Cleverley and Pienaar play in U21s' defeat to Schalke

by | 20/10/2015  53 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 0 - 1 Schalke 04
Updated Tom Cleverley played an hour and Steven Pienaar for the first half as Everton Under-21s were beaten in the Premier League U21 International Cup by Schalke 04 this evening.

Cleverley has been out of action for almost two months since he suffered ankle ligament damage in the goalless draw against Tottenham Hotspur but took the next step in his return to fitness with a runout for the Blues' second string.

Pienaar, meanwhile, hasn't figured for any Blues side since pre-season when it looked as though he could finally be surmounting a catalogue of injuries over the past two seasons but he broke down again and has been forced back into rehabilitation.

David Unsworth's side took on the German club's U21s at Goodison Park and other senior squad members in the form of Bryan Oviedo, Joel Robles and Tyias Browning were also on show in the second match in this competition. The U21s' first PL U21 International Cup game saw them win 2-1 over Spurs in August.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Leighton Baines also had an outside chance of being involved against Schalke but he wasn't involved. He, too, has been stepping up his training in a bid to be fully match fit by the middle of next month.

The Blues almost got off to the perfect start when David Henen was felled in the area after just three minutes but his penalty was saved by Wetko.

The Germans' 'keeper then denied Conor Grant before the visitors took the lead at the other end. Florian Pick's deflected effort had enough to roll over the line to make it 1-0 to Schalke with 10 minutes gone.

Pienaar was withdrawn at half time and replaced by Liam Walsh and the young midfielder almost made an instant impact when his free kick came back off the woodwork and Grant' effort off the rebound was saved.

Cleverley then made way for Connolly on the hour mark with the score still 1-0 to the visitors but the Blues were unable to find a way back into the contest.

Everton: Robles, Browning, Oviedo, Kenny, Holgate, Ledson, Grant, Cleverley (Connolly), Henen, Pienaar (Walsh), Dyson.
Subs not used: Hewelt, Jones, Williams, Charsley, Evans.  

Reader Comments (53)

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Paul Cherrington
1 Posted 20/10/2015 at 08:48:58
I hope he gets a run-out and comes through it okay. I like him and think he is a good player we could do with back in the first-team squad.
Darren Bailey
2 Posted 20/10/2015 at 09:07:04
Great timing as Barry and McCarthy are starting to struggle a little. McCarthy looked knackered on Saturday after playing for Ireland and Barry just can't play every week any more. Ideal for a run out tonight and then again for the League Cup next week.

Both Cleverley and Baines will be a massive boost to the squad with a good run of fixtures coming up that I'd hope us to be picking up a shed-load of points from.

Anthony Dwyer
3 Posted 20/10/2015 at 09:56:18
Absolutely spot on, Darren, I agree with everything you've said there mate.

Cleverley has been a big loss, he adds that creative avenue we've lost of late, showing in games such as the derby and Swansea where we had lots of the ball and played well but without a goal, and even the Spurs game in which Cleverley was injured.

I think Cleverley could be fundamental to how Roberto likes to shape our side an is in some ways similar to what Moyes had in Pienaar. Cleverley is suited to one of our wide positions without actually being a winger, allowing the full back behind him the licence to push on.

His return may go hand in hand with Baines's return too and should see many more chances being created as Naismith and Galloway have given their all to do a job over on the left-hand side, and have looked solid enough without ever really creating too many chances.

Hopefully we can kick on soon though as our so-called good start is now proving to not be so good after all. Points thrown away in the derby, vs Swansea and Spurs plus the two games vs the Manchester clubs where we were outplayed have put us back into a similar position as last season. The game at the weekend vs Arsenal is always going to be tough so we could find ourselves back in the bottom half of the table very soon.

Myself I'd rather have a change of manager but I can't really see that materialising so we have to make do. The return of these vital players may prove to be a catalyst on which we can build.

Clive Rogers
4 Posted 20/10/2015 at 10:51:16

"Given his all", Naismith was dragged off at half time last game as he was so dreadful.

James Stewart
6 Posted 20/10/2015 at 11:32:14
Cleverley has impressed me but he is no wide player. Sure he can do a job there but it's not his best position. I would prefer to see him in central midfield. Barry and particularly McCarthy should be worried because Cleverley offers more offensively and has a better passing range.

