Category Archives: Everton

Man City: Post Match Review

Man Of The Match

Howard produced a solid display. Funes Mori and Jagielka were excellent in the centre. Barry continued his great form but once again for me the man of the match goes to Besic. I don’t think it’s any co-incidence that our run of defensively solid games has come with his run in the side. He showed everything once again and his tenacity and work rate were on show once more. He has also must have been learning lessons from Barry as he took a yellow card for the team to stop a very dangerous attack with Stones injured.

Could Do Better?

Deulofeu seems to have run out of steam, he also doesn’t appear to be very fit and can hardly make 90 minutes. Maybe this is due to playing the majority of our games in the last few months and needs a slight rest. He had his dangerous moments but they were few and far between and his crossing was poor. Maybe Lennon or Mirallas need a run to give him a break. We need him at his excellent best.

Most Improved?

It’s pretty obvious that it’s Tim Howard. It was great to seem look solid and he even claimed a few crosses. He only solution for Everton fans with Martinez’ refusal to play Robles is for Howard to get back to the levels of two years ago. There were signs of it here. A clean sheet was kept to Man City away and Howard very much played his part in that.

Moment Of The Match?

Howard’s inclusion came with the usual moans and groans including from myself and there is no doubt he knows what the fans currently think. His save in the first half from a close range header may have been the confidence booster he needed for the rest of the match, and hopefully the rest of the season.

What It Means?

Confidence. Confidence in Howard, our defence and getting through to the League Cup Final. Getting wins against Tottenham, Man City and Chelsea was always going to be tough but we needed to so fight and defensive resolve to give us confidence for the rest of the season and that’s what we’ve done so far in this run of hard games. Hopefully the same can be shown against Chelsea and we can then fight for wins to the end of the season.

Crazy Night At Oakwell. Stones And The Rest.

In an emotionally charged few days for the club the 2nd round tie to Barnsley came at the wrong time. The football club is all over the headlines at the moment and will be until the transfer window shuts. Evertonians are constantly being asked questions from fans of other clubs about Stones and our manager is getting bombarded at all times to give the press their sound bite.

Martinez has been very clear in his statements that Stones is not for sale and that he is an important member of this football club. To sell him now would completely undermine Martinez who up until this point has managed the situation impeccably. His relationship with Stones has clearly not suffered and his constant selection of him has shown resilience and fantastic management. Not many people expected Stones to play vs Barnsley but he did, and all though it wasn’t his best performance, his challenging for the ball, communication with his team mates and attitude towards his play shown his professionalism. Maybe his performance was due to matters playing on his mind but that may have been sub-conscious, it certainly wasn’t a Lescott type of attitude.

I called for a full strength team vs Barnsley and we certainly didn’t get one. Regardless of how strong the team was and whether or not it was good enough to win is not the point. In cup competitions we should always give ourselves the best possible chance to win, and to do that we need our strongest 11. For a team due to be fighting relegation, or a team challenging for the title you could see why they wouldn’t prioritize the League Cup but 3 games into the season, we certainly don’t need to be resting players and it’s a very winnable competition for us, even if it’s one we’ve never won.

The performance of McGeady and Pennington in the first half showed why they should never have been selected. I’m certainly not going to criticize Pennington too much here as his ability to play for Everton won’t be judged on 45 minutes of football and he didn’t do too much wrong, but Martinez had a ruthless decision to make at half-time and he made the right call. McGeady was bought to fill a gap that we required at the time. He runs a lot and can look exciting but the end product is just never there. To be dragged off at half-time seemed to make the statement that he blew his last chance. Bar an injury crisis, he shouldn’t play again.

Martinez looked like he was seething at half-time and whatever he said at half-time worked wonders for the team. If he started on the wrong foot with team selection, he made up for it. Barkley and Deulofeu simply put in world class performances. Barkley in a deeper role dictated play and started attacks, often finding Deulofeu early and in space for the Spaniard to wreak havoc.

The manager has been reluctant to play Mirallas and Deulofeu in the past but, opposition granted, they shown that they can work together here. Deulofeu worked hard to win back the ball and shown a desire to work hard for the team and Mirallas just worked non-stop all night. On most nights it would have been a man of the match performance if it wasn’t for the Deulofeu/Barkley magic. Mirallas was a fan favourite this time last year and lost his was somewhat with his comments, missed penalty and contract issues but he is now warming the fans hearts again. He deserves a start vs Spurs.

The negative performances from the night can be forgotten. Stones wasn’t at his best and Jagielka had a very poor game. Besic for his great tackling gave the ball away too often and Oviedo is clearly unfit. Lukaku was utterly dreadful in the first half.

