Another Draw Snatched From the Jaws of Victory

Everton let a priceless two-goal advantage slip as Arsenal equalise at the death.

Lyndon Lloyd 24/08/2014 37comments  |  Jump to last

In his attempts to crack the glass ceiling that has existed between Everton and the Champions League places for the past 10 seasons, Roberto Martinez has been at pains to stress that clubs like his that don't have the capacity to spend their way to success can bridge the gap in other ways through coaching, tactics, psychology and by simply finding ways to win.

That was the case in instances like his first win as boss over Chelsea, when he ended a 44-year wait for the Blues to do the double over Manchester United, and the 3-0 demolition of Arsenal at Goodison Park to briefly set the cat among the pigeons in the chase for fourth place in the Premier League.

The jury remains out, however, as to whether his philosophy holds up to scrutiny over the course of a season and certainly Everton's experience last term, where their top-four charge was critically undermined by failings late on against inferior opposition like Crystal Palace and Southampton, was Exhibit A in that respect.

If breaking into the top four is to be a reality this time around with largely the same squad as last season, then the manager is going to need not only a repeat of those kinds of results against the monied elite, but also an advantage born of those other intangibles he cites. On the evidence thus far, he is already behind the curve.

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Martinez rightly took the plaudits for his strategic masterstroke over Arsene Wenger last April, on a day when the gulf in resources between the two clubs was bridged almost effortlessly by a stunning performance from an Everton side that was firmly in a groove that would yield seven successive League victories. In the wake now of successive 2-2 draws that represent four points dropped from winning positions, and a visible lack of fitness among most of the players, the manager must shoulder a good deal of the blame, particularly for an unbalanced pre-season programme that is now seriously being called into question.

Things looked very different at 6:15pm this evening; indeed, Everton were sitting in a position pleasingly reminiscent of the last time they met Arsenal in this fixture. 2-0 up without really having to move out of second gear and with the opposition having failed to even register a shot on target, the scene was set for a repeat drubbing of the Gunners. Another goal would have sealed it but, as fatigue appeared to set in, the intensity to go for the jugular never materialised and Wenger was able to plot a way back into the match.

Martinez's line-up was, as expected, arguably the strongest one at his disposal. Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman both started the latter making his 100th Premier League start and Romelu Lukaku led the line for the first time at Goodison as a fully-fledged Everton player, albeit with the suspected help of a cortizone shot in an injured toe that, rumour had it on Thursday, might have kept him out altogether.

Just as was the case last time, though, Everton were forced into an early change, this time with Steven Pienaar forced off after just eight minutes with an injury. He had been clattered in the back by Calum Chambers in only the first minute but seemed to be hobbling on a strapped knee before signalling to the bench that he couldn't continue.

He was replaced by Leon Osman and Everton weren't duly affected as the two teams felt each other out in the early stages. Coleman almost made an awful mistake when he sent an ill-advised clearance straight to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but the England midfielder side-footed wide of goal; Tim Howard's goal was otherwise largely untroubled in the first half.

Instead, it was the Blues who eased into the lead after 19 minutes when Leighton Baines found Gareth Barry in space 10 yards outside the opposition penalty area with a superb pass and the midfielder floated a perfect ball over the top of the defence to the back post. Coleman had tracked it precisely and planted a header into the top corner via Wojciech Szczesny's gloves to give Everton the lead.

1-0 should have been 2-0 three minutes later when Mirallas chested Steven Naismith's header forward into an ocean of space behind Chambers but he couldn't make proper contact with just the 'keeper in front of him and poked it agonisingly wide. It was one of a number of examples that betrayed the Belgian's general rustiness and he would plant a direct free kick into the side netting 11 minutes before the break after being flattened by Matieu Flamini.

Still, thanks to a textbook counter-attack, the Blues would eventually double their lead on the stroke of half time, albeit somewhat fortuitously. Lukaku came out of a challenge in his own half with Per Mertesaker with the ball and romped down the touchline, hurdling Chambers' attempted tackle in the process before coming inside. A wonderfully disguised throughball slipped Naismith in and the Scot, marginally offside, tucked his shot between Szczesny's legs.

