Ross Barkley has been speaking about how much he is enjoying his football at the moment in what he feels is the best Everton midfield he's played in.
The 23-year-old has come through a rocky period earlier in the season when his chequered form mirrored that of the team but as the Blues' fortunes have improved, so have Barkley's.
He scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season in the 6-3 win over Bournemouth earlier this month, making headlines for celebrating scoring the sixth goal before he had slotted it into the empty net, and he is once again a regular starter in Ronald Koeman's side.
“That [celebration] just showed how much I'm enjoying it at the minute, and that's the same with all of the lads as well,” Barkley said earlier this week.
“The goal was in the last minute and it's something you do as a kid. I was through and knew I wasn't missing, so I celebrated before I scored. It was just on the spur of the moment, I thought about doing it straight away.”
Often deployed as a left-sided attacking midfielder or restricted to a central role behind Romelu Lukaku by Roberto Martinez, Barkley has been given an increasingly free role by Koeman and he is revelling in greater license to express himself.
“I'm playing either inside left or inside right off the striker, helping out the midfield and getting back to dig in,” he continued. “It gives me licence to roam around the pitch and try to create chances.
“I'm hoping to play anywhere on the pitch but I'm enjoying where I am at the minute. I like playing all over midfield so wherever I am you see different things from different sides of the pitch. I'm happy wherever I play.”
Barkley's ability to enjoy playing has been enhanced by the exciting options in midfield that are now at Koeman's disposal following the acquisitions of Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin and the emergence of Tom Davies.
Their impact, combined with Muhamed Besic's imminent return from long-term injury, has introduced plenty of options in the middle of the park.
“Our midfield options are probably the best since I've been at the club,” Barkley explained. “Everyone is an international player.
“Morgan's settled in really well and seems as though he's been here for a long time with the way he gets on with all the lads. You can see in training that he's helped us kick on a bit with his extra bit of quality.
“It's class that Mo (Besic) is coming back now, too. All the lads were all talking about it early on (in the Dubai training camp). He's put in all the hard work over the season and that's all paying off for him now.”
Reader Comments (43)
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1 Posted 21/02/2017 at 07:41:57
2 Posted 21/02/2017 at 08:57:20
3 Posted 21/02/2017 at 09:01:25
4 Posted 21/02/2017 at 09:04:14
5 Posted 21/02/2017 at 09:43:47
6 Posted 21/02/2017 at 11:16:54
If Koeman can add that ingredient to his game then his lack of goals would not be a detriment so much.However, my idea of an all around attacking midfielder includes a dozen goals a season.Players like Gerrard, Lampard and other fine English midfielders could both create and score.He is being over shadowed by Delli Ali because this lad scores goals.Lukaku needs support from somewhere !
7 Posted 21/02/2017 at 11:31:08
Koeman has pressed the right buttons for Ross to kick on.
Koeman has handled the situation perfectly.
9 Posted 21/02/2017 at 14:58:02
10 Posted 21/02/2017 at 15:43:34
Koeman has been both strict and encouraging and Barkley looks all the better for it. Ross hardly had to tell us that he's enjoying himself, it's writ large upon his face every matchday now.
Just run at 'em at pace Ross, they crumble when you do lad.
11 Posted 21/02/2017 at 17:54:17
Myself also had him down for the exit door. But there's nothing like being proved wrong when the reward is a pie (ask Sutton's goalie!).
Erm, Alexander, can you please pass me the mustard?
12 Posted 21/02/2017 at 18:09:06
13 Posted 21/02/2017 at 19:42:33
Luckily, as far as we know, not everyone in power at the club took the same knee-jerk viewpoints as "Get him out, he's finished, will never be..., etc.", as some.
The guy is a class act of huge natural ability and yes, even at 23, of enormous potential to develop still further. Every big club in this country and further afield are fully aware.
It's to be hoped that the treatment he's received from various angles has not damaged his true blue core, and that recent media speculation of contract delays are not a result of him starting to wonder about football life elsewhere.
14 Posted 21/02/2017 at 20:06:40
I do feel though when he is instructed to play a certain role or for example when under Martinez to keep possession at all costs he carries the role out to the letter but this has an overall effect on his play, he so much more of a player when he has that free role.
