Solid Blues defence; impotent attack

Everton not could break down the stubborn home side while they did very well to prevent any goals against to retain their place at the top of Group H.

LOSC Lille 0 - 0 Everton

Everton's starting line-up for the Europa League clash in Lille included Ross Barkley, Samuel Eto'o, Muhamed Besic, Tony Hibbert and a comeback for Sylvain Distin. Lukaku and McCarthy were part of a very strong-looking subs bench. Missing from the Everton line-up were Osman and Naismith, who were rested and did not travel; Stones and Mirallas who were out injured; Kone and Oviedo who were still in recovery.

Lille included Liverpool loan striker Divock Origi, a tenage Belgian teammate of Romelu Lukaku, and Idrissa Gueye (no relation?) With trouble caused by some nasty locals and aggressive riot police grabbing the headlines, Everton started the game leading Europa League Group H on 4 points, kicking off and looking confident but adventurous passes not quite coming off until Origi got hold of the ball and fired in a shot that was blocked away for a corner. Hibbert did enough to prevent a dangerous ball from being converted as the attacker pushed him down.

McGeady gave up the second corner on 5 mins, Pienaar collapsing rather too easily to relieve the pressure. McGeady picked out Barkley but he was offside, while Pienaar's control going forward was poor. Lille were doing well running at Everton on the flanks and getting in some dangerous crosses. Barkley needed attention for a cut on the head, returning heavily bandaged.

Some Eto'o genius almost dug out a chance from nothing as he broke away from a defender on the bye-line, then Besic saw his regulation early yellow card for a studs-high interception at waist height that was deemed reckless despite him winning the ball. Everton were trying to play their normal game, but Lille were always looking to get the ball forward with some pace, testing Hibbert in particular, but their crosses were thankfully inaccurate.

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A great exchange between Eto'o and Pienaar looked to put the striker in but he could not dig the ball out from his feet to make the shot. Pienaar made another direct giveaway in the middle that invited more Lille pressure. Origi was testing Distin, who had the measure of the teenager's pace. Gana fired in a good shot that curled away at the last moment.

Pienaar won a free-kick off Kjaer by the corner flag that Baines delivered well and it was Kjaer who headed away, and a promising attack ended with a lazy flicked giveaway from McGeady. The referee was very protective of any high kicks iat close quarters, to the point of being ridiculous on Eto'o, who checked his raised leg at the knee but was still called. Lille then got a wide free-kick that was defended well and Everton almost counter-attacked with pace, but Lille were very quick to track back en masse. Eto'o's lack of control of direct balls played hard was eerily similar to Lukaku's...

McGeady looked to play Barkley ahead in a move that was just too fast for the youngster as Rodelin fired in a shot from distance that Howard gathered with ease. Barkley was a little too sloppy and Origi seemed set to cut Everton apart but again the Lille attack failed to connect. At the other end, Kjaer again fouled Pienaar, and from 30 yards, Barkley fired well over.

Everton passing at the back drew pressure that saw Balmont drive a hopeful shot as the ref blew for half-time with zero added time.

No changes at the break, Distin showing he still had the measure of Origi with some good defensive work down the line. Jagielka was next to be tested down the other flank and the Everton captain's interception was superb with nothing coming from the early Lille corner.

Everton's forward play was still leaving a lot to be desired, Jagielka the next to pump a useless ball up direct to an opponent. Origi did make space behind him but dug a little divot as he lashed the ball wide of Howard's goal. Barkley was chopped down on the edge of the Lille area and Eto'o looked to take charge, but struck it directly at Enyeama.

Pienaar and Beria got into it needlessly over a disputed non-penalty 'handball' and saw yellow. From the corner Kjaer's flick caused panic but Barkley bundled it away as Everton withstood some real pressure before the hour mark. Time for Romelu Lukaku... on in place of Steven Pienaar, so two up front!

Lukaku's first touch almost led to a goal, McGeady unable to get it around the good advance of Enyeama. Barkley's drive was then headed behind for a corner as Everton finally threatened with intent but Baines's curled corner was headed away. More Blues possession but still the passing moves breaking down too easily. Barkley finally released McGeady down the right and, with all the time in the world to find any of three or four blue shirts, his cross straight to a defender was absolutely abysmal.

Lille played some long balls that got Howard into the game, albeit comfortably, the pattern of the game having changed markedly since Lukaku's arrival, but with as yet no end product. Mendes then replaced Rodelin and a couple of Lille corners were repelled. Gana then collapsed under a late shin-tap to win a dangerous free-kick that Kjaer fired into the Everton wall.Off another Lille corner, Gana's distant shot was well, well wide.

Into the final 10 minutes, and Everton's mission to be more direct in the final third continued to be thwarted by a mixture of good Lille defence and poor Everton passing. The solution? Atsu on for the perennially disappointing McGeady. More promising moves looked to finally break the deadlock into the final minute, with Lille getting another corner again defended away. Barkley came off for a pointless McCarthy substitution at the death (all of 8 seconds in the game!) and the Blues held on without really getting close enough to read Enyeama's shirt number, never mind see the whites of his eyes.

Lille: Enyeama, Beria [Y:58'], Kjaer, Basa, Souaré, Balmont, Mavuba (86' Martin), Gueye, Corchia, Origi, Rodelin (73' Mendes).
Subs: Frey, Sidibe, Elana, Rozehnal, Roux.

Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka (c), Distin, Baines, Besic [Y:15'], Barry, McGeady (82' Atsu), Barkley (93' McCarthy), Pienaar [Y:58'] (63' Lukaku), Eto'o.
Subs: Robles, Alcaraz, Coleman, Gibson.

