From My Seat: Man City (H)

Many of us were disappointed but, in the cold light of day, the better team had won but only with two goalkeeping errors.

Ken Buckley 23/08/2015 47comments  |  Jump to last

We all turned up in hot conditions but most must be weather-watchers as showerproofs were accompanying T-Shirts and shorts. The Room of Nonsense was abuzz with transfer speculation. In short the conclusions were that Stones will be kept but apart from that any other incomings or outgoings will not be believed until someone waves the shirt and every Everton member gets the confirming e-mail. Everton and transfers are always treated this way by our gang as years of anticipation at all the rumours have left us a cynical lot.

Teams were announced and no change from last week which left most quite happy. Also, the bench looked quite strong which did not go unnoticed. However, during discussion it was felt that the fit again Mirallas should have been in for Kone.

Time for the walk up and the showerproofs were out as we were having mild drizzle. The protesters were out but this time it wasnt Evertons Chairman or board being targeted but rather Mayor Joe was being encouraged to go due to alleged corruption within the council. Rather than a plane they had a big black van with all necessary placards in place.

The drizzle didnt put anyone off as Spellow Lane was well-populated and on turning into Goodison Road Fat van, chippies and café were churning out enough fast food to worry the health police. Talking of police, their horses had been there and their droppings mixed with drizzle is a mixture to avoid for a near sell-out crowd of 38,523 who, after entering the ground, gave a terrific welcome to the players. City had filled their section and were in bullish mood.

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The game started in lively fashion with both sides getting into gear. Early doors Lukaku with a lousy touch set City on a break to our goal and but for a fine stop by the foot of Howard Aguero could have turned it into a terrible start. Both teams were getting forward when they could but it was noticeable that City seemed to have the greater threat especially down our left where they seemed to have targeted our left back area. This was borne out when the speedy Navas sped past our left-back and crossed for Aguero to take his time and aim at goal but Howard did a fine block.

The half wore on in a fairly even fashion with both teams playing good joined up stuff yet when it came to final thirds City always looked to have the edge on us. Where they caused good blocks and saves our attacks yet again seemed to lose momentum. Poor first touches and sloppy passes being our downfall. We had one move of note when Coleman hit a long one to Kone who deftly played in Barkley and he played on the ground to Lukaku in the box. He duly netted but rapture turned to sorrow as a linos flag ruled it offside. I look forward to seeing that again as it looked right close to me but the linos view was far better than mine.

A goal then could well have changed the game but now we will never know. We were awarded a free-kick just outside the box that Barkley took... oh dear, they are still looking for the ball in Stanley Park. Just before the break Galloway went to the turf for a second time and after treatment was led off to be replaced by another rookie in Browning.

Halt time arrived with the game goalless and most seemed pleased with our efforts considering the wealth of talent that was against us. I did think that in that half we should have been a little more adventurous at times instead of giving City as much respect as we did. Easy for me to say, I know, but we just hadnt fully gone for it when the chance arose which was not that often.

Second half and City looked like a team who had been told to up their game. Ex-red Sterling was booed on his every touch but he seemed untroubled as his link up with Silva got the City man around the back and he smacked a post. A let off and a warning.

City were coming at us more and more now and we seemed a bit in awe of them as we were timid in a lot of our work both attacking and defending. Stones was certainly not playing for away as some of his tackling was strong and was never afraid to put his head in danger but he did give us the jitters by trying to play his way out of trouble and getting in a mess on a few occasions. He has great confidence in himself though. Coleman was our main attacking threat and his buccaneering runs and crosses were reminiscent of a couple of seasons ago.

As the hour mark loomed City were piling it on more and more with our counters sporadic and lacking in craft and guile. Final passes going astray and player misunderstandings ending dangerous looking moves allowing City to break and from one of these the ever raiding Sterling fed Kolarov who got almost to our byline with three Everton bodies in attendance. One of them put his hand up to claim offside but Kolarov had sped in and smashed the ball home between Howard and his near post. Looked like keeper error.

