Stunned momentum leaves taste of frustration for international break

Before kick-off, I was lucky enough to be asked along to Carling In Off The Bar – a show which aired on YouTube by Sky Sports presented by Adam Smith and Laura Woods. The show airs every Friday night game and is set in a pub in the city of the home team, this being MacKenzie's Whisky Bar on Rodney Street in Liverpool. I brought Ste along for the entertainment and free Carling.

Paul Traill 01/10/2016 38comments  |  Jump to last

Before kick-off, I was lucky enough to be asked along to Carling In Off The Bar – a show which aired on YouTube by Sky Sports presented by Adam Smith and Laura Woods. The show airs every Friday night game and is set in a pub in the city of the home team, this being MacKenzie's Whisky Bar on Rodney Street in Liverpool. I brought Ste along for the entertainment and free Carling.

We were asked to arrive for 4:30pm though, with getting out of work a bit early, the best we could do was about 5pm, given the Friday traffic coming through the tunnel was just horrendous. The show is pretty much in the wackiness format of Soccer AM except in a pub, but it was good fun to be around it and see how it all works behind the scenes. The initial show went live on YouTube at 6pm.

At about 7:20pm, we went to get a taxi to the ground and were luckily able to share with three other Evertonians heading that way. It was good company in the taxi and we arrived nicely in time for kick off... Goodison Park looking splendid under the lights.

Everton had made just the one change to the team that dipped at Bournemouth – Tom Cleverley in to replace Kevin Mirallas, with Gerard Deulofeu not even in the squad. For Crystal Palace, you kind of knew that Christian Benteke would come back to haunt us. Though I was pleased when I heard that Jonathan Moss replaced Mark Clattenburg as the match official, I now feel that even Clattenburg would have been a better option than the hopelessly inconsistent Jonathan Moss.

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The atmosphere, though okay, wasn't exactly electric and, in the first half, it was the Crystal Palace supporters making a fair bit of noise. We were getting the better of things and had Crystal Palace pinned back for large periods of it, this culminating in us going in at the break a goal to the good following a Romelu Lukaku free kick. Though undoubtedly a great effort from Romelu, I couldn't help but feel the goalkeeper could have done a bit better as the ball went over the wall but was hardly in the corner of the goal. I'm basing this on a one off view from the Gwladys Street, of course; those in other sections of the ground or watching on TV may beg to differ.

We caught up with Gaz at the break and, with a seat vacant near us, he was able to join us for the second half, which was intriguing and entertaining, though not for particularly the right reasons. We had a good spell of pressure as the Goodison atmosphere really lit up. It was good to see a competitive game with a lot of tackles flying in but Jonathan Moss and his assistants just couldn't let things flow and the game was broken up far too much. This really spoiled the game. Simple contact at times was mistaken for fouls, most maddeningly when Bolasie went over an outstretched defender inside the penalty area with the free kick going against us somehow.

The inconsistency irritated the masses – for both sides, no doubt – and it spoilt what could have been a better game. Our best chance in the second half came when Yannick Bolasie got free inside the penalty area and should have driven at goal but instead tried to square it and the chance was gone. I loved his speculative overhead volley also. He had a busy game and seemed determined to make an impact against his former club.

Crystal Palace withstood this spell of pressure and retaliated, Joel Ward looping a ball into the penalty area and Benteke rising highest to find the corner of the net with his header. You could question the defending perhaps, but sometimes you have to take your hat off and say it was a good headed goal. Fair play to Benteke also who could have really rubbed it in our faces, but chose not too and didn't celebrate too wildly.

This changed the game considerably and for quite a period we were really pinned back with Crystal Palace forcing corner after corner, though the pressure was expertly withstood by Phil Jagielka and Ashley Williams, so much so that Maarten Stekelenburg had rather little to do. Crystal Palace thought they had scored the winner when Damien Delaney headed a similar goal to Benteke's into the far corner of the net, but James McArthur was apparently offside so the goal was ruled out.

Everton tried to launch a quick counter whilst Crystal Palace celebrated but Jonathan Moss wouldn't allow such entertainment. He instead ran to his linesman for confirmation of why it was ruled out. It seemed to me he was determined to give the goal to Crystal Palace. Why he had to run over to speak to him is over my head. The referees are microphoned up these days after all to improve communication and increase speed of play!

