Lukaku: A Corner Turned?

I won't count my chickens just yet, but I really hope this is where Lukaku can turn the corner. Play like that every game and I'll be very happy indeed.

Paul Traill 07/11/2014 35comments  |  Jump to last

It was great to catch up with Leslie, a London based Evertonian from the Emerald Isle, who decided that with Everton back in Europe he couldn't miss out on the opportunity to catch Everton play European football under the Goodison floodlights. He met the rest of us for a few pre-match ales in the pub... a few Lille were also in the pub enjoying a few drinks pre-match.

We got the team news and it was good to see Distin returning. Barring further injury woe he should now have quite a run in the team with Stones and Alcaraz out for the foreseeable future. Otherwise Hibbert, Osman and Lukaku came into the team for Coleman, Barkley and Eto'o. Walking on to the ground you could really feel that cold snap in the air as we head into winter. We arrived in good time for all the pre-game Europa League fanfare. Just what is that Europa League anthem anyway? Regardless, the Dutch referee got us under way, just a small pocket of Lille supporters in the away section though they sure made themselves heard.

Everton began impressively and took the game to Lille straight from kick off though after a giddy five minute spell Lille soon settled and were beginning to enjoy a spell of possession and even the creation of a half chance or two. The game then almost became lifeless and for that reason as much as anything else it was a relief when Leon Osman, who signed a new contract just today of course, steadied himself and half-volleyed into the net following a McGeady cross. It was well finished by Osman and was just what Everton needed as up until then we didn't seem to have much thrust in the final third at all.

The game rolled along as Lukaku and Naismith imposed themselves on the game. We doubled our money just before half time when Aiden McGeady's corner was headed in by captain Phil Jagielka. If he keeps this up Jagielka will end up with a goal haul similar to Joleon Lescott's 10 goals of the 2007-08 season...was that really six or seven years ago? Where does it all go?

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The referee blew his whistle bang on half time and Everton went into the break very much in the driving seat. Lille had it all to do and didn't do any of it in the second half. Moreover it was Everton who continued to look the more likely to score with Lukaku playing the menace throughout. It was a good battle he had with Kjaer and it was pleasing to see the Belgian come out on top and really look like that awesome player we had at times last season. I really hope these are the signs of a new start for Lukaku now.

It was easily his most impressive performance of the season and he looked hungry and motivated. Perhaps his toe injury has cleared up, who knows, but this was much more like it and the only shame was that he didn't manage to get on the scoresheet. He did have a role to play in the goal of the night however when he brilliantly played a ball into the channel for Baines who threaded the ball across the box for Naismith. The Scot took a nice touch and steadied himself before planting the ball past Enyeama. Everton three goals to the good...Lille would rather have called it a night there and then.

A great night for Everton and though there's still work to be done we have to fancy our chances of qualifying from the group. A point at Wolfsburg will guarantee qualification, though should we lose it may still be all to play for...I certainly wouldn't want to go into the last game against Krasnodar with work still to do.

Somehow I fancy a cracker of a match in Germany.

Player Ratings:
Howard: Made a few saves in the first half though very much untroubled after the break. 6
Baines: Made a few loose passes but got up and down the pitch well all night. Good ball across the box for Naismith's goal. 6
Distin: Most importantly he was solid defensively. He might not be match sharp and perhaps body fatigue is catching up with Sylvain but there's certainly no lack of effort there from the Frenchman. Distribution sloppy at times though this is not too surprising given that he's been out of the team. 6
Jagielka: Goal number three for the season for Jagielka. He's flying high on confidence at the moment. Long may it continue. 7
Hibbert: Fine defensively, poor offensively. We all know the drill with Hibbert by now but he never lets us down. 7
Barry: Had a good, solid game before being forced off with injury following a nasty 50-50 collision. I'd say he's the heartbeat of our team and we can ill-afford to lose him to injury. Fingers crossed he can play on Sunday...if not hopefully the international break can benefit him. 7
McCarthy: The odd soft foul or miss-placed pass aside he once again covered a mountain of work out there. His defensive efforts really can not be understated. On plenty of occasions now this season he's rescued our defense. A real rock for us. 7
Osman: Did OK on the wing given it's not really his natural position. Took his goal well. Drifted in and out of the game in the second half but great to see there's life in the old dog yet. 6
McGeady: Two assists and caused them problems. He will always frustrate, that's a given but he at least takes on players. Will be interesting to see if he retains his place for the trip to the Stadium of Light on Sunday. 7
Naismith: Usual tireless endeavor from Steven and he got his rewards with a well taken goal. 7
Lukaku: My man of the match. Looked much more like it. I won't count my chickens just yet, but I really hope this is where Lukaku can turn the corner. Play like that every game and I'll be very happy indeed. 8

