A dull morning with rain in L4 as we muster in the room of nonsense and discuss that game at Chelsea and after much discussion we agreed on the best description we could give it was ‘They were far and away better than us on the day’ plus some scathing remarks regarding lack of fight.
Still this is another game and against a team with a new manager who hasn’t won in four previous games and his team second bottom of the league so surely three points would be nailed on and keep our place well up the table. Quickly this was countered with yes be we are Everton and we always find a way to disappoint on such occasions. It was also pointed out that after the long international break with many players away and arriving back with not much time for much game prep we are often substandard. I came in full of the joys now I was glad when the teams came in to distract me from doom and gloom.
The team was well received and many were calling in the bookies on the way up to bet on such scores as 3.4 or indeed 5-0 wins for the Blues. I have been around this block before so I walked on by. Goodison road was heaving and the queue at the Blue Dragon was long but today orderly along the footpath rather than across the road. In fact all the outlets were doing well with the Hat and Scarf stall back in position and attracting many visitors.
Into the ground in time for Z-Cars and it being a cold day many of us had our ‘Big coats ‘ on and with the Goodison seats being so narrow a row full of people were glad we did not have anyone slightly overweight as we already resembled the Michelin men.
The niceties over the game got underway and for a short time we looked lively and Barkley got on the ball and made space and fed in a forward ball to Lukaku who took it well and shot at goal but unfortunately didn’t catch it quite right and the keeper fell to his post and gathered.
Then the rot started to set in. Fair-play to Barkley he was looking to get on the ball by finding a bit of space and looking to set something up but it became noticeable that each time he got the ball, looked up and no movement which left him with two options. Play it forward anyway or go back to keep retention of the ball. Snag with that was when he chose to keep the ball and went back there were rumblings from the sell-out crowd which he didn’t deserve as well has not doing his confidence any good.
With passing back Swansea pushed on quickly and we saw things getting a bit panicky. Firstly Ashley Williams gave a corner away with an unforced error and from its partial clearance Baines deflected a shot for a second corner. Swansea picked up on this and pushed on more now and from one push we had the ‘Comic Cuts’ moment when Jags and Coleman collided the ball took on a life of its own and squirted out from between them.
One of my mates said’ Are they deaf or blind’ anyhow Baines got them out of a hole by claiming the ball and finding Bolasie who went this way and that like a man in need of a map but he eventually found Gana who dallied on the ball and lost it.
We then went into a stage where we seemed to have little knowhow and even less of a clue regarding what game plan we had received. Bolasie ran at pace twisting and turning without having much idea of what came next. We seemed to have more players standing still than finding space. Horribly it brought back memories of our debacle at the Bridge.
As a onetime target that we nearly signed Leroy Fer shot wildly over the bar I was just glad Swansea were not as clinical as Chelsea. Williams fouled a Swansea player and hurt himself giving away a kick in a dangerous position especially if you have someone like Sigurdsson and they did. The Stek made an outstanding save from the Icelanders kick.
The half wore on and the weather seemed to get colder as players variously either lost the ball or made poor passes and when it came to crossing or shooting ‘Oh dear’ Barkley was trying to knit things together but was lacking team- mates showing for the ball. He did manage to start the move that so nearly brought that so important first goal.
Leaving about four of their players for dead he moved the ball on to Bolasie who hit one at ferocious pace across goal right at Rom and from the centre of that unguarded goal the ball hit him and went over the bar. Whether Rom could have done better he alone will know but I thought it was hit far too hard at him. Great chance though.
Barkley was at it again just minutes later when he combined very well with Bolasie who had at that moment his real football head on and fed Barkley to feet whose turn took three or four defenders out of the game and just as ‘Goal’ was in our throats he mishit his shot and it merely scuttled wide. His actions showed no-one needed to tell him he had cats that up.
The half was winding down with us pressing more but sadly without much purpose. Things seemed too hurried too hit and miss even the odd corners we gained sailed into the keepers arms. ‘Swing it away from him a bit’ someone yelled - I agreed. Just when I thought we would get in all square at the break and Big Ron could get stuck into them Jags is at his party piece again. A tackle in the box felled a player and just to make sure Jags followed up. No argument a pen it was.
All I will say is Sigurdsson gave a master class in the art of penalty taking. Keeper the wrong way and the net almost off its fastenings We did create a chance just before the break when an exchange of passes at pace in the final third got in Bolasie one on one with the keeper he took the extra touch and the keeper was out narrowing the angle and the chance was gone. I only he had lifted his head and looked he would have seen Lennon had made up ground was open and just needed the square pass to tap home and one all would have done the world of good for fans and players. So half time it was with the players trooping off to a chorus of boos from some quarters.
