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February 2015 Archive   |   Submit a topic

Performing under pressure

We have long protested that our team has folded on big occasions. Away to the top 5, home to one in particular, in cup matches, especially the later stages and finals. Any time we find ourselves above our customary 7th place, whenever we have wanted a big performance – a breakthrough game and so on - the team can usually be depended on to blow it. But why?

There are global clues and one or two more specific examples. Leicester are performing the perfect example of folding under pressure. Impregnable last season but expectations were high from the start of this season as Champions; the same team and manager have floundered – badly.

These words from Phil Jagielka defending David Moyes's poor start at Manchester Utd 3½ years ago illustrate perfectly the difference in pressure and attitude between a highly successful side and players at Everton:

“At Everton, the pressure was not so big initially, he could grow into the season. You can’t grow into the ­season at Manchester United. When you look at how Arsenal have started and Chelsea and teams like that, you can’t give them too much of a lead. I am sure he will get the guys moving in the right direction.”

Jagielka is saying Moyes did well at Everton because he was allowed a slower start to the season compared with Man Utd – at Old Trafford, the pressure was on from Day One.

Which rather begs the question: Why don't players at Everton mind getting beaten at the start of the season as much as players at Man Utd? Where does that attitude come from? Does the manager reduce expectations from opening day or before? Is it the players settling into an 'acceptable’ comfort zone. Who decides what is acceptable?

There is a gulf in attitude to bridge here. Man Utd players run out in late August thinking they have to win. Everton players run out thinking "Let's see how we go"!

Times are changing now – that is plain to see. Some current players might have learned to change their attitude, there is a long list who could not and many departed in January. More than a few were the senior pros that set the 'team aspirations’ and Mr Jagielka will join them in the summer.

Koeman is having to buy in winners – how did it get that way?

Thomas Lennon     Posted 18/02/2017 at 08:26:23

Could history repeat itself?

Goodison Park, 20 April 2014. The day David Moyes took charge of Manchester United, the reigning Champions of England, for the last time. In the crowd, a man dressed as 'The Grim Reaper' waved his scythe behind old Moyesie. After eight short months, the news was leaked of his sacking. A poor way to treat any manager.

Another barren management spell was cut short in Spain with Real Sociedad, winning just 11 out of 38 games and lasting just 12 months. It was a massive fall from grace for a man who had nothing but praise heaped upon him whilst he was with Everton. He certainly believed in his own press, despite the empty trophy cabinet.

Next weekend, Mr Moyes, who was credited with saving Everton from relegation, returns to Goodison Park once more, with his Sunderland team rock bottom of the Premier League, on the back of a 0-4 home defeat. Moyes made it clear to the Sunderland faithful they would be in a relegation battle from Day One of the current Premier League season.

A lot of Sunderland fans, and the mainstream media, point to their absent owner for lack of leadership and financial backing of the manager. Another place Moyes does seem to be quite immune from criticism is in the press. Whilst every other manager in the bottom 6 seem to be pilloried, Moyes doesn't really come in for much criticism at all.

He has been praised for his candour in some quarters, but some view his 'honesty' as ready-made excuses coupled with crushing negativity (which we are all familiar with).

If he does suffer a heavy loss at Goodison this time around, Ellis Short may well opt for a 'new manager' bounce to try and keep Sunderland in the Premier League. I was surprised to learn that this is their 10th straight season in the top flight...

It would be totally humiliating for the man if the same scenario were to play out again, and he was sacked after another Goodison defeat. After all, he did say he was "Going on to bigger and better things." A poor choice of words, Davey, very poor.
Kevin Tully     Posted 16/02/2017 at 15:45:25

The true Goodison effect

Goodison. From days long past to the present day, we have always been proud to call Goodison Park our home. Now it seems our destiny lies on a different path in a different stadium.

The significance of a new owner, a new manager and more importantly, new money, cannot be underestimated yet I feel we have a unique opportunity to pay tribute to our history in a truly Everton way.

After reading Lyndon Lloyd's brilliant article about our potential move, I started to think of a way that we could do this. I propose that within our club, we retire the word 'stadium' and replace it with the word 'Goodison', in honour of the Grand Old Lady, Goodison Road, the borough of Walton, the great city of Liverpool, all Everton players and every Evertonian worldwide.

A bit like retiring the number of a great player, I feel that we owe it to the place that has given us so much. It is inevitable that the club will sell naming rights for our new stadium and with the USM deal concluded for Finch Farm, the possibility of a Sky soundbite of "Live from USM stadium" seemed ever more real to me.

Whatever the sponsor, I don't feel that such a name would reflect our heritage or what it means to be an Evertonian. If we call a 'stadium' a 'Goodison' then we can join our past with our future. It will mean that we will still go to Goodison on Saturdays yet she'll just be on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey (I hope).

"It's the Merseyside Derby live from USM Goodison". Or, "It's the Merseyside Derby live from USM stadium". You decide.
Dean  Johnson     Posted 12/02/2017 at 20:23:20

Realistic signings in the summer

If we make top 6 (or qualify for the Europa League through Manchester United finishing ahead of us and winning the EFL cup), what realistic signings can we expect in the summer window?

