30/12/2023 54comments  |  Jump to last
Wolves 3 - 0 Everton

Everton served up their worst performance since their 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Aston Villa back in August as they were soundly beaten by Wolves at Molineux to end the year with their fourth successive defeat in all competitions.

Max Kilman had scrambled home the opener in the 25th minute but while the Blues were fortunate to only be 1-0 at half-time, Sean Dyche delayed making any changes to a demonstrably weak 3-5-2 formation until the hosts had extended their lead to 3-0 and the game was irretrievably lost.

Dwight McNeil rattled the woodwork with 22 minutes left but Everton, so positive in defeat at Tottenham a week ago, were mostly atrocious on the day and failed to register a single effort on target in the 90-plus minutes.

With Abdoulaye Doucouré still out injured and Idrissa Gueye also ruled out, Dyche had opted for a five-man defence that included Michael Keane but involved the 30-year-old playing in the middle and James Tarkowski operating uncomfortably on the right of a central three.

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Jack Harrison was handed the task of playing off Dominic Calvert-Lewin in Doucouré's absence but Everton looked jaded and disjointed from the first whistle. Wolves were sharper, quicker and made all the early running, with Hwang Hee-Chan once again proving to be a thorn in the Toffees' side.

The South Korean was played into oceans of space in only the second minute after Amadou Onana had inexplicably passed straight to Kilman at the other end but he had cut inside and tried to find Matheus Cunha in the six-yard box, Jarrad Branthwaite made a crucial block.

The visitors were caught on the break again four minutes later when James Garner made a mess of trying to control the ball in midfield and Hwang was sent away again but Jordan Pickford did enough to close him down and the chance was wasted.

Cunha bent a shot inches wide from 25 yards on the quarter-hour mark while Everton struggled to put anything meaningful together in their attacking third until McNeil blazed a speculative effort over from outside the area.

Time and again, Dyche's side failed to find another grey jersey with a pass or overhit their throughballs; their hosts, meanwhile, were crisp and incisive by comparison.

Wolves's first would come following a corner, though, when Everton failed to adequately clear their lines and Nelson Semedo was left with time to whip the ball across goal. Craig Dawson was denied well by Pickford from point-blank range but Kilman was quickest to the loose ball and stabbed it home.

Calvert-Lewin had a chance to register an almost immediate reply when McNeil threaded a pass in behind the defence but the striker slid his shot across goal and wide as Jose Sa rushed off his line to close the angle.

Semedo flashed another delivery into the six-yard box that just eluded Sarabia with half an hour gone and although the Blues had the better of the closing stages of the first period, they couldn't unduly trouble the keeper.

Onana split the defence with a delicious pass for Calvert-Lewin who was flagged offside but not before he had again failed to find the target with just Sa to beat.

The game was crying out for a change in system and personnel from Dyche but he was made to pay for his inaction just eight minutes into the second half.

Sarabia cut in from the right touchline and split the Everton defence with a pass to Hwang who accelerated past the lumbering Keane and crossed low where Cunha had the simple task of tapping in from close range to make it 2-0.

It probably should have been 3-0 on the hour mark when a horrendous error by Tarkowski gifted Hwang with a chance but Pickford denied him with a superb one-handed save.

That, however, merely delayed the inevitable. Two minutes after that, Dawson was left unmarked in the box following a set-piece and when the ball was sent back in, the defender stuck out a leg and diverted it past Pickford to effectively kill the contest.

Dyche finally responded by withdrawing Nathan Patterson and Keane in favour of Seamus Coleman and André Gomes and though McNeil hammered a spinning effort off the post, the real chances kept falling the way of the hosts.

Wolves split the Everton defence again with a rapier-like passing move but Gomes's shot was parried and gathered by Pickford before Cunha splut the visitors' back line for Hwang but the England keeper foiled him once more.

Both Hwang and substitute Pedro Neto would have the ball in the net in the closing stages, the second occasion coming from yet more unprofessional play by Pickford trying to play out from the back, but both goals were ruled out for offside while Harrison wasted a chance for a consolation in stoppage time by screwing his shot across goal.

