Charitable Everton provide unwanted festive deja vu

It's Roberto's inability to learn and stubbornness with team selections which kills me the most. We've one heck of a squad there and it's not being utilised, instead the same players are being selected week in-week out.

Paul Traill 19/12/2015 21comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 3 Leicester City

Strung on the couch since Thursday with a rough bout of tonsillitis, I was touch and go as to whether I was going to make the game, though eventually I manned up and got in the car with Gaz and Ste for the game against the surprise league leaders, Leicester City.

Being a little under the weather and on penicillin I was on the lemonades in the pub, with a startled Gary observing "what are you on there?".

We got the team news and it surprised no one that, despite two successive draws (three in total), the team remained unchanged. What was perhaps a bigger surprise was that Steven Naismith, a man so highly revered this week in the local press for his good attitude and popularity, was not even amongst the substitutes, leaving no strikers on the bench, though three central midfielders. Way to keep your important fringe players happy, Roberto!

As we left the pub and routed to the ground the rain was tumbling down and there was noticeably a lot of zip on the turf as we looked down from our seats. In a really lovely tribute, children from Alder Hey hospital where invited to lead the teams out onto the pitch. The rain persisted, Goodison was full against the league leaders and we attacked the Park End for the first half. A plane flew through the gloomy clouds with a banner stating THANK YOU MR KENWRIGHT. Excitement was brimming, so you could count on Everton to let you down.

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We began the game brightly and were having the better of things against an industrious and motivated Leicester City who do a great job of defending from the front. Despite creating little, we were the team on top and were looking good in the game, only to throw it away cheaply, when Funes Mori got caught on the wrong side of Okasaki resulting in a coming together, and thus a penalty for which Jonathan Moss really had to give. Riyad Mahrez converted with Tim Howard guessing the right way but the ball just out of his reach and in the corner.

Everton reacted well and levelled in five minutes. We found ourselves in the penalty area and when the ball broke to Ross Barkley he showed remarkable composure to create a little space and get his shot away. Schmeichael repelled it but it came back to Barkley who drove at goal and this time it was cleared off the line by Andy King. It rebounded to Romelu Laukaku who instinctively drove back at goal and into the net to put Everton back level. Relief and delight all round and we went into the break all square and the only boos were reserved for Jonathan Moss who had made some bafflingly inconsistent decisions throughout the half.

There was more great charitable giving by Everton at half time with a Blue Santa presenting gifts to the children of Alder Hey hospital. Unfortunately Everton proved just as charitable on the pitch as they were off it, again gifting the visitors a penalty, this time Tim Howard the culprit. It was deeply frustrating as, much like the first half, up until then we had been the more likely side.

Things got worse when just four minutes after going ahead, Leicester City gave themselves a two goal cushion. I'd momentarily looked towards the substitutes bench in hope when Coleman fluffed his clearance but the groans told me something negative had occurred. You could see the goal coming after that and Okazaki showed good composure to score Leicester City's third. If Kone had that opportunity you somehow figure he'd take too many touches and fail to get his shot away.

The team, from manager down to players and even the frustrated substitutes warming up all looked numb. We became idea-less and lacking in any morale. Despite this Claudio Ranieri still made a change before Roberto Martinez, with Kevin Mirallas and Aaron Lennon finally thrown on to rescue the game on 74 minutes.

We still couldn't get going and it was only a late charge which gave us a lifeline when Kevin Mirallas, after an exceptional assist from Ross Barkley, fired home to give us hope. I hope Roberto took a good look at what Mirallas can do. Few, if any, others in our squad can churn that sort of opportunity into a goal.

It was all little too late however and Leicester City successively battened down the hatches to hold out for the three points to put the visitors an astonishing five points clear at the league summit.

We trudged away disappointed with Roberto Martinez the target of our frustrations and that too of those on the Radio Merseyside football phone in as Gaz drove us back home. It's Roberto's inability to learn and stubbornness with team selections which kills me the most. We've one heck of a squad there and it's not being utilised, instead the same players are being selected week in-week out. We then take too long to make a substitution if we make one at all and the opportunity has often past when we do finally get around to changing it. We just don't improve in defence and teams carve us open far too easily, whilst we never finish teams off when we're on top, though the team must also take responsibility for this of course.

I worry about our season and I worry about our team. We are only two point better off than this time last year, and it's all horribly reminiscent of this time last season when we lost four games in a row, two of which were a mirror of our December fixtures last season of Newcastle United and Stoke City (albeit in reverse order). Our January fixtures are then horrific.