Referee: Manuel De Sousa

Attendance: .....

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Reader Comments (98)

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Peter Z Jones
1 Posted 23/10/2014 at 17:21:26
Bobby. C'mon man. Stop changing defensive partnerships that are working. Also, Gareth Barry is 34, not 24. Not gonna even comment on Hibbert. Browning should just go out on loan then.
Jim Bennings
2 Posted 23/10/2014 at 17:33:26
Agree surprised that Browning isn't here to be honest, what we expect to learn from Hibbert.

After playing Browning at Liverpool and United as a sub it is somewhat baffling at times to try working out the Martinez thought process.

Glad to see Barkley back, would have liked to see Barkley next to McCarthy in a 4-4-2 tonight with Lukaku partnering Eto'o.

Jay Rollinson
3 Posted 23/10/2014 at 17:53:12
Why not wait until you at least know the result before whinging? Jesus.

How can it be "baffling" that an experienced Premier League right back is preferred, at right back, to a young player who has made 2 solitary sub appearance and whose proper position is centre half?

Paul Burns
4 Posted 23/10/2014 at 18:43:16
Disaster waiting to happen and these are shit. Too slow, no-one carrying the ball forward, no-one in the box. We look terrified on the ball... what happened to fear?

Ball retention is garbage, wide open at the back, it’s how. NOT to play in Europe. We’ve learnt nothing from the Moyes days and seem to be waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen.

And as for Hibbert, he wasn’t good enough at this level nine years ago. Martinez is a stubborn fool and it will cost him if he doesn’t buck his ideas up. You can’t bore a team Into submission.

Peter Z Jones
5 Posted 23/10/2014 at 18:50:24
It's not whinging. Hibbert is just a shit player Jay. He doesn't fit our attacking philosophy. No pace. No skill on the ball. So what's the point? Lille is a good defensive team that doesn't score many goals. Hibbert's alleged defensive expertise isn't needed as much as some threat going forward to break them down.

It takes us 10 minutes to get out of our own half because we don't have one passer other than Baines in our back line. Fuck it. Just put Coleman on so we can create one chance in this game.

I'm not one of these people endlessly bashing our team. But I don't understand the point of playing a has-been (some would argue a never was) with no attacking threat over a promising young player with obvious physical gifts.

I also don't understand breaking up a partnership that recorded our 2nd clean sheet of the season. The only 2 clean sheets we've gotten have come when Stones/Alcaraz (a calm passer) is paired with Jags. Distin and him are the same. That's why it's taking forever to get into their half. They can't pass for shit collectively.

Jay Rollinson
6 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:01:33
The primary purpose of a right back isn't to fit in with an attacking philosophy. It's to defend. Which he's done, pretty well up to half time.

0-0, away from home against an experienced team at this level, and people are pointing the finger already.

As for it being the defence and their lack of passing ability at fault for us not getting the ball forward quicker, then I suggest you might want to shift some of that blame onto the two deep lying midfielders who keep playing wall passes straight back to them. McGeady has bombed into space a fair few times only to be totally ignored by both Besic and Barry who instead choose to spin and play the ball straight back where it came from.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:29:58
McGeady honest to God I'm not kidding ya!

Utter dross

Michael Kenrick
8 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:50:46
Well... for all the hype, ya gotta wonder... Yes, good job defending, lads...

But was there one memorable incident for those countless thousands of Blues fans to remember? Did we have even one decent strike on goal?

Really utter dross going forward, even with two strikers on the field.

Stephen Brown
9 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:55:12
Good away point if you ask me!! Only Man Utd ever won there
Patrick Murphy
10 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:55:14
It was the typical European first-leg type of performance although it was a league game. Not enough going forward which is strange for Roberto's team but we looked really solid at the back which is a good thing. But McGeady what has he got for brains? Every single time he made the wrong choice - I actually thought we played better in the first-half than the second but the ITV panel don't agree with me. It's still going to be hard work to qualify as all four teams are still in with a shout.
Kevin Rowlands
11 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:54:19
Half way through, 2 away games out of the three played, top of the group, important players rested, Jags back to his best, clean sheet, what's there to complain about?

BTW, Michael, yes we did have a decent strike with McGeady when their goalie pulled off a lucky save.

Paul Burns
12 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:55:20
Will we ever learn how to play in Europe? Apparently not. We should be murdering teams at Premier League pace instead of piss-farting around with absolutely no threat going forward.

We’ll be out, the first decent team we come up against, as usual, if we get out of the group. We’re like naive bumpkins in Europe – embarrassing.

Mike Powell
13 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:52:41
Good result. Jags was outstanding today. Pienaar was poor; we played much better when he went off.

I thought Hibbo had a good game — I don't understand why he is getting stick.

A point away from home in Europe is a good result .

Si Mar
14 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:59:10
An away point and clean sheet in Europe very positive.

The disappearance of our 'possession' play and attacking edge a big disappointment.

I'm afraid McGeady is out of his depth and Eto'o for me is past his best... where does he actually play and what does he offer?!!!!

Mike Allison
15 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:59:18
If you play in a team that has Leighton Baines in it, and your team wins a free-kick within 30 yards of goal, you have one job: get the FUCK out of his way.

Why don't Ross Barkley and Samuel Eto'o know that?

A draw there is a decent result, no point moaning, although it was a boring performance and the referee was one of those that makes you realise we're lucky to be watching English football week-in & week-out.

