Did the Players Have a Word?

Our team was getting stuck into Manchester City. Our team was mixing it about and going direct at times. It was great to see: "Quite an old fashioned game with a lot of character and grit", as Roberto Martinez put it.

Paul Traill 10/01/2015 31comments  |  Jump to last

Everton 1 - 1 Manchester City

Awoken by the howling wind rattling against my window, I was up and about very early and, looking out of the window, I thought "Robles is going to struggle in that". As it transpired, when sat, or stood, as we stayed throughout the match in the Gwladys Street, the conditions didn't feel quite as bad inside the ground.

There was quite a mixed bag of optimism in the pub as Liverpool dived their way to victory against Sunderland. After the West Ham match, I fancied a bit more of a performance than we were subjected to lately though with a narrow defeat, whilst others were more positive. "We won't lose five league games in a row" said Carl. "No way". Thankfully Carl was right.

Not since Saturday 22 November have we had a 3pm Saturday kick off at Goodison Park and it was a dream to get into the packed ground with the atmosphere bubbling at kick off. Baines, Stones and McGeady all brought back into the team from Tuesday's draw with West Ham, Jovetic spearheading the attack for Manchester City with Aguero on the bench. Martin Atkinson (urgh) refereed with Everton attacking the Park End in the first half.

What followed was excellent. None of this tying ourselves in knots and inviting trouble by playing the ball around at the back. Our team was getting stuck into Manchester City. Our team was mixing it about and going direct at times. It was great to see: "Quite an old fashioned game with a lot of character and grit", as Roberto Martinez put it.

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Typically of Everton, however, we did our best to make it difficult for ourselves with Jagielka gifting a gilt-edged chance to Jovetic in the first half, the Montenegro international dragging his effort wide. Manchester City certainly had the better of the play in the first half but Everton stood up gamely, defended solidly and stayed in the game. Indeed Seamus Coleman was within inches of putting Everton into a half-time lead when he drove left-footed at goal from distance, though his shot crashed against the crossbar and away. Half-time it was all-square and everyone was pleased with the effort and application shown by the team.

At the break, Andrei Kanchelskis walked out onto the pitch and greeted the crowd to good applause. As he did so, there was a nice compilation of his goals from the 1995-96 season. What a player he was for us. "I hope he brought his boots along" was the shamefully obvious joke... by me.

The second half began as the first with Manchester City having the better of the play but Everton battling hard to stay with the league champions. We came very close to going ahead when Lukaku burst into the penalty area and got his shot away but was foiled by a diving save from Joe Hart. We also had the ball in the net when Phil Jagielka stabbed home after Hart had spilled a Leighton Baines free kick under pressure from Steven Naismith though unfortunately the Scot was adjudged to be in an offside position.

Shortly after that, Manchester City were ahead. Lukaku was on the attack and was well tackled by Zabaleta and, all of sudden, Manchester City broke forward with Navas. He played in Silva who's shot was somehow flicked in by Fernandinho to give Manchester City the advantage. Joel Robles and particularly Muhamed Besic were furious with the linesman for not giving offside against Fernandinho but the goal stood.

After all that hard work, you just felt flat. You didn't feel Everton could recover and it was fantastic that we showed the resolve to equalise only four minutes later. Phil Jagielka winning the free kick, a great delivery into the penalty box by Baines, Joe Hart mis-timing the cross and Steven Naismith heading in to level the scores.

As the match drew to a close, Everton were certainly going for the victory just as much as Manchester City, maybe even more so, but we couldn't force a winning goal. Substitute Kevin Mirallas probably had our best opportunity when he wriggled into the penalty box but scuffed his shot at the vital moment. At the full-time whistle, the team were applauded off the ground and rightly so. A fantastic effort by Everton and a hard-earned draw achieved as we trudged off in the cold evening wind.

So what changed from the nonsense we've been served up over the last month or so? There was some talk earlier in the week from Lukaku about discussing a change of style with the manager. Given the effort, character and switch in dynamic shown by the team, our only conclusion at the match was that some sort of meeting has taken place. If this is the case, then I offer great credit to Roberto Martinez for taking on board the players' feelings and doing something to adapt our style. Many a manager would have been too pig-headed to listen, I imagine.