If the defeat to Manchester City in midweek was one to quickly forget and move on, this heavy loss and the abject display that accompanied it should provide plenty of food for thought and material for analysis for Dyche and his coaching staff.

A heavy December schedule has taken its toll on a core group of players who have carried its burden and it showed in this leggy and tired display.

As has been the case too often this season, Everton were wasteful with the ball, executed poorly in the final third and looked woefully ill-at-ease with a five-man defence.

On other occasions, the presence of Doucouré and sheer effort and determination has made the difference and allowed the team to pick up some valuable wins away from home. Without the Frenchman, the Toffees look lost, have failed to win when he isn't in the side and the manager has yet to find an effective way of coping in his absence.

The result leaves Everton sitting just a place and a point above the relegation zone heading into the New Year with an unforgiving sequence of four Premier League matches against Villa, Fulham, Tottenham and City to come after the tricky FA Cup tie away to Crystal Palace next Thursday. 


Reader Comments (54)

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Colin Glassar
1 Posted 30/12/2023 at 19:49:05
Didn't see the game (work) but I followed the action on TW (live forum). It sounded like we were dire as I presumed we would be once I saw Keane was starting.

Oh well, back to the drawing board. I still think we'll be safe but Dyche has to give up the ghost with Keane and his uber-defensive, negative tactics.

Jerome Shields
2 Posted 30/12/2023 at 20:47:05
I just think that Dyche went gung-ho for the Carabao Cup semi-final chance and botched up the Premier League campaign over the Xmas period as a result.

Tired players, injuries and confidence-battering. In trying to compensate, he had Everton playing too deep in the subsequent games. Today, with 5 in defence, really took the biscuit. Keane was poor. Calvert-Lewin never looked like scoring. But Dyche had surrendered the midfield to Wolves. Everton have been beaten by goals in all the League matches, showing little chance of recovery.

Now Dyche is heading into the New Year under pressure, with a defeated squad. He can only blame himself.

Derek Knox
3 Posted 30/12/2023 at 20:48:03
Colin, I did watch the whole game mate, it wasn't just Keane to be fair, although he didn't inspire confidence either, most were not even at the races. I think 3/10 would flatter every individual, with 3/10 overall for team too. We not only needed the points, but how much will this dent confidence ?

On today's showing (?) whether skint or not, we need some new blood (loans or swaps etc) or alternatives to choose from. I won't hold my breath, of course. Why does Dyche leave substitutes till it's too late, and then usually the wrong changes, when it is obvious to everyone Plan B isn't working???

Brendan McLaughlin
4 Posted 30/12/2023 at 21:10:39
Jerome #2

Gung-ho, Sean Dyche and Everton.

Spot the odd one out.

Happy New Year, Jerome.

Jerome Shields
5 Posted 30/12/2023 at 21:15:40
Brendan #4,

He put his best Premier League team out to play in the Cup.

Happy New Year, Brendan, to you and the family.

Ralph Basnett
6 Posted 30/12/2023 at 21:30:49
To be fair to Dyche (and I'm in the group that don't like him), he has limited choices on the subs front, but he does not help himself when they are always like for like.

He also does not help himself when he won't give youth a chance. Most Premier League clubs have at least one shining star they are introducing but where is ours?

Robert Tressell
7 Posted 30/12/2023 at 21:36:13
Ralph #6,

We really don't have a shining star from the youth system. Metcalfe possibly but he's a defensive midfielder. We sold our best prospects, Lawrence and Samuels-Smith, to City and Chelsea respectively. We can't conjure up talent unfortunately.

Duncan McDine
8 Posted 30/12/2023 at 21:53:17
Staggering to see that there are still plenty who dislike Sean Dyche. Differing opinions is what makes ToffeeWeb interesting, I guess.

I for one am very grateful for the work he's done since arriving close to a year ago, when we looked dead and buried.

Rob Jones
9 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:02:52
Ralph, you claim that he doesn't play youth, and yet Mykolenko is 24, Branthwaite is 21, Patterson is 22, Onana is 22, Garner is 22, McNeil is 24. Other than Coleman, nobody in today's squad was over 30.

