Today is Monday, Mondays are usually shite, but Mondays are especially shite when Everton have suffered a defeat. Within the space of 94 minutes on Saturday afternoon, the Toffees managed to demonstrate what it feels like to be on Evertonian in a single game of football. Talk about a kick in the balls. The highs and the lows and the sickening feeling of a last-gasp loss, no matter how long you’ve been a blue it still cuts deep. Admit it, you’ve been in work today but wanted to hide in the bog for most of it.
Following on from the morale-boosting draw at City, where we rode our luck, dug deep and came away with deserved point, we then travelled to Burnley (a place which would be the ideal setting for the next series, if there ever was one, of the League of Gentlemen) in hope of three points on the road and getting back to winning ways. Regardless of whether or not Steven Defour or Andre (I’ve got some awful opinions but nobody would have known if Liverpool fans didn’t grass me up) Gray are in that side we should be beating them. Regardless of whether or not Burnley defeated Liverpool and took Arsenal to the wire at Turf Moor, we should be beating them. If Everton harbour hopes of finishing where they currently are in the table or above that position, then we should be beating them. But the fact of the matter is that we didn’t, and it is quite worrying.
Koeman opted to bring back Barkley for the game and drop Deulofeu to the bench, as the team lined up in similar fashion to what it has been of late. During the opening exchanges, there was positive signs; Mirallas saw a very early effort saved by Heaton, and then again went close to following up a Lukaku shot but saw his attempt blocked out. Unfortunately Kevin Mirallas did fuck all else after that. Barkley looked up for it, as did Bolasie too, and the former tested Heaton with a stinging effort during the first half whilst the latter twisted and turned and had the odd scamper down the right hand side on occasion too. Apart from that though, there wasn’t an awful lot to get overly excited about.
We need a cutting edge in our side and all too often we lack it. Call it an x-factor, a ruthless streak, whatever you want to call it, we lack it, and it is glaringly obvious to see that this squad is still weak in terms of quality. We had possession, we had shots, nearly as many as the average Welsh bird down Mathew Street on a Saturday night, but Heaton (who is a very able ‘keeper by the way) stood firm, as did the central defensive duo of Keane and Mee in front of him. Bodies on the line, a goalkeeper getting a hand to everything, yeah you know how the rest goes.
Burnley soaking up pressure at home will always carry a threat on the counter, any Premier League side will these days, and with Jagielka playing like he’s 73, Seamus Coleman unable to string two passes together, Bryan Oviedo below average and wearing gloves, Stekelenburg keeping goal like he’s had six pints and turned up at the Pitz, and our attacking players unable to retain the ball for anything longer than 12 seconds, Sean Dyche’s men would have fancied their chances against an out-of-form Blues side.
If one goalie was having a blinder at one end, then Maarten – I saved two penalties and had the game of my life the week before – Stekelenburg had an absolute shitstorm of a stinker at the other end when failing to deal with Scott Arfield’s shot, in fact it wasn’t a shot, more like a the football version of a putt in golf. Arfield’s effort had about as much power in it as ye da swinging ale house digs (usually at ye ma) at 4am outside Smokie Mo’s. Burnley had counter attacked and what looked like a harmless effort was somehow parried into the path of Sam – if ever I needed a goal I’d play against Everton – Vokes who prodded home for 1-0. Oh Maarten, what have you done. From hero to zero in the swig of a Chang.
Burnley 1-0 Everton. You may as well stop reading now.
Anyway, the goal came after 39 minutes and Evertonians probably spent the remaining six minutes of the half repairing TV screens, picking up bits of iPhone off the wall or if you were at Turf Moor, having a bevy or seven on the concourse to attempt to forget that howler.
In the second half Everton upped the ante. Our pressure mounted just as our blood pressure did, as we willed Everton forward. On 58 minutes, the visitors got their rewards with a fantastic effort, a goal with swagger and verve, as the Blues broke down the right to find Bolasie and Lukaku in a great position, primed to shoot. Bolasie stole the ball from Lukaku’s grasp and struck a sweet right footed drive past Heaton to put us level. It was a great strike, and it took some balls taking it away from Rom, so it was apt that it was Bolasie, who was probably our best player on the day, who netted the leveller and we had the momentum. You see, we can do it when we want to, but we don’t want to enough.
After that you thought there would only be one winner, Everton pressed and Lukaku nearly latched on to an inviting Bolasie cross from the left, but still Burnley stood firm and got bodies in the way. We huffed and we puffed, but there is only so many times you can see the ball go wide to Oviedo, to go back to Gana, inside to Barry, out wide to Coleman, then forward to nobody, it’s disjointed and we are so easy to defend against at times. One dimensional and all out of ideas. Don’t get me started on Mirallas and Deulofeu, built up to be set for great seasons ahead, showing no signs of doing anything remotely positive so far. Bolasie had his hands on his hips at one point, almost forgetting that we’re drawing 1-1 at Burnley and trying to win the game, and even when Deulofeu replaced Mirallas and Cleverley came on for Gueye, which was the most pointless substitution ever, nothing changed. No angles, no intricacy, no cutting through defences or dangerous looking attacks, just lots of straight forward passing, keeping the ball and passing it sideways. Teams find this easy to defend against. Especially teams like Burnley.
