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Martinez Hits Back At Defence Criticism

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Everton Manager, Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez has refuted West Ham United’s claims that Everton have a weakness defending crosses.

West Ham striker, Michail Antonio, who scored in West Ham’s 3-2 comeback at Goodison on Saturday, revealed Slaven Bilic instructed his side to exploit what they perceived as a vulnerability in the Blues’ backline.

Martinez said: “It’s easy to talk, especially when you’ve won a game.

“When we were 11 against 11, we were the better team and scored the goal to go ahead. Then we had to change things tactically and with 10 men you wouldn’t have seen a difference – it was like we had the extra man.

“Then we scored another goal from open play and controlled the game completely and never got done on crosses in that period.

“It’s more that we felt we had something to lose. Winning the penalty was a massive high but then missing it was an emotional low, and all of a sudden we gave West Ham momentum that unfortunately they got a big reward from.”

The post Martinez Hits Back At Defence Criticism appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Review: Looking for the Toffees

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lftt

James Oakley has reviewed Brian Viner’s Everton Book, ‘Looking for the Toffees: In Search of the Heroes of Everton‘. If you’ve read an Everton Book and would like to review it for Evertonians on GrandOldTeam, please send us your review here: Submit Article.

I wasn’t yet born when the 77-78 season kicked off so I was unsure how I would get on with Brian Viners look back at one of his favourite seasons in “Looking for the Toffees“. Although the likes of Bob Latchford, Andy King, and Duncan McKenzie are familiar names to any Evertonian, my earliest heroes are 10 years later when Sheedy, Sharpe and Cottee were the Gwladys street favourites. I needn’t have worried as the book is a much broader look back at football in the late 70’s, an era where George Woods could be found cutting the lawns in your local school, and a time when Bob Latchford winning £10,000 was memorable stuff.

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The first interview starts in a pub car park with Bob Latchford and you get an immediate sense of just how different life was as a player in 1978 to modern day. The influx of money with the rise of the Premier League and Sky has created a gulf between players and the fans and set the majority of modern players up for a life where money will never be an issue. This wasn’t the case in the late 70’s where top earners were getting £500 a week and had to think carefully about their lives after football. Not that any of the ’78 squad are on the bread line, infact some have stayed working in football with Dave Jones managing at the top level, and George Wood the goalkeeping coach at Crystal Palace.

As the book progresses and Viner manages to track down the majority of the team you get the sense that although football was very different back then, not one of the players would swap to be a modern pro. The enthusiasm with which they speak about the era makes you realise that although the quality of the game has improved the actual experience of playing, and the relationships between player and fan has gradually eroded leaving a totally different game.

The interviews with Andy King, and Martin Dobson are particular highlights, as 2 completely different personalities remember the highs and lows of the season and the book becomes genuinely laugh out loud funny as they enthusiastically recount stories, and tales from the F Troop days. Every player which contributed speaks highly about the club whether they were true blues like Mike Lyons or more short term like Mike Pejic, and the relationships they had with the fans, and the continued work that the Former Players Foundation does makes you realise the meaning behind “Once a Blue, Always a Blue”

James (@mikesglove)

Looking for the Toffees: In Search of the Heroes of Everton

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Baghdad Bob strikes again?

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Roberto Martinez

IN SOME circles Roberto Martinez has become known as Baghdad Bob.

That was the name the Americans gave to the Iraqi Information Minister when they were invading Baghdad.

Remember him? Little guy with a cap who used to say more and more preposterous things as the war went on. We called him Comical Ali.

He was relentlessly positive, even in the face of crushing defeat. He would tell you how the brave Iraqi forces were repulsing the cowardly invader even when they were in full retreat.

Martinez is relentlessly positive too. He’ll tell you his players have put on a brave, outstanding performance even when they’ve just blown a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at home.

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He’s so positive so often that the next time he calls one of his players world class, it’s a fair bet few will listen. In the same way, his excuses are starting to get ignored too.

He chose to explain Everton’s defeat to West Ham by blaming the referee for the soft red card he dished out to Kevin Mirallas.

Instead, many Everton fans quickly piled in to blame the manager, who made a series of substitutions that have been heavily criticised since.

So who was right? Feel free to make up your own mind. But here are some observations after watching it back.

Firstly, the switch to 3-4-3. Maybe Martinez saw how West Ham switching to three at the back stopped Tottenham playing last week by nullifying their full backs, and decided to match up. It’s also possible he fancied having a third centre back as insurance with Barry and Besic not fit to start.

Whatever the thinking, it ended up being a very attacking line-up, with two out-and-out wingers playing narrow, like old-style inside forwards, and wing backs encouraged to overlap. In his defence, it worked too.

To begin with, Everton are well on top, have scored, hit the post and drawn two good saves from Adrian, while Joel Robles has not had one to make.

