From My Seat: West Bromwich Albion (A)

Four points from two games and just a glimpse of how we might evolve under this management. I liked the way the game was approached in that you can have possession football but not exclusively, it can be wrapped in direct no-nonsense stuff depending upon circumstance, a win being the ultimate goal.

Ken Buckley 20/08/2016 35comments  |  Jump to last
West Bromwich Albion 1 - 2 Everton

A trip to The Hawthorns is a handy away day to a ground we have done rather well in over the seasons. Sunshine and showers and quite warm weather led to an array of garb being worn. Still, the away end filled up and the Royal Blue was the dominant colour, the Evertonian throats were where the songs and chants were coming from.

The teams emerged with us resplendent in yellow – no excuse for not passing to your own man. Mr Swarbrick was our man in the middle and on his whistle the mighty ‘Yellows’ kicked off. Within 5 minutes Barkley had run at their defence and was surrounded by four giants, he went down under the weight of tackles and we yelled ‘Penalty’ but our ref was not moved to agree. Just minutes later, a trademark long ball into our box sees Rondon ease past Funes Mori and in on goal but our keeper Stekelenburg made a fine save, blocking the ball for a corner with his foot. From the resultant corner, we concede the lead. The corner is played in long to the far post where McAuley rises highest and finds the net. We complain that our keeper was held on his line by Berahino but the ref waves protests away; I thought we should have been savvier.

WBA, encouraged by the goal, rained in more long balls and gained the odd corner but we dealt reasonably with the threat and tried to use the pace of Mirallas and Deulofeu for breakaways but they looked to be not strong enough and soon lost the ball and allowed another attack to develop. The impressive Barry did put one peach of a through-ball for Deulofeu to run onto but alas the ball beat him to the dead-ball line. On 20 minutes, we put a move of quality together started by Barry and, three passes later, the ball found Barry in their box with a shooting chance that he had to hurry and scuffed straight to the keeper. Within seconds, Barry made progress again so Berahino kicked him and got booked.

It was now looking like our starting formation of three at the back was just not working as both Deulofeu and Mirallas, our two spearheads, were just being smothered anytime they came inside – in fact, they were virtually spectators. Not bad out wide but just not physical enough when coming inside.

The half-hour mark was reached and WBA gained another corner and the away end was definitely edgy; the ball came into the mix but we saw the threat off and the faithful exhaled loudly and clapped and cheered... small things, eh. Some 5 minutes later, the manager had seen enough and Lukaku, who had been warming up vigorously, was readied to appear. He waited until we had completed the corner we had just gained. The ball was cleared and the next break in play, when Evans fouled Barkley, was the opportunity to send him on. I think most of us thought it would be Deulofeu or Mirallas going off; instead, it was McCarthy and it soon became clear why when we went to a back four with Holgate moving over one, Deulofeu in front of him and Mirallas behind Lukaku.

Holgate soon settled at right-back and was racing forward in a good move that was just about thwarted but, in the next move, Holgate was at it again when he raced forward and just outside the box he was fouled. Baines took the kick but skied the attempt. As we entered the last 5 minutes, we were already looking much better as a team and it was noticeable that Lukaku was engaging their big defenders more and helping others to run the channels.

In 2 minutes of time added, we proved we were better for the changes when a super move took place, the type of footy I love. A set of pinging passes: Baines, Barry, Mirallas, Barkley twice, and finally Mirallas, now in the box, to slot across the keeper and into the far corner of the net. Oh the celebration and ‘Oh Kevin Mirallas’ lasted until the half-time whistle and serenaded him off for his half-time cuppa.

Half-time: 1-1

An eventful half yet one that pleased the fans – not just for equaliser but for the manager to have the guts to make a sub to change the shape and turn a performance that was going nowhere into a far more coherent one. Players responded well too.

The second half started with our hosts in determined mood and in the first 5 minutes they had three ‘up an at em’ sorties which we dealt with except one that got through and the Stek made a big save. Then Holgate took centre stage again when he made two neat clearances and then raided forward at pace and gained a corner from which we gained another but both were defended away. WBA attacked and got near to our box where Jags made a great block on the attacker but our Ref deemed it to be a foul and WBA had free kick some 23 yards out. Someone took it but the Stek merely watched it past the post.

On the hour mark, we had a free kick which was cleared but we were soon back raiding and forced a corner. It was delivered to the back post where Holgate had found space and he hit the ball back toward goal, the ball hit the deck and bounced up and there on the other post was that man Barry to jump and head home — sheer pandemonium.