With the primary positions being: Goalkeeper, Centre Back (one or two?), Left Back (back up to Baines), Attacking Midfielder and Striker, personally, I'd like to see:

GK: Kasper Schmeichel / Joe Hart / Jordan Pickford
CB: Michael Keane / Van Dijk / Lamine Kone (two of them - with Jags probably making way in the summer)
LB: Jordan Lukaku / Andrew Robertson / Jordan Amavi
CAM: Sigurdsson (I'd be very happy if he came in, absolute quality)
ST: Mertens (Has been playing striker for Napoli - top goal scorer in Serie A and can play in many positions) / Haller / Perez (he looks quality, looks like Arsenal aren't using him much).

However, if Deulofeu and Mirallas stay next season, I don't think we need another striker. With them and Calvert-Lewin backing up Lukaku.

Team for next season:

1. Robles 2. Keane 3. Baines 4. Schneiderlin 5. Williams 6. Van Dijk 7. Deulofeu / Mertens 8. Barkley 9. Sigurdsson 10. R Lukaku 11. Mirallas 12. Holgate 13. Schmeichel 14. Bolasie 15. J Lukaku 16. McCarthy 17. Idrissa 18. Barry 19. Lookman 20. Davies 21. Besic 22. Stekelenburg 23. Coleman 24. Tarashaj 25. Funes Mori 26. Dowell 27. Browning 28. Pennington 29. Calvert-Lewin 30. Connolly 31. Kenny 32. Galloway 33. Hewelt 34. Sambou 35. Walsh

With Jagielka, Kone, Cleverley, Lennon going out. Possibly one of our goalkeepers going out too. Keep Barry, he won't play a huge part, but will be a big influence!
Gareth Clark     Posted 07/02/2017 at 10:47:42

The Lukaku Conundrum

Okay, I'll nail my colour's to the mast straight away, I'm a BIG Rom fan. In the four years he's been with us, however, I've heard him labelled by our fans as lazy, fat, not a team player, arrogant, and a few other choice phrases I can't repeat on here... What his detractor's can't argue with is his goalscoring record.

Including his majestic four he knocked in yesterday, 76 goals in 172 Premier League appearances, means he's scoring on average, every 2.26 games, and is only one of five players in the history of the Premier League to score 50 goals before the age of 23 years old. If he stays clear of injuries for the next 14 games, he'll probably surpass his best ever goals tally for Everton, and that scoring average will drop even further.

So what is it that really pisses people off with him? I understand his overall game is not perfect; with his back to goal, you rarely see the best of him; alongside the fact that 12 months ago, I concede his first touch was sometimes bloody awful. Ironically, for a guy of his size, he's not particularly aggressive either, look how Costa of Chelsea snarls and snaps at everyone, even his own team-mates, that's just not in Rom's make-up.

But I also feel, in his defence, he's been Everton's most 'natural' goalscorer since Gary Lineker. Put him one-on-one with the keeper and he rarely misses. Also, certainly for the last 12 months of Martinez's tenure, his game and that of certain other players in the team, actually went backwards!!

Despite his four-goal spree against Bournemouth, I actually felt his best game for the Blues was in the cup-tie last season against Chelsea, when he terrorised their defence for the whole game, before turning them inside out for the opening goal, it was a virtual masterclass in centre-forward play.

What then of the future? Sadly, I think this will be his last season at Goodison Park. I simply think strikers of his calibre and age are few and far between. His goalscoring record will have been noted and recorded by Europe's elite group of clubs, who will come in with a mega offer at the end of the season. I would even hazard a guess that the club (and Koeman) would not stand in his way should a massive offer come in.

The lure of the gravy train that is now Champions League football is something Everton simply cannot offer at the present time. This coupled with the fact that the player recently joined the 'superstar' stable of players managed by the obnoxious Mino Raiola, means that, in my opinion, it will lead to a parting of the ways in the summer.

I feel that the Moshiri - Koeman revolution has come too late for Rom: for a number of years, he has played in poor or average Everton teams. For a large number of games last season, he rarely received a pass for 90 minutes, and ploughed away up front, largely unaided. This was when the brunt of criticism from the terraces came his way. How many times did we take the lead in games through his goals, only to see us concede two or three more at the other end?

I would love to see us build the nucleus of the team around Lukaku, but I just don't see it happening. In the last five years, the truly outstanding players in the Premier League have all been tempted away, mostly abroad. Suarez & Bales, amongst others, have all gone. Perhaps holding onto Lukaku for four years is about right for this day and age, particularly for a club of Everton's (pre-Moshiri) stature?

I, for one, will be sorry to see him go; we'll certainly miss his goal return, but, providing the money we receive for him is spent wisely, we should be able to continue the upward trend, improving season on season under Koeman.

Steve Hogan     Posted 05/02/2017 at 19:12:15

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