Familiarity Breeding Discontent at Goodison

One game doesn't make a season but this one certainly perpetuated a trend firmly established last season, one which clearly illustrated the priorities for the summer. Fail to find those missing pieces and, on the evidence of today, you feel that Everton are doomed to another season of mediocrity.

Lyndon Lloyd 08/08/2015 51comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 2 Watford

The charge to the last 16 of the Europa League aside, 2014-15 was a forgettable campaign that Evertonians were, by and large, all too happy to consign to history. The end of the season and the summer transfer window offered the promise of a partial rebuilding exercise and the injection of some select fresh faces capable of elevating what had become a predictable and pedestrian team last term into a side capable of challenging in the top six this season.

It has, for reasons best left for another day, been an opportunity spurned thus far and if proof of that were needed, this third opening-day 2-2 draw against newly-promoted opposition provided it. Roberto Martinez described his players afterwards as still being "in pre-season mode" but for many in the near-capacity crowd at Goodison Park today, it was as if the summer had never happened.

Not only is the team almost exactly the same of the two new signings, only Tom Cleverley was fit to play, while the injured Leighton Baines was again deputised competently by Brendan Galloway but many of the familiar deficiencies that under-pinned a disappointing 11th-place finish last season were still painfully evident against the Hornets: that the Blues lack genuine quailty in the final third in the continuing absence of the likes of Steven Pienaar; that Romelu Lukaku may look the part but he is not well-suited to the "target-man", lone-striker role; that the defence is prone to conceding soft goals; and that we are capable of scoring when we move the ball quickly and apply sustained pressure to the opposition but we don't really "turn up" until we've fallen behind.

Martinez stated once more after the game that the team needs fresh blood and the arrival of those three new additions he has promised but, as yet, there is no sign of them and the fear that has dogged many fans ever since the fixtures were released in June is becoming a reality that we would fail to beat Watford before facing three daunting matches at Southampton and Spurs and at home to Manchester City before late arrivals would finally be drafted in before the deadline. The 1st of September feels an awfully long way away...

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A chief complaint for many Blues last season was that any side that did their homework could work out how to shut down Everton's most potent weapons and frustrate them into a harmless passing game in front of two banks of four. New Watford boss Quique Flores certainly seemed to have done that as his Hornets regularly swarmed around Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley to starve them of the time and space in which they revel to make things happen. Any notion that Flores' side would be vulnerable due to the need to bed in all of his club's new signings was quickly dismissed Watford were well-organised and though they had far less possession, when they had the ball they often used it better than their hosts, particularly in the first half.

They settled quickly and their early energy had required Galloway to time an excellent slide tackle to deny Ikechi Anya early on before Troy Deeney sliced a knockdown wide from a decent position. Those were two warning signs that were followed by the opening goal in the 14th minute. Jurado crossed low from the left, the ball came off Phil Jagielka in the box and dropped invitingly to Miguel Layun in a central position in front of goal to hammer past Tim Howard.

Everton's response was slow in coming but a set-piece carrying rare danger saw Gareth Barry's header touched over the bar by Heurelho Gomes, while the best move from Martinez's side of the first half involving Mirallas and Cleverley on the left ended with the goalkeeper tipping Barkley's shot behind. It was, by and large, ponderous stuff from the Blues, though, with the occasional burst by Barkley or Mirallas coming to nothing as attacks broke down in familiar fashion in the final third. Indeed, Barkley might have done better to release an expectant and ultimately visibly frustrated Lukaku when the pair had time to drive towards the opposition defence but he ended up running across the three retreating yellow shirts and into a cul-de-sac.

The presence of all three of Barry, McCarthy and Cleverley, three similar central midfield players long on industry but short on creativity and guile didn't help. The Barry-McCarthy axis came into its own during Martinez's first season in charge in the freedom it afforded Baines and Coleman to raid as wing-backs down the flanks but with the former out of action, it felt superfluous; while Barry was competent in his holding role before moving back to left back in the second half, you couldn't help feeling that dropping the more youthful Cleverley back and bringing in another attacking body in place of the veteran Barry would have been a better solution.

After an insipid first half that yielded no clear-cut chances for Everton to speak of, things had to and did get better once the second period got underway and there was an almost immediate improvement in the delivery into the box from wide areas. Unfortunately, Mirallas was let down by a lack of blue jerseys in the centre when he bent a superb cross behind the Watford defence in the first attack after the break before his cross-cum-shot had Gomes momentarily panicking before batting the ball over his bar for another corner. And had Barkley's teasing cross been a couple of inches lower, Lukaku might have opened his account in the 50th minute. Unfortunately, he just couldn't get sufficiently above it to guide it into the net and he ended up putting it harmlessly wide of the far post.

