From My Seat: Watford (H)

It was like we had learned very little from the last campaign as, whilst watching, it was easy to think we were still in last season.

Ken Buckley 08/08/2015 33comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 2 Watford

It's back again after a very short close season and with the addition of a couple of signings as well as a couple more players having contracts renewed plus the interest in Stones by Chelsea, which our present manager has a few words to say but the most important for Blues are that Stones is not for sale and the club have no need to sell. The Room of Nonsense is split about 60/40 on him staying. We shall see.

The weather was at its most kind for our opener and the walk up was a pleasure. It must be like this for Spanish fans most of the time in fact with a little imagination we could have been in Barcelona. Spellow Lane was our Las Ramblas and the Old Lady our Camp Nou. Street eateries were provided by the Fat Van, Blue Dragon chippie and the Café. The fan zone provided the street type entertainment and the walk down Goodison Road provided evidence of everyone having fun in the sun as big waste bins overflowed with chip trays and paper wrapping. Into the ground and our turnstile had run out of fixture cards! One explanation I heard was that the turnstile staff were handing them out in handfuls to those first there. Not a good omen I thought.

Z-Cars blared and both sets of fans felt the familiarity as Watford use it too. As the teams were read out by our new matchday caller, Stones was given quite an ovation but his acknowledgement was rather understated (ammo for conspiracy theorists). Our ref today was Mike Jones, a Welsh lad who resides in Chester so he qualifies to ref in the English league or so I am told and he got us underway dead on 3.00pm. Lukaku was fit so started but Baines was missing and we heard he is out for three months with a bad ankle problem so young Galloway deputised.

From the off we set the pace and looked quite sharp and early doors we won a corner when Barkley had the ball slid from him by a defender. Mirallas took but such was the pushing and holding melee in the box it petered out. We then went into familiar mode as players played nice football from the back through midfield but on reaching the opposition eighteen yard line, we were either too eager or to heavy or wayward with passes causing groans in the sunshine from a good many in attendance. Watford seemed to sense we did not have much up top so pressed harder and quicker which resulted in Galloway having to produce good defensive work and deny Deeney by sliding the ball for a corner which we dealt with. It was a bit flat now the game but the travelling fans were having a ball and offering to sing a song for us.

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Coming up to the fifteen minute mark Watford were having more play than they should and were pressing in numbers and it paid off when we left a bit flat-footed down our left and allowed a cross to be made which seemed to bounce off Jags. A Watford player fairly whacked it home leaving Howard only to fish the ball out of the net. Our new announcer informed us his name was Layun.

Now the Watford fans roared, they welcomed fun in the sun whilst we were left flat. Just a quarter of an hour gone and we are a goal down at home and only Barry looking anything like a player who knew his job and was carrying it out. Some of our touches and passing was poor, certainly not fully joined-up. The rest of the half was nothing to write home about, with the standouts being Coleman showing electric pace and geting a cross in that was put behind for a corner which Barry headed well but the keeper tipped over. It was hard to watch at times, with only Barry trying to mix it up by alternating with short and long balls; a couple of the long ones to Lukaku looked promising but the big man had little luck with his touch and a tendency to stray offside.

Cleverley did well on the left and created a bit of space for Barkley who hit a fierce cross shot that the keeper did really well to tip away for a corner which came to nought.

Watford seemed to go into defensive mode to ensure they kept the lead and had many men back to repel us. Yet on closer scrutiny we were the architects of our own downfall by over-passing and allowing Watford the few seconds they needed to form the barrier. I found myself willing half time to arrive as Coleman again went down the wing but alas his cross was not the best and eluded Lukaku who had made up ground.

Half time whistle and a chorus of boos from quite a few gathered. A bit harsh I thought as it may not have been the best of halves but in the first game proper it would do nothing to lift the players and, in my opinion, we fans can do some good with at least encouragement as its a long season.

H/T chat brought calls for a couple of subs to be made but it was as-you-were when the players re-emerged.

Second half and we began at a higher tempo but that last third was again squanderland. However. Barkley put in a great cross that beat the keeper for height and seemed to be falling on to Lukakus head and all he had to do was guide it into the net, but somehow he seemed to get his timing of jump plus head and neck movement wrong and a cert goal barely reached the front row of the Gwladys. I will look forward to seeing that again in slow-mo; I may be doing him a disservice.

Barry was still doing his best to pull the strings but was not getting the response some of his passes deserved and attacks broke down. Watford seemed to note this and defended in numbers and drew us on knowing we would break down in the final third and were hitting us on the break with a bit of pace. From one of these breaks the Watford man was away but the pace of Coleman helped to catch him but his tackle, although winning the ball was from behind so yellow it was.

