It’s still early days in terms of both pre-season and the transfer window but I thought I might proffer an idea of what formation it is that we might be playing and who will be playing in it. Pure speculation of course but then isn’t that the most fun?

So, I believe that Roberto Martinez’s first-choice formation may well be the 4-2-3-1 formation that was so fashionable at the last World Cup and is something akin to Barcelona’s usual formation. I think this seems to suit our personnel with an established back four although I’m sure we will see three at the back at some point this season. One clue that this may be the intended formation was when Graeme Jones was talking about Coleman and Baines, saying how they are so attacking from fullback that you don’t really need them to play as wing-backs... Like I said, pure speculation... but it makes sense and it’s roughly how we lined up in the first half yesterday.

So who plays?


Tim Howard Tough one straight off here but I think Martinez will respect the fact that our defense was pretty solid and settled last season and Tim will start in possession. However, the moment errors start to creep in then Joel Robles may well be given a chance and may well end up the season as first pick if he shines.

Left Back

Leighton Baines Pretty simple here, so long as he stays. Oviedo has looked a more than useful deputy.

Left Centre-Back

Sylvain Distin Alcaraz could well be given the nod for his superior distribution and it may depend on who we are playing and whether they have pace up front. Distin just about gets his nose in front for me.

Right Centre-Back

Phil Jagielka Captain and Mr Reliable. Will have to improve his distribution.

Right Back

Seamus Coleman Now looks at least on par if not better than Hibbert defensively and clearly offers a huge amount more in the attacking portion. Key play this season.

Central Defensive Midfielder

Darron Gibson Player of Pre-Season so far. I think one of our most important players to be honest and one who we have little cover for as few others have his range of passing and ability to dictate tempo.

Central Defensive Midfielder

Marouane Fellaini My gut tells me he may well not be here come the end of the transfer window but for now he is. A huge player literally and metaphorically on his day and one of our only natural ball-winners.

Left Attacking Midfielder

Gerard Deulofeu Blind optimism here but I think this boy might be something really special. He will likely be frustrating at times but I think we are all excited to see what he can do. He may take a little time to settle but Barca didn’t send him to sit on the bench...

Central Attacking Midfielder

Steven Pienaar A tricky one here in this crucial role. Barkley could well do a job here and played well yesterday. Osman is another shout (that some will hate) for his natural ball control and composure. I think however that Pienaar has the touch, work rate, Premier League experience and intelligence to really shine in the position and pull the strings if he’s on his game.

Right Attacking Midfielder

Kevin Mirallas I’m looking forward to a big season from super Kev. He could play anywhere across the front four but let’s leave him on the right for now. I am sure the three behind the striker will be interchanging and finding space as it is.


Arouna Kone I was so happy to see Jelavic bag a couple yesterday but I think Martinez bought Kone for a reason and his mobility and first touch are what suits this system. It may be that we play Jelavic against weaker teams where there will be less space and Kone against the better teams who we will be looking to counter-attack against.


Robles, Alcaraz, Oviedo, Barkley, Osman, Jelavic, Anichebe.

I think that’s a very strong first team personally. The area that we have least cover for is in the Central Defensive Midfielder position with no-one really able to replace Fellaini and Gibson apart from maybe Heitinga and the inexperienced Lundstram. If we buy any more players before selling, then central midfield, specifically in the holding roles, is where I believe we need to strengthen.

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Reader Comments (46)

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Neil Adams
4 Posted 28/07/2013 at 17:54:16
Against weaker teams I would prefer to see more of a 4-1-3-2 formation with Gibson as the sole Defensive Midfielder and either Jelavic deployed alongside Kone or maybe Pienaar switched to the left and Fellaini just behind Kone/Jelavic and Deulofeu dropping to the bench.

Don't forget that Oviedo is a decent option for left midfield should Pienaar move inside and Deulofeu not working out on the left.

