Everton thoughts

Aside from not having had much of a moment the Everton game has left me a bit confused. I think I’m guilty of forgetting how bad we were quite recently, but I’ve been a bit surprised at how positive people have been about the Everton performance.

But I didn’t really see a team that looked completely at the races. The defence is shaping up fairly well and Aaron Hughes seems to have found some important form. The midfield looked pretty good at times and when Parker and Karagounis switched at the start of the second half Fulham certainly enjoyed a good spell. Sidwell had another “good Sidwell” game.

Ahead of them it was harder. Dejagah and Kacaniklic weren’t the factors you might have hoped and Berbatov flickered rather than shone. True, we were away somewhere we always struggle, and I love how we’re building a coherent approach (4-3-3 with a bit more directness) but it feels to me as if saying Everton were flattered flatters us. No, of course it wasn’t a 4-1 defeat in the truest sense but equally there felt like quite a big gap in class to me.

What I’m reaching for, I think, is one of those cup ties when a lower league team briefly frightens a big club before falling away inevitably at the end. Harsh perhaps but that’s how it feels.

What did we learn?

The back four’s alright. I guess you wouldn’t say no to reinforcements but I quite like the general flavour of the current setup.

Every time Meulensteen picks Karagounis I’m happy because the latter always plays quite well, but disappointed that he feels this is the only option. It also seems to mean that he’ll need a late sub and if we don’t have a like-for-like (which we don’t really) then it means changing something quite a lot after 65 minutes, which is probably not a big deal but feels like it could be.

Kasami’s still young and a bit of a break isn’t the end of the world. He has a lot of positive attributes and has surprised me this season but is probably deserving of a break.

Nice to see Kacaniklic get a run in the team. As we’ve said so often, young wingers are almost bound to be inconsistent and it felt weak to drag him off or drop him every time he had a quiet match. You either decide that he’s going to develop into a major player and give him the time to become that or you do something else. I don’t think Kaca was well served by the neither/nor approach of Jol. He had a quietish game but earned the penalty so his work was far from wasted.

Ruiz must be off in January. No reason to not bring him on on Saturday. I like Duff as was but at this point I’m not sure he was going to make something from nothing, which Ruiz might have done. (Bent felt like the right substitute for the time but nothing came his way.)


19 thoughts on “Everton thoughts

  1. Wanted to say we had a great away support on Saturday easily the lowest in the football league and I hear Salisbury took more fans to Macclesfield in the Conference. #nosebleed #neutralstandboys

  2. Definite and significant gap in class but I think most of us are just happy to see us give it a go. Had luck gone our way we might have got points we wouldn’t quite have deserved.

    There’s also relief that we now have a manager who seems to understand what we have (and what we don’t have) and sets the team up accordingly.

    January obviously will be interesting and the focus has to be on cobbling together enough points to stay up but longer term?

    I was thinking about this and factoring in age how many of this starting 11 are both good enough now and likely to be so in a couple of years time. My answer was anything from none to four (Reither, Stekelenberg, Dejagah and Kaklaniklic) all of whom are no more than possibles.

    There’s an enormous job to be done and I can’t help thinking that unless serious money is going to be made available we might be better off dropping into the championship and hoping our kids will prove good enough.

    As things stand just competing is good enough for me.

  3. I didn’t see the game so can’t comment too much. Your suspicion of Fulham’s upturn in form seems to have been well founded though Rich. We have improved from the all time terribleness of the last 4 months under Jol, but we are still a team in trouble with a long season ahead.

    One thing is for sure though – when we lose, we need to stop losing by three goal margins.

  4. Frustrating match. There were exciting moments but everything just seemed a bit disjointed. I noticed that Kaca and Dejagah switched sides at one point; I think I like them better inverted because, frustratingly, the crossing isn’t generally all that good and I don’t think Berbatov is strong enough in the air to do much with misplaced crosses.

    This is two matches in a row now that Kaca has won a penalty on middling amounts of contact; I don’t know that we can count on that in perpetuity.

    I really don’t know what to make of the team at the moment. I don’t know how you can say the “defence is shaping up fairly well” on the heels of a match when we gave up four goals, conceded 12 corners to 2 corners earned, and allowed 22 shots. The Villa match was a nice, and needed, morale booster, but I’m not convinced how predictive it is of future success. Riise has found form but I don’t know if any of us expect it to last. Hughes is steady but also got juked out of his shoes on Osman’s goal. Neither of our current center backs deals well with physical strikers. I’m still very nervous, not because I think the hole we’re in is insurmountable, but because I’m still not convinced that the players are good enough and I don’t know that the change in management is enough to overcome that.

    1. Yes, we allowed 22 shots but we also took 16 ourselves. The corners is something that was troubling, but not too unexpected considering the counterattacking motives.

      1. We did, which I think speaks well to the effect of a more direct attacking philosophy, but I would say that it the shots against indicate that the defense still needs work.