I would like to see Barry or McCarthy play the defensive role depending on the opposition, not both. Cleverley and Barkley should be the centre-mids in front of one protector.

Keith Monaghan
7 Posted 20/10/2015 at 11:47:15
I'll be very glad to see Cleverly back for us. I didn't fancy him in the lead-up to signing him, but I think he's done well. As soon as he's match fit, he should come straight in for McCarthy, who is giving us nothing, just like last season.

McCarthy was very good in his first season with us, bringing lots of much needed energy to the midfield, but became lazy last season and has carried on the same this season, and he's never offered us anything going forward.

Maybe it would help Barkley too, but I'm more & more convinced that he's going to fall well below the hype and expectations... I hope I'm wrong!

Mike Allman
8 Posted 20/10/2015 at 11:57:17
When Baines comes back, maybe he could step into midfield in place of Barry. RM was talking about this a while back wasn't he and that would allow Galloway to stay at left back?
Teddy Bertin
9 Posted 20/10/2015 at 12:29:09
Anthony (#2). Change the manager to who? Rogers? Moyes? There's no-one out there who will come and work on a budget and attract top players (or keep our ambitious ones).

There was a feeling about Martinez before he came to Everton that he might go on to manage some of Europe's elite. As a result, players like Lukaku wanted to play for him. Who are we going to get now that Stoke are out-spending us? Changing the manager won't help that.

Maybe Laudrup? Porchetino has struggled WITH money at Spurs and he's a good coach. Bilic is happy at West Ham because they'll be well outspending Everton soon. I just don't know who we'd get in.

If Ancelotti wants to come (or Klopp before he went to the Shite) then fine. They always get results and attract big players but anyone else is just as much a risk as giving Martinez time to bring all these youngsters through into regular first-team players.

Trevor Peers
10 Posted 20/10/2015 at 12:56:53
Teddy, you're right, of course, we're incapable of attracting the best managers anymore.

Roberto does pull off a surprise win against the top 4 now and then and basically that's about as much as we can hope for. As long as we don't drop into the bottom 6 he will be safe, and we just have grin and bear the mediocrity. But we still have the right to have a moan especially after Saturday's performance.

Maybe a League Cup win would lift the club and give us some hope. The thought of Cleverley returning hardly fills me with inspiration, he's much like the other midfielders we have.

Mark Andersson
11 Posted 20/10/2015 at 14:34:16
So is Cleverly all of a sudden our new saviour? Clutching at straws is a football fantasy. Dream on as much as you like,m oan even more if that's possible, but the reality is Everton football club has seen its best days, you know the song, if ya know yer istory and all that bollicks.

Mid-table has beens are all we are now, and have been for a long time. Who in there right mind would give a job to a manager that got his last team relegated. Oh yes our fucking waste of a time board.

Have we improved since Martinez took over mmmm Na. Sure argue that we have beat some of the top 4, but hay ho some of the lesser teams done so too and the same teams have beaten the red shite but have we No.

I'm on the bones of my arse, and yet these over paid prima donnas can't put a consistent shift in to entertain us poor people. Other than that I'm quite happy.

Dave Pritchard
13 Posted 20/10/2015 at 15:49:42
The left side of midfield is one of the biggest problems in our team. Pienaar was such a great fit there especially with Baines behind him. Nobody has taken his place and we continually have players there who are square pegs. Naismith, Barkley, Cleverley, Kone and Mirallas et al have all been tried there with no real success and are all better somewhere else in the team.

Solution to this problem? Get Pienaar fit or make a good signing in January. Don't hold your breathe for either.

Trevor Peers
14 Posted 20/10/2015 at 16:14:13
If we could get Pienaar and Baines fit, and they could find some form, it would be a real plus. Cleverley could take some of the pressure off Barry and McCarthy, at least we would be a little more balanced and fresher in midfield.

We're going to need them all, for sure.

Les Martin
15 Posted 20/10/2015 at 17:18:59
*10 Dave Pritchard is spot on with his comment.

It's all about balance. We have some good players but the left hand side has been patched up and looks unbalanced with some not knowing when to go forward on stay back.

Cleverley is very good player and will become a fave and can do a job there. I think Pienaar sadly looks to be coming to the end of his career as the prem and his injuries catch up with him.

