Familiar Failings Expose Blues' Deficiencies

This defeat to Sunderland may have owed as much to luck as the Blues' own inability to get their act together in the box long enough to win it, but there was an annoying air of inevitability about it.

Lyndon Lloyd 10/05/2015 70comments  |  Jump to last

Everton 0 - 2 Sunderland

Outside of some uncharacteristically impressive performances in Europe and the demolition of Manchester United a fortnight ago, there has been precious little to enjoy about this season, so you could forgive anyone of a Blue persuasion for just wanting it to end as soon as it was apparent we were safe from relegation.

If we have to be subjected to the last few meaningless matches, though, you'd think the least we could expect is to see some signs of progress, something to ignite hope for next season, some evidence that this Everton team can once again scale the heights of Roberto Martinez's first season in charge.

Instead, in the last three games we have seen a microcosm of Everton under the Spaniard impregnable defence and irrepressible counter-attacking on one hand; disorganised or frustrating impotence going forward and susceptibility at the back on the other. This defeat to Sunderland, the second to a team battling relegation in the space of seven days, may have owed as much to luck as the Blues' own inability to get their act together in the box long enough to win it, but there was an annoying air of inevitability about it not least Danny Graham's first goal since 2013.

Dick Advocaat came to Goodison Park with a plan for this one but, thanks to two wicked deflections, his team was rewarded for their execution of that plan with two more points than the Dutchman was probably expecting. And yet the Black Cats were far from the most stubborn or impregnable team that Everton have faced this season. They put men behind the ball, suffocated Romelu Lukaku at times with two, sometimes three, red-and-white jerseys around him but, with a bit more sharpness about him, the Belgian would surely have scored.

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Twice he was foiled by Costel Pantilimon in the first half as the Romanian goalkeeper acted quickly to close him down and smother chances at his feet but you felt that, with one of the chances at least, the "Europa League" Lukaku arguably the one arena where he has looked the part his 28m price tag demands this season might not have elected to take it around the keeper but tucked the ball past him with an earlier shot. That version of the 21-year-old might also have buried the free header he was served up in the second half but which bounced harmlessly off his shoulder and into the Gwladys Street stand.

Had that 51st-minute chance gone in, you sense that the outcome would have been very different. Everton had been dominant in the first half, enjoying almost three quarters of the possession, but had failed to work the goalkeeper sufficiently with shots on target. Leon Osman, inventive and incisive in the early going on his return to the starting XI at the expense of Kevin Mirallas, had curled a shot just beyond the far post and had a goalbound shot turned away by the 'keeper's foot. Ross Barkley had seen a shot blocked after Sebastián Coates had slid in to cut out the lively Seamus Coleman's cutback.

The visitors, meanwhile, had been restricted to just one genuine shot at goal in the first 45 minutes by Jermaine Defoe that careened off his own player, Conor Wickham, and behind. They scored, however, at the end of the first real spell of pressure in the game after surviving a barrage of typically ineffective corners from Everton, only one of which had forced a save from Pantilimon where he batted Phil Jagielka's header behind.

Graham prodded a Sebastian Larsson cross narrowly over in the 52nd minute but he was in the inadvertent scorer of the opener just two minutes later. Gareth Barry, labouring through a second sub-standard display in the space of a week, could only glance another Larsson cross straight to Jordi Gomez in oceans of space outside the Everton penalty area and his wayward low drive took a heavy deflection off Graham's leg and looped beyond Tim Howard inside the far post.

In contrast to last week at Villa Park, Martinez acted fairly swiftly in response, withdrawing Barry in favour of Mirallas in the 62nd minute and there was an immediate increase in urgency about the Blues, one that almost produced an equaliser via the boot of Coleman. One drive with the outside of his boot was charged down while he dragged another just wide at the end of an excellent exhibition of ball-juggling just inside the Sunderland area.

Coleman and Mirallas both saw further shots blocked as the Black Cats dug in before James McCarthy hammered a shot agonisingly off the post and fired over at the end of an impressive run through the heart of the opposition defence. But the equaliser wouldn't come. Instead, after Defoe appeared to escape both the concession of a penalty and a second yellow card for clipping Coleman's heels as he was about to attempt to volley home Lukaku's cross from the left, Advocaat's men killed the game with a second bout of fortune with five minutes left.

John Stones was caught dithering on the ball inside his own half and it was worked forward to Steven Fletcher who was allowed to carry it across the home defence before he lost his footing and appeared to take Stones with him with a flailing arm. That left Adam Johnson free on the left side of the area to drive a shot goalwards that struck first Coleman and then Defoe before ending up in the back of the net. That sparked delirium in the away end and deepening frustration among the home supporters at a first home defeat since Boxing Day but a second loss on the bounce.

Once again, it was a case of a Martinez side having two or three lions' share of the possession but failing to actually score the goals that their territorial superiority deserved. It was the kind of performance that, while not poor, suggests the manager's problems run deeper than just "two or three" additions this summer.

The team is crying out for real quality and a genuine match-winning influence in the side like the old Mikel Arteta and the younger Steven Pienaar who were among the architects of a 7-1 destruction of Sunderland 7 years ago. It was hoped that that would be Barkley but, whether it's an issue of coaching, man-management or his own psychology, his development has clearly plateaued, even regressed this season, as he continues to play within himself. You sense that next season is going to be crucial for him if he is to fulfill his undoubted potential but Martinez can no longer bank on that happening.

It was also a day when you questioned the wisdom of spending precious funds on another tryer like Aaron Lennon who has been a valuable addition on loan but whose lack of end product and natural skill lets him down when he has an off-day like today. There again, you would think that Martinez could find better, more persistent quality elsewhere, and you would hope he has identified a clutch of players who can make a genuine impact to a side that still struggles to beat teams from the bottom end of the Premier League.