        Now, obviously I wouldn’t make too much of a road match against a team playing really well right now. I’d want to see if it continues though. The 10 we allowed against Villa were certainly encouraging. I fully expect us to get hammered against City next weekend and won’t make too big a deal out of that either, but after that I think the matches against Norwich, Hull and West Ham will be a good barometer ahead of the transfer window.

  5. Everton fan here, you must remember you were playing an Everton side really at the top of thier game ,Away win at United , 54% poss against Arsenal ,I think Fulham gave a good account of themselves early second half ,really gave us a game up till the third goal.and yes the score line flattered us second half but first half we should habve been three up. I think Fulham are getting better and a few signings in Jan I think you will be fine this year- We have played worse teams this year and drew.Good luck for the rest of the season.

  6. I agree with a lot of this.

    I’m still wondering how Kasami fits in to this formation, though. The midfield trio has less of a clearly-defined attacking role compared to under Jol, and while I think this change was definitely needed, Kasami seemed to flourish just behind the striker. I guess you’d slot him in instead of Sidwell and hope for the best?

  7. I watched the whole game (thanks to NBC Sports) and then highlights again yday and the issue of the defence and corners is an intriguing one. We conceded 3 of the corners due to errors – Senderos, Riether and Hughes each shanked one that could have gone for throw but generally even they were pressured because Everton were very good at getting deep and wide. Why? well Riise on the left back pedals and shows the outside constantly as he knows he does not have pace to recover if he gets skinned. Kaca in front of him is also timid, again giving up the inevitable cross that turns our central pair and they are facing the touchline and thats where the ball goes out for a corner. On the right it happened far less as Riether and Dejegah are better at pressuring the ball. So my view of the back 4 is that generally they were good but Riise is a stop gap until we get someone better. The problem y’day was Stekelenburg, he was arguably culpable for the 3 goals, for sure the last one; the Coleman goal he pushed the ball into his path rather than out of danger and Dejegah got caught ball watching and Coleman’s run was unimpeded, the Barry goal was Stek’s ball to get at the corner and he didn’t.
    I agree Kaca needs a regular run out and he and Dejegah are the real difference to us offering a threat now, they just didn’t have an outstanding game – Kaca’s howler in front of an open goal was doubly annoying as I would have liked him to score, just for his confidence.
    Kasami is a conundrum, I like him and his energy but he is competing now with one of the key 3 midfielders and I am not sure against Man City you start him over Kara or Sidwell. This is obviously a problem for RM to resolve for the longer term.
    Ruiz is done, as I think is Taraabt but RM obviously needs Bent in the plans in case Berba is gone come Feb 1st.
    Overall though agree its still better than it was before and hopefully enough to survive but at some point its a massive rebuild.

    1. It’s probably true that we were over-appreciative of having, just for once, given Everton a scare on their own patch — from minutes 45-70. Very briefly we even dared to think of three points. If Kaca hadn’t missed an absolute sitter, that would certainly have helped — though of course they could equally have scored more in the first half, as Gazza says.

      I was too far away to see the late concessions, but TV viewing later confirmed what’s suggested above: iffy goalkeeping for them all, not just the last. I was dismayed by first sightings of Stek in the pre-season friendlies (rooted to the spot and flapping) and while he has improved on that, he doesn’t convince. It’s not just the howlers, but the fact that his overwhelming preference is to parry instead of gather. And while you wouldn’t catch me for one moment diving in recklessly heedless of danger, eyes only for the ball, it’s expected of top-class goalkeepers from time to time.

      1. I think maybe people are overstating the sitter-ness of Kaca’s “sitter”. That ball got to him very quickly for a volley with his wrong foot.

      2. Not sure the first three goals were “iffy”. First, a top shot from inside the area. Second, a cross from just outside the six yard box: at pace in a crowded area. I’d put that down as a good save. Would have been excellent if he caught it, but you can’t catch them all. Third, the ball hit his legs from around 2 yds away. What could he have done about that?

        Fourth, though, agree – should have saved.

        1. Agree about the first (which occurred in plain sight of me) and didn’t know that to think about goals 2 and 3 at the time, but on seeing the pics, I concur with the descriptions given by Tim Britton above. The odd howler is of less concern that a general propensity for parrying in any old direction and for taking command of situations no more frequently than Stockdale and less frequently than his longer-term predecessors. A more settled defence in front of him, and better defensive coaching, will hopefully help. If not, he’s unfortunately part of the problem.

          1. I don’t know that I’d say Stekelenburg typically parries “in any old direction”. I’d generally prefer that he catch the ball rather than punch it as well, but I think he does parry the ball away from danger more often than not. The one that fell to Coleman was parried into an area where Dejagah was and Riise should’ve been if he hadn’t tripped over Stekelenburg. (And Pienaar was offside when Lukaku flicked the ball to him.)

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