I had this article in my head after the first half tonight against Stevenage. It was mainly going to be a positive one until that second half and extra time, where now there are positives and negatives.
We’ve created chances, so many chances. If Kone had bundled in his first attempt tonight, or scored the one he should have smashed into the roof of the net, or Osman had slotted the one he swung at and missed, the game would have been completely different. Getting the first goal and moving on would have seen so many more positives.
Keeping the ball has been very good, the tempo has been too slow at times but overall it is a very efficient way of controlling games. Also when we (finally) took the lead tonight, it was great to see us keeping the ball instead of lumping it back to them and having the inevitable five minutes of bombardment, with the opposition centre backs going forward and getting the knock downs, creating very nervy moments which we often had under Moyes. See Oldham and Norwich for just two examples last season.
Unfortunately, that’s where the positives end now.
The tempo. It’s too slow and has been in every game. I understand why we need to keep the ball and the beneficiaries of it, but taking a touch and spreading play, and then going back, and then back again, is just simply not good enough. It’s easy to defend against.
The difference in long shots/efforts is vast between Moyes and Martinez. Under the former Everton manager, it was like the players would get fined if they dare had a shot from distance. Under Martinez, it’s great to see us trying our luck from range, but sometimes it just reeks of us running out of ideas and also it taints the statistics to make us look like we’ve had 20 + shots in every game. Usually, only a few are clear cut.
Scoring these clear cut chances are vital. I think it’s harsh to blame the manager for our players missing easy chances, but if it continues, there have to be questions asked about what we are going to do about it, because at the minute we’re throwing away points.
Substitutions. It’s funny, people thought that getting rid of Moyes meant an improvement in substitutions. Finally! Unfortunately, in the three games so far, that’s not been the case. Tonight was the worst. You’ve got the right hand side dominating, with Deulofeu skinning their left back every time. On the other side, you’ve got Steven Naismith, who IS STILL NOT A WINGER, not doing anything at all. Mirallas, who teared so many ‘lesser’ sides to shreds last season in cups, is sat on his arse on the bench. I just don’t get it. Even if he wanted to save Mirallas, no substitutions in the original 90 minutes was a joke. The same happened against West Brom, I was questioning why he wouldn’t bring on Deulofeu when we so desperately needed something to happen, yet he remained nowhere to be seen, hardly even warming up. I gave the excuse of him maybe being too raw, but tonight he showed that while he did give it away on occasions, he can also change the game by beating a man or whipping in a cross that should be finished.
This is in no way slagging off Martinez. It’s just some thoughts that I think we need to work on. I still think he needs time and shouldn’t even be judged too much this season, unless something majorly disastrous happens.
There are some very basic positives, and some very worrying long term negatives, but again I just think there needs to be time to see if any of the negatives are eradicated, and if any of the positives take us further on as a team.