Missed opportunities cost us

Over the years there's just been too many times that I've dared to dream going to Anfield only to leave dissappointed, that now I go with no real expectation at all.

Paul Traill 02/04/2017 32comments  |  Jump to last
Liverpool 3 - 1 Everton

Over the years there's just been too many times that I've dared to dream going to Anfield only to leave dissappointed, that now I go with no real expectation at all.

Still we went. My brother actually flew in from New York for this one and after my Dad dropped us over near Soctland Road, we had a quick pint at the pleasant Barlow Arms before making the relatively short walk across Stanley Park. We gave ourselves a bit of time. On the last few visits to Anfield we've set off through Stanley Park a little too late and ended up getting caught in a chaotic queue to get into Anfield. This time we were inside some 20 minutes before kick off and even had time for a quick beer in there before finding our seats in time for kick off. Pre-game there was a fitting tribute to Ronnie "Bugsy" Moran from the Kop End before we got under way.

Like most I imagine, I was surprised to see Matthew Pennington included. My assumption was that Gareth Barry would be in to add steel into the middle. Though the selection raised an eyebrow, I wasn't exactly disappointed. It's good to give the young players opportunities and Dominic, Mason, Matthew and Tom will all have learnt a lot from the defeat. It was a shame we were so hampered by injuries. Losing both Morgan Schniederlin and James McCarthy was a heck of a blow, as too was Seamus Coleman. There's also Ramiro Funes Mori and not to mention the long term absentees of Muhammed Besic and Yannick Bolasie. I was watching ToffeeTV on YouTube in the morning and the host Peter McPartland made a good point that we never seem to be able to go there with our best team, likening it to going in with one arm tied behind your back against a karate expert.

It was a shame we conceded so early as up until then there was nothing in the game. I believe it was in fact the first real attack of the game when Mane had us panicking, his low drive eventually going through the legs of Matthew Pennington and finding the corner. Phillippe Coutinho missed a good opportunity which was well saved by Joel Robles and then headed away from under his crossbar by Phil Jagielka.

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We eventually settled somewhat and were able to get up the pitch a bit more and forced a corner. This shows Liverpool's vulnerability somewhat from set-pieces, as it was quite easy for us to force a goal - a flick on from Phil Jagielka, the ball breaking loose to the alert Matthew Pennington who stabbed home from close range. Having now watched the game back, one of the pleasing moments was seeing how much it meant to the young players when they celebrated the goal.

It was short lived of course and a bit of magic from Philippe Coutinho soon had Liverpool back in front. I never really watch Liverpool games so don't really see enough of Coutinho, but I was impressed with how he took that goal. He runs at you with pace and just shows you enough of the ball to make you believe you can nick it, and then it's gone, and he' s past you. He lead Matthew Pennington a merry dance before finishing well past Joel Robles and Liverpool were ahead again....Coutinho, Firmino and Mane celebrating like dicks.

With little else created before the break I was relieved enough to go in at 1-2. The system wasn't working and we needed to give them more to worry about in attacking areas as it was easy enough for them to focus on our main goal hope Romalu Lukaku. No change was made at the break however and we returned to the field as you were.We began the second half brightly and missed two golden chances before Liverpool went 3-1 ahead. Ashley Williams had a pretty good opportunity when, again highlighting Liverpool's vulnerability from set-pieces he got to a deep free kick and when he perhaps could have headed goalwards or put his laces through the ball, he could only tamely side-foot his volley straight into Simon Mignolet. To be fair to Williams, as the lad next to us pointed out, he was probably expecting Mignolet to come for the ball, not do nothing. The other big chance came and went when I think Ross Barkley found Mason Holgate inside the penalty area with a great opportunity to shoot. Given how close he came to scoring later on he'll regret not having a go when the chance came. Instead he tried to square the ball and it was cleared.