Nick Entwistle
16 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:58:53
If it was on any later, I'd have fallen asleep. Point's a point.
Anto Byrne
17 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:52:40
It was a good solid defensive performance and a point in the bag. Now back to the real world and Burnley on Sunday.
Steve Pugh
18 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:00:05
Kevin, that can't have been a decent strike — it was McGeady.
Phil Walling
19 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:01:33
Total dross but I think we have to remember that the Thursday League is all about second class teams playing lots of reserves. All-in-all, a good result.
Gavin Johnson
20 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:55:33
The team's lacking width without Mirallas! The other three – Pienaar, McGeady and Atsu – aren't up to it for varying reasons.

I was very pleased with Jags this evening. On the other hand I'm still not convinced about Distin. I'd have liked Browning to have got some minutes for Hibbert in the later stages, like the derby and Man Utd game.

Keith Glazzard
21 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:59:23
Half a job done, and against a very lively attack. Far too much loss of possession going forward though.

I thought the ref gave us nothing, and I think Eto'o for one agrees with me. Baines was taken out all game long and Besic winning the ball early on was given a yellow. A good away point in the end.

William Tone
22 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:06:56
Pitch looked complete shit, very slow, and our guys never seemed to figure out how to make the adjustment.
Jim Bennings
23 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:06:35
Best two players, Jagielka and Hibbert, did their jobs manfully.

Strong defensive display away from home and a good point but eventually we have to start playing better as an attacking team.

Phil Walling
24 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:12:46
Jim, when Ossie's not in the team, it's Hibbo they will be gunning for. The 600 games they've played counts for nothing these days !
Jamie Crowley
25 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:14:06
All those Hibbo moaners! Hibbo was our best player tonight!

Hibbo scores we riot!!!

A true blue, great servant, and shame on you you haters.

Bill Gall
26 Posted 23/10/2014 at 19:59:29
Good performance by Everton away in a European competition . The team Mr Martinez played showed Distan back from injury Barkley playing the 90min after a 2 month injury and Besic in for Mcarthy who has had 1 game after injury plus Pienar getting more game time after injury and Coleman also rested after returning from injury with the league games coming up the squad is starting to look strong.

People are going to complain about the performance but to me one of the major complaints we had was the defence that is starting to show confidence and has another clean sheet. As supporters we have been wating to get into Europe and sometimes you will have to put up with this safety first type of play away from home to gain a result and get experience in these competitions.

Gavin Johnson
27 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:14:48
Did anyone rate Lille's Simon Kjaer?? I wouldn't mind if we made January bid for him.
Wayne Smyth
28 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:10:36
I thought Atsu looked lively when he came on. Admittedly after his previous showings in a blue shirt expectations were not high.

Overall I thought we were far too slow and laborious in our build up play and our passing was lazy. McGeady was dire until Lukaku came on and Pienaar looked well off the pace too.

They were also up against what seemed a much more mobile and progressive Lille side who unfortunately dived and cheated at every opportunity. I was actually shocked we finished with 11 on the field.

I think it's clear that we struggle to play well without our first choice 11, but I also think that Martinez came to get a point with the realisation that we're in a strong position in the Europa league at the moment and that Sunday's match is more important for many reasons.

I would agree with Gavin that it would have been great to see Browning given some time, even though Hibbert and Distin probably didn't do a lot wrong.

Jamie Crowley
29 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:17:20
I thought he was superb Gavin.
Jay Harris
30 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:12:23
Being Kind we played within ourselves.

Being unkind we were shite against a toothless team.

I cannot understand Martinez team selections or substitutions.

Why didn't he take Osman and or Naismith out there.

This game was crying out for one or other of them.

It was really apparent that Pienaar and Mcgeady were struggling. Why not bring McCarthy or even Gibbo on for the second half to beef the MF up and give us more options for passing instead of lumping balls down the line for Eto to chase.

It was fairly obvious we went out there afraid to lose.... so much for Sin Miedo.

Wayne Smyth
31 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:17:35
Gavin, I suspect he'll be snapped up by a rich club at some point soon, so I doubt he'll be cheap.

Would be great if we could get him, but I can't see that happening, sadly.

Steven Twine
32 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:15:47
Well done boys good result away from home. Crap pitch to contend with also. Besic for me is a central defender perhaps that's one to debate on another thread. Was impressed with lukaku when he came on. Job done now burnley. Scum France fans spoilt a good few days for us hope all Evertonians get home safe
Dave Pritchard
33 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:18:25
Good to see Jags back to his best. Thought he was superb and clear MOTM. Barry and Besic good too. Hibbo generally solid. What did people think of Eto'o? I was not overly impressed and found him frustrating at times. Not as much as McGeady and Pienaar though.
Phil Walling
34 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:17:33
If Alcaraz replaces Distin for the Burnley game, then Martinez judgement must be doubted by more than me.
Jim Bennings
35 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:19:36
Phil your right,

I have always been a big Hibbert fan myself, fantastic defender rarely gets done by wingers.


I don't think it's do much we were afraid to lose but attacking wise really are quite limited.

Without Mirallas there is no quality out wide and nobody willing or nobody able to run with the ball with any confidence, again that's possibly where we miss Deulofeu slightly this year.

McGeady I'm sorry but there's just nothing there to suggest he's ever going to be anything other than what Kilbane or McFadden were.
Atsu who knows yet?

