From My Seat: Stoke City (H)

By Ken Buckley 13/08/2017  27 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Everton 1 - 0 Stoke City

At last it is here, the first day of another season where fans are full of expectation and somewhat wild predictions. Still it’s good to dream and with a host of new signings and more to come, or so we think, we are more than ready to live the dream both at home and abroad.

We entered our temple of learning and headed into the room of nonsense where many a would be manager or coach would be busy sharing their idea of line–ups and formations and fair do’s most got it right except for one player which was revealed at the moment when all heads go down to stare at their palms and see the electronic device reveal the teams. Calvert-Lewin at right wing back!!

Now that just didn’t look right and a good discussion followed and most agreed that unless it was to be some new to us formation then we were likely to be unbalanced and unsure leading to that horrible bit where no one knows who’s doing what and ending up doing nothing.

Our lovable cousins were on the screens playing Watford and a few in red shirts in attendance amongst a shed full of Blues and you could tell by the roars and boos as to who had scored. Into injury time and the boo’s led 3-2 but in time added on a mighty roar went up and red shirts were noted doing one and were met by a most raucous wall of noise extracting the urine.

The rain had stopped in time for a most pleasant walk up until one of the lads saw a notification on his phone telling fans to get to the ground early as there was a problem with season cards working properly. Well by now it was too late to be early so we plodded on anyway. All the usual out lets were there and the fat van was out doing the Blue Dragon, the fan zone seemed popular and Goodison Road was heaving with fans. Again the Liverpool mounted police had been and left a road full of clues behind. We got to our turn-style and it worked and there to greet us was a steward handing out fixture lists. On to our seats and an excellent time for z-cars. The players got a grand roar as their names were read out but our prodigal son (remember the name?) got an extra special one.

We kicked off and for some ten minutes or so we did reasonable well in terms of building attacks but penetration was not yet on the menu. Sandro showed a piece of quicksilver but scuffed his shot wide now from there the game went a tad downhill. The best you could say for both teams was that their effort was not in any way complimentary to their lack of any cohesion, craft, guile or the excitement of a narrow miss.

Gana hit a hard drive from some 15yds that flicked off Rooney who took just enough pace off the ball for Butland to grab it with some ease. It seemed to me that we were right as we looked all over the place with this type of three at the back with a centre forward as the right wing back. As an example of the problem when the lad did bomb on he was none too keen to bomb back again as moves broke down and Stoke didn’t take long to work it out and target his side. This led to Gana trying to fill in or failing that the right centre back going over to cover which was leaving a visible hole in the middle of our defence which in turn led to some unnecessary hairy moments for players and fans alike. To me the system is fine but it must be with the right personnel to operate it and sadly we don’t have that to date. Around me we were all agreed he had to change the tactics as these were not working and should not have been used in the first place. Having said that it should be noted that Stoke had been kept away from our goal and not one shot on target all half however Bojan had hearts in moth when he cut in and floated one just over our bar but that was about it.

The half went on in much the same fashion leaving little to report and I wished for the half-time whistle so the manager could consider a plan B. Just as the fourth official showed one added minute the move of the game took place when Rooney played a short pass to Gana and Klaassen made a dummy run taking a couple of defenders with him and Gana fed Calvert-Lewin who took the ball in his stride looked up and put in a pinpoint cross the like of which Thomas, Sheedy or Hinchcliffe used to do and Rooney had made up the yards to be able to take advantage of such a cross and in true top marksman fashion flexed the neck muscles and back from where the ball had come leaving Butland flat footed and the ball nestling in the corner of the park end net, ROONEY-ROONEY-ROONEY was the deafening cry amongst the mayhem. My mind went back some 15 years when I witnessed his debut goal v Arsenal and now I have just watched his debut goal to celebrate his second coming.

Half-time: 1-0

The first half had been disappointing but that move and goal had somehow mellowed us and instead of ranting we all agreed a change in line up and tactics was called for. I must say that although DCL was in the firing line it certainly was not his fault he had it thrust upon him. I believe that lad has got a good future in the game. He just has that something about him that says ‘class act’ in waiting.

Second half and Ron had listened to us!! Williams who had not shown his best form first half was swapped for Martina allowing DCL to go upfront and from the kick off we looked better as passes got sweeter causing some joined up stuff to break out from time to time. Mark Hughes had sorted his side out in the break and they came out full of endeavour but we looked a better all-round team now and Rooney was pulling the strings and was always on hand to receive the ball and move the Stoke defence about.

