From My Seat: Tottenham (H)

All in all a rocky journey but most I spoke to were happy with a point after that first half. A quirk of football is shown when you consider we have played Spurs twice and all square in both games yet they are 4th and we are 11th and they have drawn as many as us, maybe the word consistency covers it.

Ken Buckley 03/01/2016 45comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur

With more water on the roads than in the Mersey we met up in our temple of learning and entered the Room of Nonsense. Managers were either being sacked or given extra time to build, players being bought and sold and boards being urged to find buyers or leaving well alone. All arguments you could not hope to win and if we were a committee running Everton we would be in the old conference league. Much the same as ToffeeWeb I suppose except in your face and live. The discussion over the team selection when it arrived was priceless.

Time for the walk up and with heads and bodies slightly bent forward against wind and rain we made our way to a drenched Goodison Park. All looked drab in Goodison Road as fast food wrapper bins overflowed with limp rain sodden paper and what horse droppings and heavy rain mixed together produce is best spotted and avoided.

In for Z-Cars and that dirge thats played for players to shake hands makes one wonder if that is the reason crowds are so quiet on and just after kick off. Anyway the game set off and somehow you could sense that Spurs had started while we were just thinking about it. There was an undercurrent amongst some sections of the fans that you could almost touch and our opening play did very little to dampen it and this was evident through a half that was totally dominated by Spurs but our answer to the bad defending jibes was to play deep leaving Lukaku so isolated it looked like he was looking for a game of footy to join in with.

Time after time we would defend deep and with Spurs playing high and chasing and closing everything down whether we played the ball out or hoofed it out the same result was achieved. I started to worry about a rout. I could write forever about how many last ditch tackles we made, how many goal-line and near goal-line clearances being made but I can sum up the first half by detailing the 10th minute. The 20th minute 30th minute and 45th minute.

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10th minute. A Spurs attack and Kane lets fly from some 30yds beats Howard and crashes against the inside of the post somehow comes across goal and just misses the far post and then goes out for a goal kick. Phew!

20th minute. Cleverly again put in that raking long ball, a la Stoke, up to Lukaku who this time headed down for the supporting Lennon who took no time at all to hit a sweet half volley where lloris had no chance of reaching and somehow we were one ahead. It was also brilliant when the crowd sang He is one of our own

30th minute. Spurs gain a corner with the whole team defending cleared but to just outside the box where left back Davies was lurking and he hit straight and true but a gnats too high and the ball smashed against the bar, talk about riding your luck. This game was reminding me about our first half v Norwich.

45th minute. Spurs centre back sends in a long arcing ball into our box and Alli was first to react and got to the ball just before Coleman and slotted past Howard with aplomb. Oh the groans and the words Typical Bloody Everton that resonated around the place.

To put that first half bluntly, they murdered us into a 1-1 score-line.

In that first half after all the criticism regarding defending we over compensated and almost paid a big price so something would have to change.

Second half and we kick toward the street end and after a few minutes I was heartened to see Barkley looking to get on the ball and make some positive runs. His final ball was not really in evidence but it was a step up from his first half showing where he was almost invisible. We were now making a game of it with Barkley and Cleverly pushed on a bit. I took a little time to watch Cleverly without the ball and was surprised at the ground he covers and the awareness he shows. He looks a different player than the one you see by just following the ball.

We gave as good as we got up to the hour mark but we just could not get the final ball right or players willing to get up and around Lukaku who was getting flick-ones but only to Spurs players. Then the present manager made subs. Lennon off and Deulofeu on, parts of the crowd boo-ed that decision, also Besic replaced Kone. Besic got a good welcome back as he kissed the hallowed turf. For me they were the right subs at the right time as they brought something different to the game with Cleverly moving left to allow Besic to join Barry but as the box to box man and he gave a good display too. One dipping shot from the edge of the box almost beat the excellent Lloris and brought great acclaim. From the Lloris tip over a corner was taken and Mori headed inches wide.