We toiled late on for a goal though it didn't materialise. Jason Puncheon cleared a headed effort off the goal line from a corner kick but we couldn't force the ball home. At full time I'd say Crystal Palace might have been slightly more disappointed with the result as they had us on the ropes at one point, but a draw was about fair. Boos rung around the stadium at full time, more born out of frustration that fume I think. Regardless, it feels our momentum has really been stunned these last 11 days since we lost to Norwich City.

If we have realistic aspirations of qualifying for Europe next season, we have to be getting more from games against Crystal Palace and Bournemouth than a solitary point, and with our next two fixtures away at Manchester City and Burnley, it's tough to expect much given the form in our last three fixtures. Most of the players are away on international duty this next 10 days or so, so a lot of hard work is required by Ronald Koeman and his management team to evaluate what has gone wrong these last few games, and plan how to overcome Manchester City the other side of the international break. We have to give Ronald time. Managers seldom arrive and hit the ground running. The first season is usually a struggle.

After the match, Gaz kindly drove us back to MacKenzie's Whisky Bar where we returned for the live show aired on Sky Sports 1. We had a laugh and appeared in the backdrop on TV quite a few times having now watched it back. We finally made it!

Player ratings

Stekelenburg: Not a great deal to do really but he seemed a little helpless with the goal. One moment when he punched the ball out from a crowded penalty area particularly sticks in my mind. 6

Oviedo: Performed admirably. Though I'd question the wisdom of it, I hope that the late substitution which replaced him with Ramiro Funes Mori was tactical rather than injury-forced, as Bryan seldom seems able to finish a game. 6

Jagielka: His defensive display, when we were under severe pressure in the second half, was key to us preserving the draw. 8

Williams: See Jagielka. 8

Coleman: Full of effort down the right though not quite on his top form. 6

Barry: Had a decent game in there and was perhaps the most creative outlet in midfield. 8

Gueye: As busy as ever all over the pitch. 8

Bolasie: Though a bit inconsistent, he was fired up and perhaps did more than anyone to try and force the winner though alas it never came. A few early observations – the other players are always looking for him and trying to give him the ball so they must have a lot of faith in his ability. Also, the Crystal Palace players were often tapping him on the back, helping him up and shaking his hand throughout the game, which tells me he's probably a pretty good lad and they respect him. Even when he clattered someone late on, their players and even Alan Pardew didn't make as much of it as they may have done. My Man of the Match. 8

Cleverley: His final product was often lacking but give him some credit, he worked his socks off and pretty much always does and you can't really ask for more than that. 6

Barkley: Well he's trying and he didn't have his worst game. If he keeps on working hard hopefully he'll get his confidence back. 6

Lukaku: Was fairly busy and scored a good goal but I feel he needs to defend from the front a bit more. At times in the second half more movement and effort would have really helped out his team mates. Good to see him grab a goal also. 6

Mirallas (for Barkley): Didn't really make an impact despite his best efforts. 6

Funes Mori (for Oviedo): He did his best but couldn't quite make an impact. 6

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Paul Kossoff
1 Posted 02/10/2016 at 07:07:13
Any centre-half leaving it up to the full-back to mark a renowned header of a ball like Benteke should be given a rollicking, the fact that two of them did would knock two points of their mark. Williams and Jagielka: 6.

Stekelenburg made the cardinal sin of thinking the ball was going wide, so instead of an easy save, it's a goal: 4.

Colin Williams
2 Posted 02/10/2016 at 08:17:30
I agree about the centre-half marking – very poor organisation! How the feck did that happen?

No player in a blue shirt deserved more than an 6, piss-poor all-round. We made them look half-decent! That's how poor we were.

John Malone
3 Posted 02/10/2016 at 08:30:46
Bolasie, Man of the Match! Are you kidding me??

Apart from one pull back to Gueye, what did he do???

People slag Barkley for his poor decision-making and pass selection... well, what about this guy? There were times early on him and Lukaku broke and the final ball/decision was a total letdown!

Also, for me, he totally stopped working in the second half and Barkley was hard done by to be brought off!

It's early days under a new manager but the style of play concerns me: the the defence seems to be coming under a lot of pressure as we don't keep hold of possession long enough to dominate the game!

Dave Abrahams
4 Posted 02/10/2016 at 09:09:45
Paul, your remarks concerning Lukaku not defending from the front were echoed by Williams screaming at him for letting a Palace player stroll away with the ball and Lukaku was no more than two yards away from him.