If the lesson of last week's late lapse against Leicester had been heeded, it didn't show in Everton's second-half display, however... although it appeared as though sheer fatigue was as much to blame for the fact that Martinez's side eased up after half-time, inviting more and more danger as Wenger tinkered with his team.

Olivier Giroud, a half-time substitute, sounded an immediate warning bell with his first involvement when he volleyed Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross narrowly over the bar from the angle but Arsenal were being comfortably contained until the last quarter of the contest when Giroud dragged a low shot just wide and then forced a first save from Tim Howard.

At the other end, Baines had made a rare burst to the byline but his cut-back was behind Mirallas in a rare moment of danger from the Blues, while Jack Wilshere was taunted into picking up a booking by a delightful interchange of flicks between Coleman, James McCarthy and Barry. Despite not carrying much threat on the attack themselves, the Blues remained largely comfortable until Lukaku limped off with 15 minutes left, to be replaced by Aiden McGeady and, perhaps crucially, the team lost most of its shape.

Then, seven minutes from time, came what felt like the annoyingly inevitable. Santi Cazorla, another of Wenger's second-half changes, was given too much space to engineer a low cross from the left as Coleman and McCarthy backed off and Aaron Ramsey stole in between Osman and Baines to slide the ball home from a couple of yards out.

Martinez responded not with an attempt to shore things up but with a like-for-like attacking change that saw Christian Atsu come on for Mirallas; but the pendulum had already swung in the direction of the visitors. The Blues needed to keep the ball and see the game out but seemed unable to do so, leading to one more decisive attack for the Gunners down the right flank in the 90th minute. Ramsey over-cooked the cross but Monreal retrieved it, swung it back into the danger area where Giroud easily out-muscled the lead-footed Sylvain Distin (a photograph would later show that Giroud had a fistful of the Frenchman's shirt) to power a header into the goal. It was a sickening conclusion to what had looked like a routine victory.

Granted, the empty feeling at having tossed away two points from a fixture in which we used to routinely struggle highlights our progress but this was still a massively disappointing result in view of the optimism of the build-up and what should have been an unassailable half-time position. If fitness and not a failure on the part of the players to simply go for the jugular is to blame, the inquest into the haphazard nature of Everton's pre-season preparations (during which players came back from the World Cup at differing states of readiness and the team never really seemed to be ready in any of their friendly matches) is now underway.

The squad's fitness will come over time hopefully not so late that irreparable damage has been done to the Blues' prospects of mounting a top-four challenge but concerns over some of the manager's substitution decisions, the sloppy way in which all four of the goals against so far were conceded, and the worrying lack of striking options off the bench will linger in the minds of supporters after two draws that feel like defeats.

Martinez may posit that money is not the answer to everything but, with Europa League and League Cup campaigns looming next month, fitness concerns over Pienaar and the ability of Darron Gibson and Arouna Kone to play a significant part in the season unknown, squad depth is going to be a major issue for Everton this season. If the loan market does not bear any more fruit, addressing that will take money. We will find out how much desire there is to expand the squad by the closure of the transfer window...

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Reader Comments (37)

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Iakovos Iasonidis
1 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:16:28
Spot on!
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:20:57
The fatal moment was when Coleman (who had a poor game defensively) and McCarthy stood there like two guys waiting for a bus while Cazorla had more time to contemplate his cross than Phil Mickelson takes to line up a putt. That turned the game, and the equalizer was inevitable.

I too was bewildered at the insertion of McGeady and Atsu instead of Besic at a time when the defensive pressure was crumbling. That’s two straight weeks in which Roberto, who last year was infallible with his subs, bungled the job in my opinion. Maybe the manager isn’t quite match-fit yet either.

MotM was clearly the inspirational Naismith, who won every header, converted his chance with aplomb and got under the skin of half the Arsenal players.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:31:29
Talking of shite, I am at a Sporting KC game and the executive suite is named after an Everton "legend" whose shitness puts today’s collapse into perspective: "The Preki Suite".
Christopher Kelly
4 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:24:52
Fantastic article!

It’s 5 Points given up,
Not 4.... That extra point to the gunners is big. We will most likely be battling them for 4th.

1st half was scintillating but to make the same mistake twice in a row is unthinkable!! Very amateur.