This isn't an old side.

Even Lewis Dobbin has been getting minutes, more so of late.

What "young" phenom do you believe that has been undeservedly left out?

We've just played three tremendously difficult games. Today was the only one you could realistically claim was a dud.

Sean Dyche has accrued 47 points in the 38 league games he's managed. Considering that Frank Lampard had pissed away a lot of the "easy" home games before his sacking last season, that's a more than respectable number.

Today was a bad day all round. Tactics were poor (I said beforehand we should go 4-4-1-1, with Harrison in the split striker and Danjuma on the right), and the player performances were absolutely risible.

But it was an off day, after a year which has seen us take great strides. I understand your disappointment today. But things will improve.

Brendan McLaughlin
10 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:13:29
Curious, Jerome #5…

Are you suggesting Dyche should have not played our first 11 against Fulham?

What should we do against Palace in the FA Cup?

Rob Jones
11 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:15:58
Hard to say, Brendan. I wouldn't take any risks with players like Doucoure, let's put it that way.

I'd rather that we secure Premier League football, given that there's no guarantee that we're going to be "given" back any of the points that they stole from us.

Jerome Shields
12 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:35:35
Brendan #10,

Dyche should have rested Calvert-Lewin for the Spurs game and some key players for the Premier League campaign over Xmas. He knew he had a busy Premier League schedule over Xmas.

Everton are out of the Carabao Cup and back in the relegation dogfight. The decisions regarding the FA Cup fixture are now more difficult. I think the FA Cup would be more important than the Carabao Cup.It is even more important to survive in the Premier League.

Brendan McLaughlin
13 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:39:50
Rob #11

I wouldn't disagree with that.

Stephen Graham
15 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:50:05
Interestingly we stopped conceding after he changed the 3 centre-back system and came closest to scoring than before. But by then, heads were down.
Derek Knox
16 Posted 30/12/2023 at 22:59:41
This would have been an ideal chance at 0-2 to introduce Lewis Dobbin, McKenzie Hunt and Chermiti. Why? Because they couldn't have done any worse (possibly better) than their senior counterparts, and may have just got us level or possibly a win.

We will never know, of course, but if you don't try when it looks like defeat is staring at us once again. Could also be a revelation, Lewis has scored (v Chelsea) and been overlooked since then!

Brendan McLaughlin
17 Posted 30/12/2023 at 23:41:47
Derek #16,

Don't be silly.

Not saying they would have but of course they could have done worse.

Neil Tyrrell
18 Posted 30/12/2023 at 23:47:30

I think Dobbin played the entire second half the next match after he scored (replacing injured Gueye if memory serves?).

But I agree, today was a good opportunity to give him and Chermiti a look once it became obvious we weren't up to much.

Barry Hesketh
19 Posted 30/12/2023 at 23:59:26
It would be nice to do well in the FA Cup; however, Premier League status is a must for the future of the club.

Look at the past winners since the inception of the Premier League only Everton, Wigan, Portsmouth and Leicester have won it outside of the usual suspects, I can't see it being any different this season.

If we had our actual points total in the bag, it might be worth going all out for the cup, but we don't have that luxury and there's no guarantee that the appeal will successfully see any of the points returned.

The League Cup was worth going for because we were in a Quarter-final but a long run in the cup might prove counter-productive with such a small and limited squad; it's sad but that's the way of the modern world.

Mark Andrews
20 Posted 31/12/2023 at 00:11:37
This horror falls squarely at the feet of Dyche and his inability to react with positive substitutions. It was patently obvious that the system wasn't working to everyone except Dyche and his staff. His failure to change a failing system and to make timely subs is his Achilles heel.

3-0 down on 63 minutes in, he's woken from his slumber but it's way too late. He's done this throughout his time with us. Reluctant to use his subs in a paper-thin squad will cost us dear.

Wolves deserved this victory, they got the game plan right and were much better. Dyche was a reluctant bystander. This is a huge learning point for him but I fear his stubbornness stifles his development in this particular blind spot.