Paul Hughes
36 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:11:46
A solid performance against a half-decent side. I'd have taken a point before we started so I'm content now. I know this will get me slated, but I thought that was one of McGeady's best games (damning with faint praise, I hear you cry!). He did a lot of covering work, Hibbert, to my recollection wasn't ever exposed, and he was generally neat and tidy in his play. No fancy Dan tricks and losing possession. Agreed his cross on the one occaision he did get free was woeful.
Hibbert, Distin, Baines, Jagielka and particularly Barry were all very strong in defence. From what we've endured at times this season, that is very pleasing.
Yes, we didn't have a meaningful shot on target during the whole game, but neither did Lille!
If we beat them at home, and I see no reason why not, we've as good as qualfied with 2 games to go.
Gavin Johnson
37 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:23:53
Why's that then Phil?
Andy Crooks
38 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:28:17
Good performance defending. We looked solid. Going forward McGrath was really poor. His distribution was abysmal and surely he is capable of better.
Paul Olsen
39 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:35:00
Agreed. McGrath was awful tonight, nowhere to be seen really.
Henrik Lyngsie
40 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:33:35
Gavin 27. My fellow countryman Simon Kjaer is a good defender. Very much same type a Jagielka. Strong defensively, but not too good with the passing game. I doubt we could define him as a Roberto type of defender. I would be very surprised of Everton came in with a bid for him. He has had a decent career. Great success in Italy with Palermo, disaster in the Bundesliga with Lille I think a Loan spell with Roma and not successful with Lille and a regular in the danish national team next to Agger.
Patrick Murphy
41 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:36:07
Bloody Arsenal supporter that Rory McGrath and the other fella Paul McGrath is probably older than me.
Darren Hind
42 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:36:51
Two defenders with a combined aged of around 70 playing their part in a clean sheet against decent opposition on a twat of a pitch.

We'll take that, wont we?

If we can continue to progress whilst giving players much needed recuperation time, it'll certainly do for me.

Okay, it wasn't edge-of-the-seat stuff, but it's about staying in and staying healthy at this stage of this competition.

Job done.

Jay Rollinson
43 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:49:21
"If Alcaraz replaces Distin for the Burnley game, then Martinez's judgement must be doubted by more than me."

You don't half talk some shite, Phil. Distin did okay but, as pointed out on the commentary, he looks like he's lost a yard of pace (which, along with his pace, was his main attribute) and was leaving opposition forwards on acres of space at set pieces when he was supposed to be marking up. He's also nearly 37 so, if the manager considers he can no longer play 2 games in 4 days, I don't think anyone without a boring as fuck agenda is likely to grumble about it.

Gavin Johnson
44 Posted 23/10/2014 at 20:46:22
Henrik, thanks for the info. He seems like a good player, but I hear what you're saying in terms of his skills profile. I've not seen much of him but I agree Roberto would be unlikely to go in for him if he isn't so hot at distributing the ball.

If he didn't succeed in the Bundesliga I'd also have a little reservation, as that league is more similar to the EPL in terms of pace and intensity than the French and Italian leagues. That being said, it might have been more to do with not getting on with Felix Magath than anything else. So I won't knock him for that, as nobody seems to like Magath.

Michael Upton
45 Posted 23/10/2014 at 21:15:01
For what I think is the first time ever, I agree with a Jim Bennings comment (#23), hard to dispute any of that.

I can't understand the Hibbert stick. He was solid, neat and tidy and even made a couple of useful forays forward.

McGeady was well denied in one instance by the keeper and messed up his cross in a good position but I think he still looked a decent threat.

Overall, it was a solid performance and a clean sheet with 4/5 first XI played rested or injured. I'll take that.

Sandra Bowen
46 Posted 23/10/2014 at 21:36:48
Decent point, I guess... but a rather dull game, I thought. McGeady is bloody awful; some good skills now and again but on the whole, well, he's actually just a bit shit.

Pienaar struggles to pass the ball any further than 5 yards – anything out of this range is either hit too soft or too hard... it's been driving me mad for years now. Such simple passes sometimes and I can never understand why he can't do it.

Jagielka looks like he's back on form. Barry and Besic pretty solid. Hibbert had a very good game, he even looks more comfortable on the ball now and if only he could have scored with his chance... not sure Lille could have coped with the celebrations though!

Top of the group and another clean sheet so I guess we take the positives and hopefully get a decent run on the go.

Tamhas Woods
47 Posted 23/10/2014 at 21:51:50
I must have been watching a different game to be honest.

Yes we were impotent but so were they - that is why it finished 0-0. Howard had a much easier game than we anticipated and Origi was well snuffed out by a defence which is apparently ripe for the knackers yard!

Also we were due to get nil at some point, hasn't happened since April, so at least that's out of the way before a crucial game at Burnley on Sunday.

Darryl Ritchie
48 Posted 23/10/2014 at 21:43:09
Solid away point! We looked alright at the back. TBH I was kinda relieved to see Distin back there. They were as useless going forward as we were, though.

I’ve tried to give McGeady the benefit of the doubt, but the occasional glimpses of offensive competence cannot offset the long stretches of ineptitude. As for his defensive skills. What defensive skills??!! I vote him "least likely to ever receive a yellow card". He doesn’t tackle; good, bad or otherwise. If he loses the ball or makes a bad pass, it’s someone else’s problem.

Ian Bennett
49 Posted 23/10/2014 at 21:55:40
Positive result, clean sheet, and top of the group. Not the best of performances, but we can keep that for the final – you win nothing in October.

Up the Blues!

Joe Edwards
50 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:10:01
It baffles me why we have so many changes in defence. It strikes me as a given that we should be giving a decent run to a regular back four and making changes for cup runs – not important European games.