He's not doing the job Koeman is asking him to do. Maybe he'll learn to do this but I wouldn't bank on it. He scored a good goal so that makes up for it, I suppose, to some supporters.

Eddie Dunn
5 Posted 02/10/2016 at 09:51:31
Paul, you obviously enjoyed your jolly and let the good vibes affect your player ratings! Too many 8s there Paul. For me, no-one would get more than 7 and most would be 5-6.

Too big a gap between defenders and attack and a tendency to hit everything long seemed to be our biggest problems. I thought Barkley had listened to his boss and tried to put in a shift and Cleverley worked hard in an effort to subdue Saha.

Bolasie seemed to try to do too much against his old muckers and his choice and quality of his final ball was poor. Mirallas was useless. He really must frustrate the hell out of his coaches, he has so much ability but is so often on the periphery.

At least we didn't lose and I think you are right about that buffoon John Moss, he seemed to want to overrule the lino.

As for Lukaku, he failed to close down the defenders as time went on, but perhaps this toe problem was the reason?

I just saw a clip of Moyes bemoaning his team's lack of bits of quality, and I think that Koeman may privately be thinking the same thing.

Tony Hill
6 Posted 02/10/2016 at 10:13:44
I'd make Williams captain. He was wobbly against Bournemouth but has otherwise been a major reason for our defence strengthening. He is a vocal leader in a way Jags never will be.

What has been most demoralising about the last 3 games is not the poor results but the reversion to Martinez lethargy and apparent lack of spirit in the team. All the most successful sides are super fit and are cohesive.

I still think the model for sides like us is Atletico Madrid who forced themselves through with a relatively small squad but with masses of courage and resolution and astute transfer business. Without those qualities, we will go nowhere and I think that's what many of us are fearing. Koeman's main job is to get in some brave hearts and/or to help the current players to man up.

Jeff Armstrong
7 Posted 02/10/2016 at 10:28:44
Paul, got to agree with the comments above regarding the marks. Jags was a 6 at best, he left Coleman to keep Benteke at bay and his long-range passing is embarrassing at times. Williams for me was a 7 cos he can find a man with a long pass.

Coleman's final ball is terrible most of the time, whether it's a pass 5 for me. It's the Bolasie mark that I really don't agree with though, the roll under and flicks just didn't work, and I agree with the poster who felt he was trying too hard. I think he's only been decent for 20 minutes all season (Sunderland) and can't see a £28 million player at all.

Oviedo deserved a 7, he was the best of our back 4 by a mile. Opinions though... thanks for the update on the jollies too!

Eddie Dunn
8 Posted 02/10/2016 at 10:49:00
The trouble is, Tony, that these players have been coasting for a couple of years and it will take time for them to adjust.
Dave Williams
9 Posted 02/10/2016 at 11:28:25
Tony and Eddie – you are right. There is still a malaise in the squad which has been there for a number of years and will only be driven out by wholesale changes in personnel coupled with the new approach of the management team.

Our full backs used to be the best pairing in the division but there is a lack of dynamism there now and likewise in midfield where Barry and Gana play well but the " front four" are a group of talented individuals with no consistency whatsoever. Moyes had the team playing as a unit and Ronald will I believe achieve this too but not with the current squad of players.

I hope that, having had a good look at a few fringe players over the last few games, he will give Davies a chance. This lad has a bit of everything – skill, work rate and confidence, and a team with Barry, Williams and Jags in it should be capable of guiding him on the pitch if he needs it.

Too many individuals and too many squad members who have had their chance in the game and have not quite cemented a regular place either with us or previous teams. Ronald has work to do – but that's why we brought him here in the first place!

Clive Rogers
10 Posted 02/10/2016 at 11:52:38
Koeman has a problem. Only Lukaku can be relied on for a goal. Bolasie is just not a goalscorer and doesn't look like putting the ball in the net. He got 12 goals for Palace in four seasons. Mirallas also doesn't look like he can buy a goal and has lost his early season form.

The midfield are not contributing either. Barkley has not scored since the first game and Barry, Gueye and Cleverley will be lucky to end up with five between them. If Valencia can't cut the mustard, a goalscorer will have to be brought in in January.