It can't have been long after that when Liverpool went 3-1 ahead. Quite how substitute Divock Origi found himself in so much space, central on goal, I'm not sure, but that he did; however, what Joel Robles was doing, I just don't know. He was in no-man's land, way off his line, and for some bizarre reason decided to second-guess which way Origi was going to put the ball before he struck. As he decided to set to go one way, it was too easy for Origi to slot the ball the other way. He didn't even have to nearly find the corner.

Though we rallied and created a few more openings, it was not making the most of our opportunities and then gifting Liverpool their third goal which killed us. With our two opportunities we didn't even test the goalkeeper really, and then we gave them a simple goal. Had we have gotten to 2-2 with Mane off the field injured you never know how it might have transpired. Simon Mignolet also made a wonder save from Mason Holgate's deflected drive and Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed a good headed opportunity. Had we have gotten to 2-3 with time left in the game, who knows?

I'm not sure Liverpool were necessarily that much better than us. They took two goals very well and were gifted another. We created enough but were wasteful. We also missed key players with injury. The young lads will learn from it. I don't necessarily blame Ronald Koeman for going with three at the back. I can see why he didn't want to put Gareth Barry in there. Mason Holgate's most notable performances this season have been on the right of a three man centre back partnership. Though he tried, his ability to get forward and get crosses in from right wing back isn't really his game. Maybe putting a more natural right back there like Jonjo Kenny and putting Mason where he is more comfortable in the centre might have reaped better rewards.

On we go, then... and while disappointed we lost, I'm optimistic we can come back to Anfield stronger next season.

Player ratings

Robles: There was one moment in the first half when I wondered why he didn't come for what seemed like a routine cross, but his biggest sin was with Liverpool's third goal. I've no idea what he was doing. After some pretty major blips at Tottenham Hotspur and now at Anfield, I'd be tempted to put Maarten Stekelenburg in for Tuesday's trip to Old Trafford. 5

Baines: Did pretty well getting up and down the flank throughout. 6

Jagielka: Held firm at the back and was the best of our three defenders. 7

Williams: I thought he generally had a good game also. Will rue that missed opportunity. 7

Pennington: He struggled but never hid and didn't let anyone down. Nice to see him score his first Everton goal. 6

Holgate: He will also rue not shooting when he had a great chance. He'll also be disappointed that Simon Mignolet made a brilliant save to deny his deflected drive. Overall he didn't let anyone down, but we did miss quality of delivery from the right side. 6

Gana: Was our best midfielder. Showed quality in the tackle and composure on the ball. Speaking to a few Reds in the pub later on, they were all very complimentary of him. The ironic thing is that he will be disappointed not to have won his tackles in the build-up to their first two goals. 7

Davies: Was hampered by his early yellow card and then couldn't impact on the game as he would have wished. He still did pretty well and will learn a lot from the game and come back stronger next season. 6

Barkley: Had an infuriating game but, as my brother pointed out, he always at least has the courage to come back and try again once he makes a mistake. The easy thing to do would be to stay out of it but he never stops looking for the ball. We needed more from Ross to win this one. That didn't come but it wasn't for lack of effort. Oh, but stamp out that diving please, Ross. It's not welcome here. 5

Calvert-Lewin: Though he missed a golden chance I thought he had an excellent game, his best one yet for us, and he fully justified his inclusion. I now see why Ronald has persevered with him. My Man of the Match. 7

Lukaku: Isolated at times and Liverpool did a good job of stopping him, but I believe he could have given us more. If he wants that move to a Champions League club, he really has to make his mark against some of the big teams. Lucky for him, he's got another big chance to do that on Tuesday at Old Trafford. 5

Valencia (for Davies): Made quite a big impact and caused them some problems down the right. 7

Barry (for Pennington): He tried his best to influence the game in difficult circumstances. 6

Mirallas (for Calvert-Lewin): Probably should have been introduced sooner. He was certainly looking a bit miffed warming up on the touchline and he did one great run before skying way over the crossbar. Made a decent impact in a short space of time, which hints at what might have been. 7

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Reader Comments (32)

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Kunal Desai
1 Posted 02/04/2017 at 19:29:15
It's getting a little silly now. I read somewhere this is the worst record of local derbies away from home – 19 games. Just bring Joe Royle back for two games a season. That man knew what it took to beat those lot.

