No Let-Up in Everton's Derby Pain

By Lyndon Lloyd 19/12/2016  36 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Everton 0 - 1 Liverpool

Evertonians have been calling for fight from their team for much of what has become a frustratingly poor season. It arrived in the form of a 2-1 win over Arsenal last Tuesday that Blues fans hoped would mark some sort of turning point in the campaign.

It certainly instilled hope that the desire shown in that game could be carried over into the Merseyside derby this evening and that Everton could begin addressing an awful run of results against Liverpool over the last decade. The requisite passion was there but it was wholly unmatched in terms of quality and, sadly, Jürgen Klopp’s horde was able to summon enough of it to tip the game their direction in stoppage time.

Fortune didn’t so much favour the brave — the home side had given almost everything in terms of commitment, some of it mis-placed, as it was when Ross Barkley lunged in dangerously on Jordan Henderson in the second half was perhaps fortunate to only see yellow — as it did reward the more composed of the two teams when Daniel Sturridge’s 94th-minute shot came back off the post and Sadio Mané converted to settle the game.

Ronald Koeman will no doubt be galled by the sight of Ashley Williams standing stock still as the Senegalese reacted quicker to the rebound, just as he will rue the significant disruption to his game plan when James McCarthy was forced off at half time with another injury. It robbed the Dutchman of much of the energy in his midfield and the manner in which his side dropped back to accommodate the veteran Gareth Barry played right into Klopp’s hands.

Koeman shouldn't be able to deny just how little quality Everton showed for the vast majority of this game, however, particularly in the second half where the Blues’ performance degenerated into a disjointed sequence of poor distribution from the back, an absence of leadership in midfield and almost non-existent hold-up play from his forward line.

Romelu Lukaku, hopelessly isolated for the most part, had little support but he did himself few favours with one of his worst performances in a blue jersey. His control was sloppy, his dribbling clumsy, his pressing erratic and yet, with a bit more luck as he tried to barrel through as four Liverpool players collapsed around him in the closing stages, he might have been the one to plunder a winner.

Meanwhile Barkley, the great creative hope in the side, was equally dreadful, if not more so, encapsulating the lack of composure and guile in Koeman’s team in a display where the only mark he left in the contest was on the ankle of Henderson. The 23-year-old held up his end of bargain in terms of aggression but at the expense of anything genuinely productive when he had the ball at his feet.

The evening had begun promisingly enough for Everton. With just the one change of Ramiro Funes Mori coming in for the suspended Phil Jagielka enforced upon the manager, they appeared to have picked up from where they left off against Arsenal. There was no shortage of tempo or purpose about their play in the first half and twice they got forward down the right flank in the early going to put crosses into the box.

Aaron Lennon, who started well but faded badly as the game wore on, saw an 11th-minute shot ricochet off a defender but Barkley wasn’t able to react in time to collect the loose ball in space in the area. Enner Valencia smacked a disappointing direct free kick into the wall a minute later but Everton’s best chance of the half was served up by Lennon — a low cross from the left that Ragnar Klavan got a foot to to take it off Lukaku’s toe as he was about to pull the trigger from a central position.

Nathaniel Clyne delivered a similar cross looking for Divock Origi at one end but he hammered wide with a Blues defender in close attendance. At the other, Barkley dragged one shot wide from the edge of the box and Funes Mori planted a header off a corner wide of the other post as the first half ended goalless.

Having required treatment for a leg injury shortly before the interval and then carried on gingerly until half time, it wasn’t a surprise when McCarthy failed to emerge for the second half. He was replaced by Barry but there was a noticeable drop off in Everton’s shape and energy in midfield, all of which contributed to growing confidence in Liverpool’s ranks. Where the Blues were unable to sustain any kind of attacking momentum, the ball would come back on their defence more and more as the second period progressed.

They were carved open just five minutes after the restart when Firmino found himself in behind the last defender for the first time but Stekelenburg denied him by coming off his line and blocking his effort to life the ball over him. Clyne’s shot from the rebound was charged down.