Atsu (for McGeady): Obviously you want to give every player as much off a chance as possible and maybe we were a little spoilt with Deulofeu but so far it's hard to get enthused about Atsu. I hope he can improve as he's shown us very, very little so far. 5
Gibson (for Barry): Seemed to stroll through the game really as Lille had given up by then. Has a calming influence on the play. 6
(for McCarthy): Not on long, difficult to judge.

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Ant Dwyer
1 Posted 07/11/2014 at 01:15:13
I agree with the praise of Lukaku but think you may have watched the wrong James McCarthy!

I think big Rom was given the ball more tonight than in the previous few weeks where he seems to be making run after run without being fed the ball. When you sign a big strong young striker, you should try to fire it into him more often and work around him.

Granted his touch isn’t always the best but he’s strong and eager enough to win it back and make things happen.

Anyway, a fine performance all round.

James Byrne
2 Posted 07/11/2014 at 01:38:05
Interesting report, Paul, and a similar theme to the game from another TW write-up tonight on the outcome of the win against Lille. Before I go into my response, this was a credible win that combined three good goals against a very average to shite Lille side. I actually thought that Lille where shite a few weeks ago and were there for the taking but we played with far too much caution on the night.

I watched the game tonight from the Park End with my 8-year old son so I had the chance to analyse certain player performances, with particular attention to Lukaku.

First of all, my own MotM was Jags – I thought he was outstanding tonight and he demonstrated that his form is returning and his leadership as a captain is getting stronger. Not only did he score but he covered the whole defensive areas with authority all night.

Okay... to the point of Romelu Lukaku – in a snapshot, I thought he was fucking awful tonight and I’m quite surprised to see so many fans come out and say he played so well; I know he was unlucky to have been called off-side in the game on a number of occasions, but his first touch, his ability to win headers and chase down lost balls was overall below par. During the game, and especially in the first half, his first touch in the opposite end resulted in us on the receiving end of a counter-attack from such sloppy play.

I’m staggered to see how Lukaku’s ball control ability is so poor and I wonder when he will find his own personal mojo! Don’t get me wrong – I’m an Evertonian but I feel Lukaku is far too over-rated!

Martin O'Hare
3 Posted 07/11/2014 at 03:45:43
James, your comments are rubbish, Lukaku played really well.
Would you swap him for Flopetelli from the RS?
Get a grip, ffs.
Mike Iddon
4 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:10:54
Sometimes I literally cannot believe what I read on here. James Byrne, you are the ONLY person so far on all the reports I have read including the TV and national media who hasnt said Lukaku led the line really well. He held up the ball when needed plus he had a hand in Nessi’s goal with great hold up and pass for Baines. Incredible but your last comment says it all.
Ian Glassey
5 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:17:09
I agree with James I thought Lukaku was crap, he should watch Naismith. That lad never stops working while Rom just stands there, well overrated in my opinion...
Kevin O'Regan
6 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:30:29
I saw about 3 quarters of the game, so I may have missed something. I do think it’s harsh to say he (Rom) is overrated based on a few games. I’m sure he’ll find his form again. Last night was a mixed bag from him – he wasn’t fantastic, but better than previously. He seems to stumble under his upper body weight and therefore loses the ball under his feet sometimes, but that’s down to his physique. If the communication with his colleagues is improved, the injury clears up and he finds his place then we have a very good striker there. He’s on the way back, but needs support, patience and confidence.
Mike Green
7 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:43:11
Lukaku worked his socks of last night.