The way teams are beginning to pick up points below us is also alarming (Bournemouth now only four points off us) and with all that's been said above, fourth place is out of the question. I worry this will trigger the departure of out biggest assets and how they are replaced I just don't know.

Over to you Roberto. Erm...Happy Christmas, Blues!

Player Ratings:
Howard: I'll have to see how bad a mistake he made for the second penalty though he did make one good second half save and seemed helpless with the other two goals. Defending at corners has become absurd however. There was one corner kick in the first half which flashed right through our six yard box and it was a miracle it wasn't buried by a Fox. This isn't just Howard, it's our entire defence. Working on set-pieces would certainly help, but so too would a solid, commanding goalkeeper. There was one at the other end. 5
Baines: Useful getting forward and flipped in some good balls into the box. He's galloping up to fitness pretty well. 6
Funes Mori: Though generally sound, I always feel he's got a mistake in him and so it proved when he conceded the penalty kick. The sooner Phil Jagielka is back the better for me. 5
Stones: Though he always shows some classy play on the ball, he still has a lot to learn and plays immeasurably better alongside Jagielka. 6
Coleman: At fault for their third goal apparently but had a reasonable game otherwise. 6
Barry: Comfortably my man of the match. Perhaps the only leader on the field for us. Lead by example time and time again and will have been exasperated with some of his teammates I suspect. 8
Cleverley: A game of two halves for Tom. Decent first half, but sloppy second despite his best efforts. I was furious with his stupid foul in injury time which stunned all our momentum. Should have been substituted long before that though. 5
Kone: A few bright moments first half and contributed towards the first goal somewhat but isn't doing enough to warrant a place in the team when MIrallas and Naismith are available. As Ste pointed out, if Kone did start more from the bench doesn't this then also provide an opportunity to rest Lukaku from time to time and add another option in attack from the bench? 5
Deulofeu: We must get less predictable to get more out of Deulofeu. Nothing comes down our left so we can't give it to Gerard on the right EVERY time. It's little wonder he gets double-marked and thus tired and frustrated come the hour. Even then I don't see why he was substituted. He was still the most likely to unlock the door for us and a more balanced team might have provided more space for him without over-reliance on him. It's not rocket science, Roberto. 6
Barkley: I like the fight he's showing at the moment. Last season in a game like this he would have curled up into a ball and hidden. This season, when things aren't going for the team he isn't hiding and is getting involved, making a few tackles and taking responsibility. The result - two assists. He was one of few positives in an otherwise dissapointing day. 7
Lukaku: A seventh goal in a row in the league for Lukaku and he must be getting mighty aggrieved with some of his teammates for persistent inability to keep teams out. He's one who will leave for sure if we can't offer him any Champions League football. 7

Mirallas (for Kone): Took his goal very well and I wait in hope that this is enough to get him into the team for our Boxing Day trip to Newcastle Utd but I won't hold my breath. He took a little bit of time to get going but did well once he was settled in the game. Give him a start Roberto. The supporters really demand it now. 7
Lennon (for Deulofeu): Showed some bright work down the flank and got inside them a few times. 7

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Reader Comments (21)

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Steve Hogan
1 Posted 20/12/2015 at 00:25:09
Good report, Paul. I was amazed by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, slating Barkley on the ’phone-in’ after the game? I actually thought Barkley was instrumental in most of the good things about Everton today including a sublime backheel pass for the Mirallas goal.

In the very near future, I feel, Martinez will reach the ’point of no return’ with Evertonians soon, if he hasn’t already done so.

Someone described him today after the game as ’stubbornly passive’ – an accurate description if ever I heard one.

The most glaring omission is his total denial on his choice of some of his favourites, notably Kone and Howard.

Ultimately, it will lead to his downfall.

Michael Penley
2 Posted 20/12/2015 at 04:50:42
Howard and Funes Mori a 5? If giving away a penalty in a game means a "pass mark", then we truly are too accepting of mediocrity at this club.
Anto Byrne
3 Posted 20/12/2015 at 10:20:16
I see Mourinho might be off to Man Utd; his wages at Chelsea were £17.5 million plus.

The Rogers experiment across the park ended after a poor run of results and even Monk got his marching orders – such is football. Everton are nice on the eye, as are Swansea and Wigan; so much for their fortunes.

The Martinez experiment is over, a menu of predictable slow-paced football with probably the best assembled squad in years just won't cut it as we have seen. After belting Bournemouth and Norwich, we have two points to show for it.

We can't put our hands up and say the best team lost to Leicester because as a team we don’t measure up. Their defence looked solid, they defended in packs, and they broke with pace and clinical efficiency. Look at our mob: they get the ball and pass it 179 times up and down left and right and then give it away. No-one tracks back with urgency as soon as the ball is lost.