When all celebrations had settled down, Bolasie was introduced in place of Deulofeu. This Bolasie looks one bundle of powerful energy with a fine turn of speed, also seems quite unpredictable and has defenders dithering wondering what he might do... I got the impression even he doesn’t know what he is going to do. Will that make him doubly hard to mark?

70 mins and the game was even-Steven as we had something to hold onto and they needed to bomb on. We were looking to keep the back door closed and rely on breaks and from time to time Lukaku and Bolasie burst into life. Although WBA did more attacking, we were definitely dangerous on the break and, in one particular break, Bolasie got down the right and, with no apparent back-lift, put in a first-time cross that just invited Barkley to simply nod home, such was the accuracy. It was harder to miss than score but Barkley did the hard bit... quite amazing. That would have killed the game but hey ho; on we went with fans getting edgier and edgier.

80 mins and Williams is introduced in place of Mirallas who got a fine ovation and song as he left the pitch. The manager obviously upping the insurance policy as Williams went centre-back and Funes Mori moved to left-back with Baines in front. Clocks and watches seemed to have stopped as the last two seasons and a bit conditioning as to how we view the last knockings of games is at the forefront of many minds. Bolasie picked up a fine through-ball from Barkley and went at some pace into the box, he saw Lukaku better placed so he rolled it to him but WBA keeper Foster came charging out and Lukaku’s effort hit him. Let’s put that down as a great block.

Four mins of time added as we keep our hosts at arm’s length. I fight not to look at my watch but, as Holgate is adjudged to have handled just outside the box wide left, I crumbled and looked; we were in the last minute. Blood pressure off the scale for many, it couldn’t happen – could it? Their keeper races up-field to join the scrum, the kick is taken and partially cleared only to their keeper who shoots... WIDE!!! Whistle goes... What a happy band of Evertonians!!!

MotM – Holgate + Barry

Four points from two games and just a glimpse of how we might evolve under this management. I liked the way the game was approached in that you can have possession football but not exclusively, it can be wrapped in direct no-nonsense stuff depending upon circumstance. A win being the ultimate goal. I was impressed with the two lads who tied for my MotM. Barry will be harder to replace than many think. There are not many centre midfielders that affect a game like he can; when father time does catch up with him, I fully expect our new man Gana to be one that will miss him most.

Holgate seems to be coming on in leaps and bounds. Steady as a centre back and excellent at right back. He could be the man to save the club a lot of money in buying someone to push Coleman. If I was Coleman, I would worry a bit about my place when fit as this manager doesn’t seem shy in playing players if they are giving him what he asks for – and he sure is at the moment. If Stones was £50 mil what will City have to throw in for this lad?

Further news to cheer us on the way home: the BBC reported that ‘Big Ron’ had stated that ‘Big Rom’ was staying as well as reporting that Burnley had a good win today.

I hope our club has a good eleven days in the transfer market with their targets that will allow us to have a decent bedding in period and then for the manager to assess things and off we shop again next summer. It would be great to see a plan come together.


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Andy Meighan
1 Posted 20/08/2016 at 23:42:41
As always, Ken, a great assessment of the game. And I really wouldn't expect anything else off the ultimate gentleman.

But please, Ken, and it's just not you. What's this 'Gana' caper? I thought his name was Gueye. It's petty but it's getting on my nerves. Sorry, pal, it's not you – it's me.

Nathan Ford
4 Posted 21/08/2016 at 01:04:38
Hi Ken,

As an avid reader of ToffeeWeb for the last 5 or 6 years, I've never actually posted a comment but always look forward to your match reports as I feel you offer a very honest opinion on our beloved blues.

Your joint MotM of Holgate and Barry I feel was very just in how both performed with the footballing brain of Barry and the excitement of youth with what seems to be a very exciting prospect in Mason Holgate. (Please can we make Barnsley our feeder club??)

It's the thought of an exciting season which has made me reply to your article for the first time today and this is because of our manager. We've had a few sceptical fans with regards to our recent signings as to why we haven't spent our whole transfer budget quickly. I truly believe and hope I'll be correct in thinking that our manager was assessing all of our players to actually see what we require and need as a squad.

These are some of my reasons why:

Gana – when signed, everyone asked who and why? He played for the worst villa side ever!

Stekelenburg – who?

Williams – really he's gonna be 32 soon?

