Merry Christmas Southampton, All The Best, Love Everton

Someone forgot to mention to Everton that this is the season to be jolly.Merry Christmas Southampton, All The Best. Love, EvertonMerry Christmas Southampton, All The Best. Love, Everton

by @markthablue

On the back of five straight league defeats and with most of their best players unavailable, I naively thought it was a good time to be facing a Southampton team on their own crest of a slump.

Especially after a morale boosting victory against QPR last Monday.

While I believed we could finally start to make our mark in a so far forgettable Premier League season, I didn’t take into account the Everton 2014-15 factor. There are so many problems It’s difficult to know where to start.

Before I go on, I desperately want Roberto to do well, we all do. I loved the guy last year and his whole approach to the job, embracing our history and all that. He has been first class.

I suddenly haven’t changed my mind, but this simply isn’t the time for delusion. To state the obvious, something is off at Goodison Park and it needs sorting badly.

In no way shape or form did I expect to see Everton roll back the years in a Walter-Smith-style-Middlesbrough-esq performance that left Evertonians disgusted with what they had just witnessed.

Some start to Christmas Everton. This was easily the lowest point of Roberto’s tenure with key players out of position, out of form and frankly out of fight.

It was up their with Tranmere 0-3. Roberto Martinez’ nadir by a million miles.

I absolutely loved Roberto Martinez last season and I thought the Everton of old were coming back – we still might be – but things have got to dramatically improve for us to turn around this desperately mediocre start to the season. The malaise from pre-season just has not lifted.

I know my reports can go over the top when we win but everything is called as it is seen. Like every other blue I’m passionately happy when we win and passionately upset when we lose.

Especially in the manner we lost at St Mary’s. This just wasn’t an Everton performance. We can accept defeat if we have left everything on the pitch. That cannot be said about Saturday’s woeful showing.

Also, the performance off the pitch was equally baffling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the blues go 1 down, then 2 down and finally 3 down, without any kind of reaction from the manager.

All I will say is, it says everything about the managers confidence in the players he selected as substitutes if he didn’t see fit to bring any of them on. Chasing the game and nothing was changed, we just surrendered and that is massively unacceptable.

On Boxing day we could thump Stoke City and my write up will reflect that so please allow me a level of fickleness and criticisism of our manager when he makes mistakes like he did yesterday.

Changing a winning team to accommodate a badly out of form midfielder was poor.

Not just for Ross Barkley, who had whatever confidence he might have gained from his encouraging showing against QPR sucked right back out of him by being rendered useless on the left-wing.

What was that about Roberto? You moved our most effective midfield partnership outside of James McCarthy and brought back Gareth Barry who looks like he’s aged 25 years in one summer. Barry hasn’t played well enough to just waltz straight back into the first team and Barkley’s reward for a much improved showing against QPR was to be shoved on the wing. His worst position by a mile.

Merry Christmas Southampton

The two holding midfielders is not working currently. We badly miss McCarthy admittedly, but a re-think is needed before boxing day. We can’t have three number tens behind Lukaku – they all want to be behind Rom – and it makes for a desperately slow and laboured effort at attacking with little or no width on offer.

Southampton must have been made up to see us next on the fixture list after five straight defeats. The season of goodwill upon us, Everton will help anyone out it seems, except ourselves.

We enter Christmas closer to relegation than the Champions League, and I must admit the performance of some players is truly starting to grate.

Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard are past it. They are no longer good enough for us. I simply cant wait to see the back pair of them. They have become are a complete liability.

At the start of the season Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines were lauded as Europe’s finest wing back pairing but what has happened since? I find Baines inability to take a corner embarrassing but also, and I know teams have worked us out, their signature raids forward seem to have dried up totally.

Is this a tactic? Something is clearly wrong. Coleman has been injured but Baines has under-performed badly this last few months.

It’s time for Garbutt to be given his chance. He’s looked the better option at left back and while Baines is clearly a great player, and has been fantastic for us, we need him to deliver and along with many other players, he just hasn’t done it for us for a while now.

Southampton set up with the clear intention of hitting us on the break and the game plan worked perfectly with Everton attacking like the entire team had been struck down with arthritis.

We had plenty of the ball but Roberto needs to realise they simply don’t award points to the team with the most possession. We’re not using the it nowhere near well enough or fast enough.

Our opponents must feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog day. They know exactly how we’re going to play. We’ve been found out and need to change our approach. As all good teams do. Deep down it’s what I still believe we are.

Currently, one paced is the order of the day and yet again the whole approach to games is not working. The players need a royal kick up the backside. Surely big Duncan is having his say?

A shakeup of sorts is needed if we are to get back on track but I’ve given up being hopeful on this. Some senior players need dropping for this defeat and the manner of it. The time has come for Roberto to stamp his authority, but I’m not sure he will. However, this has to be put right somehow.

