Woe in the Capital for Ponderous Everton

A sluggish Everton are undone by individual errors and a general lack of tempo against a below-par Spurs side

Lyndon Lloyd 30/11/2014 70comments  |  Jump to last

Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 1 Everton

Is there a more accommodating team in the Premier League than Everton to teams and players in need of a pick-me-up? That Roberto Soldado, a man who couldn't buy a goal over the last eight months, should score the winner and help Tottenham to a victory that looked fanciful on the balance of the opening 20 minutes' play at White Hart Lane this afternoon came as no surprise to Evertonians who are tiring of seeing this Lazarus act routinely played out at their expense.

What was worse was the manner in which the three points were put on Mauricio Pocchetino's plate after Kevin Mirallas had put the Blues ahead in such spectacular fashion. In contrast to their profligacy in possession during the first half in Wolfsburg on Thursday night, Everton had dominated the ball in the first 20 minutes, passing it between black jerseys with almost military precision. The team that had gone to Germany and pulled off a spectacular 2-0 victory looked very much in the mood in the early going to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches in all competitions and continue to close the gap between themselves and the top four.

Having taken the lead and set an already nervous White Hart Lane further on edge, though, the Blues relinquished the lead after just six minutes and then fell behind in first-half injury time on the back of individual errors, a hole they would prove incapable of digging themselves out of despite having 45 minutes in which to do so.

Welcoming Leighton Baines and Gareth Barry back from injury, Roberto Martinez had named a strong, attack-minded team that featured Romelu Lukaku, Samuel Eto'o, Ross Barkley and Mirallas in the same starting XI for the first time. With Muhamed Besic continuing to deputise for James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman also returning to the side after sitting out against Wolfsburg, it was a mouth-watering line-up on paper but one whose flaws would emerge as the contest unfolded.

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Barkley was nominally deployed wide on the right but his natural inclination to drift into the centre, where he is most effective, often left Everton devoid of width down the right flank and inhibited Coleman's ability to raid forward in his customary fashion. With Eto'o dropping deep and wide to cover, it also meant that Lukaku was criminally isolated for much of the game.

The Belgian would have precious little service on which to feed but he got an early chance following mesmerising footwork by Barkley that left three Spurs players tackling thin air before he tried to play Eto'o in rather than shoot himself. The ball deflected to Lukaku but, perhaps taken by surprise, he shot tamely and Hugo Lloris made a comfortable save.

Mirallas, meanwhile, was proving to be a valuable outlet on the left side and it was his trickery that prompted the foul by Vlad Chiriches on the edge of the Tottenham area that led to the opening goal. Baines's free kick was headed clear but Mirallas nipped in ahead of Soldado's high foot, took a touch and then whipped a delicious shot into the top corner. It was a sensational goal that deserved better than what followed.

Having exhibited such impressive stewardship of the ball for the first quarter of the contest, it was maddening when Sylvain Distin, so often the weak link in the Martinez method of playing out from the back, delivered a ball forward straight to Jan Vertonghen and the Blues were carved open by two quick passes and Harry Kane's run. The young striker forced a save from Tim Howard but the American could only push it to the side where Christian Eriksen, unchecked by Coleman, had continued his run. The Dane's finish was awkward but he did enough to send the ball past the floundering 'keeper and into the far corner beyond Barry on the goalline.

Needing a quick second to drive home their advantage, Everton had let Tottenham back into the game and from there Pocchetino's side began to grow in confidence. Kane chipped audaciously over and might have done better with a more routine shot when allowed to drive through the heart of the visitors' back line, while Eriksen's deflected shot missed Howard's left-hand post by inches.

At the other end, Martinez's men mustered just one low shot from Coleman that Lloris saved by his near post before Spurs took the lead in first-half stoppage time. Barry, who, understandably, looked off the pace following his fortnight out injured, was caught dithering on the ball in his own half by Kane and Aaron Lennon seized on the loose ball before scampering forward and playing in Soldado who easily beat Howard with a side-foot shot from the angle.

Though down at the break, Everton had 45 minutes to make a game of it and reverse the situation but the same ponderous pattern of slow possession-based passing by an unbalanced side would continue until Martinez reshuffled by introducing Aiden McGeady to finally add some width in the 61st minute. The Irishman came on for the ineffectual Eto'o in a double switch that also saw Mirallas make way for Leon Osman but the Toffees would continue to be let down by a lack of tempo and a frustrating lack of bodies in the box when the fullbacks had the ball in advanced areas. Even when Lukaku drove to the byline and delivered an inviting ball across the face of the Spurs goal, there were no black jerseys gambling in the middle and a good chance went begging.

Instead, Tottenham almost doubled their lead when the irrepressible Eriksen delivered a dangerous ball from the right and Federico Fazio failed to make contact in front of goal before Ryan Mason smashed a shot narrowly over from distance and Lukaku bounced a shot to Lloris from 20-odd yards out.

Chasing the game, Everton were constantly faced with trying to break down the massed ranks of white shirts in front of them, a situation which they have routinely found difficult under Martinez, but Barkley seemed to have found the key with more terrific work with 18 minutes to go. He engineered space to split the home side's defence with a pass to meet Coleman's overlapping run but it was overhit by inches and that gave the goalkeeper an extra foot to charge down the Irishman's shot and deflect it behind for a corner.

The urgency of the situation finally manifested itself in more Everton pressure in the final 10 minutes but they failed to seriously test what was a makeshift Tottenham defence, further weakened by an injury to Chiriches that necessitated ex-Toffees loanee Eric Dier coming on in his stead. Lukaku would have the final chance from an 89th-minute free kick that he himself won but though he rose well to meet Baines's delivery, his header hit Fazio's arm and with that went any hope of Martinez's side taking anything back to Merseyside.