Still, it was more promising from the Blues until Mirallas was taken out by a horrible tackle from Valon Behrami and looked to have become the latest victim of the Goodison injury curse as he rolled around in agony clutching his ankle. The Belgian was able to get back to his feet and eventually returned to the match before being replaced by Bryan Oviedo when it was clear he wasn't right to continue.

In between, however, Everton had equalised thanks to the timely intervention of Martinez's first substitute, Arouna Kone. The Ivorian had come on for Galloway in the 63rd minute and he was in the right place 13 minutes later to field Coleman's centre and lay it back to Barkley who unloaded a sweetly-struck shot that bulleted into net from 20-odd yards out to level the game.

With the crowd now back in the game and the Blues' tails up, it should have been a moment that signalled the changing of the tide in the contest. Apart from a couple of moments where Howard had to parry away Holebas' long-range effort and John Stones had brilliantly blocked Anya's effort, Watford had become entrenched to a degree in a defensive posture but they immediately started venturing forward again after conceding the goal and were back in front within seven minutes.

Finding himsef in space in front of the Blues' defence, Odion Ighalo twisted the hitherto imperious Stones into knots and prompted him into going to ground prematurely to block his faked shot before dragging the ball onto his right foot and firing low past Howard's left glove. All very "Palace at home" from a year ago and frustration enveloped Goodison once more.

Thankfully, Everton had what was arguably their most incisive moment of the game up their sleeve and it was no coincidence that the two strikers combined to create it because the Blues had looked more dangerous with Kone alongside Lukaku. The former's knockdown fell to the latter and when Kone continued his overlapping run and collected Lukaku's nicely-weighted pass, he found the far corner with a crisp shot across the stranded Gomes.

2-2 and now there were hopes of a late charge for a winner but it never really materialised. Gomes saved comfortably from a Lukaku volley from the left side of the area and Anya dragged a poor shot well wide at the other and the two sides had to be content with a point apiece.

One game doesn't make a season but this one certainly perpetuated a trend firmly established last season, one which clearly illustrated the priorities for the summer. The week to come before the lunchtime date with Southampton at the St Mary's will no doubt find Evertonians eagerly waiting for news or evidence of Martinez's ongoing search for reinforcements and it's clear that some fresh blood is badly needed.

Kone will hopefully have given the manager something to think about in terms of playing a second striker in certain situations but it shouldn't fool anyone into believing we don't need a reliable goalscoring alternative added to the mix. More important still is that hard-to-fill playmaker role and the acquisition of a player capable of unlocking a defence or winning a match on his own.

Fail to find those missing pieces and, on the evidence of today, you feel that Everton are doomed to another season of mediocrity.

Follow @EFCLyndon

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Reader Comments (51)

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Andy Meighan
1 Posted 09/08/2015 at 07:19:30
We could sign Messi Ronaldo and Bale and it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the way he sets a team up and, as you put it yourself with one statement, "long on industry short on creativity" - that sums up the manager for me.

Any one of us could send a side out to keep possession in our own half for virtually the whole game. It's so sterile and predictable it’s untrue. I seriously hope the board are reluctant to give him funds now because, believe me, I’d be worried about who he was going to buy.

Let's be fair, his record in the transfer market hardly inspires confidence. I wouldn’t say I was alone in saying these are worrying times to be an Evertonian while Martinez is manager. I fear for us, I really do.
Matthew Barry
2 Posted 09/08/2015 at 07:37:02
Agree with every point you make Lyndon. The biggest positives for me today were Cleverley and the return of Barkley’s confidence once he had scored. Kone’s contribution was long overdue!!

For the first half I thought we believed Watford wouldn’t be as good or effective as they were and it unsettled the plan. Unfortunately we aren’t the quickest of starters, so, saddly for th 3 rows in front of me in th Main stand they bore the brunt of that with me rant we went one down.

I’m not too sure if we would have come back twice last season after going behind, there was a more determined resolve amongst the players, whether that was formed from embarrassment or sheer determination not to lose knowing the difficult games that are ahead.

The next few weeks will be the key to the success or failure of this season. The January window with all the riches to follow next season will be a window full of inflated prices, desperate risk taking and blind luck, to which we should want no part of and must ensure we don’t by getting the ’3 players’ in ASAP.

I left the Old Lady yesterday with my lad asking why I looked a bit wound up, my reply was quite simple. We are the best sideways team in the league we just need to find a killer forward pass and we’d be brilliant.
Brian Williams
3 Posted 09/08/2015 at 07:54:31
Well the first half could have been one of the worst 45 mins performance I've seen for a long time to be honest. Lacking in ideas, and even worse, confidence.