Ross Edwards
6 Posted 28/07/2013 at 18:09:58
I think that would be a good formation but I think Robbie prefers 4-3-3, 3-4-3 or 3-5-2.

I was reading the other day that in the whole of the 2010/11 season, Wigan didn't play 4-4-2 once, and most of Wigan's goals were scored outside the box or on the counter attack, plus, another fact that interested me, is that Wigan scored just once from corners in that season.

Tony Marsh
8 Posted 28/07/2013 at 18:04:06
Howard and Distin are finished and should be dropped.

Howard has cost us points on numerous occasions over the past few seasons and is a liability when he comes for crosses. Distin is also liability as he switches off at key moments during a game, eg, yesterday's Blackburn goal. Watch the replay: Distin just walks away with his back to his opponent. The Redshite giveaway at Wembley sill haunts me and I always fear he has more of them in him.

We need to sweep away the old guard and in with the new. Yesterday's fine football display should prove we are in capable hands. We don't need to stick with the players who are past-it anymore. That way of doing things is long gone now and belongs to another era.

Paul Ferry
10 Posted 28/07/2013 at 18:52:39
Nice one Sam, but I feel as you hint that there will be some changes before the 17th.

Anyway with what we have now:

Howard (soon to lose his place to Robies)
Distin (soon to lose his place to Alcaraz)

(it’s 8 on the bench now, right?)


But I strongly believe that Felli will be sold and if Bobby gets all the sponds to spend, then this might be the team on the 17th

Howard (soon to lose his place to Robies)
Distin (soon to lose his place to Alcaraz)
Boss creative midfielder bought with Felli money
Boss striker bought with Felli money

Midfielder bought with Felli money

Paul Ferry
11 Posted 28/07/2013 at 18:54:03

Sorry subs in scenario 2:

Midfielder bought with Felli money

Wayne Smyth
12 Posted 28/07/2013 at 19:15:20
Wouldn't disagree with what you wrote there, Sam.

One thing is clear; this is the best bunch of players we've had that I can remember, the team is really solid and we've quality all over the pitch. Best right back in the league, best left back, top centre midfielder, and decent quality on the flanks.

Not to mention a subs bench which also is really strong and gives RM some decent options. I'm really, really looking forward to this season more than any before.

David Chait
13 Posted 28/07/2013 at 19:21:22
Agree Paul I see Jags and Alcaraz as first choice.. which considering I have never been in love with the Jags/Distin partnership thats ok for me.

One thing.. I don't see any "boss" striker giving us enough cash for another "boss" midfielder...

I see RM moving for GD start in place of Pienaar who might go more central..

Neil Verdin
14 Posted 28/07/2013 at 19:39:54
'Distin is finished'!' Another classic from the bloke who told us all it would definitely be Stubbs next manager. Distin is immense, super-fit, powerful and full of pace - as good as Lescott who was a fantastic player for us. And not to slag a young lad off but Stones was clearly at fault for the goal. But that doesn't fit the agenda and crusades of what's his name!
Richard Dodd
15 Posted 28/07/2013 at 19:42:40
What`s the matter with you all? If there is one midfielder who fits perfectly the Martinez mould it is Ossie and he is a nailed on certainty to be there on !7th August !
Unloved,unrespected,unapprecialed-but only on Toffeeweb-,Osman will thrive in `the brave new world`and it will be the others who will be scrapping for a place-believe me!
Marshy has now transferred his bile to Howard and Disin-he has to have someone to hat,doen`t he?.But seriously,Tony,have you seen this Spanish clown?.His confidence at crosses makes Richard Wright look a world beater!
Otherwise,Sam,you`re not far off.
Paul Ferry
16 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:08:01
Jelavic it is then David! (535)
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
18 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:09:33
Paul, is that right are we really getting EIGHT subs this season???
Paul Ferry
19 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:09:34
Osman, against my wishes, will be on the bench at Norwich.
Michael Kenrick
20 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:14:53

I know you come in for some stick but I do wonder if you ever re-read your posts and ask yourself these questions:

How come there are no spaces after my commas?
Why am I using the wrong apostrophe symbol?
Do I really need a full stop after a question-mark?
Shouldn't I put spaces either side of a dash?
Couldn't I hit the Enter key one more time to make a new paragraph?