Barry meanwhile floated a teasing ball into the Liverpool box that Lukaku steered over with his head before Stekelenburg was forced off with a leg injury of his own following a collision with Leighton Baines. The fullback had done well to slide in and force Mané into firing just wide but it was at the expense of his goalie who hobbled off to be replaced by Joel Robles.

The Spaniard earned his corn with a terrific save to foil Firmino in the 80th minute as the Brazilian caught Barkley napping at a corner and despatched a side-foot volley searching for the bottom corner but Robles dived to his left to push it away to safety. His introduction for Stekelenburg had robbed Koeman of one more outfield substitution, although, of the options available to him, perhaps only Kevin Mirallas offered any hope of bringing something genuinely different to proceedings and he was overlooked in favour of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

The youngster had a few promising touches and put himself about gamely but a victory already looked beyond the Blues who were unable to muster much more beyond a Williams header (Everton's only effort on target in 100 minutes of football) from a free kick that made for a comfortable catch for Simon Mignolet in the Liverpool goal.

Nevertheless, Everton looked to have ground out an unspectacular draw as the match dragged into eight minutes of stoppage time. Lady Luck would smile once more on the Reds though when Daniel Sturridge, himself a second-half substitute, was shepherded across the edge of the box by Baines before he screwed an awkward shot goal-wards with his left foot. It evaded the wrong-footed Robles, came back off the base of the post and Mané was rewarded for following the shot in between two static blue shirts with a simple conversion into the empty net.

1-0 almost became 2-0 as Everton desperately chased an equaliser but Coleman did brilliantly to get back and slide Firmino’s goal-bound shot behind for a corner.

Koeman expressed his disappointment at the fact that side had been beaten in injury time but described their performance as “outstanding.” Depressingly, it was anything but and just one shot on target with a paltry 32% of possession on your own turf tells its own story. The ingredients were there — the Old Lady was loud and raucous and the fight was there in the players for the most part — but Everton sorely lack genuine quality and were, on the whole, inferior to the team that will go into Christmas sitting in second place.

That remains the sickening reality for a fanbase that does not deserve to be looking back on just one Merseyside derby win in the last 20. With progress being made off the pitch, signalled by major shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s consolidation of the club’s debt under a single interest-free loan, the long-term future looks brighter and there is hope that the Blues will have the resources to be challenging up at the top where they belong.

Tonight, however, was merely an extension of the last three months — a stark illustration of the rebuilding job that remains to be done on the field before Everton’s re-emergence as a Premier League power can become a reality.

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Reader Comments (36)

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Bill Watson
1 Posted 20/12/2016 at 01:19:58
Spot on, again, Lyndon. The second half really illustrated how much Barry slows the tempo of a game and with having to make a further, early, substitution Koeman's options to change things around were severely limited.

Barkley once again disappointed, particularly with his botched free kick in the second half. He also seems to have lost a little pace.

I think it's time for Koeman to give Davies a run out, at least from the bench.
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 20/12/2016 at 05:24:35
Good summary, Lyndon, although I'd say that anyone who still truly considers Barkley "the great creative hope in the side" is mired in a delusion that should have dissipated long ago.

Watching Coleman's perfect delivery simply skip off his foot to the keeper, seeing his through passes go directly to defenders, observing that shank of a free kick, no-one should still consider him a hope of anything. His effort, for a second straight game, was excellent. His production was catastrophic.

In fact, those last two sentences could apply to the whole team. Magnificent effort, no product.

James Watts
3 Posted 20/12/2016 at 05:47:45
As with the Arsenal game, I missed this one on purpose. Having worked on that game, I was hoping beyond hope that my 'jinx' would also work here. Alas, not to be the case.

Having now watched the 90-odd minutes, I can now safely say at least we are fighting now – which is the bare minimum this team should be doing.

It does look like on this evidence though that the Arsenal game was a fluke result in our season so far. Koeman still does not impress me in anyway shape or form – 2 wins in 13 games now? – but he will undoubtedly be given time. I still think he should be getting way more out of this team and there are still tricks he is missing but he's not going to change his outlook or 'style'. *sigh*

I fucking hate Liverpool from the jumped up twats who support them and the media love-in they get. FFS, Everton, just once in a while would be nice. You suck the life out of me and give nothing back.