Watford were no great shakes but, although we looked a better outfit ourselves, anything good produced floundered mainly with unforced errors. Just an hour gone and the manager made an attacking change when Kone was introduced and Galloway given a good reception as he left the field, Barry going to left back. Also the formation changed from what looked like 4-2-3-1 that changed as required to 4-3-3 to the old 4-4-2

Almost immediately Cleverley, who was having a steady game, put in a great cross that Kone got to but at the vital moment had a touch of the Lukakus and the ball dropped wide. "Goal!" was in the throat at that moment but alas never left. More bad news arrived for the Blues as a Watford player seemed to put his foot on Mirallass ankle and he went down and didnt move. The physio came on and a clutch of players stood around him while a stretcher party moved at snails pace around the perimeter. All ended well when he limped off, did a couple of runs and came back on.

With Kone playing up with Lukaku and Barry still leading the way in getting passes up to them more quickly we started to look more dangerous and, with less than a quarter of an hour to go, Kone took a pass in the area and stroked it to Barkley on the edge who hammered the ball home into the roof of the net. "We can win this now," I opined to my mate and the manager thought so as well as he gestured more forward as well as replacing Mirallas with Oviedo. We pressed hard, Oviedo got a good cross in that could not find a home head and Watford looked comfortable with a point as they wasted time at every opportunity, much to the annoyance of the crowd.

With less than ten minutes to go, Watford come down our right and fed Deeney who sashayed into the area with Jags and Stones diving around him like Sunday morning players and the big man was able to get the ball to Ighalo (what a cracking name) who netted with ease. He also had what must be the longest celebration, lying under a mound of his team-mates and still stayed there when the others had left causing the ref to have words but he just stood there both arms aloft before slowly walking to his own half). Many Blues left, many groaned and not one was happy.

Just a few minutes later in our next real attack we saw the best piece of play in the whole match. Kone with good control found Lukaku who held the ball whilst Kone ran into space in the box. The big man turned and found Kone with a great pass with just the weight on it and Kone slotted with ease leaving the keeper nowhere.

Five minutes of added time went up and Naismith replaced Lukaku but the time was played out with mainly Watford keeping us on the back foot. So yet again we draw 2-2 on opening day to a newly promoted side.

MotM: Barry

Overall a good day out in the warmth and sun dampened a little by our performance and the proey has gone up 50p. It was like we had learned very little from the last campaign as, whilst watching, it was easy to think we were still in last season. The next games coming up dont look anything but difficult and may be too difficult if we dont address our play and have a strategy that at least plays to the strengths of individual players in an effort to make a coherent team.

At times today a lot of our play broke down due to player error with passing, either miss-passing or playing a ball into the area where a team-mate should be but hasnt made the run. Still, I am just a fan so I need to rely on the manager and the coaches to at least mould a team that gives fans some pleasure on visits to Goodison.

I think the walk back to our watering hole and indeed in the Room of Nonsense which is never short of opinion summed up the game perfectly. No one was talking about it!

Still onward and upward and hope St Mary smiles upon us.

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (33)

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David Chait
1 Posted 09/08/2015 at 07:32:00
Interesting view of Barry being MotM when a lot of fans seemed to pick him as one of those to blame. I felt he was a bit of a scapegoat for his defensive partner not having a good game at all and is probably now the new whipping boy.

No the description of Lukaku's miss is exactly right and he mistimes his jumps very often which is why he seems to lose out often too.

Steve Hogan
2 Posted 09/08/2015 at 08:29:10
Having watched Swansea play Chelsea on MOTD, with a spirited, gutsy performance, moving the ball FORWARD with pace and guile, and two up front, I'm now more than ever, convinced we have the wrong man in charge.

Sitting at Goodison yesterday, was for large parts, same as, same as, nothing really has been done to address the 'pedestrian' type of football from last season.

The next three weeks of the transfer window will decide Martinez's future, and growing frustration at Goodison about the sort of football he's serving up.

Phil Walling
3 Posted 09/08/2015 at 08:42:21
From a great distance, my only thought was that the team would have been improved by the guile of Osman. With the apparent need to include Barry at all costs, perhaps Roberto will now accommodate Ken' s MoM at left back ?
Derek Thomas
4 Posted 09/08/2015 at 08:52:24
As Lyndon said in his report; 'One game doesn't make a season'.

But if you put it at the start, at the end or shuffled it up anywhere in last season, you could see the joins or spot the odd one out if you looked all day.

How many will it take before;

a ) An Improvement.

b ) The Taxi.

