Big Dunc fanfare masks deep team concerns

It’s apparent that not a lot seems to have been learnt from last season. We’re still over-passing the ball. We’re not shooting on opportunity. Though perhaps most worrying of all was the alarming regularity that Villarreal were able to cut through us and create opportunities.

Paul Traill 02/08/2015 26comments  |  Jump to last
We headed directly to Goodison Park from Leeds having spent the night up there following the friendly with Leeds United. We were all pretty exhausted as we parked up near the ground well in time for the game. After some food we headed to The Brick which was already busy so we had a drink outside the pub, until the rain began to descend at least and so we crossed the road and went to The Harlech Castle. Its been refurbished since I was last in there and looks quite smart. More than anything else however, we were happy just to get a seat and rest our weary limbs.

I was surprised to see Arouna Kone begin the game given he played for 45 minutes at Leeds, though with Lukaku injured and given the paucity of our squad I dont suppose we had much choice. Elsewhere it was nice to see Leighton Baines play the full 90 minutes following his injury and also nice to see Tom Cleverley make his Goodison Park bow.

We sat in the Park End for this one and were gutted all the matchday programmes had sold out when we arrived. They looked pretty smart. As we arrived at the Park End at around 2.50pm there were several Evertonians queuing for tickets last minute to make up a bumper 34,718 for Duncan Ferguson. As the match announcer read the teams out both he himself and returning guest Wayne Rooney received quite a tremendous ovation from the crowd.

Everton began the game positively and got at Villarreal from the start with Baines-Cleverley and Coleman-Mirallas combining well on the flanks. We never really got behind them however though, unlike most of last season, did at least look threatening from corner kicks albeit to no avail. It was actually a corner kick which put the visitors ahead when Gerard finished smartly. Everton behind and thats how it remained until the break. Kevin Mirallas also limped off, as later did John Stones. Although neither injury is apparently serious, the number of injuries we have picked up this pre-season must be a cause for concern. Gerard Deulofeu, Aiden McGeady, Muhammed Besic, Romalu Lukaku, Steven Pienaar and Tony Hibbert (presumably) have all pulled up this summer, not to mention that Darron Gibson is also unavailable. Thats a hefty list before a ball has even been kicked and the lack of cover is apparent for all to see.

Its also apparent for all to see that not a lot seems to have been learnt from last season. Were still over-passing the ball. Were not shooting on opportunity. Though perhaps most worrying of all was the alarming regularity that Villarreal were able to cut through us and create opportunities. Seamus Coleman was a little sloppy for goal number two, and if not for two fine Tim Howard saves we could have been 0-4 before either Ferguson or Rooney had taken to the field. Number of shots on target for us by this point: zero.

The introduction of Wayne Rooney generated a lot of excitement and really emphasised the problems we have in attack - a real lack of quality without Lukaku. He was flagged offside when played through by I think substitute Conor McAleny and drilled an effort from distance which deflected wide. It really highlighted the need to bring in another striker. Lukaku and Kone is neither enough in numbers or sufficient in quality.

It was around this time when Leon Osman came desperately close to scoring with a quite fantastic headed effort from a corner, the ball coming back off the far inside post and away. Meanwhile on the sideline Duncan Ferguson brought back memoires warming up. He then got his tracksuit stripped and took to the field. It made me smile though also made me a little sad as this was to be the last time he would do this for Everton.

He made quite an impact also, winning a great header which began an attack and changed the flow of the play. It wasnt long before we got one back, Tyias Browning, who has really impressed me these last two games, sneaking in ahead of Duncan Ferguson to pull one back for us from a corner. Had Duncan have scored it instead it would have brought the house down.

There wasnt long left in the game but we did manager to get another corner. With the script written, Baines delivery was about a foot too high, even for Duncan, and that was that. Villarreal were able to play out the rest of the game with Gareth Barry probably doing the most to try and force the play back to us. Mike Dean blew for full time. Alas, the fairytale ending wasnt to be for Big Dunc.

He was given the microphone and gave quite a speech after the match, thanking the fans, the players, Wayne Rooney and chairman for whom he reserved extra special thanks.

Thank YOU for the memories Duncan. Will always be a hero for many. Once a blue always a blue. Where have we heard that before?

Player ratings:
Howard: Some extraordinarily bad kicking though he did make some smart saves. 6
Baines: Good to see him back and getting the full 90 minutes. Combined well with Cleverley. 6
Jagielka: Very good. Seems to have carried on where he left off last season. 7
Stones: Did well. Hope his injury isnt serious. Also hope he isnt leaving! 7
Coleman: Was at fault for their second goal though to be fair to him he improved immensely after that. A threat going forward also. 7
Barry: Played the full 90 minutes though looked a little off the pace at times to me. Will be interesting to see how much he plays this season. 6
McCarthy: Did OK. Nothing spectacular. 6
Cleverley: Worked on the wing for the first half and came in-field for the second. I like the look of him. I think hes going to be a good player for us for quite a long time. Seems a good fit. My man of the match. 7
Mirallas: Looked interested and threatening before coming off injured. Hope its not serious. Our wingers are dropping like flies. 7
Osman: Had a decent game. Looked one of our more likely players to make something happen, as proven with his fantastic late header which came back off the post. Can still be a key player for us this season. 7
Kone: Nothing sticks when it goes up to him. We desperately need another striker. I cant emphasise it enough. Hes not the most popular in the stands and I dont want it to be a witch hunt but I really dont have faith in him cutting it for us. Did we really sell Anichebe and Jelavic and replace with Kone? Madness. 4