We have no-one in our side that can stand up and be counted in these fixtures. The only players in recent times are Ferguson and Cahill who played without fear.

Even with their poorest sides, if it's not been Gerrard, it's been someone else like Coutinho or Sturridge that steps up. We haven't got anyone who can take this game by the scruff of its neck.

This is why the summer recruitment should be players who are winners of major trophies, not winners of overseeing relegation struggles.

Shane Corcoran
2 Posted 02/04/2017 at 19:43:16
After reading the headline, I barely brought myself to skim the article.

Everton's missed chances cost them something from the game, you say, Mr Koeman?

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 02/04/2017 at 20:01:15
Calvert-Lewin your Man of the Match, Paul?

Not knocking the lad, he's too young for that and only getting used to the Premier League... but not Man of the Match.

Mind you, it would be hard to nominate anyone, for Everton that is.

Geoff Williams
4 Posted 02/04/2017 at 20:07:38
Did you actually see the match?
John G Davies
5 Posted 02/04/2017 at 20:16:48
I watched a different game than the one you describe, Paul.
Steve Hogan
6 Posted 02/04/2017 at 21:02:42
Paul, Calvert-Lewin MotM? I must ask on what do you base your opinion?

Shots on goal, working the wings, harassing the full backs, winning headers?

The kid tried his best... but MotM, come on...

Bill Gall
7 Posted 02/04/2017 at 21:17:58
The only missed opportunities I see was the lack of getting a top keeper and central defender prior to the start of the season, or in January.
Danny Broderick
8 Posted 02/04/2017 at 22:27:19
I couldn't help but wonder how Wayne Rooney would have been reacting if he was our skipper on Saturday. I'm sure he would have been geeing everyone up, and providing leadership.

I think we need some big name players, who aren't scared of playing away at Anfield and Old Trafford etc. Our current established players bottled it once again.

Gerard Carey
9 Posted 02/04/2017 at 22:28:32
As others have said, Paul, you must have watched a different game to everyone else. I would have made Jags MotM, but maybe with a 6. If I was rating the manager, though, it would be a 3!!.
Mike Hughes
10 Posted 02/04/2017 at 22:52:18
Danny (#8),

Wayne Rooney would have been like that?

Strange – because in his last season with us he looked like he just could not be arsed. I remember it well.

Mick Davies
11 Posted 02/04/2017 at 22:56:11
Never seen such inaccurate player ratings; anyone who hadn't seen the match would think our defenders had a good game, but the goalie let in a bagful of easy shots.

And what did Gana (except for helping create their first goal) and Calvert-Lewin do to merit 7?

Mike Gaynes
12 Posted 03/04/2017 at 00:48:44
Pennington a 6????

Oh my.

Then there's... ah, well, forget it.

Ernie Baywood
13 Posted 03/04/2017 at 01:30:32
Robles 6 – Exposed for the goals. Suspect positioning on the last but also made some good stops.
Jagielka 6
Williams 5 – nothing particular, he's just not that good
Pennington 4 – nothing personal but Coutinho found beating him far too easy. If he will ever be ready, it's just not now.
Holgate 6 – thought he did alright
Baines 6
Gana 6
Davies 6 – I wouldn't have subbed him
Barkley 5 – day to forge,t not helped by having nothing around him to pass to. To his credit, didn't hide.
Clavert-Lewin 5 – never stood a chance. Barely involved.
Rom 5 – Barely involved.

Subs were better. I'd give Valencia and Mirallas 7s. They were players in the positions we needed and provided our best moments in their cameos.

Koeman 3. He bottled it. Picked narrow and defensive when we needed the exact opposite. Sat on his hands and watched the horror show play out. Unforgiveable when a defeat would effectively end our season.