Time ticks on, the fans are tearing their hair out yet the players just don’t seem to be able to apply an urgency and fluidity to cuts teams open and win games. Against Sunderland in the second half we did, and we’ve shown flashes of high tempo and creativity, but it’s been in relatively short doses this season and over the course of this season we need to see it a lot more of it if we are to have a good campaign.
Somehow in the final minute we were still level, for all our possession, the 20 shots on goal and largely being the dominant side, we find ourselves still at 1-1. To make matters worse Burnley broke away during the closing stages, and Everton failed to close down the Clarets as they eyed a surprise winner. Unfortunately for us onlooking, and almost expectant Evertonians, Gudmunsson’s left-footed strike pinged back off the bar and into the path of Arfield, who kept composed and slotted past Stekelenburg to make it 2-1.
Woeful. 2-1 down at Burnley and we throw on Enner Valencia to rescue a point. Sean – Cheeto Head – Dyche, with his voice like a scrambler bike with a sore throat, celebrating wildly in front of big Ron Koeman. Shoot me now.
If was an awful end to the game and although we had the lions share on the day, credit has to go to Burnley for their victory. Everton have a serious case of bi-polar, you just don’t know what you are going to get. We lack the ability to see games out or break teams down, and in 2016 many Premier League sides are wise to it. After the positivity generated the week previous, and of the opening month of the season, we now find ourselves without a win in five, having lost three of those. Now we will see who in that Everton squad wants to stand up and be counted, and whilst I still remain optimistic about our future under Koeman, and Mr Moshiri, I do have concerns about our defensive lapses, our mental strength and our lack of creative spark. And our squad depth. Put it this way, I’m concerned. Even though I’m trying to be glass half full about the current Everton set-up, I still have my reservations.
There’s an over-reliance on Lukaku and apart from him, Barry, Gueye and probably Ashley Williams, everyone else is under-performing and we are carrying too many passengers. Too many players are happy to pick up a wage, post a motivational quote on Instagram, saying we will keep working hard, let the manager take the flack. How about standing up and showing some balls and proving to us fans how good you can be?
Baines’ absence is key, because in my opinion Bryan Oviedo is a liability and very lucky to be playing top level Premier League football. Coleman may be doing just fine for Ireland but he stinks for Everton in the past few weeks, as does Jagielka who badly needs to give himself a slap and man up. Stek has shown brilliance one minute and been a liability the next, hopefully we see more of his good side than the bad this season because he looked Sunday League the weekend just gone. Meanwhile Mirallas and Deulofeu seem more arsed about their hair and their social media shite than they actually care about trying to take a player on and score or assist a goal. Mediocre them two, and we are suffering as a result. Ross Barkley, decent game on Saturday, didn’t do too much wrong but didn’t too an awful lot good too, Bolasie did well but has a tendency to blow hot and cold. He’s mad Bolasie, he’s almost like a puppet and he can’t control his legs, I find it hard to be annoyed with him. He’s weirdly shit but boss, if you get what I mean? When I talk about these players it’s worrying because who else is there? People have said give Lennon a go, maybe so, can’t do any worse than Deulofeu and Mirallas who are supposed to be our creative flair for Christ’s sake.
How’s McGeady doing at Preston?
Koeman is willing to bomb players out for not playing well so let’s we what he does the longer this goes on. Will Lennon be given an opportunity, are Dowell and Davies pushing for involvement, will Enner Valencia pay his child support? These are the questions. If there’s no real pressure on these players, the ones who are playing in that side now, then what is their motivation? When I say this I can’t really blame Koeman because he’s made some signings in the short time he’s been here but it is evident we need more. Koeman must be scratching his head with some of that team, he doesn’t have a wealth of numbers at his disposal and he did inherit a large proportion of this squad from the previous regime. But it’s those players that we think are the most reliable or talented – the Coleman’s, Jagielka’s and Deulofeu’s to name but three, that aren’t performing. Gana and Barry must be livid, and Lukaku, they are doing their job well for the majority of the time, what about everyone else?!
It will take time to turn things around and we do still remain sixth in the table, just a handful of points off the top four and with a home game to come – there you go, fuck the rest of the article just read that bit back again.
I am remaining confident that we can perform to a much better standard this season but it still does my head in seeing Everton slip to defeats like this. I thought we’d overcome the last-minute defeats that haunted us so much under Martinez, but obviously not. That phenomenal bastard is sitting in the Nou Camp on a £10 million payout and I’m on me sofa in Old Swan having cold sweats every time someone goes near our box.
I know the talent is there, in some sections of the squad, but we just don’t see it on a consistent basis. I feel it may take another two transfer windows before we do clear even more of the dead wood that still lines the Everton first team, further transition and recruitment lie ahead and my thoughts won’t change on Koeman – I’m a fan, I have faith – but unfortunately we will probably have to endure a few more 90 minutes like this from now until the end of the season until we can build again.
For now we’re all left stewing over a piss-poor result against an average side, and to make matters worse we’ve got to wait an extra day before we can make things right again. That rowdy London team called West Ham, what a gang of wankers they’ve become by the way, visit Goodison on Sunday, the perfect chance to stick one on them and forget our brain dead behaviour at the weekend.
Anyway, onwards we go, sorry for the swearing, let’s forget that one quickly..