retiring back to the hotel.

Well rested, on Sunday I was up and about pretty early. I was torn between leaving the car at the hotel in Watford and making my way to Crystal Palace via train; or driving to Crystal Palace and heading away straight from there afterwards. Though I didn’t quite like the prospect of navigating central London traffic, I did so anyway and pre-paid to park on someone’s drive on the main road out of there.

On parking up, I walked towards what I thought was Selhurst Park direction, though saw a fella with a Crystal Palace shirt on walking in the opposite direction. He kindly informed me I was indeed walking away from the ground rather than towards it.

I’ve been to Crystal Palace a number of times over the years and have gotten quite accustomed to visiting a pub called Pawson’s Arms. It’s always been a nice old-fashioned pub which can get quite busy but is usually okay to get a pint. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there, and I guess things change.

After waiting at the busy bar for around 15 minutes, I finally ordered, and the barmaid walked away for a few moments and had a word with someone else there and then came back to gleefully explain that they won’t serve away supporters. I couldn’t believe it and explained that I’ve been here several times and never had a problem, and had been waiting ages, at which point the landlord or manager said they were too busy and could only accommodate home supporters. What a disgraceful way to treat customers.

I hate this “Home Fans Only” rule you get in some areas, but at least you kind of know the drill and don’t bother trying to go in, or else a guy on the door will tell you otherwise. Don’t wait for somebody to visibly wait for a long time to get served to inform them of this. A total disgrace and I won’t be going back there again. Obviously.

The other bar patrons around us, to their credit, gave the staff a bit of stick for it and told them it was too harsh, and another nice fella really tried to help me out and pointed us in the direction of another pub up the road. Leslie was with me and when I came back to him to tell him what had happened he said “I’ll get you one”. And he went to the bar.

Leslie is Irish you see. No Merseyside accent to give the game away with him. Service was still incredibly slow though and it was 11:45 am before I’d had a swig of lager, which was a whole 45 minutes after arriving at the pub. With time pressing and with having to drive home later, we only had the one beer as we had to get ourselves over to Selhurst Park.

It was pretty busy as expected around the ground but we got in quick enough. The away support was fantastic and the players all seemed pretty appreciative of it as they took to the field.

We began the match well. Exceedingly so in fact. We had great intensity and really had Crystal Palace on the back foot though were unfortunately very wasteful with the chances that came our way. Regardless, the way the first 15 minutes had gone, you’d have thought it was Everton on a bit of an unbeaten run, and Crystal Palace in relegation strife.

It may sound ridiculous in hindsight, but I feel the Andros Townsend injury really set us back. You could tell it was serious straight away as he lay stricken right in front of us. I even made it onto TV apparently looking very annoyed while he was receiving treatment.

I feel this was a key moment as he was having a good influence on the game. This stoppage stunted our momentum also, and led to a reshuffle with Anthony Gordon switching sides to accommodate Demarai Gray. It also removed our only left-footed player, and chief set-piece taker.

Now this isn’t why Crystal Palace went ahead, of course; this was due to poor marking from a corner kick. I swear I’ve seen us concede that goal about 20 times this season. Andm as has often been the case this season, the players' heads drop far too quickly when things don’t go to plan.

Had Richarlison done better with his opportunity when Seamus Coleman played him in over the top, it may have been different. Instead it wasn’t long before it was 0-2. Seamus was outpaced down our right, and Michael Keane too hesitant in getting out to Wilfred Zaha, who put the ball on a plate for Jean-Phillipe Mateta who didn’t miss.

It was hard to see a way back even then. The children’s half-time penalty shoot out, and awesome celebrations from the young Everton lads when they scored was great fun at the break. One of the lads even did the Tim Cahill corner-flag boxing. What we’d give for a fighter like him in the team now.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin on for Jonjoe Kenny seemed the right move, though it was surprising to see the five man defence retained, with Anthony Gordon playing at left-wing back. That’s a new one.