At 6’ 3" / 13 stone he’s never going to zip around the pitch like 5’ 10" / 11 stone Naismith. They’re completely different players and Rom did more than enough for the cause last night, if anything he did too much and should’ve been hanging around in front of goal a bit more rather than tracking back, working the channels etc. for which he would’ve got some real stick for.

His best game so far this season and unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.

Mark Dunford
8 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:45:27
Apart from failing to get a header on target, I thought he played really well and was instrumental in the first and third goals. It was a very effective team performance against and McCarthy was outstanding again. McGeady had one of his more effective games and like Lukaku he contributed to two goals.

Martinez is constantly warning of the pressure of expectation placed on Lukaku - in part, he is guilty in creating this through the fee paid. I’m afraid this refelcted the market value of a striker capable of scoring 15-20 goals a season which is almost certainly where he’ll end up this year. Worth bearing in mind that he is only four months older than Berahino who was called into the England squad yesterday with a fanfare after breaking into a WBA team that Lukaku graced with style two seasons ago.

Andrew Ellams
9 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:59:40
Not to mention he was robbed of two goals himself. To all those people who doubt his ability to hold up the ball and play others in, watch the Naismith goal a few times.

For the OP 7 for McCarthy is a bit mean, he was awesome last night.

Alan McMillan
10 Posted 07/11/2014 at 09:07:11
Lukaku flatters to deceive. His work rate was much better last night but his touch can be very poor at times. I think the frustration most of us feel is that we all see the potential but we want the finished product. After last night’s performance of heart and desire, he is getting there. He needs to own the box more though; with his frame, he should be scaring the life out of defenders more often
Iain Love
11 Posted 07/11/2014 at 08:58:41
For his age he has a better top level goal tally than any striker in europe. So how can he be overated ?. I was impressed with Kjaer in the 1st game but Lukaku had the better of him last night and apart from a few underhit lay offs and a poor header he was excellent last night. Much better than earlier in the season.
Lille where poor but we did what was needed and we put 3 past them, not to mention an offside goal that wasn’t off and 2 great saves from their keeper.
MOTM Jags , Mcarthy , Naismith or Lukaku any of them could have a shout.
Steve Hogan
12 Posted 07/11/2014 at 09:30:36
Paul, interesting report, but your individual player scores!!!!!!

Hibbert (who had an OK game) 7;
Baines – a pathetic 6.

I give up.

David Morgan
13 Posted 07/11/2014 at 09:41:47
Moaning about Lukaku is ridiculous, that 28m is clouding people’s judgement. He is 21 and that means we get 10 seasons + out of him and don’t have to spend on a striker again (except back up ones). It works out at 3m a season but in reality it works out at nothing because at some point he will be sold, probably around 24-26 and we get most, all or more than what we paid for him.

If people are expecting him to run around and have a world class touch it’s not gonna happen. He has pace, strength, can link up play fine and he is awesome running at goal. When the team is playing better he will shine, last night he was sharp and hopefully he gets the goals at the weekend.

Final thought: J.Beattie, A. Johnson and Yakubu cost around 28m collectively.

Barry Sherlock
14 Posted 07/11/2014 at 11:25:54
I thought Lukaku played for the team last night. He put in a decent shift. He worked hard and was unlucky to be incorrectly judged offside. You can tell that he has put in more work on the training ground and he is working with the system that we play. He will get goals. But if he keeps feeding other players and they get the goals then so be it. For me, last night is more what I want from him.

