Roll up, roll up… meet Everton Football Club. Giving away presents like it’s Christmas Day every single week of the season.
Yes, it was the perfect time for Southampton (5 defeats in a row including a midweek humbling against ‘third tier’ Sheffield United) to get a confidence-building win. Everton seem to make a habit of rolling over to teams that haven’t won in weeks, players who haven’t scored in months, etc. And so it came to be. Newcastle United must be rubbing their hands with glee with the poor run they’re on with us meeting them on the 28th.
Of course this was predicted by me in this article on our ‘next five game’ and I’ve been right so far in that we’d beat QPR and lose to Southampton. The thing is though, I wrote that article before they lost to Burnley and Sheffield United. And seeing the players out this weekend for them – Tadic, Schneiderlin and with Pelle slightly injured but playing – the opportunity was really there to get 3 points on the South coast.
So what went wrong?
Well we have to go back to the problem that seems to have hung around Everton for many years – managers who like to put players into the side who are their ‘favourites’, unsettling the shape of the 11 on the pitch.
With the ever-important Mirallas and McCarthy out injured Martinez chose to shoe-horn Barkley in (left-wing – wasted out there and not a good partner for Baines who is just anonymous these days), Naismith (right-wing – another really poor performance out there), Eto’o (behind the top striker) behind the still off-form Lukaku.
Rom, Rom, Rom – thanks for ducking out of the way as someone pushed you slightly in the back and heading the ball into the back of your own net. Really helpful mate. For a big lad you really need to toughen up a little. Duncan clearly hasn’t been that much of an influence.
Oh, and if things aren’t working why would you not use any subs at all? Did he actually think he didn’t have anyone on the bench that could change a game that we were losing 3-0? Did he forget?!?
Elsewhere, Mark O’Brien has said that the tactics themselves are sound, but if you don’t have the players to play those tactics you’re a bit stuffed, and that’s probably right. Although I’d say that if you have the players and then decide to randomly try and get them on the pitch just to give them all a game we’re going to be in trouble. Gareth Barry has unfortunately decided to play like a 34-year old as soon as he signed his 3-year (THREE) contract.
So where do we go from here? Well I would expect Mirallas to be back for the Stoke game and the players might be placed back into their ‘correct’ positions and the world might be right. I’m just a little worried that my original prediction of a draw against granny-headed shouter Hughes’ side might be the real outcome. And that would be bad. We really need to be beating teams as we head towards the second half of the season.
Oh, and if you’re reading this Mr Martinez (doubtful, but hey) – if John Stones is fit enough to play on the bench PUT HIM ON THE PITCH!
So anyway, remember that actually none of this matters and that we’re stressing over a bunch of millionaires that don’t really care about us or their place of work.
Have a great Christmas everyone!