With 61% of the possession away from home, this was an almost textbook example of an Everton team having the vast majority of possession but doing almost nothing with it. In that sense, in combination with those individual mistakes, the Blues beat themselves today in caving in to what was Eriksen aside a poor Spurs team. Everything was just too deliberate and too methodical at times... until it wasn't and Spurs pounced. And with such a paucity of balance until McGeady was introduced, at least and so little link-up between Lukaku and his fellow attackers, the attempts to salvage something from the match were critically undermined.

Thankfully, the opportunity to atone for a poor performance comes quickly in the form of struggling Hull City's visit to Goodison Park on Wednesday. Three points then would go a long way to putting the memory of today at the back of the collective Evertonian mind but this propensity to keep dropping points from winning positions is making a run for the Champions League via the top four an unlikely proposition.

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Steve Guy
1 Posted 30/11/2014 at 21:40:08
I wish everyone would stop banging on about Champions League qualification. It’s extremely unlikely and puts everyone under unnecessary pressure.

We continue to suffer Europa hangovers but frankly I don’t care. The Europa is our best chance of winning a trophy (along with the FA Cup) and we are seemingly keeping our best performances for Europe.

Injuries to key players have plagued this season domestically and by the time we have everyone properly fit (assuming that happens) the season will be half over. So no chance of Champions League.

Today was disappointing but better refereeing would have seen us get what I believe would have been a deserved point.

Trevor Lynes
2 Posted 30/11/2014 at 21:28:58
I really do not agree with your first paragraph as it was our first loss after eight games unbeaten. No team has a divine right to win every match and this was clearly illustrated by Chelsea’s struggles against Sunderland on Saturday.

Give Spurs their due – they played a very passionate, direct game and closed our players down all over the pitch. Kane outshone our young star Barkley and looks an England certainty in the near future. He it was who caught Barry in possession and created Soldado’s goal. I would fault Barry for that goal and not Distin but Howard for our loss of the lead. The shot he palmed away was not a fierce effort and he just patted it away to Eriksen instead of putting it behind for a corner. The Dane’s finish was really clever and Spurs deserved their goal.

We were not awarded a penalty late on for a blatant hand ball but a few weeks ago we got away with a blatant hand ball by Alcaraz so I suppose we win some and lose some. We kept possession very well and Spurs finished more tired than we did, but our passing was too slow and not incisive enough.

Some fans have moaned about the team selection but it looked to be our strongest on paper taking into account the missing squad members through injury. We have a small squad compared to our contenders and injuries do affect us more than them. After our exertions in Europe and the fact that some players were coming back from injury, it was not a poor performance. The pundits all agreed that this was Spurs best performance of the season.

This season, many teams have struggled to maintain form and I reckon this result, although disappointing, was not due to a particularly poor performance, but that the opposition played well. If the penalty had been given and Baines had scored, then there would have been far less criticism.

A lot of fans on here expect us to win every match and be pushing for the title despite us spending a tiny fraction of the amount of money that Spurs, Liverpool, Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea have spent on their respective squads. We are looking to buy or loan players from these clubs. Players that cannot get a game for their teams. We will continue to compete and hopefully upset one or two of the above sides during the season. We lost at Spurs and they will probably lose at Goodison.

Dick Fearon
3 Posted 30/11/2014 at 21:20:40
Lyndon, thanks, that was a good description of what I viewed from my recliner at the ungodly hour of 2am.

Anyone like myself taking a coaching badge course in the 1970s would recognize Roberto’s tactics as similar in one very important aspect to those of antiquity. Cast in stone and religiously revered by instructors was the this mantra:

To overcome a retreating defence, the ball must be played wide and wingers provide high crosses for the strikers.

These days, we have fullbacks putting the crosses over and only one striker on the receiving end yet it still seems as if Roberto follows the dogma as laid down all those years ago. To prove my point, think back to Spurs’ retreating defence and bereft of any other ideas the couple of dozen high balls we lobbed over.

Paul Tran
4 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:04:24
You’re right Trevor, we have no divine right to win every game, nor should we expect a sparkling performance each game.

We definitely have the right to question changing a winning team with unfit players, persisting with a keeper who has cost us too many points already this season (Palace, Anfield, today), the lack of pace and purpose and Martinez’s bizarre take on players’ fitness.

On their day, like us, Spurs are a good side, but why couldn’t we match their pace and intensity?

I like Martinez, I still think we’ll finish top six, but we would be so much better if we stopped shooting ourselves in the foot. I’ve got no problem with us losing games when the other team plays well, but not when the same avoidable errors keep being made.

Patrick Murphy
5 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:15:19
Paul, and that’s the nub of the matter – too often this season it has been Everton themselves who have cost the Toffees the points and not always because the opponents have been better than us. Bad habits are bad habits, whether that is making elementary mistakes or continually passing the ball without purpose.

There is often no drive or determination in our attacking play and it seems like we have found a new way to frustrate the fans – it used to be lump it up and hope for the best... and now it’s hold on to the ball for as long as possible get to the edge of the area and start all over again without having a pop at goal or putting in a testing cross.

Surely the manager cannot be asking the players to do that on such a regular basis? If he is, then perhaps he should have a re-think about what it is he’s trying to achieve. Come the New Year, we will have a better idea of whether we are in a dog-fight for the Top 4 or a dog-fight for survival, that’s not an exaggeration because that is the way the Premier League will shape up this season – a two-tier league with no mid-table comfort zone.

Jeff Armstrong
6 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:26:33
I think it will be a mid-table position throughout and meek surrender in the two cups we are still in. Martinez is clueless.
John Daley
7 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:29:30
That defeat wasn’t down to tactics or the manager’s ’philosophy’.

As so often the case in the past, it was primarily down to a needless moment of panic from Distin and Howard that gifted Spurs a goal out of absolutely nothing and changed the entire complexion of the game.

To be on top and in control, only to have all that hard work written off in an instant, through an idiotic and avoidable error, quite often serves as a mighty kick to the bollocks and a massive spur to the beneficiaries. Especially when it happens to a team as often as it has to Everton this season.

I can’t think of one game where we’ve simply been blown away by a team bang in-form so far. Every defeat seems to have snowballed from some moment of needless self-destruction.