No? Not to mention all the other typos... Thought not. Ah well...

Richard Dodd
21 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:26:45
You really do have it in for me,Michael,don`t you? Given some of the stuff that appears on here,why single me out for an English lesson?

I know my views don`t meet with your approval but is this an attempt `to warn me off` before the season starts?

`Doddy branded Ossie supporter` is hardly an offence I expected to offend you but you can be quite unpredictable.

Ross Edwards
22 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:35:04
Doddy, give young Joel a chance mate. When David De Gea signed for Man U, he was a bit unsure at first, but now look at him, one of the best keepers in the league. Did you see his performance in the Cup Final against City?
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
23 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:38:53
Nothing to do with your ridiculous adulation for Osman, Doddy.

Just amazed how many typographic errors you managed to cram into one post!

Nice to see you've mastered the paragraphs now though!

See, it's not really that hard, is it?

John Ford
24 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:37:32
I agree, Ossie could just thrive under RM. I expect there to be more options for him going forward and he has the vision to see and execute a pass in heavy traffic.
Richard Dodd
25 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:42:15
Ross,I`m sure he`ll come on a bundle and like Mucha before him he`s a good shot stopper.
But surely no one can seriously see him as a re-placement for Howard at this time ? Well except Marshy that is !
Ross Edwards
26 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:45:06
I think that we need to be thinking about the future, and fielding 31 year old Leon Osman, 34 year old Tim Howard and 35 year old Sylvain Distin is not the way to go about it, sadly.
Tony Marsh
27 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:39:11
Doddy, I don't rate Osman never have done and never will. Too lightweight, no pace, cant tackle, gets knocked off ball way too often, and goes missing more often than not. That's been my view for over 10 years now.

As for Howard and Distin, well all players have a shelf-life and these two players have gone past thiers. Why is making a statement which I believe to be true hating someone? Howard cost us many times last season and at times looked shot. Which team above us in the League would take him if he were to want out? Exactly none is my answer.

The same goes for Distin and Osman. All three of these players have had it cosy under the other fella and now it's time to move them on... It's not 'hating', Doddy lad, it's just the brutal truth. If ye ain't good enough, ye ain't good enough... Simple.

Colin Wainwright
28 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:46:29
Richard, you couldn't see a replacement for Moyes, this time, two months ago.
Ross Edwards
29 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:46:56
Well Richard, using my De Gea example, he had to step into the huge shoes left by Van Der Sar when he left.

He must be good if Robbie replaced Al Habsi and played Joel in the Cup Final, so he' not totally useless.

Joel might be used for the Cup games so we'll get a chance to see him then, but I think he's good enough, yes.

I'm not going mad before you say!

Richard Dodd
30 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:49:08
.....and not totally confident we`ve got one now,Colin ! Only time will tell.

But seriously,Osman has been and still is a top class midfielder and when was 31 seen as ancient?

Yes,I would hope to see a younger group of players but both whilst Howard and Distin can perform as well as they did last season,why change the defence?

Duncan McDine
31 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:43:47
Not that he needs sticking up for, but in Doddy's defense it is very easy to write like a spaz when using a phone/tablet. I know I do.

With regard to the line up and formation, I think I'd be happy with Sam's suggestion... although Jela and Ossie/Barkley would get my vote for now ahead of thr largely unknown Kone & Defo.

Ross Edwards
32 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:59:42
In 2 or 3 years, we will have to change the defence Doddy. In 2 years, Howard will be 36, Distin 37, and it is only logical that we change it now.