Naismith (for Mirallas): He looks worryingly short of confidence to me. Needs to get it back pronto. 5
Barkley (for Kone): Not bad. Much better than his performance at Leeds United. There was one point when he grabbed the ball and surged forward with it about 40 yards before trying to play it through to Naismith. OK, the ball didnt work but my point is that I want to see more of him charging forward and forcing games. Was far too reserved last season. Needs to get back to form. 6
McAleny (for McCarthy): Played on the wing and didnt really offer a lot I dont think. I thought he was a striker? 5
Browning (for Stones): A good header for the goal. I wasnt sure about him but at Leeds and against Villarreal he has really stood out. I still think we need another experienced central defender, preferably a left footer, but Tyias has certainly given himself an opportunity to be included and I now believe he could be good enough to do that. 7
Rooney (for Cleverley): Great to see him back in a blue shirt and I was made up he got a good reception. In the pub before the game we discussed the feasibility of him returning to Everton one day. Given the reception he received, perhaps he will in a few years. Only time will tell. 7
Ferguson (for Naismith): There was a loud cheer when he won his header to start the attack and he got involved and didnt do badly at all. Its a shame he didnt get a goal but just seeing him play brought back great memories. Congratulations Duncan. Well deserved. 7

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Reader Comments (26)

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Dave Abrahams
1 Posted 02/08/2015 at 21:25:46
Not having a go at Kone, but his lack of movement and his general poor physical fitness, it seems to me that he is never going to be able to play properly again.
Paul Wharton
2 Posted 02/08/2015 at 21:51:27
Paul, I'm always interested in your observations. Next week is a new season, everybody get behind the manager and players and let’s beat Watford. Let’s go!!!
Rory Slingo
3 Posted 02/08/2015 at 22:43:41
Paul, the matchday programme is available here:

Paul Traill
4 Posted 02/08/2015 at 22:53:22
Thanks Paul, catch you soon mate. Thanks Rory, will get one.
Colin Williams
5 Posted 02/08/2015 at 23:14:15
Paul, Osman 7??... What the feck did he do in 90mins to have the same score as Cleverley? I can’t think of one situation where I noticed anything he did that got people on their feet. All he did was simple passes 5/10 yes... And he didn’t do many of them.

Just interested... What did he do to affect our performance, defensively or offensively?

Jim Bennings
6 Posted 02/08/2015 at 23:48:09
Today was about Dunc and Rooney coming home and thankfully repairing old wounds that were cut deep in 2004.

Sadly this is an Everton side that, after years of stability and top-half finishes under David Moyes, now looks like it’s on its way into mediocrity; it probably won’t be bad enough to get relegated but it won’t be anywhere near good enough for a top-half finish.

Too many of the same type of midfielder, all central boys with no real vision, Cleverley has done nothing wrong so far but he’s not dynamic enough to change things, nor is Barkley, McCarthy, Barry, Besic... and the rest are just injury prone, like Gibson etc.

Striking options are non-existent. Do we ever really look like being potent in front of goal?

Defensively we remain extremely fragile and suspect regardless of Stones staying. I reiterate Stones and Jagielka is NOT a solid partnership, it was evident again today.

Worrying times ahead indeed.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 02/08/2015 at 23:57:02
Bill Kenwright has some big decisions to make over the coming months depending on how it pans out.

He was very safe and secure with Moyes because he was always or nearly always guaranteed top 7 finishes and Moyes had a canny knack of getting the best from limited resources.

Martinez just doesn't appear to have a direction in where he is going with this team, blind faith to players not good enough too isn't helping.

Ross Edwards
8 Posted 03/08/2015 at 00:15:48
Kenwright would never sack Martinez. Ever. The only scenario in which he would even consider it is if we were in a Mike Walker situation before Joe Royle came in, bottom and cut adrift.

It's just not likely. We won't go down, there's just no way. We're probably looking at 7th-10th at the most.

Jay Harris
10 Posted 03/08/2015 at 04:28:50

I thought you were a bit harsh on Bainesy with only a 6. I thought he was MotM and really drove us on with some crisp passing and interplay.

Pity about the tactics though. I would give RM a 1 for showing up.

Ernie Baywood
11 Posted 03/08/2015 at 05:16:35
By the looks of the photo I just saw, it seems like Hibbert has more than just pulled up. Has he had a knee reco?
Ernie Baywood
12 Posted 03/08/2015 at 05:18:05
James Hughes
13 Posted 03/08/2015 at 09:09:47
Roberto promised that he learnt from last year’s poor pre-season it looks like he hasn’t with two games in two days.

Sticking with pass, pass, pass then lose possession. Barry still in the team and.... oh I give up.