John G Davies
4 Posted 20/12/2016 at 06:36:26
He got the sub wrong. To bring on a young forward and play him as an up and down wide right was not on. Obvious change was Valencia off Lennon to wide right and Mirallas left.

That's me done with Barkley. To jump out of tackles in a derby is not acceptable. That was the reason for his booking by the way. Jumped out of a 50-50 then tried to atone.

Tony Hill
5 Posted 20/12/2016 at 07:01:09
There are obvious problems and some of them look deep ones but I feel weirdly optimistic after last night. I think it's because I'm just relieved to see the players fully committed. If we have that, we can build on it.

I think things could change for us fairly quickly in the New Year. Perhaps I'm going senile.

John Keating
6 Posted 20/12/2016 at 07:31:50
Horrendous second half. An utter disgrace. At home, regardless of the opposition we need to be on the front foot and not play for a bloody point!

Koeman calls for high intensity pressing football, so, we bring on Gareth Barry? We have a young lad in Davies who would have been ideal when McCarthy went off but where was he?

We haven't got one decent winger, in fact our best wide players are Coleman and Baines. The RS play real narrow up front so perfect for us to play 3 at the back with Baines and Coleman wing backs. We have to get someone alongside Lukaku and not leave him isolated.

Apart from Coleman, we are still a team of nice guys; the sooner we put a flare up these players arses the better.

Phillip Warrington
7 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:08:18
How can any Everton supporter say we were unlucky? There is a huge gap in quality between us and the top 8 teams. Sure like the Arsenal game and others that were won down to effort not quality, I can't for the life of me understand why Barry gets a 2-year extension and Davies can't get on the pitch.

The start of the season when we were playing well, guess what, there were some youngsters in the team... only to be replaced by so-called seasoned professionals.

End of last season, great hope in a team with some good youngsters topped up with some quality, couldn't go wrong. Wow – how wrong can you be? Look at the crap football we play now.

Recruitment – we have the so-called best but have we unearthed any gems? No, and by all accounts we are going after over-priced seasoned professionals who can't get games at their regular clubs in January.

Clubs must be rubbing their hands with glee: let's see what surplus players can we off load to Everton at a huge profit? The red gits next door will always be one step ahead, they actually blood any half-decent youth players. Why? Because young players show no fear.

Richard Lyons
8 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:16:42
James Watts (#3) – thanks for perfectly expressing my sentiments. At least we're too good to be relegated.

And I hope we've already exchanged contracts with Spurs for Barkley...

Paul Birmingham
9 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:25:15
It's dire; the 2nd half, we never turned up and can have no complaints as they woke up after 25 mins. McCarthy going off was a major impact but without heart, guts, desire and a game plan, which we didn't have, it was always a matter of time.

The manner of the goal, Keystone Cops defending and Stan Laurel in goal, sums it up. I can't see this being any different to the last 2 years and one way or another it will be pastures new for most of this squad, as I struggle to see how they have made it as professional players.

Christmas hope and cheer to All Evertonians and have a good one and a happy and healthy 2017, and perhaps the rot might stop in 2017.

Mike Price
10 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:49:14
Embarrassing second half display and the usual allocation of luck.

The most worrying thing this week has been the charity contracts given to Baines and Barry. When will we ever become ruthless, professional, progressive? Nothing ever changes.

Thanks Everton, for another great Christmas.

Ian McDowell
11 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:52:21
We need an overhaul particularly in midfield. With Gana heading to the AFCON and Macca picking up another injury we are desperately short of numbers and quality.
Geoff Evans
12 Posted 20/12/2016 at 08:54:30
Barkley's selection, never mind his booking, summed it up.

A joke, the bloody lot of it.

Kevy Quinn
13 Posted 20/12/2016 at 10:07:00
When it's cold in my house, I sometimes don't put the heating on to save a few quid. Koeman is getting £7 million a year to tell players to kick it up the pitch as far as you can and chase it. Pulis and Big Sam get crucified for that shite. Then we hand Barry a new multi-pound contract and he moves about the pitch slower than my Granny!