Once Besic is match fit and up to speed and put in 90mins of that box to box stuff we could go up a notch in my view. Besic seemed to have galvanised Barkley as he was now showing the confidence that had been missing and this was exemplified by a glorious Crossfield ball to Deulofeu on the opposite flank, the Spaniard beat his first man but his cross was blocked for a corner which if memory serves me right was our first and Baines pulled rank and took a beaut and a scramble occurred with the ball finding Deulofeu who put in a fast cross that eluded the head of Lukaku by a very small margin.

From fearing a trouncing I was now thinking a win was quite possible but also aware of the danger of many a Spurs attack. Barry was immense in his reading of the game and he had improved with the introduction of Besic who seemed to know when to do his running for him giving Barry more time to organise a few defenders from time to time.

Before the end we had time to see Lamela booked for sticking his hand in Colemans gob. Alli had a well struck shot straight at Howard who held it well and got a little cheer. Deulofeu got back to do his defensive shift and ended up doing a Stones in our box by twisting and turning but somehow he held on to the ball and left four or five Spurs men in his wake as he cleared the box and passed into mid-field He got a cheer. Then Stones showed us the real thing by dribbling in our area, Cryuf turns and all, twisting and turning as the Park End patrons requested him to perhaps just kick it up field a little. Such was the anxiety shown John had to request them to calm down. He got a free kick anyway and the game went on. We fans do get panicky at times!

The ground now was deffo Goodison as the atmosphere became electric as we looked likely winners. Spurs defended desperately as Lukaku hit over, Barkley hit straight at the keeper, Deulofeu put in dangerous crosses but each one just favoured a Spurs man. 3mins added and then the whistle .Talk about a game of two halves? You betcha we just saw one

M.o.t.M. Barry. also well played Funes Mori

All in all a rocky journey but most I spoke to were happy with a point after that first half. A quirk of football is shown when you consider we have played Spurs twice and all square in both games yet they are 4th and we are 11th and they have drawn as many as us, maybe the word consistency covers it.

With the introduction of Besic and how he was played today I wondered if our present manager has hit on a formation that could work by accident. For some time now I have thought that it hasnt been all the defences fault for throwing games away as from my seat I can look down on play I noted that we were not a team as such. We had gaps between the back and mid-field and another between mid-field and forwards and each group seemed to play independently of each other.

Today when Besic came on and played with Barry they seemed able to stich the team together and become one unit and we looked the better for it. We attacked and defended with some cohesion in those last twenty minutes, if only we could put that together on a consistent basis for the rest of the season and have all the squad clued in to the system to cover absences.

Man City twice will be a testing time and awaiting the team he picks for the FA Cup tie will be interesting. Never a dull moment eh? See you soon


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Reader Comments (45)

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Christopher Dover
1 Posted 04/01/2016 at 08:15:41
As usual, an excellent report that I agree with. I thought the first half was RM doing his defend bit which could have (maybe should have) left us a couple of goals down.

Second half (after the subs) especially a different side, one day just hope they set up well and play for 90 min (plus any add on time).

Phil Walling
2 Posted 04/01/2016 at 09:36:37
Love this 'present manager' talk, Ken... although his comments on SSN re Barkley are somewhat at odds with your view as he rated yesterday as our local hero's best-ever game!

I share your view on Besic's contribution and, on that form, he adds an extra dimension to Macca's rather pedestrian contributions. Odd to think that had OPM allowed him to leave, McCarthy would probably have been in Spurs midfield yesterday instead of 'wonder boy' Alli.

Keith Monaghan
3 Posted 04/01/2016 at 09:52:41
There are lots of valid criticisms of our team. However, apart from the obvious issue with our keeper and the lack of confidence the defence has in him, our biggest problem is we generally attack as a team but don’t defend as a team. When he hasn’t got the ball, Barkley is one of the laziest midfielders ever to wear the royal blue – we won’t be a top four team until all 11 on the pitch make 90+ minute contributions.