Terry Underwood
11 Posted 02/10/2016 at 11:56:24
Can't understand all the angst and frustration; people seem to be expecting too much, too soon. It will take time for Koeman to get the team and the system correct. I honestly would not expect much more than upper mid table this season... maybe 7th/8th.

The next two transfer windows are crucial, this would also be enough time for him to have a good look at the youngsters on the fringe. I would like us to give the FA Cup a good go though. Couple of nice home draws and the so-called big boys playing each other and who knows?

Phil Parker
12 Posted 02/10/2016 at 11:58:53
We were going well this season until the unforced changes for the Norwich League Cup game. As a result of the changes and the defeat, slight splits have appeared. Players who were trying to force their way into the team were given a game and have now been dumped as not being good enough.

Some players received abuse during that defeat by our frustrated fans. Plus the questioning of why Koeman made the changes. This policy has never worked for Everton. That's just the way it is with us. I know we should have won anyway, and I have belief Ron will be a great manager for our club.

Two of the players given a rest were subsequently injured in training that week anyway: Baines and Barry. A chance of a run in the cursed cup gone for no good reason, and momentum lost. However, it's a long-term project and we will get there with this manager and the new chairman.

ps: I am the person who's name escapes you, Paul.

Paul Conway
13 Posted 02/10/2016 at 12:05:03
Eddie Dunn (#8),

I think 'blagging it', is the word! These players have been blagging it for a number of years. They will never reach a higher standard that is required. Possibly one, but, it's nothing short of magic to get 8 or 9 players to revive their careers. The worrying thing is some of the not-up-to-standard players have still to come back after injury.

IMO, apart from Williams, Stekelenburg, Boalsie, Coleman, Gana, Lukaku, Jagielka and Baines (one more season), the youngsters, all the rest should be shipped out.

Another worrying aspect, is that 4 of the aforementioned players only joined us a few months ago.

Tony Hill
14 Posted 02/10/2016 at 12:35:30
Terry, I think most people would agree with that and I, for one, need to calm myself down when we lose. It still cuts me to the quick after all these years and I can't help myself – I tend to reach for the doom-laden analysis.

But, I demand full commitment from the team at all times and the courage to play to our full ability, especially against the odds. If that happens then much else can be forgiven while we get ourselves into a seriously challenging position.

Eddie Dunn
15 Posted 02/10/2016 at 13:51:14
Terry, I am happy with our position, but let's face it, we couldn't have had a kinder set of fixtures for the new boss to start with. If we had had a couple of tougher games (Southampton away, and Man City at home for example) then we could be looking at two defeats and six points less than the 14 we have. This would mean only 8 points and parity with Saints and Bournemouth and between 10th and 12th in the table.

Unless we strengthen in January, I fully expect us to finish around 9th-10th. I really think the easy fixtures have bumped our hopes up too much and we had better get ready to open a big can of reality.

Patrick Murphy
16 Posted 02/10/2016 at 14:03:26
Given what we didn't spend in the summer, and our league position and form from last season, many Blues would have been more than happy with the 14 points accrued from the first seven fixtures – so we shouldn't be too mournful of failing to take maximum points from our opening seven fixtures... but I hear some say "we have had a kinder set of fixtures than most!". I wonder what Man Utd supporters feel about their start to the campaign seeing as they appointed the self-proclaimed chosen one and spent plenty in the window?

1. Round 14/08/2016 13:30 A AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth 3:1 (1:0)
2. Round 19/08/2016 20:00 H Southampton FC Southampton FC 2:0 (1:0)
3. Round 27/08/2016 17:30 A Hull City Hull City 1:0 (0:0)
4. Round 10/09/2016 12:30 H Manchester City Manchester City 1:2 (1:2)
5. Round 18/09/2016 12:00 A Watford FC Watford FC 1:3 (0:1)
6. Round 24/09/2016 12:30 H Leicester City Leicester City 4:1 (4:0)
7. Round 02/10/2016 12:00 H Stoke City Stoke City 1:1 (0:0)

Colin Hughes
17 Posted 02/10/2016 at 14:04:10
I think we can push Man Utd for that top 6 place but the other five are far too strong for us. The Manchester United of old wouldn't have cocked up at home to the bottom side like just now against Stoke City, lost handsomely at Watford, and struggled past Hull City in the 94th minute.

The press have them in the title race because of Mourinho but they are a team of has-beens and average players coupled with a few kids with potential. We can fight 6th out with them, imo.

