Dreadful away run prolonged as Everton buckle once more

By Lyndon Lloyd 05/03/2018  15 Comments  [Jump to last]
Burnley 2 - 1 Everton

It might have all been a bit good to be true but during an encouraging first half at Turf Moor, with the team a goal to the good thanks to Cenk Tosun’s first for the club, Gylfi Sigurdsson playing centrally, two strikers on the pitch and the attacking unit creating chances, it felt as though Everton might finally win another away game.

After all, despite their hugely impressive first half of the season, Burnley hadn’t won in 12 games, had never come back from a goal down to win under Sean Dyche and, lacking confidence, could have been killed off before half time.

With better finishing, from Theo Walcott in particular, they might well have been but that would, of course, have been papering over the multitude of cracks that exist in this team under Sam Allardyce. And, frankly, while safety from relegation looks likely, exposing them — leading, you would hope, to them being addressed by the Blues’ hierarchy — is a needed by-product and agent for change coming out of these defeats.

Ultimately, Everton’s attacking posture and ascendency in this game were an illusion. Dominic Calvert-Lewin may be a striker but he wasn’t really deployed as such, spending most of his time on the left flank and leaving Tosun isolated for long stretches.

And Allardyce’s side were never really in control of proceedings. Not that they necessarily needed to be, of course; as the manager said after the game, had his players taken their chances we might have been looking at a very different outcome. Everton might at least have gained the point Allardyce no doubt came to claim given how little answer the Blues had to Dyche’s shift in personnel and tactics after half time.

And therein lies the rub. Despite Allardyce’s reputation for back-to-basics coaching, emphasis on defending and love of clean sheets, this Everton team too often fails with the basics when it comes to opposition teams scoring. They conceded two poor goals, one from open play and another from a set-piece, and were it not for Jordan Pickford — how often has that been said this season — it might have been more.

The return of Seamus Coleman, a start for Tosun and that nod to a two-striker line-up at least gave cause for optimism before kick-off for the travelling Blues who had braved the frigid conditions to pack the away end. Coleman didn’t have the best of games, it should be said, but Tosun’s outing was hugely encouraging, at least in the first half.

The Turkish international was lively, fleet of foot and good value for the goal he scored with 20 minutes gone at the end of a nice Everton move. Sigurdsson, whose terrific footwork had earlier fashioned a great chance that Walcott snatched off the arriving boot of Tom Davies, held off his marker well to exchange passes with the former Gunner whose cross was flicked on by Coleman. Tosun met it expertly with a powerful, guided header past Nick Pope in the Burnley goal.

Further chances presented themselves as Everton showed rare appetite on the counter attack, particularly through Walcott but Tosun had a weak effort saved and Walcott himself was closed down by Pope after a mis-kick by James Tarkowski. The best of them before half-time again came as the result of the Tosun-Walcott combination, this time with the striker turning provider with a lovely ball bent behind the Burnley defence but while Walcott’s first touch was a masterful one to evade the nearest defender, his shot didn’t have enough on it to beat the ‘keeper.

Dyche’s men, for their part, had been showing enough threat at the other end for Allardyce and his players to take heed. Jack Cork had skied a decent opening over the bar after Aaron Lennon had skinned Cuco Martina and Johann Gudmundsson had seen a couple of shots blocked in front of goal before Pickford pulled off an excellent reaction save to push Ashley Barnes’s close-range header away to safety.

And Burnley made good on those threats in the second half after Dyche withdrew Jeff Hendrick and replaced him with tall striker Chris Wood to further test the shaky central defensive pairing of Ashley Williams and Michael Keane.

Lennon forced a flying save from Pickford early in the half and the Everton ‘keeper had to get a strong hand to Ben Mee’s header from the resulting corner, although his failure to push it over the bar gave Wood a chance but he headed over.

But the equaliser came when neither of the visitors’ centre halves picked up the run of Barnes through the middle and James Lowton picked the striker’s run with a well-weighted ball that left Keane trailing in his wake. Unfortunately, Pickford hesitated on his line, leaving too much for Barnes to aim at and he rapped it home to make it 1-1.

Allardyce replaced the struggling Davies with Wayne Rooney and then took Tosun off in favour of Oumar Niasse but the initiative and the momentum had been ceded to Burnley. Everton spent much of the second period on the back foot and Pickford had to use all the experience gleaned from the circumstances around Burnley’s first goal to come off his line and block Barnes’s effort from an almost carbon-copy chance.

