Back to our room of nonsense in what seemed no time at all after our mauling at Anfield. You almost crept in, clandestine fashion, in case a mick-taking Red was lurking to make capital of our efforts against them. So far so good, and a brown/bitter was ordered as we took our places and went over the embarrassment while the ale house filled with matchday regulars.
The chat from all sides provided a multitude of reasons for our derby defeat and the prevalent reason was that Martinez got it wrong... followed closely by having insufficient quality squad to sustain a season-long stab at a top-four finish.
The accounts were discussed but only fleetingly as no-one really could make much sense of them, but it seems we are still trading and the game was going ahead. To that end, it was agreed that a win today was vital and that, with players allegedly coming back next week fit and raring to go, then we need to keep winning whilst those above us need a couple of slip-ups and then... who knows? At the final whistle, at least, two results would go our way.
Our new on-loan striker was introduced before kick-off and it was a shame he was not available as the team announced seemed lacking in that department. Having been blown and saturated on the walk up, it was good that on the ref’s whistle we had something to take our minds off the weather.
Villa lined up with three at the back, five in midfield, and two up top. As they had only lost three away from home this season, they made no bones about how they would go about keeping it at three. The Blues' formation was harder to pinpoint as, from the team announced, Mirallas looked to be up-front but on commencement of play it was anything but.
The best I can come up with was that we were trying the Barca "false No 9" where intricate inter-passing in the final third would find a man free in the box. If only we had a Messi, eh? However, three or four minutes in, Baines took a free kick that went across the box and was picked up by McGeady who cut in and hit a curler that had ‘Goal’ written all over it. It curled and hit the face of the post and came out to be cleared. A goal then would have forced Villa to change tack and we would have had a cushion... but it was not to be.
The game settled then and became most frustrating for those in attendance as the Blues passed well out from the back but the five in midfield for Villa thwarted a lot of our attacking intent as we could not get passes forward off quick enough and Mirallas must have broken the Goodison record for being offside in one half of football.
It took us around 20 minutes to get our first corner which was wasted but the clearance did set up a joined-up passing movement that took us just into their area but with holes being filled we ended the movement back in our own half, much to the mutterings of the faithful.
The half went on with the Blues on top but without a cutting edge. Barkley seemed to be getting frustrated with the attention he was getting from the Villa midfield and started to shoot from anywhere which was always counterproductive. Baines was bombing forward, Mirallas was running across their back line but we could not produce an opening. The Villa fans were in good voice with little opposition from the Goodison choir and suggested our support resembled excreta and they wanted to sing a song for us. It tells a story about the game being witnessed when that takes place...
We seemed in little danger on the half hour until Barkley was weak in a challenge and had the ball taken from him by Benteke who fed their man raiding down the right, unattended as Baines was AWOL, anticipating a pass from Barkley that would never come.
The Villa man strode on goal and slotted home. Silence from the faithful but plenty of noise from the away end. This was their only shot on goal of the half and I think the whole game.
We kept to our game plan but, as move after move broke down, it was plain it wasn’t working and, on the half-time whistle, most were convinced a change was needed.
Half-time and 0-1. The chat strangely was people’s views on the derby, obviously a sore that will need time to heal. The brief bit about today’s game was that Naismith should be sent on up front to at least give some focus yet, when we got back to our seats, it was Pienaar for Barkley. Perhaps he got a kick?
We started the second half much better and Pienaar was making a difference right away as he linked with Baines and Osman giving us a good outlet wide left. Villa were content to defend and break when they could in a determined fashion to hold what they had. They were doing very well too as we turned the screw with runs and crosses that flew across the box but alas no takers or good joined-up inter-passing that was afforded only a scuffed or shanked shot.
We gained corners by the dozen that the big Villa man Vlaar proved to be king of the box. We concentrated now on attacking mostly down the left... presumably because McGeady and Stones were not on top form, shall we say. McCarthy was everywhere trying to knit us together and extinguish the odd Villa break. We were getting forward well now and you could say we were now knocking on the door but it was steadfastly refusing to be opened.
From another corner, a headed attempt shaved the wrong side of the post and it turned out to be a Villa man who got the header so yet another corner and, yes, this was cleared.
The 70-minute mark arrived and the sight of Naismith standing in the technical area had me saying, "And about time too," as I thought for a while that we needed the nous of a genuine frontman and he replaced Stones with the versatile McCarthy going to right wingback.
I was proved right within minutes when a long pass was taken in by the Scot and laid off to Mirallas in his favoured role behind the front man and he set off across the box pulling Villa players out. He did a quick turn and fed Pienaar who immediately fed it forward where Naismith went past his man with ease and his rolled finish past the keeper should be played back to our other strikers on Monday morning for educational purposes. Celebrations were swift as the players sensed a win.