The senior pros at the club, the very players who should set the example, who should cajole, coax and calm those around them, are the ones who seem to crap themselves at the merest hint of the clammy hand of pressure moving towards them – and they simultaneously sap the confidence of everybody else.

How many times over the years has Distin had to hold his hands up over a costly error that’s just killed the efforts of everyone else? Same question applied to Howard?

It’s like walking into a Triad karaoke bar with Dave Whelan as your wing man. He might have promised to be on his best behaviour but, at the back of your mind, you know it’s inevitable that, sooner or later, he’s gonna take his turn and start singing ’Take a pinch of white man...’.

Granted, they’re good pros and grafters and have given good service to the club and so forth but it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve never been able to cut it when a chance to crawl out of their comfort zone comes along and there isn’t a sliver of leadership amongst them.

Colin Glassar
8 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:29:24
Isn’t it a fact that our record in London is, on the whole, rather pathetic? I don’t know what the stats are but I’ve heard that usually we are shite in the smoke. Maybe we should ask to play at a neutral venue...

No-one has battered us this season, no-one has out-played us, no-one has taken us to the cleaners etc... In fact, I think we’ve been the better team in most of our games this season but we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot due to bad decision-making.

Poor defending at the beginning of the season (and today), hesitancy in front of goal, slow build up play etc... has cost us at least 10 points this season. The problem is we are fast approaching the halfway stage and – unless we get our act together pronto – our league campaign could be over by Xmas.

Forget the cup competitions, they are a lottery and a distraction. Our bread and butter is the Premier League and I’d have rather won against Spurs, Swansea and Sunderland than beat Wolfsburg or beat Stevenage in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.

Ian Smitham
9 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:22:36
I’ve not posted on here for a while... I used to go to all the home games but have had to cut back and seen less to comment on. However, I have seen a bit more recently, part tele and part at the game.

I watched Man City v Barca last season on tele and Barca were intent on mass passing. I felt throughout that there was a purpose. They also demonstrated pace and bursts of it.

Our style of play is to keep possession, pass it around, but with no purpose, and the players at the back are not good enough at doing it.

Anyway, ignoring the goalie position, on a happier note, has anyone else noted we do have a few young players around who could formulate a team going forward? I would tell Garbutt he has the left-back job; tell Stones he has a centre-back job. Could Browning be the other centre-back?? With Coleman at right-back? Besic, McCarthy and Baines in midfield. Two are young and one is looking a little worn out at flying down the wings.

Leaving three on the left, Lukako is going to play bearing in mind his cost, Barkley will do too, with Mirallas alongside him.

I have not done the maths, but I recon that is a pretty well balanced and young team: big strong defenders, a bit of pace up front and some battlers in midfield. Young enough for at least 3/4 years off them, and certainly stronger than what I saw today.

Someone put me right please.

ps: I have thought Tim has been better at times this year, but he is prone to calamities, the free kick in the Europa League in the 4-1 game, along with the free kick at Anfield where everyone knew what was about to happen as it unfurled. But, anyway, if anyone has ideas around that one, I’m all ears.

Dick Fearon
10 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:43:38
John D @ 7,

That goal could be down to Distin and Howard but the key thing is how Spurs were so easily able to penetrate our scattered defence while our attack was permanently faced with an impenetrable wall of defenders.

Then remember how many times that situation has occurred over the past two years. That lumped long ball we have decried since OFMs reign has so often served to be our own undoing.

Patrick Murphy
11 Posted 30/11/2014 at 23:11:20
Colin you’re making me sing for my supper tonight, mate.

Martinez has taken Everton to London seven times and we have won twice, beating Fulham and West Ham last season. We have drawn twice, against Arsenal and Palace, whilst we have lost three times: at Chelsea and Spurs last season and again at Spurs today. We have played two cup ties in the capital and lost both to Fulham and Arsenal respectively.

In the last five seasons, we have played 28 matches against teams based in London and won just 5, drawn 13, and lost 10, scoring 34 goals and conceding 39.

We have also been knocked out of the cups on four occasions in that period with a victory on penalties coming against Chelsea in 2011. Plus we have lost a semi-final at Wembley to add to our capital failures.

Anthony Jones
12 Posted 30/11/2014 at 22:59:58
I’m really disappointed with what I have read about this match. I saw the starting lineup and thought Roberto had finally picked all of our best available players to play a Spurs team under huge pressure not to lose. A few common threads from these pages have irked me after we threw away the lead with what should have been an incisive counter-attacking group.

You’d have thought after our crap fitness at the beginning of the season that the coaching staff would have learned that it’s fitness first in The Premier League. Unthinkable that Barry was selected unfit.

Players were clearly out of position. Mental. Play Barkley where he knows how to play for crying out loud. He has never looked right on the flank.

Players who aren’t so great on the ball need to be getting rid. Possession is counterproductive if it means that your players with poorer control and passing have more touches in 90 minutes. People say we dominate possession so well but make too many silly mistakes. Well, the two observations are inextricably linked. Get your better ball players on the ball quickly. Not rocket science.

Paul Hewitt
13 Posted 30/11/2014 at 23:23:16
No mental strength — that’s the problem. We were okay until Spurs scored... then we fell apart.
Mike Childs
14 Posted 30/11/2014 at 23:18:49
I like your ideas, Ian. I think Jagielka can still do a job back there but I would just as soon see the young guys work together to build up solidarity. Besic, Baines and Jimmy Mac, solid defensively in midfield and all can go forward and pick out a pass; they could switch up and cover for one another. The three up front just need time together.
Barry Stevens
15 Posted 30/11/2014 at 23:17:43
Before today’s game we had conceded more goals from errors than anyone else in the division. It stood at 6. It’s now 7 possibly 8 after today’s game. Not hard to see where the problems lie.
Danny Broderick
17 Posted 01/12/2014 at 00:00:12
Barkley needs to be able to play in a couple of positions. He is not currently good enough to be our No 10 every week. He should be more than capable of playing on the right and cutting in, like Pienaar does on the left. He should be capable of dovetailing with Coleman, like Baines and Pienaar do on the left. He seems to think he is having a kick about with his mates though, and just trots about when we don’t have possession.