Lukaku was utterly magnificent for the rest of the game. His touch was much better and he held up the ball and kept up the pressure in the final third. If trapping a ball is his largest negative, scoring goals is his largest positive. I think I can speak for all Evertonians when I say we can forgive the former if he produces the latter. He gets himself in great positions and is a brilliant finisher. 40 goals in 85 games is a very decent return, and it’ll only get better.

Cleverley along with Mirallas were the only one to come out of the first half with any credit. Unfortunately for Cleverley he had to fill in at right-back for the next 75 minutes, and did so with great aplomb. He’s a brilliant signing and has shown his worth many times already with season. Without his versatility tonight Martinez might have been unable to bring both Deulofeu and Barkley on at half time and we may have been knocked out.

The win in the end was a huge relief. Evertonians will now go back constantly checking twitter and news websites frantically checking if we can keep players, sign work permits and resurrect deals. The match against Barnsley could have been very bad but we move on to Reading. Everton fans deserve more, the away support was brilliant as always and the passion for the club is unwavering even when faced with 20 trophyless years. Our best chance to end that is with the League Cup, so hopefully Deulofeu and Barkley start the next match.

In Defence Of Bill Kenwright

No-one wants planes flying over grounds with protest statements, fans don’t want protest marches down Goodison Road, we don’t want anti-board banners and we don’t want our club in the spotlight for the wrong reasons and we don’t want negative media interest.

There comes a point however when necessary evils can be justified and the long term goals can be pursued even if it causes short term pain. Whether the current actions are necessary, depend on your view of our board, and our chairman.

The mere name of Bill Kenwright is enough to cause heated debate in the bars and living rooms across Liverpool. Whether you’re pro or anti Kenwright or somewhere in the middle, every Evertonian has a view on the man and what he was done for this club.

After Everton’s decline from First Division winners to the the Johnson era and miracle escapes from relegation, Evertonians were crying out for a change. In stepped Bill Kenwright to save Everton from financial ruin and lead the club back to stability.

A lot of support for Kenwright stems from the original sale and where he took us from which regardless of your current view, he has to be given a lot of credit for. We as Everton fans at that time weren’t focused on European competition, we were just concerned about remaining a Premier League club. After a few rocky years under Walter Smith, Kenwright made by far the best decision of his tenure: To remove Smith and replace him with David Moyes. In the 11 years before his first full season in charge we’d only made the top 10 of the league once. Under Moyes in the next 11 seasons we’d make it 9 times. Moyes transformed the club but couldn’t of done it without the backing of Kenwright who allowed him complete control over the players and the transfer targets, allowing him to use the money to improve the squad year on year to lead the team to 4 separate European qualifications.

A lot of support also comes from him being a nice man, a safe pair of hands and an Evertonian. Being a nice man and an Evertonian are irrelevant. Of course they are nice things for your chairman to be but offer no substance in terms of running a football club. I’m sure every Evertonian would prefer the tea lady, to the groundsman, to the CEO to all be Evertonians but you don’t have to love a club to be a good chairman, as indeed you can love a club and be a bad chairman. A safe pair of hands though? That does have substance, and that is there the debate lies. You’re either on the Abramovich side or the Venky’s side depending on which takeover you want to add gravitas to your opinion. Evertonians aren’t looking for Sheikh Mansour or Abramovich however, they’re looking for a chairman would could invest at least some money whilst also maximizing commercial revenue.

The problem with any Kenwright/Board/Elstone out campaign is that there are a large group of fans who are only interested when the team are doing badly. When instead of blaming the manager, the fans turn to the board. When we are playing well fans are content with the security that Kenwright provides, but then it becomes a question of ambition. Are fans happy with finishing in the top half and qualifying for Europe once every few years? I doubt many are but some are happy to wait until Kenwright finds his elusive investor.

The Kenwright problem is a money problem. Always has been and until he is no longer our chairman, always will be. We needed the Rooney money, we couldn’t finance Kings Dock, we couldn’t invest in players, we had to sell Bellefield, we had to rent Finch Farm and we still have to sell to buy. Is it Kenwrights fault he can’t invest? No, he simply doesn’t have the money. But as chairman he has failed to bring any money into the club and failed to find a suitable buyer.

As an Evertonian I feel for Kenwright, there have been lies but at times it seems like the was lying to himself more than purely trying to deceive the fans, a lot of the time he probably believed what he was saying. To bring the club from the brink of relegation to comfortable league finishes and European tours and still be disliked by a large selection of the fans must be a bitter pill to swallow. There is a buzz word amongst Evertonians though, one that has been used many times and one the Oxford dictionary defines as to “cease developing”, to stagnate. At the moment Everton seems to be in a long period of stasis where we will forever sit in a hole outside the top 4 with our best players seen as prey for media rumour mills and big money bids.