Brendan McLaughlin
21 Posted 31/12/2023 at 00:21:18
Mark #20,

Of course Everton's bench was full of individuals particularly the young guns who could come on and change the game with a moment of brilliance.

There was... erm, let me think…

Paul Kossoff
22 Posted 31/12/2023 at 00:48:14
Having just looked at the remaining fixtures, I would say we will scrape 36 points, if we get an unexpected win and a draw along the way.

No easy games in the Premier League this season and I don't think we will have any recruits in January, so all hands to the pumps – it's going to be a rough ride. So be optimistic, just like me.

Dale Self
23 Posted 31/12/2023 at 01:14:52
Uh, thanks Paul. Duly noted.
Jack Convery
24 Posted 30/12/2023 at 02:03:41
From 2 to 30 December, we have played 8 games, using 20 players. I have not seen the game but reading the reports, it appears to me that there were a lot of tired bodies, tired minds and maybe a few carrying knocks, who on another day may not have played.

Minutes played from 2 to 30 December 2023 by the starting XI:

Pickford: 8 games - 720 minutes
Patterson: 7 games - 495 minutes
Branthwaite: 7 games - 630 minutes
Tarkowski: 8 games - 720 minutes
Keane: 4 games - 268 minutes
Mykolenko: 6 games - 540 minutes
Harrison: 8 games - 664 minutes
Garner: 7 games - 630 minutes
Onana: 6 games - 484 games (Is he carrying an injury?)
McNeil: 8 games - 704 minutes
Calvert-Lewin: 7 games - 484 minutes (Is he carrying an injury?)

Colin Glassar
25 Posted 31/12/2023 at 06:45:06
Tired legs, tired mind.

Dyche needs a break. The players also.

Derek Knox
26 Posted 31/12/2023 at 06:59:29
Jack @ 24,

I appreciate the busy schedule etc, but these are professional footballers, their chosen career. If they want the trappings, they should be prepared to go that bit extra. It's not that it happens every month but, even if it did, it's part and parcel of the job.

I dare say other teams have had players with 'minutes' that could match ours and have managed considerably better. I'm not a statto, but would be surprised if I was wrong.

We had players on the bench who could have alleviated the pressure on the forwards and probably had more chance of scoring, through trying or wanting to create an impression on our good but stubborn manager.

Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 31/12/2023 at 07:07:38
I think your last sentence is pertinent, Derek. He is stubborn and set in his ways.

I myself called for changes during the match. But then I don't know what options he has. But you are correct. He is stubborn.

We have generally had close results this season, win, lose or draw. The only poor ones were Villa and now apparently Wolves. Must be a West Midlands thing.

Dean Williams
28 Posted 31/12/2023 at 08:44:16
Dyche is a dinosaur. And his assistants, Woan and Stone, were bang average at best.

A trio of uninspiring muppets steering the ship… we are doomed!

Mal van Schaick
29 Posted 31/12/2023 at 08:48:51
This game has gone. We have a short break before the FA Cup game against Palace, and for me the game after against Villa is more important with a 10-day break.

I would give Dobbin, Gomes, Godfrey, Beto, Coleman and Chermiti starts and rest others like McNeil, Onana, Patterson, Harrison and maybe Tarkowski and Branthwaite.

Dyche needs to get his strongest eleven together and show them how they were second to almost every ball against Wolves and reorganise them, and form some more appropriate tactics and team selection for the Villa game to get back on track.

The team have done really well in the first half of the season given our predicament; let's consolidate that and push on in 2024.

Happy New Year to all.

Brian Dagnall
30 Posted 31/12/2023 at 09:40:31
Yeah, all the views re tiredness, Dyche's tactics, refusal to use substitutes in good time are all perfectly valid.

But for me, Wolves won this game because their players have pace, can pass accurately, and attack with a shape. None of our players has pace and our poor passing has been commented on before. What on earth can Dyche do to fix that?

Keane again takes all your blame but surely it's time we recognised that Harrison, Calvert-Lewin, Garner and McNeil contribute very little to our attacking abilities, and manage to lose the ball with embarrassing regularity. Only Onana of our front men (including the midfield) looks like he knows what he is doing.

Maybe it is true that Dyche has got the best out of the crew he has?