Even then, with questionable man-management at times and no obvious signs that he is close to resolving this inability to break down poor sides, you suspect it won't come down to just a matter of signing players.

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Reader Comments (70)

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John Keating
1 Posted 10/05/2015 at 07:52:23

My gripe is that Martinez has been shown up from the end of last season. Supporters have been commenting on his obvious failings since last season yet only now are the more established commentators questioning his decisions.

Martinez is unable to tactically change a game during the 90 minutes; yes, he can make substitutions but his tactics do not change. I hate to say it but even Brenda across the Park can alter things during the course of the game.

We will get the usual posters on here making up the usual excuses and calling for Martinez to be given more time; unfortunately, giving this incompetent more time will enable him to dig a bigger hole for our Club to slide in to. It is imperative that this guy goes if not now then at the end of the season. He should not be allowed any time here to spend one penny of our transfer budget. He is no doubt a nice guy but totally out of his depth at our Club.

John Crawley
2 Posted 10/05/2015 at 09:28:06
Another insightful but depressing match report, Lyndon. Couldn’t agree with you more about the need for younger versions of Arteta and Pienaar. They are exactly the type of players that you need if you are wanting to play a successful version of the type of football he espouses. But they aren’t the type of players that we’ve been linked to or we have signed.

It’s one of the many reasons why I’ve got little faith in him. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be constantly changing managers but in this case I think he needs to go.

James Kirrane
3 Posted 10/05/2015 at 09:39:27
I am very concerned about Ross Barkley. The lad seems to have it all with regards to pace, power, skill and a great shot from either foot. I admit his tackling and heading leave a lot to be desired.

However, his confidence appears to be shot and when presented with a good chance yesterday he fluffed his lines with a powder puff shot straight at the keeper.

What is the issue? Great physical attributes, but no football intelligence? If only he had half of Ossie’s footballing nous.

Trevor Peers
4 Posted 10/05/2015 at 09:47:39
Roberto is not a good fit for Everton, that’s the conclusion 99% of blues fans have come to. We have a decent squad of players; with the right manager and some astute signings, we could have a successful season next time out.

If BK can’t see this, we are doomed to another relegation-threatened campaign, full of depressing possession football, dull and uninspiring results. Roberto’s dealing in the transfer market suggest he will further weaken the team in the summer – how can this be allowed to happen?

The supporters deserve better than this; even yesterday the ground was near full and our loyalty is unquestionable.

Andrew Clare
5 Posted 10/05/2015 at 10:30:52
The team should be highly motivated for every game. It is quite clear that under Martinez this not happening.

The whole football world can see that Ross Barkley is a red hot talent. Why is he playing so badly?

For me, there just aren’t enough signs that Martinez is going to make it work with us. We have been dreadful all season, even in games that we have won – apart from one or two – we just haven’t performed as a unit. I fear next season will be just the same.

Eddie Dunn
6 Posted 10/05/2015 at 10:44:16
Just watched MotD and Grealish of Villa was picked out by the pundits as having good peripheral vision. Indeed, he seemed aware of where his team-mates were and in an instant would thread accurate passes here and there.

Too often, Ross Barkley takes an extra touch, or looking for a shot, he delays, losing the chance. It all boils down to a lack of confidence, and perhaps too much expectation.

Also on MotD, Anichebe scored for the Baggies, and looked better than our expensive Belgian Behemoth. Although I liked Big Vic, I never thought he was good enough and to think we spent £28M on someone who is no better, is awful.

The last two games have clearly shown that Martinez can pick his best team (and I would have picked the same) but he can’t motivate them. It reminds me of the Cup Quarterfinal at Arsenal, and the match in Kiev, not to mention a whole legion of normal league games. The trouble is that, no matter what the personnel, and various set-ups, the intensity just doesn’t surface until we go behind, and then it’s too late. Even when we have gone ahead, we have taken the foot off the throttle and allowed teams back in again.

At one stage this season, we were the team who had lost more points after being ahead than anyone else. It has to be down to the manager – all of the players can’t be letting him down so often. There must be disharmony backstage, and the players don’t believe in him, or he is just out of his depth.

For me I have seen enough, he should be shown the door or we will be having the same conversations in a years time.

James Stewart
7 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:04:55
@6 I have been a defender of Barkley on the whole but I’m starting to get tired of it. He had an awful game yesterday. Lukaku ditto. Those 2 as our front players offered virtually nothing. They could barely pass to a teammate let alone be a goal threat. I would not shed a tear if either leave. In fact it would probably do us some good and generate funds.
Richard Lyons
8 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:12:20
The only ingredient that was missing from yesterday’s rubbish: we weren’t given the opportunity to miss a penalty. Otherwise it would have been the perfect illustration of our whole frustrating season condensed into 90 painful minutes.

What tactics should we have employed? Given the fact that we have consistently proved that we are incapable of getting round a parked bus, is there any other approach possible? I just think our players aren’t skilful enough, and that includes Barkley, who has got worse as the season has progressed.

Winston Williamson
9 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:26:27
To me the answer Is quite simple.

We have not had a striker of the quality of lukaku for years. Or a central midfield core, including Barkley, for years.

However, we have a manager who is unable to get the best from his players. This is the single most important skill needed by an Everton manager.

Let’s face it, Moyes got more from Steve Watson as a striker than RM has got from lukaku! Relatively speaking!

The simple part to me is we cannot continue with this manager! He’s disgraceful!

Winston Williamson
10 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:31:28
Just to add..personally, I have never in my 30 plus years of being a blue, given less of a shit about being beaten during the course of a season!

It’s the first season, ever, where there is a clear reduction in my giving a shite!

I appreciate no one on here gives two hoots about my commitment to the cause! But it speaks volumes that my wife thought we’d won yesterday, as usually my moods are very dark when we get beat! But lately, I couldn’t give a shite!