Stoke built up a head of steam and were looking a bit dangerous so our manager took off Klassen and sent on Tom Davies. A good decision I thought as Klassen seemed spent as he comes to terms with the frenetic style of the EPL. Tom soon got into his favoured midfield roll and Stoke were now not as potent and as the half went all of Rooney’s on the job coaching and giving practical demonstrations on how to keep a cool head and play joined up footy whilst looking for openings we did improve a little but not enough for us fans to make any rash predictions about top whatever finishes. The half went on and still Stoke had not created one on target But Fletcher did give us a mighty scare when he drilled a daisy cutter with some venom no more than two feet wide. For us the best chance of the half was when DCL robbed Zouma near the box and strode on as fans got out of seats in expectation but alas his effort only found the torso of the prone Butland and ricocheted clear.

As the clock ticked ever nearer to the final whistle Stoke played their joker and Crouched was introduced and for about eight or ten minutes caused some mayhem and panic in our box as Stoke pounded in high crosses in the hope one would bounce off him and the second ball would be theirs. We defended manfully but Crouch won his fair share even against the excellent buy Keane. Strangely I noticed that the best marker for thwarting Crouch was not another tall defender but the smallest player on the pitch --- Baines. Three times I noted as the high ball came to Crouch Baines got right in the small of his back and as they jumped crouch was just way off balance and danger thwarted.

Into stoppage time and many thinking ah-well a win is a win Shaqiri set off on a run right into the heart of our defence and unleashed a shot of some venom when the man in black Mr Pickford took to the air and in spectacular fashion turned the venomous shot around his post for a corner that came to nought Crouch or no Crouch. My mind went to that theory that a top class keeper can gain you points as well as a top class striker. The final whistle went with us attacking and Goodison generously applauded a first day win whilst realising that we are far from the finished article and are most eagerly awaiting any incomings of quality players before that window closes.

MotM: Rooney

All-in-all, a good day out and now we can turn our minds to Thursday when off we go again. A trip to the room of nonsense to consider our line-up and tactics and when the official list comes through we will dissect that as well. Hell you would think we knew something about footy. A chippy tea then off to the old lady and watch what actually happens. For my part I would love a three goal lead to take to the land of Pivo.

See you there

UP THE BLUES


Reader Comments (27)

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James Watts
1 Posted 14/08/2017 at 04:16:43
Good report, Ken. Always good to read.

Expect to see Pickford in midfield, Rooney right back and Calvert-Lewin in goal on Thursday for a new cunning tactical masterclass.

Alan J Thompson
2 Posted 14/08/2017 at 05:08:12
Ken, just on your description of the goal. To me the best points in it were Sandro's pull back and pass to Calvert-Lewin and Klaassen's run to the front post taking the defence with him and the cross to space for the on rushing Rooney. In other words, just about all of it.

I too watched the Watford game until just before injury time and it seemed to me that their opposition played a lot of kick and run football albeit they have quite a few speed merchants.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 14/08/2017 at 06:19:55
Aside from the footy itself, the best thing about the start of the new season is the resumption of Ken's weekly reports.
Tony Marsh
4 Posted 14/08/2017 at 07:18:48
Good article, Ken, nice attention to detail in there. Yes, Rooney MotM by a mile Keane and Pickford decent but the rest of them I am puzzled by how rubbish they look. Klaassen for me looks a few grades above his level. Calvert-Lewin I still don't know where he is supposed to play or what type of player is he? One thing for sure Calvert-Lewin will never make it as a striker in the Premier League..No chance.

The football on Saturday was atrocious and so were the tactics. Does Koeman know what he is doing, seriously? It's all very Moyes-esque. No cohesion, no fluidity, no penetration, and no pace. I am totally baffled.This was exactly the same as our away form last season – indescribable.

I still can't believe we let Lukaku go so early in the window without replacing him. I reckon we would be getting £120 million from Man Utd around now. There has been some really stupid business done this summer and the Romelu deal is the most annoyingly pathetic of the lot. What was the rush to let him go?

I can't see it improving this season no way. More games to play with aging first-team players like Baines, Jagielka, and Williams mixed in with youth and players not good enough – and now no goal threat!! May be it's a good idea we get knocked out of the Europa League – it is already becoming farcical. The last round was embarrassing.

Ah well... there is always the new stadium to cheer us up lads. Ha Ha – What stadium? he asks...

Kevin Gillen
5 Posted 14/08/2017 at 08:11:53
Well said, Mike Gaynes, Ken's report is 100% accurate. We are clearly short of enough players of quality. We need four so no doubt we'll get two.

Most clubs are struggling to do business at this stage so I expect a late rush of signings. There is talk of Kalinic from Italy. We definitely need somebody.

I also expect Barkley, Robles, Niasse and McCarthy to go out. Possibly Barry too given he understandably wants to play and was out of the squad Saturday.

I fear for us given we have an arduous European campaign and several promising youngsters out on season-long loans. We are one serious injury away from a crisis of personnel and I don't trust the board to deliver the bodies necessary for progress. I live in hope but not expectation.