That said, I’ll defend Everton a bit for their second-half efforts. I felt they kept on going against a team who are well drilled and playing with confidence. I thought they had a good go for a lot of it and I wonder what would have happened had Demarai found the net with his effort at goal.

Crystal Palace got a bit lucky with their third goal and that was game over. I made a dart for it at this point to get on the road. From distance, and with a great distant view of the stadium, I heard their fourth goal go in as I stomped towards my motor.

In all, the better team won, no question. You’ve got to give credit to Patrick Viera and the job he is doing there. He has that team playing confidently and has made them tough to beat. Especially away from Goodison Park, Everton need to find some character and not shrink when things don’t go to plan. They have to stick at it better. We know this, it’s nothing new.

Though just to try and be positive and find a bit of balance to this setback, I feel there’s a few reasons for this defeat and some positives to gain from it.

● Playing very late on Thursday, 25 minutes or so with 10 men, compared with Crystal Palace playing Monday evening and then no game until this one, certainly gave our opponent an advantage with preparation, rest and recuperation. Some of our players looked flat out, some possibly carrying knocks.

● We didn’t have a holding midfielder available. Injuries you can’t really do a lot about and, with Tom Davies and Fabian Delph unavailable, we needed this Allan suspension like a hole in the head, especially as it was grossly unfair.

● If we could just make out early pressure count in one of these games and actually score when we’re on top, we might just give ourselves a chance. The lads didn’t do too bad for parts of that second half. Had we have got it to 2-1, we might just have seized the momentum.

Let’s not be too downbeat and keep the faith, I don’t think that was a 4-0 game at all.

Up The Toffees. And don’t ever go to Pawson’s Arms.

Player ratings

Jordan Pickford: I haven’t seen the goals since (I don’t ever intend to) but I don’t know what he could have done about any of the first three. I’d left before the fourth. Otherwise he was pretty average really. Not great with distribution and not a huge a lot else to do. 5

Jonjoe Kenny: Wasn’t really involved a lot in the first half and was then substituted. 5

Mason Holgate: I thought he did alright and was fully committed. Interesting to see he was given the armband when Seamus was substituted. Now that mat say less about the amount of leadership we have at the club, but it also suggests he is highly thought of as a character. 7

Michael Keane: He was pretty effective for most of the second half but I felt he was at fault for Crystal Palace's second goal. 6

Ben Godfrey: Not his best game. 5

Seamus Coleman: For effort and willingness alone, Seamus is my Man of the Match. He didn’t take defeat lying down and kept on going until he was substituted. 7

Andre Gomes: I thought he had a pretty good game. He was missing for periods but then began to get stuck in and I thought he battled pretty well in the second half. 6

Abdoulaye Doucouré: He looked completely lost at times. He did some good things but they were few and far between. Maybe he’s struggling a bit having not long since returned from injury and we have no option but to play him, such is our shortage of numbers in central midfield. 5

Anthony Gordon:

Began the game well but faded badly in the second half. 5

Andros Townsend: What a shame for Andros who at that point in the game was making quite a good impact. Very unlucky and it looks to be quite a serious injury. Unlucky Andros. 7

Richarlison: Not at the races. He needs a goal, and I feel that, if he gets one, he’ll hit a little purple patch. We sure need it. Today, he looked a bit drained and maybe was carrying a knock from Thursday. 5

Demarai Gray (for Andros Townsend): A bit hit and miss but isn’t he often. I thought he took a while to get into the game but was a bit more effective second half. 6

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (for Jonjoe Kenny): He tried but I didn’t think he won enough of his personal duels and didn’t have an effective half. 5

Alex Iwobi (for Seamus Coleman): I can’t really recall a lot of what he did. Probably because he was only on for six minutes before I departed, so I can’t really give him a rating.

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Reader Comments (21)

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Rob Halligan
1 Posted 21/03/2022 at 16:30:35
Paul, should have gone to the Prince George, probably the nearest pub to Selhurst Park. Away fans only in there, with not a single Palace fan in sight!