Harold Matthews
16 Posted 20/10/2015 at 17:22:30
I wouldn't want to rush the lad but I'll be glad when he returns. We've missed his intelligent forward passing game and late runs into the box.

Another boy I'm interested in is Leandro Rodriguez although we might be building up his body strength for later on. This fella can play. With several veterans coming to the end of their careers and one or two being transferred out, we'll already be thinking of next season.

Schweinsteiger and De Bruyne are not for us. We can't attract them, we can't afford them. Our future will be built on the likes of Besic, Deulofeu, Galloway, Browning, Rodriguez, Pennington, Holgate, Garbutt and other youngsters who might emerge or be snapped up. I haven't included Stones, Lukaku and Barkley because money clubs might fancy them but Cleverley, McCarthy, Oviedo, Lennon, Funes Mori, Baines, Jags and Robles will probably still be around for a while. Naismith may seek regular football elsewhere and there must be question marks about Mirallis.

A decent squad but many clubs are spending big and a top ten finish is no longer a piece of cake. I probably won't be around to see it but the future looks very interesting indeed.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 20/10/2015 at 18:34:45
Harold (12),took the words out of my mouth regarding Leandro Rodriguez, he hasn't been heard of since his two goals in two games. Which seems ages ago.

I'm going to the game tonight, hope Rodriguez plays, a lot of senior players look like they will be used, how many are they allowed.

Hope to see a good game with some attack minded ideas from The Blues, if it is like last Saturday I don't think I'll last til half time.

Harold Matthews
19 Posted 20/10/2015 at 19:12:21
Wow Dave. Make sure you stay the 90 minutes. Will look forward to your report.
Colin Glassar
20 Posted 20/10/2015 at 19:39:22
I thought Cleverley was starting to look quite decent before his injury. He was always looking for a quick pass and was getting in and around the 18 yard box something which Macca and Barry don't/can't do.

I can't even remember what Pienaar looks like.

Denis Richardson
21 Posted 20/10/2015 at 20:46:36
Cleverley coming back will give us more options in midfield but those thinking that Pienaar returning is going to be the answer are really clutching at straws. They guy has barely played in the last 15 months, is 33 and has had injury after injury over the last couple of years.

We may squeeze a game out of him here and there but I don't expect to see Pienaar too often on the pitch this season. His best days are long gone and I'll be glad when we get his 60k/week off the wage bill next summer so we can use it for a younger less injury prone player. Same goes for Gibson, Osman and Hibbo - contracts all expire nest summer, so about 200k/week extra for new players who'll actually play.

Can also move McGeady on whilst we're at it.

Gaute Lie
22 Posted 20/10/2015 at 21:13:50
Where is Gibson?
Lyndon Lloyd
23 Posted 20/10/2015 at 22:00:10
There is a limit to the number of over-23 players you can have in an Under-21s team (yes, I know) side, Gaute, before it ceases to qualify as such.

With Gibson now fit, it was obviously more important to give Pienaar and Cleverley minutes and get Robles sharp for his assumed role in the League Cup next week.

Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 20/10/2015 at 22:26:16
Not a bad game with a few good performances: Pienaar with the sharpest brain on the pitch and a decent run-out for him; Ledson who played strongly throughout the 90 minutes, possibly needs to go on loan and get some serious games under his belt, which Harold alluded to a few weeks ago.

Robles seemed slow to the deflection for their goal, but an excellent save from a header in the second half atoned for that.

Holgate and Browning were steady in defence and Browning made a couple of good runs in the second period which were encouraging to see; should make him more confident in his own ability.

Conner Grant was neat and tidy without getting really into the game; promising. In the second half, my favourite, Liam Walsh, came on and didn't let me down, very good immediately getting a grip on the game, great free kick from twenty yards which came back off the bar with the goalie nowhere, always showing for the ball and letting the Germans know he was there, very good 45 minutes from him.

Everton had enough chances to win the game but didn't take them. Apart from the slow build-up in attack, which needs to be changed, it was an enjoyable game.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 20/10/2015 at 22:29:54
Sorry my favourite player, who I didn't name is Liam Walsh, a bit of senility there!!!
Eddie Dunn
26 Posted 20/10/2015 at 23:06:37
Got to agree with, Keith (#6). Cleverley will do a sound job for us, and I would pull the plug on McCarthy, who does little other than run around. Barry is getting on a bit but still has the nous to play the right pass and brings an air of stability to the team.