Barkley has the ability to become one of premier league's best midfielders but lack of belief has held him back and no doubt Koeman has given him a kick up the backside and got him to do the dirty work which means he is more involved throughout a game instead of going missing for long periods.
I for one love watching Ross play, still young and with the right approach and coaching perhaps we will yet see him start to take games by the scruff of the neck, dictate and have a real influence over the whole team as Gerrard did for those across the park!
15 Posted 21/02/2017 at 20:46:54
Hopefully Ronald is sorting out his confidence issues and we will see the Ross we (some of us at least) knew was hiding somewhere.
16 Posted 21/02/2017 at 22:19:22
Hopefully now he's been cleansed of the last boss's delusions of grandeur, and he can kick on and step up and improve further. Let's start with a good win v Sunderland and a Ross Barkley MotM performance.
17 Posted 21/02/2017 at 23:06:31
But if he goes back to playing below how he played last season, then we will be on his back again because he has proved he has got what it takes to be a top player, so no more excuses to fail with his current level.
18 Posted 22/02/2017 at 00:37:26
19 Posted 22/02/2017 at 02:06:38
Every great, decent or bog-standard professional footballer has had to have a knowledge of the art/devilry/know-how of "the bastard" in every opponent. Every footballer ever regarded as "a great" has had "bastard" in spades. They had to have it and display it to enable them to display their gifts.
Due respect, he had a horrible injury as a teenager but in the real world that was then, and this has been "now" for five years since.
Life ain't a dress rehearsal, Ross. Seize the day, at last!
20 Posted 22/02/2017 at 07:35:31
21 Posted 22/02/2017 at 08:20:29
His decision making has been rightly called into question, but more recently he has had some truely majestic moments which have created chances.
That celebration showed his confidence is high, his mojo is back, and this can only be a great thing for us.
A true Blue, and still, I believe, a potential world beater.
22 Posted 22/02/2017 at 09:02:56
23 Posted 22/02/2017 at 10:52:44
24 Posted 22/02/2017 at 11:11:33
Quickly back onto Barkley, I agree with Paul. He has raised his game recently and his current form is the yardstick by which he will be measured. Few excuses left now.
25 Posted 22/02/2017 at 13:46:03
26 Posted 22/02/2017 at 13:56:48
Ross still does not know when to release the ball or take the simple option at times. Still over running with the ball into blind alleys and losing possession with bad passing. No doubt the lad has skills but does he possess a football brain?
27 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:03:27
"Every footballer ever regarded as "a great" has had "bastard" in spades."
Messi, the best player in the world, is a pure gentleman on the pitch. He's been sent off only once in his entire 500-appearance career, and it was the result of some really bad Hungarian acting that the referee bought.
Zanetti was another in that category.
28 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:04:43
I recall the story in Rooney's early days when the ball ran out of play near the corner flag at Goodison. As Wayne headed towards the crowd to collect the ball someone shouted out:
"Here comes Rooney. Quick lads. Cover your pies."
29 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:21:24
Barkley is 23 and two months; deduct the 18 months when his career stalled due to injury and his "real" football age is more like 21.
Why compare Barkley to the "stand out" midfielder of his generation? Barkley, played in his best position and with mobile, energetic players to play with, is an excellent player and, used correctly, will be a player around who we should be building our team.
He needs to be able to play instinctively and can only do that with players who can and will run into space to allow him to use his vision. The short ball slipped through to Lookman last week was an example of his vision and ability.
30 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:26:22
Best and Gazza ruined their careers through booze and probably drugs.
Maradona was a bad example to young players but not by his football ability.
The real thugs of the game were never real greats. They spoiled games by fouling the true greats.
Top players who were nasty included Roy Keane, Souness, Viera and Duncan Ferguson. All these players had nasty streaks along with their ability. Most nasty players never reached anywhere near greatness.
31 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:27:10
It's a football brain that is at its best when Ross is playing instinctively. He can be way ahead of others who don't play with such instinct.
32 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:49:50
33 Posted 22/02/2017 at 16:59:42
Kendall never praised big Nev and would lick him up on the slightest error. Nev is the first to say now he got it spot on. Whether it be handling Ross's personality, changing system, bringing Davies in, publicly bringing him down a peg or two (maybe Ross needed it?) It's working.