Bolasie – surely we should be signing players from better clubs than Crystal Palace

Our secret new signing Kevin Mirallas, yes, he's a different player to the one we've had the last 2 or 3 years.

Today, we were losing to WBA and our formation wasn't working; this is the first time in my recent memory of our club that our manager has had the balls to take off a senior player before half time to make a telling change early.

I think all of our signings will be great for our club and for once we seem to have total belief in our manager. I've never felt this optimistic about our club going forward and look forward to great things – and to think there are more significant signings to come.

Anthony Dwyer
5 Posted 21/08/2016 at 01:22:51
A little word about Holgate, he's doing at the start of this season what Galloway was doing at the beginning of last season, how good is it that we have two classy young defenders who look confident and composed at such a young age...

We could potentially have both lads pushing for starts along our back line next season, I think its brilliant.

Also Holgates form is allowing us to seriously consider loaning Galloway out this season, putting him in at the deep end, and seeing how he gets on.

Darren Dennett
6 Posted 21/08/2016 at 02:41:53
He really is a outstanding prospect. Koeman will really love taking this lad up to the next level. And who better to learn your trade from, as AW said; legend in the game.
Anto Byrne
7 Posted 21/08/2016 at 03:55:49
Mirallas was my Man of the Match. He worked hard and scored a tremendous goal, 9 and 8 for both Barry and Holgate.

Not sure I see a starting place for Macca. Handy squad player.

Alan J Thompson
8 Posted 21/08/2016 at 05:39:32
I was impressed by the no nonsense substitution. It seemed obvious that the big man was needed and so it was. Does this cast a shadow on McCarthey's future or was it just the necessary sub?

For me, Holgate edged Barry for MotM with Gueye (I hope we can stick to one name for him,Gana. What is on the back of the shirt?) not that far behind. Stekelenberg is also impressing despite my first reservations about Fulham's 4th choice and may be another to save money being spent in the transfer market.

Should have been 4-1 though. Big Ron & Big Rom, love the "Bigs", Ken.

Bob Butchard
9 Posted 21/08/2016 at 06:08:58
I don't know about Stekelenburg being held when Brom scored, he was gridironed out , it was a blatant obstructive foul. What the ref was looking at , makes you wonder?
Ajay Gopal
10 Posted 21/08/2016 at 06:54:10
Great come-from-behind win. This West Brom side is quite resilient and to beat them at their home from 1 goal down is no mean achievement and it could easily have been 3-1 or 4-1. Foeman will need time to settle this team down but we could potentially have this starting XI very soon:

Coleman Jagielka Williams Baines
Gueye Barkley Barry
Bolasie Lukaku Mirallas

Robles, Stekelenburg, Holgate, Galloway, Funes Mori, Oviedo, Lennon, McCarthy, Besic, Gibson, Cleverly, Deulofeu, Davies as useful squad members. We need 1 more world class forward and get rid of McGeady and, Kone.

Ian McDowell
11 Posted 21/08/2016 at 07:09:12
Great report as usual Ken. Its very difficult to win a premier league game when you concede the first goal and we responded brilliantly. Holgate looks like a premier league player already and Barry was outstanding. I did read that this season was Barry's 20th in the EPL, thats some acheivement to be paying at the top for so long. It tells you a lot about his character.
Bob Parrington
12 Posted 21/08/2016 at 07:21:01
I'm impressed with Holgate! Cool dude! Gana, too! Gana just got on with the game, had plenty of possession but did nothing spectacular, just the simple things time and time again and really well.
Vinny Garstrokes
13 Posted 21/08/2016 at 07:39:46
Big Ron & Big Rom ha ha - Someone better tell Mr K that when we are singing Royal Blue Mersey he's not the Big Ron that we hate!!
Ken Buckley
14 Posted 21/08/2016 at 08:38:50
Andy #1

Sorry about the name troubling you. My reason for calling him Gana is that the player requested that name for the back of his shirt so I just went along with his wishes.
Sorry for any anxiety caused and hope this explanation helps.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 21/08/2016 at 09:04:11
Didn't see the game Ken so thanks for your very keen observations, better than many reporters versions, sorry, better than most reporters visions.
David Ellis
16 Posted 21/08/2016 at 09:40:55
Gana is easier to spell. And shorter to type. So its Gana for me.
Christopher Timmins
18 Posted 21/08/2016 at 10:07:48
Another small step in the right direction, still we got 4 points from the Spurs (h) and WBA (a) last year. Would be nice to have 7 points going into the International break with Hart and another centre forward on board. No need for an additional centre half as we need to give the younger members of the squad a chance, don't forget Browning to the list of young players who can play at the back, hopefully he will be back on board soon.
Jon Withey
19 Posted 21/08/2016 at 10:27:47
Spot on Ken - between yourself and Lyndon I don't bother reading the nationals anymore.