You could see disappointment and disbelief on the players as with shoulders sagging they slowly made their way back into position for the restart. Our manager left it little more than 5 minutes to change Kone who I thought had done OK with Naismith. I was hoping for Mirallas who at least has pace and unpredictability, two qualities that I thought could just unsettle a confident City. We had the comical sight of Stones and Browning chasing the same ball down our left and both attacking the ball at the same time thus tackling one another and allowing Navas a free run on our goal. He hit the ball with power at Howard's legs hoping to get the ball through them but our keeper had none of it and made an excellent block.

At the other end Cleverley and Naismith forced a corner which we attacked and won another one but this time City headed clear and that bit of excitement was gone. But it had got the crowd up and Goodison was ringing out with support and got even louder when Coleman goy the better of Sterling in front of the City fans and headed off down the wing. The Irishman was up for it now and soon forced a corner which was cleared. Coleman attacked again as the clock ticked and from a cross Barry headed goal ward beating the keeper but Kompany headed off the line. Drat, said many!

Although City looked the better side we did attack and although these moves broke down I didnt think it was all the fault of the players because on a few occasions we just seemed to be having no luck, no rub of the green as good balls would just deflect enough to halt the move if not bad luck it was certainly frustrating players and fans alike.

Just five minutes to go and Deulofeu is brought on in place of Cleverley. I wont describe his offering instead lets be charitable and conclude he is rusty after not playing much football in Spain. I sat bemused for a moment contemplating why no Mirallas. I doubt we will ever know.

2 minutes to the 90 and City again targeted our left flank and got Navas in. He strode into the box and from point blank range hammered one in that Howard did well to push away but only to the incoming Nasri and between the hesitant Howard and two other defenders Nasri was allowed a free chip over Howard and into the net. 2-0 down and a mass exodus of fans. The remaining 4 minutes of added were played out and then the final whistle. Many of us were disappointed but in the cold light of day the better team had won but only with two goalkeeping errors.

MotM – Silva... but for Everton, Coleman

Overall a frustrating day out yet one that showed we are looking better than last season and how we look after the window closes will give us a better idea of how we will look by seasons end.

My man in the family enclosure tells me Mirallas when warming up was shaking his head in frustration and when Osman was sent out he threw hands to his head. I reckon he was not happy.

Early in the game at a City corner stewards were called to an incident in the Street end. It turned out someone had taken ill and were eventually carried out of the ground on a stretcher. I hope they have recovered well. It was impressive to see such quick action taken and by the number of official people in attendance Well done Everton.

Barnsley next on Wednesday night. Now I cant wait for that team sheet.

Keep the faith for today we could have been beaten by this seasons champions... unless of course we have a great transfer window.

See you soon.


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Reader Comments (47)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 24/08/2015 at 00:20:44
You’ve pretty much ’nailed it’ with that report Ken. The old adage that ’class always tells in the end’ was very much in evidence I thought.

On the plus side, Coleman was outstanding for us, with his marauding runs, similar to two season’s ago, whilst Barkley tried to stop the flow of the City attack with his own powerful runs directly into the City defence.

Ultimately, we simply didn’t have players of the ability of Aguero, Silva and Nasri up front, who are the modern day ’game changers’ every top side needs.

A word on Tim Howard, I actually thought he’d played quite well until the first goal, but top class goalkeepers really do not get caught out by their near post, and the less said about the second howler the better, although McCarthy went awol on the one-two by Toure.

We have six days of the transfer market left, which I believe will make or break our season.

Stones won’t leave, certainly not in this window, but the lack of creativity in the final third, will come back to haunt us again, unless we can buy someone to fill the role.

No doubt the last few hours of the 31st will have us all hiding behind the sofa again, the joys of being an Evertonian...