After criticising Pickford for his Man City performance, it is only fair to point out he stopped the score reaching 5 or 6. A few amazing saves.

Christopher Timmins
31 Posted 31/12/2023 at 09:51:22
A West Midlands thing all right, our worst two away performances were Villa and yesterday.

A bad end to what has been a year of undoubted improvement.

Rob Jones
32 Posted 31/12/2023 at 10:04:32
Dean, rather than being tedious and chucking around abuse, please tell us who'd be doing a better job with the squad, and under the constraints.
Brian Harrison
33 Posted 31/12/2023 at 10:29:31
For the first time in a long while the players and manager were way off yesterday. Leon Osman was a co commentator on the stream I watched and half way through the first half he said what I had been thinking, that this system isn't working today. I expected Sean Dyche to change the system and some players who seemed out on their feet, after all they had put a massive effort into our last 2 games and it looked as if it had taken its toll. But we started the 2nd half with the same players and same system, now I know some will say we used a similar set up against Burnley, but I think at this moment Wolves and their manager are a lot more savvy than Burnley.

So I wasn't surprised when Wolves added a 2nd and a 3rd, Wolves didn't have to be clever they just kept putting the ball behind our back line were their willing forwards and midfield players to run onto. All 3 of their goals came from crosses that we failed to deal with, and on each occasion their player got goal side of our defenders and reacted quicker.

I do feel a little sorry for DCL its a thankless task being up top on your own with nobody within 4 or 5 yards, our central midfield whether through being tired or whatever hardly ventured into Wolves half. But this is the 8th game that DCL has failed to score in and he has had chances, I think yesterday might have been worth putting Beto up alongside DCL, but Dyche hasnt played 2 out and out strikers from the start of any game. And usually when he subs DCL he brings on Beto in a like for like.

I put yesterdays performance down to some players looking really fatigued after so many hard games in a short space of time, and because our style demands high energy that we just didnt have today. Villa at home next in the league and Palace away on Thursday, I would suggest wholesale changes will be made for the Palace game.

Dave Williams
34 Posted 31/12/2023 at 10:34:55
Who would be a manager?

Dyche was being praised to the skies after the Spurs game yet now he is a dinosaur, he is stubborn, and his assistants are crap!

Everyone is entitled to a bad day and we had it yesterday. He will no doubt rotate as far as he can for Palace and the players will have a good rest til Villa – which will be my second game of the season after a stressful house move!

Calvert-Lewin maybe needs a break though Beto strikes me as a better version of Niasse – is Chermiti up to a start?

I would not be concerned about the FA Cup – we have bigger priorities this season and yesterday showed that we cannot spread ourselves too thin!

Kevin Edward
35 Posted 31/12/2023 at 10:52:18
Big disappointment yesterday, but shows that the numbers and quality in our squad are just not there. We all know that.

I still believe Dyche will get it together again for a run to move us up the table. But Villa and Palace will be horrible, clearly we need a break to regroup.

Hope we can stay in the FA Cup, but I'd prefer the points vs Villa.

John Graham
36 Posted 31/12/2023 at 11:27:57
Five at the back doesn't work. Even if we try to use the fullbacks as wingbacks.
Can't understand why he won't play Beto with DCL which would give us two focal points for McNeil and Harrison to cross to and keep their defence more occupied.
Surely he can see that once we go five at the back and one up front it gives them the upper hand straight away and we end up defending for most of the game.
Tony Everan
37 Posted 31/12/2023 at 11:45:27
For assessing Dyche, it has to be remembered we are 12th, 2 points behind Wolves and Chelsea. So, with being in a financial straitjacket and inheriting a shambles from Frank, for me, he still has plenty of credit in the bank.

Yesterday was a shocker from the manager, the failing back 5 system, the failure to act. On top of that, the players looked fatigued.

I think now changes for the FA Cup are a necessity, but that doesn't mean throwing in the towel. Beto, Danjuma, Chermiti, Dobbin, Godfrey, Gomes, Keane, Coleman. Also the introduction of one of the lads, Mackenzie Hunt, Jenson Metcalfe who I really like. Get some freshness out there and have a good go.