Then Kevin Mirallas gets sent off. His first booking may have been harsh. There have been worse dives this weekend, some in an attempt to win penalties, that went unpunished. But having been booked, Mirallas was foolish in the extreme to make the tackle which got him sent off. He let his team-mates down. And not for the first time.

But here’s where it gets interesting. To see out the half, Martinez goes to 4-4-1, John Stones moving to right back, with Seamus Coleman in front of him, and Aaron Lennon moving to the left wing.

West Ham almost score immediately, down Everton’s right flank. They survive until half time. But having seen how bad Stones was at right back against Manchester City, it’s no surprise he’s the man brought off at the break, with Mo Besic coming on.

Logically it’s the right call. But instead of slotting Besic into central midfield, his natural position, Martinez plays him on the right. Presumably, he is worried about the threat from Dimitri Payet and wants Besic there as cover. It feels unnecessary, but to start with it works, and keeping Lennon on the left to accommodate it helps create the second goal.

But despite being 2-0 up with just ten men, he lets them carry on going forward when many would shut up shop. This is risky. But again, to begin with it pays dividends when Everton win a penalty. Unfortunately, Adrian makes the save. At this point, a more pragmatic manager would be thinking about protecting a two-goal lead. Not Martinez. Still Everton go forward, opening the game up and testing their legs. They start to tire.

Realising, he makes another sub. An odd one on the face of it. Niasse for Lennon. Now, Lennon had done a lot of running, and was clearly tiring. But instead of bringing a more defensive player on, he chooses to replace him with one who can chase and harry up front. Niasse does just that and quickly wins a free kick deep in enemy territory by chasing a long ball, relieving the pressure. But may would have put Gareth Barry on at this point to close the game down.

Two minutes later West Ham score, from a set piece. James McCarthy heads the first ball clear at the near post, but he and Lukaku (whose legs look gone) can’t get out quick enough to stop the follow-up, which is headed in. It’s Coleman’s wing, but he Michail Antonio, who he is marking, has dragged him to the other side of the box. Clever. But if Everton had had 11 men on the pitch, the extra defender probably means it doesn’t go down like that.

From this point on they start to look ragged. They’re not stopping crosses at all, and quickly let in an equaliser with both Barkley & Oviedo failing to get near the delivery. Having played with a man down for so long, it’s no surprise they’re now struggling to close people down.

Still, it’s 2-2 and a point is better than nothing right? Apparently not for Martinez. You have to admire his optimism in continuing to chase the game, and again it almost pays off when the referee misses a West Ham handball. But opening the game up at this point, with his players clearly struggling for energy, feels suicidal.

He finally does send Barry on, for Lukaku. But West Ham score almost immediately from another cross they can’t stop, and with hindsight that sub came far too late.

So, his last two subs can be questioned certainly. The timing of the last one especially. But the two biggest reasons why they lose are because a) they’re knackered after playing with ten for so long, and b) he still has them going forward when he could (twice) have chosen to settle – at 2-0 up and at 2-2. Being so positive very nearly worked, but ended up being costly.

Baghdad Bob strikes again?

The post Baghdad Bob strikes again? appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Martinez on “the new era” for transfers

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Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez has admitted he can increased scope for new transfer signings after the arrival of billionaire investor Farhad Moshiri to Goodison.

Martinez: I wouldn’t say my transfer plans have changed, in the way we work.

“The way we work is to identify the footballers who would fit in with the way we want to play and the way we want to be but, clearly, the new era means we will have to extend the amount of players we can fit in our project.

“It hasn’t changed but what it has done is expanded the area we can look into.”

The post Martinez on “the new era” for transfers appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Everton v West Ham Preview

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West ham
As a mammal we are evolved to note various signs and signals which when reacted to or acted upon bring a reward or safeguard. It’s thousands and thousands of years of genetic programming that our ancestors benefited from, therefore giving them a competitive edge in survival or breeding hence you sat here reading this as the current end process, so congratulations.

One of these signals is looking at the fixture list and seeing West Ham (H), it lets you know that a pleasant weekend is usually abound with three easy points on offer and that a limited time of relaxation and enjoyment is imminent.

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Obviously that’s meant to change now as they have one or two decent players but mainly they are benefitting from an inconsistent and crazy league this year. It’s even gone to their little heads, bless them.

But West Ham sneering at Everton has not place in football or indeed reality. The last occurrence of this was the laughable Pardew – the cretinous shitpipe – after a midweek game at Goodison, not too long before he was eventually fired and now finds himself overseeing a talented Crystal Palace team in freefall. I’m sure the Bernabeu can wait a little longer Alan.