Jim Hardin
3 Posted 24/08/2015 at 00:56:43
Steve, how is the second goal Howard's fault? He was pinned to the line and post to stop any sot near post given that he had just punched one away to that spot. Explain to me as a keeper how I am supposed to essentially be in two places at once? Where was the defender to stay goalside of the player or at least to stop the ball played through and behind? Unbelievable how quickly Howard gets blamed for simple defensive errors by the players in front of him.

First goal he got beat near post by a player unmarked who had 2+ seconds to pick his shot. Not the only time of the day that Everton allowed Man City's players to have all the time they wanted on the ball. As a keeper, I have cheated off the near post when I have seen unmarked players behind me time after time after time and seen two crosses fizzed across the face of my goal with no Everton player to intercept them. Unfortunately, Howard expected the cross and gave too much post.
Still though Howard isn't the player who couldn't score for Everton and no matter how good or bad the keeper is, you cannot win if you do not score and that is the bottom line here.

Steve Carse
4 Posted 24/08/2015 at 01:04:48
Jim (3), please don't blame the first goal on anyone but our goalkeeper. It was a howler. The players were visibly deflated by it. When you're up against a top side you just can't be giving goals like that away.
Harold Matthews
5 Posted 24/08/2015 at 01:15:00
Thanks for the usual good report Ken.

We've had excellent movement and creativity in the final third all season but it goes out of the window whenever Naismith comes on. I love the lad but he's a bit rough around the edges. Can't say his mate Lukaku had a great game but he was crowded out.

Kieran Kinsella
6 Posted 24/08/2015 at 01:39:39
My daughter and I did a dress rehearsal of this at the park and it ended 2-0 to City with "Aguero" scoring a similar goal as today and "Barkley" rather than Lukaku hitting the woodwork. Consequently I was fully prepared for this result.
Gavin Johnson
7 Posted 24/08/2015 at 01:42:01
Jim - How did I know you would make your ubiquitous post trying to defend Tim Howard. Trying to make excuses for a goalkeeper being beaten at the near post is indefensible and suggests you have joined Graham Mockford's Tim Howard fan club.

As a fellow yank are you just fighting Howard's corner?! I know yanks are very patriotic but saying the first goal was anything other than the failure to make a bread and butter save essentially says that you, like Tim Howard don't understand the basics of goalkeeping.

Peter Barry
8 Posted 24/08/2015 at 02:24:26
I think the who to substitute and when to make substitutions pages were missing from Roberto's training manual. Oh and if Lukaku ever learns how to control the ball he might be a decent striker.
Bill Gall
16 Posted 24/08/2015 at 02:56:57
I have to agree with those people not understanding the substitutions, the first one at fullback we replaced a left back with a right footed player and left a supposedly fit Oviedo on the bench who was considered with Galloway as Baines back up. The second one when we needed someone with pace and an eye for goal we brought on a journeyman foreword and asked him to play on the wing, and the last change as Ken described, to be charitable, let's just say he was rusty.

On a different subject, those people who say they do not want a rich owner: if you were around, did you disagree with the money Mr Moores put into the club that gave us the title of Merseyside Millionaires. This is a different era and today money talks and if you don’t have it then your future is to become used to playing for between 6th & 8th in the league.

David Ellis
17 Posted 24/08/2015 at 03:39:32
As others have said we played quite well..but City are great side and it showed. They were a joy to watch.

We have a few issues that hold us back which are difficult to fix. Lukaku's control and first touch is not up to standard. Barkley's decision making is still a bit suspect. These are not players we can replace or should drop so I think these problems will persist.

On the plus side Coleman seems to have found his form again, Stones looked relaxed and Cleverly looks like a good player that will improve the side. Howard kept us in the game, he did leave the near post open but the angle was so narrow I really don't think he expected it could get in the gap he left - it was a brilliantly taken goal.

Gavin Johnson
18 Posted 24/08/2015 at 04:16:39
Actually Jim, apologies, I’m being over dramatic there just to make a point. Howard can be a good goalkeeper on his day and he seems rejuvenated since he ditched the mountain man look.