Watford's midfield moved the ball quickly, they found space and always had someone in a position to receive the ball from the player with the ball. They went from the edge of their box to the edge of ours in few passes, and quickly.

We, on the other hand, were pedestrian and one paced. We need more strength, guile, and mobility in midfield.

If we continue to play one up front with the addition of only one midfielder/playmaker, before September 1st, we're basically doomed.

Peter Murray
4 Posted 09/08/2015 at 08:55:52
The main outcome of this game is Alan Shearer publicly joining,via "Match of the Day",the Stones Must Move To Chelsea campaign. It is bad enough that former and current professionals assume the right to meddle in Everton’s affairs (Ferdinand, Carragher,Cahill) but Shearer has moved this,ethically and professionally,to a different level.

He is an employee of a supposedly independent organisation.Impartiality is the main code.The club should make an immediate formal protest to the BBC.And fans should send in their protests.

It is all a concerted effort to destabilise the club and player so that we give in.
We should now dig our heels in even harder.
Ian Smitham
6 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:26:46
Funny isn't it. On Kens' report he has Barry as the MOTM. Shows the diversity of views on here and what a great site it is to spend time on.

Every time I come on here I try to learn something new or see a different view of all things Everton and you never let me down. Thanks

Mike Allison
7 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:39:25
I think his record in the transfer market is fine, it's his commitment to a style of football that clearly doesn't work that's the problem.
Joe Foster
8 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:39:58
Mediocrity if we are lucky I think.
Paul Jeronovich
9 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:44:13
The current tactics are sucking the life out of fans in the ground at the moment. Funnily, I attended a training course this week where people who are constantly negative are referred to as 'mood hoovers' and you should avoid these people like the plague. Might have to dodge the blues for a while !!!
James Martin
10 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:45:13
We improved once Barry went to left back, the same way we won almost every game he didn't play last season. He is the root of our midfield problems. Last season you could half understand as we had injuries but on Saturday he had Cleverley on the left, Barkley at ten, and Osman on the bench. One of them should have started ahead of Barry. Don't get me started on Howard.
John Jones
11 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:57:55
After watching the game from my hill side apartment in Prague, I don't know what was making my blood boil more the performance in the first half or the fact it was 39c.

One thing that sticks out and has for 3 seasons now is we are to nice we just don't have a hard man. Everything is so pretty and soft. Mike Jones was allowing Berhami and Capuoe to Kick us off the park, Berhami should have been off, The Tackle on Mirallis in second half was a straight RED my Stream in English (which a pay loads for) went down so I had to watch in Spanish and even the wonderful eccentric Spanish commentators both made noises like they were watching slasher movie. the replays show it could have broke his ankle. But not even a card from Mike Jones if that had been any other team in Prem there would been 10 players in the REFs face demanding a red but not Pretty Everton! Also Deeny should have gone for the tackle on Galloway clear 2 feet studs up tackle were the hell is our captain? he should be demanding a reaction from the ref!

The Second Half we played with pace and at times so really good stuff and Watford could not cope hence that when the kicking starts.

Barkley for me was top.

Martinez does make some strange decisions Galloway was doing well McCarhty was having a shocker yet it was Galloway that made way.
We also have Osman and McAleny on the bench but he brings on Ovedio who is as much a left winger as I am. Surely either one of the 2 would have brought more Spark.

If we are going to Bring 3 players in then 1 of them has to be a Dirty No Nonsense Hardman.

But I really don't trust Martinez and I fear we will bottom of the league by 1st November stuck on 1 point.

Mark Tanton
12 Posted 09/08/2015 at 09:59:59
I think Barry would be better off as an extra on Jurassic World, slowly stomping around and elbowing his way through thick forest.
Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:05:57
Paul 9, totally agree. You don't become the team that has played the most top flight games in this country, without being pragmatic. As Roberto would say, "it's in our DNA", especially in the stands. watching this style of football is soul destroying, and Goodison Pk, is losing it's soul, right now, with having to watch such lifeless football.

There is a saying, that those who learn the quickest, get on the most. Can somebody please tell this to the manager

Peter Gorman
19 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:26:49
A matter of personal taste but I disagree with you John Jones; if we were to become a team that got 'all up in the face' of the referee I would tune out quicker than I currently am watching this dull fare from Martinez. Handing out cards is the refs job, and I think the histrionic gamesmanship that has become the norm is what makes footballers and their fans a laughing stock in pretty much every other walk of life that doesn't involve football.

That said, a 'no-nonsense' player that put the boot into our own players' rear-ends from time to time wouldn't go amiss.