Eddie Dunn
18 Posted 02/10/2016 at 14:04:29
Paul Conway, I fear you are right about the players. All of the bullshit spouted 18 months ago about the best squad in years has clouded reality.

I don't think Mirallas will ever be consistent; Gibson is a crock and hasn't had his great shot since he left Man Utd; Kone, Championship standard; Niasse, bought in a car park; poor old Lennon, a squad player; Cleverley too... and then Barkley, who seems to be going backwards.

The defence looks okay, but on the attack it seems that all of the wingers and Barkley and Coleman want to take an extra touch, and not play first time.

How often does someone try a shot from range?

We need wholesale changes, 5 or 6 out. I think we will see it too.

Kevin Dyer
19 Posted 02/10/2016 at 14:12:41
As others have remarked I think your ratings are a bit high. Bolasie attacked hard throughout but end product isn't there - yet. Ditto with Ross, although he's shown (1st half last season) he can do it. Mirallas can score, Deulofeu can create, but all are struggling to establish consistency.

It's clear that RK wants us to be an energetic high-pressing team and the players seem to be buying into that. Barkley put in his best display (without the ball) that I've seen. It worked well first 45 with CP rarely getting out of their own half. Second half followed the Bournemouth template, however as we sat very deep; allied with a high press this gave us too much space to cover and allowed them to elude the high press and move the ball forward quickly. Gana and Barry hung out to dry. Hence why After and Surman controlled the game last time out. Disappointed that Koeman didn't seem to see this, because it undermines our entire approach.

In Koeman's interview with Carragher he alluded to some players finding it difficult to adapt to the way he wants us to play (presumably Deulofeu, probably Mirallas) but there are positives and negatives to every approach. Look at Tadic. Last season he was in and out the Southampton team, likely because he doesn't track back the way Koeman wants. This season he's been their primary playmaker and is having an excellent season. Personally I think there is room for all types. I'd rather our creative players expended their energy in an attacking sense - whilst maintaining a certain level of team shape, closing down etc. - rather than getting physically and mentally fatigued chasing the opposition.

We need new players in January, that's pretty obvious. I also except to see the promising young players given an opportunity. What's Holgate done to be dropped, for example? Whilst Cleverley was not terrible yesterday, as many have claimed, he is also doing nothing to shut the door on the likes of Davies, either.

Paul Traill
20 Posted 02/10/2016 at 14:56:59
Phil #12 Ah hello Phil. Nice to have met you, I knew it was Parker! Good points you make Phil. Kinda echoes what we were talking about the other night. Take care mate.
James Watts
21 Posted 02/10/2016 at 16:58:28
Having watched a lot of games this season, we are a long way behind Man City, Spurs, Liverpool & Arsenal. Man Utd and Chelsea are both better than us too with their first XI. Looking down the rest of the table, we are certainly in the next best bracket though.

Therefore, in my opinion, the best we can finish at the moment is 7th. We could jump up another position or two IF we spend some money on talent in January.

Personally, I would have settled for that when Koeman took over as it shows progress. I hate settling for that kind of mediocrity but that's just being realistic.

Patrick Murphy
22 Posted 02/10/2016 at 17:26:32
James (21) You may well be proven correct in the final analysis but, at this moment in time, we are not behind Chelsea or Man Utd and depending on the Burnley v Arsenal result we may not be behind Arsenal either.

We are four points adrift of Man City and three behind Spurs and only two behind the neighbours.

Our next two games are difficult trips but it's not impossible we could win one or even both games; if we can keep getting an average of 2 points a match, we'll be up there challenging for European places.

I sometimes think we are very harsh on our own chances and team and overly confident in the capacity of others. We haven't played particularly well so far this season, so there is scope for improvement; however, if you are correct in your analysis then we might slide down the table. Take each game as it comes because no match is a foregone conclusion and none of the elite clubs are that frightening unless they are treated with too much respect.

Paul Conway
23 Posted 02/10/2016 at 18:32:18

Imo, the Topic for this thread should be... Stunted momentum!

Michael Kenrick
24 Posted 02/10/2016 at 19:37:08
Great post, Patrick, especially this statement:

Take each game as it comes because no match is a foregone conclusion and none of the elite clubs are that frightening unless they are treated with too much respect.

