Overall, a terrible game but not the worst result. It's a shame to lose ground on the top six, but the reality is seventh is the best we can achieve this term in my opinion.

Paul Traill 12/02/2017 17comments  |  Jump to last
Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Everton

I'm quite an impatient person and I was more than ready to go by the time Ritchie rolled up about 15 minutes late. "I need a coffee...and we need to get petrol". In an effort to speed things along I said "just nip into the Shell garage...they've got a Costa machine in there" as we got closer to the Shell garage Ritchie decided "I prefer McDonald's coffee so we'll go there". So on we detoured to McDonald's, only McDonald's is by Sainsbury's and at that time Joe Public are doing their weekly shop...many follow that up with a McDonald's Drive Thru. We queued for quite some time for a single coffee....and then went to the garage with the Costa machine. As you can tell, I stayed calm, happy and patient throughout.

The bigger picture of course was that it didn't really matter and as we got closer to Middlesbrough in plenty of time for the match I became grateful Ritchie decided to drive. One of the fella's who sits behind us in the Gwladys Street End is from Middlesbrough and he tipped me off to park at the cinema. This we did, putting money into the Pay & Display machine. It was only once I'd paid that a lady told me that you didn't have to pay at the weekend. "I tried getting to you before you put the money in but I was too late" she said.

The pub, Dr Browns, was only across the road from the cinema so we had a quick drink in there before moving on to a nice little pub called the Medicine Bar and caught the last 30 minutes of Arsenal vs Hull City. We then made the relatively short stroll to the Riverside Stadium in wet and windy conditions - not ideal for playing at all. Perhaps this had some bearing of the atrocity of the game we were about to witness.

Ronald Koeman went with four at the back and couldn't resist the urge to put Idrissa Gueye back into the team. Ademola Lookman was given another opportunity to shine. Tom Davies and Ross Barkley were also involved. Everton academy product Adam Foreshaw featured for the hosts.

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Despite a good effort to generate atmosphere by the Middlesbrough supporters behind the goal, the game never got going. The headlines may well go to Joel Robles excellent late save from Rudy Gestede's header, however the real story, despite the dross we (and Middlesbrough) served up, was our wastage of presentable opportunities which on another day would have ensured another satisfying win.

You back Romelu Lukaku to put away the sort of chance he missed every time, but somehow he never quite seemed set for it and Victor Valdes surprisingly kept it out. The other good chances all fell to Ademola Lookman, who will be disappointed not to have converted from at least one of his four opportunities. Two fell in quick succession, one he hit the side netting with, and the last one in the second half he took perhaps a bit too long and allowed Victor Valdes to make the save.

Footballers often learn the hard way. I remember when David Moyes first gave Seamus Coleman a run of games at right back, Seamus made quite a few defensive mistakes but remained in the team, as this is the only way to learn from mistakes. You can't learn if you're not in the team. The same will probably happen with Ademola, and you have to afford young players that luxury of learning from mistakes in the team. The next time Ademola has them chances he might take them differently and with a better outcome. It's frustrating in the interim but worthwhile in the long run.

We failed to make any significant in-roads as we had a stab at winning the game late on. Nothing was happening and Ritchie and I made a break for it with a minute or two of injury time still remaining. It proved to be a good decision as we were back in the car, out of the car park and back on the road before most of the match traffic. It was good to get away from that darn awful game. Ritchie and I then re-lived our youth in Headingley for the evening - we were both students around them parts back in the day and it was good to reminisce about the old days.

Overall, a terrible game but not the worst result. It's a shame to lose ground on the top six, but the reality is seventh is the best we can achieve this term in my opinion. Next season we'll do better. I'm confident of that.

Player ratings

Robles: Made a crucial late save and showed good command of his penalty area. 7

Baines: Did OK. 6

Williams and Funes Mori: Both were poor. Ashley WIlliams doesn't talk enough for my liking and Ramiro Funes Mori always has a mistake in him I feel. Alvaro Negrado dominated Funes Mori throughout. Both need to improve in my opinion. 5

Coleman: Did OK. 6

Gueye: He's always good in the tackle but he really needs to up his game from a creative aspect. Perhaps Gareth Barry would have represented a better starting choice in this one as we could have lived a bit without Gueye's tenacity if replaced by the increased dynamism from Gareth Barry. What of James McCarthy's non-inclusion by the way? Is he injured again? 5

Schneiderlin: Impressive. He seems to have hit the ground running. 7

Davies: He's doing ever so well particularly at his age. He's not intimidated by anything. His legs had gone by the end of the game but he stood up to the task well throughout. 7

Barkley: He had a good game and was always the one most likely to carve out an opportunity. His ability to find space impresses me. If you watch him closely you will see his movement is very good. He's in good form, let's hope he can keep this up. My man of the match. 7

Lookman: Missed some good opportunities, but you've got to learn the hard way. 5

Lukaku: Had a pretty poor game. He was rather service-starved, but didn't really put himself about enough, and missed his golden opportunity. 5

Valencia (for Gueye): Didn't really get going. 5

Lennon (for Lookman): Didn't really get involved enough. 5

Barry (for Barkley): Made a reasonable stab at getting into the game in limited time. Should have started. 6

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Reader Comments (17)

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Alan Bodell
1 Posted 13/02/2017 at 14:40:24
Love these reports, could almost feel the warmth of the pub fireplace you nipped in.
Martin Nicholls
2 Posted 13/02/2017 at 16:57:52
Forward planning needed, Paul!! Our advance party informed us of free parking! Had a few in Dr Brown's (didn't move on though) before the game which I actually thought was (a bit!) better than you report.