Woeful game and makes you wonder why you bother wasting your time.

Barry Pearce
14 Posted 20/12/2016 at 10:18:37
Great honest report, Lyndon.

McCarthy coming off didn't help, that's for sure, but I agree with John (#6) – Davies I believe would have been a better option than Barry.

Also, to play young Clavert-Lewin, who is an offensive player, all the poor lad did was try and defend.

Also, how on earth can Cleverley be on the bench in front of Davies???

Tony Twist
15 Posted 20/12/2016 at 10:29:16
Very embarrassing. Sums everything up that the club promotes the fact that Barry has extended his contract with us. What a joke.

A manager again bemoaning that we couldn't hold on for a draw, he should be saying that he and his players all need to improve and winning is everything. Moyes Mk II.

Christopher Timmins
16 Posted 20/12/2016 at 10:33:46
Assuming no major movements in the table over the next two games, and using the Ken Buckley rule of thumb, we will finish somewhere between 7th and 11th this season, just about reaching the 50 point mark.

We are nowhere near a top 6 team at present and major changes need to be made to the first 11 over the next 2 windows to put us in a position to obtain European football at the end of the 2017-18 season.

It's going to take a lot of patience and good recruitment to reach the standard required to mount a top 6 bid and I wish the manager and Steve Walsh the best of luck in their efforts. I am happy to let them get on with their work but, if we arrive at Christmas 2017 with no significant improvement on the field of play, then questions will have to be asked.

With regards to the game last night we were second best from the half hour mark. McCarthy was a loss but lets face it he is struggling to put more than three games together for either country or club. Apart from the full backs, I reckon we need to improve in all other areas of the field, we need as many as 5 or 6 players and that is no small ask over two windows.

John Raftery
17 Posted 20/12/2016 at 10:59:15
The harsh truth is the RS are in a different league along with the rest of the top six. Just one look at the list of their forwards illustrates how far behind we are. If we had just one of Mane, Firmino, Origi, Lallana not to mention Sturridge or the likes of Coutinho and Ings we would be a lot stronger. We would need to spend the thick end of £200m to garner that many players of similar quality. It also must be acknowledged Klopp is a more effective manager than Koeman.

I think if we had been told we would take 4 points from our home games against Man Utd, Arsenal and Them we would have all regarded it as acceptable. Throw in the two points won against Spurs and Man City and we can see that our record of six points gained against the top six is about what we might have expected. The real failure has been drawing games against Swansea and Palace at home and losing to all three of Bournemouth, Burnley and Watford away. Just seven extra points from that lot would have seen us well above the mid table berth we currently occupy.

Barkley's free kick near the end was shocking. With both centre halves waiting for a cross into the area he chose to play a short pass before launching the return ball high into the Street End. You do wonder what goes on inside his head. His tackle on Henderson was disgraceful. Most referees would have sent him off.

Rick Tarleton
18 Posted 20/12/2016 at 11:17:39
To all of those who believe effort is the answer, last night ought to give them food for thought – and I include the manager in that sentiment.

God, they tried, ran their socks off. But even in the first 35 minutes when they were in control, the control was illusory, not a chance created. Just lots of huff and puff. Barkley ran and ran, but because he's a player who needs composure the running negated his skill, he was hurrying everything and therefore achieving little.

This style is not suiting Everton, it makes the crowd feel the players are giving their all, but it does little to win us matches. Probably only Arsenal of the top teams does not enjoy playing against headless chickens.

We need a game plan that plays to the strengths of our personnel, not one which is theoretical and totally unsuited to our better players. Koeman's job is to manage his resources, not make them play in a way that totally negates their strengths and virtues.

Liverpool were lucky again, but it's amazing how often they are lucky against us. "The harder I work, the luckier I get" and all that, but they also have more players who have the set of skills to change a game. Of the Everton players last night, I felt that only Coleman would automatically get in the Liverpool side.