Our top performers yesterday were Lukaku, Barry, Besic and Cleverley; for all the praise heaped on Gerry, how many crosses does he deliver? And how much help does he give to Seamus? None, like Kone with Baines or Galloway – but then he’s not a "winger".

Not to mention Besic’s game-changing contribution – I agree with Phil above.

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:00:41
A formula that could work by accident! As you say, it certainly got the crowd going anyway.
Iain Love
6 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:03:04
I thought Spurs in the 1st half were what I want us to be. It looked like a team playing against a hastily assembled group of lads. Lukaku played well considering he was on his own against an in-form defence and he never got a decent ball in front of him.

Unsure about Funes Mori, there were a couple of times he (amongst others) misplaced relatively simple passes which put pressure on us and it was easy to see the lack of faith we have in Howard. Lloris’s closing down showed me what we’re missing in a keeper.

Besic’s crunching tackle soon after coming on raised a cheer from the crowd and typified the rest of his solid cameo. As was said earlier after that first half I was happy with a point.
Ray Roche
7 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:12:00
Good report, Ken, Besic was the game changer. I felt a bit sorry for Lennon who I thought did well, as well as scoring, but Funes Mori was also top class, Maybe Jags on the bench had an effect.

I might be alone here but I like Barkley and thought he had a good game. Not everything he tries comes off, admittedly, but when he runs with the ball he puts the fear of God up defenders.

A decent referee might have given us a bit more in the way of free kicks... and the booking of Coleman when tackles from behind go unpunished? Eh? What’s that all about?

Geoff Evans
8 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:12:21
Spurs improvement under their manager is incredible...
Brian Harrison
10 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:18:46
Over half the season gone and we find ourselves in the bottom half of the league. Yes, he has bought a couple of very good players, he just doesn’t know how to manage them properly. I guess he is more train spotter than fat controller.
Graham Mockford
11 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:21:09

I agree about Barkley but I've been saying for a while he should have a freer role replacing Kone. Play three central midfielders from Barry, McCarthy, Besic and Cleverley.

I think this would tighten us up significantly and play Ross in the area he can do real damage.

Graham Mockford
12 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:25:59
I also had to laugh at that prick Carragher slagging off Stones for overplaying, saying he would never have done it.

Well, there is a simple reason for that, you squeaky shithouse, you were incapable of doing what John Stones can do.

I think in hindsight he may regret telling the crowd to calm down but I do understand the sentiment. He was never in trouble.

There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to central defenders. Some seem to prefer the Shawcross Row Z type, but for me when you have a talent like Stones you let him play.

Brent Stephens
13 Posted 04/01/2016 at 11:49:32
Graham (#11) – I agree about a midfield of 3 – much better to close down space and protect the full backs when not in possession; and with pacey players like Besic it can be quickly turned into an attacking platform.

And we also can then leave Ross upfield – all he does in midfield when we’re not in possession is allow another of their defenders to come forward and overload our midfield.

I do like Ross a lot. I’ve come to accept that he’s never going to get a foot or head in. But the skill and pace with which he can bring a ball forward puts pressure on their defence. Decision-making and vision sometimes suspect but a talented lad.

Geoff Evans
14 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:01:52
Graham @12:

WIth you over Stones v Shawcross debate. Once Stones has learnt when to play and when to relieve pressure with a good solid boot through the ball.

Top players know the time to do either one. The 'don’t panic' gesture was uncalled for; it was disrespectful and didn’t help his concentration. Still, a work in progress.
Ray Roche
15 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:25:15
Yes, Graham, Ross is better when he’s not constrained by tactics from our Glorious Leader. Let him have his freedom, he’ll do more damage that way.

I’ve just read Carragher's comments and, do you know, a little bit of wee has run down my leg.

Jon Withey
16 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:27:33
It’s funny the difference the second-half made.

For the first 45 mins I was wondering whether Funes Mori had been a colossal waste of money and that perhaps we can’t attack without Deulofeu.

Second-half was a reminder that we have some decent players, Barkley was much more lively, Funes Mori and Stones more assured and Besic very good – I’d almost forgotten we bought him.