I'm starting my own count, as of now it stand at:

ONE

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:11:25
Whilst it's true that one game doesn't make a season our win total going back to the beginning of last season is appalling, it's something like 12 wins in 40 matches now I believe.

We can't seriously expect a better season when you keep the same manager, the same players roughly and the same rigid negative formation, all you get is more or less the same failings as you saw on show last season.

Lack of closing down when the opponents have it, annoying inability to stop crosses coming in, defenders being kamikaze diving in and too often turning their backs.

A lack of leadership and big characters, throughout that entire first half I never once saw any of our players barking orders or pointing, Jagielka was as per usual quiet as a lamb.

And the annoying trait which we developed last season of whenever we score, we concedes more or less within minutes, after Barkley's goal we should have took the gameon and won but we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with shocking defending.

Martinez says we "started in pre-season mode".

Why Roberto???

You had enough time to sort out last season's mess with the pre-season we had and yet the same excuses of not being ready are still bandied about, well Leicester were ready, Palace were ready mate, why not Everton??

All in all the only positives were our goals and Kone saved us scrambling a draw in a match we had to win looking at the fixture list we have on the horizon, somehow I doubt we'll be spoilt with wins.

Finally anyone who thinks Lukaku is going to get 20 league goals in this team playing as the lone striker is simply in cloud cuckoo land, he will do well to reach 10 again.

We can reassess the situation at the closing of the transfer window, but I won't be holding my breath on anything spectacular changing here.

Peter Mills
6 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:13:09
I have had that "first day of the season" tingle for more than 50 years, but I have to confess it was very faint yesterday.

After a couple of pints at our own room of nonsense in The Stuart, where the atmosphere was muted, I strolled up to County Road and spotted the huge crane looming beyond Goodison, a symbol of how that other stadium has changed from the midden it was when I started watching football.

Turning into Goodison Road for the first glimpse of The Old Lady it was sad to see plastic sheeting and temporary scaffolding on the roof of the Main Stand. Bizarrely I then passed a royal blue hearse, which struck me as all too symbolic.

Then that first half. It was a truly turgid display, with our team having no idea whatsoever of breaking through opponents who were merely competent, strong and organised. The anger amongst the faithful was constantly bubbling below the surface, and the booing at half time was sad to hear but very, very understandable.

Our manager, having seen that his own "philosophy" was not working, changed things and told the players to be more direct. He had to, because had we continued to play in his preferred style the crowd would have turned on him, and sadly that would have been deserved. He has brought it on himself.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:44:53
The fact that we could be forgiven, for still thinking we were in last season, says it all.

A new season, should bring a bit of freshness, instead of the same old tactics, which hamper us offensively, and leave us way too open at the back.

The whole club needs a lift, and this can only happen if we go and sign some players, urgently.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:15:18
You are very true in your words Tony.

Yesterday just felt all too familiar of last season, one new face in Cleverley who was tidy but unspectacular through no fault of his own but sadly he's not dynamic enough to truly get the fans excited quite like a marquee signing would.

We just saw the same failings and disappointments as last season, 4.40pm and we are trailing at home AGAIN to a side we really needed to be putting to the sword.

I want to be proved wrong but I just cant see anything changing.

Christy Ring
9 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:49:34
Tony (7), agree with you completely.
What worries me is, "why have we only spent £4m this summer". The lowest of any team in the premiership. Bill Kenwright must have a transfer budget from the Sky money.
If Stones is sold to raise money, it's Wayne Rooney all over again, a disaster.

Jim Bennings
10 Posted 09/08/2015 at 11:00:52
Well let's be honest Christy,

If Stones is sold and all of a sudden we start spending money, everyone will be fooled by it and think we are actually spending money but all it is proving again is we have to sell to buy.

Selling Stones will be another nail in the coffin because like with Rooney, the chance to build a quality side around a future captain will be gone.

You could argue that you don't even trust Martinez to get it right with 25/30 million to spend, realistically though if we sell Stones we should have far more than that to spend, more like 40 million because we've spelt next to nothing so far.

We MUST get a striker, a quality striker to not to play backup to Lukaku but to partner or overtake him.

TWO central defender if Stones leaves, one to go straight in the team and an experienced squad member.

A creative midfielder is imperative also.

Derek Thomas
11 Posted 09/08/2015 at 11:37:21
A 'fact / stat' I haven't checked, but any way. For the last 3 seasons the record of the 3 promoted clubs reads P9 W0 D2 L7.

Q ) who were the 2 draws against.

A ) Well who do you think...Us.