Joe Foster
11 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:43:19
You are not the only one Winston believe me. RM is creating a malaise amongst the fans. Even complaining about him has started to feel like "what’s the point"
Colin Williams
12 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:49:14
James #4... "Ossie’s footballer’s nous" – what’s that then?
Steve Harris
13 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:49:20
Eddie, I think Barkley largely suffers from the lack of movement around him, when he gets the ball and looks up, the lack of mobility is frightening and he either has to play it to someone with a defender up his ass or take an extra touch or try and beat another man because there’s fuck all on for him except backwards or sideways.

I accept that he has been a big disappointment this season but think he hasn’t been helped by the way the Spanish clown sets his team up and also the many times he’s been played out of position. Jack Grealish has looked good but wonder if he’d look so effective having to play in our side!

Patrick Murphy
14 Posted 10/05/2015 at 13:07:39
Whatever the thoughts about Roberto, can anybody hand on heart believe that West Ham, Swansea, Stoke City have better players than we have?

If the answer is yes then it would be the players who need replacing, however, if the answer is no then it is the manager who needs replacing. None of this ’give him ten games’ to prove himself, he’s had nearly two full seasons in charge and we are no further forward than when he first stepped into Goodison.

Any manager with experience of the Premier League would have done better with our squad, than Roberto has this season and at the moment I would take any manager who has Premier League experience to replace him.

If a team with 73% of possession can’t score a goal and can concede two there is a major problem with that team. Somebody earlier in the week noted that last season Everton’s goal seemed to lead a charmed life and most of us will admit that to be true on many occasions. Remember Cardiff City, West Brom et al from the early part of last season, are we any further on? No - New manager and coaches required at Goodison ASAP.

Harold Matthews
15 Posted 10/05/2015 at 12:51:58
James #6. Couldn’t agree more. As Eddie points out, Barkley does not have the natural peripheral vision of Grealish who sees everything without looking and plays with zest and enthusiasm. Really disappointed about this. I thought Ross was destined for great things.

As for Lukaku. Can’t believe we paid a fortune for a main striker who can’t control a ball or head a ball. I would much prefer he took his ego and lack of talent elsewhere. Until he is replaced by a mobile striker with a football brain we’ll continue to struggle in the final third. This lack of the proper service doesn’t wash with me any more. He’s just not good enough.

Eddie Dunn
16 Posted 10/05/2015 at 14:22:48
Harold, this is it, I thought at one stage of the season that we were just not playing to Lukaku’s strengths, but no matter what the system is, the man shows poor technique, a moody attitude and a lack of real fight.

I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I now think that he is an awful player to play with. He never peels off to pull defenders out to make space for on-rushing (or chugging!) mid-fielders, and his technique lets him down consistently.

The man is built like a heavyweight boxer, but fancies himself as a tricksy striker, I wince as he tries to fool the defender with a sluggish step-over. He needs a lesson in the basics... hold it up, lay it off and even win a header now and again.

Jamie Crowley
17 Posted 10/05/2015 at 14:05:24
Harold -

If players are stocks and commodities we are buying futures.

We paid 28 million (20 whatever + with some weird-ass agreement paid over installments lasting 234 years...) for a striker who at the time was 20 years old. It was, at the time, a good purchase. The majority of fans, upon Rom’s signing, were very happy we’d tied down one of the world’s best prospects who had already shown great skill and talent. I also remember a comment or two about Everton making a statement of intent with his signing at the time.

It’s worth mentioning his foot injury which I believe hampered his performances the first half of the season. In 2015 his control has been much better as have been his effort and performances.

Insofar as Romelu is concerned I personally find it very prudent to give him more time.

I think patience will be rewarded.

Jamie Crowley
18 Posted 10/05/2015 at 14:36:11
Patrick -

The answer is no, none of those teams have better players.

They also weren’t coming off a stellar season with high expectations and they didn’t have a European competition to contend with.

We have a core of fantastic young players. McCarthy, Seamus, Romelu, Besic, Garbutt (pray he stays), Stones, Barkley...

Roberto took a team mired in 5th to 8th place and provided our largest points total ever by "fine-tuning" a great core that was in place due to his predecessor’s efforts with the additions of Lukaku, Barry, and McCarthy.

His second season has been short of the mark.

IF he can reduce the age of the squad and make some intelligent signings this summer there’s no reason, with the core of excellent young talent we have, he can’t duplicate his first season performance.

I think he deserves the opportunity to do so.

Colin Glassar
19 Posted 10/05/2015 at 14:37:45
Thank you for bringing some much needed perspective into this debate Jamie. Like most young players, Barkley and Lukaku are finding it a bit of a struggle this season. I have no doubt that after a good rest, and a proper pre-season, both of them will be back to their best. Both players have major deficiencies which need to be worked on but don’t, whatever you do, kill these talented lads. They, like Stones and McCarthy, are our future, like it or not.
Sam Hoare
20 Posted 10/05/2015 at 14:36:53
Our system relies so heavily on Lukaku and or Barkley making something happen. The former has been very hit and miss, only finding any consistency in Europe and the latter has I’m afraid been woeful and his goal/assist record for someone who has played so often as a second striker is lamentable.

The form if these two goes a long way to explaining our striker and we badly need an alternative striker and AMC for when they aren’t cutting it.

Paul Tran
21 Posted 10/05/2015 at 15:16:04
A few issues here, Jamie:

These players have been used to finishing in the top six the past few seasons, so I don’t buy the idea that they could be suffering from expectations. Many of us expect this team to finish top six and failure to do so must lead to questions of the players and coaching staff. I think the directors, management and players were complacent about this season and have been badly found out

We’ve got some serious issues with our squad and set-up. Many of our players are frankly, too old and need replacing. Far too many people are defending/pining for the likes of Distin and Pienaar when the simple fact is that they will not be as good or fit as they were. Throw in the likes of Howard, Gibson, Hibbert, plus Martinez’s purchases of Alcaraz and Kone; this increases the age issue.