I have to put in a word for Barkley who played some good stuff around the box once we'd changed formation.

With Besic and Gibson out, I think McCarthy has an important place in the squad but ultimately you'd think that Tom Davies would be pushing him too. At least McCarthy isn't a crock and he puts a shift in. Gana is the better player though - good spot from Walsh / Koeman / Whoever.

I hope Geri can find his swagger again but Bolasie showed how it ought to be - he's a real threat.

Finally, I know we don't see Mirallas as a striker but he does well as a different sort of forward to Lukaku - I'd like to see him in the box more.

Dennis Stevens
20 Posted 21/08/2016 at 10:44:38
Superb report, as ever, Ken. I'm not too sure whether it's actually the football or your match reports that I really miss over the Summer nowadays!

The new Manager is already having a dramatic impact & I can't wait to see how things unfold over the months ahead. Whereas the previous incumbent definitely benefited from the squad he inherited, until he'd undone all his predecessor's good work, Big Ron seems to be starting well despite the starting position he's been handed. That all gives me hope for greater things to come.

Tony Abrahams
21 Posted 21/08/2016 at 10:55:39
Thanks Ken, a genuine Evertonian, who tells it like he sees it. A super move, with footy I love. Brilliant mate, and one of the reasons you probably keep travelling wherever, to cheer on the mighty blues!

Agree with you about Barry, Ken, but I'm not sure how long he will last for us this season? Probably a lot longer, if the manager, takes him out, from time to time, but he looks a bit slimmer, and as the saying goes, "IF YOU CAN PLAY, YOU CAN PLAY".

I'm just hoping Koeman, can turn us into a proper team. It's early days, but the signs are looking good, simply because the players are already playing with a lot more intensity, which will only improve further, once they get a lot fitter.

Laurie Hartley
22 Posted 21/08/2016 at 11:20:06
Thanks for your report Ken. I haven't seen the game yet but apparently Barry has put in another Motm performance.

At 35 years of age and in his 20 year in the top flight what a remarkable footballer we have at the club. He must be a tremendous example for every young footballer.

In a post a few days ago a fellow ToffeeWeber posted a link to a Deulofeu interview. He drew our attention to a question that was put to the youngster "who is our most intelligent footballer"? Without hesitation Deulofeu answered "Gareth Barry - he controls Everton."

As you and Tony suggested it is going to be hard to fill his boots when the time comes.

I've never felt more like singing the blues.

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 21/08/2016 at 11:21:31
Jon 19, I also think McCarthy, has got a very important role, to play in our squad. Koeman, has said he wants two players, for every position, and with Everton, getting ready to play a much higher intensity game, then I'm sure McCarthy will do okay.

It still wouldn't surprise me to see him go to Sunderland, but if he doesn't, then it will tell me the manager, has got confidence in the boy, and if he can get Martinez, possession at all costs, out of his head, then I'm sure McCarthy, can still become a big player for Everton.

Mike Hughes
24 Posted 21/08/2016 at 11:47:12
Early days but it does - at least for me - feel that EFC are on solid foundations. Hopefully we are building something positive for the present / near future rather than the over-hyped 'jam tomorrow' of the past couple of seasons.

i just love 'singing the Blues' weekends like this. A come-from-behind away win; Rom staying on board; no swearing at the TV when our manager speaks; Heartbreak City romping home in the Ebor backed at 10/1; Burnley sticking it to the rs and finally ..RK turned out smart in a suit while meffy Klopp looks like he's just walked off the set of the Jeremy Kyle Show having just found out the shocking result if the DNA test.
Happy days.

Sam Barrett
25 Posted 21/08/2016 at 11:51:19
Dave@15. Kens reports are better than ALL reporters versions😃
Paul Hay
26 Posted 21/08/2016 at 12:03:28
Great report as always Ken. Thank you.

So pleased with Kevin Mirallas' start. Hope that Mr Koeman can really bring out the positives of this player on a consistent basis. Ran intelligently off the ball I thought and created space well.