Roberto says the Europa League is a natural progression for us but how is the team supposed to learn if it's being constantly changed? Besides McGeady and Hibbert, all proved tonight that they are squad players at best and I must have been watching a different game from ToffeeWeb as I thought Distin was left standing on more than one occassion.

Roberto praised Alcaraz for his performance against villa and then drops him for Distin who's just recovered from injury? That game was a slap in the face for the thousands that travelled and deserved to see the strongest team play. Coleman would have destroyed Lille on the right but instead we had McGeady doing a fuckin' brilliant impression of a crab and playing nearly 90% of his passes sideways.

In my opinion, 2 points lost there tonight; Bob blew it.

Simon Smith
51 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:25:00
I think what tonight showed is how important Coleman is. We don't look the same without him.

For all his greediness, I think we miss Mirallas too.

Phil Grayston
52 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:22:41
The point will do me. OK, we didn't create a lot in front of goal but we were up against a more than decent outfit. The biggest plus was that we were much more composed than the French police.
Jay Harris
53 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:22:50
Totally agree with you Bob.

For all the posters saying a point is a good result, I would argue that they were there for the taking and a win would have left us comfortable in the group for the remaining games.

Now we have to be wary of Lille and Wolfsburg who we have to play away.

The group is still very open.

Mike Childs
54 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:09:20
Plenty of positives from this game. To me, given the lineup, it looked to me that RM had a draw in mind; if we knicked one, so much the better.

Anyone who knocks Hibbert should be drawn and quartered. He hardly ever makes a mistake and gives 100% every time he's out there. I would also love to see the youngsters get more playing time but leaving them on the bench serves two purpose imo: makes them hungry for the time and gives them a chance to learn more.

Conor McCourt
55 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:18:19
Dull game... I was mystified that we didn't see Gibson – how is he supposed to get fit without games? Strange to see the reaction on here that our defenders were excellent and going forward we were shit. I agree we were solid but I felt the whole team played their part in that as the likes of McGeady, who is getting slated, did quite a lot of good work tracking back for the team.

It looked to me that Roberto was really afraid of Origi and the pace they had on the wing that he adopted a Moyesesque approach to the match and protected the back four as much as possible. The forwards all worked hard but cannot be blamed as the pitch was poor and meant that our centre-halves and Barry were pumping long balls the whole game. What are Eto'o, McGeady and Pienaar supposed to do with service like that?

All-in-all, however, a great result despite lacking the composure that Alcaraz, McCarthy and Coleman brought against the Villa.

On a side note, what I found funny was that the RedShite's best player is playing in France; they are crying out for a striker and he impressed once again tonight while back at the ranch they are relying on Ricky fucking Lambert and Balo-smelly.

Mike Childs
56 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:38:58
Touché, Conor
Peter Z Jones
57 Posted 23/10/2014 at 22:08:06
The Hibbert stick comes from the fact that we are always impotent when he's on the field. All 4 of our lowest scoring games are when he's playing. 1 away at United. 1 away at Liverpool. 1 away at Krasnodar. 0 away at Lille. I think Lille is the only team of that bunch that you could say is a solid defensive squad.

Normally, I'd say something like that is a coincidence. But consider how our team attacks. We rely more heavily on our fullbacks to create width and overlaps in the opposition's final third than any other team. Hibbert is all defense. He effectively renders one half of the field useless going forward. I said the same damn thing on here 2 years ago before Coleman could get a game and everybody laughed me off with the same loyal club servant nonsense. Then Seamus started proving my point and everybody pretended to have been on his side from the beginning after poo pooing his defensive skills despite never really getting much time at fullback under Moyes. The rest is history.

Hibbert can tackle and his positioning was very good today. But sadly that's not all you have to do to be a good fullback in the modern game. You also need pace, crossing ability, and some dribbling skills to run at defenders and keep them honest. He has none of that. It's much like the Tim Howard great goalkeeper argument. Howard is a tremendous shot stopper, but his reading of the game and decision making stops him from being truly elite. One good trait doesn't make your game complete.

The reason I call for Browning is that I don't see the point of persisting with players that have no potential to improve when there are younger players that clearly have some skill and can learn from these experiences. If I've got our ambitions right, we're trying to break into the top four and challenge for titles in the long term. This is just a dress rehearsal for Champions League. When our kids are playing in that competition and messing things up due to the pressure, maybe you'll have wished we gave them some more minutes in these type of games instead of some of the old heads that are already bit part players right now.

James Stewart
58 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:13:28
If Hibbert was our best player what does that tell you?! Dire game. We should have put them to the sword. Poor opposition who we seemed content to just tread water with. McGeady was abysmal tonight.
Mark Rankin
59 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:16:19
With respect to Hibbo, it depends how you set the team up. If you play two defensive central midfielders, then full backs need to be able to be creative and attack which is not Hibbo's strength.

For me, if he is playing, we can ditch one of the two defensive midfielders and play someone with Barkley in the middle instead.

Colin Williams
60 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:11:47
Great comments, Peter. Yes, we need to develop our talented youngsters. The manager gave contracts to senior players who are well past their best, and all he’s trying to do is justify that decision. Which is not helping us either, short term or long.

People talk about Hibbo tonight, great game, top defender etc... All he did was basic defending, like any other defensive player. He did okay, that’s all. Offensively he was non-existent, simply not good enough anymore.

I’m not saying the lad’s not been a great servant to the club, and a good pro, but give the kids their chance, it’s their time to progress and develop into hopefully top Premier League players.