Aside from a Ross Barkley shot 20 yards from goal and Steven Naismith being denied by an excellent sliding tackle from Jose Fonte, Everton barely threatened, and we got out just rewards for a dozy first half when Southampton took the lead seven minutes from half time.

Having gotten away with a stonewall penalty from Jagielka’s challenge on Long, it was typical of our season that we should concede from the resulting corner.

James Ward Prowse’s corner seemed to evade everyone at the near post but unfortunately not Lukaku, who, showing his predatory instincts at the wrong end, diverting the cross into his own net while under pressure from the arriving Fonte.

Pelle really ought to have done better just before half time, volleying into the side netting when well placed following Bertrand’s cross. Half time arrived with yet another deflating realisation that we simply hadn’t turned up. The pre-match optimism replaced with stark realism that there was nothing down for us once more in an away game.

When we are great and on it, there a few teams who can match us, and I truly mean that but frequently we have been well below these levels and when we are bad, we simply look one of the worst sides in the division.

There looks to me like a split in the camp. I know as much as the next guy but something has lurked menacingly about us since pre-season, even in moments of success.

The second half saw Besic fire wide from range but that was truly about it. No coincidence that I’ve barely mentioned Barkley. I can’t get over Martinez sacrificing the true diamond in our side, just like the song, for a player so badly out of nick as Barry.

It served nothing but to put us on the back foot and is a truly stinking tactic from Roberto who must take responsibility for this. I’ll happily praise him when he gets it right but not here. His obsession with Gareth Barry come hell or high-water simply has to stop.

Southampton rubber stamped the inevitable with two further goals to finish us off but we were on the canvas from the kick off truth be told. Following defending that looked like we were playing football on a bouncy castle, Clyne found space on the right, Long headed down after out jumping Jagielka and Coleman, before Pelle beat Distin to fire past the vertically spreadeagled Howard.

Merry Christmas Southampton

With the towels being thrown in all over the shop, we were thankful to Howard who reacted excellently to be fair, to keep out Fonte’s powerful header down to his left hand side. Shortly after, Lukaku almost halved the deficit, turning well, he drew an acrobatic stop from Forster with a powerful effort 20 yards out.

Everton’s defence, now the envy of the Grand Canyon with its gaping chasms, was exposed once more this time by Yoshida. Meeting Davis’ perfect cross, to guide the ball home off his shoulder. Once again, out jumping two Everton defenders to put us firmly to bed.

We were spared more embarrassment when the impressive Davis went close after firing just over from distance.

So that was it. Happy Christmas Blues.

Everton leave us with yet another fart in an elevator performance, with an impressive Buzz Killington attempt right before Santa gets back to work.

A diabolical showing not befitting of any Everton side with the management and players woefully falling short. Some of our players are giving the impression they think they have made it after last season.

I could easily be wrong and admittedly, the red mist is sat right next to me as I’m writing this. But quite simply, this performance was anger inducing and can’t be repeated again.

Time after time we have passed up opportunities to push on in the premier league. Getting outclassed and outworked by a Southampton side missing several key players and with morale lower than a snakes belly is simply embarrassing.

So come on blues, let me be fickle and allow me the chance to write in glowing terms next time about our festive clash with Stoke City. Our magnificent travelling support didn’t deserve that on Saturday.

The players need to take a long hard look at themselves and take responsibility for their own performances on the pitch. So let’s see the class and style, so eye-catching from last season, return this Boxing Day.

Stoke, simply down to the way we are playing, will present a tough challenge but we have got to man up and really hammer home a performance that screams apology for this train wreck of a showing.

We have the talent but we have got to get players in their best positions. I hope Roberto has awoken to the fact that three number tens on the pitch is simply not working.

And another thing while I’m at it. It is an exercise in futility to try to paint a different picture in these post match interviews to what blues fans are actually seeing. We’re not stupid. If you’re not saying anything is wrong then it adds to the worry that you don’t believe anything is wrong. When it patently is.

A new goalkeeper and new defensive cover is now essential. Not in the summer, in January. So get your wallet out Kenwright – I didn’t get that line out of a Christmas cracker, honest – and give Roberto the funds left over from the summer.

Big Rom didn’t cost us 28m in one go so act accordingly and give us the tools to improve this squad ahead of a crucial second half of the season.

“I do feel we need to find a good run of performances. I don’t think the performance was too far away from what you need to get good results.” Roberto Martinez.

No Roberto, the performance was perfect for other teams to get results.

All I want for Christmas…Is Plan B

Sin Miedo

Mark Ellis

 

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Follow Mark Ellis On Twitter

 

Mark Ellis

34 year old Evertonian, BU Supporter, blogger, loving Roberto, busy with my beautiful son Kai who has made me & my fiancee Lyndsay's life complete.

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