Deulofeu wasn’t as effective as he can be and Lukaku didn’t really get a clear opportunity.

Also amazed to see Baines put in a decent corner finally – I was beginning to think we might as well give the opposition a goal kick instead!

Jon Withey
17 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:33:48
Also, I think Martinez is pretty media-savvy and a lot of his interviews are directed to try and motivate players.

It was important to praise the defence after a period of stick and Barkley needed encouragement following his second-half display. It was inevitable that the 'Young England' articles would be written after this game and our two needed to be in a good light.

In reality the defence was poor first-half and Barkley disappeared.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:36:57
Pleased you picked out Cleverley's contribution, not just on the ball, but talking to his teammates throughout the game, indicating of Kone to get into his position, very good until he tired badly at the end.

Barkley has been giving some good performances recently; yesterday wasn’t one of them, he constantly made the wrong decisions when releasing the ball, and his lack of effort when defending and his tackling was non existent. He pulled out of one fifty-fifty tackle, shameful.

A game we should have lost, we got a point from; when we start playing for most of the game, we might win one.

Sam Hoare
19 Posted 04/01/2016 at 12:50:39
A decent result made to look worse by our other bad results, ie, if we’d beaten Stoke and Leicester, we would probably have taken a draw with Spurs.

This season is still just about salvageable despite the frustrations but will require some better results in the cups.

Given our players, it’s hard not to feel that we are badly underperforming in the league.

Victor Jones
20 Posted 04/01/2016 at 14:39:10
I have been saying for months that one of our main problems is our midfield. Teams have been given far too much space to play, and teams are running right through us. Deulofeu... Mirallas... Lennon... Kone... Naismith... are not midfielders. Cleverly, Besic and Gibson are. But will they ever start a game together??? No chance. And do we really need two static DMFs every game, who don’t really protect the back four? And Barkley???? Yes, he does play the odd blinder. Followed by 3 or 4 poor games. We always look unbalanced in midfield. I am of the opinion that Baines and Stones could also play midfield roles. Baines in a Kevin Sheedy type role. Stones as the ultimate DMF. Why not?? But that will never happen. Chances are that Besic will not even start against Man City but Barry and Kone will. Young legs rested... old legs played. Makes a complete nonsense of what us supporters want to happen.

Will Martinez ever pick a first eleven that every supporter looks at and says "That looks balanced... that looks good....", I very much doubt it. When we have six players on form, we always seem to have five just not doing the business. So bloody frustrating. God help some team when everyone decides to turn up.

I’ m just about happy with yesterday's draw. It is better than another defeat. But has Martinez learnt anything from a reasonable second half? Only when we see his starting eleven for the Man City game, will we know. Why (apart from Howard) should he change the team that finished yesterday's game? Maybe also play Lennon. With Del to come on second half. I also like Kone, but it is time now to take him out of the firing line. And just think what damage Naismith or Mirallas might have done, second half yesterday. So many options... but does Martinez really see them? I sometimes wonder what Martinez sees. Waffling on about that game yesterday being a great game for the neutral. Who cares. He should have only been concerned about making it a great game for Everton FC. I would have taken a boring 1-0 win. To hell with the neutral.

Last point... I just read this morning that The Barcodes might make a move for Charlie Austin. Why are Everton not looking at this player? He would be a great addition, now that Naismith looks certain to go. But no, we are looking at a Swiss youngster, who will most likely end up going on loan to Oxford or Bury. And not be heard of ever again. Such is life at Everton. And where were we when top class Goal Keepers were on the market for £8 to 10 million????? Rant over. Happy New Year.

Jim Bennings
21 Posted 04/01/2016 at 14:40:01
It was still not the result we wanted yesterday, yes there was more fight there (we still only do it for 45 minutes, mind you).

We just gave Tottenham so much time and space in that first half, it was men versus boys... embarrassing.

At least second half we grew a pair and had a bit of fight in us, it should always be that way at Goodison Park though, the form at the Old Lady this last 18 months has shamed the reputation.