John Jones
20 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:30:47
Tony Abrahams Your hit the nail plum. DNA really I was lucky enough to stand on the bars in the Gwladys with my Uncle Terry when I was a kid in the 80s and the DNA I can remember was tough tackling winners and tricky wingers and a powerful forwards with the foil of a clever pint sized schemer.

The DNA I see now is that of Martinez not Everton. I know the Lawyer that did Jelavic’s deal to Hull and by all accounts Bobby is a true Gentlemen, That’s all well and good in Life it really is, But in the Premier League you need to be a cunt -- look at Van Gael and Mourinho, probably decent guys away from Football absolute; twats when it comes to there Team.

The players should Scared and respectful of there manger, they just don’t though.

Jay Wood
21 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:43:37
A very fair summary of the game and the general plight of Everton.

It's only the first game of the season and Everton are traditionally woefully slow starters - only 6 opening day victories in 27 seasons now - there are still 3 more weeks to bring in new recruits, so optimism remains with this Blue.

The squad has talent. It should not be drifting aimlessly in mid-table, or struggling amonst the bottom feeders.

However, as Lyndon and others point out, yesterday and pre-season has not revealed any fundamental changes to how the team is set up and instructed to play.

I was happy with the resiliance of the team, twice coming back from behind, but ... even allowing for the mantra there are no easy games in the PL, we should be putting sides like Watford to the sword.

We played with the usual Barry-McCarthy axis which served us so well in Roberto's 1st season, but - as with last season - yesterday they offered no protection to our defence.

My concern is teams don't have to work hard to score against Everton. There were countless times Watford had a free run at our retreating back four with no pressure from midfield. We were easily bullied or pushed off the ball all over the park.

If neither Barry nor McCarthy are effectively doing their core jobs, then isn't there some redundancy in continuing to set the side up to accomodate them?

Like all our squad, I like both players individually. Barry was one of our better performers yesterday, McCarthy had a mare. The back end of last season he was showing a bit more dynamism, getting forward more. Yesterday, he was back to 'safety first' mode, pattying short passes backwards and sideways, spurning opportunies to drop his shoulder, turn and go forward with the ball.

As for the rest, Galloway again performed well. Cleverly again looked tidy. A pity Baines got injured because in pre-season he and Cleverly were showing glimpes of replicating the Baines-Pienar combo of yesteryear.

Even with some stray passes, Ross had a good game, getting off some good shots. Mirallas had his moments. Kone did well. I feel for Lukaku. The heat map and touches map shown on the BBC yesterday revealed he was feeding off crumbs as Everton had no width and few telling crosses for him to challenge for in the box.

This was best summed up in what is becoming a defining posture of Colemman's with the ball at his feet... a forlorn spreading of the hands, palms up, enquiring "Anybody? Anybody offering or wanting the ball...?"

Yes, lots to address, but still time to have a good season.

Trevor Peers
22 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:44:12
Tony 14; Roberto has stated many times over, and over he will never change his philosophy of possession football. So there is no chance that he will learn, he may change tactics if were losing as he did yesterday, but come the Southampton game plan A will be reinstated. A familiar story that does breed contempt.
Kunal Desai
23 Posted 09/08/2015 at 10:47:49
Personally I don't see any way out of this mess for Martinez.

We play the top 8 from last season in the next 9 games plus WBA away. We are getting very little out of this run and will be in the bottom 3 or 4 by then. That’ll hopefully be enough for Martinez to be sacked.

Maybe this is the reason the board have held back in providing him the funds knowing they’ll be making a managerial change in over two months.
Peter Barry
24 Posted 09/08/2015 at 11:01:13
Same old same old and we all know that Roberto will never change so we are left with only one solution change Roberto for a manager who at least has a Plan B and a proper footballing brain.
Chris Gould
25 Posted 09/08/2015 at 11:08:11
Very good article, summed up most of my thoughts. It's very clear that RM won't change his system and will not start with 2 up front. That's pretty standard for a lot of top clubs, including Chelsea. The problem is Lukaku. He isn't suited to the role. He doesn't have the ability or attitude needed. We need a striker who works the channels, holds the ball up, and doesn't give their defenders a seconds peace. Lukaku will never do that.
If you have a striker that can hold the ball up and distribute it, then we have Barkley, Mirallas, Deulofeu who can all run in behind. With this system, Lukaku is the main problem.
Paul Tran
26 Posted 09/08/2015 at 11:48:02
No Plan B, Peter? I saw three yesterday. A was last season's rubbish, B was an improvement in pace and intent, C was two strikers up front, which gave us more balance, penetration and opened up some space.

The big problem for me is that I think he'll do the same next Saturday.

