Tag Archives: football

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.

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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.

Watford: Snapshot Preview

Who: Watford Where: Goodison Park When: Saturday – 8th of August at 3pm

Preamble:

A new season brings new hope that Martinez’ Everton side will have a season more akin to 2013/14 than 2015/15. However, both seasons started with a draw against relegation candidates but hopefully it it 3rd time lucky for Everton. A poor pre-season results wise but hopefully it doesn’t account for much, our players seem a lot more fit than last season which should hopefully bring about a change in fortune.

Selection:

Our back 5 picks itself, ahead of that Cleverley brings an uncertainty to selection. It may be the case that he plays wide left with Mirallas on the right with our lack of other left-sided options. With Barkley ahead of Barry and McCarthy with hopefully a fully fit Lukaku. With a few injuries our options are limited with our small squad.

Trivia:

It took a long time for Watford to decide what colour their home shirt would be. They started off in a red, yellow and green kit before moving to white, then black and white stripes, then blue from 1927 to 1959 until eventually settling on gold and back until present day.

Key Men:

For us i’m going for Ross Barkley, his pre-season has been indifferent but a strong start could give him confidence for the rest of the campaign. It’s a big season for Barkley where he needs to prove his worth for the first team, let alone live up to the hyperbole that has accompanied most of his career so far.

For them it has to be Troy Deeney, he has scored 20+ goals in each of his last three seasons and after speculation regarding a move to a Premier League club, we was able to live that dream at Watford. He could be this years Charlie Austin and prove he can make the step-up, hopefully after Saturday through.

Prediction:

Bad results in pre-season and our traditional slow start means I lean towards being pessimistic, but I think we’ll get a narrow victory. A 2-1 seems the most likely result. We got tore apart by Villareal on occasions and our defence needs to be a lot tighter, but in a game that actually means something, hopefully it will be.

What will it mean?

A much needed win, much needed because of the games that follow. We play the top 7 from last season in our next 9 games after this one which could leave the table looking very poor for us but albeit in a very false position as we’ll then be looking at an easy 9 game run. I’m happy with our difficult start as we up our game against the big teams and I think it could kick-start us early. Not winning against Watford however could easily see us at a point a game or less after 10. At which point the pressure could already be on for Martinez.

The Grim Reality For An Evertonian

There is a grim reality when you support a club like Everton.

Firstly, what do I mean a ‘club like Everton’? There is a food chain in football. Instead of using the term ‘big club’, which is subjective, I’d prefer to use the term ‘bigger reputation’. The perfect example would between Everton and Chelsea. If you were to ask many Evertonians who was the bigger club then some would say Everton based on our history but if you were to ask who had the bigger reputation in Europe then, at the moment, it is undoubtedly Chelsea.

So the food chain. . . the food chain is that players will always want to move to a club with a bigger reputation and clubs with bigger reputations will always feel they can buy players off a club with a lesser reputation.

We do it, of course, with clubs with a smaller reputation than us. Barnsley – Everton – Chelsea. That could be the chain of John Stones’ career. Hopefully not.

This is why I loathe the term ‘selling club’, what does it actually mean? Man Utd had to sell Ronaldo to Real Madrid, does that make them a selling club? Did Figo make Barcelona a selling club? All clubs have to sell to clubs with a higher reputation, unless you are the very top of the food chain. “Not a selling club”, “Not for sale”. . . many empty words are spoke at a time like this.

So what can you do to protect yourself from this grim reality? When you try and aspire to become a Champions League club but lose players when they get to that level?

In order to keep the likes of Lukaku, Stones, Barkley and Deulofeu in the long term we have to improve. This is the point where Evertonians get angry and rightfully so. It wouldn’t take a lot of investment for us to have a special squad. We have great potential, the makings of a great first 11 but beyond that the quality drops off like a cliff. Who could blame a player for wanting what we all desperately want? Imagine a semi-final of the Champions League under the lights of Goodison Park, we are desperate for that but we can’t move clubs. We were born and raised as proud Evertonians, John Stones wasn’t. He may of gained an affinity to the club, he a very likable lad whose style of play has made him a fan favourite but if he doesn’t see progress then he knows that all he has to do to sample those lights of a Champions League semi-final is to take the 3 hour drive to Stamford Bridge.

Both Tottenham and Liverpool in recent years have sold their best players for high prices and made a complete mess with the money received. If we are forced to sell, and that is the grim reality, then we need to make sure the same mistakes aren’t made.

This board can be accused of many things, but selling our players cheaply is not one of them. We keep our players happy, keep them on long contracts and don’t bow to pressure when bids come in. We may be vulnerable to such bids but our bullish front is the perfect riposte to them. We know the value of our players and we know what prices we would reluctantly accept. A lot of this will be in the hands of John Stones, hopefully he sees that his development as a footballer would be best served with another year playing in the Royal Blue Jersey and not any other shade of blue. Hopefully at that point Martinez has worked a miracle to improve our football team to top 4 contenders.

As we sadly know though, without investment we’ll never improve to a point where a potentially world class footballer sees his long term future at Everton Football Club. The grimest reality of all.