Michael Winstanley
5 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:08:26
We know we can’t keep a team out once we start defending the 18-yard line, not for years (although there was that one season with Moyes). Everyone who watched that game knew we had it in us to let them back in; that’s what the negative reaction is about.

Is it personnel? That would be my answer. The same players making the same mistakes. There’s nothing new here, that’s the issue Martinez has to address as well as making us more solid in midfield, which I think he has. He also needed to sort out our striking options which again he has addressed. So perhaps next up will be the defence and goal keeper positions?

Rome wasn’t built in a day, not on our wages anyway.

On the game, I thought we played well for 70 mins but from that on I had half an eye on the clock as we conceded the pitch to them. Our ability to keep the ball vanished. Interesting tactic by our defenders was to defend the box not step out to the player with the ball.

Alexis who? How much? Our first half was patchy at times but we lead 2-0 at the break without playing all that well. I can understand Martinez’s substitutions, they were pressing us back, the out ball was the quick counter attack but it didn’t materialise.

Martinez has faith in his players to see it out; ultimately it’s down to them to perform to the standard they set last season. Record number of wins and points etc.

Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 24/08/2014 at 01:51:59
I can’t argue with any of your analysis, Lyndon; I think you called it very honestly and I appreciate that you have not been overly protective of Roberto. He should be having a couple of sleepless nights after these two scarily similar results. He has a lot of work to do this week...
Harold Matthews
7 Posted 24/08/2014 at 03:50:13
You nailed it Lyndon. So too Mike G with his vivid description of the Coleman / McCarthy statuesque defensive partnership.

The last year for Distin I’m afraid. I listened carefully to his interview on the official site and he has quite clearly had enough.

Denver Daniels
8 Posted 24/08/2014 at 06:26:31
After they got their first, you just knew what was coming. Some average performances all round and the players looked out on their feet at the end.

Osman was pretty ineffectual for the most part and anonymous at the end. We need to figure out how to get the most out of Lukaku. He was hardly in the game.

The defence was jittery to say the least and too standoff-fish.

We lacked that extra bit of class in midfield especially with the final ball.

Roberto needs to take some flak for this result. Felt like a Moyes performance and result today.

Darryl Ritchie
9 Posted 24/08/2014 at 06:34:53
Lyndon, your analysis is pretty much dead on; can’t disagree with anything.

You’ve mentioned that "the squad’s fitness will come over time".... Well, Christmas will come also. I just hope the former arrives before the latter.

The sight of the lads dragging their asses the last 20 minutes of the first two games of the season is really depressing. RM has got to see what we see, doesn’t he?

I have no idea how to improve the squad’s fitness, in season. Hopefully Roberto does!

Ian Bennett
11 Posted 24/08/2014 at 08:37:28
So disappointed after another two points dropped.

I thought McCarthy and Naismith were immense yesterday, and were badly let down by the sickening goals conceded late in the game (again). Ultimately it was defensive weakness from Tim (command of the 6 yard box....), Distin and Jags (again) failure to deal with danger, whilst Roberto needs to take responsibility for the wrong substitutions and a worryingly lack of fitness from the team that is costing us in the last 10.

I thought the press were being harsh on Jags at the World Cup, but let’s be honest he is playing pretty poorly at the moment. I expect him to keep his place against Chelsea, but another performance like this and he’ll be watching from the sidelines.

The players looked visibly tired in the last 15, and it was crying out for a Besic to offer more legs in the middle. Osman and Barry looked knackered, so adding McGeady, who was a bag of nerves, and Atsu didn’t exactly solidify things either to support an over exposed, but excellent McCarthy.

The squad is definitely missing a striker, and with Alcaraz/Distin/Jags looking old and dodgy, a dominant centre half as well at this rate.

A side note, Jack Wilshire, what a horrible player.

Mike Childs
12 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:15:40
Another excellent report, Lyndon. Hopefully the lesson learnt is that next year we train much harder in the pre-season.

Some positives from the games for me: Lukaku more involved, Barry and McCarthy played better and Naismith. I would love to switch our CB for the pair at Leicester who pretty much bossed Costa yesterday in the same way they did Lukaku.

Martinez must do better with the subs, he has to be more ruthless and introduce the new guys. Even the starting XI could use some tinkering. Needs to take a lesson from Mourinho who benched a top 5 GK for another younger larger, quicker member of the top 5 GKs.