That's my view. I actually don't think the players lacked any effort. It just looks terrible when you're not providing any attacking threat and the opposition can simply play around your narrow formation. They chased shadows, but they did chase.

Valencia is no world beater but we looked so much better with him, just because we suddenly had a player getting wide. The midfield and defence had an option to get the ball wide.

Jay Harris
14 Posted 03/04/2017 at 02:53:30
A couple of pints too many I think Paul.

I have a more positive outlook on the game than most but your ratings are as off as our performance yesterday.

Koeman was being kind to the player with his remarks to the media.

I am sure that's not what he told the players.

We have known for years we lack winners and real leaders in the side.

I hate to pick individuals out but Williams has been poor for a number of games now and he was supposedly brought in for his leadership qualities.

David Barks
15 Posted 03/04/2017 at 02:59:35
Is this a joke? Seriously, please tell me this is an April Fool's joke. Because if not, that's some of the most deluded crap I've ever read.
Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 03/04/2017 at 05:11:08
Way to keep things classy, David.

David Barks
17 Posted 03/04/2017 at 05:51:57

Did you read it? Calvert-Lewin MotM... Pennington didn't let anyone down? Pennington is a kid so he shouldn't have his future judged by Saturday's performance, but he was exposed over and over. Coutinho skinned him alive.

Valencia made quite a big impact? What world did this match take place in? Because I wish I had woke up at 4:30 am to watch the match Paul apparently saw and not the one I had to witness.

Ron Marr
18 Posted 03/04/2017 at 05:53:38
Mike G... assuming you're going Merseyside, I suggest you pick up some Melatonin for jet lag in the US before you go, it's prescription only in the UK. We live in San Francisco, and the wife and I went for 9 days around Christmas and had problems with jet lag.

6 seems way high for Robles. I'd say 4.

Dave Wilson
19 Posted 03/04/2017 at 12:38:42
The guy gives up his time to give his take on the days events and the "experts" are all over him.

"A couple of pints too many"? "Deluded crap"? ... WTF?

Everything the guy reported actually happened. So what if his marks out of ten were generous, He was there.

When you are among 3,000 Evertonians trying to make yourself heard over 50,000 reds, you have to view things positively. You have to applaud every tackle and every pass.


You are one of the few people on any Everton website who give ratings out of ten and it probably causes you more grief than anything else you write. It's a brave thing to do considering how difficult it is to find two people to agree on the ratings of just one player.

I've read the comments of some of these "experts" on other threads and even though they have had the benefit of seeing things 3-4 times. I still wonder what they watched.

Stick to your guns, son. Your report may have sailed over the heads of those who haven't quite grasped that it is a game of opinions, but as always, you stuck your neck out and offered yours.

It's easy to attack somebody else's opinion. It takes a little more courage to stick your neck out after every game.

Philip Yensen
21 Posted 03/04/2017 at 15:25:49
Right or wrong, this game needed Barry in for Morgan... simple.

Barkley was shit from start to finish. Liverpool were made to look decent; we looked as though we'd never played together before.

Bad management, bad professionalism and bad attitude by the players.

Mike Gaynes
22 Posted 03/04/2017 at 17:17:39
David (#17), yes I read it, and like most here I disagreed with it. But we all managed to express that disagreement without getting nasty. Except you.
Mike Gaynes
23 Posted 03/04/2017 at 17:31:23
Ron (#18), yep, I'm very excited about making my first visit to Goodison, and thanks for the tip.

I'm actually a veteran of even longer flights than this – as a longtime (now former) Bay Area resident myself, I've flown out of SFO to China a dozen times. My technique for dealing with jet lag is to walk it off.

When I get to Liverpool in the early afternoon, I'll walk the city for four or five hours till my legs won't work anymore, then eat dinner and crash for the night.

Next morning I'm fully adjusted. Can't necessarily recommend it to others, but it works for me.

Mike Powell
24 Posted 03/04/2017 at 18:07:39
Were you watching the same match? Calvert-Lewin MotM... really?!? I don't like to slag our players off but he was woeful.