He had a very good game yesterday, but typical to form, he had one of his moments which took the gloss off everything else he did in the game.

Matthew Svatos
19 Posted 24/08/2015 at 04:59:15
I completely blame Martinez for that result. When Galloway went down hurt, instead of putting Barry in there, which has worked in the past, he puts in a right sided centre back/right back. He got found out incredibly quickly and we could have lost by 4+ if Navas could shoot.

And then, instead of trying to maybe put some pace out wide in either Mirallas, or Deulofeu, or both, he goes with Naismith. Followed by a 5-minute cameo for Deulofeu.

I thought we played exceptionally well in that first half, so much so that we deserved at least one goal, but whatever was in the lucozade at half-time destroyed any momentum we had.

That little bit of optimism after last week's result has dried up, and now with games against all the money sides on the horizon, I can’t see myself regaining it any time soon. Some serious business better be completed by the end of this transfer window or it's going to be another incredibly long season.

Paul Ferry
20 Posted 24/08/2015 at 05:05:50
Bill - 16 - are you seriously comparing the sheikh or a Russian embezeller to John ’local’ Moores who made it good and gave back to his club and lived in the area all his life and picked up hitch-hikers on the way to aways in his Roller?

I’m sorry... that is an utter insult to John Moores.

Rick Tarleton
21 Posted 24/08/2015 at 06:26:34
I think the way Silva and to a lesser extent Toure bossed the midfield, left us with too little possession. McCarthy should have been told to man-mark Silva. However, generally City looked that bit more cultured and a lot more composed near goal.
Mike Green
22 Posted 24/08/2015 at 06:53:20
No complaints with the result, we played well enough and with some luck might have come away with something.

Unfortunately if you want players of the quality City have in every position, and with back up too, you need serious money and the difference in class in most area was pretty evident yesterday. How they defended in numbers is something we could learn from though - truly impressive - and it was their clean sheet (despite weak link Hart) that secured them the points. Sometimes you've got to say we got beat by the better team, and I can't see this one ending up out of the Top 2 come May.

Great to see Barkley clearly with his tail up and getting his confidence back, and to watch Stones again in an Everton shirt - I imagine we've got a year, maximum, left of that. Ironically his last game for us could be against his home club Barnsley on Wednesday night.......

Christopher Timmins
23 Posted 24/08/2015 at 07:04:26
I thought the team lacked balance and was more than surprised when Barry did not fill in at left back.

The window shuts on the 1st September and while it looks as if we have acquired a left sided central defender we still need a play maker and a back up to Rom.

On yesterday's game we were beaten by the best team in the division. They have a far bigger budget than us and we simply cannot expect to compete for titles with them at present.

The banner should have flown over Goodison yesterday when the rich played the poor and not last Saturday when the poor played the poor.

Tommy Hesketh
24 Posted 24/08/2015 at 08:01:05
Just an observation from yesterday, hadn't the Power 8 sponsorship already been exposed as Scam? Has anyone told Bobby Elstone, think it may need removing from the post match interview booth!
Dick Fearon
25 Posted 24/08/2015 at 08:51:13
The price of oil is going through the floor and Mansour will be counting his shekels or whatever goes for cash in Arabia. Russian billionaires will be down to their last few millions and another GFC is coming is on the cards.

Maybe time for the rise of the ordinary bloke when Everton will again be great. That my friends is the only consolation I can offer. Lord help us!

Paul Mackie
26 Posted 24/08/2015 at 08:56:45
I’m not going to moan too hard about being beaten by the team that will most likely be Champions in May. That said, I really wish that Lukaku had Barkley’s first touch.
Jim Harrison
27 Posted 24/08/2015 at 08:59:19
With the other Jim on this. Howard made several very good stops, first goal wasnt a great example of goal keeping but as Jim says, the player had time and also others to cross too. He makes a choice and it doesn't come off. Second goal? Please, great ball, poor tracking, decent finish.