Peter Mills
6 Posted 14/08/2017 at 08:41:55
Spot on Ken. We commented on Leighton's handling of Crouch – very canny defending.
Dave Abrahams
7 Posted 14/08/2017 at 09:32:19
Welcome back Ken, great description of the build up to the game,everyone ready for the new season, ground well packed and everybody waiting for a new and inspiring performance from the Blues, then it was all spoiled when they were given the ball to play with.

The result turned out okay but the performance was less than expected, a lot less. But on to Thursday as you say and we will start all over again. Let's hope Koeman gets the selection right, for a start, then a good lead.

John Raftery
8 Posted 14/08/2017 at 12:57:48
Great report Ken. Picking Calvert-Lewin to play right wing back was certainly a strange decision. As the tedious first half wore on he became more of a right winger with Gueye and Keane covering behind him.

His cross for the goal was excellent but he looked far more comfortable in the second half playing as an out and out forward. We have other players better suited to play the right wing back role, Kenny and Davies being two of them.

It is interesting to see Pochettino trusting one of Kenny's England Under 20 colleagues, Kyle Walker-Peters, in the Spurs team at Newcastle yesterday. He looks a decent player but I thought Kenny was better than him during the summer.

Indeed of all that Under 20 squad, Kenny seemed to be the one most ready to step up into the Premier League. We have a glaring weakness in that position and many fans would have thought now was the time at least to give him an opportunity. Plainly Ronald feels otherwise.

From an attacking point of view the performance in the first 45 minutes was as dire as anything served up under any Everton manager in the last 50 years. Defensively we look very strong but entertainment appears not to be on our manager's priority list.

In some ways it brought back memories of Billy Bingham's reign in the mid seventies. With the squad as it is currently constituted I guess Ron and the Robots will happily settle for many more 1-0 victories.

Peter Anthony
9 Posted 14/08/2017 at 13:17:34
Top quality match report, Ken, as ever, thank ye muchly.

Stoke are an awkward opponent, not a pretty watch, apart from the sheer top class showing of our new number 10.

A win, clean sheet and our outstanding talisman off the mark in great style, I am very happy with that. Delighted we have Wayne back and able to make a huge difference in the pitch.

Here's to a season to savour. Come on you blues. Thanks again, Ken, and thanks again, Wayne!

Jay Wood
10 Posted 14/08/2017 at 13:22:13
Some great match day observations as always Ken which gets all the senses tingling in recall of the sights, sounds – and smells! – around and inside Goodison on match day.

The initial team selection was a reet dog's dinner, as pretty much all - including the manager! – have commented on.

Having watched the game again, I still can't determine who fulfilled what role on our defensive right in the first half. As Ken comments, Calvert-Lewin barely ventured into his own half so if he was the designated wing back, he didn't play to orders!

At times Gana seemed to fill the role. At others, when Gana or Calvert-Lewin were absent, Keane shuffled across to that flank. The whole set up had a knock-on effect and it's hardly surprising the team lacked any sort of coherence.

The goal was a thing of beauty and the one shining beacon in a largely turgid affair. It actually starts a lot earlier than Ken describes, deep in our defence on the left when Jags wins a header from a Stoke throw-in. Seven players were then involved in the resultant Rooney goal.

Marked improvement in the second half with a better balanced set up, but not a game that will live long in the memory, other than the goal.

Tom Bowers
11 Posted 14/08/2017 at 13:32:24
Stoke will be tough for many teams this season and getting by them for three points was no mean feat. Everton are still lacking that incisiveness but are playing a very cautious waiting game that is not very exciting to watch for the fans but will be acceptable to many if the result is right in the end.

They are a work in progress and have the depth at the moment to be a competitive outfit but are crying out for that extra playmaker to help Rooney.

It is good to hear Seamus is back to light training as he has been a great extra attacker for the Blues over the last few years and is missed. However, we may not see him for a few months.

Sandro has some nice touches, is lacking speed but will do a good job after slowly settling in. Big Ron is doing it his way although many of us still question what way that is with some of his strategies.

Jay Harris
12 Posted 14/08/2017 at 15:33:42
Really enjoyable report as always Ken.

We will know better in just over a weeks time how good or bad we'll fare this season.

Hajduk Split will be no pushovers especially over there so we will need all guns blazing on Thursday and cannot afford a poor team selection to lose 45 minutes opportunity.

Likewise with Man City, we need to show we deserve to be on the same level and take the game to them.

Like Marshy, I am concerned that we have known Lukaku was going for the last 6 months and have done nothing about a top class replacement except sit on our asses waiting for Giroud to decide to stay at Arsenal.

Why weren't we sniffing around Lacazette or even offering £60m for Vardy instead of which we are now being linked with an injury prone Welbeck and a Premier League flop in Kalinic. We should be looking to improve on players we sell not getting poorer quality.