Richard Dodd
33 Posted 28/07/2013 at 20:58:06
Thanks for the comment,Duncan. I know it doesn`t do to upset Michael and I`ll revert to the laptop next week.

In fact,I might even crank up the old PC when I`m posting from home!

Don`t want to get red carded in the Pre season warm -up, now do I ?

Wayne Smyth
34 Posted 28/07/2013 at 21:03:06
Richard(564) I'm probably in a minority of 1, but I think Robles can and should replace Howard as our no 1.

Howard looked just as shite when he was in goal in the first half; the only difference was that he didn't concede a goal and Robles did. That said, Howard didn't have Stones playing in front of him, and I think Stones was at least as much at fault for the goal as Robles, if not more.

Ross Edwards
35 Posted 28/07/2013 at 21:08:40
No, Wayne, you are not on your own here. I agree with you.
Jamie Barlow
36 Posted 28/07/2013 at 21:29:38
"Howard looked just as shite when he was in goal in the first half; the only difference was that he didn't concede a goal and Robles did." That's a pretty big difference Wayne. If they're both as shit as each other, why change a back 5 that had the 4th best defence last season? Howard is nowhere near as bad as some make out on here. It's impossible to find a goalkeeper that doesn't make mistakes. Howards made a few, just as every other keeper has. Robles doesn't look a decent keeper yet. I'm not saying he won't be and he has time on his side. I'd be amazed if Robles plays against Norwich.
Kevin Thompson
37 Posted 28/07/2013 at 21:53:41
Sam, I would say Barkley will start against Norwich. Gerard Deulofeu will be gradually introduce to the English game.
Peter Jones
38 Posted 28/07/2013 at 22:43:15
On the topic of Howard/Distin's age, I think we are in a great place at the moment. Yes, the pair are very old, but still capable of being amongst the best in the league at their position on their day, particularly in the case of Distin. Robles, Duffy, and Stones look to be promising young players in their own right, but not quite good enough to unseat the players ahead of them and become regular starters. Yet. The good news is RM seems to be a manager that gives youngsters a chance to show their quality and should provide them enough game time to improve and learn under the tutelage of the Howard, Distin, Alcaraz, and Jags. The reins will be passed on in the next couple of years from Distin to Duffy and Howard to Robles most likely. Distin was just talking Duffy up recently saying that he was ready to become a regular starter in the prem. Robles just signed a 5 year deal so it's clear we have him in our long term plans. Stones will probably be the guy to replace Jags further down the road if the progression is there. If not, we will buy a solid CB when the times comes. All is well. We finally have depth. But does RM have the balls to use it? I think so. And that's why I'm excited for this season!
Tony Anetts
39 Posted 29/07/2013 at 00:27:00
The CB selection should really depend upon how we are going to play.

If we are going to play 4 at the back and have our FBs bombing on as we are used to, then we require pace in our CBs to allow equip them to come across and cover when the FBs get exposed on the counter - which is a consequence of playing that way. This is where the Distin-Jags combination is teriffic, as they are both very quick and cover their respective FBs very well.

If we are going to seek to play in a more measured way with the CBs starting the play then the need changes to ball playing and passing - which may allow either Heitinga or Alcatraz to come in or Distin to provide for better distribution.

Personally I thought our backline was our strength last season and, with RM having a poor record when it comes to conceding goals at Wigin, I would feel better if a known cohesive unit remained in place. Distin had a brilliant season last season; he remains as quick as anyone, is our only tall defender to win the ball in the air (number 5 in Europe for CB headers won) and has experience to burn. You are only too old when it affects something!!