On top of that, we have the set-up of the team. Barry gets a lot of stick, but he suffers for the lack of movement in the team. He’s been the chief fall-guy for Martinez this season. Have you noticed what happens when everyone gets what they want and he’s taken off? Teams go through us like a dose of salts. Martinez doesn’t trust his defence to defend - that’s why he needs a bank of two in front. Basic may please some because he ’runs around’, but while he does this he gives the ball away, gets caught out of position and is a rash tackler. He’s got time to improve, but I know why Barry gets in the team ahead of him.

As for Barkley and Lukaku, I’d happily get rid of both if we need the money. Barkley will be here aged 30 and people will call him ’promising’. If he was anywhere near as good as people say, he’d be making an impact, regardless of your view of Martinez’s tactics. Few goals, few assists and a habit of running in circles or into opponents doesn’t do it for me. Lukaku will improve, but are we really paying £28m for someone who is promising? I’ll accept we’re not playing to his strengths. I won’t accept the build of Tyson and the strength of a goldfish, the touch of an elephant and his habit of disappearing from games. And the lack of goals. This is a man who genuinely thought he should walk into Mourinho’s team. Really?

Plenty to think about in the summer. I think we need a new keeper, at least one decent centre back, at least one playmaker and at least one proper striker. But I also said that last year. How much will we get for all the over-30s? How much will Bill give Martinez? If he gives him any money, can we trust Martinez to spend wisely, keep them fit, organise and motivate them?

If we actually rebuilt the team and change it’s mindset, I’d settle for a mid-table season. Despite an excellent first season, Martinez hasn’t shown the bottle to rebuild the team and this season appears unable to even maintain the mindset of the existing players. So as a result, we’ve had a dull mid-table season, with the same and extra older players, no youngsters brought through and a lack of motivation or energy in the team.

Regardless of who is manager next season, we’re stuck with a regime who won’t invest in the team. Moyes suffered for it and probably now thinks he left at a great time. Martinez is suffering for it and can’t cope with what he’s got. Nick Entwistle’s point was spot-on. Ashley is doing what most other PL chairmen do; keep the club from relegation, dampen expectations, no need to invest, count the money.

Jesus, and I’d say I’m a positive person!

Paul Tran
22 Posted 10/05/2015 at 15:56:23
Colin, why precisely, should they be finding it a struggle? Neither of them are young kids fresh out of the academy. We know they’re talented, we know they’re not performing.

I’m getting a little tired of the excuses getting trotted out for these two. They’re not delivering and we’re entitled to ask why. I can’t believe it’s just down to the catch-all reason of Martinez’s management. I suspect they’re not as good as they/we think they are and we can’t afford to wait a few years for them to play consistently well.

Colin Glassar
23 Posted 10/05/2015 at 16:06:30
Young players struggle to find consistency, Paul, unless you’re a Pele, Maradonna or Messi. (Even Ronaldo was inconsistent at Man Utd when he started.)

I think they are both good, very good players in fact. A few weeks away from non-stop football will do them a world of good.

Peter Fearon
24 Posted 10/05/2015 at 16:06:00
Something else is familiar. The determination to exonerate the players and place the blame on the manager.

Mirallas came on and participated for a few minutes and then went AWOL. Lukaku was half asleep at key moments but then he didn’t get good service as usual. Barkley is a microcosm of everything we do wrong. He is combative without being creative, as is Everton as a team.

Getting this right is a process. Next season I hope to quote some of these ludicrously negative remarks about Martinez back to those who made them.

Paul Tran
25 Posted 10/05/2015 at 16:36:16
Peter, I hope you’re right and the Martinez we had last season comes back for next season. I can’t understand how a manager can play a balanced, defensively-tight team one season and then produce an utter shambles the next. I completely agree that the players are equally responsible for this poor season. Too many of them talk a good game and go missing when they’re needed most.

Colin, that’s a fair point, though I can’t remember the last time Barkley had a good game and I can’t explain Lukaku’s lack of energy, strength and ball control. Again, I hope you’re right.

Andrew Clare
26 Posted 10/05/2015 at 16:58:06
Lyndon I think your last paragraph points out the key thing lacking in Martinez’s make-up: man management. The great managers all have/had this attribute. Unfortunately there are very few around that are available that have this quality.

It is all about expecting a high standard of play at all times and not tolerating or accepting failure. Everton do not look motivated and they certainly do not consistently play to a high standard. You can count on one hand the amount of times we have played to a high level this season.

This fact together with Martinez’s performance in the transfer market only means one thing to me, he is not good enough for Everton Football Club.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.

Michael Kenrick
27 Posted 10/05/2015 at 17:00:01

"After a good rest, and a proper pre-season, both of them will be back to their best."

"A few weeks away from non-stop football will do them a world of good."

You’re starting to sound like the manager! I wish I could believe you; sadly, I have no reason to as recent history would suggest the opposite if their problems are indeed due to coaching / training / management / selection / tactics issues, as seems to be the case.

Sorry but I’m not at all convinced I can take much from what are essentially meaningless platitudes!

Ross Edwards
28 Posted 10/05/2015 at 17:31:05
Colin, are you Roberto’s PR by any chance? You sound just as deluded as Martinez.
Amit Vithlani
29 Posted 10/05/2015 at 17:40:56
Lukaku and Barkley were both poor but Stones, McCarthy and Lennon were also way below par. This weird system concocted where the gap between the 3 lines is compressed helps the short passing game but will never play to the strengths of our main attacking threats. Lukaku needs space to run into and is at his most dangerous when he runs on to passes. Barkley likes to drive with the ball at his feet and against Man U and QPR he was given the freedom to do so. Lennon is a brilliant counter attacker and with Coleman a real threat.

