Lukaku challenges Barkley to score more

Tuesday 1 November 2016  31 Comments  [Jump to last]
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku has highlighted one of the key differences between team-mate Ross Barkley and those players standing in his way in the England set-up: goals.

Lukaku and Barkley scored the two goals that beat West Ham on Sunday afternoon — the pair also combined superbly for the second where the latter converted the former's chipped cross from the byline — but it was only Barkley's second Premier League goal of the season.

The 22-year-old midfielder has struggled for consistency this season, with manger Ronald Koeman not reticent about the reasons why he has been pulled from the starting line-up at times but, by Barkley's own admission, his performance against the Hammers provided a platform from which he can now "kick on" and improve.

Key to that, in Lukaku's mind, is goals from midfield, something Barkley was producing this time last year before his overall form tailed off badly in tandem with that of the Everton team in general.

“I think the manager has been hard on him because he knows Ross has the quality — he just needs to be more productive,” Lukaku says in The Guardian. “When we do finishing or have small games in training, I tell him to keep his eyes open and play with his head up.

"He can see much more then, he can see where the space is and he can play the pass or shoot himself. The decision-making has to be better. When he gets that, you are talking about a fantastic player.

“At the minute the players who play in his position for England — like Dele Alli and Wayne Rooney — have goals in them. I think Ross has to get more goals and more assists than he has been doing. If he does that he is going to play. To me, if Ross fulfils his potential you are talking about the best player in English football. He has got everything.

“He has got power, technique, he can shoot with both feet, he is fast and he can pick a pass. The manager has been working with him so he makes the right decisions on the pitch. Who is going to stop him?”  


Reader Comments (31)

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Paul Mackie
1 Posted 01/11/2016 at 14:54:41
He's not wrong.

Edit: Just read the rest of the interview and once again it has a player praising Koeman for his straight-talking, no-nonsense approach. There's none of Martinez's "just enjoy your football" bollocks, Koeman has a clear vision and he's getting that across to the players.

Conor Skelly
3 Posted 01/11/2016 at 14:59:38
Which part is wrong?

I think he's dead right. Barkley needs to play with his head up.

Stan Schofield
4 Posted 01/11/2016 at 15:11:11
Spot on. Barkley is a fantastic player, and like many fantastic sportsmen who have a run of bad form (whether it's footballers or skiers, or whatever), the right fine tuning from a good coach, and suggestions from fellow sportsmen, can work wonders.

IMO there's been far too much talk on TW about 'shipping out' players who haven't been performing as well as expectations might demand. I'd rather Koeman was given a chance to really get this squad gelling together, which I believe he can do, because we have some cracking players, especially ball players like Barkley.

Peter Roberts
5 Posted 01/11/2016 at 16:43:23
A nice mixture of plaudits and maybe some accurate observations .

However, what I will say is that, for Ross to be able to pick the pass, the man in front of him needs to be smarter with his runs. Yes, Rom – you.

Far too often, the lad has the ball and there is no-one moving for him in an intelligent manner.

Jay Harris
6 Posted 01/11/2016 at 17:13:25
Totally agree, Peter.

Barkley frequently turns well with the ball at his feet and then comes to a standstill because there is no movement in front of him.

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 01/11/2016 at 17:38:15
These points made by Lukaku may be correct, but I would rather not hear them. We have just had a good result but I would really like to see at least a run of good performances from both of these players before having Rom's opinions spouted to The Guardian.

It is refreshing to see the manager willing to rest even the Captain (to preserve him), and give Robles his chance (Stekelenburg supposedly with a swollen foot), after Stekelenburg's awful dive at Turf Moor.

If Jags and Ross can be dropped, then even Lukaku must get the message.

Steavey Buckley
8 Posted 01/11/2016 at 17:49:58
Barkley will score more goals if there are more crosses into the box, where he is supported by the other 2 midfield players.

The great Everton team of the mid to late 1960s had a great midfield of Kendall, Ball and Harvey. So the great late Alan Ball was able to score about 1 goal in 3 games.

That is the target Barkley should set.

Don Alexander
10 Posted 01/11/2016 at 19:27:37
Can't wait for next week's instalment: "Jagielka challenges Lukaku to fight back more."

Is this piece to The Guardian required under Lukaku's contract? If not, why is he going public like this?

Stan Schofield
11 Posted 01/11/2016 at 19:37:25
Don, I think the reason might be that there's too much talking in football. Too many press conferences, too many interviews, too much 'analysis' from so-called pundits. Although it's unlikely to be a contractual requirement for players to talk a lot, it seems that it's the thing to do in the modern game.
John Malone
12 Posted 01/11/2016 at 19:50:11
I would really love it if Barkley did start reading and seeing the passes in the game quicker but I do worry that a footballing brain is the only skill you can't teach!

I really do hope Koeman can show him were he has been going wrong, the penny drops, and he becomes the top class player he is well capable of being!

No better feeling than seeing one of your own doing the business for your team!