Fitness, Fitness, Fitness — has cost us these points more than anything.

Kunal Desai
13 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:13:05
Top 4 challenge?? Not on the evidence of the first two games. Top 4 sides don’t give cheap goals away like we have done. I think we are good enough for a top 6 finish but finishing above any of the others from last season will require a few rabbits out the bag before the window closes and that is not going to happen. As a club, we really should be trying to win a trophy – FA Cup or League Cup is long overdue.
Anthony Jones
14 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:26:29
Spot on, Lyndon. Roberto is a top manager but he should spend more time assessing his players’ fitness and less time waxing lyrical (see his recent nauseating interview with a Belgian journalist).
Ray Roche
15 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:39:50
We are not fit enough. I banged on about a poor pre-season weeks ago and the proof was there yesterday. Besic should have been on with 30 minutes to go, Rom looked knackered and Mirallas was ineffectual for long periods.

We sat back and allowed Arsenal to come at us too much, McGeady was the wrong choice and continued where he’d left off last week, i.e. giving the ball away. McCarthy and Naismith were tremendous. Coleman looked defensively weak but the lad has had less preparation than the rest of the team.

Martinez must up his game regards the fitness levels and his substitutions, which were reminiscent of Moyes at his worst. But at least Moyes’s teams were fit. (And you don’t know just how hard it is to give Moyes praise over Martinez.)

Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 24/08/2014 at 09:32:37
Very good article Lyndon, straight to the point and a good honest assessment of where we are at.

I thought some of the football was brilliant and showed how much we have come on as a footballing team, but we have got to become a lot more ruthless in seeing games out. Dead on our feet, the manager went like for like, instead of bringing on another midfielder. But this was something he was praised for last season.

He has given his reason, and shown his philosophy, by saying he felt we needed another goal. I would sooner have this mentality myself, but looking at the game as a whole, I feel like he got it wrong yesterday, but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?

One thing that is going to cost us time after time, is our inability to defend high balls, either from the flanks or even straight down the middle though. I think if Giroud would have started yesterday then we would have lost the game, purely because we are so susceptible to this major problem at the moment.

Denis Richardson
17 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:54:53
Great summary, Lyndon, can’t add much to it. As I mentioned yesterday, I had a feeling that we would give the points back from around the hour mark as we started defending far too deep and resorted to lumping the ball up field instead of trying to keep hold of it. Just inviting them to keep attacking us. All it needed was a bit of composure at the back to take the pressure off but sadly we were lacking.

It’s the same back five as we’ve had for a long time now and they seem to often panic when we’ve a lead to defend in the second half. If Stones isn’t ready then we’ve got a bit of a problem as Jags and Distin are certainly not the same as they were a couple of years ago. A few people will defend them and say they are still class but all I can say is look at the 4 goals we’ve conceded already.

The attacking players are doing their bit but that’s two games now where the defence has let us down badly. Unfortunately I cannot see us getting much against Chelsea unless we have a load of luck like last year.

Not sure there’s an easy fix but we need to sort out the back sharpish. Arsenal were poor yesterday and we gifted them a point, that’s the most depressing thing. 4 points dropped after just two games – this is becoming a bit of a habit.

Denis Richardson
18 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:23:51
Forgot to add, I’ve never been a massive Naismith fan but fair dues to the guy, he’s our most valuable player at the moment.
Danny Harris
19 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:20:04
I am absolutely fuming — you can not let games slip like that. I am convinced we will be lucky to finish in top 10 this year. This is no over-reaction — the centre-backs are woeful and their time is up. Age has caught up with Distin, and Jagielka, like you saw in the World Cup, is not good enough. A new centre-back is a priority to finish anywhere near last year or mid table it will be.

That Aiden McGeady is shocking — he’s lazy, uninterested and greedy. Once he leaves us, he is heading for the Championship at best. I don’t think Martinez has signed well this summer and his optimism is bordering on delusional.

Sam Hoare
20 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:31:17
Those of us who suggested our preseason had us looking undercooked were lambasted. The proof is on the pudding. Out fought and out run by an Arsenal team that had also played in Turkey mid-week.

If we were as fit as Leicester or Arsenal we would likely have 6 points by now and not 2.