Macca really needs to develop his game, as he offers nothing going forward. I see other teams with midfielders who can tackle, and harry, but can also attack and pass the ball more than 3 yards, but our lad seems afraid to try. Perhaps he has been told to restrict his play?

I hope that Cleverley can get back soon, and wouldn't it be marvellous if Pienaar played in a football match again!
Gaute Lie
27 Posted 20/10/2015 at 23:32:18
Thank you, Lyndon (#20), for clearing it up.

I sort of thought he was injured – again.

He is missed in the team.

Harold Matthews
28 Posted 20/10/2015 at 00:36:07
Thanks for the report, Dave. Perhaps Joe and Unsy think Ledson is still a bit young for a loan move. He desperately wants to try it but we might want somewhere close to home with a coach who will teach him good habits. These kids are a big responsibility and we have to get things right.

Don't worry, we know who your favourite is Dave. The boy Walsh is a quick thinking natural but I'm hoping he'll grow an inch or two. Is he as tall as Pienaar yet?

Anthony Dwyer
29 Posted 21/10/2015 at 00:45:52
Clive (#4):

I stated Naisy gave his all an I truly believe he gives 100% every game. My concern with him is what it's always been, Naisy is not a top 10 EPL player, he is no better than a John Walters at Stoke. He's a grafter who will do a turn no matter where he's asked to play.

Naisy has a lot of fans at our club, I know this as I've often had ago at him only for people to come out and defend him. That said, my opinion of him is such that I would have personally driven him down to Norwich for the £8m we were offered as I feel he's worth less than half that fee.

Many people will jump to his defence as they have in the past, but this is my honest opinion as a long term season ticket holder. I do feel though, as much as I do not rate Naisy, I could never fault his work rate.

Anthony Dwyer
31 Posted 21/10/2015 at 00:58:25
Teddy at #8; I said in my comments that we can not attract big managers on our current transfer budget, that said neither could Southampton and Swansea. The above mentioned sides attracted some of the biggest ex-players of a generation in Laudrup, Keoman, Poccichino and Gary Monk ;-)

Bilic was ready made for us but that opportunity has long passed us by, De Boer is another big name who's looking at the Premier League with eyes wide open.

Going back to Martinez I would like to mention that Lukaku signed as no one else came calling. He had a choice of us or west Brom on loan followed by a lot of interest until the fee was quoted resulting in him joining us.

I'm delighted we have Rom but he quickly explained that we were a mere stepping stone in his career. After him who else has Roberto attracted? Del boy again had no other real options, Sevilla did not want him and nor did Barca.

Next up is who exactly? Kone, Alcaraz, McCarthy (all in the championship), Barry (3 year deal attached him), Cleverley always wanted to be local. Let's be honest, Roberto has no pull whatsoever.

I'm sorry to disagree but I can't help but feel you are wrong. There are managers out there with bigger balls than Roberto, and at 1-1 in a derby at home or 0-2 down to man United, bigger balls than Roberto's were needed. For me, Roberto is out of his depth.

Peter Carpenter
32 Posted 21/10/2015 at 01:14:55
Went along to the game tonight and got an interesting look at some of the younger players. A couple of the really stood out.

Holgate, composed, good on the ball, used it well (made Stones look a bit rough!) - sign the Barnsley defensive coach whoever he is.

Liam Walsh - a mini-Beardsley, bright and inventive and played some great passes. Kenny at right back did a decent Seamus Coleman impersonation.

Henen was energetic but a bit wasteful. Ledson was disappointing, lots of effort but not much creative output.

And there was a short guy on the left of midfield in the first half, some lovely touches. Could he have a future? We need a decent left sided midfield player.
Duncan McDine
33 Posted 21/10/2015 at 07:31:37
Many thanks, Dave and Peter, for the reports. It's always good to hear about some of the promising talent coming through... I'd love to see this Walsh fella – sounds a bit special.

Thinking about Pienaar on yet another return to fitness... how many of the senior squad have been constantly injured the last year or two?

Pienaar, Gibbo, Hibbert, Oviedo are all strong players that have barely kicked a ball for two years. Add to that Baines, Mirallas, Besic, Cleverley and the shorter term injuries of Coleman and Stones... the results we've picked up this season so far have been very impressive!!!