Jags or McCarthy for my MotM. Both worked very hard and passed the ball very well. Excellent from them both.

In fairness I wouldn’t go over board with the overall performance as Lille were poor. However, you can only beat what is in front of you. It’s just that I would like to see us put teams away when we are 3 nil up. We should be going for the goals but perhaps Martinez is bit cautious? Also he wants to have a look at other players like Besic and Atsu. The latter doesn’t fill me with too much confidence.

Tony J Williams
15 Posted 07/11/2014 at 11:55:43
Lille weren’t great but we never got out of second gear to be fair.

It’s no surprise that, as his injury is healing, his performances have started to improve.

What impressed me more last night was McCarthy’s willingness to get forward, he was almost at the end of McGeady’s cross that led to the Ossie goal.

Oscar Huglin
16 Posted 07/11/2014 at 11:50:45
"It was well finished by Osman and was just what Everton needed as up until then we didn’t seem to have much thrust in the final third at all."

Really? Lukaku forced a fantastic save within the first minute of the game, and Naismith had a couple of very good chances in the box. I don’t know what game you were watching up to the goal...

Also, on all the Lukaku discussion; so many people seem to forget that HE’S 21. This is a player who is nowhere near his full potential, and he can still be so, so impressive. To put it in perspective, Osman, another performer in last night’s game, didn’t even get his first start for Everton until he was nearly 23, and what a fantastic servant of the club he’s been!

Over the last two Premier League seasons, the only players to have scored more than Lukaku in the Premier League have been Suarez, Van Persie and Aguero. Lukaku has also scored the most league goals of ANY top flight player by the age of 21. Argue with that, James Byrne.

We need to get behind Rom and help him reach his full potential, not criticise him for failing to live up to the ridiculous standard that some have set for the youngster.

Bring on Sunderland.


Spencer Ramsay
17 Posted 07/11/2014 at 13:50:05
Personally I thought Rom did a few good things and a few bad things last night but, generally speaking, an improvement on recent weeks. To some extent most of us expected him to simply carry on where he left off last season and for various reasons it’s just not happened.

Given his form recently and the amount paid for him, I think some people are concentrating on the weak side of his game which is clearly documented. To be fair, there has not been too much to shout about. He is clearly not a natural back-to-goal type player but he is being instructed to bring that feature to his game (given the system Bobby employs). Let’s face it, if he can do so (with Big Dunc’s help!), what a player we will eventually have!

He was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet last night, as his 2nd chalked off effort was clearly onside by half a yard and slightly better timing would have seen him score the goal chalked off in the first half.

Some of you might be close to giving up on him or saying he’s overrated; only time will tell on that front. Every player will go through a poor patch. In fact, Rom was going through a lean spell before he got injured against the Redshite last season but, once fit, came back banging in the goals again and I’m pretty confident Rom will come back into form again. I still think we should have brought in another playmaking central midfielder as an alternative to Ross. The sort of player who can play Rom in facing goal... but it didn’t happen.

But, so far, his goal statistics for a player of his age have been pretty impressive; I’m certainly willing to give him some time yet before I make up my mind whether we have blown £28 mill or whether it has been money well spent.

Barry Sherlock
18 Posted 07/11/2014 at 15:18:45
One other note; James McCarthy, I decided that he was my MotM due to the commentators line "in an emergency most people look up the number 999, not around here - in an emergency they call number 16. That’s James McCarthy to the rescue!".

I loved that! Summed JMac up in one.