I think City had a plan to target left back. Both Browning and Galloway did okay, but too often seem to be chasing the ball. I can't for the life of me understand why Oviedo can't get on the pitch.

That aside, I thought it was a decent performance against a vastly superior team. Quality showed through in the end. Coleman looked more like himself; few teams will be able to deal with Barkley if he can play at that level consistently. Cleverley looked handy; given a little more time I can see him really developing into an important player

Regards Super Kev, perhaps Roberto plans to let him actually get fit?

David Chait
28 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:07:13
Thought the stand-outs were Barkley, Cleverley, Coleman and Jagielka. Barkley, even in a losing side, looked class I felt. Some good turns... made the decision to keep possession instead of always going for broke. He wasn’t overrun at all; very good signs for the remainder of the season.

For some reason, we just stopped pressing. Stones must've backtracked 20 meters to let Sterling just keep going. He never should have been allowed to stroll into our box no matter what happened next.

Barry should have gone to LB straight away if Oviedo is not fit yet. Browning might be a useful CB but is not a LB.

Dave Abrahams
29 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:18:58
Very good and honest report as usual Ken, we had a decent go of making a game of it but, like you said, we never really pressed them enough. I’m a big fan of McCarthy but he was very poor for me; in fact, he hasn’t impressed at all this season up to now. Coleman was by far the best Everton player.

I'm not going to critisise too much, at least until the transfer window is closed. As the squad stands, it is patently obvious we will struggle again with these players. I will leave my thoughts on Martinez until a bit later in the season.

Andrew Ellams
30 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:20:13
Yesterday ,I think we saw a team that is going to win the league at a canter this season. They had an answer to everything Everton offered.

I think Martinez made a mistake going into the game without any width in the team; if City have a any weakness then defending against pace out wide is probably it. But, after the stick he got at times last season for constant tinkering you can see why he didn’t change a team that played so well last weekend.

I thought McCarthy was excellent; he reduced Toure to a virtual cameo performance, and Coleman is starting to look a bit more like the player of two years ago.

I think we will be a frustrating team to watch at times this season but will ultimately fair better than last. The transfer dealing in the next week will be absolutely key.

And best wishes to Brendan Galloway, I have damaged my patella tendon and couldn’t do any sport for 6 weeks, let's hope the more advanced medical technology available to him can get him back and available sooner rather than later.

Tony Marsh
31 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:23:03
Some harsh comments above. Yes Howard was at fault for the first goal but so was the Kopite linesman for the disallowed Lukaku strike. Basically a bunch of kids and a few experienced players gave the Champions elect a good run for the money.

This City team is full of top world class internationals and they play for the world’s richest club. With a little bit of luck and without shithouse officials bottling it, we could've had at least a point. We did okay as it turned out. I think we can beat Spurs and Chelsea if we play like that. Poor use of subs was a problem.

Christopher Dover
32 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:36:32
My thoughts on the game.

First half we competed, but our final pass in the city half was poor.
Second half I got the impression we did not start till after fifteen minutes had gone by, thought they would come out full of bite and running but the opposite happened.

Subs, well I'm with most on this: Kone I thought did quite well... maybe tired, but replaced with Naismith (who I like) when the team needed an out, someone with pace.

Deulofeu was ready to come on with 10 minutes left, the ball did not go out until I think we got a corner but he was not put on? So it was down to five minutes left, what is the point? It will take 10 minutes to get up to speed in a game and, other than to waste time, I cannot get to grips with the way subs are used.

Overall, we did OK. I do not blame the players as I do believe they can perform better but not with the tactics that are employed.

John Jones
33 Posted 24/08/2015 at 09:38:27
One question? Lukaku’s disallowed shown on replays was level just like the first city goal, This linesman was the same gezzer that allowed the RedShite's against Bournemouth

I think we showed way too much respect to Citeh. We did trouble them at times. Naismith was terrible when he came on. Why was Mirallas left on the bench?