The Villa now had a decision to make: stick or twist... and their manager took only minutes to attempt a win as he took off central defender Vlaar and sent on a quick winger. The game ebbed and flowed a bit more now as the Blues looked to come to terms with this change.
Mirallas was looking lively and causing problems with his pace and guile, Naismith making runs to open space and Baines, Pienaar and Osman trying hard to create that vital opening but Villa were no mugs at defending.
85 minutes and no-one in attendance wanted a draw; we needed a win but that clock seemed to race when Mirallas was stopped mid-flight, illegally, some 25 yards out. Free kick and Baines raced to take control of the ball, as did Mirallas. The ref paced the yardage, a right-footer and a left-footer stood at the ready. The keeper needed to decide who might take. Both are dead ball experts...
Baines moves but Mirallas runs and delivers yet another superbly hit free kick into the top right-hand corner leaving the keeper helpless and players and fans delirious, fists clenched, arms in the air delirium, the sort that says I am glad I came.
This at last woke the choir who gave the Villa travelling band a riposte to their taunts with danger decibels roaring out "We only sing when we’re winning!"
The manager puts Hibbert on for the now invisible McGeady and McCarthy back into centre-mid and we saw out 5 minutes plus 4 added. Grand Old Team rang out as we applauded the players off.
MotM – Mirallas/McCarthy
The walk back to the ale house was mercifully dry as the wind rattled up from the Mersey and floated conversations that said Utd lost and Spurs drew. Now, if we can just get those above us to lose a few as we win with all our key players back, fit and on form... who knows? Crazy game this footy. It should keep us keenly interested for a while yet.
We discussed the Spurs game and what a corker it might be with both teams desperately wanting to win: Who will be back and fit? What tactics will be used? Will there be searches at the turnstiles and will we come back in far better mood than from our last away game?
Never easy at the Lane... but we sure as hell got something to go for and we must not choke as, four days later, it’s the Palace at home. Games thick and fast, injuries – I hope not. We are back in it. It will be great to see how we go about staying in it.
UP THE BLUES
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261 Posted 02/02/2014 at 00:34:12
296 Posted 02/02/2014 at 04:02:38
I believe this is a team that can get to 4th place. True, depth is a problem... for next year and a full slate of CL games. Even a 5th place finish and Europa League would force upper management into bringing people in.
If in the winter transfer period you cannot get who you want at the price you want, and if you are not in threat of relegation, hold fast, play your team, let players heal, and fight until the end. (With CL and the Reds and Mancs in the rear view mirror.) COYB....
303 Posted 02/02/2014 at 05:40:00
Half watched the match on TV in a whiskey bar in KL, was being distracted by a mate who was a Villa fan sat next to me and a bottle of 12 year old scotch. From what I saw of the first half it was pretty dull. Thought Barkley was a bit casual for the challenge that led to the goal, but everyone has their lapses
314 Posted 02/02/2014 at 07:18:30
I thought to myself he's nailed on to score now! Good to see him played in his best position. RM seems very good at making game changing substitutions.
318 Posted 02/02/2014 at 08:11:19
Please keep up the great reports.
319 Posted 02/02/2014 at 08:10:31
I cant disagree with anything, its absolutely spot on.
333 Posted 02/02/2014 at 09:35:10
I am not too sure what went wrong in the first half yesterday, we looked nervous and lacked cohesion. I have to admit I thought we would have started with a lot more gusto after losing the derby in such a fashion but fair enough, Martinez must have got stuck in at HT and the substitutions he made, swung the match in our favour.
I don't think playing Mirallas as the central striker is going to work after seeing that yesterday though. We have been calling for it, but the game improved when we brought Naismith on for me too; we then had a guy who CAN actually play down the middle. It is Naismith's natural position, something which I said last year; people were judging him on his performances as a right-sided midfielder, something he will never be.
Play Naismith down the middle and you will see something similar to what Tim Cahill was... Maybe not quite as dynamic as Timmy or athletic but what you get is endless workrate and a uncanny knack of making a nuisance of himself. Yes, he should have stuck that header away but fair play to him for actually being in the middle to miss the chance. He took his goal well and I am chuffed for him, even if he comes off the bench to have a similar impact more often, then great.
A few other points:
John Stones will be a superb, excellent composed central defender but a right back he is most certainly not. He looked like a fish out of water again there yesterday and does look far more suited to the centre of defence given his build.
I am hoping that if Coleman is still not ready next week (think he will be) then Roberto starts with Hibbert right back ahead of Stonesy. I know Martinez wants to give the young lads of the future game time but it has to be at the right time in the correct position.