I thought Besic showed a lot of promise – though Spurs should have had a penalty for his last minute challenge.

I felt sorry for Lukaku today. Yet again, the three behind him struggled to create anything meaningful for him. The balance isn’t right, no matter which three we play there: Naismith, Osman, Pienaar, Mirallas, Barkley, Eto’o, McGeady.

We are crying out for someone like Bolasie of Crystal Palace on the right. With Mirallas on the left, the balance would be much better. I would play Naismith in the middle, behind Lukaku.

I wouldn’t play Barkley away from home at the moment. He needs to wise up and realise he can’t drift out of the game for 20 minutes, before popping up to do some step-overs and then disappearing again. He’s more suited to a super-sub role if that’s what he wants to do.

I don’t understand why we didn’t have a striker on the bench also. I don’t care if it’s Long or McAleny, you need a Plan B sometimes. There’s no point having 7 subs if you are not going to cover yourself for every eventuality. We were chasing a goal, yet had no options of bringing someone on up front. If Lukaku’s not on his game (and today wasn’t his best), there’s no alternative. It would have been better to keep Eto’o on the bench...

Jason Heng
18 Posted 01/12/2014 at 01:21:17
We haven’t got an inspirational man since Cahill left.
Peter Barry
19 Posted 01/12/2014 at 01:30:44
A Top Four finish for Everton this season ’yer avin’ a larf’ as they say in Tottenham.
Michael Penley
20 Posted 01/12/2014 at 03:47:23
Honestly, the fans have a right to be furious with Martinez with his mishandling of the keeper situation. Howard hasn’t just had a few bad games, he’s been consistently awful all season costing us a large number of goals single-handedly.

What on earth is going on here? You can say he had a bad game once or twice, but once it starts happening on a regular basis you have to find another explanation or try and change things. Martinez has done neither.

Mark Tanton
21 Posted 01/12/2014 at 05:46:13
What I would have done to have Gravesen out there yesterday. And Tim Howard is finished; he was a long time ago. Unfortunately we’re more interested in misplaced loyalty and sentimentality than winning.
Paul Andrews
22 Posted 01/12/2014 at 06:20:45
We could start by getting back to basics in the back four. Tell Jagielka "You are a top class pure defender, STOP IMMEDIATELY the Cruyff turns, the rolling your foot across the ball and the attempted chipped passes into midfield."

I rate Jags very highly as an out and out defender, by the way.

Brent Stephens
23 Posted 01/12/2014 at 07:00:14
I guess analysis has to be around why the 2 goals conceded and why only 1 scored by us.

The 2 conceded were our individual errors so tactics not directly relevant. Having said that, I don’t think that starting line-up was lending the sort of support to our defensive element (back 4 plus 2 DMs) that we often see.

Going forward. Well, I’ve seen games where we’ve played fast football and mixed up the tactics. In terms of pace, I think we saw Roberto on the touchline encouraging faster recycling of the ball (so an issue with the players here). But I didn’t see the mix of tactics as much as in our better games; it was noticeable how slow the ball was getting forward; how few men were in the box at times; and especially, given the extremely high line that Spurs played so much, that we didn’t do much to try to test them with the ball over the top of the back line into what was sometimes acres of space behind them.

Given that that was a quite attacking line-up and strategy, didn’t we need to take advantage through quick play, mix of short and long balls, over the top and from wide into the box, with bodies in the box?

Paul Andrews
24 Posted 01/12/2014 at 07:18:15

Perfect analysis. Why the players didn’t respond to Roberto asking for quicker passing, I don’t know.

Peter Laing
25 Posted 01/12/2014 at 08:34:08
Everton’s soft centre once again came back to haunt us yesterday and it’s the senior pros such as Howard, Distin and Barry who are culpable.

We desperately need a new goalkeeper to throw down a challenge to Howard as he is in easy street with Robles sitting in reserve. Howard should have done much better with that shot and on too many occasions both this season and in the past his substandard performances and mistakes have cost Everton dearly.

Kevin Gillen
26 Posted 01/12/2014 at 10:14:58
Great summary of the game and Peter at 25 – you are so right. It’s the experienced players who are letting down the team. How on earth do you cough up the ball in your own half with a minute to go to half time? Turn around at 1-1 and it’s a different game.

The referee should be shot mind. Eriksen should be booked for a cynical challenge on Coleman in the first half. He fouled twice more before he is booked again. If he is rightly booked the first time, he doesn’t have the luxury of fouling after that for fear of being sent off. Lamela should have gone as well and it’s a stonewall penalty.

Chris Matheson
27 Posted 01/12/2014 at 10:35:24
I was going to talk about the slow speed in the build ups, but then I saw Brent at 23 saying it better than I could so won’t repeat it.

Both goals v Wolfsburg were from fast breaks. Rom plays best when bearing down on goal, the ball played ahead of him to run on to.

He is wasted when we play it tight and short and slow.

Iain Love
28 Posted 01/12/2014 at 10:29:22
I thought Spurs played very well and we where ponderous in the extreme. Barkley & Besic still have much to learn in the Prem and I would rather have seen Osman on in place of either of them yesterday.

I would take issue with the ref, as pointed out earlier: some yellow cards were too slow to be produced and Lamella (I think) fouled Baines late in the game just after getting a card, the ref saw the foul and allowed play to go on as we had possession, but failed to give him a second yellow when our attack broke down.

That aside, there was only one side that wanted to win that game; sadly it wasn’t us.

Guy Hastings
29 Posted 01/12/2014 at 10:36:40
How shit do you have to be to make Spurs look good? They are a poor side and that midfield was there for the taking.

The one positive that came out of it all was that the mediocre Harry Kane will take over from Ross Barkley as the the Sky and red-top fuelled ’future of England’. With the hype evaporating, Ross can get on with trying to be a not-half-bad young footballer, because at the moment he doesn’t even look like that. ’Glimpses’ of talent are simply not good enough.