I agree with Chris; he needs to change striker or system up front.

Murdo Laing
27 Posted 09/08/2015 at 12:03:28
Very good article Lyndon, and Jay #21, you make a good point about the fact that such talented players should not be "drifting aimlessly", but at times, it looks like that’s exactly what is happening. How else can a player with the talent of Barkley be so out of sorts for a whole season?

At times, our better performers like Mirallas and Coleman have shown (non verbal) signs of frustration with Roberto’s tactics, you do sometimes get the impression that the players themselves feel like actors in a film they don’t really want to be in !

No doubt our fans will show up in big numbers again at Southampton (yeah, great scheduling by Sky again eh?)but I suspect there will be some trepidation before kick off , as our recent record there is atrocious.

I would love to see a bold, ambitious team set up by RM, but I think we all know that our manager will pay the opposition too much respect and we will see the familiar buttress of Barry and McCarthy in front of our back four with an isolated Lukaku and no width.
Jeff Hughes
28 Posted 09/08/2015 at 12:10:58
Whilst a playmaker is essential, regardless of whether Barkley showed some positive signs yesterday, the real problem is the style of play based on possession, resulting in slow build up and a lack of intensity which bores the crowd as well as making it easier for opponents to counter.

We seem to lack belief at times and lack risk-taking movement and swift, forward passing by players. No wonder opposing teams manage to snuff out much of our attacking play. Tommy Elphick (Bournemouth player) has just made an interesting observation on ’Goals Today’ when he said that Distin has said he couldn’t believe how intense training was at Bournemouth. Well, we know our teams are not trained hard and even our pre match warm ups look decidedly relaxed.

Maybe, Martinez is too nice and lacks the passion to create high intensity and powerful, driving football. I agree with John Jones (# 11p+20) in that previous Everton teams had a harder edge to their play and that is certainly needed in the premiership.

By the way, you don’t happen to be Sir John Jones, former Headteacher, do you? If so - top man and very entertaining speaker!
David Booth
33 Posted 09/08/2015 at 12:48:10
The first half yesterday was our 2014/15 season in 45 minutes.

This absolute obsession with six defenders must stop. We do NOT need Barry AND McCarthy. And on yesterday's performance, I'd drop McCarthy first. Barry had a genuinely good game while McCarthy huffed, puffed and got annoyed at his lack of effectiveness all afternoon.

There's talk of Shaqiri coming, but who would we drop for him? Right now it would have to be Barkley or Cleverley? One thing's for certain, it would not be either of Roberto's two must-play favourites.

The same applies to Deulofeu? Who makes way for him when he's fit.

Even Kone/two up front must now be entering the manager's thoughts after he helped us grab a barely-deserved point against Watford.

Seven (Barkley, Cleverley, Deulofeu, Kone, Lukaku, Mirallas and possibly Shaqiri/a much-vaunted new 'number 10') into four does not go.

Seven into five meanwhile gives us diversity, despertely-needed creativity, width and a genuine threat up front. Plus a couple of eager alternatives off the bench.

Ineffective favourites do not win matches Mr Martinez. They get managers the sack.

Eddie Dunn
34 Posted 09/08/2015 at 12:54:48
I have to agree with Paul Tran 26, Roberto does try to change things during a game, and the two up front is more effective, however, why do we have to be chasing the game before we push two up?

It is going to be a long, hard slog if we start out like this every week. This midfield is pedestrian and we will be exposed regularly without more pace in the middle.

Martinez is too stubborn and we will all suffer for his obstinacy, the pattern is still the same and he will have us languishing in the lower reaches of this league in the coming weeks.
Trevor Lynes
35 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:31:38
It is really galling for me to see an ex-Red like Shelvey hitting great crossfield passes wearing a Swansea shirt against Chelsea and watching Ayew, Gomis and Montero playing positively up front.Swansea have forsaken their slow build up game and look to have really improved with the additions they have made to the squad.

Why are we leaving everything until it is too late in the transfer market when we have been absolutely crying out for a quarterback type midfield general to get the best out of what we have.Every other club in the division cannot be wrong. The transfer window should have been used and the new recruits fully bedded in long before the Watford match. We have a tough opening programme and we are in dire straits IMO.

John Crawley
36 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:41:00
Lyndon another good review of the game which sums up my thoughts.

Don't know if anyone heard Mike Hughes's comment on radio merseyside after the match. He said that he had discussed transfers with Martinez at the end of last season and he had said he would be bringing in 2 early and three would be coming in late on into the window. Given our start that's taking a risk!

Brent Stephens
37 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:50:16
John #36 "[Martinez] had said he would be bringing in 2 early and three would be coming in late on into the window."