I’m also sorry but I’m with Carragher regarding Stones. All it takes one of these days is Stones to lose his footing on a wet pitch doing those needless Cruyff turns in our own penalty box. (Why for heaven’s sake?)

It’s not about what you can do on the ball, John, if you're reading this, we know your skillful, yes, but your job is first and foremost to DEFEND lad!

Yesterday I thought Coleman was poor, he’s not been the same player as he was two or three years ago, switches off too much and even going forward this season he’s been off.

As I say, a point does little for Everton at this stage, more fight in one half yes, learning from our mistakes defensively or concentration wise? Still no for me.

Play like we did in the first half yesterday on Wednesday night and the Semi-Final will be all over before we reach Manchester!!

A monumental performance and a near faultless one is required on Wednesday.

Victor Jones
22 Posted 04/01/2016 at 14:58:32
Graham Mockford, I agree that Stones should be allowed to play his game. But I also think that with his skill, he would make a great defensive midfielder – the ultimate DMF – and have two solid centre backs behind him to clean up when he makes mistakes. There is a place in football for the Shawcrosses of this world. We might have held on to a few leads with that type of player. Would love to see Stones play that Defensive midfield role and a young energetic midfield built around him. But no, let’s stick with Barry, and drop Lennon and Kone back to help out. And you need binoculars to see were Del and Mirallas are playing. So many bloody faults. We will be one hell of a team should Martinez ever rectify them – i.e. get shot of his favourites. Just my humble opinion.
Harold Matthews
23 Posted 04/01/2016 at 16:03:47
If our defence was so poor, how come Howard had practically nothing to do all afternoon?
Jay Harris
24 Posted 04/01/2016 at 18:09:52
I think as well as Besic played the most beneficial change was the change from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 which helped beef up our MF and made us tighter as a unit.

Lets hope RM drops this archaic set up that everyone has now sussed and retains 4-3-3 or 4-4-2.

Those that call Barkley lazy need to check out the amount of ground he covers.

Danny Broderick
25 Posted 04/01/2016 at 18:11:50
I’d like to see us try Besic and Barry in midfield. I’d also like to see us play with 2 wingers and drop Kone. Any combination of Mirallas, Deulofeu & Lennon. Deulofeu is an option for left wing, in my opinion, not just right wing.

We won’t play a better team than them this season at Goodison. I’d be very surprised if another team dominated the possession against us like they did.

Fingers crossed for Wednesday...

Paul Smith
26 Posted 04/01/2016 at 18:18:25
Two wingers sounds great in theory... thing is Kev & Gerry (if that’s who you’re referring to) hate defending. Now put Aaron in there and I’m with you – is he a winger though?
Geoff Williams
27 Posted 04/01/2016 at 18:57:11
I thought for the first hour Spurs were the best team to visit Goodison. They had power and pace, the team worked hard and posed a genuine threat in front of goal. Their game plan was also clear to see, long diagonal balls were played behind our fullbacks who were pushed forward as usual causing us all sorts of problems. For the last half-hour, there was a genuine improvement in our performance and we started to create goalscoring opportunities.

Other than passing practise what do the players do during the week? There were three incidents at corners where a huge area within the penalty area was left void of defenders and the ball was played for Spurs players to run onto. When we have a corner, players look to Martinez for instructions on where to stand. There is such a lack of awareness, it’s frightening.

Mike Oates
28 Posted 04/01/2016 at 19:09:47
Great report as usual, Ken. Totally agree with your findings and I do believe Martinez had very fortunately got a shape after the subs which swung the game to us.

Still, a point is of no use to us – our season took a nosedive when Bournemouth equalised in the last kick of the game, and we still haven’t fully recovered, particularly the defence.
Paul Hughes
29 Posted 04/01/2016 at 19:13:10
Harold (#23) did you not notice Tottenham hit the post then the crossbar? Kane had a few chances as well...

Don’t get me wrong: the defence was a lot better than recent performances but still not near good enough.
Des Farren
30 Posted 04/01/2016 at 19:39:51
As a relative newcomer to TW, Ken, can I ask why you continually refer to the manager as "our present manager"? Have you always done so and if so,why?