Weird subs for me handed them the game plus a very dodgy offside decision.

Ajay Gopal
34 Posted 24/08/2015 at 10:00:00
Ken, you missed out the Lukaku free-kick in your report – the one that bounced off the top of the cross bar; 6 inches lower and that is a fantastic goal!

But, yes, to echo what most opine here, we were beaten by a better team playing out of their skin at the moment. I think we felt the absence of Baines more than anyone today. The lack of any kind of threat down the left side meant that the City right side had a field day against Galloway and Browning.

I think that was Martinez thinking in not bringing on Mirallas – with Kone and Naismith, you have two guys who will battle for the ball and provide some protection for the young left-backs.

Regarding Oviedo, one can only surmise that Martinez has seen him in training and thinks he is not yet ready to start yet (remember, Galloway got injured in the 1st half, so Oviedo would have had to play a major part of the game).

Gary Mortimer
35 Posted 24/08/2015 at 10:00:07
A couple of points from the top balcony.

Those calling for Oviedo to replace the injured Galloway missed the fact that he wasn't on the bench, and I think having Barry against Navas would have led to more City chances, as the lad is a bit quick. We missed Baines/Garbutt/Oviedo badly as there was a lot of space to exploit but both youngsters were very defence minded - obviously not wanting to be caught out of position.

McCarthy and Cleverley are too similar. McCarthy slightly better in the tackle, but hasn't the range of passing. In my opinion McCarthy was poor yesterday and didn't offer anything going forward.

David Silva was just too good yesterday, but we gave him a bit too much space.

Howard actually saved a few things, but let himself down on the near post - after holding out for so long the nature of the goal hurt us badly.

Naismith was not the man to rescue the situation. I would have tried Mirallas for Kone.

Stones and Jags kept Aguero as quiet as I have seen him.

Coleman had a good game - nice to see those marauding runs again.

Ross had a good game with only 1 really bad choice - in the 2nd half when he should have gone wide to Naismith.

Aguero was one of the first to spot the incident in the crowd and was quick to signal something was up - fair play to him there.

It all highlighted the difference between hundreds of millions of pounds of players against less than a hundred million pounds.

Clive Rogers
36 Posted 24/08/2015 at 10:30:02
Paul #20,

John Moores was born and raised in Stretford and was a Man Utd fan who bought Everton as Utd were not for sale. He never actually gave Everton a single penny, but helped them when needed with interest free loans. He was of course an astute businessman and ran the business side of the club rigidly.

Paul Cherrington
37 Posted 24/08/2015 at 11:47:26
I agree re the replacing of Galloway with Browning – very strange... and not fair on the young lad coming on.
Mike Childs
38 Posted 24/08/2015 at 11:55:37
Thanks, Ken, great report as always. Shame on RM who again went to playing favorites instead of what the situation cried out for: Mirallas not Naismith. Yes I’d like to think that he’s protecting Kev getting him 100% but somehow, given Kev’s reactions and prior treatment of Kev, I wonder.
Robert Workman
39 Posted 24/08/2015 at 11:57:00
This was one of the best performances that I have ever seen by an Everton team, against superior opposition, in a defeat. The fact that they withstood the first half onslaught and kept the game in the balance until the last few minutes deserves a lot of credit.

Unfortunately both goals came as a result of goalkeeping errors at a time when we were matching City, although Howard had kept us in the game in the first half.

Small matters affect results. Lukaku's goal was "fractionally" offside, but on another day might have been given. He also grazed the bar with Hart beaten. The most frustrating incident (apart from the penalty that wasn't given for the foul on Jagielka) was when Hart mis-punched the ball which then hit Lukaku and could have bounced into the net.

If Everton play like that in the next 3 tough home matches they will certainly pick up points.