Whats more, our good form came in matches where we did not dominate possession and counter attacked. We sat no deeper but instead the more direct style of play meant there was more space between the players to exploit the pace in the team. Why is this being ignored? Why are we back to the losing brand of football, which preserves energy but breeds lethargy? Why does our manager insist on imposing a style of football which the fans made clear in the Kiev home game they would not stand for?

One final point. Our record of over turning deficits in league matches is shameful. Given the law of averages, we will find ourselves in a few games next season. The chances of winning those games will be remote if Martinez current record is anything to go by. He needs to depart. I personally would not have him in the summer wasting our meagre transfer resources.

Colin Glassar
30 Posted 10/05/2015 at 18:09:26
Michael, Ross, I’m talking about both players needing a rest both physically and mentally.
Dave Lynch
31 Posted 10/05/2015 at 19:30:25

"But don’t whatever you do, kill these young lads."

Who exactly is out to "Kill them"?

Certainly not the fan base, as every Evertonian who draws breath will want them to be a success and play brilliant football.

The only person "Killing" them is RM with his shite tactics and inane idiotic ramblings.

He has become a caricature of a football manager, a bit like Ron Manager the Paul Whitehouse character.

"Marvellous isn’t it, young boys kicking a football, coats for goal posts."

Tony Abrahams
32 Posted 10/05/2015 at 20:38:11
Posts 10 and 11, say it all for me.

Colin I agree they are young and it takes time to develop, but where is their desire? Especially Lukaku’s who’s only aggression is to moan.

Surely Besic should have featured in some of these games, but at 22 years of age the manager says he has already played enough this season. The next stage of his development can wait till next season.

Chris Feeley
33 Posted 10/05/2015 at 19:53:38

"Young players struggle to find consistency....unless you're a Pele, Maradonna or Messi."

Is that really what you think? Under this assertion, probably the 3 most talented players in history are the only young footballers to perform at a consistent level? Or is this just a conveniently fabricated statement to excuse more dreadful performances?

Lukaku has been playing in the Premier League for 3 years. For 2 years he showed promise whilst being on loan. Yesterday’s performance was devoid of desire, guile, or any form of clinical finishing. The lad has gone backwards under the current management, and shamefully nothing is being done to rectify this.

Quite frankly he needs to pull his finger out and start justifying why his agent believes he is too good for Everton. He looked like a poor version of Anichebe when he was being bullied by an ageing, error prone Brown and a player who the Kopites couldn’t wait to see the back of in Coates.

Barkley is being woefully under coached. It’s all very well for the manager to tell him to go out and express himself, but if that expression has zero end product then what is the point? The lad continues to make poor decisions when on the ball, after 3 years of league football where he hasn’t developed this aspect of his game one iota. He rarely gets his head up, rarely offers a goal threat, and regularly gives the ball away needlessly. He’s showing no signs that he is developing as a player despite the unwarranted hype around him.

I struggle to understand why you think that continuing to sweep these glaring short comings under the carpet will help them to develop and mature towards the supposed world class talents the manager believes they will become?

Ross Edwards
34 Posted 10/05/2015 at 21:23:00
Chris, it is because Colin is Martinez’s most loyal fan. He has total blind faith in him ’coming good’ when this season we have seen his total lack of tactical awareness and ability to motivate his players sufficiently.

Despite the fact that we are destined for an 11th place finish having been subjected to watching dreadful performances, terrible results and numerous tactical and selection errors from Roberto, Colin is still blindly confident that next season ’we’ll be back to our best’.

I hope he’s right and I’d love him to be right, but based on this season I think we’ll never see a repeat of last season while RM is in charge.

Nicholas Ryan
35 Posted 10/05/2015 at 21:36:07
On the subject of Barkley, it seems to me, he’s over-complicating everything. Last season, he seemed to play on instinct. This time round, he seems to be looking at all 10 possibilities, before releasing the ball.

I can’t help recalling an interview with the great Viv Richards; when asked by a reporter about his approach to batting, he thought for a moment, and then said:

"See it, man; Hit it, man"!

Jamie Crowley
36 Posted 11/05/2015 at 04:23:58
I thank God Colin has some degree of perspective.

Here’s my nickel theory...

You English folk... you have one sport. Just one. Footy. Ergo... you have one team.

Having one team, one sport for your outlet, you live and die with Everton.

I admire that beyond what you can imagine.

But it comes with ramifications.

Here in America we have our hockey, our baseball, our American football, our basketball. So if things aren’t going "right" with one team, we can fall back on that "other" favorite team.

You don’t have that. So when Everton lose there’s nothing else. You have the abyss... the despair, the dark pit.

Here in the good ol USA, we take things more moderately because we have other outlets.

Everton are experiencing a "sophomore slump". A dip in form. A lag...

We have the makings of a great, great team. So much young talent. So much hope.

Stay true... it’ll come good. We have an upward trending group of young kids that will perform and give us great excitement and results.

You just have to be patient.

FFS I hope I’m right. I hope I can say, "I told you so you silly, knee-jerk reactionary Brits!"

I think there’s a base here for success. Time will tell. In the meantime get behind your Club and stop with the "there’s no light at the end of this tunnel" bollocks.

There’s a making a a great team. We’ve had a shit season. It happens. But the shoots of success and happiness are there.

Just be patient and get behind your team and your Gaffer. All the pieces are there.

Chris Feeley
37 Posted 11/05/2015 at 07:08:11
Ross - I’ll gladly eat humble pie if the manager can turn it around and develop Barkley and Lukaku into world-class players. Unfortunately I think it’s more likely that Distin will be offered a 5-year contract extension and become Martinez’s personal ambassador.