Inexcusable really to be so poorly prepared physically.

Danny Kewley
21 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:54:32
Great match report, Lyndon; Pretty much all angles have been covered by all Evertonians writing in and they – like me and my lad – are trying to come to terms with the game we threw away. Surely our manager can see just like the rest of us?

We were running on empty in the last 20 mins and it was blatantly obvious that Besic should have been brought on to give them something to worry about!!! Instead of giving possession away along with the points.

Tony Pickering
22 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:04:16
I seem to recall watching the first few games of last season and having the same feeling of ’the lads are looking tired’ towards the end of the matches.

Things did seem to improve markedly after a few weeks, but am I alone in worrying it may become a permanent feature in the Martinez years?

I agree with all those who think Besic would have been a good option after about an hour.

Kevin Tully
23 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:18:43
I have never felt so deflated after a draw, which somehow feels worse than the 1-6 reverse on the opening day a few seasons ago. Let’s not kid ourselves, if Martinez would have brought a defender on to protect the lead, he would have been hung on here.


Zahir Jaffer
24 Posted 24/08/2014 at 11:52:51
Great read, Lyndon; I always look forward to your posts and articles. The match was similar to the 3-3 draw with the Redshite, but at a slower tempo. We were 3-1 up and conceded 2 goals in the last 8 minutes, one was from a free kick which Sturridge headed in.

If we had enough funds for one more person in the transfer market, even if its a loan, we need some-one who can win the ball in the air. I don’t care which position he plays as long as can win fifty-fifties, be a threat at corners, and be a threat in defence. Naismith out-jumped Mertesacker more than once while I didn’t see Lukaku win a single header.

Trevor Lynes
25 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:23:13
Lukaku had to play with a cortisone injection which really illustrates the lack of cover. We cannot afford injuries at all so talk of a top four place is totally unrealistic.

It is no good being critical of players when we really do not have alternatives. We will have had a reasonable season if we finish in the top seven when our spending power is a fraction of the other contenders.

However, there is no excuse for not being fit enough to last 90 minutes and some of the players looked drained after 75 minutes. Arsenal showed that they are not top class and we should have won the match.

Paul Andrews
26 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:49:35
Besic was the best option, Kevin Tully (#23). I am a big supporter of Martinez: he got that one wrong.
Liam Reilly
27 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:56:31
He should’ve brought on another midfielder, Kevin; just to sit and tidy up in front of a clearly tiring back four.

Kieran #3 ’shitness’ love it.

Tony Hill
28 Posted 24/08/2014 at 15:52:27
As a new poster, can I say I always enjoy your reports which are fair and incisive. I know how annoying it can be when people say that we shouldn’t panic and that we need to see the bigger picture, especially after a miserable surrender like yesterday, and there was a bit of a spat about this on another thread. But we all desperately want to see the team win and we all try to deal with disappointments differently.

I would just say that RM does have a deep Evertonian quality about him, it’s that indefinable thing... but he just has it and I can feel it in my bones. I have not felt this about any other manager since Catterick – and I include Howard Kendall in that. (Howard of course is as Evertonian as they come, as is Joe Royle, but I’m talking about a style and presence in RM.) I know that is hardly scientific argument and I don’t conceal the obvious deficiencies in the side nor RM’s tendency to babble on, but sometimes instinct has it right.

Anyway, we’ll all be there next Saturday, even if we do vent our spleens on here in the meantime. Stepping back from yesterday, I still think we can take solace from outplaying one of the title favourites for much of the game and when we were patently not at our sharpest.

Chris James
29 Posted 24/08/2014 at 12:28:09
Just to add my twopenneth here, largely in agreement with everyone else.

The most worrying thing yesterday for me were the substitutions of which I think all three were wrong.

Sub Error #1: Pienaar coming off was clearly forced upon Robbie, but the point at which Osman came on pretty much started the sinking feeling for me.