Colin Glassar
30 Posted 01/12/2014 at 10:55:35
Another ’good’ thing that might help us, Guy, is that the media has written us off as top 4 material.

I think, as someone else has stated, that some of our boys go out onto the pitch thinking they just have to turn up and the game is won. Yesterday was a massive bitch slap and hopefully they will now wake the fuck up.

Bob Parrington
31 Posted 01/12/2014 at 11:08:21
Does Ross Barkley really fit in with our strategy? Excellent player that he is, does his decision-making process not fit in well with the team? Should we sell him to the highest bidder and get on with it?
David Hallwood
32 Posted 01/12/2014 at 11:32:51
How about a cheeky bid for Peter Cech in the January window? Personally I am effin’ sick of Howard’s lapses of concentration.

I agree with just about everyone on the thread in that we haven’t been battered or outplayed by any team; there hasn’t been a case of ’throw the towel in someone’ or ’shoot the poor donkey to put it out of its misery’, that I’ve witnessed many times as an Evertonian, which weirdly enough makes defeats like yesterday’s harder to take.

I’ve said many times that Barkley should play as the Number 10 or not at all, because he either steps on Eto’o’s or Nessy’s toes, but what used to be the difficult right-midfield position has now become the difficult left-midfield position in the continued absence of Pienaar.

On the subject of cheeky bids, how about a bid for Perisic or De Bruyne next month?

Andrew Ellams
33 Posted 01/12/2014 at 11:46:00
Ross reminded me a lot of Raheem Stirling yesterday: excellent skills but at times he looked like he was trapped in a box and was running around in circles looking for a way out.

As for goalkeepers, Forster has gone now, Butland has lost his way by the looks of things so, if we are going to buy from the English leagues, Marshall from Cardff looks good, he has Premier League experience and is only just coming up to 30.

Maybe there is somebody out there in Europe? The guy at Lille looked good but I get the impression he may be a bit Hollywood and prone to a clanger or two.

Denis Richardson
34 Posted 01/12/2014 at 12:12:37
Nice report, Lyndon. Without going into the details of the game I think my main disappointment is how we initially battered them on their own turf for the first 20 minutes, really hammered them. Then a silly mistake and we concede, which in itself is not the end of the world. However, after conceding, too many players crawled into their shells and just stopped playing. I can hardly remember a 50/50 chance that we won from the 20th minute onwards.

You just don’t throw in the towel having conceded an qualiser with 70 minutes still to play – something just wrong with the whole mentality. No fight, no passion. After the equaliser, Spurs sensed we were there for the taking, got their belief back and the crowd pushed them on. Only one winner after that – surprised they didn’t score more to be honest.

In the end the 2-1 scoreline flattered us.

Peter Cummings
35 Posted 01/12/2014 at 13:00:14
"Low on morale, a striker who can’t score, a team in disarray" – these were some of the comments about Spurs before they mugged us yesterday, and deservedly so.

They were miles quicker on attack most of their passes found their mark and their tackling was spot on.

After we scored with another ’goal of the season’ I had the feeling that we had scored too early knowing that we would now invite pressure, and so it proved as had happened many times before. Too many of our players didn’t perform; I felt Barry should have stopped the first goal while, yet again, Howard didn’t cover his near post for the second.

Lyndon’s comment that "At least we have an opportunity for three points against a ’struggling’ Hull City is a little premature given Sunday’s result against another team who are ’struggling’...

Bill Gall
36 Posted 01/12/2014 at 13:28:05
Yes Howard should have not pushed that ball away but why didn’t Coleman keep tracking back with Eriksen he was ahead of him but stopped when Howard went down to save but Eriksen kept running.

This slow build up from the back may be good for ball retention but to often it allows the other team to get everyone back to defend. I watched Man City before Everton’s game and they pass the ball around but their players just pass as soon as they receive the ball whereas Everton’s players seem to look around for an open player; so, were City take 3 or 4 passes to move the ball forward, Everton take 9 or 10.

Possession may look great in the statistics but shooting at the goal brings results. Mr Martinez seems to have a philosophy for ball retention but does not seem to have a Plan B – or any plan for corners and free kicks.

Frank Crewe
37 Posted 01/12/2014 at 14:22:44
As far as I can tell, we appear to be following a pattern that started last season. We have good results against tough opposition and immediately lose the next game against average opposition.

Last season, after beating Arsenal 3-0, we got clobbered by Palace. This season, we beat Wolfsburg 4-1 and lose to Palace again. We beat Wolfsburg away then lose to Spurs. If we continue this pattern, no doubt we’ll give Hull City a good hiding and then lose to Man City.

The fact is we can’t handle two games a week. The players just aren’t up to it. The RS fret about the "aging" Gerrard. Well, we have half-a-dozen players in the same boat. Pienaar, Barry, Distin, Eto’o, Howard, Osman and Hibbert are all in their mid-thirties and still regulars in our first team. Add to this Kone 31, Baines, 30, Jags 32. Add to this the useless McGeady and the perma-injured Gibson and our squad is really thin.

Six of our starting eleven against Spurs were 30 or over. I don’t think Spurs had a single 30-something in their side. All we have is some younger "potential" that isn’t as good as we think they are.

If someone is dumb enough to offer £60 million for Barkley, I suggest we bite their hand off. Every time he plays, he knocks a few million more off the asking price. He’s Rodwell Mk 2. The jury is still out on Lukaku. He’s off the pace this season but he’s in a team that doesn’t play to his strengths so it’s not all his fault.

There is no way with our current aging squad that we can make it into the top 4. I also think our chances of winning the Europa League are pretty slim. Soon the Champions League clubs will be dropping into the Europa and I can’t see us beating one of them over two legs.

If we wish to keep the likes of Mirallas, Coleman and McCarthy, we have to start getting in younger stronger players and build a team that can handle two games a week. If we don’t, we will continue to plod along in mid-table and our real better players, whose names I have already mentioned, will be off to pastures new.

