Any chance of a sub, Roberto?

Our corners are so bad it's almost laughable. What isn't almost laughable is Roberto Martinez' continued insistence on not making substitutes when it's clear they are needed.

Paul Traill 07/12/2015 20comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1-1 Crystal Palace

It's that much fun watching a cup draw in the pub that I think I'll do it every time from now on should we, as expected, skip past Dagenham & Redbridge or Whitehalk, of course, next month at Goodison Park. The "uh's and arrr's" which accompany the draw always makes me laugh, the funniest moment being when we thought we'd drawn Brentford away though it was ball No.60 that came out, not 16. The draw went as about as well as it could have done.

After a few drinks we set on up to Goodison Park in an unseasonally mild night. Tom Cleverley was the only change from the team which drew at Bournemouth, replacing the stricken James McCarthy in midfield. Craig Pawson got the game under way with Everton attacking towards the Park End in the first half in what was a lively beginning to the game which saw Ross Barkley curl over and Connor Wickham denied by a point blank Tim Howard save.

It was a tight first half with little between the teams though Everton did eventually attain some authority on proceedings and were very unfortunate not to get ahead when Romelu Lukaku got his shot away but it came back off the inside of the post with some assuming it to be a goal. Arouna Kone also blazed well wide with a reasonable opportunity but at the break the scores were level.

Into the second half and though we again struck the woodwork when Ross Barkley's free kick was flicked onto his own crossbar, and the impressive Tom Cleverley was denied by a top drawer save by Wayne Hennersey; and though we were dominating possession and dictating play, we were always vulnerable on the counter-attack. When Phil Jagielka plays he uses his pace and reading of the game to help prevent opposing counter-attacks, though with him injured, we appear much more susceptible, and so it proved.

Crystal Palace had already been denied once by a good Tim Howard save, and this time were again thwarted when Jason Puncheon was denied by the American after our defence had halted Yohan Cabaye. From the resulting corner however, Scouser Scott Dann headed in to give the Eagles the lead against the run of play on 76 minutes.

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Romelu Lukaku almost replied almost instantly when the ball sat quite nicely and he hit a half volley past Hennsey from the edge of the penalty area which thundered back off the crossbar and out of the radar of the onrushing Arouna Kone.

Undeterred, Everton pressed on and got the deserved equaliser when Deulofeu got by his man and this time put a low ball into the danger zone. I think Gareth Barry got the faintest of touches to it and Lukaku was on hand to score goal number 50 for Everton. Boy he sure got there fast. I hope he sticks around to score 50 more at least.

We were poised for what we hoped would be a cavalry charge but due to a combination of poor decision making, tired efforts at goal, good game-killing by the visitors and a little bit of poor officiating, we never really puffed and the goal looked less and less likely - the last action of the game being a Kone drive inside the penalty area which was blocked and out for what should have been a corner though Pawson elected to blow for full time despite overlooking some quite blatant Crystal Palace time wasting at a throw in. He probably only saved us more heartache mind you. Our corners are so bad it's almost laughable.

What isn't almost laughable is Roberto Martinez' continued insistence on not making substitutes when it's clear they are needed. I could painstakingly point out a number of instances throughout the season where a substitution may have made a difference, though in the last two league games it has been particularly apparent. With a talented Kevin Mirallas on the substitutes bench, why you wouldn't gamble with replacing Kone with he I really don't know. It was clear at Bournemouth, and would have been worthwhile this evening, at least for the last 10 minutes. That's not just me having a moan about Kone, but he is 32, and is still on the way back from a long term injury.

Kevin Mirallas, though not always my cup of tea either, at least offers a different dimension and might just turn a game for us given the opportunity. Even if Martinez doesn't want him, surely we'll get more money for him if he's involved and playing rather than left on the substitutes bench. And don't get me started about why we've signed Aaron Lennon!

I wait in hope that we freshen it up at Norwich, though won't hold my breath.