Many of the players from yesterday need to recover, then come back strong and resume normal service in our successful 4-4-1-1 formation, hopefully with Doucouré back too, fit and strong. I still think that Thelwell will be trying to add one or two loans if he can do some shrewd trading.

Nathan Ford
38 Posted 31/12/2023 at 12:17:14
Dyche has done very well for us but his in-game decisions are quite often baffling. Starting with 3 centre-backs and 2 wing-backs obviously wasn't working as Wolves dominated us.

Good managers adjust to how the opposition play. When we did go to 4 at the back, we did look much more threatening but the game was already gone and, as we pushed for a goal, we left ourselves exposed.

Dyche is very much a Plan A type of manager and does not adapt to changing tactics well within a match. Some games you can see players running on empty who need to be subbed off but these changes don't come early enough.

It's a shame as I do like so many things about Dyche but he needs to manage games better during a match. I think his stubbornness to alter things is really frustrating.

Tom Bowers
39 Posted 31/12/2023 at 12:37:06
Strange how, despite all the big guys we used defensively, it was still two of their defenders who scored.

The glaring weaknesses are there for all to see, so what can Dyche do about it? Not a lot, it seems, but some players should not be starters after these recent results.

After a half-decent Spurs outing, we never expected this debacle and, whilst nobody really expected anything from the Man City game, we all thought they would get something from Wolves who slap us once again.

Certain players need to be sent packing for good before more damage is done. The FA Cup tie is the perfect opportunity to start a few of those lads who are chomping at the bit to get in.

Surely those benchwarmers cannot do much worse than what we saw yesterday but we need something more from Dyche also – whose position is now under scrutiny after promising so much only a month ago.

Tony Abrahams
40 Posted 31/12/2023 at 12:39:57
Instead of assessing Dyche, try assessing the state of the club first. Moyes got 12 years and one of the reasons he couldn't get through the glass ceiling was because he never had a big enough squad.

Martinez said he needed seven new players, he got about two or three.

Koeman was the biggest unmitigated disaster of the Moshiri years, followed by Walsh, and definitely the inexperienced Marcel Brands.

Silva could have been decent, but Brands signed the wrong players. Allardyce got us back to being the respectable Everton of those plucky years when we used to sit around 7th place.

Before he left, he allegedly gave Moshiri a list, with a few nepotistic names, but not before giving us Walcott and Tosun.

Ancelloti was a great name but soon began to play very uninspired football (did his team begin to dip once Doucouré got injured?) and couldn't wait to get out of Goodison Park.

Benitez was a crazy choice, but he might have been here longer if he hadn't lost most of his better players to injury (something a small squad just can't afford to do) and then came Lampard, who was very amiable, but was far too inexperienced for what was slowly becoming an impossible job.

Dyche came into a club that was literally on its knees, and even the most loyal but logical Evertonians were already fearing the drop. He did fantastic to keep us up and his reward for this was a transfer budget of absolute zero, except for Thelwell sorting out Beto, with a 'buy now, pay later' signing, and now this very small squad of players have just been mullered because Wolves was just a game too far, during this busy period.

We should be well clear of relegation and such talk would have already been banished from these pages if we hadn't been given a 10-point deduction. So stay calm and have faith because it's obvious that this team is so much better than we have been in the previous 24 months.

Let's get positive and talk about winning the cup, because nothing brings a football fan more joy than seeing their team win a trophy. Honest.

Jerome Shields
41 Posted 31/12/2023 at 12:41:55
Dave #34,

The problem is that Dyche has to get a result. Losing is absolutely no use – no matter how well the team played.

Against Spurs there was a chance to get a result or even a win, especially with an unmarked Gomes.

Rob Jones
42 Posted 31/12/2023 at 12:53:26

Dyche can't be blamed for the way Danjuma absolutely pissed away chances against Spurs.

Niall McIlhone
43 Posted 31/12/2023 at 13:30:19
Firstly, thanks to Michael and Lyndon for giving us all a platform to share our views on all things Everton throughout the dreadful year that was 2023 and here's to a better year for us all, starting tomorrow!