We are not playing particularly well, but the in-phrase I haven't heard too much of this season is "small margins". Maybe it's a Herculean task for Koeman to improve these players such that they are playing just a bit closer to their peak, and that the team might start to figure out what Koeman wants and how to implement it.

I can't understand people focusing on the next transfer window... and the next... and the next. Football is played every week during the season. You must actually watch each game telling yourself the players we have are no good, and must be replaced at the first opportunity. How's that working for you?

History shows wholesale clearouts to be the exception rather than the rule. And with such lucrative contracts (cf Niasse), plus the recognized difficulty of bringing in quality improvements mid-season – is it really going to be that easy to make meaningful changes? Or have you each spent perhaps a little too long playing FIFA 2016, Football Manager, and the like?

We do have a good squad; they are struggling to adapt to the new man's methods. Shouldn't that be the focus, rather than hoping for this ridiculous panacea, that is more than likely NOT provided by the transfer window?

Why should it be so implausible for us to offer up a challenge with the playing staff we actually have on the books? After all said and done, we have THREE MORE MONTHS of fielding the players we have now – not some dreamlike figments of the collective imagination. It's tantamount to giving Koeman a pass until January, and see what he brings in... Well, sorry, but given the amount we are paying him, that's not on.

Also, I can't understand people predicting our finishing place in May based on what they have seen so far. I wouldn't even dare to predict it in April, never mind October. Maybe we could introduce some retrospective retribution if you get it wrong? Or you could be forced to accompany your boringly predictive nonsense with a monetary wager. Far more will get it wrong than right... and we could make some money!

And I can't understand people (okay, one person) writing off the season after 7 games, when we are sitting 5th in the Premier League, with one of the top ten highest paid managers in the world just settling in to his job. I mean, what's the point, really?

Andy Meighan
25 Posted 02/10/2016 at 20:16:28
I'd love to know what game you were watching. Bolassie 8 – no don't think so. I and many around me and many I spoke to after the game thought he was awful. He looks like he's never got the ball under control – and what's that rolling the ball under his foot all about?

As someone earlier said, apart from a 20-minute spell at Sunderland, he's done nothing to justify the huge price-tag. That said, it's early days so let's not be too harsh.

Also, you give 8 for the two centre-halves... Wrong – both guilty of not picking up Benteke for the goal and both lucky with the disallowed goal being easily beaten with yet another cross coming in.

Barry 8? No chance; he didn't influence the game as he normally does and to me looked half-fit. Oviedo you gave him 6 and yet he was our best player by a mile til he tired in the 2nd half.

I think the scotch in that bar you were in before the game has gone to your head a bit Also you said you knew benteke would come back to haunt us... Why? He never played for us – or is this because he spent one unproductive season over the park? All-in-all, poor ratings from you, and it looks like you saw a different game to me.

Jack Convery
26 Posted 02/10/2016 at 22:21:41
We were okay... but 'okay' doesn't cut it. Watched Spurs today – they were great – got stuck in all over the park and didn't give Man City a minute on the ball.

Will we play like that against them? Like our lives depended on it?? What do you think???

Trevor Peers
27 Posted 02/10/2016 at 23:09:23
The big problem lays in our three attacking midfielders, they don't score enough goals, tackle and win the ball enough, and no matter which way the stats are presented, Barkley is part of that problem. The criticism should be directed at all of them though.

Until Koeman sorts out that conundrum, we will continue to struggle to win games, despite that great start to the season. Which now seems to be fading away.

Eddie Dunn
28 Posted 02/10/2016 at 23:23:38
Michael – I've never played the games you mention, and haven't even done a fantasy league since you had to post transfers in to The Telegraph! However, I must defend those of us who wish to predict league placings. Surely ToffeeWeb is just the place for such conjecture?

I think our future success depends on this season's final placing. Lukaku will be leaving unless we get top 4. He might be prepared to stay if we show some ambition (in January, as the summer could be too late) and finish in the Europa League placings. Also we need to attract better quality players to the project and our position will be key in this too.

If people can be happy about our league position after seven games, then I think it is fair to predict the final placings with the current squad.

James Watts
29 Posted 03/10/2016 at 00:18:06
Love a good discussion with lots of different views :)

Patrick (22). Although current league placings have us above Chelsea and Man Utd, I really don't believe our first XI is stronger over these two over the course of the season. Hence my prediction of 7th if the squad isn't improved somewhat in January.