Player ratings:
Howard: He was getting a bit of flack around me though I'm not really sure why. He was a bit indecisive at times but did make three very good saves also. 7
Galloway: Showing a lack of confidence in attack though didn't do badly otherwise. 6
Stones: A bit hit and miss. Some good defending, some bad. Some great passes, some poor. All part of the learning curve. 6
Funes Mori: The pick of the centre backs. 6
Coleman: Had a good game. Perhaps didn't get his cross in often enough but was tenacious throughout and always up in support of Deulofeu. Had a good game. Hope he can gallop on now. 7
Barry: Did OK but was looking pretty leggy by the end. At his age I think we really have to manage him better. He's a brilliant player for us Barry but needs to be in form. I worry we may burn him out if he continues to have to play every minute of every game. He may struggle through our busy Christmas and January spells. I don't have a solution to this though unless we can get Muhammed Besic back on the pitch. 6
Cleverley: Played well. I'll be interested to see where/if he'll feature when McCarthy comes back. Wonder if he'll be winged again? 7
Kone: Had a poor first half but grew into it a bit in the second. Was getting no joy down the left and, as Gaz pointed out, you wonder how any relationship from the left could flourish between he and Baines. He seemed to do better in-field when joining Lukaku in attack, but really should have made way for the fresher legs of Mirallas or perhaps even Naismith. 6
Deulofeu: Not a great first half but improved after the break and was a constant menace. Barry may perhaps have nicked his assist, I don't know, but that Deulofeu-Lukaku partnership is worth a lot of goals to us. 7
Barkley: My man of the match. His passing and use of the ball was intelligent and I even saw him chase a player back and put in a solid tackle at one point. He didn't get forward into the box as much as he has done in some other recent games but seldom wasted a pass. A very mature display - something we haven't been able to say often about Ross. 7
Lukaku: To make 50 goals in such a short space of time is impressive and he is easily on course to be our first 20 goal a season striker since Yakubu. He could have scored more today and was unlucky not to. Hope he can keep it up. His form and fitness is imperative to us this season. We would struggle for goals horribly if we lost Romelu for any sustained period of time. 7

Baines (for Galloway): I'm still frustrated this was the only substitution we made, and this not even really a tactical one. He's certainly struggling for match fitness Baines and it may be a few games yet before he's back starting games again. 5

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Reader Comments (20)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 08/12/2015 at 01:28:07
We were desperately unlucky tonight, the woodwork saved Palace three times, as people say it’s small differences that make or break a season.

Everton will be really kicking themselves they haven’t picked up an extra four points from the last two league games. We really are only two/three players short of being a very very good team. We penned Palace back for most of the second half in a patient, almost suffocating sought of way, and credit for not going route one with five minutes left.

Once again though, I take umbrage at the misuse of substitutes by the manager. I’m all for easing Baines back into the side, but not when Bolasie is causing havoc down both wings; what was he thinking of?

Also, the perennial problem of the No 10 shirt? I thought Kone was probably our poorest player tonight, don’t think he offered Lukaku an awful lot of support during the ninety minutes.

Would it have altered things to give Mirallas a run out for the last 20 minutes?

Overall though, really impressed with Everton against a strong resolute team, who were on the back foot for most of the game.

Craig Fletcher
2 Posted 08/12/2015 at 01:38:07
I’m guessing the reason for no subs Paul is that we were still looking very likely to score in the final 20-25 minutes. It’s always a tough one to measure as throwing your subs on can actually disrupt the cohesiveness of your team. Naismith v Chelsea aside (when he was introduced early on due to the Besic injury) I can’t think of a game this season where we’ve had an impactful substitution.

That being said, we’ll now never know what sort of impact a Mirallas or a Lennon substitution may have made today. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice.

Michael Williams
3 Posted 08/12/2015 at 03:52:13
Agreed. Everton were looking like they could score for the last 25 minutes.
Trevor Lynes
4 Posted 08/12/2015 at 07:36:42
Craig, I do not agree! Subs often score winning goals and Mirallas had three shots in his cameo against ’Villa and one on target against Bournemouth.

’Palace were set up to stop Lukaku as there is no other goal threat. Barkley played well enough but does not score often enough to be a top attacking midfielder. Our 2nd most prolific scorer was sat on the bench again. Mirallas must be brought on at the hour mark or shortly after, as both Kone and latterly Deulofeu were showing obvious fatigue.

Bournemouth were allowed to attack us with impunity, when bringing on Mirallas would have stopped their full back attacking so freely. Kevin must have really p....d off Martinez as he is definitely a better goal threat than anyone else on our books.

The whole game is about scoring goals and stopping opponents. We have too many non-scorers in the present squad.

Sam Morrison
5 Posted 08/12/2015 at 08:56:19
I like your reports, Paul, so thanks for keeping them going.