Milos Milenkovic
38 Posted 01/12/2014 at 15:21:19
My impression over the months is that, if you were Barcelona fans, most of you would slag Messi off last night for not scoring at least two goals. He would be finished and you would be already telling the club to sell him...

Trevor Lynes
40 Posted 01/12/2014 at 15:42:31
The manager of a football team has a really thankless job. Martinez picked our strongest team from the players he had available and many comments were made about this ’before’ the game. If we had played Garbutt and Hibbert and left Coleman and Baines on the bench, if we had played Osman and left Barry on the bench, and if we had then lost Martinez would have been slated.

We have gone eight games unbeaten so surely losing away at Spurs must have been about due. I hate losing but it is normal during a season in the top division. Man City with all their wealth have lost games and that goes for Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal. The much praised defence of Southampton was breached three times and that included twice after Man City went down to ten men.

We played in Germany on Thursday and it definitely affected our intensity and pace. Spurs played a much easier game at home and it showed. In general we played quite well and the big difference about this game and the Wolfsburg one was the fact that we played with lots of passion and pace against Wolfsburg who are a very good team and we could not physically repeat it against Spurs.

We have a small squad and injuries hit us harder than they do at other clubs who can ’buy’ themselves out of trouble eg; Man Utd! It seems we cannot, but we do really well with what we have.

Patrick Murphy
41 Posted 01/12/2014 at 15:49:49
Frank – I pretty much agree with your assessment and I mentioned it yesterday that we are stuck with those elder statesmen until such time as their contracts run down. Probably one or two should have been released earlier in Roberto’s tenure – but it’s not as easy to do these days as it has been in the past as either nobody else wants them older players or their wages would be prohibitive to many Premier League teams.

But the one major problem is that Lukaku doesn’t suit our current style of play. I know he scores goals for us but in general his abilities, such as they are, just don’t blend with our adopted style – and the same could be said for Barkley to a lesser extent. The whole thing when it doesn’t work makes us look vulnerable at the back and toothless up front. I hope Roberto has the answers, because I certainly don’t.

Barry once again admitted that Everton let the game slip away yesterday. Well, my question is: Why did that happen? And if he was aware of it at the time, why didn’t he or the other senior players do something to prevent it from happening? A lack of leadership on the pitch is a concern and should be addressed by the manager.

Whilst it is nice to have Baines and Coleman bombing forward and creating things, personally I believe that defenders should concentrate on defending and leave the creativity to the front men – that might negate the need for two holding midfielders and make Barkley more proactive in his best position.

Derek Knox
42 Posted 01/12/2014 at 15:33:06
Thanks, Lyndon, for your detailed and accurate report of the game. Which I must hasten to add was in parts all too repetitious. The game I mean!

After attacking and getting a deserved goal, we tended to sit back again and allow them to dictate play. When we did retain possession, as so many have pointed out, it was with no end product and very little threat on goal. Couple that, with loss of said possession, and throw in a couple of defensive mistakes, and it was almost backs to the wall.

From what I’ve seen of Spurs this season, I think we made them look good. Furthermore, I do give Spurs credit for one thing, they won the game, through wanting to win more than us.

Frank Crewe
43 Posted 01/12/2014 at 16:14:41
Barry still has two 2.5 seasons to go on his contract. He looks knackered now and, even in his prime, pace was never his strong point. He makes Fellaini look like the Flash.
Bill Gall
44 Posted 01/12/2014 at 17:03:19
David # 32 I don’t think it would be cheeky to bid for Cech in January but I am not sure if he would want to come or if we want to pay his wage demand.

Allthough Garbutt played well in thursday I think the Manager playing Baines was the right decision as it kept Lennon in a more defensive mode to mark him as he would have attacked more against Garbutt.

As mentioned before Everton have been able to attack at speed with good effect but my take on the problem now is with the injuries and the chopping and changing of players some out of their normal position there is just not the understanding between players like there was between Baines and Pienaar

Paul Andrews
45 Posted 01/12/2014 at 17:34:53
I am a massive supporter of Martinez.

He got the balance of the side wrong yesterday

Mike Oates
46 Posted 01/12/2014 at 17:47:47
Its all about balance and not about having 4 great attackers on pitch at same time - they didn’t balance. Coleman isolated first half, Baines never in the game . We need Mirallas out wide right, Pienaar wide left linking with Baines and either Naismith, Barkley or Eto in the middle supporting Lukaku. Id go with Naismith at the moment.
In the midfield defence you just got to go with Barry and McCarthy as they have worked together so well in last 18 months. Besic was alright, but at moment needs to be a back up player, as does McGeady.
Problem place Distin, what a shocker he had, but until Stones or Alcraz back we have no choice. You cant give Browning a game yet, not with City up next weekend.
Darren Hind
47 Posted 01/12/2014 at 19:41:31
So . . . just so I’ve got this straight.

When the managers plans go out of the window in Germany through an enforced change. He still gets the credit for "masterminding" the win,

But when he selects the wrong side, drops the wrong players and is taken to school tactically by a guy who hasnt managed Spurs long enough to get his coat off . . .its the players fault ?


Patrick Murphy
48 Posted 01/12/2014 at 19:55:00
I’m’ getting as sick and tired of the Roberto nonsense in the same way I got sick and tired of all the Moyes’ nonsense, we are supporters of Everton Football Club, at this moment in time Roberto is the manager of said club, nothing we can do about that until he is sacked, resigns or runs down his contract. The game is more about the players and the players did well in Germany and did not too well yesterday, let’s hope they do better on Wednesday.
Darren Hind
49 Posted 01/12/2014 at 20:04:19
only it wasnt he same players was it Patrick.

Martinez was forced to change his favoured back four because of injury. Despite the embaressing amount of goals they were shipping. early on, he stood by them. Only after the enforced changes did we see an improvement.

They were all fit again yesterday ( alledgedly ) He couldnt wait to put them back together and warra ya know.