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 21/10/2015 at 08:47:17
Peter (28), yes agree about Ledson, maybe he was trying too hard, but he kept at it and was working hard Right to the end. Henon was substituted and Jones came on, I think he is a right back, so the team became a little disjointed after that.
Paul Cherrington
35 Posted 21/10/2015 at 09:02:10
Liam Walsh sounds like a really good player as, every match report you hear where he's played, people say he's done very well. Is it worth trying him out in the No 10 position if we're struggling in the last 15/20 minutes of games?

Remember, if they're good enough, they're old enough.

Peter Carpenter
36 Posted 21/10/2015 at 10:15:12
Yes, I hope I'm wrong but Ledson looked worryingly like one of those players who has relied too much on physique and power without the subtlety and skill of someone like Liam Walsh, who could easily become my favourite player before too long.
Pete Laffey
37 Posted 21/10/2015 at 11:00:09
I think the trouble with McCarthy sometimes is he's got a bit of the 'Ross Barkley syndrome' from last season; he looks anxious to make them runs forward or do them raking passes. The odd time he does do it, I say to myself "We've got a hell of a player here" but that's just the trouble – he doesn't!
Barry Pearce
38 Posted 21/10/2015 at 12:05:24
Liam Walsh's name is one that is regularly getting flagged up. Let's hope the likes of him, Kieran Dowell, and Jonjoe Kenny, can make the grade.

Central defence looks sound for years to come, with the likes of Galloway, Holgate, and Browning waiting to get a chance to play in their natural positions.

Tony Abrahams
39 Posted 21/10/2015 at 12:10:55
That's what Everton's first team is missing right now, just one player who can take a real grip on the game. Barkley, played like he could do this, in periods at Swansea, but he worries me at the minute.

I know he is still young, but the longer he is called a kid, the longer he his going to take, to shake this tag off. Said it before, but you can only be the best, if you think your the best. turn the pressure, into a feeling of this is what I want, and have as much belief in yourself, as a lot of the supporters have got in you, Ross.

If it was what you was born for, just go and do it, but another like minded ball player in the midfield wouldn't half help. How far away is this Walsh kid, Dave?

James Martin
40 Posted 21/10/2015 at 12:33:51
Cleverley can get as fit as he wants. As long as Barry and McCarthy are fit Martinez will not entertain changing them. He has had Barkley Osman Besic and Gibson as options in various games this season but decided every time that Barry and McCarthy are the correct pairing for every match. Indeed most times they've not even been subbed. I find this baffling. Because of this I see Cleverley joining the competition for a left wing place.
Tony J Williams
41 Posted 21/10/2015 at 12:41:10
James, you have just saved me 5 minutes of typing.


Duncan McDine
42 Posted 21/10/2015 at 13:21:08
I might be in the minority here, but when everyone is available and fit, I think Barry and McCarthy are the best pairing with Barkley infront.

Gibbo and Cleverly are very good replacements but not first choice for me as it stands.

I was hoping this season would be important for Besic's development but its been a frustrating one so far for the lad.

Paul Cherrington
43 Posted 21/10/2015 at 13:29:10
Sorry but I can't agree with that; Barry and McCarthy have been poor this season in general. I would have Besic in there and Gibson if both fit as they have more bite and creativity between them. If Gibson wasn't fit (as is the case 75% of the time), then I would go with Cleverley.
Ben Jones
44 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:03:46
It's amazing how perceptions change after one defeat. Talk of optimism about finishing in the top 4 suddenly after the Chelsea victory filters down to 'mid table mediocrity' after the Man Utd game.

Barry's improved a lot this season, arguably our best player so far, so why are some of us so stupid to break up that partnership after one bad game?

I don't get it. Until they have a sustained bad period of form, I'd drop one of them. They could play amazingly against Arsenal and people on here would call them the best partnership in the league!

With the post, glad to see positive posts of the youngsters. People who watched the game, is Liam Walsh in the Number 10 mould, or does he play deeper? Perhaps Martinez is grooming him and may get some action in the next season or two.