All-in-all, it was a great second half, and a very very much needed three points but more of the same will be needed at Spurs next weekend.
346 Posted 02/02/2014 at 11:01:55
Common factor here: all honest players who would run through walls for the club and not Fancy Dan types who only played when they felt like it. Naismith is in similar vein – constantly played out of position and never moaned about it and works his socks off every game. Besides his goal yesterday his movement around the box was top drawer and the comparison with Cahill is a good one. Tim was never going to make a top class midfielder but taken as the type of player he was he was a superb player for the club. Nais can be very useful to us played as a striker or just behind the main one and a bit of encouragement from the crowd will help someone who judged by his charity work over Christmas also happens to be a very decent bloke.
As for Leon what game were some people watching? He had a fine game and I can't see any reason for criticism. Players must be judged based on the type of player they are – he will never barge his way past a player like Ross does because he is too small; he will never be a natural finisher because he is a creative midfielder not a striker. What he does do is pass well; he can wriggle past a man, plays a good short passing game at pace when required, and can dictate the tempo. Like Nais, he won't be a first choice in a CL side but they are both very useful players to bring on.
If only we encouraged all of our players, they might play even better?
349 Posted 02/02/2014 at 11:13:22
369 Posted 02/02/2014 at 12:34:56
That's right! Exactly spot on.
For whatever reason we will never work out but I always thought a player that tried was always given the support of the crowd. I believe in football its a case of first impressions and as we know, and I point out Naismith was wasted out wide when he joined us.
I can never really understand why Moyes signed him on the promise of linking up the previous partnership with Jelavic because we never got to see it.
All I can say is that if when we play Osman out wide you don't see the same player that when he plays in the middle, like Naismith not a world class player but I always believe in playing to the strengths of each and every individual.
As I say Tim Cahill was a hero of mine, I loved him but I knew he was never cut out with bundles of ability to play as a genuine midfielder, he found his role in the team as basically being what Tim Howard once referred to him as 'annoying little Gnat' which we didnt mind because the opposition never knew where he would turn up in the box and you got the sense that even when they did, mysteriously they still couldnt stop him scoring.
But if we had continually played Cahill as a right midfielder would he ever have developed that 'cult status' with the Evertonians?
I wont begin to class Steven Naismith in Cahill's bracket at all yet, just merely say that he is along the same lines with nuisance factor, workrate and popping up with goals.
Its also worth remembering that Naismith came here as a free signing with a bad knee injury in the not too distant past, just think the lad needs to be given a chance from time to time.
372 Posted 02/02/2014 at 12:38:41
When the Chelsea and Tottenham games are out the way, we have a run of winnable fixtures. Think of our front line options when fit, Lukaku, Traore, McGeady, Mirallas, Pienaar, Naismith, Deulofeu, Barkley. I think Roberto has us in great shape for the home run.
374 Posted 02/02/2014 at 12:51:17
COYB! May we win our clash with the Spurs and our top-4 finishing season will start to materialize!
389 Posted 02/02/2014 at 13:15:09
I smile at those who say 'when we've got a full team out' because at no club does this really ever happen. As one player recovers from injury another two are afflicted and signing serial sicknotes and loanees who arrive injured hardly does anything to help the problem!
Because of the constraints so obvious in the recently published accounts, Everton will continue to live from hand to mouth and whomsoever is our manager will be required to work miracles to keep us in the higher echelons of the Prem.
We are indeed fortunate that the two Ms have proved up to the challenge !
392 Posted 02/02/2014 at 13:49:57
393 Posted 02/02/2014 at 14:00:35
Alcarez was 'out of action' when signed and Kone too knackered by fasting to take a significant part in pre-season friendlies.These two alone will probably account for £10M in transfer fees, signing fees in lieu and wages. Everton simply can't afford that kind of proglificacy.
396 Posted 02/02/2014 at 14:26:09
440 Posted 02/02/2014 at 16:15:03
441 Posted 02/02/2014 at 16:06:26
I would say that I thought the ref let the Aston Villa players get away with a lot yesterday. Barkley was pushed and kicked at and the Villa player who fouled Jags twice in the second half should have been booked, it was a lot worse than the one Baines was booked for. I thought Baines was almost back to his old self yesterday and Pienaar was great.
As for Kone, you can't legislate for knee injuries; he'll be back next season and I hope for great things off him as one of our strikers. According to the press, Barkley is going to commit his long-term future to the club with a long contract. Good News.
The injured cavalry will be returning to provide reinforcements next week. Good News.
The RS dropped 2 expected points today. Even better news.