Leon was a great servant to the club over the years, and has been under appreciated at times, but it’s clear to everyone in football (apart from Martinez) that he’s pretty much a passenger now and is just not up to playing more than 20 minutes now. I stopped counting the number of times he was muscled or paced out of challenges at about 5, it was certainly more than meaningful touches of the ball he applied...and that was in the first half, by the last 30 minutes he was out on his feet (again). We already have one smart but less mobile player anchoring the midfield, his name’s Gareth Barry and he has a VERY willing and able partner to make up the yards for him in McCarthy - James has a great engine but to ask him to do the running for 2 other players is just out of line.
Somehow, even with Osman in the side we impressed in the first half but the fact he was on the pitch at all was storing up a liability in the second. The better option should surely have been Besic in the middle (with Mirallas and Lukaku pushed out wide) or one of the wingers on for a winger.

Sub Error #2: The most forgiveable one this. Lukaku probably had to come off also, I get that and maybe McGeady wasn’t the worst idea conceptually at 2-0 up to keep their defence pinned back and give us a pacy outlet. Once he was on the pitch for a few minutes though it was very clear the strategy hadn’t worked. Not only was McGeady not offering the same physical presence for high-balls, he patently wasn’t tackling back either and his passing was frankly woeful on several occasions, so much so that he seemed to have lost his rag and let his head drop after about 5 minutes on.
Really though we needed more of a target man up for this (oh for a Fellaini type to mix things up).

Sub Error #3: Atsu on for Mirallas. Now I’m afraid this one has to be filed under MAJOR batshit craziness. I appreciate he’d planned to make this move at 2-0 but having seen just how ineffectual McGeady had been and how we were getting over-run in midfield, surely this was the equivalent of throwing good money after bad. Taking off Mirallas who was showing McGeady what should be done both going forwards and tackling back and still seemed full of running (and hungry for a goal) was bad enough in itself, but to not shore up the midfield and protect the result was madness; once we’d conceded the goal, and Arsenal smelt a point, to not change tack was just lunacy.

As I lamented with a fellow blue cabbie on the way back from Goodison, for all his faults, our old manager would have managed to shut the door for 15 minutes... then again, it’s unlikely he would have been 2-0 up against Arsenal in the first place I suppose!!!

At the end of the day, we’ve dropped 4 points from winning positions and yet again I fear we’re destined for a hard-luck story of a season.

Bill Gall
30 Posted 24/08/2014 at 16:21:28
To me this was not a game of two halves but the reading of the game by two managers. Martinez had seen his game plan work perfectly in the first half by going ahead with two goals and not allowing Arsenal a shot on goal.

Wenger made his first move bringing a tall striker in to put pressure on the central defence and after another 20 mins, seeing Everton were either trying to see the game out or were visibly tiring, brought on two quick forwards cum midfielders to turn the game.

To me, Mr Martinez made his mistake by instead of helping the midfield and the defence that was getting overun, he brought on two forwards who just stayed out wide, hoping for a quick break from defence, and this is where the game was lost.

Even though in my opinion this is where the game was lost, it does not hide the problem that at this time there seemed over 60% of Everton players that do not seem match fit. Osman cannot play effectively after 45-50 min at the best of times so I could not understand him playing for the majority of the game with a perfectly fit midfielder on the bench.

Overall, going on the display for 70 mins, Everton look very good but the unfortunate thing is the games last for 90+ min. We can complain about the pre-season but that is in the past and hopefully the coaching staff and the Manager will address the problem now for the future.

Raymond Fox
31 Posted 24/08/2014 at 17:03:00
I think there some very short memories on here, how many times last season did RM make substitutions that changed the game in our favour? Plus, by the way, we finished with a record number of points in the Premier League for Everton and were in with a shout of CL football up to the last few matches of the season.

Now, a year later if you believe some of the comments on here, he doesn’t have a clue! How many times in a season do you see teams come from behind to draw or win? Plenty; why? Because, if you're behind, you throw everything you can at the opposition because you’ve nothing to lose. If you get one back, game on, and who knows.

No team has all the players 100% after 1 league game, if were pinning this on being totally unfit.

What about all the energy we expended to be the team on top with a 2-goal lead? The players wouldn’t be human if they didn’t tire at all.

Also do you not think Martinez would love to go out and spend the sort of money that our neighbours and the other suspects managers are spending.

The bottom line is he’s forced to try and challenge these clubs with some players that are past their best or will never be good enough to haul us into the top 4.

We are never going to buy a title chaps, his and our only chance is to attempt to produce our own top class players; a tall order yes, but our only chance as it stands!