As for the fourth goal, it was a turn and shot by, I think Conor Gallagher, which Pickford got down well to his right to keep the shot out. Unfortunately there wasn't an Everton player in sight as Will Hughes rolled the ball into an empty net.

Steve Hogan
2 Posted 21/03/2022 at 16:41:17
Paul, I much enjoy your reports, and the stuff that goes on 'outside' of the actual game, but and it's a big 'but', Gomes absolutely stunk the place out from start to finish.

He's so off the pace now and a real liability we carry around when the other midfielders aren't available. He was directly at fault for the Palace second goal as he just didn't track back and mark his man.

Whatever he had as a player has well and truly gone. He's fragile physically and mentally.

I know it's all about opinions, but as a centre midfielder, he contributed absolutely nothing to the game.

Paul Kossoff
3 Posted 21/03/2022 at 16:42:10
No-one did okay in this game, we were an embarrassment. No defender, no midfielder, no attacker did okay. We are dead in the water now and only a miracle, like Jesus being a Blue, will save us.

Even Frank is saying you can't keep buttering up people all the time, people eventually have to be told they aren't trying or aren't good enough.

David Bromwell
4 Posted 21/03/2022 at 16:53:18
As always, Paul, I enjoyed your pre-match routine. As for the game, I thought we were clueless. Okay, we started well enough but that was soon over and we quickly reverted to type.

That was a poor team Frank picked, maybe he had no choice, but it didn't work and should have been changed at half-time.

I was really pleased when Frank was appointed, he seems to have surrounded himself with good people and it's a pleasure listening to him. However, there is a big 'but' as I wish he would not openly criticise his players when things go wrong, and he has chopped and changed his formations too frequently in my opinion.

In all honesty, Everton are a poor team and we will be lucky if we avoid relegation. Let's hope that all at Finch Farm use the next 2 weeks wisely and we don't suffer any further injuries.

John Raftery
5 Posted 21/03/2022 at 17:20:02
If we haven't conceded twenty goals from corner kicks this season, it certainly feels like it.

Although I never expected to win this game I had hoped Lampard might try a different approach to keep us in the game for longer. Instead he employed a 3-4-3 formation using the same players who have singularly failed to adapt to it in previous games. Once Palace saw off our early pressure, we were as wide open as we were at Spurs.

I was not encouraged by our second-half efforts. It was more a case of Palace toying with us knowing that they could score virtually any time they chose. They allowed us a share of possession but had no difficulty protecting their lead. I don't think we managed more than one shot on target in the second half.

I suggest also our problems are less about character than they are about quality; the distinct lack of it. Vieira has built a strong running, skilful team based on young players such as Mitchell, Gallagher, Olise, Eze and Mateta. Those are names few of us had heard of 12 months ago. They have transformed Palace this season from a safe, stodgy team happy to avoid relegation to one playing with ambition and looking up the table.

Unfortunately Frank has neither the time nor the games this season to effect such a transformation with our squad. What he can and must do is organise the team to mask the severe deficiencies in quality.

He must cast aside the notion our players are in any way capable of taking the game to opponents in away games. He must make the team hard to beat, make them own their own half of the field and turn the penalty area into a fortress.

Some might call this approach anti-football or cowardly but it is the only way we can survive this season.

Kevin Prytherch
6 Posted 21/03/2022 at 17:51:51
The most annoying part of this game was that there was nothing in it during the first half and, as Lampard alluded to, it was not a 4-0 game. The issue is, we make it too easy for the opposition to score.

The first goal - although people left their zonal positions (can’t stand zonal marking), have we not got a player with a bit of sense who can shout “I’m marking 2 people”. It’s basic kids stuff. Sure enough, the unmarked man scores.

Second goal, a defensive minded midfielder stops this. Instead we have a half arsed Gomes jogging back with a player right in front of him for 30 yards. Again it’s kids football stuff.

Third goal - lucky, yes. The shot was a bit skewed. But where’s the defence? No one reacts, no one gets behind the ball ‘just in case’, no one even moves. A committed defence follows that ball regardless until it’s actually out of play. Again - kids football stuff.