Christopher Timmins
12 Posted 09/08/2015 at 12:03:46
Ken, great to have you back. Long may you continue to report to us on the days events.

I will be amazed if Stones is not sold by 31 August. It's been a long summer and we have nothing to show for it other than a free transfer and another winger.

There will be 4 in and 1 out (Stones) before the window closes. The only number I have some doubt about is the "4".

The club is not in a good place and it is unacceptable that so much of the business needed to make the team competitive will be done after the first ball is kicked in anger.

Mike Childs
14 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:07:19
Welcome back Ken great to have your views back.
We look so much better with 2 strikers up top just like last year on the rare occasion that RM actually went 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. I won't hold my breath thought hopping Bobby realizes what is plain to see. Can't argue with your MotM pick I was kinda fancying Galloway and wouldn't have argued had it been Kone or even Mirallas who at least looked up for it.

Very disappointed with my boy Jimmy Mac who wasn't exactly his usual self.

Jon Withey
15 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:37:06
Great report Ken - one of the best reads on here and a nice change from the bi-polar comments from us.

In some ways, without Lennon we've almost stepped backwards - although without Baines and Deulofeu.

Was encouraged by Galloway first half and Barkley second-half + hopefully Kone offering a little bit more power than Naismith.

Mirallas and Lukaku didn't have great games and it's difficult to compensate for that.

We could certainly do with a playmaker, but we still need better movement from everyone else in and around the box.

Like everybody else, I don't really understand why we didn't do much more than the minimum transfers during the pre-season.

If Stones continues his development I expect he'll be gone eventually but it would be good to keep him this season - otherwise we have to incorporate a new CB partnership. If we do end up with £30 million in the bank then that's only really two key players nowadays - 3 or 4 less proven.

Andrew Clare
16 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:55:39
I have said it before and I'll say it again. If you are building something and you spend a fortune on one part and cut corners on the other parts what will happen? Yep it won't be any good will it?
We spend £28 million on a striker to be supplied by a midfield full of artisans and then wonder why we aren't scoring many goals. We set up a team full of defensive players and still wonder why we aren't scoring. Saturday illustrated this perfectly. First half dire with few attacking players, second half much better with more attacking players.
I don't want us to sell Stones but I think he going to go. With the money we should buy two creative midfield players for £15 million + each and the use the money that's been set aside already to buy two quality centre backs.
We don't need the strikers as Lukaku and Kone will look like dynamite with the right service.
There are too many workmanlike players in our midfield
Christy Ring
17 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:00:27
I agree Jim, I wouldn't trust Bob with 25/30 million, especially when he said a month ago, we didn't need a striker.
Oh, we don't need a keeper either.!!
Harold Matthews
18 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:44:15
I don't understand how Barry was seen to play well when both goals were scored from the exact position he is paid to occupy.
Jim Bennings
19 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:56:17
West Ham winning 2-0 at Arsenal, imagine us going to the Emirates on the opening day and doing that?

I really can't see us finishing above an awful lot of teams this season.

Colin Glassar
20 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:03:36
We don't do opening day wins Jim. Check our stats under this manager or any of his predecessors.
Jay Wood
21 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:14:14
Eh Harold? How does that work?

For the first goal it was worked from right to left. Barry got one blocking tackle in on the edge of the box. It broke left, where Coleman allowed the cross to come in and both centre backs made a dog's dinner of a routine clearance. Barry was back in the box helping out, but the way the ball broke he could in no way be held responsible. If you want to point the finger of blame at one of our defensive midfielders, look at the dawdling McCarthy who early in the play sees two players in front of him - including the goal scorer - and is still stood off him outside the area when he scores.

For the second ball, yes - the play starts down the middle with no one closing down. But by then Barry was playing left back, not defensive midfield. The play went to our right field of play and once again our centre backs and Coleman stuffed it up defensively. Barry is correctly positioned in the penalty area in his left back position, marking the man he is responsible for.

Poor call by you, Harold.

Jim Hardin
23 Posted 09/08/2015 at 16:27:22
Jay,

If you are going to expect people to go by the facts instead of misinterpreting the game to support their preconceived opinion of the player then you are not playing by the TW rules. That is why Barry (the only player yesterday who was trying to pass through the midfield instead of over it or around it) is always crap. Del Boy is always great. Lukaku is lazy. Mirallas is arrogant and not trying. Besic is the next 8th wonder of the world in midifeld. Howard is crap. Stones never is too blame for goals scored against us. Finally, all of them are just collecting a paycheck. Remember those rules and bend your facts accordingly.