Stan Schofield
13 Posted 01/11/2016 at 20:14:50
John, there are loads of skills you can't teach, where you either have it or you don't. (You can't put in what nature left out. You can teach a donkey to run faster, but you can't turn it into a racehorse).

Fortunately for us, Ross has a very unusual range of football talents, including, in my opinion, a good footballing brain that shows itself when he's on song.

Andy Crooks
14 Posted 01/11/2016 at 20:55:34
Stan, spot on about shipping players out. I know that footballers are different in many ways but, say a player has his kids in a school they love, he has neighbours he likes, he has a happy life... but gets injured. So, ship him out.

We can't "ship" them out. There are contracts, employment laws... which, whether we like it or not, apply to rich young footballers.

Lev Vellene
15 Posted 01/11/2016 at 21:14:53
Ross can do it, there is no doubt about that. He's just got to trust his instincts when close to the opposite goal, and NOT stop to think too much like he's been doing too much this season. He's not a thinker, he's a doer!

If I was a defender or a 'keeper, I'd start to panic if he receives the ball near the box with a yard or two of space! Either foot, equally dangerous!

Fran Mitchell
16 Posted 01/11/2016 at 21:15:57
Don: Yes, this interview seems a bit pointless but that is the game these days. At least we have players that the mainstream media want to talk to, and about.

If our players were cold and didn't do interviews, and thus not helping the media nor the journalists in their job, then the media would give the same treatment: lack of highlights, less live games, less coverage which could in turn mean less money and the continuation of Everton being a small team.

The role of the media in changing our image is greatly important, and for a long time we on here have complained at our poor PR department.

So basically, the fact that Barkley and Lukaku are getting talked about at a national level, adding to the previous in-depth article on our Dutch keeper and the attention being given to Koeman's reign. I take it as something positive considering the way football is today.

Yes, 'we want our players doing their talking on the pitch'. But we also want people to be talking about our club; the tide is turning and Everton is finally becoming a 'big' club again.

Stan Schofield
17 Posted 01/11/2016 at 21:56:30
Fran, I agree. Although I think there's too much chatter, as you say, it's the name of the game these days, and what's happening is a sure sign of our increasing profile.
Derek Thomas
18 Posted 02/11/2016 at 00:23:53
Exactly Fran @16; the only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.
Phil Jeffries
19 Posted 02/11/2016 at 12:29:46
Barkley needed a goal and good performance to lift his confidence. All players like him feed off confidence.

Being left out at Man City was a kick up the arse. Fair play to the lad though, he's never gone to the press complaining and just wants to play his football for Everton. Time to support him and hopefully we will see him grow into the player that many think he is.

You don't have his scoring and assists stats by accident. He will divide opinion even if we win 5-0... but that's Evertonians hey?!

Tony J Williams
20 Posted 02/11/2016 at 12:50:29
Nobody else worried that a professional footballer who has been in the International set up still needs to be told to get his head up and look around?

He has got something but it was lost in the last two seasons when Bobby must have basically told him to do what he wanted and started to find the key to the Pukka Pie cabinet.

He now looks thinner and fitter but he is still trying to score the perfect goal instead of sometime putting his laces through it (even Arteta learned this).

I want to see him become what we all hope he can, but one swallow does not make a summer (pfnarr, pfnarr),

Terry Underwood
21 Posted 02/11/2016 at 12:52:44
Lack of goals keeping Ross out of the England team? And pray tell, just which England midfielder is dripping with goals? Fuck me, the England team don't even have a centre-forward who can score!!!
Rick Tarleton
22 Posted 02/11/2016 at 14:42:02
Dele Alli? An over-rated flash boy whose clever footwork can't mask the fact that he neither presses hard or scores that many goals. His passing is strictly within a 10-yard radius...

Rooney, an ageing superhero whose skill can't mask his inability these days to beat and leave a marker behind...

Lallana, nice feet, no brain, but a great cross-country athlete...

I don't honestly see a better player than Ross Barkley for the attacking mid-field role (Number 10), in the England team.

I'm amazed that more true Everton fans weren't eulogising about a very good display of attacking midfield play that Ross delivered on Sunday. But then again, when we want someone to blame, it's usually Barkley and Lukaku who get the stick on TW. They were easily our two best players on Sunday.

Shane Corcoran
23 Posted 02/11/2016 at 14:54:10
Rick, "true Everton fans"? Are they the ones that dismiss players such as Alli and Lallana and talk up their own despite the fact that he's been dropped by his club manager?

Ross has been poor for quite a while. He had a much improved performance on Sunday. He has a chance over the next while to show us that he's up to a place in the team. He has very little competition for his place with Mirallas and Deulofeu playing so poorly so he should at least be able to cement that.

Is it ok for me to criticise Mirallas and Deulofeu or is this just a back slapping thread?

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
24 Posted 02/11/2016 at 15:50:10
Look, one of the things we all do is provide opinion on players' current form. It's not slagging, it's not back-slapping – just an assessment of where we feel those players are formwise. Do we all agree???!!? Of course not... But that does not mean it has to be labeled and condemned because you disagree.