We are not out of the woods yet, of course, and the next two league games versus West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace given they have both won this weekend now become vital. Things will become clearer after those two games but I've seen enough today to believe we may have turned a corner and hopefully before long we can be looking upwards again rather than carefully over our shoulder.

Player Ratings:

Robles: Growing on me for sure and maybe many of us were a bit too harsh on him given he was effectively thrown into a few games... I know I was. He seems to be developing his confidence. Made a few reasonable saves today and looked more comfortable than he has done so far. 7

Baines: Excellent, particularly defensively. His dead ball delivery set up the goal also. 8

Stones: Did very well. Shows fantastic composure for his age. Great to have him back. 8

Jagielka: Emptied the box plenty of times in the second half. His howler in the first half could have been very costly though thankfully we got away with it. Not exactly brimming with confidence but played a part in keeping them out. 6

Coleman: Very unlucky not to score in the first half but great to see him playing with confidence again and getting forward well. Had a very good game. 8

Besic: Probably scarred by his back-heel versus Chelsea, I was not convinced by him at first but he's certainly won me over. Covered a lot of ground today and made many a good tackle. Still shows immaturity in possession at times and I think that's something we'll just have to live with probably until he fully settles next season but he is showing more promise every game. My Man of the Match. 8

Barry: Had a brilliant game, hassling and harrying his former club's midfield all game. A great effort. Seems to be getting back to form. 7

McGeady: I raised an eyebrow at his inclusion, as did a few others, I would wager, but fair play to him, he stuck at it and did well. Not the strongest in the tackle but did work hard and put himself about the pitch before he was subbed. Put in a good shift. 7

Naismith: Sometimes out wide and sometimes in field, but wherever he popped up on the pitch he was full of heart and really put a shift in and deserved his goal. 8

Barkley: His confidence seems so fragile. If he makes the slightest mistake he seems to disappear for ages. Being a flair player he needs to shrug off his mistakes and let Barry and Besic do the ugly work for him. Needs to stay in the team though. Only way he'll pick up his confidence. 6

Lukaku: His two performances this week have been much more on the money. Needs to maintain that consistency for the rest of the season. Perhaps the pressure of a first team place from Kone has forced an improvement from him. 7

Mirallas (for McGeady): Did OK but capable of more. Something seems up with him at the moment... whether it's injury or attitude or whatever, he just hasn't looked up to it these last three or four games. 5

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Reader Comments (31)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 10/01/2015 at 21:30:18
Agree with most of your comments/ratings today Paul. A word on the present situation on Ross Barkley, this guy is currently the victim of the most vitriolic abuse I have heard from some of the morons sitting around me in the Park End stand today.

He is clearly going through a difficult time at the moment, and his confidence is shot. The swashbuckling runs through the middle are gone, as he looks to play the safe ball, which hopefully will appease the cretins in the crowd.

What, may I ask, is to be gained by slaughtering one of our own? He will come good again, and is an outstanding prospect, but the expectations on him to rescue a faltering team over the last few weeks are unfair.

We showed an awful lot of spirit today, against a very very good side, who will take most teams apart this season.

Hopefully, we have seen the green shoots of recovery.

Jeff Hughes
2 Posted 10/01/2015 at 22:00:56
If Martinez adopted a change of style suggested by players I too would applaud his courage. I, however, would applaud him a lot more if he could acknowledge this fact to the fans. His press briefings during our bad run have been insulting, patronising and, at times, bewildering. Loyal fans ( to the club that is) have exposed Roberto’s weaknesses and the fans should take some of the credit for pressurising him to change. Let’s hope our season now takes off.
James Flynn
3 Posted 10/01/2015 at 22:31:48
Jeff (2) - Not sure he’s being courageous. He’s being mocked by the supporters in the stands and the media.

My take is that the senior players have tuned him out in pursuit of garnering points. We’ll see how that goes. Just as long as the lads stop playing "possession" football.

Since Roberto doesn’t practice defending on the training pitch, who knows how it will play out. But, I’d rather we defend and hit on the break. For me, there’s where points are.