There seems to be a far better work ethic on the pitch now and the lingering doubts of losing it at the end yesterday did not prevail!

Holgate continues to impress me. An accomplished lad here who will definitely develop under our manager. BUT..... Gareth Barry for me was simply outstanding - wish we could take 10 years off him. Really did put a shift in.Let's see what transpires this week especially given the news re Rom. I'll be interested in the forward he now settles for.

Keep the faith.

Barry McNally
27 Posted 21/08/2016 at 12:06:41
Thanks Ken.
Brent Stephens
28 Posted 21/08/2016 at 12:09:15
Mike #24 "RK turned out smart in a suit".

And get those brown suede shoes he wore yesterday! I'd swear I could hear him saying to Tom Davies - "don't shtep on my brown shuede shoesh".

Peter Mills
29 Posted 21/08/2016 at 12:27:47
Thanks Ken.
Terry Underwood
30 Posted 21/08/2016 at 13:13:38
Holgate looks a real steal, still raw and sometimes outsmarted but learning all the time. As for Bolasie, he could have 2 assists to his name already. I'll settle for that even if he doesn't score many himself. The future's bright, the future's orange... well a lurud luminous yellow anyway
John Raftery
31 Posted 21/08/2016 at 14:22:06
Signing Bary was one of Roberto's best decisions in his first season. Signing Holgate twelve months ago was undoubtedly the best of his final season. Both were tremendous yesterday but I made Mirallas our man of the match for his goal and ceaseless running. Plainly he has received and understood last week's message from his manager about the need for him to run more.

Above all else though it was good to see eleven players on the pitch plus three substitutes play as a team doing what they needed to do to win the points. There is plenty of room for improvement of course but we have started the season with two good results. The hard part will be maintaining this form in the weeks ahead.

Phil Walling
32 Posted 21/08/2016 at 15:50:57
Good report as ever although I didn't realise Barry was on the point of hanging up his boots, Ken. Not too many of his ilk around, I'm afraid.

There does appear to be a common paranoia about player's ages - neither Jags nor Williams can ever be mentioned without an 'in spite of his age' and the distaste that saw Howard hounded out was undoubtedly fuelled by ageism.

Until the 2000s players were always judged on how they performed rather than whether they were on the wrong side of 30 and even the 'greats' like Rooney are not spared from this myopia.

PS. However well he plays the Stek will soon be out of the team although he is older than the fabulous Nigel Martin was when he joined us !

Says it all, really.

Phil Walling
33 Posted 21/08/2016 at 15:53:14
'Younger' than Martin.
Dennis Stevens
34 Posted 21/08/2016 at 18:36:28
Phil #32 : "Until the 2000s players were always judged on how they performed rather than whether they were on the wrong side of 30 ...". I recall, as a youngster, that back in the '70s players were considered pretty well finished at 30 & every season beyond that was seen as fairly misaculous. Memories of Stanley Matthews had obviously faded fast!
Stephen Brown
35 Posted 21/08/2016 at 18:44:49
On the point of age, I'm glad players are being bought in their prime rather than for potential.

Williams, Gana, Bolasie and Stek are players currently in their prime!

I think 35 is the new 30 in thinking a player is at the end of his career. More professional these days less pints after training!

Stuart Sheperd
36 Posted 21/08/2016 at 22:31:01
I was in the west brom end so was a little closer to the goal defended in the second half than most Blues fans there !

As soon as Williams came on, he was organising the defence, bossing everyone, gee-Ing them up, motivating, making sure no one switched off. Exactly what was needed at the time and what was missing in similar situations last year.

Alan J Thompson
37 Posted 22/08/2016 at 05:17:01
I remember Bobby Charlton when he retired saying that he wanted to carry on playing but he found the training tedious. May be more of the reason and I'm fairly sure that Stanley Matthews picked his games for many years before he finally retired.
Ian Burns
38 Posted 22/08/2016 at 10:28:00
Thanks as always for your reports Ken - I always save reading your report for a Monday morning with a cup of tea and a round of toast and marmalade! It has become a habit over the years. I always like to see what George McKane posts - but nothing from him this week!

Jon - 19 - made a point which hadn't occurred to me until I read his post. I also rely on the reports from yourself and Lyndon and never resort to Sky/BBC or papers to read about our game, it is all on this website!

One final point about Barry - he will be sorely missed when he hangs up that left foot - I see him as our Pirlo.

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