Only player to come out off that shambles was Baines, although Mirallas did well when he came on.

Paul Ferry
25 Posted 03/04/2017 at 18:42:33
Robles 4 - Baines 5 - Jags 5 - Williams 3 - Holgate 6 - Pennington 2 - Gana 5 - Davies 4 - Barkley 6 - Calvert-Lewin 3 - Lukaku 4 - Barry 6 - Valencia 6 (I agree with Paul I thought he made a good 'impact')

MotM? For effort, always trying, hating the shite, but peppered by annoyingly poor through balls and hmmmm 'too much passion and aggression' Ross

Crosses 1

Free kicks 1

Koeman 2 - original selection (although, like Paul, I was cheered at first but it was clear after 10 minutes that it was failing)... persisting with Calvert-Lewin... not bringing on Lookman... not changing things at half-time

Tim James
26 Posted 03/04/2017 at 20:58:38
Dave (#19) agree and well done for saying so.

Paul, I always enjoy your reports so keep them coming. I understand the passion of fellow blues but save the bile for the RS. I am on ToffeeWeb several times daily and I enjoy the arguments and differing opinions but sometimes a line gets crossed.

I live in Hereford which is crawling with RS supporters so I get plenty of sport winding them up. I don't, at the moment, get to many games so Paul's reports are very welcome. Hoping to move back up north soon. Checking our Crosby and Aigburth over Easter!

Anthony Dwyer
27 Posted 04/04/2017 at 00:07:26
I must admit I saw a different game, one were we didn't make any chances.
Paul Ferry
28 Posted 04/04/2017 at 02:57:45
Tim - 26 - pick Crosby mate
Andy McNabb
29 Posted 04/04/2017 at 05:23:19
Well said, Dave Wilson, and thanks for your report, Paul – always enjoy them.
Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 04/04/2017 at 09:28:05
Paul, I disagreed with your Man of the Match but please keep sending in your reports. I enjoy them, so thanks for taking the time and effort for giving us your point of view on each game, also for your love and support of Everton.
Paul Ward
31 Posted 04/04/2017 at 11:37:14
Paul, I also appreciate your reports and time spent doing them, even if I disagree with your player ratings. The emotion of the event has made for strange recollections by fans.

I have been very critical of Ross on this site but feel he may have turned a corner since Christmas. On Saturday, I thought he made many mistakes, but he tried and put himself about so he would have been my MotM with 5.

I don't like to be hard on the young players but I thought Calvert-Lewin was completely out of his depth and should have been replaced at half-time.

Tom Bowers
32 Posted 04/04/2017 at 12:17:46
It never amazes me how diverse the opinions are about the team and derby matches in general. That's what makes this site so interesting.

The bottom line in all of this is that the team isn't quite ready yet to challenge the top teams when it matters especially on their own pitches. There are many good signs and Koeman hasn't done badly in his first season but the same can be said of many new managers at other clubs over the years.

Next season will be the real test as Koeman, along with the new backer fully integrated, and probably the new stadium plans set in motion we can indeed expect bigger things to happen.

This season has been a big learning experience for these people and many younger players all of whom have shown tremendous potential. The game today may show what Koeman can do in getting Everton back from a big disappointment ala out of the frying pan into the fire scenario.

Man Utd are decent but have drawn many games and also have injuries. Basically they rely big on the individual talents of Pogba and Zlatan but, even with Everton's injuries, they should be able to match Manure in most departments.

It all comes down to confidence and intensity from the start which has been lacking in a few big games this season and has cost them.

Andy Meighan
34 Posted 05/04/2017 at 16:22:49
Reds complimentary about Gana in the pub after the game... Patronising fuckers wouldn't have said anything if they'd have drew or lost.

Actually that was one of his worst games for us in an otherwise good season for him. Then again, he wasn't alone, was he?

As for your ratings, no-one come near a 7 and not one single player covered himself in glory. What a sad indictment of our team in the biggest game of the season.

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