We've Learnt Nothing!

We desperately need to embrace other styles of play. We are far too easy to play against and, given the fixtures ahead, we could be in for some bumpy ride.

Paul Traill 09/08/2015 20comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 2 Watford

It's always a nice buzz catching up for the first game of the season. Gaz rolling up at about midday, grabbing Ste on route and on towards Goodison Park. We parked up as per the norm, though as we saw a lad hanging around at the end of the road with a "watch yer car?!" threat/request, we instead sneaked away towards The Brick via a different route...we sure showed him.

We got the team news in the pub and it's a real shame that Leighton Baines has suffered a reoccurrence of that ankle injury (that's a ridiculous accumulation of injuries for a pre-season by the way). Brendan Galloway replaced he at left back with Lukaku also making it back from a pre-season injury scare to lead the line for us. In the pub before the game Arouna Kone was the subject of substantial scorn from a few of the guys. You wouldn't really have banked on him making such an impact today.

Predictably enough Watford supporters arrived in their numbers and filled their away end in yellow and made quite a noise throughout...though I would expect that from a newly promoted team.

We attacked towards the Park End in the first half though other than a busy first five minutes and a fizzer from Ross Barkley that was tipped over the crossbar, we offered precious little and Watford edged ahead via a Layun drive following a dizzy spell of pressure from the visitors. Watford ahead and Goodison Park restless. The boos at the break told you that if you didn't know already.

The second half was much improved by Everton. We attacked Watford with much more intent and could have equalised on two occasions in particular when first Lukaku and then substitute Kone headed over with free headers. It was getting frustrating and you wondered where the goal may come from when, out of nothing, Barkley opened his account with a thunderous effort from 20-25 yards out. OK it took a deflection which helped carry it past Gomez but that is exactly what we have been crying out for. Don't shoot, you don't score and it was a great goal from Barkley in an otherwise muddled performance by he.

We dared to dream and Mirrallas was immediately withdrawn injured, with the vigour and enthusiasm of Bryan Oviedo replacing him, however we were caught with a sucker punch when Watford substitute Ighalo waltzed through, beating Stones and placing the ball beyond Howard far too easily. All the hard work put into getting back into the game undone in one sloppy instant.

Even with just seven minutes remaining in the game you felt there was another goal in the game and it came when Lukaku combined nicely with Kone with the Ivorian finishing very smartly indeed into the far corner. He appeared a little emotional as he kissed the turf once he'd scored.

Four minutes remained and though we huffed and puffed we couldn't get the winner. We trudged away disappointed. How have we managed to start every season under Roberto with a 2-2 draw against a newly-promoted team? This signifies that we have learnt nothing. Our play hasn't changed. We are still FAR too predictable. Every team has long since figured us out. Seeing us gamble more by going with two up front on the hour mark was almost more frustrating. I'd love to see us begin games this way. It brings way more out of Lukaku and plays much more to his strengths, though we all know how we will line up next week at St. Mary's. Hell I bet most of us could even successfully guess the team. Perhaps personnel will improve before the deadline slams shut but it won't change our style or our "philosophy". We desperately need to embrace other styles of play. We are far too easy to play against and, given the fixtures ahead, we could be in for some bumpy ride.

Player ratings:
Howard: I don't think he can be questioned on the goals. Kicking poor and distribution often laboured however. 6
Galloway: Did little wrong and it's great to see young players given opportunities. However I question why we play him ahead of a more natural and attacking left back in Oviedo, who really helped us press forward later in the game. Surely at home to Watford we should be thinking about attack rather than field a lad who is much more of a centre back than a full back. 6
Stones: Began the game very well though was caught out for their goal. At times he threw his arms out in exasperation at what was going on ahead of him. Looked a little frustrated. I don't believe he will still be here come the end of the transfer window. 6
Jagielka: At fault for Watford's opener, though had a pretty solid game otherwise. 6
Coleman: One of the few who tried to make things happen and kept on ploughing forward. 7
Barry: The better of the midfield duo. At least he always shows for the ball and shows some willingness to make things happen. 6
McCarthy: I thought he would play well having just signed his new contract though he probably had his worst game yet for the club. Poor display. Headless chicken springs to mind. 5
Cleverley: He improved second half but didn't get into the game in the first. In hindsight Leon Osman would have been a sounder bet to start. 6
Mirallas: My man of the match. I hope we get that effort from him every week now. I also hope that injury isn't too serious. 7
Barkley: The goal aside he didn't offer a lot for me. Seemed to run around in circles and was often over-elaborate with the ball. More positively, it was a great drive which got us level. Fingers crossed it can give him a bit of confidence for the season. 6
Lukaku: Poor. Didn't seem to show enough desire to get on the end of things and link up with the team though he did improve immeasurably when paired in attack with Kone. If only Roberto would take note of this and give it a go with two strikers. 5