Michael (24). I disagree with the good squad comment. We don't. It's been proved the last 2 years and again is proving the case thus far this season. Obviously there are caveats to that due to Martinez and Ronnie is only just settling in. I don't want us to buy for the sake of buying but I truly believe, at this current moment, Mirallas, Barkley and Del are no where near good enough for us to break higher than 7th. 7th is my prediction based on what I've seen so far of us and the teams we are trying to emulate. Why is predicting final placing so hard to understand? Surely it's part of the fun and Eddie (28) has already written my thoughts exactly.

Of course I want us to win the league and everything else, but I'm just being realistic - even with one of the highest paid managers in the world - and I truly believe the current squad is nowhere near good enough.

Ernie Baywood
30 Posted 03/10/2016 at 01:24:14
In the build-up to the season, I was excited by some of the players we have... but, on the evidence of the last few weeks, it looks like everyone else has them.

Stanislas... Zaha... Would you really rate our attacking players ahead of them?

I think I overestimated our ability, but we're still solid enough and should be good enough for top 8. Getting above that will require investment.

Jeff Armstrong
31 Posted 03/10/2016 at 09:20:58
Michael, it's 9th for me...
Robert Workman
32 Posted 03/10/2016 at 21:38:08
I find all this talk about the teams we have played misleading. It is generally agreed that there are no easy games. Only at the end of the season will it be truly possible to evaluate those teams that we have played.

I would expect Sunderland to be relegated and Spurs to be in Top 3, with the rest somewhere in the middle.

What has been unusual so far is that only 1 of our 7 games has been against one of the Sky 6 (?) teams. Statistically we could expect to play them, on average, 1 in 3 games. After our next game it will be 1 in 4.
David Hayes
33 Posted 04/10/2016 at 05:43:57
Frustration over the Norwich game (a poor performance) now has many on here calling every kick of of the ball since as poor and every one of our players as not good enough. Barkley has replaced Osman and then Howard as the whipping boy. Every game since has been commented on as if it was the Norwich game and not the one just seen and blanked out.

I know we are getting better; I've seen it, in fits and starts, like a cold engine that will soon burst into life. When it runs smoothly, with more tweaking, a higher level will be reached more of the time.

Stan Schofield
34 Posted 04/10/2016 at 15:43:19
Michael @24: Yes, each game as it comes is the key, rather than focusing on mythical signings in a future transfer window. Gradual progress, which is what we seem to be achieving so far.

Regarding predicting the final league placing, it's harmless (and fun for some), but just as futile as predicting the weather or the climate, or indeed most things in life.

Jimmy Sørheim
35 Posted 04/10/2016 at 15:47:03
I am concerned, we seem to be going backwards and I wonder how is the fitness now, compared to the Spurs game when Koeman scared the crap out of me and said we were only 70 percent fit.

This is my main issue now: I can clearly see that the new fitness regime is not paying off – we either do too much or have reverted to doing too little, like during the Martinez era.

Koeman spoke about "upping the intensity" on the training until everybody was 100 percent, but in my view we are not yet fully fit, and the players look shot of stamina and pace.

My fear is Koeman has pushed them too far, and he is paying for it now.

Everton ALWAYS frustrates me, there is always something that prevents us from being 100 percent fit and I am sick and tired of it never being resolved!!

What was Martinez doing, playing nice guy, and letting them all off hard work-outs????

Martin Mason
36 Posted 04/10/2016 at 16:15:43
Good summary of where we are, Michael @24.
Jay Harris
37 Posted 04/10/2016 at 17:27:49

I agree with you regarding replacing players wholesale but there have been some glaring weaknesses in the squad which have not been addressed in the last 2 seasons which even a blind man can see:

1. Lukaku needs competition not someone to complement him i.e. we need a top quality proven goalscorer who can head a ball, lead the line and hold the ball up.

2. We need goalscoring midfield players. Cleverley, McCarthy etc do not contribute at all. Deulofeu and Lennon are very hit and miss but more miss than hit. Fellaini was the last true goalscoring midfield player we had.

3. We need a schemer which we all hoped Ross would become but he is too inconsistent even in the same game.

Other than that I think we are reasonably placed with just a small question mark over the goalkeeper.

Brian Furey
38 Posted 05/10/2016 at 16:43:12
Anyone know why Geri wasn't in the squad for Friday night?

I wonder would Holgate at RB and Coleman right MF be worth a shout v Man City?

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