My team for the first game, based on who we have now, would be:
GK: Howard - he hasn't done enough wrong to lose top spot yet (annoying as he is when he stays on his line). He was better after Mucha came in for two games last year so clearly needs competition.
FBs/CBs: Coleman, Jageilka, Distin, Baines (as discussed above).
CM: Gibson, Fellaini.
AM: Pienaar (needs to get more goals and have more end product), Osman (is the best pass visionary we have when not falling over), Mirallas (enough said). [Tough to pick this part of the field actually, as Deulofeu and Barclay could also easily fit in there - and possibly will as the season progresses]
CF: Kone -we bought him for his pace and movement so let's see what it is like. It isn't as if our other forwards were scoring for fun late last season.
Subs: Robles, Oviedo, Alcatraz, Deulofeu, Barclay, Jelevic, Anichebe).

Paul Ferry
40 Posted 29/07/2013 at 03:07:37
Hi MK that was what I was told on another thread when I named a team with 6 and someone - can't remember who sorry - questioned why I only had 6.

Look at this:

David Ellis
41 Posted 29/07/2013 at 02:51:13
What struck me from the Blackburn game is the number of options we have in every position (except perhaps defensive midfield).

Deulofeu looks fantastic on You Tube (I know - everyone does, but he really looked fantastic - really) - so Pienaar's place on the left side of attacking midfield will be under pressure.

I thought Osman and Barkley were both excellent against Blackburn - you always feel they can create something. Same with Pienaar. I just feel that Barkley has a bit more an edge to him so favour him for the No.10 role behind the striker. Osman seemed to come deep a lot so perhaps might be fighting it out with Felllaini and Gibson for the two DM posts.

Upfront Jelavic seemed to play with confidence, but now we also have the speed of Kone. I am sure Martinez will start with Kone.

But whoever makes the starting 11 we will have a decent bench this year. Our bench was always shown as a weakness compared agains the other top 7 clubs - I think this gap may have closed with the 3 new signings (and one loan deal) made in the summer as all 4 of them will be in the match day squad.

Dean Barton
42 Posted 29/07/2013 at 12:22:22
It really grates to see the stick Ossie gets on here. He had 5 or 6 bad games last year, when it was pretty obvious he needed a rest. Most of the season he was our rock. Fellaini has 5 or 6 great games and is worth 24 million. Fellaini, after Xmas did nothing to warrant his place in the team for me. He is far too unreliable to play in such a disciplined role as Defensive mid.

You can put your house on these players being in the team
Jags, Coleman, Baines, Fellaini, Gibson, Ossie, Mirallas and Kone. The rest is where the question mark is for me.

As much as I hope Barkley comes through I don't think he will yet. For him to play, one of Fellaini, Gibson or Osman has to come out and I just don't see it!

Steve Pugh
43 Posted 29/07/2013 at 13:42:34
Can somebody explain why it is logical to remove players from the squad now because they won't be good enough in a couple of years time. Surely if they are the best options now they should be the first choice players, let the younger players gain experience from the bench or in the cups so that they become the first choice players because they are better than the rest, not because they are younger.
Raymond Fox
44 Posted 29/07/2013 at 13:08:15
My 2 penny worth.
A lot depends on what Robbo sees in remaining 'friendlies'.

At Norwich-
Baines (Oviedo if Leighton goes)
Fellaini (McCarthy- bit of poetic licence here if Fellaini is sold)

Almost a Moyes team with the exception of Kone.
RM might play it a little safe with it being the first game and away from home, but then again I might be miles out!
Fascinating aint it.

Richard Dodd
45 Posted 29/07/2013 at 14:31:23
I wouldn`t quarrel with that line-up, Raymond, but suspect Roberto will want to put his mark on the team by including a new signing at left-back if Bainsey moves on. Also, I think Alcaraz will get the nod over Distin that`s if he`s ever fit!
Paul Thompson
46 Posted 29/07/2013 at 14:23:35
I'd bet on Raymond's (755) team being our starting line up barring transfers and injuries. People who have 'never liked' a player are blind to their actual performances. Osman will, in my view, be a central cog ion the Martinez passing machine. And Distin looks to have lost little of his speed and strength. Barkley, Deulofeu and Jelavic will be used mainly as impact subs at first. One thing I do believe though, is that RM will be more willing to change if players are not doing the business, so we will see more rotation or experimentation. Outstanding performances in the high profile pre-season games may get one of the 'subs' into the starting line-up, particularly if Deulofeu does well.
Alan Smith
47 Posted 29/07/2013 at 14:53:45
I think you could be right Paul

Osman may be our deepest player alongside fellaini to get the passing going. like what arteta is doing at Arsenal.