Patrick Murphy
45 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:31:08
Ben (36) I honestly don't think most of the negativity about Everton is a knee-jerk reaction to the result of Saturday's game. It's more about what we have seen during the course of the season so far. Yes, we've had difficult fixtures, possibly we have more points than some expected, but at the same token, we haven't put a run together of joined-up football.

As somebody pointed out we've had to retrieve games after falling behind: Watford, Liverpool, West Brom, Barnsley and Reading; we've failed to score at White Hart Lane and Swansea and never looked like scoring. Chelsea and Southampton, although both games were won, they were not without their hairy moments but nevertheless both were good to very good performances. Man City at Goodison was almost as poor as the Man Utd game from an Everton perspective, therefore there have been more so-so performances than good to very good performances.

With nearly a quarter of the campaign behind us, there is as much debate on how the team is performing as there was prior to the season kicking-off. Our sojourn to Arsenal on Saturday may provide a surprise but likely it will follow the historical pattern of the last decade or so.

If the players aren't good enough for the top four or Europe, fine that's the way the cookie crumbles, but if as I believe the team are being set-up in a way, particularly at Goodison, that is detrimental to the players' performance and the fans' entertainment levels, then that needs addressing.

All managers have the problem of trying to satisfy short-term needs alongside long-term goals, but if the football is dire and boring, fans' patience will be tested far quicker than if the football is expansive and entertaining. I hope that Roberto finds the recipe to give us both long-term and short-term success with a brand of football that is a little easier on the eye than we have witnessed on most occasions so far this season.

Helen Mallon
46 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:40:26
Mark Anderson at (10)... are you for real? Klopp got one of his clubs relegated. Tell me what manager other than the Special One that has won the FA Cup and who is managing in the Premier League.

We are not rich enough to get in the top places and yes finishing above 10th is our goal and maybe a cup. We might one day spawn a Champions League place but as our top four teams play crap we will lose another place and will make it harder... we may never achieve it!
Paul Cherrington
47 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:41:27
Barry has improved a bit yeah – he used to be really really slow now he's just really slow. People just run by him and he can't catch them unless he does his usual trick of having to take a yellow card to stop them.

If the Barry - McCarthy partnership was producing some amazing football consistently and making us solid, I would keep it. The sad fact is it doesn't – we have 2 DMs and yet still look exposed at the back.

Trevor Lynes
48 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:52:14
Every manager who has won things has been supported by the board of the club. Our club do not support the manager to anything like the level of the top six never mind the top three or four.

The Everton manager's job is one of the safest in the league as his main goal is survival. Anything better than top half is a bonus. That has been patently obvious during DM's reign and now Roberto's. No top manager would work under the financial restraints of our once mighty club.

We have 13 points from 9 games and if that yield continues throughout the season we will have about 55 points and a top half finish. That would be a success story with this present squad IMO. It does not make me happy or proud but it is realistic.

James Martin
49 Posted 21/10/2015 at 14:53:44
Helen you can't get annoyed with people who aren't happy just existing in midtable. I remember when Moyes left this place was full of 'best of the rest isn't good enough' 'the glass ceiling doesn't exist it's all mentality' 'a top manager has us in the top 4'. Now all of a sudden people are making out that fifth is a wondrous achievement and that finishing in the top ten is where we should be. Absolute rubbish.

This squad has the quality to get top 4, we just don't have a consistent manager. Had Aguero has his shooting boots on Wigan could have lost that final 5-0. They then score from a corner that Martinez has admitted he doesn't practise. So he deserves credit for getting to a cup final but the actual winning of it had a lot of luck. Trophy or not, it still doesn't get away from the fact that we employed a manager who could not move Wigan away from the relegation zone throughout his tenure and finally dropped into it.

Good enough for Everton, not for me, but if you are one of these turnover v net spend ratio fans who are waiting for a billionaire investor before expecting any improvement in the football then I suppose the manager's position is an irrelevance.
Peter Weaver
50 Posted 21/10/2015 at 15:24:32
And so the debate goes on. We have a good team but a bad manager. Or is it the other way round? We've done well from a challenging opening programme of fixtures. Or have we been lucky to play some 'Top Four' teams when they've been off the pace? Batty and McCarthy are holding the team back. Or is it the refusal of the manager to play proper wingers that's doing the damage?