That's interesting. What would you say 2 would come in early and 3 late? Because you know that there'll be protracted negotiations over the sale of one of our players, resulting in a late sale,leaving little time to spend the dosh?

Why else? If the he's been told the money's available, and he knows who he wants (and surely by the end of the season he would have done his homework), then you'd think he'd be looking to do the business as soon as he can. I know that being seen rushing to spend money sends a signal to sellers that you're an easy touch. Why does he identify 3 to buy early? why any? why say anything about timing?

I'm curious.

Paul Tran
38 Posted 09/08/2015 at 13:51:28
John, you're right, it's a big risk, it defies logic, it's how our club operates and it will be thus until we get new owners. The only mystery to me is how people seem to think Martinez can change this!
Andrew Clare
39 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:08:53
Martinez is not going anytime soon. So the solution is to buy three exceptional players( better than anything we have at the moment) and watch the transformation in the team.At present we have too many mediocre players.

I would like Martinez to go now but this board will wait until at least January when we are in big trouble to get rid of him. Actually my number one choice would be the board going as they are the main problem.
Eric Myles
40 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:32:14
Brent #37, Martinez probably already had 2 in the hand when he said that, knowing they would cost nothing, and the 2 in the bush are when the Sky cheque is cashed.

He's working under the same constraints as Moyes and he's aware if it.

Victor Jones
41 Posted 09/08/2015 at 14:33:36
Martinez has to go now. Giving him to November or December could be far too late for a new manager to do anything. Bring in a new manager now. Let him bring in a few quality players. Martinez will have Everton tippy tappying their way into the championship. FFS watford are the favourites to be relegated. And Martinez couldn’t work out a way to beat them. Nothing changes at Goodison. We just plod on. And on. And on. We need at least three new players. How about Van Dyjk from Celtic. How about Shaqiri. And how about Charlie Austin. But I bet we get none of those players. Not with our braindead board and useless manager pulling the strings. Batten down the hatches people. This could be a long season, methinks.
Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:41:56
It just shows how badly our club is getting ran, John 36.

We might be playing all the top teams early and our players could do with a lift, but let's wait for the season to get started before we give them the re- inforcements that are needed, fuckn clever that!

Brent Stephens
43 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:46:53
Eric, you prob know more than me on this, but would the banks not release dosh in advance knowing that we are guaranteed the Sky money??
Jim Hardin
44 Posted 09/08/2015 at 16:12:27
Brent, RM and Big Sam have both commented on life in the transfer window at a mid-level club. You have to identify 5-8 targets at each spot and rank them. No CL means the top two are not interested. The next 3 players at the position are possible but likely to go to the highest bidder and wages. Everton were rumoured to be in the running for these players but did not get them.

The final 1-3 players are who you wait until the end to get to stop a fee inflation and meddling by other clubs. The targets are identified just not disclosed to us. Moyes did much of the same thing.

This is the one area for which I do not think that RM can be faulted, just I question his choice of talent. To be fair, Cleverly has looked to be a good signing. If he could look at the midfield to see the passing lanes for passes to the feet of players instead of looking over it trying to cross the ball 45 yards diagonally every 30 seconds to the far side of the opposition's box, he will be even better.

Phil Smith
45 Posted 09/08/2015 at 17:35:50
Recently I have read a lot of comments about how KonE is done and to be honest, I thought much the same. He came on yesterday and changed the game with an assist and smart finish. Shows you what we know.

We have to play with two up top at home. I don’t mind the big man on his tod for most of away matches but at home we need to dominate and not just in possession. Hope those goals give mounds of confidence to two lads who needed it the most. Next match.
Ryan Williams
46 Posted 09/08/2015 at 18:53:47
Agreed with the assessment that Barry is the core of the problem. Frankly, his standing around had something to do with the first goal. Beyond that, he’s just got no work rate and although his long passing looks lovely, it’s killing the entire concept of the offense. He’s just a tremendous liability. Two strikers - we would need another beside Kone - would work well with Barkley as he can play far away from net and still be dangerous running with the ball and firing from distance. Mix in two legit wide players - Mirallas is fine mixed in with Defo and are I say McGeady, everyone’s whipping boy - and just play McCarthy as our destroyer and move on.

But if we INSIST on playing two defensive midfielders, Cleverley should be one as at least he can push up the field a bit so it’s not 6 true defenders. And if we INSIST on playing the two, our backs need to attack wide and have other players to help them do that.

Ajay Gopal
47 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:05:50
After the 1st round of games, this is going to be a very interesting season. Star Sports in Asia here predict Everton to finish no better than last season’s 11th mainly because they have not invested enough in new players and others around them have.