But at the end if the day 90% of the credit needs to go to Ross himself for either listening, getting a grip of himself, maturing, working harder or whatever . after all, "you can lead a horse to water". The lad is a true blue and our diamond.
By the way, years ago after Ross was coming back after breaking his leg in 2 places, I used to see him by mine in Wavertree sprinting up and down mill Lane hill endlessley every night...
34 Posted 22/02/2017 at 17:14:27
My point about Gerrard was he appeared to get better year after year even when faced with playing with poor players around him. Gerrard carried the Liverpool side for season after season. Can Barkley do the same thing for us?... The jury is still out with me.
35 Posted 22/02/2017 at 20:14:23
Ross isn't the complete package. He needs a guy who can work on and hone the skills he has, not someone who wants to try to turn him into something he isn't.
On his day he is a lovely easy-on-the-eye player, a match winner, but I fear he will continue to have as many poor games as good games under the current manager.
36 Posted 22/02/2017 at 20:21:23
Numerous comments recognising his crunching tackles against Bournemouth show that he may be turning a corner. I really hope so because if he is to flourish as most us would like you can bet your bollocks the opposition will leave no stone unturned to get at him in any way they can. They're already at it after all.
37 Posted 22/02/2017 at 21:30:28
First of all there is the voice of his youth coaches. They allowed him to get the ball and to run at the defence, to shoot from anywhere, and encouraged him to express his natural talent.
Then there is the voice of his first manager, Davey Moyes. Moyes played him on the wing, Moyes criticised him openly for losing the ball, and felt the 18 year old Barkley had to be played wide, out of the way of doing damage.
Then came Roberto, he told him to stop running and to pass it. To stop shooting and to pass it.
Now he has Ronald in his ear. He's telling him something else.
With all due respect to Ross, he's not the sharpest tool in the shed. He lacks the academic ability of Tom Davies or Matthew Pennington. So, is it not possible that the poor lad was confused. He gets the ball and his natural instinct is to go for goal. That's all he ever did in youth levels and on breaking through, before Moyes and Martinez really got hold of him. This was coached out of him. You could see when he got the ball he was thinking too often. He dithered and so appeared to make bad decisions.
Think about every time Ross does something well. It's usually because he has no time to think, the voices in his head of Moyes and Martinez, don't have time to say anything, he turns and shoots, or he glides past the defender and opens up the pitch to put someone through.
Also there is the crowd. Ross seems more effected by the crowd than any player in blue I've ever seen. Maybe again it's the contradictory voice of the fans urging him to do the opposite of what his then manager (Martinez) was telling him.
I don't pretend to be privy to what the coaches are saying to him, but it's bloody obvious that Moyes' Barkley, Martinez' Barkley, and Koeman's Barkley looks to do very different things. And Koeman's Barkley seems to be a lot more like the natural Barkley, and for me that's why he's playing better. He's not thinking, he's just doing.
Watch the Dubai training videos and you'll see how great Barkley is, how much every kick of a ball means to him, he just loves football, and he's clearly loving playing right now.
38 Posted 22/02/2017 at 21:51:06
If anyone understands this, Koeman must, with his Dutch total football and Barca background. If this is what's happening behind the scenes, then it's going to be mighty interesting to see Ross's progression.
40 Posted 24/02/2017 at 11:43:16
41 Posted 24/02/2017 at 14:17:30
42 Posted 25/02/2017 at 01:20:48
Ross is class, he's got more skill than Alli..and now he's starting to show it.
43 Posted 28/02/2017 at 11:55:03
Maybe Ronald has found it and playing it close to his chest, as I can't see Ross having too much of a free role as Ronald likes a disciplined set up.
I think Ross is lucky to find a great mentor now who will put him straight albeit with tough love and structure for progression when needed, rather than the "so be it" attitude of Martinez.
44 Posted 28/02/2017 at 12:16:00
All Ronald needs to decide is who is the best man to support Lukaku in front of Ross.
45 Posted 28/02/2017 at 13:37:49
That's not true at all. He averages 1.1 tackles every 90 minutes this term, while it was 1.3 during the 2013-14 season and 1.5 the season after.