Let’s hope Roberto is lulling us into a false sense of panic.

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 03/08/2015 at 09:16:12
Paul, the only thing missing from your headline is the word, VERY.
Harold Matthews
15 Posted 04/08/2015 at 10:13:06
Yes Jim, I certainly felt safe with Mr Moyes but in the two years since his departure, we seem to have entered a different universe where all our rivals have won the jackpot.
Harold Matthews
16 Posted 04/08/2015 at 10:25:25
Great report, Paul. What a lift when Rooney and Dunc led the charge. A goal had to come and it did. Magic moments.
Harold Matthews
18 Posted 04/08/2015 at 10:59:50
Lest we forget. What a great set-piece header from Tyias Browning. We’ve been looking for you, young man.
Paul Cherrington
19 Posted 04/08/2015 at 11:11:47
I think Browning is gonna be a great player and this could be his season to break through as we are short at CB at the minute.
Bill Farmer
20 Posted 04/08/2015 at 11:34:06
Whilst he had his detractors, Moyes always seemed 'a safe pair of hands'. Recognised throughout the game as having done an excellent job as Everton's manager, his reputation took a big knock with Evertonians over BK's mis-staging of his departure.

Of course, his propensity towards down-playing his team's aspirations and the almost perpetual 7th-place finishes together with the sheer length of his tenure, led to many lobbying for change -- if only from a sense of boredom!

Now we know it isn't as easy as it appeared. And Roberto has become a victim of his own success by appearing at first to build on Davey's legacy before declining into 'bottom-half' mediocrity last season.

But, as he has been keen to point out, there were extenuating circumstances in the shape of the Europa League challenge and there is much evidence that almost all teams are affected by participation.

It seems that his employers are prepared to buy into that explanation, although, at the same time, depriving him of funds to do much to restore his reputation.

Unlike some posters, I suspect this manager will get short shrift if the team shows no early improvement on last season and that it will not be long before last Sunday's on-pitch sentimentality towards a certain Scotsman will come to be seen as merely a rehearsal!

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 04/08/2015 at 11:45:40
Bill (20), if you are hinting that Duncan will be the next manager if Martinez is pushed out, then, knowing Kenwright's leaning towards theatre and dramatics, you could very well be right.

I like Ferguson and he may turn out to be a good manager but he is most definitely not ready for such a big job yet, but that is just my humble opinion.

Steve Pugh
22 Posted 04/08/2015 at 11:54:52
Ernie #12, just looked at the picture of Robo-Hibbo.

Having seen their faces, especially Bainsey’s, I’d love to know what they are talking about.

Eddie Dunn
23 Posted 04/08/2015 at 16:40:25
Dave (#21).

I used to think that people needed experience in the job and all that, but right now Roberto’s experience with Swansea, Wigan and ourselves doesn’t seem to be helping.

If Martinez got the bullet, after a bad start, I would imagine that Dunc could be the man to rally the troops. It could be on a caretaker basis, till the end of the season, and then things could be assessed.

Football is a simple game that some people (like Martinez) like to over-complicate.

Tony Abrahams
24 Posted 04/08/2015 at 17:13:20
Only at ToffeeWeb, could people be talking about caretaker managers, before a ball has been kicked in anger!

Why has, Our chairman not spoken a word in over 12 months? I've felt bad before, many times over Everton, but the fact that I can't see Martinez lasting long is very frightening. I just hope I'm wrong, once again.

Jon Withey
25 Posted 04/08/2015 at 22:04:14
Kenwright sacked Walter Smith eventually when a decent replacement was available.

Martinez has signed two decent players and we have a few youngsters worth having in the squad.

If he does manage to get three more semi-decent players then the squad is not there for relegation.

I'll wait for 5 games to start complaining.

Kase Chow
26 Posted 04/08/2015 at 23:52:35
Fact is we were under-prepared last season because the players were unfit and RM chose to spend the majority of our money on one striker rather than spread it over two.

This season, we’re under-prepared because our squad strength is poor, we’ve simply not added to the squad in key areas (we only have one senior centre back... I don’t care how good Stones is, he’s not an experienced player, will lose form and is too young to be a leader. Plus him and Jags are NOT solid), we have no effective strikers aside from Lukaku and the style of football is not penetrative nor does it attempt to be (how many players get ahead of the ball and run into space?)

IF we are really going to start a second season in a row being unprepared, then surely some serious questions need to be asked?

However, Kenwright won’t sack RM as it's too expensive to do so. Hence we’re stuck with this clown until his contract runs out. Oh joy...

RM may well put me off football and watching Everton forever!

Andy Crooks
27 Posted 05/08/2015 at 00:39:27
Jon, Kenwright sacked Walter Smith who subsequently recommended David Moyes.
Karl Masters
28 Posted 05/08/2015 at 00:44:40
I can’t stand watching this passing it around on the halfway line or further back with no cutting edge. It bores and frustrates me in equal measure.

I’m not excited about this season at all. I don’t see relegation, but I don’t see us challenging for anything either. Hope I’m wrong (about challenging, not relegation!) but it’s more hope than logic making me feel that way.

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