I still think Martinez will get in 3-4 players in: Lennon is a sure shot signing (max 5 million), the mythical No. 10 will be a loan player I suspect (Kagawa/Honda or Januzaj), one CB will be signed (Van Dijk?) and hopefully a striker (Austin?).
Mark Tanton
48 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:10:46
Southampton away now becomes a big fixture. Lose it and Martinez has begun to pile pressure on himself early. It could all be avoided so easily, but we walk smack into the season every August absolutely on our arse, miles behind the rest. Perhaps Bill should not charge for August home games, as the club seems to readily write that section of the season off annually.
Colin Gee
49 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:23:02
Mark #48 given our awful record at Southampton, I can’t see us getting anything from there, then it’s City (H) Spurs (A) and Chelsea (H)

I can see us being bottom of the League after 5 games with 1 point.

Brenda across the Park was the bookies favourite to be the first Manager to be sacked this season, if we are bottom after 5 games then surely it will have to be Martinez.

Mark Tanton
50 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:28:08
No matter how bad August and September goes, I can't see Bill pulling the trigger.
Paul Hewitt
51 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:31:09
Here’s a point fellas. We might actually win the next 3 games and be top of the league.
Darren Hind
52 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:40:49
You worry me, Lyndon. I’ve always respected and admired your work, but you are seem to have nailed your colours to a rotten mast. This just- a-bit-more-time approach to Martinez is Killing us.
He is clueless, absolutely clueless, I know you are concerned about negativity on this site, but sometimes facts have to be faced.

We were playing against a team of strangers. One cobbled together in the hope of competing at this level. They may well do that . . . .but in the first game ?? . .What an absolute gift of a fixture

I know you will counter (if you put this post up in the first place) that this was just an opening game and criticism is premature. I cant have it. The fella has been here two years and we are going backwards at an alarming rate.

Do you really believe that if Martinez gets the players he wants, that things will change ? That we will abandon the safety first approach that prevents us from getting enough players in the box to win games ?

That Martinez will abandon his two insurance policies in front of the back four even when we are at home.

It’s not happening mate. Under Martinez, This is as good as it gets

John Crawley
54 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:49:42
Brent, Paul, Tony it wasn't completely clear but Mike Hughes seemed to give the impression that the reason Martinez was waiting till the end of the transfer reason was to do with better deals being able to be done/player availability. Obviously the way the club has been run has meant that we have to wait for the Sky money to land before we buy any players. Whether this is still the case with the large increase in TV money I don't know. I guess we will find out when we sign these players!

All I know is that its a dangerous strategy and leaves you trying to play catch up if you don't get off to a good start. I would have thought that it makes more sense to invest in players early and get everyone settled into the team. If there is a late bargain to be had in the transfer window then let it be the icing on the cake and not the cake itself!

Lyndon Lloyd
55 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:52:31
Darren (52): I know you are concerned about negativity on this site, but sometimes facts have to be faced.

This is constantly being mis-represented, Darren. It wasn't the negativity per se, it was the tiresomely repetitive pronouncements by the same old people every time we ran a quote from the manager that I had a problem with. Articulate and well-argued opposition to and criticism of Martinez is fine because everyone is allowed their opinion.

Like you, I'm concerned that Martinez isn't learning, isn't seeing what we're all seeing but he is not going to be leaving any time soon so I have no option but to give him that time to see if he can bring in the players we need and whether they can make a difference.

Andy Crooks
56 Posted 09/08/2015 at 20:19:18
Darren # 52, I agree entirely. To me, yesterday could have let us see that Martinez has changed or that there was some semblance of hope. It was more of the same. A total lack of urgency, innovation or guile. Two fingers to anyone who hoped that Martinez was not utterly entrenched in his lame unworkable philosophy.

He does not have it in him to change and what he offers is destroying our club. We have no reputation as sacking club and even were he to go we still wouldn’t. What will it take for him to be removed? I fear playing anyone now.

Paul Tran
57 Posted 09/08/2015 at 20:29:26
Darren, good to have you back on here swinging. I'm not convinced that Martinez is clueless; I do think he keeps making poor decisions and he thinks his weaknesses are his strengths. Either way, it isn't helping us and like you, I'm not convinced he is able to change things round. My only footy bet this summer has been a few quid on him being the first ons sacked, as I think this could end very quickly or he will start performing.

I'm concerned with the idea that people can't be negative. I've enjoyed arguing with you and many others and I make the distinction between criticising his performance, tactics, transfer activity and the stream of stuff about us being doomed, going down, denying he did anything well in his first season, etc.

The strengths of this site are the diversity of views and humour. I hope they stay and we all do - regardless of our views of the current manager.