The fourth goal - well we just give up. That shows the mentality of the team.

Piss poor mentality with no leadership and no one to give the players a rocket up their arse when they don’t do the simple things.

Jay Harris
8 Posted 21/03/2022 at 18:02:56
Kevin youre right it wasnt a 4-0 game, it was a 6-0 game because we gave up after the first 20 minutes and Palace were free to score at will.

I am beginning to despair at the number of Everon managers that don't see that we need to beef up MF especially with Allan missing.

IMO Richy is wasted up front chasing shadows. we are much more effective as a team with him protecting the left flank and hitting teams on the break.

With Dozy and Daisy at CB we need to give away less corners and free kicks but that stating the obvious.

Although Iwobi is erratic with hs final ball he puts a lot of energy and workrate into his game and I don't understand why he was left out.

Demarai Gray and Doucoure are still struggling after injury so lets hope the next 2 weeks gives the coaching staff time to get players fit and organized.

Howard Sykes
9 Posted 21/03/2022 at 20:52:05
I think you're are being a bit kind to our players.

Individually and collectively they've got no spine, they're snowflakes who just give up when the going gets tough and the going is only going to get tougher over the last 11 matches.

Good as last Thursday was, they, Everton, weren't great, nor were the Barcodes, and we got lucky at the end. But at least we don't have to go to Wembley to get humiliated in the semi-final.

Alex Kociuba
10 Posted 21/03/2022 at 21:27:12
I can only assume these scores are out of 100 - otherwise, you're suggesting every one of our players gets 'average' or better?! Can you please clarify?
Eddie Dunn
11 Posted 22/03/2022 at 08:49:50
God Paul, what a shit day, at considerable expence.
I am also amazed at how generous you are to our players.

After many such away days,( I've been there a few times) I really don't miss them.
As for Gomes, watching him jog back as Zaha got to the byline to cross into vast empty space, was a scene that summed-up his attitude over the last 2 years. A lazy player.

Frank roasted the lads in his presser but he needs to look in the mirror.
If these guys are so brittle, so lacking, then he needs to simplify instructions, and stop playing Kenny at left back, put Richie left wing. And only play one of Gordon or Gray, and start with a bloody centre forward.
Also, rather than replacing one winger with another, I would like to see Dobbin and(in the League) Alli, just off DCL.
We are so predictable.
We need a back four and I heard pundits galore saying he needs to close it up across the goal. Our back line were strung out like old socks on the washing line.
I recall Frank had his young Chelsea side defending poorly, trying to play out from the back.
I think he has been caught out by not really knowing enough about us before he came.
He obviously thought we had a decent squad but now he knows that Benitez and Ancelotti couldn't get them to play football (at least the italian realised how to park the bus).
Having said that, I am glad Lampard has told them because that is exactly what many of us have been thinking.
Deal with it lads and get your act together.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 22/03/2022 at 10:10:53
Alway enjoy your reports Paul, giving a flavour off the day. I just seen a poorly prepared team cyched up to compensate and then fading after 20 minutes, once Crystal Palwce made slight adjustments.

I thought Lampard was asking alot of a aged Townsend and not surprised he got injured. When Frank's attacking fullbacks where pinned back to a back five there were no instructions to midfield or changes to suit a change of formation. Thats why they all looked half arsed and aimless. In the case of Gomes he wandered deep and diasterous. Everton's poor defence exposed.

In the second half Lampard did not change anything other than replace a few obviously tired players to fulfil his original remit. His blaming of players, some who are defintely poor, will cause resentment since they did put some effort into his flawed selection and plan.

Jerome Shields
13 Posted 22/03/2022 at 11:20:25
As far as instructions are concerned, Paul Clements flicking through a plastic folder of charts for subs coming on was a complete waste of space, instructional techniques-wise.

I am stone-cold certain that no player receiving them could recount those instructions if asked.

