Tag Archives: stones

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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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.