The League Cup wait goes on

The defeat would feel much worse had we not have started the season so brightly. Let's be a little pragmatic also – on another day, it could have been different.

Paul Traill 20/09/2016 11comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 2 Norwich City

Gaz generously picked me up from work and picking up Ste on-route, we were around Goodison Park in comfortable time to get some food and wash it down with a few drinks in The Brick. We needed a cold drink in there just to cool off such was the heat in the pub.

Whilst the changes to the team were many, there was certainly a strong enough team out there to get the result against Norwich City though looking at their team there was plenty to hurt us with John Ruddy, Steven Whittaker, Sebastien Bassong, Robbie Brady, Youssouf Mulumbu, Ryan Bennett and, of course, Steven Naismith all in the team. Even Kyle Lafferty came off the substitutes bench as if to highlight we were up against a pretty strong team though the player who caught my eye the most for the Canaries was Alex Pritchard, a young midfielder signed from Tottenham Hotspurs. With Romalu Lukaku out of this one, our new loan signing Enner Valencia led the line in attack. Gareth Barry and Leighton Baines were also experienced absentees with Mason Holgate and Ramiro Funes Mori notable deputies.

The first half was largely a none entity though had Aaron Lennon struck the goal rather than Steven Whittaker early on, we may have found ourselves a goal up early doors. This wasn't to be, however, and you had to give Norwich City credit for being disciplined and organised and making it difficult for Everton. They were fairly comfortable in the dismal first half and seized their opportunity with a sizeable chunk of fortune when our ex-attacker, Steven Naismith, slipped as he hit the ball and, with everybody around me, myself included, expecting the ball to whizz into the stands, it somehow looped into the net. Norwich City with a half-time lead and Steven Naismith afforded a generous applause from the Gwladys Street. Everton with work to do at the break.

Ross Barkley was having a nightmare and I expected him to be hooked along with perhaps Ramiro Funes Mori; however, Ronald Koeman, unusually for him, resisted the urge to change things early and kept faith with what he had on the pitch. On another day, it may have paid off. Gerard Deulofeu missed two great opportunities (one particularly presentable) and Ramiro Funes Mori drove into the side-netting.

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Though we had plenty of the play after the break, the goal never really felt like coming with the XI which began the game. I felt an introduction of Arouna Kone (yes, I know, it comes to something when you're screaming for Kone to get onto the pitch) to replace Valencia; and taking Ross Barkley off and allowing Gerard Deulofeu to play off Arouna Kone with Kevin Mirallas on the wing instead would have heralded better results.

Ronald Koeman felt otherwise, however and simply switched his two wingers – Lennon and Deulofeu replaced by Yannick Bolasie and Kevin Mirallas. Despite my reservations, the impact was almost immediate when first Mirallas forced a save out of Ruddy from a free kick, from which Valencia's drive was blocked on the line by Pritchard.

Norwich City were proving resilient as Everton toiled for momentum and further opportunities, and the difficulty of our task was doubled when Josh Murphy scored for the visitors with a quite brilliant solo goal which even had many in Goodison Park applauding. "It's not often both goals from an away team get applauded by the home team" said Ste.

With nothing now to lose in the game, we were shocked by how long it took for Koeman to bring on Kone, but in truth it made little difference and, though we rallied in the closing stages, the goal never really felt like coming; once again, we found ourselves out meekly in the early rounds of the League Cup... a cup it seems we're never going to win. Let's hope we can take the early cup exit as a kick up the backside and help us to carry on our good form in the Premier League.

The defeat would feel much worse had we not have started the season so brightly. Let's be a little pragmatic also. Though Norwich City deserved their win, on another day, it may not have come. They got lucky with their first half chance and we missed ours, plus we had the chances to get back into the game but just didn't take them. On another day, it could have been different.

Just as an aside, though his goal was a fluke, the tenacity, work rate and his ability in front of goal suggests to me we might have done well to have kept Steven Naismith, at least given since he left we signed Oumar Niasse whom it is generous to even call a flop, and now had to settle for a last-minute deadline-day loan deal for Enner Valencia who, on tonight at least, really doesn't look the part. We'd have been better off keeping hold of Naismith in my opinion.

Player ratings:

Stekelenburg: Beaten twice though helpless twice with Norwich City's two only shots on target. 6

Funes Mori: Had a poor game at left back. I don't rate Funes Mori but I think it's a little unfair playing him at left back when it's not his position. I don't rate him either, but if he really didn't want to field Leighton Baines, then maybe he should have played Bryan Oviedo who is at least a left back. 4

Holgate: Struggled a bit in this one which is a tad disappointing given his early season Premier League form but I'm sure it's just a blip. 5

Williams: Did a little better than Holgate at centre back. 6

Coleman: Captained Everton for the first time and didn't let us down. One of few to leave the field with credit actually. 7

Gueye: A typically combative display. We might as well give him Player of the Season now as his consistency levels, work rate and ability are all outstanding. My Man of the Match. 8

Cleverley: He did okay first half but I remember very little of him after the break. 5

Deulofeu: Caused problems but didn't make the most of his opportunities. 5

Lennon: One of the better ones out there which is why I was surprised he was substituted. 7

Barkley: After a promising display at the weekend, you hoped he would crack on this evening but he never got going sadly and it was a frustrating performance from Ross. Let's hope for better at Bournemouth. 4

Valencia: Was pretty anonymous for most of the game and you can only hope he is able to improve with games. Certainly unconvincing on tonight's showing. 4


Bolasie (for Lennon): Worked the wings and put in some crosses, albeit to no avail. 7

Mirallas (for Deulofeu): Put a shift in and was lively. 7

Kone (for Holgate): Should have been introduced sooner but I'm not sure it actually would have made a big difference. 5

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Reader Comments (11)

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Craig Fletcher
1 Posted 21/09/2016 at 00:34:53
Agree with your comment on Naismith Paul.