Jim Bennings
24 Posted 09/08/2015 at 16:28:59
If anything yesterday the first goal was down to the inability of several player's, not just Barry, to stop the cross and then Jagielka just not reacting quick enough when the ball bounced off his thigh.

The second was down to various kamikaze defending errors, first Stones throwing himself a million miles away and Jagielka again doing the same throwing himself into no man's land.

Harold Matthews
25 Posted 09/08/2015 at 17:03:22
Jay. Hands up . Half a poor call. I got carried away a bit when I saw him nominated as our best player. The second goal was not in his area but he was half asleep whilst jogging and ball-watching for their first. He didn't make the block. Jags beat him to it . He shouldn't have even been there. Three Watford lads right behind him and he didn't even give them a glance. McCarthy had also gone on walk-about.

It's always the same with Barry and McCarthy. They are two of my favourite players but it takes them several games to get fully fit after a break. That was one of the reasons Martinez took off Galloway and moved Barry to LB. He wanted to get 90 minutes into him. In an early interview, Barry games is the only thing that does it for him.

Jay Wood
26 Posted 09/08/2015 at 17:20:32
Jim Hardin #23

Nice one Jim! Thanks for the heads up!

I'll take note of the TW ground rules and keep a crib sheet by my side so I'll know better next time not to infringe preconceived prejudices with those inconvenient details such as video evidence and factual data!

Jim Bennings
27 Posted 09/08/2015 at 17:55:13
What really gets my goat is how, when we play TWO defensive midfielders, four defenders, that we seem so incapable of keeping clean sheets!!

This is a major fault that has gone on under Martinez since the tail end of his first season when we started seeping goals at home to the likes of Palace or two insane own goals at Southampton.

Frankly you question whether Martinez can ever get Everton back to the strengths they had for the majority of Moyes tenure which was a solid defensive foundation plus a canny knack of seeking out 1-0 wins in winnable games.

Don't even get me started again on the fitness side of this Everton team, we did not look fit yesterday, people suggest we finished strongly but that's because we didn't bother turning up in the first 45 minutes, I'd just love to see the day this Everton team plays a full match without any schoolboy concentration lapses or periods of "can't be arsed running let's just stand still and pass it "

I really would love to see the day.

John Tyrrell
28 Posted 09/08/2015 at 20:07:44
I’m not sure more players is the answer. For example if we play 4-2-3-1 defence should be, Coleman, stones, jag and Baines, with 2 of the best full backs in the country running forward. Then McCarthy and basic controlling the midfield with Mirallas, Deulofeu, Barkley the attacking midfielders and lukaku up front.

This could transform to a 4-2-4 formation when we’re on the attack. I can’t see how attacking a box with the 4 attacking players we have and the 2 full backs we have at pace can’t result in goals.
Peter Laing
29 Posted 09/08/2015 at 21:22:19
Too many goals conceded at Goodison last season, and we have shipped two already to a newly promoted team. The basis of every good team, look at Chelsea last season is solidity at the back. We play with two defensively minded central midfielders, but always seem to get overun by the opposition be it when our fullbacks push too far forward or a ball is played right down the middle. Defensive fragility needs to be eliminated, Goodison has always been our fortress but is seems like opposing teams just walz up these days and know we are there for the taking.
Harold Matthews
30 Posted 09/08/2015 at 23:34:34
True Peter. We used to be difficult to score against. Whatever went wrong needs to be fixed
Gerard Carey
31 Posted 09/08/2015 at 23:42:25
If Stones goes would it be worth a punt to see if we could get Ryan Shawcross in. He would not take any nonsense.
Oliver Molloy
32 Posted 09/08/2015 at 00:04:18
Gérard @31.
Shawcross is out for 3 months
Andy Codling
33 Posted 09/08/2015 at 00:13:27
Gerard , Shawcross is now out for about two months injured with a back problem, besides that why would he want to leave Stoke who finished above us last year to come to a club that lacks any ambition whatsoever!!!
Abhishek Saha
34 Posted 10/08/2015 at 06:07:21
One of the key reasons for our failures last season was the constant tinkering with the back 4 (injuries did play a part) as compared to 2013-14, when we fielded a consistent back 4. If Stones was to leave, then this saga will start again this season and Martinez will still be figuring out his back 4 even after this season is over.
Michael Polley
35 Posted 11/08/2015 at 09:56:46
Agree with the comments about leaking goals. We need to stop conceding. We always seem to conceded after we have scored.we tend to loose concentration very easily.

Another point to make is to play 2 up front. Lukaku needs support, as soon as Kone came on the whole dynamic of our game changed.
Martinez could be gone by November id thimgs don't change.
You will replace him - God knows !!!


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