Generally agree your individual markings (thought Ross and Tom were pick of our outfield players) but maybe would have scored Joel slightly higher.

Despite what some others are saying elsewhere on this site, the appalling conditions most certainly did have an effect on our performance and acted as something of a leveller. Obviously hoped for three points but the one we got was hard fought and well deserved.

One final point – Adama Traore was exactly what I expected: electric pace and tricky but no end product.

Shane Corcoran
3 Posted 13/02/2017 at 17:18:16
I thought Barkley was average but I'd agree with most of your other points, particularly in relation to Funes Mori and Gueye.
Steavey Buckley
4 Posted 13/02/2017 at 18:47:52
The Everton midfield did not get a grip of the oppositions' that allowed them to grow in confidence and take the offensive into the Everton half. It does not matter if it was raining cats and dogs or there was a snow blizzard. If Koeman wants a pressing game he should have set up the midfield to do that. Instead, the midfield looked disjointed with players too far away from each other to give real cover, so, gaps appeared for Middlesborough to run into.

The effect of a disjointed midfield had a knock on effect on the rest of the team, with the defence unable to push further up the field and allow Baines and Coleman to get forward more often. Yet, all could have been forgiven if Lookman and Lukaku had tucked away those relative easy opportunites. If Everton want to be taken serious as a top 4 team putting away chances is part of that.

Kristian Boyce
5 Posted 13/02/2017 at 19:02:43
The title perfectly summed up the weather and the game itself. The weather also served its purpose for me to show my kids why we don't live in the UK anymore, as we watched the game on my porch in Florida.

Gueye had probably his worst game for us, but I feel even at his best, his passing isn't that great. Pressing and tackling he is superb, but passing is one thing that slightly lets him down. He's good at basic passing, but creative balls he seems to struggle with. The variety of midfielders we have now should allow him to focus on the defensive role which he excelled at during the first half of the season.

Martin #2, good point on Traore. He reminded me of Deulofue on steroids. As both came through the Barca academy together, you can see why they are so similar. I'm sure Traore wasn't that bulked up last year when he was at Villa.

Darren Hind
6 Posted 13/02/2017 at 20:00:51
"Drab – that about sums up at least 20 of our games."

I sometimes think I'm watching a different team to half the people on here. This "revolution" is surely a figment of imagination?

Did those who have busied themselves excusing the insipid dross our boys have served up after our last couple of away games actually watch our other games?

A "cruel braw windy night at the potteries" ... A "biting swirling North Easterly at the camp of the Riverside White walkers"... fuck me. You sound like the watchers on the wall trembling at the thought of coming across the wildlings. These are not excuses – they are clichés... "Let's see how he managers on a frosty Tuesday night in Stoke!"

Did you think the rest of the league were playing in nice warm stadiums with the sun on their backs?

One question? How do you explain the other twenty matches when we have looked like Stoke City's ugly sister? The incessant hoofball nobody wants to talk about? The complete lack of flair in the squad? Why has this functional ugly football seen as a major improvement?

The only real change to our style is we now want to play THREE defensive midfield players. We have to play that way because two transfers in and the manager has not shown the slightest desire to bring in a Number 10... how many tackling machines do we need?

If I see Funes Mori or Ashley Williams hack at another clearance when there's nobody near them, I will end up doing time. Can somebody please explain the meaning of 'composure' to these two.

Ah but, no but, yeah but, no "we don't concede as many this season"... who fucking dares? This soul-destroying "anywhere will do" shite will never replace football.

I'm sick of hearing about the "great improvement" – where the fuck is it?

Ask those making these claims to name the games where they were entertained and they will most certainly point directly to the 2 or 3 exceptions and completely ignore the 20+ that rule. There is no improvement – our football is still painfully disjointed.

I don't mind seeing a team making themselves hard to beat in order to beat the drop or win a trophy, but to play this percentage shite, settling for draws in order to finish 7th or 8th, is just unforgiveable. I thought it was when Davey Moyes was doing it... and he didn't inherit a Lukaku or get £70m to spend.

How we rejoiced when TGT left. Who could have predicted we would wind up with TGT Mk II?

Ask yourselves how many memorable moments you have had which didn't involve Lukaku breaking the boredom... Think of Koeman's team without Lukaku?

Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce, Davey Moyes, have been stealing a living for years doing what Koeman is doing.

Winning trophies and qualifying for Champions League is a tall order, but if you can't do it, at least have the courage to entertain.

I don't want to hear 3 or 4 places from lower nowhere, up to higher nowhere constitutes an improvement – not when we are sacrificing entertainment to achieve it.

Chris Burns
7 Posted 13/02/2017 at 20:31:01
Hi Paul, did you ever go to an Italian in Headingly called Salvo's? Top eating gaff for us uni types that was!
Colin Glassar
8 Posted 13/02/2017 at 20:36:02
Ooh, look at you, Kristian. I followed it on the live forum (torture as always) in 4C temp and grey, rainy skies. Eat yer heart out.
Brian Hill
9 Posted 14/02/2017 at 05:44:52
Colin, I watched in 30° sunshine here in Cape Town, feeling really guilty. Although I do not have a TV on my porch, and had to slum it in my lounge with beautiful mountain views which were much more enjoyable than most of the match.
David Price
11 Posted 14/02/2017 at 20:34:28
Darren, don't think anyone is claiming great entertainment all season. Most of us accept a work in progress. To move forward, Koeman had to sort the defence out.

Now he has he'll develop the attack more. Key signings in the summer surely will follow. Time and patience needed. Foundations being laid. Everton are on the right track.

Paul Tran
13 Posted 14/02/2017 at 21:11:45
Darren, I've got the same feelings I had under Moyes. An unlovely team, a foundation for the future entertainment and success that never came.

Now we're a rich version of that Moyes team. Something exciting might happen in the next year or two. I'm hoping rather than expecting.

I'm increasingly convinced that there's another man out there who will end up building on what Koeman's doing and make it brighter.

One thing's sure. This time we won't be waiting patiently for years with Koeman.

Chris Leyland
14 Posted 14/02/2017 at 21:34:36
I'm not quite sure what some people were expecting this season after the last two years of complete and utter chaos.

I posted the below on another thread.

For balance, here are some stats from last season to emphasise the shambles that Koeman inherited:

Everton had their worst ever home record (23 points) [adjusted for 3 points for a win].

Everton kept just 3 clean sheets at home in the Premier League – all against the relegated teams.

Everton won 6 home games in the league. They have won fewer in only one season previously (5 in 1957/58).

Everton finished in the bottom half of the Premier League for the second consecutive season after finishing in the top 8 in the previous 8 seasons.

Everton have finished in the bottom half of the Premier League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2000/01 and 2001/02.

Everton conceded 30 goals at home in the league – the most since 1993/34.

Everton conceded 3+ goals in 3 consecutive games for the first time since 2002.

Everton lost 18 points from winning positions and won just 7 points from losing positions.

Everton lost their last 10 games when their opponents have scored first.

Everton allowed their opponents to score at home 10 times in the league and did not win any of those games and lost 7 times.

Everton were in a losing position at half time 11 times in the league, winning just once and lost 9 times.

Everton conceded 15 goals in the last 15 minutes of a league game – the joint-most in the Premier League.

Everton conceded 16 goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half of a league – the most in the Premier League.

Everton conceded 31 goals in the last 15 minutes of a half in a league game – the most in the Premier League.

Everton conceded 2+ goals in a game 19 times in all competitions.

Everton conceded 3+ goals in a game 11 times in all competitions.

Everton were the only team to go through the entire season without scoring from a free kick, directly or crossed, in the Premier League.

Patrick Murphy
15 Posted 14/02/2017 at 21:46:57
Tonight's Barcelona result may have paved the way for Mr Koeman to up sticks more quickly than many of us expected. How mad would it be if he did move to Spain and took Lukaku with him?

Phil Bellis
16 Posted 14/02/2017 at 21:49:28
Pretty mad, Patrick... surely his missus can carry her own bags?
Ray Roche
17 Posted 14/02/2017 at 22:18:11
Chris Leyland, I read your excellent post on another thread, "Koeman plays up another clean sheet" which has mysteriously vanished. Still, that doesn't detract from the top class effort you made with your post.

If THAT doesn't make the cast of Les Miserables who haunt these forums think, then nothing will. We are making progress, maybe not as quick as we'd all like – but it's there.

Chris Leyland
18 Posted 14/02/2017 at 22:30:56
Thank you, Ray. I am honestly genuinely puzzled as to what some people expect this season? Those facts I have posted show exactly how poor we were last season and the job faced by a new manager.

We have made some discernible progress this year, not least of which is stopping the rot and tightening up at the back. We will finish higher and accumulate more points than last season and that should be considered as progress.

John G Davies
19 Posted 18/02/2017 at 15:59:14
Chris (#14),

Thanks for your post. Koeman had a big job on his hands to repair the state Martinez left the club in. To expect him to come in and have us challenging the top 4 in his first season is unrealistic.

Why Evertonians jump on him with criticism at every opportunity is beyond me.

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