Paul Foster
19 Posted 07/11/2014 at 18:28:54
I would consider myself a glass half full Evertonian but I also think Lukaku was poor. An improvement on previous games, but that says sod all because he has been unbelievably bad. If I hear one more time that he is only young, blah, blah – Im going to lose it. Think he’s gone from a £28 player to a £2.8M player but still a loooong way off a £28M player!
Colin Glassar
20 Posted 07/11/2014 at 18:36:25
Sad to say but there is a small minority who will never rate Martinez and Lukaku whatever they do. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but I remember sitting in the stands as a kid and hearing some old, fat bastards calling all three of the holy trinity all the shite under the sun. One particular game, I think it was against arsenal, the abuse against our players got so bad my dad had to put his hands over my ears.
Everton has always had its moron element, like most teams, but some of the bile written against some of our players and manager is just.......sad.
Darren Hind
21 Posted 07/11/2014 at 19:56:17
Not sure if Lukaku actually had a corner to turn.
His manager has played him when he knew he was injured and often played him out of position.

Not sure any player could shine under those circumstances. Let alone someone so young

Eric Holland
22 Posted 07/11/2014 at 22:31:43
James (#2), Did you write this or your 8 year old son???

Peter Z Jones
23 Posted 08/11/2014 at 03:08:01
Paul @19. Considering that Spurs recently spent £20M for Soldado, a dude that can't hit the broad side of a barn and is nearing age 30.

I'd say we've done more than okay. Rom has scored what? 20 goals in league play? Posters endlessly bring up the price for Lukaku as if the market value for the BEST STRIKER 21 OR YOUNGER IN THE WORLD is considerably lower or something.

Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Aguero, Ibra. All those guys hadn't scored as many professional goals as our man at this point of their careers. What do you want from him? 30 goals a season?

He's admitted to playing hurt, been played out of position, and still scored four times, getting minimal service. If this is Lukaku playing like crap as you say, I fear for our opposition when he actually gets it right.

That's the beauty of having a young player. He can actually improve considerably as time goes on. And I get shit for criticizing Hibbert, a back-up right back in the twilight of his career. But that's ToffeeWeb for you.

Michael Penley
24 Posted 08/11/2014 at 05:05:57
I just watched a replay of the whole game, and Lukaku was almost definitely onside for his 77th minute goal. Should have been 4-0.
Dave Long
25 Posted 08/11/2014 at 06:43:51
Colin Glassar remembers Kendall, Ball and Harvey getting stick. Does anyone remember Bob Latchford's abuse filtering down from the Gladwys St? "You lazy fat get" etc.
Paul Andrews
26 Posted 08/11/2014 at 07:38:31
As mentioned above, there is no corner to turn. He is a young kid in his position, a young kid who scores one in two by the way.

This lad will develop into a top class centre-forward.

Terence Leong
28 Posted 08/11/2014 at 09:09:02
Eric Holland #22, maybe you meant your comment as a tongue-in-cheek, but it's a little out of line. Critique/ debate / disagree with James, but there is no need to bring his son into the discussion.

Back to the game – I only saw the highlights, but it is definitely encouraging, ie, we are finding our momentum. Glad to see Jags getting another goal.

I realised that Distin was also up for the corner. Under the previous regime, I don't recall our central defenders going for corners that often. This is not to slam the Moyes regime, but to compliment the Martinez's.

It's good to see our players getting forward, playing football the beautiful way. For so many years, I looked at our games and always wondered why we couldn't put our passes together, and control games. Now, I am glad that we have a management that is determined to do so. Long may it continue, and I am looking forward to winning things again.

Aidy Dews
29 Posted 08/11/2014 at 09:03:28
I've done my fair share of slagging Rom off when he's played terribly but give credit where credit is due, the lad played well Thursday night!

Yes, once or twice he tried them first-time lay-offs and silly flicks and did look poor for it, but when he took a touch or two when receiving the ball, got his head up and assessed his option before playing the right ball to a blue shirt, he looked a more classier player for it!

Clearly big Dunc is getting through to Lukaku and he's realising that the simple things can be much more effective than the fancy.

I hope he cracks on from here and plays in that manner for the rest of the season and beyond as he was more effective as an individual and for the team playing the way he did. Due to him actually holding the ball up, the ball stuck for us in the final third which allowed us to keep up the pressure and keep on attacking Lille as opposed to him trying his silly one-touch lay-offs to no-one and momentum in attack breaking down and putting us under pressure. So keep that up, Rom.