Yet the one clear-cut chance Everton did carve out through Sigurdsson could have been enough to see them over the line had it gone in. Sigurdsson danced around Lowton as he collected Mee’s attempted clearance in the box but his clipped shot back across Pope missed the far post.

Two minutes later, after another Lennon effort had deflected behind off Rooney, Burnley scored the winner in galling fashion. Adopting what appeared to be a flawed zonal marking approach to the set-piece, Keane and Williams left Wood completely unmarked at the back post which allowed the New Zealand international the freedom to leap above the former and head home.

Not for the first time since he arrived in November, Allardyce’s response, the substitution of Sigurdsson, Everton’s most creative player and set-piece king, was mystifying. Yannick Bolasie came on to fling a series of aimless crosses into Pope’s arms as the Blues’ challenge petered out.

There was still time for Williams to put one more stain on an awful performance from him when he was shown a straight red card for throwing an elbow towards Barnes’s face with five minutes to go. He was booed from the field by the away fans and Allardyce would suffer the same fate at the full-time whistle following a sixth defeat away from home on the trot.

With this ugly loss and many of the almost 3,000 Evertonians in the David Fishwick Stand serenading him with the chant of “fuck off, Sam Allardyce” following one of his substitutions, there is surely no way back for the manager with the supporters. Out-thought and out-maneouvred by Dyche, he had no effective answer as the match slipped from his team's grasp.

Next weekend offers the prospect of a home win that he will point to as evidence of improvement but his categorical failure to find any way of winning away games, many of them against teams struggling for form, has, hopefully, killed off his chances of remaining at the Blue helm beyond May.

While that remains short of a certainty, the anxiety and the mounting toxicity towards him among the fans will continue. Mauricio Pochettino was recently quoted as saying that once the fans don’t want you, you only cause damage to the club if you stay. Allardyce may not want to heed that advice but it behooves the Everton Board to do so. Again, you trust they are already making plans…

Reader Comments (15)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:14:41
If Palace win tonight, we are three points off the relegation zone... THREE points!!!!!
Paul Tran
2 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:17:15
6 points, Jim.
Stephen Brown
3 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:18:52
Need a United come back here!! Sad we have to worry about this...
Lawrence Green
4 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:26:04
We were 5 points from safety when Sam took over; if Palace do win, we'll be 6 points clear of safety. Everton need not win another match but they mustn't lose to those teams around us. Seven draws will do from those seven games, but it would be far preferable to win a few to calm everyone's frayed nerves.
Darren Hind
5 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:30:38
You've lost your balance, Lyndon, your sense of fair play. Your even handedness...

Thank fuck for that, this one needs to be called.

Jim Bennings
6 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:05:50
We live to fight another day thanks to Man Utd aided by that fella we flogged last summer that scored 25 goals – what's his name again?

Honestly that's how bad it's become really that we now have to hope sides below us lose but hey ho that's Everton Football Club isn't it?

Sack Allardyce by all means but I'm not expecting miracles with the losers that set foot on the pitch every week in Blue shirts stealing a living.

Iain Love
7 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:10:21
Keane and Williams looked like rank amateurs out there. What has happened to them? Awful players.
Lyndon Lloyd
8 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:19:57
I don't think I was particularly unfair, Darren. Allardyce at least made a more positive move in playing Sigurdsson centrally, the presence of Calvert-Lewin on the left could have worked and Walcott and Tosun combined well but spurned a couple of good chances in the first half.

Allardyce was let down by his players to a degree, as well as his faith in that central defensive pairing, but he also doesn't seem to have a Plan B after Plan A has been exhausted. Taking Sigurdsson off seems to be a reflexive move every game rather than one based on any logic, as well.

Ian Riley
9 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:23:31
Nine games left. Too late for Sam Out; Bill still here. Need to get behind the team. If a team needs our support it's now. The fall out can come in may.

We have been here before. To often in my lifetime supporting this club. There is good news. Yes we have a manager who like it or not has been here many times and I would rather have him in the run in.

Changing managers now will confuse the players. Getting new ideas across now would take at least four to five games. We don't have that time. Leave it now.

Sam is working with the squad Koeman put together and yes his tactics and play are eye-watering. We are where we are and the players need to take more responsibility and hiding won't do.