Rick's last paragraph (#22) is a disgraceful misrepresentation of the positive posts that Barkley and Lukaku received after the game. Count them yourself on the matchday thread.

I'm fine with people having different opinions of the players but let's not twist things to play up your own particular agenda at the expense of the true assessments that most posters are providing, please.

Shane Corcoran
25 Posted 02/11/2016 at 16:20:30
Well said, Michael.
Paul Holmes
26 Posted 02/11/2016 at 16:37:00
After Lukaku's revelations about Ross, this season is make or break for him. Rom has stated that the players and the manager are telling him what us fans can see every week.

If he develops more of a footballing brain, combined with goals, then we have finally got a player. The jury is still out, but things look more promising after the West Ham game.

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 02/11/2016 at 16:39:00
I have to agree with Michael on this one. Darren Hind got it right about Barkley, after Sunday's game, I think. He said, that people want Barkley to succeed that much, that when things don't come off, you can hear the frustration, in the stadium, that much louder.

Twisted logic, maybe? But as long as Barkley works as hard as he did on Sunday, I'm sure there will be a lot more cheers than groans, and I feel that this is something Koeman is trying to preach to all the squad.

As an afterthought, I am going with more twisted logic, and was thinking that rather than complain about Barkley getting his head up, I would sooner see the kid just become a lot more direct. Drive, and play little one-twos, like in a five-a-side game, and just get busier all round.

His ability is all natural and it seems to be when he oversimplifies things that he starts to create problems in his own head?

Tom Bowers
29 Posted 02/11/2016 at 17:30:12
As a local lad with great talent, I would love to see him get the consistency that will help Everton become a top team again. I believe it comes down to confidence with this lad. He can be way better than the likes of Sterling, Henderson and Drinkwater – none of whom have really impressed me as having the class of Ross.

However, I am not interested in his England career and would rather see his best appearances for Everton. Last weekend, his form was greatly improved but there are more formidable teams than the Hammers and against those teams is where I want to see the real Ross Barkley.

Mick Davies
30 Posted 02/11/2016 at 21:51:43
There are two things Ross needs to become the player we all hope he will be: a) he needs to work hard, and b) work even harder. He has all the skills, as proven with the goal at Newcastle, the free kick at Swansea, at Norwich, against City, etc.

He just needs to put 100% into his game, and we'll have a top-class player. It's all up to him, and strolling around the pitch after scoring, thinking "That's it, I've done my bit" will never endear him to the fans. If the rumours were true about drinking, then I hope that's been knocked in the head and he can get back to his best.

Nathan Cross
31 Posted 03/11/2016 at 05:37:56
Lukaku is right, of course, but he should perhaps look at himself first. In my humble opinion, our midfielders would get a lot more chances to score if Lukaku's link-up play improved. It's gotten better this year, but I'd still class him as "mediocre" at best for that part of his game. Yes, he got an assist on Sunday, but I can't remember the last time he's set up a goal, and he still gives the ball away cheaply far too often.

And yes, I know Lukaku's primary job is to score, and he's got a great scoring record – this is not a "Lukaku is crap" rant. It just seems a bit disingenuous for Lukaku to be criticizing Barkley for not playing "with his head up" and for his decision-making, when those are still decided weaknesses in Lukaku's game as well.

Peter Roberts
32 Posted 03/11/2016 at 10:22:03
Nathan, I could not agree more. What is clear to me from the interview is that Lukaku is picking out Ross's "awareness" as being something that he needs to improve.

If Ross was to respond in the same way, he could say: "It's tough to pick out a striker with a pass when he keeps strolling into an offside position or doesn't bend his runs. Lukaku is a brilliant finisher but its frustrating when we as a midfield unit can't commit forward as he doesn't always hold up the ball and it leaves us prone to the counter-attack."

Then he could pad it out and say: "When Rom learns the art of holding the ball up, pressing from the front, and intelligent movement, he will be unstoppable."

To me, the talk about Barkley needs to stop – it doesn't do him any favours. Let the manager and coaches work with him.

Danny O'Neill
33 Posted 03/11/2016 at 11:57:40
Fair point, Nathan; hopefully last week was a bit of a sign that both are learning (Lukaku's running and then patience to wait for midfield support for Barkley's goal).

Both are relatively young and not the finished article yet with much to learn and refine.

Stan Schofield
34 Posted 03/11/2016 at 16:44:10
Team spirit seems to be very good, the players seeming to enjoy playing for Everton at the moment. I believe it can only get better, given improved discipline and structure, plus the players are clearly fitter.

What Lukaku has said seems fair enough, and yes, Barkley could similarly give his opinions about other players, but he seems quite a shy lad, not given to expressing opinions openly. A good thing here is that they seem to be working off each other, gelling more, and quite open about areas for improvement.

I thought there were signs on Sunday of things starting to come together, and it doesn't matter if that's slow, so long as it's happening.

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