Tony (#40), that's an impressive summary of the travails of the club post-Moyes. I think the point is well made as regards the need to keep things in perspective.

Having seen Dyche's post-match (Wolves) interview, I feel he was very honest, he knows the players are running on fumes right now, they will only have a few days recovery before the cup game, let's see how we do?

Brent Stephens
44 Posted 31/12/2023 at 15:47:06
Danny #27. Were you at Wolves yesterday?
Simon Harrison
45 Posted 31/12/2023 at 16:50:21
All this talk of Dyche being under scrutiny, or a dinosaur, or failing us as a manager is just hogwash!

Though, yes, he has his limitations to my mind. (Being subjective… and haven't we all!)

I don't agree that it was all down to him that we stayed up last season, but the training methods, increased fitness, and the new voice certainly helped.

The players exonerated themselves during the rump of last season, and were played where round pegs fitted round holes in the main. Though there were a couple of games where Dyche got his tactics wrong (Man Utd, Fulham and Palace).

This season, as has been pointed out, without the points deduction, we'd be fine.

We have a small squad, and a select group of players favoured by Dyche (a little bit of an Achilles heel is that tho!). I was undecided on his appointment, but he has salted away enough credit in the bank to get a pass through this period.

Remember, just four games ago, he was 'Super Sean', a potential manager of the month, maybe even the season... Go read the threads!

Unfortunately, now with the players looking tired and very lethargic against a Fulham team there for the taking.

A lackadaisical start against Spurs meant we were two down before we started playing, and if the ref had the courage of his convictions, we'd have had a draw, and maybe better if Danjuma had a little more accuracy and composure (or luck!) Or anyone else for that matter.

Then, against Man City, we were already tired, and probably mentally beaten before we started.

I got slated on the Live Forum for calling the starting setup; even though we were being carved open in the first 15 minutes, and again, we didn't adjust in the second half. More of the same, and we were just put into a low block and had to wait for the inevitable! With a little more diligence, we could have maybe taken a point.

Wolves was just the culmination of selecting the same fatigued players in the wrong formation and not being football savvy enough to see it wasn't working, or being too proud to admit he'd made a mistake, and not freshening things up, especially with the FA Cup tie coming up.

A few fresh legs and heads, maybe with 'inferior' ability, might have helped, but unless you try, you don't know? With the obvious result of playing the same team as always being that they'll have even less juice in the tank.

Those last four games, to me at least, was where stubbornness won out over pragmatism or tactical creativity. A demonstration of Dyche's limitations. Plus why does he nearly always sub like-for-like!?

Like I said on the other thread though, 4W and 4L this December would have been accepted I think beforehand considering our circumstances and squad (size and ability). I just wish we'd got something from the Spurs game and we had beaten Fulham. Bygones...

I wonder if Dyche has 'performance meetings' where he and his backroom staff along with Thelwell and his team can have honest, constructive dialogue and maybe learn lessons, despite Dyche (now a cliché) saying, "I've been in football a long time"! It might help us in the long-term.

As I've been tutored recently, you learn that "Every day is a school day!" Or at least has the potential to be one...

My worries are, unless he just makes a few minor changes, or reflects more, we may just struggle with the next few games... Or rather the 'back 19'.

Villa (H) ?
Fulham (A) ? Our new bogey team!
Spurs (H) ?
Man City (A) ?
Palace (H) A chance of points
Brighton (A) ?
West Ham (H) ?
Man Utd (A) ?
Liverpool (H) ?
Bournemouth (A) ?
Barcodes (A) ?
Burnley (H) A chance of points

All those games I've marked with a question mark, at least to me, seem like a tough ask to get much. I'm not saying we can't, and with longer periods between games and players recovering better, we might get better results than I expect.

Then that leaves us with the six final games...

Chelsea (A) ? Depends who is their manager then.
Forest (H)
Brentford (H)
Luton (A)
Sheffield Utd (H)
Arsenal (A) ?

Not a bad run-in, but that is very much dependent on how we navigate those games beforehand...

I just hope Dyche becomes a lot more pragmatic and a little more welcoming to a few new ideas and squad players.