Joe Foster
4 Posted 10/01/2015 at 22:56:53
Adrian Durham on talk sport today said he had been talking to an ex player who said the players do not like Martinez. Take from that what you will but that’s what he said
Gavin Johnson
5 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:11:10
Joe #4 that’s a little concerning, not as a rule because I doubt a lot of players liked great managers like Fergie and Cloughy. However the said managers would have always had their players respect. I get the impression Martinez’s would be a manager you would want to do well for because he so positive and comes across as a nice guy. So if he isn’t liked that would be a worry to me.
Brian Denton
6 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:14:47
I remember the way Lukaku (v Arsenal) and Mirallas (v Villa) last season jumped joyfully into Roberto’s arms after scoring. Make of that what you will.
Joe Foster
7 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:20:14
Yep its definitely a bit strange. Somebody asked him about our downturn this season and that’s what he come out with.
Patrick Murphy
8 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:16:34
It seems a remarkable claim to make and it would depend upon who the ex-player was and how close he is to the first team as to whether there is any substance to it. My main worry is that Roberto may have enjoyed today’s result to a certain extent and having the crowd behind the team will also have pleased him but he won’t have enjoyed his team having so little possession albeit against the reigning Champions. So from that perspective something has to give, either the players or the manager and as we can’t flog off our entire team there is only going to be one casualty.
Ian Riley
9 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:09:22
My concern is getting to 40 points. Today the team showed the hunger to carry on and get the point. The next two league games are vital and at least 4 points is required. Only 5 points from bottom and players and fans unhappy, is not the cocktail we need going into the final stages of the season.

The fans must stick with the players as staying in the league is a must. The manager is not going and he has finally realised via the players that plan b is required or play 48 games in the championship next season. Other teams such as burnley have a nothing to lose approach so can play their game without fear. The point today will be vital come the end of the season.

Hold on tight it could be a bumpy ride!

Tony Hill
10 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:27:01
It’s still a delicate time for the whole club but I think most of us can see that the renewed team spirit in the last two games gives real cause for hope. It was a joy to be at Goodison today and we should do everything we can to keep that atmosphere alive. If we do then we can redeem this season.

That means putting behind us the rumours of discontent and where that may leave RM longer term. I was concerned by the Lukaku remarks this week but today has convinced me to shut all of that out and concentrate on getting ourselves safe and having one or two cup runs.

Everything else can wait and a successful second half of the season would banish the sort of navel gazing to which we’re all inclined at the moment.

I accept, of course, that things could still go wrong but let’s enjoy the happier signs for now.

Jay Harris
11 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:34:36
I think it has been evident all season the players werent playing for the manager.

They were fed up taking the flak from the supporters and the media for poor team selection and preparation.

Why would Lukaku come out in the mediaand say the players had a meeting with the manager and requested a change in tactics.

That in itself indicates a total lack of respect.

Victor Jones
12 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:09:56
Good article. But you have, in my opinion, been generous with your marking system. Okay, maybe Barry and McGeady and Jagielka were not as bad as everyone makes out, but the fact is that they have been woeful this season. Barry is an accident waiting to happen (in fact it has happened... and often). McGeady should never be playing for Everton. He has brought nothing to the party. And Jags has the longest hangover ever experienced from a World Cup.

Now I realise that a number of players are not comfortable with that nonsense tippy tappy game that Martinez championed. I don’t blame them. So maybe, just maybe someone at Everton has come to their senses – and that includes the main man, Martinez. Let the players play to their strengths. It ain’t rocket science.

Good point today... but can that group of players and Martinez produce even more over the next couple of months.

Now on to Barkley: I’d give him a run of games in the centre of midfield; no loose play.... no tippy tappy nonsense... everything goes forward. See how he performs, because on his day this kid is a class act.

Also when a fit McCarthy is back, Everton will tighten up. But knowing that Martinez likes to tinker, and not always in a way that us supporters like. I half expect to see Stones rested and Alcatraz in. McCarthy back in and Basic dropped. But McGeady seems to be the teachers pet.

It’s a funny old game, and this is one hell of a funny old season. So let’s get a smile back for all the right reasons. Last comment: I think also that a fit Oviedo deserves a run of games


Nigel Gregson
13 Posted 11/01/2015 at 00:13:20
Evident to who Jay ? I love how these conclusions keep getting made despite any concrete evidence.
James Flynn
14 Posted 11/01/2015 at 00:11:46
Joe (4) - We don’t need him.

We have Kieran claiming "inside info" whereby many-years-respected players Distin and Jags are the problem. . . . . somehow.

Rather, Roberto’s been told, "Change or be changed" by management. And if he’s been told based on input from our senior players, good on them.