My opinion on the subs thing is that, whilst Martinez has definitely been guilty of prevaricating over subs over the past year, last night I didn’t feel they were needed. We were playing well and pressurising right to the end.

Dick Fearon
6 Posted 08/12/2015 at 12:00:55
Amazing the effect a charismatic animated passionate manager has on his team. Pardew is one of that kind. He kicks every ball and bellows advice the whole time.

Meanwhile, our Roberto is like a statue, an island unto himself, aloof and distant from any possibility of advice from his coaching panel.

Jay Harris
7 Posted 08/12/2015 at 16:14:13
Thanks for the report Paul.

Have to take issue with your ratings though.

I thought John Stones was real class last night and definitely worth an 8 closely followed by Coleman, Barkley and Lukaku.

I think Funes Mori and Galloway have both struggled a little bit in the last couple of games and am looking forward to a Jags and Baines return to solidify the back 4.

Jeff Armstrong
8 Posted 08/12/2015 at 18:42:00
This manager, much like the last, is so slow to react to what is happening in front of him; everything was going down the right side last night and at times it looked like Gerry was having a couple of "no mas" moments, he needed a bit of respite at times.

Nothing was coming down the left; Galloway has done brilliantly since he came in but Martinez must realise that he needs taking out of the firing line to continue his development. Baines should have started and Mirallas or Naismith should have replaced Kone after the hour.

Each time I look at the bench, it is always Graham Jones whispering in the manager's ear when it comes to substitutions; where is Martinez’s tactical acumen? He never reacts to situations, indeed he isn’t proactive to situations before they develop.

I believe his naïvety and lack of tactical nouse has cost us 4 points in the last 2 games.

Rick Tarleton
9 Posted 08/12/2015 at 20:27:45
Mirallas for Kone was an obvious change with twenty minutes to go.
Ross Edwards
11 Posted 08/12/2015 at 21:33:09
The frustrating thing is that, in his first season, Roberto was spot on with almost every sub he made. Whenever we were behind or in need of a goal, he’d act and that player would have an impact.

This season, however, it’s the complete opposite. He’s far too hesitant and has slipped into a Moyes-like conservatism where he’s unable to change a game or simply doesn’t want to. It was blatantly obvious that Mirallas coming on for Kone was needed, but he didn’t act.

Whether our phenomenal passing sends him into a tiki-taka trance causing him to become so engrossed in the game that he forgets that he’s the manager, or whether he is simply unable to change a game, it’s concerning because each dropped point is costly, especially when the league is as close as it is. We desperately need to find some consistency.

Now, whatever the situation with him and Mirallas is, he is still a player who has the ability to change a game. Or he had Lennon as another option. He is fast becoming the most pointless signing ever. Has he done anything of any note other than getting into that 12 shades calendar? I can’t think of anything.

Norwich is a must-win game. We cannot afford to drop any more points in what are winnable games, especially with the games we have to come in January. 5 wins in 15 so far, which is only one more than a Chelsea side having a dreadful start so far.

We should be capitalising on any poor results by the top sides. Man Utd are toothless, Liverpool are still inconsistent and Man City without Kompany are shambolic. Top 4 is there for the taking. It’s an open invitation.

We should be in the top 4 now. We aren’t because Roberto’s loyalty to Howard – who would have been dropped months ago by any decent manager – has cost us several points, and our leaky defence and inability to defend crosses or set pieces which he has repeatedly said we will ’learn from’, has also proved costly.

The same old mistakes and poor decision making by Martinez are holding back this squad’s progression. Hopefully in May we don’t look back at games like Swansea, Bournemouth, Palace and others and think about what night have been.

Eddie Dunn
12 Posted 08/12/2015 at 22:49:42
Thanks for the insight, Paul, it is always good to read your views.

Dick points out the solitary nature of our leader. What does he think his separation says about his fellow coaches?

Behind Roberto’s apparent amiable persona, there lurks a controlling, stubborn figure. Mirallas must have got on his wrong side, as must have Naismith. A while back, Naismith was used everywhere rather than specialists in various departments.

This reluctance to sub is costing us, and by the end of the season it will cost us European football, as I am convinced that we will have simply drawn too many games to get the points needed.

He has already said (for what it is worth) not to expect any new faces in January, but will Kev and Nais want to warm the bench for the rest of the season?