I don't think DM for the 2 positions in front of the back 4. It's a champ manager idea and looks great on paper, but it seems to encourage the belief that certain midfielders aren't cut out for that position ie Barkley and Osman. And enforces the misconception that Heightinga or Neville are more equipped for those positions.

In my eyes it's calledCM, especially if its a high tempo pressing and passing game we are playing. Therefore our CM have to be good at keeping possession, have a good work rate, be technically gifted, score a few and be able to pass and tackle.

We have 4 CM then, Fellaini, Barkley, Gibson and Osman. If 3 of them get injured I would start thinking about playing Hieghtinga there and even then Junior might be a better option.

But two from these four would then allow Pienaar to play behind Kone with Deulofue and mirralas either side.

Gibson could come in for Deulofeu in tough away games to pack the midfield. Like when we go away to old Trafford and you just want to get out alive! Nah

Trevor Lynes
48 Posted 29/07/2013 at 14:59:43
Just to put a dampener on Tony's harangue about Distin. We conceded the least goals in the Premier League last season excluding the Manchester clubs who spent much more than we did.

Having played the game to a decent standard, I say categorically that Old Distin could very probably give yardage to quite a few younger players than himself in a sprint. His positional sense is admirable and he and Jags are the best defensive pairing in the division at centre back.

They are both hardly ever booked and stay pretty much injury free. When Jags was injured we missed him lots as we never managed to plug the gap he left adequately. Problems we had were when Jags had to move to fullback due to injury and JH deputised dismally!!

So long as we manage to keep Baines we should not tamper with our excellent defence.

Sam Hoare
49 Posted 29/07/2013 at 15:22:18
Raymond's team is similar to mine except with Osman in for Deulofeu, which is not unlikely.

I hope and genuinely think that these places are still up for grabs and if the likes of Deulofeu or Barkley really shine in the ICC cup and the rest of pre-season training then they can force their way into the team as others have said.

Paul Mackie
50 Posted 30/07/2013 at 12:18:36
Distin will be used a lot this season as he's still our fastest defender and the only replacement that has been signed seems to be a perma-crock.
James Stewart
51 Posted 30/07/2013 at 12:58:03
I like that team Sam. I can't see Howard surviving long under RM. Joel will be 1st choice in no time.

I like how the front 3 of Mirallas/Pienaar/Deulofeu could all switch and swap positions. You can add Barkley to that too as it looks like he will get a lot of game time under RM

Tom Bowers
52 Posted 30/07/2013 at 22:47:10
It is now time to see a new Everton.

The fans have been fed steady diet of crap teams for many seasons that initially promised so much then fell away disappointingly.

What is needed is for RM to gradually ring in the changes,weeding out the players that Moyes kept faith with too long.

The many bench players who never got a real chance and the newcomers may now take the Blues to the next level simply because of the new manager bringing fresh ideas.

Matthew Davies-Jones
53 Posted 31/07/2013 at 21:45:06
I think as Martinez is a positive manager, he will more likely go for the 3-4-3 formation so he can keep the partnership of Baines and Pienaar on the left-hand side. This will mean either Alcaraz or Heitinga playing as an extra CB, we will be 4 at back at times but mainly 3 at back for me.

Jelavic against Blackburn did well, Kone wasn't as impressive but I'm sure he will bag goals, we have a strong team this season with more depth than the last, NEED to keep hold of Fellaini and Baines though.

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