Jay Rollinson
61 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:28:53
Coleman is just coming back from injury and, seeing as though he is such an important player for us, would it really be prudent of the manager to expect him to play 3 games in a week right off the bat?

If he had played and suffered a re-occurrence of that injury tonight, I guarantee people on here would have been screaming blue murder about Martinez risking him in the Europa instead of saving him for the weekend.

Pete Gunby
62 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:20:32
We give the ball away too easily.
Mike Corcoran
63 Posted 23/10/2014 at 23:42:11
Robbo was digging out a point here. Seamus on the pitch with a narrow midfield for Sunday will do Burnley.

It's a juggle with the squad for the best long term outcomes. Judge us on the team out for the two home games in Europa.

As much as I want us to be full speed at all times there is a sensible need for restraint to balance a half-aging squad, kids and injuries. I hope to see more of Browning and the return of Oviedo, miralLas and stones before New Year.

Eto'o is class, Rom was looking good. I'm happy

Kevin Rowlands
64 Posted 24/10/2014 at 00:04:31
Reading some of the comments on here you would think we were bottom of the group and struggling to qualify for the next round of games. The reality is we are top of the group with two home games left and look good to qualify, Martinez is managing this competition very well IMHO.
Peter Z Jones
65 Posted 24/10/2014 at 00:14:53
Kevin. It was a good result definitely. Hibbert just irks the bejesus out of me. I apologize.

I think we'll take care of our home games and have this wrapped up by the end of the 5th game. Our young players haven't failed us yet and I'd like us to keep going to the well until they give us a reason not to.

Maybe I look too much into the future and see us more for our potential than what we currently are. But I feel like in every part of our society, there are quite a few with seniority living off reputation and keeping someone younger and better from getting a bit of shine. Life I suppose.

Ben Jones
66 Posted 24/10/2014 at 00:44:51
Mike with the most sensible post here.

How can we expect to play full speed with the squad we have and our lack of European experience?

We came away to gain a good point against a good team who a few years ago, were regulars in the Champions League.

We were shit going forward but marvellous defensively. Looking at the context, were top of the group with two home games coming up, it's looking good in Europe.

It's a 'nothing to see here' game, and look forward to Sunday instead of pointless dissecting on a game where, no matter how shit we were (like Krasnodar), a point away from home in Europe is always a good one, especially with the ability of the teams in our group.

Michael Winstanley
67 Posted 24/10/2014 at 00:50:21
Another clean sheet. I thought we were lacking in the first half and improved as the game went on. Jags was excellent.

Coleman and McCarthy will add the energy needed to win at Burnley... And well played Hibbert again.

John Voigt
68 Posted 24/10/2014 at 01:23:01
Today's lineup wasn't totally surprising. I want Everton's best 11 players on the field for big Premier League games. An away game in the Europa League midweek is the time to do some squad rotation and rest some players.

Starting Eto'o made sense. When Lukaku came on things improved. Distin is French, so starting him on his home soil made sense to me. I'd like to see Browning given more chances, but I guess today wasn't a day to start him or play him. Seeing Barkley play injury free and get more time on the pitch was a plus.

Halfway through the group stage and so far the total numbers of wins by any of the 4 teams is 2. Everton have one and Wolfsburg got one today. Thinking Everton were going to go 6-0 in this group is fairy tale stuff.

In summary, not losing today on the road was more important than winning. It showed in the team selection and the style of play. I thought the team selection and style of play were pretty close to what I would have done if I were Martinez.

Paul Ferry
69 Posted 24/10/2014 at 02:04:31
I love it, Peter Jones (#57) – it’s Hibbo’s fault that we don’t score more!

I’m sorry but that is bollox.

In all four games referred to – Man Utd, Liverpool, Krasnodar, Lille – we were (1) away and (2) set up by the gaffer to keep it tight and nick one, a safety-first mode quite different to what we normally expect

So we score three in four away games where the gaffer has more of a defensive mindset and that lack of goals is down to?

The forwards? Our creative play? Creating chances (one on target in the 1st half)? No.... HIBBO!

Now, I’m not his biggest fan – I thought he was splendid tonight, by the way, after some early shaky moments – and would I rather not have him play and have some superior alternative? Yes! But we don’t and Hibbo did us proud tonight!

This has to be up there with the most desperate and, with respect, dumb Hibbo bashings of the last five years.

Tony J Williams
70 Posted 24/10/2014 at 02:33:23
Peter 57..... seriously?

Look at the games you have listed!
Man U away - one win in over a decade
The Shite away - one win in two decades
and two away games in Europe with drastically changed line ups...... and it's Hibbert's fault we haven't scored more.

Piss take of the highest order.

Paul Ferry
71 Posted 24/10/2014 at 02:29:40
Conor - 55: "McGeady, who is getting slated, did quite a lot of good work tracking back for the team."

I’m watching the game again for the 3rd time and this is simply not true. His tracking back is shallow at best. Look at say 71:43, for instance, standing still, just looking.

Better still, two minutes earlier, that woeful cross, Lukaku pointing in front of him, and .......

Lille break, said right winger nowhere to be seen (except after said shite cross, he stands there shaking his head) when you would hope that after such shite stuff he’d be legging it back to make amends.

McGeady good at tracking back tonight, my arse!

Steve Brown
72 Posted 24/10/2014 at 03:54:28
Hibbert didnt do "ok", he did well. If the offensive players had gone about their business half as well as he did, then we would have won that game comfortably. Sometimes, disliking a player does not mean you have to slag him off when he has a good game.

