A few weeks ago now on the podcast I said we were getting away with it. And yesterday, that stopped. It might be useful then to start by looking at what Everton did. Try and weigh up what actually happened.
Colman was an endless menace and it was he and Pienaar that caused endless damage creatively. They gave the Toffees width, pace and punch. Three things we were entirely missing. The rest of their lot were not individually memorable. But each man had a desire to win the ball, pass cleanly and attack. I can’t really recall an instance where they passed sideways or backwards or ‘hovered about’ aimlessly.
The mindset of the Everton players seemed more business-like and frankly more dangerous. I’m not talking about the last 15 minutes here but from the very kick off. There was an undercurrent of determination. Not for the first time our lot’s application has been questionable. This is why we went in at half time level – by the skin of our teeth.
To Everton’s credit when they lost the ball it hurt and they really wanted to get it back. By contrast and with the notable exceptions of Sandro and Lloris, our lot did a good impression of men who thought they were owed a living.
Our play wasn’t sharp or fast enough. Receive the ball. Stop. Weigh up options. Get hassled. Make hurried pass of dubious accuracy. Pull a face. Spurs have got a number of issues but one that can be addressed overnight is the ‘culture of the footballer’. We’ve too many haircut and tattoo models on our books. If they spent more time playing footballer and less time looking the part we might just get somewhere. Without Bale and only ‘half a Moussa’ we looked very very light.
So what’s rotten? Is Villas-Boas as hopeless as the press wished him to be? Are Everton going to win the League? No, it’s personnel. so let’s run through ‘em.
Hugo Lloris Made some extraordinary saves. Given the jumble sale of players in front of him, it’s ambitious to apportion much blame if any on him. For anything.
Kyle Walker. Gormless, drippy, useless, dumb, confused, flustered, clueless, diving, rubbish, impersonator.
William Gallas is an abuse magnet. I can see his foul ups but I can’t see them in isolation, so I don’t hate. Stuck between a plinth like Walker and a hot/cold Caulker and there are going to messy moments. Dawson was routinely iffy when not paired up with Ledders.
Steven Caulker yesterday was too much for him. I can’t get upset over this because he’s being picked because two of our best defenders are out of action. He’s a good lad but he shouldn’t be playing in games as tough as this. And this was a tough game.
Jan Vertonghen is another one who in the ‘mend and make do of it’ all isn’t playing consistently. So we get moments of class followed by acts of randomness.
Sandro. I predicted him collapsing about a month back and he did. I’m calling another collapse now. He is being run into the ground and the sooner Moussa is back to full fitness the better.
Tom Huddlestone. Much is being made of the spectator that ran onto the pitch at The Etihad. No mention of this one at Goodison.
Moussa Dembèlè isn’t fully fit and again, if there was a full squad available he wouldn’t be put through stuff like this.
Azza Blud dished up his usual fare which is to say he didn’t simply contribute enough. Nowhere near enough.
Clint Dempsey had another ‘so what’ game. I had to watch the goal 3 times to be convinced it went in.
Emmanuel Adebayor came deeper and deeper to fetch the ball then couldn’t cope with being tackled.
Jermain Defoe did, in fairness track back and run about but he didn’t score so by default he was useless.
Andre Villas-Boas if he hasn’t already, needs to sit down with Levy & Co. and tell them he’s had vision. He’s visited the future. It’s a bleak and desolate place where we wrestle with people like Fulham to decide whether we finish 5th or 6th. This side needs reinforcements. It also needs to ship out Huddlestone and Walker, if necessary to Peterborough United.
We have no midfield. Sandro is immense but he’s only one man. Moussa desperately needs a foil. We need at least one major league big hitting creative. This isn’t negotiable any more. The gap left by Modric and van Der Vaart is yawning.