It’s not as if we change them on a regular basis, after all... our last one was here for 11 years.

Ken Buckley
31 Posted 04/01/2016 at 19:57:31
Des @30,

I think quite simply because he is and you never know in footy from one week to the next.

Jose and Rafa come to mind at the moment.

John Keating
32 Posted 04/01/2016 at 20:10:50
Wouldn’t it be great if we could put a team on the pitch, any team, that could play a full 90 minutes, two similar halves of football?

For some reason. we can only manage one decent half, the other being absolute shite.

Norman Jones
33 Posted 04/01/2016 at 20:15:51
Very likely, Lennon's reward for a cracking goal will be a place on the bench on Wednesday and I suspect Besic may suffer the same fate.

Robles will, no doubt, get a chance and I suggest we all take a close look at his sometimes unorthodox approach to the 'custodian' role before lobbying for his regular inclusion.

However, optimists insist that Martinez excels in plotting knock-out games and his surprise FA Cup triumph tends to support the view although tactically two legged ties call for yet another approach all together.

But I think the Spurs game went a long way to restoring the confidence of our squad and I shall be surprised if we don't take goal advantage to the Etihad.

Des Farren
34 Posted 04/01/2016 at 20:37:35
Forgive me for asking, Ken, but you refer to "our" – ie Everton FC's – present manager.

Rafa or Jose hardly qualify. Well... not yet anyway.
Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 04/01/2016 at 20:56:59
Graham and Brent, you say play 3 central midfielders and let Barkley play in the Kone roll. Or just let Ross play further up the pitch.

Unless we switched to also playing with three centre-backs, I think we would be left with the same lopsided formation we presently have. Unless we played Besic or Cleverley out wide, which would then only leave us two in central midfield.

We have had bad luck in a lot of games, but only against the lesser teams though. The system we are playing is useless against better teams, and unless we can get width and balance on both sides of the pitch, do you honestly think results could improve?

I feel like a scratched record going on about this fatal flaw in our team, but that’s what it is to me. Absolutely fatal.

Brent Stephens
36 Posted 04/01/2016 at 21:09:44
Tony, I'm thinking 4 at the back, 3 midfield including Besic (giving greater cover across the width of the pitch and serving as a base for attack) and Rom, Ross and Delboy in a fluid / interchanging attack.
Graham Mockford
37 Posted 04/01/2016 at 21:20:55

I think a more defensive central three will make us more solid as the current formation has left us very vulnerable to counter-attacking teams especially at home.

I think it would also give our full backs much more license to play to their strengths and get forward.

Tony Abrahams
38 Posted 04/01/2016 at 22:11:57
Fair enough, Brent, but when Barkley plays wider, I don’t think he has ever been as effective.

Graham, a more defensive three, giving license for the fullbacks to get forward, I agree with. three at the back and three in midfield; two wingbacks, and someone to float off the midfield or Lukaku.

Either that or three in central midfield, and two natural widemen, with Lukaku up top.

If Martinez picks a team with balance, I’m convinced we will start winning games, and that’s why it’s so frustrating watching Everton at the minute. The lack of balance, whilst only hurting us offensively, is absolutely killing us defensively. Only an opinion of course, but I surely can’t be the only one who feels this way, when watching Everton at the minute.

Brent Stephens
39 Posted 04/01/2016 at 23:05:47
Tony, I think we get locked into assuming a team would be playing as it’s set out on paper. But no team has its players staying, eg, just on the right or just on the left or just in a centre-forward position. The best teams (I would guess) are those where players are mobile – sets of three, for example, moving their relative positions.

Three up front doesn’t mean to say that they are just strung out across the field in a line (as the midfield three might be to a greater extent). But I’m the typical armchair manager! Giz a job!
Don Alexander
41 Posted 04/01/2016 at 23:40:10
Des at "30", I always thought Ken's reference to our "present" manager was "presents" as in useless, unwelcome gifts at Christmas. Sadly we can't return the dickhead we received courtesy of Uncle Bill.
Bob Parrington
42 Posted 05/01/2016 at 01:49:11
I agree with all the plaudits for Besic. I think this is the best I’ve seen from him so far and it augurs well for the future.