What is the difference from scoring from open play when goals from set-pieces get you the exact same result? Basic defending includes a two men on the line from corners and attacking the ball as it comes in but we give away loads of free headers – just look at Palace's Dann: a free header in the box and then we have the equaliser from Bournemouth to make it 3-3 with seconds on the clock.

That is not unlucky as it keeps happening; it's downright unprofessional and these blokes are paid a king's ransom to do a job we would all die for.

I don’t know what the answer is but unless Blue Bill – who incidentally looked like death warmed up yesterday – gets his act together and does something, we can kiss the likes of Lukaku, Stones, Barkley and all our young talent goodbye because why the fuck would you stay and play in a team that is so fundamentally flawed?

Kunal Desai
4 Posted 20/12/2015 at 11:49:30
I'd tather our manager went end of the season than two or three of our star players. It's an easy decision.
Dave Ganley
5 Posted 20/12/2015 at 11:55:18
Fair report, Paul. I also listened to the Radio Merseyside phone-in on the way home and one call just summed it up perfectly. His first words were "This is doing my head in" – a phrase that most Evertonians can relate to.

Massively underperforming and with the idiot at the helm, not likely to improve due to his own ability to not learn from any and all of the mistakes he makes. Sooner he fucks off, the better. Patience ran out this time last year and it's not got any better since.

Mark Daley
6 Posted 20/12/2015 at 12:19:37
It comes down to Kenwright. Until he goes we can't move on.
Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 20/12/2015 at 13:13:27
The team and manager flatter to deceive, week in, week out, we make the same mistakes, snatching defeats or giving away draws wherever possible.The odd false dawn, and the supposed quality of the squad just make it worse, and to cap it all, Leicester can do what we can’t.

I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Martinez. His subs are always too late, and his favouritism is annoying. He doesn’t learn from his mistakes, and we are on a road to nowhere with him in the driver’s seat.

Jay Harris
8 Posted 20/12/2015 at 17:33:03
Same formation, same team, same tactics, same manager. Why should we expect any better.

5 wins in 17 games is a disgrace for the quality of the players we have.

Top six talent destroyed by a bottom six manager.

Harold Matthews
9 Posted 20/12/2015 at 22:20:30
Yes Paul, we were charitable but so was referee Moss. The frenzied Japanese kamikaze Okazaki should have had 13 yellows. He must have kicked the whole of our team plus subs. Indeed, there were Foxes in a frenzy all over the pitch and our lads will be battered and bruised today. Unlike Mahrez, who was almost kicked by an Everton player and went down for five minutes.
Patrick Murphy
10 Posted 20/12/2015 at 22:40:21
Harold (#9),

Moss never seems to be very lenient with Everton whenever he officiates our games and we have lost more games with him in charge than we have won:

Harold Matthews
11 Posted 20/12/2015 at 22:57:47
Yes Patrick, I remember his disgraceful performance in a City away game where Milner and Silva should have both seen red.
Ray Roche
12 Posted 20/12/2015 at 23:13:54
Harold, some referees glory in their notoriety. They are such insignificant little people in real life that they only way they can obtain any form of recognition is by displays of shameful ineptitude such as we regularly see from Moss, Clattenberg and the legend in his own mind that still is Clive Thomas. The old saying that a good referee is rarely noticed during a game is at odds with the seekers of fame that regularly spoil games of football by their own pursuit of the limelight.

Sadly, to my mind, there are many things wrong with modern football that the holders of power at FIFA, UEFA etc. have allowed to creep into football and one is the unaccountability that referees enjoy right now. They should be made to face the post match cameras, in much the same way as managers have to,to explain their decisions. We might even see a degree of humility from some of them when their glaring incompetence is displayed for public dissection.

They are (mostly) human. They make mistakes. If they were to explain why they made a decision we might accept that it WAS a genuine mistake, and not just incompetence or corruption.

