Oh dear. Another unpleasant task faces me as I look at what was learned this afternoon at Goodison. Still, someone has to do it. Here is what we learned.
David De Gea
I have decided to start things on a positive note, in the hopes that it will keep the will to live around long enough to finish off this article. How good is this lad? His improvement has been unprecedented this season, we knew he would get better with a bit of time and first team games, but he really has taken things to another level. The penalty can’t be helped, he isn’t expected to save them, the second goal he was stitched up big time by his defence, but after that he kept the score to a respectable one. His positioning was spot on when Lukaku was through on goal, he made a fantastic save when Naismith cut in and tried to curl it round him, only thing that was a little lax was his distribution from his hands on one occasion, pumping it long to any of the front 3 we had today was never the best plan. Still, in a season of unquestionable gloom and general rubishosity, he has been the one consistently burning bright light in the dark.
Where to begin? Evans was the only one to come out with any form of praise, and even that is only slight. Unfair on Smalling to criticise too much, he is NOT a right back and hasn’t shown anything over the course of the season to prove otherwise. The lad being played there permanently is only going to be a hindrance to the team and his own confidence. Why the likes of Janko or Varela don’t get a go there I will never know, especially at this stage of the season, what is there to lose!? Failing that Jones, who had a terrible game today, is far more comfortable out there than Smalling (though not a right back either, he has shown some understanding of the role when asked previously) so why not swap the two round? Jones did not have his usual solid game. The penalty was ridiculous, why he was on the floor in the first place is something that has completely bypassed me, and the second goal he was caught on his heels (though not helped out by Büttner’s insistence on standing redundantly too wide playing everyone onside) not following in, though the fact he was trying to play the offside may be a factor in that. Buttner was terrible too. Coleman and Mirallas had a field day up against him and Kagawa (who will be slated a bit further down), which poses the question, is Arjen Robben as good as people think? Because Büttner seemed more comfortable at the task of marking him than these two today.
Carrick and Fletcher aren’t up to pace. Not quick enough, too easy to go by, too lightweight. Not that they were particularly poor today, just they weren’t exactly world beaters. A lack of cutting edge, and deciding that the 85th minute was the best time to start having a shot at goal really didn’t help any.
The Front Four
Not one comes out with praise. Not of the starters anyway. The sooner Nani goes the better. He was ineffective once more today. Did beat his man once or twice but to little effect. Defensively not up to the task either, gave the ball away in stupid areas rather than just doing the easy thing and getting rid. Kagawa is too lightweight for the Premier League. Shown up by Coleman many a time (though Coleman’s’ pace is a factor in that) shrugged off the ball by a stiff breeze most of the time, and just not at it today. Recent performances had turned opinions on him, but on this showing, maybe they were simply flashes in the pan and Shinji ain’t suited to this division. Mata was poor, though was marked very well, and with not a lot in front of him what can you expect from the lad? And then there is Rooney. That foot injury has done him no good at all by the looks of things. Terrified again to have a shot, it isn’t that he can’t, it’s now that he won’t shoot. Dropping too deep for the ball gave us nothing to aim for in attacking positions, very poor today.
Mr Moyes is giving even the most optimistic and supportive of fans less and fewer reasons to continue down that road. The team selection didn’t seem all too bad (bar Nani who strikes fear into my heart even when he is in the stadium, let alone the squad) but his failure once more to motivate his side for a big game was woeful. Then to leave Buttner on and not go three at the back when Valencia came on was so negative it hurt. And his insistence on playing an outdated and very predictable style of football did nothing but boil my juices, it worked for Barcelona because they have Lionel Messi, they had Samuel Eto’o and David Villa, players that will finish when they get a chance, we had Nani, Kagawa, Rooney and Mata, who today decided scoring was over rated. It is now easy to defend against, as can be seen by Barcelona’s poor form this season, it doesn’t work anymore. Of course the players have to take blame for what is happening, but I’m afraid now the scale is tipped completely towards the manager. His post match comments sum everything up, no one can think today was a good performance. Unfortunately for Moyes, it is going to take something massive to get everyone on side now and save him. The future ain’t bright.
By Matthew Henderson
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