Steve Carse
40 Posted 24/08/2015 at 12:22:41
Re the substitutions, it wasn't so much that Naismith was brought on, but that he proceeded to play in a defensive wing half role most of the time, so that what was ostensibly a 4-4-2 line up became a 4-5-1! Naismith right alongside Lukaku might have caused City problems. Naismith playing wide left was never going to.
Dave Pritchard
41 Posted 24/08/2015 at 12:23:19
Barry should have gone to left-back when Galloway went off. It was clear they were targetting our inexperience there and we desperately needed some width to our attack.

Robert@39 I don't agree with your 'one of the best performances' although clearly we were up against superior opposition and it was not a bad performance. I felt we needed to go at them more but it was difficult as they kept the ball very well.

Thomas Surgenor
42 Posted 24/08/2015 at 12:52:18
Dave (#41),

I disagree; Barry at LB would have been a disaster yesterday. Browning was the right choice. Barry's lack of pace would've been exposed against one of the quickest players in the league.

Robert Workman
43 Posted 24/08/2015 at 12:52:18
Are you the same Dave Pritchard that went to Vaughan Road Primary School, New Brighton in the '50s?

My reasoning behind that comment was the fact that, although we lost, I felt that we performed well and that sometimes we just have to accept that we will be beaten by a superior team. So I do not feel as disappointed today as usual, especially after a home defeat.

I must agree with earlier comments that Baines would have made a big difference, particularly going forward.

Dave Pritchard
44 Posted 24/08/2015 at 13:59:46
I’m not that one, Robert... although I am an old git.
Bill Gall
45 Posted 24/08/2015 at 14:26:12
Paul #20 There was no mention in my comment of a sheikh or Russian embezzler. It my come to a surprise to you that there are a large amount of successful billionaires running sport enterprises, that made their money honestly.

There was no way that I would insult John Moores, as being a supporter from the mid 50s, I will never forget what he did for Everton FC.

Harold Matthews
47 Posted 24/08/2015 at 15:12:59
All professionals should be two-footed. It's not even difficult to learn.
Eddie Dunn
48 Posted 24/08/2015 at 16:23:43
I’m with Jim Hardin on the Tim Howard performance. We would have been dead and buried were it not for his good saves, as our defence opened up like the Red Sea.

I still play in goal regularly and have been caught out at my near post when trying to cover the rest of my goal when poachers are waiting for a simple cross. Kolarov was cute to pick the gap. As for the other goal, Tim had to watch the near post and the shot across him to his right and it was a clever chip that surprised us all.

The important things to learn from that game are that Martinez is unable to see obvious substitutions that will give balance and leaves it too late when thinking of getting some width on the park.

City targeted Galloway from the start, and Browning was another square peg in a round hole. Many have already asked why Barry wasn’t switched to left back?

The negativity of Martinez could be understood if we hadn’t fallen behind with 30 mins to go. Did he really think that a straight swap of Naismith for Kone was going to get the equaliser?Surely it was time to roll the dice and bring on Mirallas and Deulofeu, sacrificing some midfield solidity for some width? After all, City were pulling us all over the place and were unlucky not to be 4 or 5 ahead.

The players worked really hard, and I do think we are going to have a better season than I had feared. City have quality everywhere, and the cleverness of Silva was what watching football is all about.

The problem we have is still our manager. He needs to bring some flexibility to our tactics and show the kind of swashbuckling flair of two seasons ago. Last week, after the great win away at St Mary’s, I said that the acid test would come when we had to break down a team sitting deep. City threw more forward than most teams visiting Goodison Park, but perhaps wary of what we did on the counter the week before, their defence were careful not to get caught too far up the park, and our breaks were less dangerous.

To think we could have gone top of the League with a win should be tempered by the thought that our next games are away to Spurs and away to Chelski. Our points tally may still be four when we take the awkward trip to Swansea.

Christopher Wallace
49 Posted 24/08/2015 at 17:50:22
Matthew (#19),

Do you honestly believe putting Barry (our slowest player) against Navas (their quickest player) would’ve been a good idea?

Possibly Oviedo, but who knows how fit he is, and Browning is more defensive.