I was very worried that they seemed able to rip our defence apart at will for the majority of the game and yet our manager seemed to think it was a good defensive display. But for a reversal of luck as compared with the Norwich game, we could have gone down 4 or 5 to 1.

Am I wrong or was it bloody obvious that the defenders have zero confidence in Tim Howard? It really looked like they were scared to pass back to him, particularly in the second half. This put players such as Stones and Coleman in difficulty in the box at times as they tried to turn and find a way out without using Howard.

Mark Andersson
43 Posted 05/01/2016 at 02:57:43
Thanks, Ken, I always feel like I’m walking with the crowd with your pre-match observation. I can even smell the chips, rain and horse shit.

I also agree with you regarding Cleverley; his pass to Lukaku to knock down for Lennon’s goal was first class.

Besic’s introduction certainly found the lost voice of the Old Lady. Only time will tell if Martinez has stumbled across a formula, but some how I don’t think so...

Laurie Hartley
44 Posted 05/01/2016 at 07:50:07
Thanks for the report Ken. I have never really given much thought as to were the Room of Nonsense might be located; now I know – the "Temple of Learning"! Are there any other rooms we don’t know about in that edifice?

But enough of this frivolity and back to the game. I see you named Barry as Man of the Match again. I agree 100% – top professional who has kept himself in good nick. At 34, he is a credit to the game. Apart from his willingness to present for the ball, awareness, and distribution, what I like about him is he is hard.

It is no surprise to me that you gave Funes Mori and Besic praise for their contribution to the second half performance because they both have one very important quality in common with Barry - they are both hard. In the EPL you need hard men in your team to compete. The introduction of Besic tipped the balance in our favour against Spurs.

Perhaps our present manager has indeed stumbled upon a formation that works. Barkley is a very very talented footballer. I have come to realise that I have been whistling in the wind expecting him to defend and win the ball in midfield – it’s not going to happen. Just give him the ball and let him do his stuff.

What I saw in the second half yesterday was that, with Besic and Cleverley playing alongside Barry, having Barkley and Deulofeu on the pitch with Lukaku is not a luxury – it works and frightens the life out of the opposition. I wouldn’t like to be playing centre-half with Lukaku and Barkley, and Deulofeu coming at me. Only a very, very good back four could deal with that.

So for me OPM’s best combination is definitely 4-3-3 or if you like 4-3-2-1. If Deulofeu or Barkley could defend we would be in the money because he could revert to 4-4-2 if the situation demanded it – but that isn’t an option because they can’t.

Perhaps starting with Lennon and bringing Deulofeu on in the second half (or vice versa) does give us the best of both worlds. It certainly was the case yesterday. Lennon helped out Coleman when the heat was on in the first half and scored a cracking goal – I don’t think he has been given enough credit on the post match threads.

Another encouraging thing about this possible formation is that Gibson (another hard man) can slot into that midfield three as can McCarthy when he is fit again.

Tony Abrahams
45 Posted 05/01/2016 at 09:19:15
Brent even if I could, I'm not sure with your tactics mate, but your in good/bad company with Roberto at the minute!

Brent Stephens
46 Posted 05/01/2016 at 12:47:57
Tony - Haha! You'll have he whole of TW onto me now!
Harvey Miller
47 Posted 05/01/2016 at 18:18:40
Benitez is out of job. I would take the fat waiter anyday for our "manager", because he did great with Valencia against the Galacticos with a reasonably small budget.

Of course he has these little drawbacks as managing the dark side or calling us "little team" but still... a real manager...ahh... never happens, stupid idea.
Des Farren
48 Posted 05/01/2016 at 19:19:16
Not sure if he is a real manager, Harvey, but I commend you on your suggestion if only for its originality. :)

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