I honestly can't see us beating them in the near future, they have more cross-country runners who are ideally suited to Klopp's style, and enough highly skilled players to create a moment that makes a difference. I'm very glad their Brazilian Number 10 was injured or I fear we'd have lost more heavily.

Rob Halligan
19 Posted 20/12/2016 at 11:18:37
Ross Barkley will never be able to tackle again, fearful of breaking his leg again.

There was one incident on the halfway line which required a strong crunching, but fair challenge on one of theirs, which had he won, there was a good chance of a break.

What does he do? ...he jumps in the air to avoid any contact. Whilst his challenge on that maggot Henderson was terrible, there was no danger to Barkley of hurting himself.

That leg break looks like it's etched on his mind forever, and no amount of coaching is going to remove it.

Jay Woods
20 Posted 20/12/2016 at 11:58:59
White Flag Merseyside 0 - 1 Liverpool.

Did our players ask Liverpool's for signed shirts afterwards? They just lay down and cowered in that second half. They should forfeit their wages this week, at the bare minimum.

Alan Holman
21 Posted 20/12/2016 at 12:30:21
I Wonder how our local derby record compares with that of other local derbies, like that of Manchester, London, Scotland, Midlands, Yorkshire... I think our record must be the poorest in the whole history of the Football League.
Ian Hollingworth
22 Posted 20/12/2016 at 12:37:50
Very poor second half even if you concede that they have better players and are much fitter. Worse for me is that they are more up for it and show no fear.

Don't expect too many changes in January as I think new contracts for Baines and Barry coupled with the billionaire owner's interest-free loan should give us a clue that we are not going to be chucking money about anytime soon.

Mick Hoban
23 Posted 20/12/2016 at 12:54:53
Fuck's sake. I thought we'd left the playing square pegs in round holes and everyone back for a corner routine with Moyes!

The second half was torture to watch. We got what we deserved but the muppet in charge thinks we did well.

Deluded.

Barry Pearce
25 Posted 20/12/2016 at 13:29:11
It doesn't look like Koeman is going to give Davies much game time anytime soon. He was not even on the bench last night, which was disappointing.

So I hope the rumours about Schneiderlin are true; we need his legs in midfield. I suppose Van Dijk would be too much wishful thinking, because as sure as hell we need a decent centre-back. Come to think of it, we need a new team.

Clive Lewis
28 Posted 20/12/2016 at 14:29:28
Just a comment about the Liverpool banner unveiled showing 27 years without a trophy.

He feel on his arse, He fell on his arse, Steven Gerard, he fell on his arse,
26 years ago and he fell on his arse.

Tim Sharpe
30 Posted 20/12/2016 at 16:04:00
Who is going to get into trouble for the flares?

Us, because it is our ground and stewards? Or the pinkies as they came from their fans?

Neville Jones
31 Posted 20/12/2016 at 17:27:27
I agree with most of above. Main problem is lack of goals and the way we play with no support for Lukaku.

Barkley is not the answer and was hopeless. A sending off might have helped as he is more of a hindrance than anything. Sell him at the first opportunity.

What was going on with the substitution? Almost as bad as v west ham (last season). A half fit Enner, who was our only real threat, is better than a totally impotent Ross. Why not take off Ross and bring on not a young lad who doesn't play on the wing but an experienced Mirallas? Why not play Enner behind Lukaku, after all he's a forward not a winger.

I also agree about Barry, too slow and past it. How did he get a contract? Ridiculous with Mo Besic coming back and Tom Davies available who I agree should always be on the bench.

Neither Barry nor Cleverley (who should also be sold) should not even be on the bench never mind the starting 11. We need to use our strikers better and spend some money in the window.

On Koeman, I'm sure he's the right man but like Moyes might take time to realise his mistakes (see above) but I'll think we'll get there. I didn't even think we would get any more than 3 points from these games so I console myself with 4.

Spare a though for Idrissa, basically our only centre-midfield player for 45 minutes who can hold his head up

Peter Mills
32 Posted 20/12/2016 at 17:57:39
Tim (#30), that's a pertinent question. You would think that all fans would try and exercise some degree of common sense towards safety.