It seems like we're back to the bad old days of Bill's sofa – unlike the start of the window, when we went out with real intent and got Keane and Pickford.

Paul Tran
13 Posted 14/08/2017 at 15:50:51
Great report, Ken. You make me feel like I've been to the match!

Of course we've known Lukaku has been leaving for months. The fact is that there aren't that many proven 20+ goalscorers around. We're not likely to be first preference for them, so we have to wait till close to deadline day while they weigh up their options.

In the meantime, we take a cheap gamble on Sandro. I'm guessing we'll be taking another gamble and I'm expecting to see it at the end of the window.

Jay Harris
14 Posted 14/08/2017 at 16:36:56
Paul,
I understand your point but there are plenty of potential 20+ goals a season strikers that we don't seem to have been after,
Ineacho, Batshui, Solanke, Gray, Dembele, Dolberg, Dzecko to name but a few.
Jay Harris
15 Posted 14/08/2017 at 16:42:11
On a separate note and not pertaining to this thread, I see the Hajduk Split match is not being broadcast by anyone. Surely with Bill's influence the club could pick up the broadcasting right s and put it on EvertonTV or Facebook.

Over to you, Lyndon/Michael. Can you oil the wheels.

Dave Williams
16 Posted 14/08/2017 at 18:38:41
Tony # 4- agree many of your points but I think DCL will become a top class striker within the next two years.
It's all about opinions !!
Nicholas Ryan
17 Posted 14/08/2017 at 21:29:41
Some thoughts:

1. Rooney has still 'got it'.
2. Calvert-Lewin is an old-fashioned centre-forward.
3. Pickford is the best keeper since Lev Yashin [who?!]
4. Martina isn't all that bad.
5. Schneiderlin should be told that a football pitch has 2 halves, and you're welcome to set foot in both.
6. Keane will be worth £75m, by May 2018.

Ian Hollingworth
18 Posted 14/08/2017 at 21:32:19
Tony, unfortunately, I think it is pretty obvious why the Lukaku deal was done so early and that is to fund our own early deals.

It is looking more and more likely that we needed the money to spend. That said I still think we have done some good business but it is not the investment we hoped for.

Jamie Sweet
19 Posted 14/08/2017 at 22:52:35
Thanks, Ken, and welcome back for another roller coaster ride.

I know not all of us were welcoming Rooney back with open arms, but just imagine yesterday's game without him.

*shudders*

Dale Rose
20 Posted 15/08/2017 at 12:08:02
Great report, I was filled with optimism for this season. The tactics though are like alcohol free beer, looks OK, but just isn't right.
Steavey Buckley
21 Posted 15/08/2017 at 15:51:40
I just watched the replay of the Everton game, which does show that Everton have not improved that much from last season, while the likes of Stoke seem to be at Everton's level. Upfront, Everton with Klaassen and Sandro look too light weight without Lukaku. But without any real width they were forced to go out wide.

With all the money spent since last season and this, I don't believe Everton have got value for money when Stoke have spent very little yet sold their best player for 20 odd million to West Ham but are at the same level as Everton.

Nick Entwistle
22 Posted 15/08/2017 at 16:26:23
Nice one Ken, top stuff.
Jay Harris
23 Posted 15/08/2017 at 16:29:38
Steavey, Everton 1 stoke 0.

62% possession.

Not a great game to watch but to put Stoke on our level is stretching the imagination a bit.

Steavey Buckley
24 Posted 15/08/2017 at 17:12:40
Jay, you forget to mention, Everton have to play Stoke away. Where I could expect on current form to lose 1:0. The Everton team on Saturday created so few chances irrespective of the 62% possession - no width, no creativity and no real goal scorer. Yet, Stoke deserved a point on their second half performance.
Sam Hoare
25 Posted 15/08/2017 at 17:26:17
Steavey@24, what you expect the reverse score to be is hardly relevant. We beat them. We have 3 points and they have none. Not that one match really matters anyway. We might feasibly draw with City next week or Chelsea. Doesn't mean we are on their level.

It won't really be till another 6 months or so that we can tell which teams are on the same level and I expect Stoke to be several points and places behind us by then. But time will tell.

Barry McNally
26 Posted 15/08/2017 at 19:45:29
Cheers Ken - at least you're not rusty for the new season, a few ales is good lubricarltion!
Clive Mitchell
27 Posted 15/08/2017 at 23:48:35
You saw the same game I did Ken. "Williams, who had not shown his best form first half" is obviously diplomat Ken-speak for "who has not shown why we bought him since we bought him." Couldn't argue with the MotM for Rooney - what a canny player Wayne is - but for me Gueye's performance was immense. I don't expect Stoke to struggle at all this season, so a decent win.

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