The Fine Balance

Phil Roberts 17/11/2015 15comments  |  Jump to last

So do you go all gung-ho and tell everyone that 4th is possible or do you take a serious look at the statistics and tell the most likely outcome? From his appearance in the US last weekend it is obvious that Roberto Martinez has gone with the former even though the reality is that we have very little chance of fulfilling his (and our) desires. But why tell the troops we have nothing to play for?

After the first 12 fixtures this season we have improved by 2 points compared to those fixtures last year. Thanks to the Sunderland game we have also scored 6 more goals and conceded 2 fewer. To some extent, Roberto Martinez is right. The next 12 games will define our season. Last year we took 11 points from these fixtures. So take a reasonable 25 points from them and all of a sudden we are 16 points better off. But to get to 70 points, the target for 4th place, from the remaining 24 fixtures will require 53 points from a possible 78. That level of performance over the whole 38 games would produce 84 points and we would be champions. So there is the challenge – we need to have the level of results that would make us champions in order to get to 4th place.

Check our progress on the weekend of the 4th round of the cup at the end of January. 23 games gone and we need to have 39 points. Anything less and we can start to forget 4th and less than 35 and we are probably not in Europe unless we win a cup.


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But will 4th be 70 points? Chelsea has so far dropped 13 points against last year's fixtures and United 1 point. Spurs are 6 points. So assume Chelsea continues to fail then at the moment Spurs and United are already on 70 and 69 points respectively. Add to the mix Southampton and Liverpool who have improved this year to be on a projected 64 points and the top 7 are likely to need around 65 points.

We are currently in what can be described as the "mid-table group" – Palace, Stoke, Leicester (the most improved team with 10 more points than last year), West Ham, West Brom and Swansea, who are 9 points worse than last year so could be in the relegation group by the end of the season.

At the bottom none of the promoted clubs are significantly outperforming those they have replaced, Newcastle are 2 points worse but the real losers are Villa (down 9) and Sunderland (down 10) compared to last year.

These projections are based on comparisons with the equivalent fixture last year not the first 11 games of last year. So as Frank Crewe pointed out we have the same record as this time last year but obviously they were harder fixtures in comparison to this season.

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Reader Comments (15)

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Jay Harris
1 Posted 17/11/2015 at 18:18:16
I have projected a points total of 64, which would put us joint 6th in your table, Phil, assuming the extra points we gain from my projection don't influence any other teams in the table, which I know is false but we are only talking gut feeling and expectancy anyway.

My view is, if we don't finish above the likes of Stoke, Leicester and Southampton, then we should take a serious look at ourselves.

Palace are an exception because, although it hurts to say it, I do think they have better quality players.

Liverpool are an enigma. You would think with the money they spent on players and bringing in Klopp they would be tearing up the league but thee is obviously something wrong in the camp.

Man Utd are awful IMO but LVG keeps grinding out results.

Spurs are the dark horses as they seem to be gathering momentum now.

We must aim for 4th and it is within our grasp, especially if we sort out the defensive issues, but I honestly can't see us doing better than 6th or 7th with this manager in charge.

Patrick Murphy
2 Posted 17/11/2015 at 18:27:35
If Everton end up on less than 50 points again, Bobby will be walking unless he manages to win either the FA or League Cup. We’d all be very rich people indeed, if we could forecast the outcome of a single match with any confidence, never mind the remaining two-thirds of the season for every team in the division.
Dave Ganley
3 Posted 17/11/2015 at 20:30:44
I have absolutely no problem Bobby setting the bar high. I would be very disappointed if he didn’t. Doesn’t mean to say its realistic, but if you don’t aim high then what’s the motivation to reach your aims?

Realistically, I expect us to finish mid table based on the football we play. I don’t particularly buy into the theory that we have had the hard games and now the next 12 games should be a doddle. The Premier League isn’t a good league, its a very inconsistent league, which also makes it a dangerous league. What I mean by that is that for example, West Ham can go to Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City and win, then lose to Watford, Bournemouth and Leicester. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but does highlight inconsistent form, not only for West Ham but also the so-called bigger clubs.

So when it's stated that we have got over the "hard fixtures" then we have to ask ourselves, which of the top teams turned up to play us? Probably only the two Manc clubs really. So, with that in mind, you have to turn to the type of football we are playing. Very occasionally we play at a high level – see Southampton, Chelski; occasionally awful – see United, Spurs/Watford (yeah I know we got points in those games but still not sure how) but mostly middle-of-the-road ordinary; not great but not bad.

I am sure we are not the only club saying will the real ...... (insert club name) please stand up. I will be ecstatic if we finish 4th or even higher but somehow I doubt it. I’m not a big fan of Bobby but I have no problem with him being ambitious, just wish he’d show that on the field of play too.

Eddie Dunn
4 Posted 17/11/2015 at 22:40:19
Talk is cheap.
Darren Hind
5 Posted 18/11/2015 at 03:29:53
We've had the tag "best of the rest" for years now and with some of the traditionally stronger clubs struggling, we should be taking advantage. The players are good enough, but is the manager?

We finished 6th, 5th, 5th, 8th, 7th, 7th, 6th in the years before Martinez rocked up with his promises of Champions League football. We are 9th now and finished 11th last season playing a zombie football which had the faithful howling their derision week after week.

Martinez needs to start putting up or shutting up. He's spent an awful lot more than the previous manager ever did, yet we have gone backwards.

It really hurts to see teams like Leicester serving up fast attacking football while we continue to put glass eyes to sleep.