Thats 24 goals we’ve conceded this season and we’re only a third of the way

Paul Andrews
50 Posted 01/12/2014 at 20:18:08

You refused to give Martinez credit for the Wolfsburg win,you said the change in tactics had nothing to do with him.It was a change in tactics decided by the senior players.

Any theories on why the senior players didn’t change the tactics yesterday?

Andy Walker
51 Posted 01/12/2014 at 20:27:47
Frankly we are getting worse whilst other teams are getting better. Mid table is a fair reflection of the team. We have one of the worst teams we have had in 10 years. Lots of players with flair and comfort on the ball but we need much more. The ability to set a balanced team up would be a start, but Martinez is failing most weeks to adapt, whether it's injuries, the opposition, or the form of his players, he's getting it wrong more often the getting it right.
Steve Guy
52 Posted 01/12/2014 at 21:45:00
Unbelievable comments on here. No one complaining last season when the same group of players were smashing it.

I said early doors this is a transition season as we learn to cope with expectation and two games a week, playing across Europe.

We aren't getting the results but the comments on here dismay me.

Jay Harris
53 Posted 01/12/2014 at 21:51:45

I have a lot of empathy with your views on all things Everton but I cannot agree with "it was a mouth-watering line-up on paper".

I have been harping in all season about RM's propensity in playing "forwards" at the expense of weakening midfield. Eto'o is a great footballer but is never a midfield player in a month of Sundays.

Kev is more of a number two upfront than a winger.

Ross is only effective as a support for the number 9 and is very weak playing on the wing.

Leon like wise for all his endeavor and quick feet is never a winger and only strong as advanced mid.

We have the two most attacking full backs in the country. We should be using midfield to link up with them and get them up the pitch.

When we weaken midfield and play forwards the vital link between defense and attack is broken and the defense have to hoof it or get caught on the ball .... something that is becoming much more prevalent in our play recently.

If we don't have enough "proper midfield players" either due to injury or squad depth we should consider moving Bainesy into midfield and giving Garbutt a run.

We cannot keep playing 3 or 4 upfront especially away from home.

Darren Hind
54 Posted 01/12/2014 at 21:41:40
The main problem was the players he put out there.

Ossie and Hibbert may have their detractors (God knows they have their faults) but they are communicators. Even when they are playing badly themselves, others around them play better. That's why we concede so few with Hibbert on the pitch, even when he isn't playing well.

When was the last time you noticed Jagielka, Baines, Distin or Coleman giving directions? They just don't and Spoonfeet only ever opens his mouth to scream at himself. They are not bad players but, in the absence of a genuine leader, you need a few talkers.

Anyone who has played the game knows that "individual errors" are nearly always a result of poor communication – the guy who makes the mistake not being made aware of his options.

Mark my words, if Martinez persists with these five at the back, we will continue to ship goals.

Andy Walker
55 Posted 01/12/2014 at 22:27:20
You are absolutely right Jay. Martinez's 'plan' is the same every game. A back 4 with 2 attacking FBs, 2 very defensive midfielders then 4 very attack-minded players. We don't have a balanced midfielder, a player that can attack or defend.

It's really poor what the manager has done to our squad in terms of polarising players into either attackers or defenders. It's not exactly difficult for an opposition manager to predict how we will set up and prepare his team accordingly.

Paul Andrews
56 Posted 02/12/2014 at 05:55:23
Morning Darren,

What would be your back 5 if you were picking the side?
Presuming we had a fully fit squad.

Paul Andrews
57 Posted 02/12/2014 at 05:59:32

That’s a great post. I wrote earlier Martinez picked an unbalanced side on Sunday.

The Belgians play a system that works well,a system we have the perfect players for. A 6-8-10 system:

A holding midfielder (McCarthy)
A box-to-box midfielder (Besic)
And a number 10 (Barkley)

Build the rest of the side around them 3 good young players.

Tony Cheek
58 Posted 02/12/2014 at 06:54:08
A real "wake-up" call to all Blues fans is what we were witness to against Spurs. The problem, as I see it, is in the level of technical ability of our players. Whereas all the best teams are gathering players with outstanding technique, Martinez seems to be gathering players that give their all but are sadly lacking in the art of the game.

Players like Lukaku, McCarthy, Barry and Besic among others are just not good enough. They are players who will rip up the opponents game, run all day (Lukaku excluded), and generally be a thorn in the side of everyone they play against. But what about dribbling a couple of players and playing a brilliant through-ball to a well positioned striker? How many players have we got with that sort of skill?

How many of our players could dribble three players in a phone-box? Barkley, Eto’o, Baines, Osman, Mirallas on a good day, and that’s it. What we have is a team that would have done brilliantly 10/15 years ago. The rest have moved on. We have stood still!

Why did Mourinho sell Lukaku? He scores goals, is fast, big and strong! So why would one of the best managers in the world sell a player like that?

Simple: because he is a very limited footballer, football brain about the size of a peanut. If you play for a top side, you have to offer so much more than just being out there. You have to contribute to the rest of the team. It has to flow!

The game against Spurs was such a wake-up call that it was really painful. And no, I don’t think having McCarthy would have made that much difference. It’s not players like McCarthy we need, it’s players like Silva, Di Maria... Alan Ball FFS!

Michael Kenrick
59 Posted 02/12/2014 at 06:57:39
Tony (#58), That comes across a bit like celeb envy. You want the players the other teams have, and you can't be happy till we get them... even to the point of going back to our dead legends, FFS!

I can't understand this view of football. When the musical chairs that is the transfer window ends, that's it — your squad is pretty much fixed. There's nothing to do but buckle down and get on with it. What is the point of bleating on about players we don't have? And insulting ones we do – ones who are probably far more capable and intelligent than you give them credit for...

The only players that matter to Everton Football Club in the here and now are the ones we have in the squad at the moment. In this Premier League, as we see every week, pretty much any team can beat any other on their day, if things go right. And even if they don't, it's a game of such fine margins.