Nicholas Ryan
32 Posted 24/08/2014 at 19:01:14
On the fitness front; I couldn't help remembering the fittest people I have ever seen, i.e. the London University rowing crew of my youth. In those days, they were of Olympic standard, and mostly, American. They had 2 large boards up, in the rowing gym:

One said: 'Remember, in the middle of the Thames, you can't get out and bloody-well walk!'

The other said: 'Remember, every minute you're NOT training, there's some Russian bastard who IS!'

Perhaps something similar at Finch Farm would do the trick!

Andy Meighan
33 Posted 25/08/2014 at 11:25:17
Zahir (#24), if you’re referring to the 3 all draw derby at home last season we weren’t winning 3-1 with 8 minutes left we were actually losing twice in that game 1-0 and 2-1. We got it back to 3-2 before Sturridge equalised in the last minute, so please get your facts right.
Darren Hind
34 Posted 25/08/2014 at 14:16:05
First class summary Lyndon.

The only point I would disagree with is that you think Martinez should only shoulder a "good deal" of the blame.

Despite taking over a group of players who have always performed at a higher level than he has, Martinez took ALL the plaudits for last seasons points hall.

I think there has been an exaggerated and unhealthy outpouring of adoration towards Martinez. Some Evertonians have been too anxious to tell him how wonderful he is. That IMO is the problem here, he has been too happy to believe them.

If I was marking him out of 10 since last May, I'd struggle to give him more than a 2 - although he did a great job for ESPN.

This group of players had a genuine chance of challenging for CL qualification this season and if Martinez does not pull himself together, he will have blown it before we get over the first fence.

His recent admissions concerning "where we are" and "energy levels" must have caused the production line down at the excuse factory to grind to a juddering halt.

Rick Tarleton
36 Posted 25/08/2014 at 18:08:21
Spot on Chris James , the substitutions were naive. When you're two nil up, you close a game down, not go gung-ho. I criticised Moyes for his defensive mindset, but this was just stupidly cavalier.
Patrick Murphy
37 Posted 25/08/2014 at 18:15:19
Darren you'll be pleased to know that my shrine to Senor Martinez is still intact and I have all of his punditry from the World Cup playing on a loop 24/7 what a guy! :)
Wayne Smyth
38 Posted 26/08/2014 at 19:24:49
It's easy to be an armchair manager with 20-20 vision, judging decisions after the event. It's even better when your alternative ideas don't actually have to stand the scrutiny of being put into action.

It sounds like we generally think Osman was a mistake(and yes I also cursed under my breath when he was brought on), yet Osman was on the pitch for the majority of the first half when we went in 2-0 up and looking quite comfortable.

What's annoying is that had we "closed out" the game by bringing Besic on(who I really want to see play), and conceded 2 or more, the same people would be complaining that we shouldn't have gone defensive, and we should have brought on some pacy players to provide an outlet and go for the third.

Sadly, some change their mind as often as the scoreline. One second Martinez is a genius, 10 minutes later its time for him to fuck off and bring Moyes back. Thats not a generalisation either, I actually read those words from one poster. People who were calling for Atsu one second are ready to condemn the decision when he comes on and doesn't really do anything.

I think there is no doubt that the squad is not 100% ready. I think Coleman looked mentally and possibly physically fatigued which certainly contributed to their goals. Yet how many of us wouldn't have played him, even if he'd missed a lot of preseason? A half fit coleman is probably better than any of our alternatives.

I think Martinez has stated that he has compromised the start of our season somewhat to ensure we still have fresh legs in April and May. It's a brave choice that may or may not work out, but the end of this season will be the time to determine whether Martinez has indeed "fucked up pre-season", or in fact whether he has pulled another masterstroke.

Importantly for me, after the game Martinez came out and said that he was not happy with the second half performance and that sitting back, defending and soaking pressure is not the way he wants us to be playing, so I still have hope that it will come good.

Tommy Campbell
39 Posted 27/08/2014 at 12:05:42
I maintain that in bringing in Atsu to exploit the statue-esque Mertesacker was the right call, we needed to counter as trying to press and win the ball back was never going to happen. The thinking was that Coleman, Baines, Jags, Distin, Barry would almost become a back 5 with McCarthy linking with the forwards to counter, using Atsu's pace.

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