He's going to earn his salt in this back 19, if we don't get any of the missing 10 points back.

Happy New Year to one and all.

ps: A little New Year's Eve quiz for those calling out Dyche; "Just who do you think could, would, or should replace him?"

Have faith, and believe... Not blind faith though.

Rob Jones
46 Posted 31/12/2023 at 18:39:06

I'm actually more confident about the second half of the season. We'll have players back, we'll be playing one game a week, and most of the "better" teams we're due to face love possession. Our strengths have been defensive organisation, breaking at pace, and being obdurate.

Beyond the FA Cup game, we'll have Doucoure back, the players will have played a single game in two weeks, and the squad should be refreshed. There are six or seven weak teams above and below us. We'll be fine.

Derek Knox
47 Posted 31/12/2023 at 19:13:28
Simon @ 45

"Have faith, and believe... NB Not blind faith though."

Or Adam Faith either!

See you Budgie! 👍😂😜💙

Simon Harrison
48 Posted 31/12/2023 at 21:15:45
Hey Rob [46],

I wish I could share your optimism, I really do. I'm not on a downer, but when I look at those fixtures above, I think we'll be in a right old scrap, if we don't get the missing points back...

Other than that, all the bonuses you said about us are equally applicable to our opposition. Plus, if Dyche sticks with his formulated game-plan for the next 19 games, we won't be surprising anybody in 2024! They'll know how to play us, and thus set up accordingly.

Being obdurate and set up to play on the break is great but, as we have seen, Rob, when we go a goal down, all too often it doesn't turn out well for us.

Though the Forest, Chelsea and Barcodes games showed we have stickability as long as we don't concede. The Burnley game was we got the job done first half, and played 'catenaccio' for the second half.

Though, please objectively remember, we were lucky not to concede and possibly drop points in that game. It was the start of the legs going for some players such as McNeil and Harrison.

Derek, me 'owd mucker [47]

Who the hell is Adam Faith!? Hehe. 🤣

You're showing your age there, mon ami! I never used to watch Budgie, too much of a soft, southern ponce for me! Though I thought Adam and Roger Daltrey in McVicar were brilliant together, and it gave me one of my favourite film quotes of all time;

"Alright alright, I know I'm gunna lose here, but I'll be the best fuckking second you've ever seen!" – when the screws (Prison Officers) were trying to move him to another prison.

Watch from 1:00 to 2:30

It is edited for bad language though, and it's the whole movie, if you like nostalgia. 😀👍

I loved the movie at the time!

Tony Abrahams
49 Posted 31/12/2023 at 21:50:32
I wish a few on this website would show John Roger McVicar's logic, Simon.

So it's definitely a "Don't plead no special case for me!" Let's fuck the corrupt Premier League and let's go and win the FA Cup.

A great movie – with an all too familiar ending, because not many people are prepared to stick to their morals and stay true to themselves unfortunately!

Derek Knox
50 Posted 31/12/2023 at 22:14:40
Simon @ 48, Ah Nostalgia, even that's not what it used to be, these days ! :-)

Talking of quotes from Budgie as it happens (Iain Cuthbertson who played Charlie Endell)

" There are two types of people in this World Budgie ! = The Have's and The Have Nots !
Unfortunately, you fall into the latter category !

Andy Crooks
51 Posted 31/12/2023 at 22:26:56
DK, do you remember Cuthbertson in Sutherland's law. Now there was a proper crime fighter. One raised( bushy) eyebrow and the fuckers confessed.
Happy new year mate!!
Robert Williams
52 Posted 31/12/2023 at 23:33:18
Happy New Year to one and all.
Derek Knox
53 Posted 01/01/2024 at 02:52:08
Aye Andy, he was a Scottish version of Perry Mason/Rumpold of the Bailey ! :-)
Mark Andrews
54 Posted 01/01/2024 at 11:04:26

He made subs and changed the system, we looked better for it. Fact remains, the squad is paper thin, flogging it until it breaks helps no-one.

Nigel Munford
55 Posted 01/01/2024 at 12:50:20
Happy New Year all!!

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