Jamie - I suppose it is much easier to have ’perspective’ when ’soccer’ is your 5th, 6th, 7th sporting priority behind the Harlem Globetrotters and LA Hamburgerlars. Unfortunately, when you turn up and pay your money at Goodison Park, you don’t get the luxury of an ice cold Bud with a side of nachos and cheese at your seat. We don’t have cheerleaders and T-shirt bazookas at half time. Thankfully there is no KissCam.

We expect to see effort, heart, and hopefully a bit of skill. To keep using a players age as an excuse for a lack of these, with the redundant caveat of ’they’ll come good in the end’, is the main reason why they’ll continue to disappoint. These are not lads plucked from obscurity. They are full internationals who’ve played at World Cups. I expect a lot more, even if you don’t.

Bill Cotton
38 Posted 11/05/2015 at 07:48:01
Martinez a good manager???

His inability to change or try different tactics over Christmas should have got him sacked.

Let’s face it, any manager who signs Kone and Alcaraz twice can’t or won’t learn from his mistakes.

John Keating
39 Posted 11/05/2015 at 09:00:09

it’s not the fact that we’re having a bit of an off day. Unfortunately, the warnings signs are big and loud and have been there since the end of last season. Some things are not just down to an ’off day’... some things are glaringly obvious to anyone with any sense: Martinez is out of his depth.

Either we have to change manager or Martinez has to have a Road to Jerusalem moment at the end of the season. He cannot continue the way he has been going.

I really admire Colin – in a strange way – for making a million excuses for Martinez’s incompetence this season; however, the facts are there right in front of him and he refuses to see them – a bit like the skipper of the Titanic, and we know the result there!

Dave Lynch
40 Posted 11/05/2015 at 09:04:28

20 years of no trophies and not even a sniff of one, coupled with numerous flirts with relegation, is no knee-jerk reaction, my friend.

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 11/05/2015 at 09:18:03
Dave, I think Jamie, was what us scousers call taking the piss, considering where he comes from.

Jamie, I enjoy your posts. You talk a lot of sense for a relative newcomer mate, but one thing worries me about Roberto.
Look at Fabregas the Spaniard who plays for Chelsea, what a player. Would you recognize that he combines Spanish skill, with English heart and a great desire?

Look at Martinez, he’s played in the tough lower leagues of England, and managed in the top league, but do you see a mixture of the two cultures in his teams play?

Pass the ball it’s great. But, not enough forward movement., not enough shots, and nowhere near enough pragmatism is Everton at the minute for me and thousands more.

If he can find the mix, I agree we have a very good young core. But if he doesn’t then I’m afraid we can’t be bored with this style of play for to much longer. It’s a bit like your air forces friendly fire, watching The Toffees Jamie, it’s fucking crucifying!

Mark Andersson
42 Posted 11/05/2015 at 09:46:46
Jamie, you’re entitled to your opinion back there in the good old USA, but you know nothing about being born a blue in a city that has always had to fight.

We like the fight, the passion... we go back hundreds of years of hard working fighters who don’t flop out infront of an oversized TV chopping away at oversized burgers and buckets of popcorn.

We expect any player who pulls on the famous blue shirt of Everton to play with passion, give 100% and expect the manager to instill these ingredients into them.

Please don’t insult our rationale from the good ol USA – you do not know or feel the passion of being a scouse blue.

Ian Jones
43 Posted 11/05/2015 at 10:15:37
I don’t get to see many games live, so am usually watching the games on TV and highlights etc, but sitting in the Park End on Saturday my attention was drawn to Lukaku. You get a decent view of a player’s movement from behind the goals and unfortunately, I saw very little movement from him. He stands around. or wanders with no real intent. At the moment he must be so easy to mark against.

As many of said on here over the months, and I have been critical of him (especially his first touch), there could be many reasons/excuses for his performances, he is still young so still learning the game, tiredness from World Cups, poor pre-season, injuries at the start and throughout the season, the way the team is set up to play, maybe not to his liking or strengths (or perhaps plays contrary to the way it is set-up in the first place), which may lead to lack of confidence. We hear players, especially strikers, thrive on confidence, and he doesn’t seem to have much.....

However, what I cannot forgive is the apparent lack of effort or interest in what’s happening in the game.

I am sure most Evertonians would give him the benefit of the doubt if he appeared to make some effort or showed some desire. We have had many centre forwards/strikers over the years, some good, some not-so-good, some awful, but at least you generally thought they were making an effort.

Pointing to where he wants the ball and then not making any considered effort to bother running into the space when the ball is played (eventually), is not useful, neither is pointing to where it should have been played to him when another player takes a shot.

In the past, he has created space and opportunities to score by taking defenders with him. That doesn’t appear to happen these days or as much.

He is obviously a talented player, and no doubt he will leave Everton and go on to become one of the best strikers in the world for another team, which will be a shame for us, but great for someone else!

To me, he doesn’t seem very happy. He doesn’t seem to celebrate with team-mates when they have scored probably as he thinks he was in a better position to score.

He mentioned earlier in the season how hard it was playing through the pain of injury, his father’s illness and the death of Junior Malanda.

It could be that he has been affected more than we know by his friend’s death and also by the more recent one of Gregory Mertens, and is still grieving. I am sure we have all lost friends and still think about them etc. Talking from experience, I have lost a few friends over the years, and I remember being affected for months, and my work performance went down for a while.

If you are not particularly playing well or the team is not performing as a whole, and other things happen outside your control, then it’s quite easy to feel down and perhaps not be up for it.

Also appreciate that this is also when your fellow players or management step in to help (thought I would add that for those that want Martinez out!), and perhaps take him out of a game or two...