And Paul asks why was Lennon signed? Good question.

Harold Matthews
13 Posted 08/12/2015 at 00:16:40
Nice report, Paul. Ratings fine by me. Substitute situation a mystery.

Baines looked fat, scruffy and unfit. Looked like he didn’t deserve an outing.

Everyone on the pitch was knackered late on so the totally legless ones didn’t stand out too much. Mirallas for Kone would have made a difference.

Steve Carse
14 Posted 09/12/2015 at 00:26:37
Scruffy!?. Just as well Pirlo isn't on our books Harold!
Terry White
15 Posted 09/12/2015 at 00:33:24
I asked the question in August as to why we needed to sign Lennon. A nice cameo at the end of last season and he said he wanted to come back, but we already had more than enough cover in that position. As it is, he did not cover back to mark his man at Bournemouth, which contributed to the 3rd goal as his man put in a free cross.

It looks to me like he has joined KM in the attitude-problem ranks and is serving no useful purpose for us until such time as GD runs out of steam.

Terry White
16 Posted 09/12/2015 at 00:34:55
I do recall, however, that there were plenty of people on this site who did want us to sign Lennon permanently.
Henrik Lyngsie
17 Posted 09/12/2015 at 07:42:33
Well substitutions are always easy in hindsight. I was quite pleased when Baines substituted Galloway. Of course, I was well aware of the risk that Bolasie would be too fast for him. But Baines looked slightly off the pace and moreover it seems like Barkley refuses to pass to Baines.

I thought the idea to play Baines was to generate some pressure from the left flank as well. We were very one-dimensional with most actions going through Geri.

I am a big fan of Mirallas and think we are really well off if we can afford to have him as a substitute. But I was not screaming for him to substitute Kone.

Given the way we played, I would have liked to have Naismith in the box. Geri put in so many crosses and got no return. Naismith in the box with Lukaku for the last 20 minutes would have been a good sub. He could have replaced Cleverley who had played really well but looked a bit tired in the end. Then moved Barkley a bit further back and Naismith just behind Lukaku.

Anthony Dwyer
18 Posted 10/12/2015 at 01:12:27
Massive flaw in Roberto's armoury for me; it seems he is inept at times to think quickly enough to fix games.

Yes, he has got it right against West Brom; and yes, he made some great calls in his first season... but it's all about the here and now.

Successful league managers take gambles, especially during home matches, and Roberto does not.

Look at Man Utd during Fergie's last few title wins... he had average teams that he forced over the line by being bold. The games where Man Utd finished with 4-5 striking options on a pitch with only 2 defenders are uncountable.

Martinez will simply not change his set-up and is too slow to do his subs. Games where we are playing at home vs 10 men behind a ball are screaming out for a defensive midfielders or a defender to be replaced by a goal threat.

Against Palace, we had Mirallas and Naismith both on the bench, both capable of grabbing us a goal and in turn a vital points boost.

Mirallas was a must on Monday and Martinez was either to stubborn or too stupid to see it; either way, he leaves a question mark over whether he is a good enough manager to push us into the top 4 positions.

Harold Matthews
20 Posted 10/12/2015 at 12:46:19
Yes Terry, I wanted Lennon but I didn't expect Deulofeu to be so brilliant. Whether or not he can go the whole season without injury or without needing a rest is another matter altogether. Some sides will definitely try to clobber him.

Mirallis hates the right wing spot. For him it has to be centre or left , where he can cut in and shoot with his powerful right foot.

Lennon may also be used in the role McGeady couldn't quite manage. Chasing down fast opposition left side subs. He did it successfully last season when he also picked us up by the bootstraps and got us moving forward with some purpose. Don't write this lad off. We'll be needing him.

Pete Edwards
21 Posted 10/12/2015 at 13:41:05
Trevor, remind me how many goals Barkley has scored this season!! Assists as well which is what a top attacking midfielder should bring. You might want to reconsider your comment!
Harold Matthews
22 Posted 10/12/2015 at 13:44:39
Well Steve, Leighton did look like a sack of spuds with a bad haircut. A long way from the image I usually have in mind. He also ran like a sack of spuds.

That said, one or two of his intelligent crisp accurate passes made me purr with delight. The kind of real professional passes we haven't seen for such a long long time. My goodness, that lad knows how to strike a football. Get fit Bainsey boy. I can't wait to see you at your best again.

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