However, he was always going to struggle to get minutes with us which he of course realized, with Lukaku ahead of him.

Personally I applaud the lad. He'd rather get playing time with Norwich (and as of January when he moved, risk going into the Championship which is of course precisely what happened) rather than be a perennial bench-warmer for us in the premier league.

Good luck to him, though he of course had to score against us today didn't he!!

Gordon White
2 Posted 21/09/2016 at 00:38:13
Can't argue with your assessment, Paul. Not one of Barkley's better performances. Very frustrating. Gueye and Coleman stood out for me. Valencia needs to play off someone like Lukaku in my view. Not a lone striker.

Talking of performance, didn't think the officials handled the game very well. Overall, I think this demonstrates what an impact Romelu can have on a game, even without scoring.

John Raftery
3 Posted 21/09/2016 at 01:15:46
From a very early stage in this game it was obvious Valencia was isolated. He is certainly no Lukaku and needs someone alongside him so yes, I was also surprised not to see Kone introduced at the hour mark or earlier.

For me Coleman was our best player. Gana was also decent but was sat too deep in the first half. That wasn't his fault; it was the way the team was set up. Given how deep Norwich were sitting we needed someone like Gana close to Barkley to keep attacks moving from advanced positions. Cleverley was a huge disappointment. He started slowly and became more anonymous as the game progressed. It is hard to see a role for him in a Koeman team.

James Watts
4 Posted 21/09/2016 at 01:42:37
We know we won't see Funes Mori, Cleverley, Lennon or possibly Kone again in first team action until the FA Cup! Barring an injury crisis of course.

Wasn't convinced by Valencia when we loaned him, tonight just backs that up. Panic loan who couldn't get in West Ham's team, so no surprise.

As for Barkley the lad is fast running out of excuses. At 22, he should be pushing on but is going backwards, and fast. He'll be on the bench before long, and wouldn't be surprised to see him in Sunderland colours by the time he's 25. Let's hope RK can sort him out before his career is flushed down the toilet.

Howard Bevan
5 Posted 21/09/2016 at 01:57:28
Why didn't Koeman change the attack earlier? Play 2 up front from the start. Will Geri score? Can Ross put a first-time ball in without a defender reading the pass?

Why do we water the pitch 10 mins before kickoff and drench the Toffee Lady and mascots? Can we have over-30s in my team? Best foot-long hot dog in the Premier League at half time. [I ramble but am frustrated.]

Gary Mortimer
6 Posted 21/09/2016 at 07:38:46
It appears that, if Barkley doesn't score or provide a couple of assists, a lot of people on ToffeeWeb will automatically give him a 4 (or say he was useless) – irrespective of his actual performance such is the expectation on his shoulders. Last night he dithered a couple of times when he should have just shot, but if he had shot and it hadn't gone in, we all know the reaction that he would have received.

Lennon contributed nothing. Cleverley did nothing apart from keep the ball moving in a neat and tidy manner – nothing incisive. Mirallas did nothing when he came on. Bolasie did nothing apart from lose it a few times. Poor old Geri missed a bag full of chances, misplaced crosses and lost possession a lot. Kone touched the ball about 4 times and yet still is rated higher than Barkley by Paul. Valencia looked a bit lightweight to me.

I assume Barkley is the new Osman. If in doubt – blame the local lad. It appears that some people cannot wait for him to mess up, so they can say "I told you that he would never make it". It was annoying, frustrating and disappointing, but no reason to turn on a young lad who needs our support not our vitriol.

We dominated possession and chances last night, but we snatched at them and didn't work their keeper anywhere near enough. You get games like them every season.

Bob Parrington
7 Posted 21/09/2016 at 11:13:57
Thanks, Paul. In your postings, you bring to life the times of my life back in England and the many trips to Goodison during my youth and beyond. Living in Adelaide for the past 30 years, I have still been fortunate enough to go to The Old Lady maybe 12 times and occasionally other EPL venues or others (notably Wimbledon, where they treated my Mrs and I like long lost friends – great club that, too!)

I couldn't watch the Norwich game on TV but your report helps to understand the game. Frankly, the result was predictable – as the French say, C'est la Vie! So let's get on with it and continue to gather EPL points and go for the serious FA Cup.

Koeman is doing just fine!

Colin Williams
8 Posted 21/09/2016 at 11:52:05
Gary (#6)

Top comments! Excellent assessment and view on the game.

I agree 100%!!!

Ste Traverse
9 Posted 21/09/2016 at 13:35:21
I think it just about sums up our record in this competition that even when we had a boss team and won the league by 13 points in 84-85, we STILL managed to get knocked out by Grimsby that season, and at home too.

I think we all read the script once we went a goal down last night. We are jinxed and won't win this thing ever in my lifetime.

Geoff Williams
10 Posted 21/09/2016 at 16:20:17
I didn't think Barkley had the best of games but his contribution to the game and the effort he put in far exceeded Deloufeu's performance.

I am amazed that anyone who avoids physical contact and tackles as he does has made it so far in the game. Barkley was pulled off the other day for losing the ball 11 times; I would love to see Deloufeu's statistics.

John Mckay
11 Posted 22/09/2016 at 09:44:22
I know we haven't ever won the League Cup, but this season might be a blessing to go out early, less games and can focus on the league.

I know it's a big ask but if we can continue our league form until Christmas and be up in that top 4, give the players confidence and a reason to fight for the second half of the season.

We need to get into at least the Europa League so we can start spending some of that Moshiri cash, because people don't want to go to the northwest of England to play football without European football sadly, not these big signings anyway.

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