Danny Broderick
15 Posted 11/01/2015 at 00:16:01
I think sometimes we (as fans, press etc) look into things too much. Headlines are made out of nothing. I know if I was being asked to do something in work and I felt there was a better way of doing it, I would speak to my boss. Wouldn’t you?

The players may well have had a word, but then the stats make it obvious that we are not doing as well as last season. We have stopped crossing the ball - we are 19th in the Prem for crosses into the box, we are having more possession but less shots.

It seems the manager has cottoned on that we can still play good football, while mixing it up occasionally. We need a pacy winger, because since last year, Pienaar and Mirallas have never been fit together, and Del Boy has gone back to Barça. A few more crosses and a few more shots and goals, and we’ll come good again.

Victor Jones
16 Posted 10/01/2015 at 23:51:53
Regards reports of unrest in the Everton camp. Maybe I’m being to simplistic here but the Martinez possession style of football has to be the cause root. Even the great Barcelona and Spain have been caught out. Teams now know how to set up against them.

So how long did Martinez think that that style would be a success in the Premier League? I was getting pissed off with Everton having 70% possession and getting nothing from the game. And of course so must the players. Players always have gripes about something, but at Everton i’s usually kept to minimum and sorted without much fuss.

Should this reported unrest be down to Martinez’s tactics and also rotating and playing some players out of position, the last couple of results give me the impression that maybe the manager can be reasoned with and can be flexible.

I’ve seen slumps before (as we all have). And if Martinez insists on tippy tappy possession football, then I fear we will go the same as Wigan. That cannot be allowed to happen, and I am sure that it won’t be allowed to happen. But TBH, I really am worried.

And, should everything work out OK, do we want to go through all this next season? Changes need to be made, and that does not necessarily mean sacking Martinez, but how about getting everything right in the pre-season, and maybe a decent assistant manager who can challenge Martinez. Sorry for wandering, but this season can’t end soon enough. It’s tough work supporting Everton FC.

Tony Draper
17 Posted 11/01/2015 at 00:33:51
Did the players have a word ?

I’d be fuckin mortified if between the entire playing staff, managerial and coaching entourage there wasn’t a single remark over the last few weeks.

"So, how’s things ? Wife n kids looking forward to Xmas ?"
"Yep, good......and you ?"
"Yep, not bad"
"Fancy a spot of keepie uppy ?"
"Sounds good, sod that set piece malarkey, eh !"
"Ha Ha ! Too right."

Andy Crooks
18 Posted 11/01/2015 at 00:47:37
Paul, good stuff as usual. I fear that Barkley Is being mismanaged.
Victor Jones
19 Posted 11/01/2015 at 01:42:26
Just a few comments from me. I don’t often praise opposition players but I feel that a little praise must go to David Silva. And the reason is for actually staying on his feet when Besic tackled him. We all know that Basic’s tackle was perfect... but had Silva gone down then God knows what would have happened. As we all know the standard of refereeing is bloody awful this season.

Just think how a certain soon-to-be-departed player from across Stanley Park would have reacted to that tackle. I won’t make any puns... cause we’ve heard them all. I digress from the main topic but once again fair play to Silva for not trying to cheat... Plenty would..

Maybe our luck is changing... just maybe.

Bill Gall
20 Posted 11/01/2015 at 02:16:03
I think there are 2 ways of looking at this (a) the manager called the players in to a in a no holds barred meeting to talk about the loss of form over the last 6 weeks. If this is the case credit to the manager and players for airing their views and bringing in some more direct play. Or (b) the players asked to see the manager to discuss the same problem and the manager agreed to change his style to bring in some more direct play .If this is the case IMO this shows the manager is weak in allowing the players to dictate how they play.

There is allways the case that the chairman and the board have told the manager that his job is on the line unless he can do something to turn the season around

Gavin Ramejkis
21 Posted 11/01/2015 at 02:40:22
Steve Hogan, Barkley was earning shouts from the Park End and around the ground today with a very lacklustre performance and far too many instances of just switching off, too many times he simply didn’t look arsed, didn’t challenge a Man City player within feet of him or make any move to do so. It looked for all intents and purposes that he either didn’t want to risk getting hurt (which I doubt) or upset a potential new employer.

He came more into the game second half but even if the lad wants a move away which I really hope isn’t the case then he needs to do more on the pitch to get himself noticed.