History may be kind to Kenwright, I hope we can look back on his tenure and be thankful of what he did rather than what he didn’t do. There would have been a time where if he’d left he would be been lauded for taking us to safety and forgiven for Kings Dock and the rest, that time has most certainly passed. Is it time to go? Yes, but it has been for a long time. All Evertonians would agree that we need investment, investment that Kenwright has never, and will never provide. For investment we’d need a new ownership but any change made would be a gamble, no-one could be certain a change in board would bring us challenging for trophies.

As a fan, whether you want that risk to be taken or not certainly doesn’t make you more or less an Evertonian.

Phil Jagielka – Phoenix From The Ashes

Phil Jagielka has received his critics this year, and justifiably so. He had a poor World Cup and has since lost his place in the England team and has had a terrible start to the season along with the rest of the Everton defence He would of also likely of lost his place in the Everton team had Sylvain Distin shown any kind of form.

In my recent article on Distin https://royalblueeverton.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/sylvain-distin-evertons-unsung-man/ I mentioned that some things players do are unforgivable and will always stay in a fans mind. I was referring to Distin’s pass to Suarez which is a moment that left Everton fans depressed and angry about a match we gave away against our fiercest rivals. If that was unforgivable, what Jagielka did on Saturday was unforgettable. If there was anyone the media would of loved to score a 30 yard equalizer in front of the Kop it would of been Steven Gerrard, instead it was a man who scored only his 7th ever league goal for the club. Philip Nikodem Jagielka.

What made it all the more sweet was that it topped off what was a great game for Jagielka, he was a lot more assured in defence and gave the kind of performance that Everton fans have been a lot more accustomed to since he arrived in 2007.

John Stones has to be the first name on the team sheet now and his performance against Liverpool further cemented that in the eyes of most Evertonians. The spot next to him though had been up for debate. I had said with Jagielka and Distin both being out of form that i’d be inclined to want Distin next to Stones due to the right foot / left foot partnership however Distin has been playing even worse than Jagielka so for the moment it seems like the Jagielka and Stones partnership will be first choice going forward.

Jagielka has been a mainstay in the Everton defence since his arrival but at 32 years old people had been calling for a replacement. He may be 32 now but Distin has shown that there could be a fair few years left in Jagielka yet. Alarm bells have been ringing at Everton since the 6 – 3 match with Chelsea as that turned our defensive worries into somewhat of a crisis with people questioning if Jagielka and Distin were in an irreversible decline with only one promising option elsewhere at the club in that position in Stones.

Jagielka’s performance vs Liverpool gives hope for the foreseeable future. If he can play like that week in week out for the next few years then we will be fine. It will also help bring though Stones who will make mistakes, but hopefully will quickly learn from them. It was also important that the fans got onside with Jagielka, he has been a terrific servant for the club but our captain getting heavily criticized, justifiably for his performances must not of gave a great atmosphere around the club. That will all change now though as a 30 yard wonder goal in front of the Kop to deny Liverpool a win in the Merseyside derby is the perfect way get the fans behind you and hopefully now he can kick on a deliver yet another solid year in a royal blue jersey.

Crystal Palace: Alternative Preview

Preamble:

Two wins from the last two games has turned round a bad start to something a lot more promising and has bought a lot more optimism to the Everton fans. We all know what happened last time out vs Crystal Palace and a revenge mission should hopefully be on the cards.

Selection:

The same team was selected for West Brom and Wolfsburg and I think it could be the same again with the changes coming against Swansea in the League Cup. That being said, we have yet to see Martinez’ post European policy and he may feel that he wants to rest a few players for this match. The only changes I can see at the moment is Disitn for Jagielka who has had a poor start to the season and is surely now behind John Stones in the managers thoughts. I do envisage Samuel Eto’o to come into the side for Steven Naismith in time but think this game may be too soon for that.

Trivia:

Crystal Palace were named after ‘The Crystal Palace’ which was a huge exhibition and events centre which was destroyed by a fire in 1936. The Palace gave it’s name to the surrounding park and Crystal Palace FC was born before eventually moving after World War I.

Key Men:

Despite their poor start to the season, what Crystal Palace do have is a lot of pace in the form of Dwight Gale and Wilfried Zaha. We all remember Gayle fondly from the ‘Crystanbul’ night where his two late goals bought tears to the eyes of Suarez and had Gerrard waving the camera’s away. As said though, he is quick and a good finisher, the type of striker Jagielka struggles with. Zaha wasn’t exactly Moyes’ favourite player in his time at Man Utd but nevertheless he is very talented and can cause any defence problems on his day. He, like McGeady, can be very frustrating but is equally capable of something special.

Prediction:

We have been scoring goals freely this season and I think this match will be no different. We have also looked shaky at the back having conceded 11 goals in our five games and it was more luck, than judgment, that we didn’t concede more vs West Brom and Wolfsburg. I’m going for a repeat of Wolfsburg, 4-1.