West Ham was the start of our "easier" period, yet we couldn't beat them, we couldn't get close to beating them. So now we are talking about NEXT week being the start of our easier period.

The trouble with setting cunning 12 match plans against "easier" teams, is that you will inevitably start running into teams you met when you were having the hardest start in the history of the game.

Shut up, Bobby Lad, FFS, shut up.

Paul Andrews
6 Posted 18/11/2015 at 06:49:10
To put it into perspective, without cherry picking the years: David Moyes had an average league finishing position of 7th - 8th (7.5)

Same as Roberto to date.

Ben Jones
8 Posted 18/11/2015 at 16:50:18
Martinez's issue has been the easy home games, on paper of course.

Too many draws against these type of teams last season, especially at home. Turn those to wins, we've got a good chance of at least top 6.

Villa will be tough because of their new manager and their encouraging draw against Man City. But we're still a lot better than them and should still win.

It's an important game. Draw/lose that, doubts start creeping in.

Richard Reeves
9 Posted 18/11/2015 at 17:23:54
There’s no chance of 4th with Martinez in charge. He’s beginning to and eventually will assemble a good young team if he gets the time, produce the odd outstanding game and at least have a chance of winning a cup which we didn’t have with the last manager. But 4th?... it’s never going to happen, he’s not good enough for that.

I bet throughout his managerial carreer you will be able to see a pattern of inconsistency and there will always be a reason (excuse) for it. I think the next manager if chosen correctly will get the rewards of what Martinez will have put together.
Darren Hind
11 Posted 18/11/2015 at 19:25:50
Paul Andrews

If I was going to cherry pick years I would have included the season Moyes finished 4th. I didnt because we played really ugly football to get there. I avoided the first 3 years because I didnt want Moyes apologist claiming he inherited relegation favourites.

6,5,5,8,7,7, 6 divided by 7 comes out at 6.2. So Moyes average sixth over his last 7 years. Martinez on the other hand finished 5,11 and is currently standing in 9th. His average position is 8.3 - eighth.

So despite spending over £70m quid, Martinez has managed to take us significantly backwards

Yesterday you where triumphantly proclaiming that Martinez has improved us "no end" as a team, but having been confronted by the facts, you are NOW desperately trying to massage them in an attempt to claim parity with TGT.

What a difference a day makes

Des Farren
12 Posted 18/11/2015 at 19:51:49
Little chance of 4th no matter who manager is, Richard.

As for the next manager, I feel that,if Martinez goes, so do our ambitions, as he will be immediately followed by the best of present squad, ie, Lukaku, Deulofeu, McCarthy, Stones et al.

I would like him and majority of our current players to remain at Everton, strengthen and improve the team with new additions, and assemble a team capable of playing well consistently and indeed competing. Then we can judge.

Paul Andrews
13 Posted 18/11/2015 at 19:56:28
Darren, with the greatest of respect, claiming parity with Moyes is no claim to fame, believe me.

I wasnt triumphantly proclaiming anything. I was expressing my opinion.

Anthony Dwyer
14 Posted 19/11/2015 at 00:46:45
I’m torn on this one. For me, Roberto is right: we could still finish top 4 for the simple reason that, after Man City and Arsenal, all the other teams are too inconsistent. That said, we are the exact same.

If we really aim to finish in the top 4, we need to show more balls when it matters. Look at the West Ham game: we’re 1-1 at there place and their best player is off injured. A top team would go for the throat, Alex Ferguson would have replaced a defender or a defensive mid and put on Mirallas looking for the 3 points. Not Roberto, he goes like for like with Mirallas for Kone.

If we want to compete for the top spots we have to be willing to lose a point in order to gain 3. A change in philosophy is needed; at home, we need more goalscorers and creative players on the pitch meaning players like Barry, McCarthy and Besic need to be played in defensive midfield alone, not in a two.

Kone is a must, right up with Rom because clearly Rom is happier and more potent when played with Kone. If Kone's form drops, we need to have a Plan B: Mirallas or Naismith right up top or a youngster blooded even if only for a quick fix, maybe Brewster (banging them in for the Under-18s) or McAleny.

Going back to away fixtures, maybe stick with Martinez's setup of two defensive mids but again find a place for Kone and Deulofeu so as we can quickly turn defensive positions into attacking ones.

If, after 60 minutes, we don’t look like winning and we're on for a draw, throw caution to the wind and make a decision early into the second have so any subs have time to influence the game.

Either way, if we want to turn our current mid-table position into a top 4 spot we have to change as the league table has proved over the last 12 months that what we are doing will not push us to where we want to be.

Many teams will get better next season, notably Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea, this is the season to steal the march on them all.

Darren Hind
15 Posted 19/11/2015 at 18:19:09
"Claiming parity with Moyes is no claim to fame believe me"

I think we may have had a light bulb moment.

Les Martin
18 Posted 23/11/2015 at 19:21:29
Sorry to be boring but one game at a time; win them all and we could be Champions!

We have some excellent players and I believe we are still going to get better! The reason? Pace, we have more than any other team in the Premier League and in reserve too, plus players who can get on the end of it and score.

It's also a matter of balance and getting the combinations right all over the pitch, and it's starting to gel. If fate is good to us injuries to key players then the imaginary glass ceiling could be broken, much to the annoyance of those Sky luvvies I hope.

Phil Roberts
19 Posted 24/01/2016 at 18:15:42
So the target was 39 and the reality 29 points.

Yes, we are going nowhere. Yes we have picked up 4 points more than we did in the same fixtures last year but it is not good enough for anything approaching Europe.

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