We had breaks on a number of occasions but they broke down due to lack of composure. If Lukaku points to where he wants the ball, perhaps the midfield could occasionally pass it there.

Kristian Boyce
73 Posted 24/10/2014 at 04:13:27
Simon Kjaer is a huge redshite, slightly surprising as he's Danish not Norwegian. Read something yesterday about how his family wanted him to win last night.
Michael Penley
74 Posted 24/10/2014 at 03:09:51
If we played on a 20 yard long pitch with cones for goals Pienaar would be brilliant for us. As it is, he just slows us down. While he's doing his twists and turns the opposition defence is getting back, and he rarely makes a pass longer than a few yards. The best thing he can do for us is win us free kicks in the final third, but we're no longer strong in set pieces so that isn't much help either.
Duncan McDine
75 Posted 24/10/2014 at 04:10:40
It wasn’t the most exciting game, but I’m releived that we look solid now. I doubted Roberto early on this season, but for me, he’s shown me that he can adapt if Plan A isn’t working.
Ajay Gopal
76 Posted 24/10/2014 at 03:38:16
Some very sensible posts here - Roberto rested some key players without significantly making the team weaker and succeeded in getting an away point (and more importantly, restricted one of our main rivals from this group from getting 3 points). Plus another clean sheet which was scarcely possible a few weeks ago.

With Oviedo and Kone set to return soon, I think we are set-up nicely for the busy November-December season (fingers crossed though that we don't have any more injuries).

I expect Roberto to rest Barkley and Barry (but keep Barks on the bench), so against Burnley, we could see this team:

Coleman Jagielka Alcaraz Baines
Besic McCarthy
Osman Naismith Pienaar

Subs: Robles, Browning, Distin, Gibson, Barkley, McGeady, Eto'o

Tony J Williams
77 Posted 24/10/2014 at 09:35:05
Barry could do with a break, as he is giving away silly fouls in game because he is lagging a little bit.

He must be close to five yellows already.

Give McCarthy and Besic a go on Sunday with Barry watching from the bench

Kevin Rowlands
78 Posted 24/10/2014 at 10:16:17
Have to agree with you Mike #74, for all the stick McGeady is getting Pienaar was just as bad if not worse, hate to say it but I think his best days are well behind him.
Robert Workman
79 Posted 24/10/2014 at 10:36:02
Before the game I wondered about the relative League goal differences between the teams. Martinez clearly noticed their 8-7 record over 10 games. From watching the game it is clear that Lille have a good defence and poor attack.

So Martinez played for a point and got what he expected.

He also rotated the squad so well that only 3 outfield players (Baines, Jagielka and Barry) played the full 90+ minutes against both Villa and Lille.

Andrew Ellams
80 Posted 24/10/2014 at 11:05:15
Barry, Baines and Jagielka seem to put in more minutes that any outfield player full stop. I can see why with Baines and Jagielka with Oviedo’s and Stones’ injury worries, but I can’t see for the life of me why Barry never gets a rest with all of the rotating that Martinez does
Paul Burns
81 Posted 24/10/2014 at 11:24:14
Disagree about the Lille centre-half; I thought he looked like a bog-standard plodder who was up against a team who rarely attacked. When Lukaku came on, he looked shit.
Kevin Harnan
82 Posted 24/10/2014 at 13:04:08
That game last night was awful and the manager blames the pitch. I’m sorry, prove me wrong... but I don’t think you’re up to the job.

As for Tony Hibbert, why does he stand two yards off a player, allowing him to cross the ball? As for Pienaar... a joke.

Nic Mozza
83 Posted 24/10/2014 at 13:37:17
Hibbert is a family man, takes care of his treacle and the old dear. Don't mug him off in front of his pals. He's proper naughty geezer and will turn over any player on the pitch.
Barry Sherlock
84 Posted 24/10/2014 at 13:52:49
Tony (77), I totally agree. Besic and McCarthy is a must. They should be solid against Burnley. Roberto can afford to take a look at that kind of pairing in a game like Burnley.

We are miles better than Burnley and should tear them to pieces. We shouldn't take them lightly but I feel that we have too much all over the pitch. The defence is giving a bit more confidence now and Howard has looked a lot more in comtrol in recent games.


Jay Harris
85 Posted 24/10/2014 at 15:11:58
I can't understand all this "give players a rest" shit. Most players have played less than 10 games this season and quite a few remain less than match fit.

For quite a lot of players playing regularly benefits them rather than tires them. If they are feeling the effects of playing reduce the training. They are all individually monitored so that should not be difficult.

I think we should be putting our strongest team out at this stage of the season and then assess things in January. We have had a reduced pre-season so there's less games to begin with.

Andy Crooks
86 Posted 24/10/2014 at 16:30:22
Just realized that a Kindle can introduce new and imaginary players in to the line up. For the record I think that McGeady, whom I always liked, was fucking woeful. Incidentally a Kindle doesn't allow swearing so I will try to use it after a poor show.

Last night was a game in which I thought a either team never looked like scoring. It was a good enough result but, in my view, we gave them respect that they didn't deserve.

Peter Mills
87 Posted 24/10/2014 at 17:03:57
Paul (#71), after 2 days of travel, I am currently (Friday 5:20 pm) stuck on the M6 in Staffordshire when I should be in the Crow's with a pint in front of me. But things could be worse — I could be watching that match again for the third time!
Tony J Williams
88 Posted 24/10/2014 at 17:27:01
Jay, that holds water if we are just playing the league games, but this season Barry is playing a few games a week.