Paul Tran
44 Posted 11/05/2015 at 11:40:44
Jamie, sorry to disappoint you, some of us follow plenty of other sports, so like your good self, we get an insight of what good and bad looks like in different spheres.

I’m a big horse racing fan and I’ve also ridden the odd racehorse. For what it’s worth, that gives me an alternative insight into fitness, form, selection, tactics and consistency. This season, Martinez has failed in all five areas, particularly poor when you consider he’s seemed to ignore his good work of last season.

Andrew Ellams
45 Posted 11/05/2015 at 11:50:19
Jamie @ 36, as well as being a devout Evertonian I am also a passionate cricket fan and in particular Lancashire County Cricket Club. In the last few seasons they have experienced relegation from the top division followed by instant promotion the next year. Two years after that they were Champions for the first time in 80 years and then two years after than relegated again.

Somethings can be even more frustrating than following Everton...

Dick Fearon
46 Posted 11/05/2015 at 11:53:21
Just one of numerous complaints that really shits me off about Martinez is his lack of animation on the sideline. No matter what is happening on the pitch, he appears to be devoid of all emotion.

In post match interviews, he provides a litany of excuses for the team's woeful performances. Analysis of his words clearly show who or what is responsible?

If, in his own words, everyone is 'phenomenal', the problems must lie elsewhere. Training? Fitness? Tactics? Motivation? Philosophy?

Dave Lynch
47 Posted 11/05/2015 at 12:25:44
But never him, Dick, never him...
Mick Wrende
48 Posted 11/05/2015 at 12:27:14
There are so many things wrong at Everton at every level and they are all well documented on here. We all have our individual moans but we all want the club to do well. We will never have any real money but these players are still on a fortune and owe it to us to put in maximum effort.

Is, therefore, Lukaku the laziest player ever to grace our hallowed turf? At least Barry does try, at least Barkley raises a sweat but Lukaku is the absolute pits when it comes to effort. And that has nothing to do with the service to him. Run around, you lazy fuckwit... or go somewhere else.

Mark Murphy
49 Posted 11/05/2015 at 13:06:34
With over 45 years experience of watching the Blues either from the terraces, or these days on live feeds, I would say that judging by their performances and demeanours recently, Lukaku, Barkley and Mirallas are offski in the summer.

Shame about Barkley... but, if we get the spondoolies, we’ll get over it.

Dave Abrahams
50 Posted 11/05/2015 at 13:18:28
Andrew (45) they have never been the same since Cyril Washbrook, Jack Ikon, Tattersall, Hilton and Brian Statham left, although they prospered in limited-overs cricket and that was great to watch... but enough of cricket – let's get back to proper sport.
Mick Wrende
51 Posted 11/05/2015 at 13:35:16
Mark @49. I wish I shared your hope about Lukaku leaving but I think he seems to have it real easy at Everton with the media saying how wonderful he is. I can’t realistically see anyone paying £10 million for him - after all, 5 Premier League goals from open play is hardly a good return on investment. Lazy people like him tend to stay where they can get away with their slothful approach to life so sadly I don’t think he is going anywhere.
Dave Abrahams
54 Posted 11/05/2015 at 13:50:14
Yes, Ian,every one reacts differently to the same situations and possibly Lukaku has been affected by the things you describe and can’t pull himself together, but I think he has it too easy at Everton and just can’t put in the effort that’s needed.

There was a player in the same game who came on, with a Crown Court case and maybe prison hanging over him; he got on with it and created the second goal, but as I say everyone is not the same.

Bill Gall
55 Posted 11/05/2015 at 14:12:58

I live in Canada but I suppose the difference between me and you is, before emigrating, I was a faithful follower of Everton both home and away for over 20 years. I watch other sports here and in the States and have my favorites but none of them stirs the emotion in me as watching Everton even if it is on TV. I am nervous before it starts and at times I get so excited or upset that the wife is yelling at me to calm down as my blood pressure is rocketing. This what happens when you are born to be an Everton supporter.

As far as American sports go the only one I enjoy it is the NFL and that is watching the New England Patriots and if Everton were to get American owners my wish is it would be the Kraft family who know how to run a sports organization, plus they would have the incentive going against Liverpool’s owners.

Mick Wrende
56 Posted 11/05/2015 at 14:52:17
Can you get that sorted then, Bill, with the Kraft family? Thanks!
Patrick Murphy
57 Posted 11/05/2015 at 15:02:30
Kraft off the pitch and craft on the pitch, the latter would be welcome by every fan the former, I’m not sure they would be the ideal partners even if they were interested in the club, they don’t have a good reputation with the working person in Britain following their takeover of Cadbury’s.
Paul Andrews
59 Posted 11/05/2015 at 15:50:41
Out of all the Premier League teams who played over the weekend.

Everton had:
The highest percentage of possession
The highest amount of shots
17 corners, which is indicative of our approach.

The main stat is nil goals of course.
It was just one of them days; on another day with a similar performance we score 3 or 4.


The full backs looked back to their normal high standard. McCarthy had a very good game. Barkley, despite the fans in the crowd groaning, tried to play the killer ball on several occasions. It is a disgrace the way this kid is being treated by our fans. Would they like to see him play percentage football, passing safe every time? He would never give the ball away if he passed 10 yards square every time.If you try to open up today’s well drilled defences by taking a chance you are bound to lose possession. Give the kid a chance to develop.

Brian Harrison
60 Posted 11/05/2015 at 16:07:24
Paul Tran,

I see you're a horse-racing fan, and you said you have ridden some racehorses; were you at a local racing stables?

Patrick, about 10 years back, I knew a guy who worked for the Kraft organisation, and they were very close to a deal with Liverpool. I have to say I don’t understand your reticence to them buying Everton; I would welcome them with open arms. They have a good track record with their NFL franchise. I know that things went pear-shaped at Cadburys but in sport they have been successful.