Hardly any players dribble like the old days you're pining for, the best you'll get is maybe a few stepovers. I hate to say it as it annoys me when I see others write it, but it's what you need to do right now... Get behind the team!

Pete Edwards
60 Posted 02/12/2014 at 07:11:25
Peter @35,

Soldado scored to Howard's far post which suggests he was covering the near post.

James Hughes
61 Posted 02/12/2014 at 07:33:54
It will make no difference now, but why was Spurs second goal allowed to stand? A tackle from behind, whether the ball has been won or not, is a foul
John Keating
62 Posted 02/12/2014 at 09:46:55
On paper, individually, the '80s team were far more limited than today's team. It took Kendall time to get it right but what he did achieve with a "limited" team, well it's history now.

What the '80s team did have in abundance was moaners and groaners – talker, but more important Kendall played his best team week-in & week-out and had a completely balanced team. Changes were made due to injuries or suspensions and I can't really recall changes being made for specific teams.

Yes, it's 30 years since Kendall's team... but passing, scoring and defending hasn't changed and it's still 11 versus 11. Martinez has to tell our lads to get the ball and look for the forward pass; if nowt's on, then it may have to go square rather than do a Joe Allen and pass it square regardless.

I doubt Kendall sat down after a match and counted the passes made and possession held.

Eddie Dunn
63 Posted 02/12/2014 at 17:50:14
In the second half Lukaku managed to reach a ball on the left wing and did well to pop a cross into the box and there were no Everton players near it. Chasing the game and your centre forward moves out to the left, so if you are say Barkley or Besic, or even Ossie, then surely you make a beeline for the box!

So many unfit players... Baines, Coleman and Barry starting when Hibbo, Garbut and Ossie were in good form. Why rush people back? Look at Macca in Wolfsburg, hasn't Martinez learned anything?

Boy did we miss Naismith – his little lay-offs and intelligent runs link it all up. Barkley was just annoying, he must be a fucking nightmare to play alongside. He doesn't know when to stick or twist and he is trying too hard.

Hull will be interesting.

Colin Glassar
64 Posted 02/12/2014 at 18:13:04
We will batter Hull, beat city and a bit of humble pie will be on the menu come Sunday.
Paul Ferry
65 Posted 02/12/2014 at 18:37:58
This is truly unbelievable isn’t it, but you also need to remember that this Walker fella back in the bad old days would hear nothing wrong said about his idol the current Real Sociedad gaffer.

Andy Walker - 51: ’We have one of the worst teams we have had in 10 years’.

It’s sad, I suppose, that this utter garbage is to a large degree the ricochet comments of someone who is lost still wearing his black veil for someone who for the sane became eventually a bad memory.

It’s an opinion of sorts and therefore absolutely appropriate to post so long as well realize its real origins in the deepest of dark depths of pro-Moyseia.

A new low on these pages.

Jay Harris
67 Posted 02/12/2014 at 21:00:55
I hope you're right Colin.

We should be able to beat Hull with any team but City could be a total embarrassment like the Chelsea game unless RM gets it right.

We have ability in the squad but the team structure and tactics have not been correct for most of the season so far.

IMO you can only do well against City at their place with a 5 man MF and by that I mean NOT playing Eto, Lukaku, Barkley, Mcgeady in the same team.

I would line up the team as follows(injury permitting) for the City game

Coleman Jags Distin Garbutt/Oviedo
Mirallas McCarthy Besic Barry Baines

Colin Glassar
68 Posted 02/12/2014 at 21:57:06
Kompany will be out Jay and I think Mangala as well so it will be Demichelis and someone else. Kolarov and Silva are out and Dzeko is doubtful. I think we can win it as we have done in the past.
Jay Harris
69 Posted 02/12/2014 at 22:04:28
Colin, I think Mangala will only serve a one-match ban so should be available against us. I don't know about Kompany but that will weaken them.

However, I think their midfield is strong and the little fella up front is a handful for anyone.

They are a different proposition than a couple of years ago and are not as intimidated now; in fact they are the true "Sin Miedo" side.

We need to be a bit better then we have so far this season if we are to get anything from that game.

Patrick Murphy
70 Posted 02/12/2014 at 22:43:00
Colin I usually agree with your optimistic outlook, but given the loss of form and injuries to some key players I think anything we get at Man City will be a huge bonus. We have only won 19 league games in total at their ground since they started playing each other.

Tomorrow is a game we have to win in order to calm the nerves of many Evertonians... do that and try and sneak a point at Man City and I will be more than happy.

Colin Glassar
71 Posted 02/12/2014 at 23:02:20
If we don't win tomorrow, Patrick, then we are in trouble. Hull are on a bad run and, as we all know, teams usually end their bad runs against us. However, I think we will get a much needed win and then go on and get a result against Man City.

We have had a weird season so far but some key players (Baines, Coleman, Barkley etc...) will start to regain their form. At some point we will kick on and string a few wins together, so let's see where we are in January.

Paul Ferry
72 Posted 03/12/2014 at 04:09:17
Only Colin (Glassar) who I love on these wonderful pages can be so bright eyes optimistic (#64) and then (#71) hit us with a hangover dose of realism:

"If we don’t win tomorrow, Patrick, then we are in trouble. Hull are on a bad run and, as we all know, teams usually end their bad runs against us."

Colin is a ToffeWeb treasure, up there with Harold Matthews and Harold Matthews in waiting in 2057, Sam Hoare (and Deano, Mocky, and Rob Halligan).

What a wonderful site this is!

Max Wilson
73 Posted 03/12/2014 at 09:23:41
I watched the game on Sky in France, trying to persuade my French son he was missing out not supporting the Toffees. We'd just watched boring Bordeaux win 1-0.

Spurs decided, in our opinion, that Distin was the weak point and pressured him every chance they got. Our coverage in front of goal when attacked with speed was poor. Howard was panicking.

We missed McCarthy badly. I don't know what Barkley contributed really. We were amazed when Eto'o was subbed. They defended well in the last 20 minutes.

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