Don't look to me for answers because they are all bound up in 'what if's and 'maybe's so, I guess, all we can look forward to is more of what we've had so far. And that's 13 points from 9 games or an average of 1.44 per game which, if maintained over the whole season, would see us end with circa 55 points and probably 8th or 9th spot.

I have to say that sounds about right to me and the manager and his chairman will congratulate themselves on another 'safe' season – one that the likes of Stoke, WBA and even Villa would be proud of.

Only this is Everton we're talking about.

Dave Abrahams
51 Posted 21/10/2015 at 15:29:44
Ben (#40), when Pienaar went off, Walsh replaced him and went into the middle of centre midfield and Grant went onto the wing.

Walsh was literally everywhere and asking for ball, some short passes and two or three long, one of which reminded me of Bobby Collins, split through the German defence for the winger to run onto.

Whether he is ready for the first team, I'd say no, but interestingly he was one of the subs for Duncan Ferguson's benefit game, so it's possible he could a few minutes here and there, I wouldn't rush him myself, but he seems to be a very confident and cocky kid so I doubt it would phase him if picked.

Raymond Fox
52 Posted 21/10/2015 at 15:59:49
This thread was nothing to do with RM, so why do some latch on to almost every thread to criticize the manager, Antony and James for instance! Oh and surprise, surprise Wigan keeps being quoted again, if Jesus was their manager he wouldn't have kept Wigan in the Prem. for long never mind Martinez!

Of course everyone wants entertaining winning football, but its fair to say if we had some of Man City's or Arsenal's players the manager might find it a tiny but easier. It's been discussed till the cows come home, why we have not won a trophy for 20 years. The bottom line is the quality of the players has never been quite good enough, the proof is in the pudding isn't it; depressing but true in my humble opinion.

James Martin
53 Posted 21/10/2015 at 16:24:28
Raymond, if I felt Martinez had the squad playing at its maximum and we were finishing 12th, then I wouldn't have one word to say against him. I'm not demanding he finishes 1st or even 4th. All I'm asking for is a cogent style of play, consistent selection of players who are fit and in-form in their proper positions, an emphasis on setting up to win games, and seeing a team come out with a hit of desire and physicality.

It's my opinion we're not getting any of the above. The amount of games we've come out with a lopsided line-up, players out of position, some of them not even match fit, and we've been battered even at home sometimes not even having a shot. If you think this is all down to how much money the clubs above us are spending then fine. My opinion though is we are hugely underperforming.
Harold Matthews
55 Posted 21/10/2015 at 16:53:05
Barry. I'm not sure centre-back is Galloway's natural position. He's the most one-footed player on our books and that won't do at all. He'll need to tackle and clear with his right foot now and again and his inability to turn anti-clockwise with the ball will land him in all sorts of trouble... as we have witnessed occasionally.

Luckily he is a great athlete with determination and pace who has performed well in the left back role. I hope we keep him there while he works on his weak spots.

Raymond Fox
56 Posted 21/10/2015 at 17:03:22
James, everyone would be concerned if we were bad every match, but it's fair to say we are ahead points-wise, more than most of us expected at this point of the season.

Martinez's 1st season was good/great, last year was affected in my opinion by the Europa competition, it cost us 2-4 positions which I expected. Even so I concede it wasn't a great season.

This year we are in and out performance wise but the players also have a lot to answer for, let's see at the end of the season how its turned out.

I think you are overestimating the strength of our squad though, we are a 7-8th quality squad for me, as usual we are short a couple of class players.

Harold Matthews
57 Posted 21/10/2015 at 17:11:32
Duncan. Glad you mentioned Besic. I really rate this lad. Got a touch of Pienaar about him, as time will show. Says Martinez has been coaching him for the number 6 position which, in the old days, was left midfield.

He was selected for the left-midfield role when last seen but pulled a hamstring as he burst into the box. A lad of tremendous character, I fully expect him to have a fine future in our blue shirt.

Paul Cherrington
58 Posted 22/10/2015 at 09:38:03
You do have to laugh at some people... we can't use his relegation with Wigan against RM as it is in the past but we can keep bringing up his first season with us to support him.

When Moyes was here, lack of money was no excuse & there should be no limit on where we finished but under RM that's okay?

James is right in that there is no reason for us to be so slow, lethargic and devoid of passion in most games. That is not about money or not being one of the top 4 clubs.

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