Kone (for Galloway): Credit where it's due, he made an impact and you never know, maybe the goal will help him kick on. He should start up top with Lukaku next game. He'd be disappointed to remain on the bench having scored one and made one. 7
Oviedo (for Mirallas): Got involved and made a positive impact. Also should start next game at left back as he provides a much more attacking threat than Galloway. 7
Naismith (for Lukaku): Got involved in the short time he had on the field. 6

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Reader Comments (20)

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Paul Tinsley
2 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:38:26
To quote RM 'Barkley has changed immensely'. Once he gets sacked he can always take a new job up as an comedian.
Mark Tanton
3 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:40:40
What are you talking about Paul? He is in a fantastic moment right now!
Mike Hughes
4 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:45:55
"We parked up as per the norm, though as we saw a lad hanging around at the end of the road with a "watch yer car?!" threat/request"

Paul - I can assure you that was a request. I apologise if I came across as a nark but our service is first class.

Shane Corcoran
5 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:52:29
One of Davie Provan's first comments was "typical McCarthy run there, getting ahead of the ball."

I like Davie, but that made me chuckle.

Same old, same old as far as the overall game goes.


Steve Barr
6 Posted 09/08/2015 at 15:54:33
Headline is spot on.

Our players are already trotting out the same old platitudes...Cleverly "we know we can do better". Then bloody well do it straight from the whistle.

The season is short, a player's career is short. Get out there and perform and earn your inflated wages every chance you get.

Only thing that will cheer me up is Stoke beating Liverpool.

Steve Hogan
7 Posted 09/08/2015 at 18:13:10
always enjoy your posts, but Mirallas MOM? My god he was just about the worst player on the pitch and largely anonymous.

Even the red Echo had him down as having a stinker.

How long did you stay in the pub pre-match?

Rick Tarleton
8 Posted 09/08/2015 at 18:16:23
Last season we played newly- promoted Leicester City and ended up with a draw, this year we play newly-promoted Watford and end up drawing by the same score and that's progress?
Still we've obtained the new Ray Wilkins who can pass sideways for ever and never make a penetrating pass. Yes, we are certainly not improving.
Rick Tarleton
9 Posted 09/08/2015 at 18:38:42
Here. here about Oviedo, the man oozes class , but somehow, he's upset Martinez and is treated like a bit part player, he is close to Baines's standard.
Oliver Molloy
10 Posted 09/08/2015 at 18:52:46
If we get three points at Southampton it will give everyone a lift - if we don't and get beaten it will the opposite.
The pressure is on the manager and the team even more because of the Watford draw.
There is no excuse what so ever for Everton not being able to beat Watford at home in the first game of father season - NONE!
James Stewart
11 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:00:22
Good report. Barkley had a nightmare apart from his goal and you are being somewhat kind to him with your rating. His passing was woeful and perhaps we should stick him up front. He can certainly hit them and he is out of the way there.

Our default formation is completely dead. Even Watford could contain it with ease. I echo your frustration at us not trying 2 up top. Had we done that from the start we would have won and not spent as much time pratting around in our own half. Your right, nothing had been learned and it is going to be a season of frustration.

William Cartwright
12 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:26:02
Three promoted teams in the last three seasons? Why should that be? I know the fixtures are set by computer, but someone programmes the thing. What's going on? When did the Dark Side last play a promoted side on the opening day? Also what a surprise game for them to sart. They have to play away because of their ground improvements. So who do the get? Stoke of course. Then they can erase the demons from the last game of last season. Never mind the fact it is the first time the last game of a season has been repeated by the first match in the following season. Why am I not surprised. . .
William Cartwright
13 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:26:03
Three promoted teams in the last three seasons? Why should that be? I know the fixtures are set by computer, but someone programmes the thing. What's going on? When did the Dark Side last play a promoted side on the opening day? Also what a surprise game for them to sart. They have to play away because of their ground improvements. So who do the get? Stoke of course. Then they can erase the demons from the last game of last season. Never mind the fact it is the first time the last game of a season has been repeated by the first match in the following season. Why am I not surprised. . .
James Flynn
15 Posted 09/08/2015 at 19:50:55
Well, we're soft. That's what stands out to me. We're soft. Not a bit of edge anywhere.