Paul Cherrington
14 Posted 22/03/2022 at 12:24:59
Kevin @6 you are spot on with your analysis of the goals. All were entirely preventable – if you have players with some awareness, leadership, work ethic and ability to focus all game. Sadly it appears we do not.

It's like after that 3rd goal – surely the first thing someone on the pitch does is tear a strip off the defence for not reacting and tell them in no uncertain terms to not let it happen again? Not us, though – no, we just make the same mistake a few minutes later!

Nicholas Ryan
15 Posted 22/03/2022 at 23:30:54
"Sam ... "!!
Don Alexander
16 Posted 23/03/2022 at 01:07:34
Paul, your dedication is fabulous but the fact that you give the player ratings you do means that your average rating was 5.6 across the board.

I have no argument with that at all but such an average is shite, end of, but I admire your positiveness in the wake of the enduring dross set before us from the boardroom and whomever else has been in charge these past three decades.

Jon Harding
17 Posted 24/03/2022 at 11:58:32
Paul - thanks for taking the time to write up your matchday experiences. I enjoy hearing about the peripheral parts of your day more so than the actual match reports this season!

I think you should also give one of your scores to the manager too. Frank did not impress me with selection, tactics or subs sadly on Sunday. 4 ?

One final point about the type of goal you have seen 20 times this season - from corners of course. There is one common factor, I would say. Did you notice against Newcastle at home we came under sustained pressure from corners from a big, physical team but we did not concede. And what was the exception to the rule that day? The "reserve" keeper.

I thought Pickford could have kept out the second goal at Palace too, although it was well struck (right under his hand). Time to cash in? We were dead after their first to be fair. You would have missed the ITV commentator saying that Palace have not lost all season when they have had a lead.

Ajay Gopal
18 Posted 24/03/2022 at 14:13:45
Thanks for the really entertaining report, Paul. It sucks that you had a forgettable experience at the pub that you used to enjoy going to. Is their stance even legal?

Your report goes against the popular TW opinion that the players were terrible - whereas you say that they were not too bad! Interesting!

I thought that the tactics by Frank were quite naive, to be honest although he denies it. He shouldn't have meddled with the formation that got us a win against Newcastle. The key going forward for the away games is - KITAP1 - keep it tight and frustrate the home crowd. Even if we go a goal down, we can make the opposition nervous by being in the game until the last quarter of the game and then start taking the game to the opposition and create a few chances. We should be able to convert at least one of them!

Paul, I would be interested in rewinding the match and seeing you and putting a face to the name and voice (from the TW Podcast which I really enjoy) - if you describe yourself a little bit and what jacket or shirt you were wearing.

Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 24/03/2022 at 15:32:40
Always a great reflection of the day out as much as the match, Paul. I feel your pain as much as the enjoyment of going to the match. I have had many similar fortunes and experiences on my reverse travels to Goodison. Every trip is home-away for me so to speak!!

Many on here are aware I have lived in London for many years and I've watched Everton at several grounds. This season, QPR, Brentford, Chelsea and Tottenham. Yes, a fine record!!!

But my main point there is I share the annoyance with this "no away fans" rule they impose. A throwback to the 1980s and unnecessary.

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 24/03/2022 at 15:51:06
Kevin @6,

I thought Gomes put in one of the most ineffective displays I've ever seen, but I thought the second goal epitomised our season and why Everton are in real trouble, mate.

I was watching Saha run forward, thinking, "Step up, Michael Keane, and let him run offside", which is what any decent defender, would have done in that position, I'm sure.

It was a good job he didn't though (even though Palace still scored) because Holgate would have still been playing him onside anyway, and this just highlighted how much our defenders are rarely on the same page. Shocking defending = a struggling team.

Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 24/03/2022 at 16:31:58
And a lack of communication, Tony. Who is leading the line?
Tony Abrahams
22 Posted 24/03/2022 at 16:43:42
None of them, Danny, and I get the feeling that playing with three central defenders is just giving them all an extra body to hide behind, maybe?

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