Patrick Murphy
13 Posted 20/12/2015 at 23:25:49
Ray (12) You would have loved the officials in the Bruges v Anderlecht game I watched in preference to watching the other lot. Clear offside goals given, offside goals allowed and other glaring minor errors it was an education to me and I hope that isn't the usual standard that the Belgium League puts up with.
Ray Roche
14 Posted 20/12/2015 at 23:38:45
Patrick, I'd have loved to see some officials put against a wall and shot.
And I've mellowed over the years believe me.
Terry White
15 Posted 21/12/2015 at 00:36:13
Ray, I rather feel you are holding long-standing grudges. Clive Thomas was in 1977. Our phobia about Clattenburg was 10 years ago when he was a young, more-inexperienced refereee. I happen to think that Clattenburg is the best of the current bunch of referees. Ok, that may be a very low bar but at least he does not rush to produce a card for every foul and does try to keep calm and composed rather than inciting further acrimony and violence. Let's face it, we need a referee!

i am with you, it would be nice to have explanations on why decisions are made. It won't happen. Why did Dean not give Swansea a penalty today for the West Ham hand ball? Presumably he did not see it hit the hand. Referees are human and can only give what they actually see.

Anto Byrne
16 Posted 21/12/2015 at 05:23:36
My stomach always turns with the mention of that serial twat Clive Thomas. The linesman didn’t flag, the players didn’t appeal for any infringement. The pain has still not gone away and its almost 40 years ago.

We have been on the end of so many bad decisions over the years. Perhaps the most notable in recent times is Collina brought out of retirement for one game?

Last season it was Southampton flying high; now it's Leicester. You can only laugh...

Ray Roche
17 Posted 21/12/2015 at 09:19:34

Part of my comment was clearly tongue in cheek, however, I am of the firm opinion that referees, some referees, like nothing better than to hog the limelight. Strangely, I also think that Clattenberg has improved over the years but his early efforts, including that game, has muddied the water somewhat regarding his impartiality towards some teams.

The gist of my post was really that referees should be accountable for their actions, for their decisions, in a multi million pound match that can cost managers their jobs,teams their Premier League status and fans no amount of heartache. Instead they hide behind the skirts of Old Mother Riley at Referees Boot Camp, peering out from behind the net curtains until the nasty manager has gone.

I would also like to see several rule changes. The idiotic change that now allows a keeper to wander from one side of his area to the other to take a goal kick. I pay for my season ticket to watch football, not a sponsored walk like we saw with every Leicester goal kick on Saturday. The defender shepherding the ball out for a goal kick. Clear obstruction. The WWF wrestling at every corner, no defender bothers to play the ball these days. They play the man. Skirtl?

There are others, too, players feigning injury, really injured players having to go off before trotting back on, substitutions in the 95th minute to waste more time... you get the idea, I’m sure.

But you’re dead right about Clive Thomas.

Terry White
18 Posted 21/12/2015 at 15:02:46
Thanks, Ray.

I think the original idea of allowing the goal kick to be taken on either side of the goal was to speed up the play! Now it is used as the means to slow it down.

Agree with you that obsruction as a foul seems to have fallen into disuse with all referees.

And we have not mentioned Graham Poll.

Perhaps things really were better in the "Old Days"?

Ray Roche
19 Posted 21/12/2015 at 17:59:35
Terry, you’re dead right! Things WERE better years ago. I can recall only a couple of referees from years ago, and mainly because they were a bit of a character, not because they were too full of their own importance.

Anyone else remember a ref picking up the ball and listening to it following a bomb scare? Or players recounting how the ref would eff and blind back at them when telling them to get on with the game. Ref’s are becoming too precious, just like the players.

I’ll take your Poll and raise you a Mike Riley.

Incidentally, when I was banging on about the goal kicks, one goal kick took Schmeichel over a minute. OK, It’s only a minute... but he had another 6 or 7 after that one... and we were chasing the game.

Terry White
20 Posted 21/12/2015 at 18:19:06
Ray, I remember Arthur Ellis. Wasn’t there also a one-armed ref.? Then Jack Taylor who disallowed the Golden Vision’s "goal" in the 66 Final and also turned down our penalty appeals that day; however did we win?

I picked out Graham Poll because of the Hutchison "goal" he disallowed. I have no particular memory of Mike Riley doing anything special to cause us to foam at the mouth but he was a spindly officious character. Now, Martin Atkinson is a different matter altogether.

Yes, taking the goal kick from either side is good if you are in a hurry to get the ball back into play but not so good if you are intent on slowing the game down. It is very frustrating. Howard has been plenty guilty of the same thing – all goalies are – but not recently of course as it has been a while since we were protecting a lead, except for Bournemouth, and that did not turn out too well.

Ray Roche
21 Posted 21/12/2015 at 19:23:09
Arthur Ellis, didn’t he sell his soul to appear on the It’a A Knockout crap? Yes, Terry, we’ve had a few beauts over the years, particularly in Derby’s.

Riley was the official when we played Man Utd at home in 2003, we needed the points, they had already become Champions and nothing was going to spoil their party.

Certainly not Riley with a string of dubious decisions.

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