Martin Mason
58 Posted 09/08/2015 at 21:17:25
After watching the games this weekend I'm more hopeful in that tactics and effort seem to be nullifying the gap between the big spenders and the 2nd tier clubs. West Ham's game plan completely negated Arsenals superior talent and ditto with Swansea against Chelsea. Watching Liverpool and Stoke you'd have struggled to tell who the millionaire spenders were. The game is also infinitely worse to watch as a result as the game is really midfield and defensive chaos with very fast closing down and the ball becoming available regularly from broken play, no team dominates another by virtue of their silky soccer skills because the skills needed now are different. I liken it to the breakdown in rugby Union and it's the team who get possession when the ball breaks free that win the game. Goals are scored not from pretty play but by teams who can break quickly from broken play and they are not scored now by trying to play like Barcelona did 5 years ago. Nobody plays tip tap football for more than a few passes and it is a total liability as teams can also get back into defensive formation very quickly and I think this is why Everton are so dysfunctional now. The problem is that RM seems to have missed the change and Everton are not competing in a game which should suit them and perhaps would have suited us in our Dogs of War days. The funny thing is that against United last year we did it exactly right outfighting them in midfield and 3 goals on fast breaks.

The game now isn't about skills like we saw with Ball, Harvey and Kendal or Georgie Best, they would have to play completely differently today to have any success. Today I saw the complete modern footballer who was the main reason that they beat Arsenal, his name is Reece Oxford, a 16 year old lad who can play central defender or defensive midfield, young but soccer clever and super fit, great attitude. He gave his back 4 complete protection and broke up every constructive move Arsenal made and his successful pass rate once he'd picked the ball up in broken play was 90% plus. If Stone is worth £40 Million he is priceless and yet we possibly have an equivalent in Besic.

Sorry, my conclusion is that we are playing yesterday's game and we need to up our tempo and learn the tactics that are enabling sides, like Watford, who can make us look ordinary with far more humble players. I believe now that we have a great squad which 3 years ago could have been great but the game has changed in that time and we're playing the wrong game.

James E Evans
59 Posted 10/08/2015 at 19:57:48
Howard, Barry and Lukaku stunk the place out on Saturday, whilst McCarthy, Mirallas and Barkley were not far behind. This is going to be a long season.
John Aldridge
60 Posted 10/08/2015 at 22:23:59
Now that previous comments have mentioned it - it is total madness. 60% of our outfield players on the pitch are defensively minded. How is that supposed to work? The Barry/McCarthy worked for Martinez's first season as we still had attack in mind - the Moyes hangover. But he's been found out, opposition know all too well how to neutralise us. Even Watford - new to the Prem - knew how. Keep us at arms length, let us pass sideways, backwards - yet offer little attacking threat. The squad - and team - on paper should be better than the results suggest, and that all falls onto the shoulders of one man. Phenomenal Bob.
William Cartwright
61 Posted 11/08/2015 at 18:00:07
Martin Mason (58). Wow that makes a lot of sense. I had the same reaction but was not able to analyse or articulate it. The Chelsea–Swansea game in particular looked like a game of chaos theory in practice. All action and plenty of movement but little thoughtfulness on the ball. Usually because of players getting closed down so quickly.

The successful ones were the quick reactors eg; Ayew’s goal and the fast dummy from almost a sitting position. Amazing. So when all teams are playing this highest up field aggreessive midfield wins the day approach it is an amazing spectacle. Along comes Roberto with his past it approach.

Team after team will have us for breakfast, week in week out. And not just the top six. We could be in real trouble. Alternatively, by playing slow from the back and managing to keep control we could develop a a patient style, that may work if the skill level and 2 strikers. or more can keep the opossition tied down. Miralles, Lukaku and Barklay could do this.

However because we are so out of step with call it the new buccaneering style (17 to 1 it seems) Roberto is well out on a limb. I hope against hope he can turn it up a notch and prove all us doubters wrong, but considering your post Martin I think we are royally screwed. New players is not necessarily the answer. We do have a very strong squad (excluding injuries) and good youth back up.

The reality is if we (Roberto) does not wake up and get with the program, like all the other managers in th PL, then forget it. Champions League here we come with probably our lowest ever point total.
Ron Sear
62 Posted 14/08/2015 at 09:09:31
When Roberto uses the word 'phenomenal' all you have to do is look up the antonyms of the word to see what he really means -

bad, common, commonplace, customary, familiar, inferior, insignificant, little, normal, ordinary, plain, poor, regular, small, tiny, unexceptional, unremarkable, usual.

All the fans have to do is look up the synonyms of the word 'mediocre'.

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