442 Posted 02/02/2014 at 16:18:42
444 Posted 02/02/2014 at 16:22:08
464 Posted 02/02/2014 at 17:11:11
My gut response was that we'll win six games, draw four and lose four, garnering 22 points. That will put us on 67 - enough to beat Moyes' best but a few short of ECL places.
But a good start for all that!
465 Posted 02/02/2014 at 17:21:38
I'm a toffee girl, not a forecaster, but if we made the 70 target of Roberto that would mean we need 25 out of the 42. Leaves 17 to drop so I expect us to make the 70 barring a major disaster!
Yesterday the team showed grit, I thought the way Mirralis ran to Martinez was good.
They are a team at ease with themselves now and they have got over Tuesday.
473 Posted 02/02/2014 at 17:58:08
477 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:11:13
481 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:25:51
485 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:40:49
486 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:47:00
It will be good seeing how he and Coleman will play together and hopefully as international team mates it will be a success. He will be a solid player for us, I think.
488 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:48:41
490 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:54:41
Obviously his match fitness, and getting familiar with the speed of the league is not all there just yet but I seem to recall when Deulofeu came in he looked a little bit mystified at the raw frantic speed of things but before he got injured he looked like he had finally said 'right, I am going to get this league by the arse now and take it apart'.
McGeady looks very quick, pacy, and I was pleased at his willingness to run at his man and try to make something happen.
Over time I think he will prove good value for money.
A few years ago the wide are's always used to be our weakness, often having to fill in the round holes where square pegs..I no longer think that is likely to be the case at Everton..
491 Posted 02/02/2014 at 18:25:06
You do talk some crap, are you on some kind of crusade to become the misery of the 2013-14 season or what, or maybe the whind -up champion of the same.
I had some hope for you a few weeks ago, as you seemed to be climbing on board, but you've reverted back to the old killjoy.
Roberto managed Kone & Alcaraz for 1
or 2 seasons so do you think he would buy them knowing them to be a bad buy & spoil his big chance, ask the Wigan supporters what their opinions were on these 2, I remember reading at the time they really rated both.
Kone for 1 played forty games or more last
season including World Cup Qualifiers!
So you expect an Everton manager to be able to see into the future now, that would be a handy attribute to have, lottery numbers/grand national winner etc.
So they have cost us money, what about, you cant win them all & luck playing a part.
494 Posted 02/02/2014 at 19:05:02
I doubt either the big guy or Delboy will be starting but just looking at the bench and seeing those two lads there is going to give me a big boost.
The starting 11 will probably be something like this.
That to me is what I can see Martinez going for.
I think Coleman will be fit next week otherwise he wouldnt have been on the bench yesterday.
The only positions up for debate in my opinion are whether Pienaar could start ahead of McGeady, could be better bringing McGeady on as an impact sub but then again Pienaar played that role perfectly yesterday.
The other one in question is Naismith down the middle with Mirallas back out wide but coming inside to offer support,and get shots away..I just feel that Mirallas best football and threat comes from running outside the box, he is not so much a goal poacher who will stand around in the penalty area.
498 Posted 02/02/2014 at 19:22:17
Alcaraz, Kone and Traore were all unfit when signed, the first two costing the club millions for no return. Nobody knows what's going on with the beanpole but he ain't too healthy, for sure.
My point is when money is as stretched, as it is here, the guy has a duty to spend it wisely.
507 Posted 02/02/2014 at 19:59:11
We bought Kone because Martinez abviously trusted the guy to deliver the goods.
He scored 13 goals last season for Wigan, a decent tally in my eyes for a player rated at a mere 6 million pounds.
Kone ripped us apart in all three matches last season, I should know because I was at all of them, the only game he was quiet in out the three was the Boxing Day Goodison clash..even then he scored Wigan's goal.
Its hardly Martinez's or Kone's fault that he got a season ending injury.
Kone had a slow start but just maybe given time, like with most players, we would have started to reap the rewards.
As for Alcaraz..he was merely a cheap stop gap for the main centre halves who was probably never expected to play 30 games this season.
Barry, McCarthy and Lukaku have all proved their worth this season as has Deulofeu...Or would you have rather had Phil Neville partnering Johnny Heitinga in midfield with Leon Osman playing as the flying right winger?? Thats what Moyes had us doing on many occassion.
Didnt even want to play Barkley in an advanced attacking role, seem to recall at Spurs last April Barkley was fuckin wide right
518 Posted 02/02/2014 at 20:31:24
You're a TW legend.
543 Posted 02/02/2014 at 21:33:57
603 Posted 03/02/2014 at 09:28:13
Three of the stars you mention are on loan deals, hardly building for the future,is it ? But, at least we can enjoy the moment and pray that BK will find some 'summer money' to support Roberto to make proper signings.....even if they do come from Wigan !
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