Our home form will get us through and yes this has been good under Sam. Our away record has been shite for years. Let's be honest. Let's keep the inquiry for May. For now, the players need our support.

Don Alexander
10 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:31:06
Now, now, Lyndon, don't you be getting your balanced fair-minded even-handedness back!

Rumours suggest there may be a vacancy or three in the boardroom shortly. I just wonder whether Mr Moshiri might contemplate breaking the mold of other boardrooms by introducing someone who could provide some sound advice as a fan who albeit not especially wealthy (I'm guessing here) may just put some desired equilibrium into the listing ship we have become.

Couldn't be as demanding as running ToffeeWeb, could it, Lyndon?

Frank Wade
11 Posted 06/03/2018 at 01:33:56
Burnley's first goal has been dissected at some length on Sky and responsibility allocated mostly to Pickford, but also to Williams and Keane.

Tarkowski, an old fashioned centre-half, was allowed to waltz around Calvert-Lewin to start the move. A very poor and amateurish effort by the young player. Defending starts from the front and a good tackle or block at that point would have spared us the concession of that chance.

I can only assume that the zonal marking for the corner for the second goal, with 6 or 7 players strung out along the 6-yard line, while leaving the tallest player on the Burnley side unmarked inside the 6-yard box, is one of Allardyce's principles. It's not something I've seen before from a professional team. It's a fundamental of the game to ensure that your best defensive headers of the ball pick up the most dangerous opposition players for set-pieces. Get that done first and then do the zonal marking with the rest.

In this case Keane should have been back with Chris Wood. If an opposition player stands in front of the goalkeeper, does he need to be marked that closely? All Seamus did was clog up the space and further restrict Pickford's movement.

Another point from the game was the crying need for a defensive midfield player. I am a big fan of Gana, but he doesn't have the discipline for the position and chases the ball, closing down, intercepting, but leaving us vulnerable in front of the back 4. I don't know what the instruction from the manager is, so hard to be over critical, but the centre-backs didn't have much protection when faced 2 on 2 in the 2nd half and they badly needed protecting.

Dick Fearon
12 Posted 06/03/2018 at 07:29:46
Lyndon, you make good points and I support your criticism. About bloody time you and the rest of the game's punditry handed out a bit of stick to board, manager and players.

Far too often, those phoneys have got away with murder while supporters have cried bitter tears.

John M Boon
13 Posted 06/03/2018 at 18:47:46
Agree completely with your accurate assessment of the game. As so often of late I was confused by the substitutions. As a mere supporter I do realise that the manager should know more than I do and would have been pleasantly surprised if they had worked positively. The didn't!!!

On another note regarding their last goal. I still think Champions League has lots of potential. He is particularly good in the air. Many teams use their centre-forwards as defenders on corners. Seeing we have absolutely nobody who seems capable of defending properly on corners I feel he should be trained to mark the big man in the opposing team for corners when he is on the field.

We recently lost to Liverpool and now Burnley due to atrocious defending on corners. This is a serious problem which should be addressed right away. It really should not be a major factor as it is a basic fundamental of the game. At the present time we are useless on corners, as we are on on many other aspects of defending. However, defending on corners should be lesson number one.

Andy Meighan
14 Posted 07/03/2018 at 05:21:24
While some are rightly blaming Kenwright and Allardyce for the mess we are in, no-one seems to lay the blame at Moshiri's door.

Since he's come on board, things have gone from bad to worse The Koeman appointment and then subsequent sacking and the farce that followed it. His inane ramblings to Jim White and the embarrassing AGM. "Our own fab 4" etc.

And now, to cap it all, his supposed top target is a manager who his own fans at Arsenal can't wait to see the back of. If we thought the defence was bad now, imagine it with Wenger in charge.

Seems to me this fella hasn't got an inkling about football and is in it just for the publicity Sad state of affairs.

Brian Porter
15 Posted 08/03/2018 at 15:38:12
The Echo are today reporting that Allardyce is in talks with Moshiri about staying in charge long term. He has got to be joking!

I will certainly not be watching any game next season if Allardyce is in charge. Worst manager since I began supporting the club 59 years ago!

If Moshiri hands him an extended contract, or even allows him to stay on next season, it will show just how little he knows about football and how little he cares about the fans of our once great club.

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