The chat at H/T was not complimentary with some saying it was like watching the last manager’s efforts I just said I thought it was a bit early to be making those remarks. Disappointment weighs heavy on Evertonians. Yet with more poise and confidence we could have been three goals to the good and a whole different conversation.S
econd half and from the off you could see the same patterns and mistakes but at greater pace. Some of that pace was shown by Lukaku who forced a corner which again came to nought. Scrappy midfield play was stunting the game now and no doubt Gareth Barry is a big miss. Finding a player like him who can create whilst being a shield for the back four will be no easy task. I reckon anyone as good as Barry but younger would be looking for Champions league football and cost a container full of readies. Crosses were off the mark, Shots either hurried and /or blocked.
The travelling Swans fans sang out that our ground is a library and they were right except for the fact that of all my years of following the Blues the crowd always needs the players to produce stuff that gets them going and when they do they would blow a library’s roof off. Perhaps that might be relayed to the players and if they gave us play to roar on then a rocking Goodison could rack up the points.
If I describe all the happenings of the second half it would send you to sleep or bore the pants off you as it was same old same old. We put some good stuff together and fail in the final third, we take corners that are catching practice for the keeper and from good spells of play we always look a touch vulnerable to a quick counter. Yes we are more up for it second half and operating at a better pace but it seems from my seat that we just lack that bit of class and guile to hurt a packed defence. Ross was better today but he wasn’t helped by other players dragging their players about and a mid-fielder who gets beyond our striker. We attack it’s broken up and they break at pace Baines fouls and a superb free kick is delivered into our box and the strike was close-very close.
The manager tried change on the hour mark with Deulofeu replacing Lennon who had not really shone this action was repeated some 6mins later when Mirallas replaced McCarthy…..This move did get us going with more intent and the crowd did start to get more interested but although we had the most of the attacking we were met by a determined defence willing to put bodies on the line to get the first win for their new manager which was working as there American manager was getting more vocal and animated as each of our attacks was thwarted.
Bolasie demonstrated his inconsistency with some very good dribbles leading to attacks to some atrocious crosses that put the Winslow in more danger than their goal. Deulofeu on the other hand was all blistering pace but from when he first came to us he would quickly get to the by-line and whip a dangerous low cross in but now he holds on to the ball getting to the by-line checking back then trying a dribble along the by-line and losing the ball to either a smart clearance or a corner and at no time threatening the goal. Hell it can get frustrating for the voyeur. Changes made and nothing to show for an improved performance as the Swansea lads would not give an inch as those three points were paramount to them.
Seven mins to go and we may as well lose 2-0 as 1-0 as Valencia was sent on to replace Jags. ‘Gung Ho’ was the cry but it was Swansea who tried to breach our weakened back line and Sigurdsson was put in one on one but the Stek spread himself and averted ignominy. Then on 89mins with not much hope left along with quite a lot of fans who had seen enough Bolasie goes on one of twisting turning dribbling sprees and his wild movement was akin to a Jackie Jumper but he did get a high loop on his cross and a Swansea defender was first to it but headed it back up in the air and not too far out and there was the captain of Ireland to rise and loop one into the top corner of the goal and just out of reach of a very tall goalkeeper and into the net.
Now all thoughts of libraries was forgotten as the real Goodison roar was in town. 4mins extra went up and the roar was unabated but alas that winning goal was not forthcoming. On the whistle many of those who roared the lads on now booed them off. I was pleased it was but half hearted.
MotM — Barkley for me.
It’s strange watching Everton at the moment and I think it stems from a change of manager and a few decent results early doors giving fans a hope that may just not be there at the moment.
I don’t think the players we have are particularly poor players but watching them game in game out you realise there is something missing and we have many a chat about this in the room of nonsense. My take is that Koeman knows what he wants in the methods to be used for our play but at the moment some of the players he has just not up to it at the moment and that is a reason I believe that we don’t play as a team with some players not fully understanding their own role and that of others hence the slowness of play in build-up and final third. A great example was watching Chelsea attack from back to front and then watch our efforts although painful.
Should Koeman change his methods to suit the players at his disposal or stick with his philosophy knowing it can’t come to fruition until a couple more transfer windows? I certainly don’t know but all I can do is wish the manager and the procurement team the best of luck in getting in the players the manager believes can make his way work. That is also the time that Big Ron can be judged through fans eyes until then keep the faith and hope he can at least keep us in the frame.
It’s coming to that part of the season when I first take note of league tables and epically the one in the first or second week of Dec. Whatever position we are in then I believe we will finish between two places higher or lower. Most unscientific I know but it has often worked.
Southampton next and that is a tough place for us to go plus the added spice of ex Managers. We have got a week to prepare so lets hope lessons are learned and plans and tactics understood and give it a right go.
See you soon
UP THE BLUES
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