As for MotM, was McCarthy for me, Flymo as usual covered every blade of grass. He put in some great tackles and blocks and actually drove us on at times and even got in the box on a few occasions. His all round performance was really good.

I just hope we take that performance into Sunday and don't look too flat like we have done after playing in Europe midweek. We could do with going on a good run of wins and getting ourselves right into the CL mix!

Ray Roche
30 Posted 08/11/2014 at 09:33:49
Dave Long @25

Yes, Dave, The Latch got stick along with many of our players over the years. Peter Reid took a dog's abuse as age caught up with him and, unbelievably, Alex Young was also slated towards the end of his days at Goodison. Is it peculiar to Evertonian's to slag off our own or do all clubs do it?

Mike Childs
31 Posted 08/11/2014 at 09:41:59
Last point spot on, Ray. :>}
Jack Cross
32 Posted 08/11/2014 at 09:24:55
We got the points against a very poor Lille team, but job done.

Lukaku, I think he put himself about more, so there was a slight improvement in his play. I personally can't see him getting his missing touch. He has 2¼ Premier League seasons under his belt, so when his, his missing touch going to come? I think you either have it or you don't and he doesn't. But he is there to score goals and he will probably get his usual 15-16 and if so that is job done for him.

I would have given Naismith Man of the Match for his tireless running and what a superb angled goal he took. But hey, how many of us slated Naismith under Moyes? Me included, but he as turned himself around and a pleasure to watch. So maybe Lukaku can do the same. It's for him to prove all us doubters wrong.

Colin Glassar
33 Posted 08/11/2014 at 10:33:00
Dave Long, I also remember the stick Duncan Mckenzie used to get (greedy sod, clown etc...), Bob Latchford (lazy, fat, blobby, useless etc...), Martin Dobson (slow, clueless, waste of space etc...).

Like I said, we've always had a very vocal minority of morons who seem to enjoy ripping our own players apart for any mishap or mistake. This is not a new phenomenon and Lukaku, Ossie and Co certainly aren't the first victims of this senseless behaviour.

Ray Roche
34 Posted 08/11/2014 at 10:52:08
Colin, "We've always had a very vocal minority of morons who seem to enjoy ripping our own players apart " and guess where some of those key board warriors are plying their trade in the age of the PC?

Incidentally, as someone has already alluded to on one of ToffeeWeb's threads, "Looking For The Toffees" by Brian Viner is a great chance to revisit some of our excellent players from the 1970s. Like a lot of fans, during the 1960s, '70s and '80s I was still playing football myself and consequently missed games but that book helps give a more balanced view of our team and particularly, Gordon Lee. It is easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses or imagine an era to be even more dour than it was, but under Lee we finished 3rd and 4th and were top scorers in the League. Unfortunately his later efforts had us flirting with relegation and it's those seasons that colour our memories. Good read.

Colin Glassar
35 Posted 08/11/2014 at 11:37:21
Ray, I was too young to remember the Golden Vision play in his prime but my dad said he was disgusted by some if the stick he got by some Everton "fans" and he was a Liverpool fan!!

I've stood/sat in every part of Goodison (apart from Park End for some unknown reason) ever since the late '60s. I've seen some of the best players who have ever graced an Everton shirt play in their pomp and believe me, there's always been an element in the crowd who seemed to go just to slag off their own players.

Some Evertonians have always needed a scapegoat to vent their frustrations on. In my day, it was John McLaughlin and Bryan Hamilton nowadays it's Hibbo and, lately, Lukaku.

Mike Allison
36 Posted 08/11/2014 at 17:06:44
Paul, do you judge the players by the same criteria, or are you setting them different standards?

To give Baines, who kept a clean sheet and had an assist, a 6, would suggest he is being judged by much higher standards than anyone else in that back four.

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