For me I thought the best performances today were from Stones and Besic, Stones offering a far more assured defensive display and Besic getting stuck in and chasing their midfielders constantly. Naismith deserved a goal and again he put himself about on the pitch and shouted the other players to get stuck in too, wouldn’t be a bad shout as a captain on those type of things, when that arsehole of a ref was having a word with Stones over a nonsense booking Jags was nowhere to be seen as Captain coming to his defence.

Andy McNabb
22 Posted 11/01/2015 at 02:54:46
A long way to go but much more encouraging.
Haven’t watched the game yet but amazing the way people on the same side, at the same match can view things so differently.
Paul, you said Barry was excellent. Some comments on Blue Kipper have ripped him apart. I will be watching the recording carefully!
Andy McNabb
23 Posted 11/01/2015 at 02:59:41
Also - has anyone else read the Posh Chairman’s very specific rant over twitter after they lost?? Would have been interesting hearing Bill’s thoughts throughout December.
Phil Walling
24 Posted 11/01/2015 at 12:34:21
Grossly over-generous player ratings as usual but it must be good to see all our lads through rose-coloured specs. Effort was the main attribute on view and thank god for that, I say.

I’m certain the players ’have had a word’ and Martinez would be an idiot if he hadn’t realised his stance was showing him for an idealistic fool. But whatever occurred, yesterday was an improvement.

Whether it will carry over to the rest of the season is debateable but for now the Spaniard is out of gaol.

John Keating
25 Posted 11/01/2015 at 12:50:33
Victor @16, agreed. Once this bloody season is over what do we do before the next starts?

If we believe Lukaku, it was the players who instigated the change in tactics that we have witnessed the last 2 games - hope to God it continues. Can we accept a reversion to Martinez’s preferred method of play that we have witnessed so far this season?

I have no doubt that the next few games will determine whether Martinez stays or goes next season. If we continue with our recent improved play and start getting results, he accepts his tippy-tappy, possession-at-all-costs football is not the only way of playing, I can see him staying. If he reverts to style after we get out of trouble, then I think his future could be in doubt.

Jay Harris
26 Posted 11/01/2015 at 13:05:35

I would say obvious to those who can see. If one or two players are playing badly, it is a loss of form or they are carrying a knock. When the whole squad looks disinterested and disillusioned, there has to be a question mark over the manager.

IMO that is logic.

Steve Higham
27 Posted 11/01/2015 at 15:19:54
Victor Jones @12 McGeady is the new whipping boy – every team has one – yes, he has made errors especially Newcastle away etc – but he put a shift in for the team yesterday and did not hide.

Strange the fans love Mirallas – did nothing against West Ham and did nothing yesterday except mishit a good chance. He could not get off the pitch quick enough at the final whistle, he was first off. It always amazes me how some players can do no wrong.

We will need team players in the days ahead, not players who only play for themselves.

Nigel Gregson
28 Posted 11/01/2015 at 15:44:43
@Jay 26 - so going by that logic if the squad looks interested, fit and fighting till the 95th minute, then the opposite must be true and the manager should get the credit right ?
Steve Hogan
29 Posted 11/01/2015 at 16:49:17
Steve Higham, you’ve hit the nail on the head re McGeady on Saturday, he worked very very hard for the cause.

He can be infuriating when he fails to release the ball after getting himself into a great position, but never hides, and always looking for the ball.

Mirallas has offered nothing for the last few games and if we get into a scrap, I know who my money would be on to ’put a shift in’.

Just check out his body language when the going gets tough, he doesn’t want to know.

Still, McGeady remains an easy target for the boo boys.

Andy Crooks
30 Posted 11/01/2015 at 21:33:27
Steve # 1a good point. Never in many years of watching football have I seen a player improve because of abuse from the crowd. It is pointless, confidence sapping and counter productive. Showing disapproval of the team at the end of the game seems to me to more likely to bring change. Singling out a player for abuse during the match achieves nothing.
Jay Harris
32 Posted 12/01/2015 at 14:01:29
there are none so blind as those that will not see.

If you are happy with RM then so be it.

For me the coincidence between the number of goals shipped by Wigan and the number of goals shipped by the blues combined with the number of hamstring injuries both clubs have had makes a huge statement about preparation and tactics..

The change in the last 2 games has been down to the players. The manager may have been coerced but it was obviously not his decision.

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