Phil Walling
61 Posted 11/05/2015 at 16:13:53
Good to know we are on the right track, Paul, and can look forward to another successful season under the Catalan. He has obviously got his philosophy across to the lads who now realise that goals are just the icing on the cake!
Paul Andrews
62 Posted 11/05/2015 at 16:39:12

I concur with your thoughts re another successful season from the manager, relatively speaking of course. Although it depends on what is regarded as a successful season.

If it is Premier League record points total like last season, all well and good. I regard this season as a one-off, the manager deserves another go next season.

If it is a trophy, we have to go back 20 years for our last successful manager.

Jamie Crowley
63 Posted 11/05/2015 at 19:02:18
Mark Andersson back at 42 -

You say: "Please don't insult our rationale from the good ol USA – you do not know or feel the passion of being a scouse blue."

I assure you sir, that whereas you rightly point out I can never possibly feel your passion as a scouse blue, I feel passion nonetheless. In fact, I’d argue it consumes me.

I’ve always said, and always will, that anyone like myself "adopted" into this Blue World must show a respect to any "craddle-born" blue. I am admittedly an outsider at my core when it comes to Everton Football Club.

But I’d offer this as well. If you want our Club to grow surely that means a growth in the fanbase? Therefore, I think pitting a "scouse Blue" against a "non-scouse Blue" is counter-productive.

Were I a scouse Blue I’d welcome with open arms those pledging allegiance to the Blue cause as it means greater reach and growth for the Club.

Alas, I’m not a scouse Blue. So I’ll leave it to you how you treat my viewpoints, opinions, and those of every other "adopted" Blue.

Thank you for pointing out I’m not a scouser – I honestly had no idea!

Tony Hill
64 Posted 11/05/2015 at 19:29:35
Jamie, you are a proper Blue and full-on, as far as I can tell, like other foreign posters on here from India and elsewhere.

I think it’s great that we have a growing base in the States (I love the Mr Dennehy’s Twitter stuff from NYC, for example) and in many other countries and I love to see it and we need to do much more as a club to nurture it.

That YouTube film that, I think, Patrick Murphy linked to recently of the South African man who came over for the Newcastle game and that other man from Indonesia, was it, who came over for the abandoned Palace game last season. Serious, serious supporters and very moving to watch.

Everton is a passion for us all and I hope it will be lifelong for everyone who discovers it from outside Liverpool.

I also know what you are saying about the team and, though I don’t share your optimism, it’s refreshing to hear it.

Craig Mills
65 Posted 11/05/2015 at 19:57:33
Many comments on here about Lukaku’s general lack of effort, does anyone think it could be down to the fact he doesn’t expect to be with us at the start of next season???

For me, he is playing like a guy who really doesn’t give a damn; there’s no effort, no energy and certainly no end product. I think I read he has scored 1 goal from open play since Christmas, and that was the 2-yard rebound away at Palace – he's hardly terrorising teams since he changed his agent???

Mick Wrende
66 Posted 11/05/2015 at 20:23:44
I only wish Craig that you are proved right. He is bone idle but thinks he is wonderful. He is a complete waste of our precious money and anything we can get for him would be a bonus. Slothful people like him never change.
Andy Crooks
67 Posted 11/05/2015 at 21:12:09
Mick (#66), I think you are wrong about "slothful people". I am and have been slothful my entire life. However, the chance to run out to Z-Cars, even for my current woeful salary, would, I am almost certain, make me mend my ways.

In my view, a competent coach can improve players and deal severely with laziness.

Colin Williams
68 Posted 11/05/2015 at 21:25:00
Paul (#59#)... "Positives". Some great points about Barkley.

Can’t believe the piss-poor comments about the lad... People need to look further within the team to see our failings!!!

Martin Mason
69 Posted 12/05/2015 at 00:25:28
It’s not only Everton who not only can’t get past the parked bus and eventually lose. I just watched Swansea beat Highbury at Arsenal on less possession than Sunderland had against Everton. Everton themselves did it to Man Utd so it’s a major problem for stronger sides to solve.

Defensive formations are so good now that it can be almost impossible to score if the other side doesn’t want you to and in 90 minutes the risk of giving a goal away as you huff and puff is high. The classical answer is to keep possession and pass the ball around until the defending side has to come out for it? We can’t do that though.

Games like tonight’s at Arsenal and ours last Saturday could kill the EPL.

Mark Andersson
70 Posted 12/05/2015 at 03:06:17
Jamie, good to know you’re a passionate Blue and I welcome anyone who is a true Blue.

I now live in Australia and my best friend who is from Newcastle is a true Blue. Then again he is a intelligent man who knew from a early age that following Newcastle would only end in tears and like me witnessed the glory years.

So apologies to you, good to know that we do have Yanki Blues who are passionate.

Phil Roberts
71 Posted 12/05/2015 at 14:39:24
Can we start taking bets on how long into next season we will have Pulis as manager, given his record for never being relegated.

He took over WBA this year and kept them up and Palace last year and did the same. So I assume BK is lining him up for 2015-16 at Everton.

Linda Morrison
74 Posted 14/05/2015 at 16:53:25
I think the season ended for the players when we got to 40 points and they can’t wait for it to be over. Neither can the fans.

BK is a business man and he will have a Plan B, unlike Osbourne. I note that Moyes is staying in his present post.

I reckon, if Martinez is not at least in the top half of the league by November, he will be in a taxi!

Jon Cox
75 Posted 11/05/2015 at 19:43:53
Jamie, I’m from Merseyside but, as far as I’m concerned, you are as full-on a Blue as I am.

And as the saying goes, once we’re Blues we’re always Blues!

Now to the important stuff. The street in which you live. Do all your neighbors support Everton?

If not, why not? ;-)

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