Large banners, a stand with a high timber content, and the projection of flares, is a potentially lethal combination.

John G Davies
33 Posted 20/12/2016 at 18:39:27
Rob (#19),

I would take that a step further. The tackle on Henderson was a shithouse tackle. He spewed a 50-50 in the centre circle, heard the crowds reaction and did Henderson. If that was one of them on one of ours there would be uproar.

I know the area Barkley is from quite well. A rough part of Liverpool with good people. I don't think there would be many as timid as Ross that were brought up there.

Kevin Armstrong
34 Posted 20/12/2016 at 18:51:06
The other "flavour of the month" manager touted for the EFC job, Frank de Boer, lasted 85 days at Inter Milan. They weren't prepared to tolerate his lack of ability and chose not to make excuses about inheriting an ailing squad, needing two transfer windows etc. they accepted they'd made a mistake and moved him out.

"Not the Everton way" and all that gush will no doubt be forthcoming but isn't that mentality part of the problem? Top class sport is ruthless, EFC are not ruthless enough and certainly well short of top class. Hand on heart, can anyone really say anything positive about Koeman?

Geoff Evans
35 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:17:08
Rob (#19): Agree with everything you say. Barkley's trouble is between the ears.

He doesn't enjoy what he does and it shows.

Bill Gall
36 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:19:36
Major problem appears that we are unable to come out of defending our area without using the big boot that the opposition usually win and resumes the attacks.

All though I do not agree with the Koeman Out brigade ,he is showing traits of our previous manager in that he does not seem to have a plan (b).

The defenses job is to stop the attacks and limit the shots at the keeper, without knowing the stats I believe our keeper only had one difficult save to make so they seemed to be doing their job. The only problem we have is there is nobody in front of the defense running into open spaces to relieve the pressure, and as they say if you hit a nail hard enough eventually it will go in.

We are going to have a major problem when Ghana goes to the Africa Cup as that only leaves us with Barry, McCarthy and Cleverley, so this transfer window will either make us or break us.

I was of the belief that this season would not be easy, as it would be the start of a team rebuilding , but never in my wildest dreams would it turn out to be as difficult as it is turning out to be.

The manager was aware that this season would be difficult, but I believe he is being let down with some of the players who he thought may provide stability during the transition. Do not expect too many transfers in January as, despite beliefs, I don't think he will be given that much, as Moshiri said. monopoly money to spend.

Batten down the hatches – it is going to be a long second half of the season.

Raymond Fox
37 Posted 20/12/2016 at 20:58:52
If we continue at the rate we are accruing points – average 1.33 per game, we will get 51-50 pts at the seasons end, which most seasons will earn us 10th place. Seems about right for the quality of player we have.

Having said that, we have Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs away all to come yet, so that total may be optimistic!

Tony Hill
38 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:03:26
We do have those games, Raymond, but we also only have Man City and Chelsea of the top sides left to play at home. We're all reacting too gloomily to yesterday – and I yield to few on here in cynicism and scepticism.
Mick Davies
39 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:20:47
I think Moshiri made a knee-jerk reaction after sacking Martinez: we could have stuck with Unsworth for a season of stability, and taken the time to get the right man in (unless Unsy turned out to be a diamond). Koeman doesn't seem to be able to get players working to any plan or consistently, and we just seem to be in the same time warp as the last 2 years.

Barkley is now a passenger and leaving him on for 90 mins but taking off Valencia was baffling. I don't hold any hope for the future of our club under Koeman, especially after his pathetic post-match comments.

Raymond Fox
40 Posted 20/12/2016 at 21:29:45
Tony I agree, we played a good side last night and I might add a side which cost a great deal more than ours did.

We are just lacking that bit if quality in 3 or 4 positions, I'm not expecting much from the rest of the season in the League but maybe we will get a bit of luck in the FA Cup, lets hopes so.

I'm looking for us to spend the sort of money that is needed to raise our game in the next two windows and give us realistic hope of challenging the best.

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