At this stage of his career, he could do without that.

Colin Glassar
89 Posted 24/10/2014 at 18:21:59
I thought it was a decent game, very tactical and the most important point was not to lose. Get used to it, most European games ARE boring.
Graham Mockford
90 Posted 24/10/2014 at 18:42:35

I see you are of the ' modern players are shite, why shouldn't they play game after game, it's only 90 minutes of football' school of thinking.

I think modern sports science disagrees, hence why managers rotate players. Three of the players rested last night had only just returned to the side.

Anyway regardless of which is correct we got a decent result in a pretty poor game which means beat Lille in the return leg in a fortnight and our progress to the final 32 is pretty much assured.

It will be back to our strongest current XI on Sunday which subject to injuries will be the same starting line as Villa last Saturday.

Paul Ferry
91 Posted 24/10/2014 at 18:53:53
Cheers Pete mate (#87) — hope you’re nearer home and nearer the Crows now. Would love to be in the Crows tonight. Wasn’t you with the Crosby Blue Boys banner was it? Hope you had a great time!
Andy Crooks
92 Posted 24/10/2014 at 21:03:49
Graham, I'm with Jay. George Best would have laughed at this modern myth. The protection afforded players by referees today, rightly so, suggests that the likes of Best, Ball, Law played under much tougher conditions yet were super stars

This season, more than ever, this 'tired player' myth is being thrown in the face of supporters who should be insulted by it. A hugely paid young man who is too tired to play for his country a couple of months into the season should be laughed out of the game. Alan Ball must be turning in his grave.

Paul Dark
93 Posted 24/10/2014 at 21:01:40
I thought it was an interesting game last night. In the end, we kept a pretty solid clean sheet.

Tim didn't have that much to do. I thought both central defenders grew as the game went on; Jags had a very good game. The amazing Baines was, as ever, busy, constructive, linking play. I thought Hibbo was OK too and look more of an attacking threat than the hapless McGeady.

Barkley was ineffective other than two or three excellent pieces of link play in the second half, one of which almost led to a goal. Barry, as ever, sailed close to the wind. Besic was almost excellent - very good. His play is tidy and he tackles well (the yellow card was incorrect) but he needs to play forward more, in my view and give impetus to our forward movement, which lacks it. Pienaar was not at his best (coming back from injury), but I disagree that he was as bad as McGeady (with respect, that really would be hard).

I thought McGeady was woeful again. There are two things about him that I fail to understand. First, that some on here have likened him, at his best, to George Best (I know it's all about opinions but quite staggering!) and, second, that a manager who prides himself on constructive possession-based football puts this man in his first team time and again (or ever!). It's quite quite baffling to me.

I personally don't think that McGeady is a squad player. Colin Glassar (I think) said last night that he doesn't even have the potential to be average. I think that was very well put.

I thought Rom is looking stronger and stronger. I've never doubted him and am delighted we have him. Sam, likewise – he needs more game time regularly in my view, even if a half here and there.

I feel we'll beat Krasnodar, lose to Wolfsburg and draw with Lille at GP. I don't know if that would get us through.

COYB for Sunday – three points and a clean sheet... please... please.

Steve Orchard
94 Posted 24/10/2014 at 22:16:19
Peter Jones, I think the Hibbert stick is a bit unjust. The guy looked very solid last night, especially with fuck all help from McGeady! He is an old school proper defender more than capable of at least giving Coleman the night off.

He isn't gonna be the threat going forward but solid and we have been leaking a lot of goals this season. Thought Jags had a fantastic game. Best player in blue, IMO.

Jay Harris
95 Posted 24/10/2014 at 22:59:48
Graham, I find it interesting that our best players are the ones that have featured in almost every game Jags, Baines, Barry.

Baines must have played as many minutes as any other Premier League player this season but he remains "not tired".

Could that be because he trains properly – unlike some of the other overpaid and overpampered egos?

I find it a ridiculous argument that any Premier League player, unless he is carrying a serious knock, should need a rest at this stage of the season.

Michael Penley
96 Posted 24/10/2014 at 23:06:16
On the notion of "resting" – whenever a manager uses this excuse why is it that not all players need resting? Hasn't Barry played every game for us so far? Didn't Suarez play whenever he was fit?

The way I see it, a proper game shouldn't be any harder than a day of training. If they're training 9-5 for 5 days a week, game day shouldn't be a burden.

I wonder about the effect of rotation on someone like Naismith. He's the kind of player who gets better the more he plays. He's always hungry and never tires. When Roberto "rested" him for the first time this season, he stopped scoring and didn't look as good.

Graham Mockford
97 Posted 25/10/2014 at 11:10:16

So I guess the question is why would almost every single manager look to rotate squads during the course of a season?

I would not claim to be an expert but I'm guessing the backroom team are monitoring individual players on a regular basis. Different players will need different approaches depending on natural capacity, injuries etc.

Also, if you only ever start your 'strongest XI', you run the risk of not having players ready should injuries arise.

Michael, as for Suarez, he seems pretty adept at engineering his own 'rest periods' most seasons.

Jay Harris
98 Posted 25/10/2014 at 19:05:05
I am not arguing the point over the course of a season where I accept some players may need to rest because of knocks or muscle strains.

My point is at this stage of the season I do not believe any Premier league athlete should need "resting".

IMO it has become an excuse to keep the players who cant make the first team regularly happy but that should not be the case.

If you want to win things you play your best 11 at every opportunity.

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