Not advocating a return to the 70s style of play. Wasn't around the English footy, but the major North American sports had the exact parallels in the rough stuff. Not looking for that.

But who's replaced what Neville and Cahill brought onto the pitch? No one. Not even close. Hell, Fellaini or Arteta even.

To be at home, first game, against a promoted side, and NOT press them from the first whistle was embarrassing.

Owners, manager, players; soft.

Paul, you mention Stones throwing his hands up. Saw Coleman on the flank with the ball, do the same thing three times.

And if McCarthy's entire function is too cover every blade of grass (which it is) and he's not doing that, what purpose does he serve?

Also, don't know that tall, skinny RB for Watford, but he looked the best defender on the pitch.

Dick Fearon
17 Posted 10/08/2015 at 03:57:40
Paul, I too am confused about your MOM award to Mirallas. My own choice was split between our full backs. Coleman for really trying to make a difference and Galloway who fought like a tiger on his debut.

I agree with your opening statement about us learning nothing. Having made a personal vow to allow Martinez 10 games to prove his worth I will not say anything about him. I did not make a similar vow about his support staff who sit in incommunicado behind that incompetent as he drives the club to hell in a basket.

The terrifying thought is they are all of a like mind to their boss and cannot recognize where we are going wrong. There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. Before solutions can be found the coaching hierarchy must first of all be able to identify our problems and sadly I have come to believe they do not. Should all media pundits plus those in fan pages described things as they really are the powers that be would have no place to hide.
Rob Newling
18 Posted 10/08/2015 at 09:03:23
Another Winter of discontent looming ? Am guessing it will take a while before RM goes / changes his mind ! Happy to be surprised on that though.

Backs against the wall ? Been there done that ! Despite all the corporate posturing of late doubt that Stones will be with us for much longer. Money doesn't talk, it swears.

Were the boos directed at Kone, or RM for bringing him on ? Sad days indeed if we're prejudging the players. House divided & all that ...

Really down to Bobby again, our squad will do the job, if he plays to their strengths & motivates them ! I'll take a season of consolidation now, if it leads to future riches. COYB

Michael Penley
19 Posted 10/08/2015 at 10:32:27
I've never seen so much pointing as our players did against Watford. Coleman runs down the wing with the ball; points and then retreats back. It's not hard to figure out what this means, that our movement off the ball is crap and we're far too static. We seem incapable of running and passing forward into space, instead it's the incredibly predictable passing between players standing still.
Brent Stephens
20 Posted 10/08/2015 at 11:13:53
Michael #19 - I saw that as well. And not only him encouraging other players to move into spaces wide. So are they told to run into those spaces but don't follow the plan? or does the plan not include the idea? It was clear that the times we threatened most was when we got wide and deep into their half so we could get a cross in behind their defence.
Steven Twine
21 Posted 10/08/2015 at 11:39:18
What is so frustrating is our formation. It didn’t work last season and again Martinez is setting us up the same. Surely in pre-season he could have tried new formations but no, he sticks to the same. Teams know how to play against us.

Why can’t we have one defensive midfielder at home against a newly promoted team or a team we should be beating? Two up top from the start against said teams. This business of one winger swapping flanks from time to time is seriously pissing me off.

Other teams just double up the other side when this tactical genius does this. What about three at the back? The tempo in every game is slow and ponderous just like lesser teams like because they can reorganise defensively and get 10 men behind the ball. Things have to change rapidly otherwise we are in trouble.

Sam Hoare
22 Posted 10/08/2015 at 12:01:57
Got to agree with the title at least. It all looked horribly familiar and I wonder what it is that we work on in training as we seem very disjointed in defense but equally rather insipid in attack? We know its not set pieces....

Once again we are totally lethargic until we go behind and then seem to start playing with more focus and intensity. Surely the manager has to get them playing that way from the start!

Still early days though and i've sworn by myself to try to not make any judgements till we're 10-15 games in...One thing is for sure though. We're gonna have to improve alot to get more than a handful of points out of the next 4 games !

Steve Cotton
24 Posted 10/08/2015 at 15:39:07
I personally think we should sell Stones and get two huge dominating centre halves, Jags can always be their backup (he is almost in his last good year anyway).

We need to repel every ball into the box at head height with gusto. Jags is too small and Stones is too inexperienced. Lets get this aspect of the team sorted asap and build from there.

Sadly if JS is going this window then do the damn deal and replace asap.

Stop feffing about telling the press we don’t think its fair people keep talking about him. Its in our interests to move on NOW.

By the way Mirallas, McCarthy and Barkley all had poor games but thats for another day.

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