Taking part in this edition of Fan Focus is @Markthablue.
Sum up our season so far in three words?
Flattered to deceive.
What have been the positives?
The form of James McCarthy and Leighton Baines has been excellent. The quality, albeit infrequently at times that Samuel Eto’o has brought to the side and the emergence of John Stones (Injuries aside) as a nailed on first team regular are the standout positives for me. The improvement of the defence over the past five games is more of a relief than a positive but a welcome sight nonetheless.
Unfortunately quite a few, the need for goalkeeping reinforcements in January for me is now critical. Howard has made mistake after mistake this season and the reality is it’s costing us big time. Our key players, Barkley, Lukaku, Mirallas etc have either been injured or lacking in form and its meant for a start to the season loaded with Kangaroo petrol. We’ve been consistently inconsistent, unable to marry defensive solidity with attacking menace, when we score we invariably concede also, 20 goals is a good return from 11 games but 18 conceded tells its own story. It is all there for us if we can get some consistency into our results; 3 wins out of 11 sounds poor but we are still within touch of the top four and once we string a few results together we can be a major threat as this season progresses.
Player who has stood out most?
James McCarthy. Really upped his game this season, fantastic engine, lung bursting challenges, and his reading of the game is second to none. Smelling out danger constantly, he has been our one consistent performer, if our side collectively reaches the level McCarthy is currently playing at then we would be challenging in the top four and not for it. Just wish he had the opportunity to bomb forward a bit more as I believe he has that in him to be a potent threat going forward, been marvellous this season for us.
Any thoughts you had of Martinez last season now changed?
No, it goes without saying we need to from time to time adopt a plan b approach to games as we are far too predictable but Martinez believes in this system clearly. Obvious thing to say but I just think we need better players in the system, too many players not taking enough responsibility on the ball for me, crab like passing will win you possession stats all day but not football matches. I still think Roberto has planned by a large for a slow burner approach to the season and I believe when our Europa commitments dry up after Christmas, we will start to see the real Everton stand up in the league.
Areas that we need to address?
Talking about the squad it’s plain to me that we need to be have our best players fit and performing at the levels of last season. Barkley and Lukaku need to start gelling, we’ve finally sorted out the defence it seems but it’s just a question of everyone clicking into gear at the same time. We’ve had spikes in performance from players, we go from looking fluid and penetrative to a team of players who have never met each other, been weird to be honest. McCarthy being the exception whose consistent greatness is a target for every other player.
Hopefully after the international break we can get Mirallas back, he’s not über quick but he adds more pace to our attack which has looked pedestrian at times, with Mirallas back hopefully our front three behind Lukaku can gel together and start hurting teams once more.
Thoughts on EFC in Europe and just how far can we go in the Europa League?
I think we’ve adapted great. European football clearly suits us, we have more time on the ball and that’s reflected in our performances by and large. I truly think with the help of key players returning to form and some new additions in January, namely an abundance of pace added, we can win this competition.
This is the one Roberto has been planning for in my opinion and I think, maybe getting carried away that an iconic moment is due for this football club in the Europa league. Of course we need luck but a sense of fate won’t leave me whenever I think about the Europa League.
Who would you like to see us sign in January and in what position to do we need reinforcements?
Very clear for me, we badly need a commanding goalkeeper, someone like Begovic to come in because Howard is costing us results for too long now, his mistakes have been too many to mention. We need more pace in wide areas, Atsu is no Deulofeu and for all the criticism the Spaniard received, some of it justified for his selfishness on the ball, we do miss the width that he offered and balance to our attacks, far too much eye of the needle stuff from us now.
I would disagree with Roberto and strengthen in the centre of defence with one eye on the future also, someone like Nastasic would be perfect and he’s getting nowhere near the City side at the moment. I think we need another creative midfielder and striker if I was being greedy, just think we need greater quality in the side, hopefully we’ll be suitably busy in January,s something we rarely are.
Mirallas’ return from injury – how vital is this and why?
Mirallas adds know-how and pace to our attack, he has great quality in fast paced attacks, a good eye for a goal and his a direct threat from set pieces, he brings together a cohesion into our play and his understanding with the likes of Barkley, Lukaku and Naismith help us become more fluid as an attacking unit, bringing the best out of players around him, to say he has been missed would be an understatement
Who do you think will leave Everton in the near future?
I think the likes of Distin, Kone, Joel,and Atsu won’t be with us for very long. I could be wrong with Atsu and I hope I am but it just doesn’t look like it’s gonna work out for him here, he doesn’t seem to fit in with our team, most of the time looking like he’s playing on his own when out wide. I’d love to say Hibbert and Osman will leave but that would be an exercise in futility, ha, I’ve accepted that they are going nowhere.
Where will we finish in the EPL and EL this season?
I think we will win the Europa league, I really don’t care if it sounds fantasy, I just can’t shake this gut feeling that we will be in Warsaw celebrating in May. In the league I expect us to finish around 6th, but this could change for the better if the board show ambition in January and push the squad on. If being the big word there.
What did you make of the figures quoted recently in regard to Everton’s finances?
I think there was a lot of false credit to the board going round, we seem to be at pains as a fan base, not everyone I admit ,far from it, to praise the board at every opportunity but the figures for me were down to TV money and player sales. We should be praising Rupert Murdoch more than Kenwright for the state of the club.
The board still to this day have not found investment and not invested a penny into the club, we could be challenging for the title if the likes of Robert Earl had shown the slightest bit of interest, but he has no interest other than to keep Kenwright at the helm, so we get the worst of both worlds, no money to push on and a romantic chairman unwilling to let go.
Not impressed at all to be honest, all that combined with a laughable amount of fans who are happy not to rock the boat means I’ll be saying the same things in 5 years time.
Any thoughts on our plan (or lack of one) for a potential new stadium?
It’s a bit like my thoughts on buying a Lamborghini – it’s not going to happen until someone foots the bill for it. The council or god gave us another retail led plan, it won’t happen because this board has demonstrated perfectly over the past 14 years that they are unable to generate or attract that level of investment. Who would fork out for a ground when we have a chairman unwilling to give up his power? I just hope we’d renovate Goodison like Liverpool are with Anfield, why is it so impossible for us to do that? I think the answer is clear, the board want a next to nothing stadium to give them the leverage to sell us on for a ridiculous return on no money invested. As Jessie J sung “Its all about the money,money!”