What will it mean?

We have 4 very difficult away matches coming up in Swansea, Liverpool, Krasnodar and Man Utd. It is important to get a win so that we come out of those matches still feeling we’ve had a decent start to the season. Regardless of that, the match vs Crystal Palace at Goodison last year was very painful and it was also the night we thought Liverpool were going to win the league after Man City drew with Sunderland. I just want revenge.

What We Learnt From Wolfsburg

1) Tim Howard has Never Been Better

Tim Howard is not the best goalkeeper in the world. Never has been, never will be. What he is, is a great one who is seemingly only getting better.

He rarely, if ever, gets tested as much as Thursday night (Wolfsburg had more shots than Chelsea) but he was man of the match and kept the pressure away from the scoreline. He is 35 but we can see a fair few years left in him yet.

2) We Had The Perfect Start

Wolfsburg were the top seeds and this result makes it much easier to qualify and puts us at least two points ahead of the rest of the pack after the draw in the other group match.

A win against Krasnodar will be very difficult, but if we achieve it, then that’s almost game, set and match in regards to qualification as we’d then only require four points from our final four games to attain the usually secure 10 point mark.

3) Coleman Needs To Focus On His Primary Job

No-one can have any arguments at Coleman’s work in the opposition half, but in his own half he still has work to do. It’s only a specific area of his defending that is lacking and that is backing off his winger/left back. It cost us twice vs Arsenal and how it didn’t cost us against Wolfsburg is a minor miracle.

Letting the winger encroach into the area is never a good idea. It gives him time and puts him in a more dangerous position. Better help from his winger is also needed.

4) McCarthy Is Back, And So Is The Partnership

James McCarthy has had an indifferent start to the season which has been a surprise given that he should of been the most well rested and fittest of our players from the summer.

Going forward he still needs to contribute more (Especially in Barkley’s absence) however it’s hard to argue with a 98% pass completion rate as him and Barry kept the midfield ticking over. Barry as well had a good game and this for me is the first time they have both played well this season.

5) Mirallas Is On This Way To Icon Status

Well ok, we pretty much knew this already but Kevin Mirallas has all the ingredients to be an icon. Kissing the badge has become more related to players who do it far too soon as a fake way to win over the fans. With Mirallas, you know he means it.

He works very hard, and he is an extremely good player. Thankfully how good he is somehow has slipped under the radar of the media who would be otherwise linking him to clubs left, right and centre.

Wolfsburg: Quickfire Preview

Preamble:

So European nights are back at Goodison as we face VfL Wolfsburg in our first group game of the campaign. The Germans have had a poor start to the season and we’ll hope to take advantage but we can expect a crowd of around 30,000

Selection:

The team for this match is anyone’s guess because we don’t yet know how Roberto Martinez will approach the European campaign. The doubts from the weekend (Eto’o and Distin) will be available but the game will come too soon for Kone and Oviedo who i’d expect to play vs Swansea on Tuesday. Martinez referenced Hibbert being available which makes me dread the thought of playing a weakened team in such an important match. The likes of Robles, Alcaraz, Hibbert, Browning, Besic and Gibson could be in contention for their first starts of the season. Whether Robles plays or not is a big worry as I think we should be putting our best foot forward and playing our strongest possible team.

Trivia:

VfL Wolfsburg are only one of two teams in the Bundesliga who are not owned by it’s members. Under the 50% +1 rule, no individual or company can have a majority stake in the club. Wolfsburg, along with Bayer Leverkusen, are exempt as the clubs were born out of the sporting work teams of their owners. Volkswagen and Bayer respectively.

Key Man:

Kevin De Bruyne took a very similar path to Romelu Lukaku. A Belgian who was bought young by Chelsea, loaned out and then sold for profit. Wolfsburg bought him for £18m in the January transfer window and the attacking midfielder will pose a big threat to Everton linking up with the likes of Ivica Olić who will pose a lot much greater threat than the meek West Brom did on Saturday.

Prediction:

They have a had a similarly slow start to us with two points after three games however we managed to win out 4th so can come into the game with a bit more confidence.This seems like the perfect time to play the top seed but I think a lot of the result depends on what type of team Martinez will decide to put out. At this stage I’ll cautiously go for a 2-1 victory for Everton.

What will it mean?

As mentioned Wolfsburg are the top seed in the group so a win will mark a great step towards qualification. European football can be simplified by winning your home games and drawing your away games. If we win against Wolfsburg then you’d expect us to win against Lille and Krasnodar at Goodison which will surely ensure qualification. Lose tomorrow and it’ll put us on the back foot and playing catch up. The next match, away to Krasnodar, is between the away games vs Liverpool and Man Utd. A win against Wolfsburg may mean we could leave a few first team players at home for the long trip.