Navas (and Silva, Aguero, Nasri) rip apart any defence in the world on their day. City were the better team but we were competitive, if a bit lacklustre and predictable at times.

Twice we were inches away from taking a half-time lead. City were on the ropes a bit for a while and had to resort to cynical fouls to keep us out.

Next 7 days or so are massive, to state the obvious.

Sam Bull
50 Posted 24/08/2015 at 17:59:51
The first couple of times Silva got the ball, he should've been broken. Sorry but from then on he would've been a different player. Maybe not your tactics but they would've worked. I've seen it before, he doesn’t want to know.

Andy Meighan
51 Posted 24/08/2015 at 19:13:49
Andrew (#30), you thought McCarthy was excellent? Well, me and nearly everyone sitting around me thought he was shocking. As he was almost for all of last season.

Just because the lad has a good engine doesn’t make him a good footballer. This is his 3rd season with us and I’ve yet to see him hit a defence-splitting pass. He'll get the ball in good areas and turn and go sideways or backwards.

Yesterday, he offered the back four no protection at all and once again offered nothing at all going forward; it's becoming the norm with him now. He should’ve been subbed yesterday with 30 mins to go and the manager should have introduced some width, ie, put Cleverley where McCarthy was and put Mirallas or Deulofeu on.

But no... Martinez is petrified to sub McCarthy or Barry; god only knows why but it's becoming embarrassing. How anyone can say we played well yesterday is beyond me. Yes, we matched them first half but honestly, the Lukaku free kick apart, did we honestly look like scoring?

I can’t remember Hart having a single save to make whereas Howard made at least 5 good saves. It's just as well Navas couldn’t finish as it could’ve been embarrassing.

Obviously it's no shame getting beat by a side who are going to have a major say on where the title ends up but please let's not make out certain individuals played well when it's patently clear they were well below par. Oh and wasn’t it McCarthy's poor control that led to the City opener? Just saying, like...

Jim Hardin
52 Posted 24/08/2015 at 20:51:56
Careful Eddie, If you continue to agree with me Gavin will call you Tim Howard's agent or imply a too-familiar relationship with him. I too as a GK have done exactly the same thing as Tim did when I have watched too many balls being cut back or fizzed across my goal face. I do it because I am anticipating the play and because I have no confidence in my defenders.

It just seems so many on here label every goal as a TH mistake or howler when it isn't. It is odd that he either saves it (and it is what he is "supposed to do" no matter the difficulty) or it is his fault with never any credit to the shooter. He even got criticized last year for not saving a PK for goodness sake.

Dave White
53 Posted 24/08/2015 at 20:53:33
Yes very disappointing after the Soton game, but I'm certain we got beaten by this season's champions. Also I thought we showed a bit more solidity than last season, a bit of luck and we could've had the first goal, the first replay showed it as offside but the review at half time showed Lukaku as level! And as for Howard, yeah near post is never good for a keeper but he wasn't the reason we lost that game.
John Brennan
54 Posted 24/08/2015 at 21:15:02
I haven’t read the above, so sorry if I am reiterating, but it was so infuriating to see us give the ball away and sometimes in our own half. For Gawd's sake, don't give the bloody ball away. Got it??!!

Yes, I’m looking at you, Lukaku!!! We should have had Mirallas on in the second half.

Dave Pritchard
55 Posted 25/08/2015 at 09:31:38
Agree with Andy (51) about McCarthy. I think he has been well below his best so far and really needs to show improvement. Barry has been much better than him in the 3 games.
Barry Jones
57 Posted 04/09/2015 at 01:09:34
I agree with he comments on the holding midfielders, Barry and McCarthy. They have two jobs, protecting the back four and linking up with the attacking midfielders and forwards. Right now, they are not doing either adequately.

>The better holding midfielders in the league push up high when their team attacks and they always conspicuous just outside the opposing box, looking to contribute. This makes sense tactically too as it closes the gaps between the lines.

Ours are conspicuous by their absence.

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