West Ham fans are of a needy and insecure nature – more of that to come – so they trawl the internet to find others true feelings of them in the same manner your insecure girlfriend is straining her peripheral eyesight to clock your mobile phone keycode so she can FBI it once you’re in the shower, the fattening mess (both of you).

Anyway, hold your horses, we’ll get into them later. Shame it is too as they are one of the few to usually benefit from an amicable preview but alas no more because some of us are fickle and we like to write utter tripe online.

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Last game up was away to Aston Villa which ended in a comfortable 3-1 win amongst backdrop of angst and collective gnashing of teeth. The Villa fans also weren’t too happy either.

Seriously though I was agog at some of the reactions from our own over what was routine win where Everton never looked in any danger but presumably by some of our fans’ ultimate high standards (and lest you forget NSNO “lad”) it was an aggregate defeat in the compared-to-the-Liverpool-score-in-the-same-fixture.

Are we saved forever and ever? No. Is this the start of Martinez’s stride to glory? Probably not. We are on a run of five wins in six games so save the moaning for when it’s truly warranted. Lest we have some fans who hate Martinez more than they like Everton, and that would be just plain daft.

West Ham then.

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OK let’s make it quick, and get right down to the point.

There’s eternal kudos on offer to whichever Everton player destroys Payet’s ankle again. Is that fair or right? No. But when you turn into the most kopite fanbase this side of Indonesia over a robust tackle on what seems to be your best ever player then you deserve all you get.

And that’s the top and bottom of it. Suddenly you went from a pleasant wee London club who we happen to like for the good working class fans and seemingly good traditional values to what appears to be fanbase made out entirely of a rather bitter cocktail of thousands of James Cordens and Kenneth Noyes.

It’s been an obsession that is still ongoing just because one of our males had the audacity to tackle demi God Dimitri Payet. I’d have hated to see them and their cotton wool over (der late, great) Bobby Moore or Geoff Hurst.

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So for that reason Payet must pay and the same as when in school you react over the top to an insult it’s only more likely to be thrown at you but with increased regularity. I dearly hope Everton midfielders are targeting the lil bish Payet with a hard but fair straightener so we can enjoy watching you lose your little over waxed cockney heads.

One more thing, we generally don’t tend to get threatened by clubs who have never ever won a league title. So spare us it please, the Europa League next season will only serve to make your league placing a lot worse than it is currently, you texans.

Slaven Bilic, the dirty goggle eyed snakerat, makes his return to Goodison Park but as a manager. It won’t be easily forgotten how at a time when Everton were the standard of presumably West Ham’s second best ever team but didn’t stop Bilic bailing out for big cash and feigning retirement. We have long memories in this part of Walton and I’m sure the caravan dwelling lothario looking hank will be reminded.

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They’re owned by truly detestable types in Gold & Sullivan who also tried, surprise, to look down their noses at Everton citing Birmingham as being a bigger shot than our good selves when Moyes (thank Lord) unsuccessfully tried to buy Robbie Savage.

As you can see it’s a lamentable soup they bring to Goodison Park, so with that in mind let’s touch upon their better players and not talk about any of their attributes:

Andy Carroll – a £35 million striker who looks like the big galoot in school who got comically bullied by the lads two years below him, and had a jarg note from his mum to excuse him wearing trabs.

Payet – sleazy entertainer in Tenerife hotel who slips the 16 year old girls sly cocktails and pretends he’s Spanish when he’s really Moroccan and the bar staff all hate him

Lanzini – ace goal against us but literally have not seen one other piece of play from him, Liverpool will pay £20m for him regardless and he’ll be a staunch boyhood fan of course.

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Mark Noble – the type of bore you try to avoid while on business in a small market town down south at the Quality Inn bar as he’ll obsess to any unfortunate tit listening about taking care of business on his “manor” and how he owns three properties and can’t wait to get his keys out with an oversized BMW badge hanging off them.

Ogbonna – swerved Liverpool for London and good luck to him, why not?

Reece Oxford – looks a player but then so have 1,000 young West Ham players before him, will turn out against us in the cup playing for Basingstoke in about five years from now.

Adrian – if you painted him blue and sent him running through alien jungle in 3D you’d have a potential Hollywood blockbuster follow up.

And that’s it for West Ham.

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Everton are playing at home against a team with more than half a brain which means you know the probably outcome of this fixture, or do we?

They will have to step up a gear from midweek you’d guess but we have a tasty squad to choose from with some genuine competition for some places that we’ve never really had for quite some time.

Apart from up front where Lukaku – who loves playing against West Ham – is currently out of form but breaking Everton Premier League scoring records like Graeme Sharp, Bob Latchford, Joe Royle, David Hickson, Tommy Lawton and Dixie Dean never existed (see how we can mock Geoff Hurst you beauts?).

Anyway we’ve seen little from Naisse but I do hope the big Belgian hunk starts another scoring spree, he’s got so many attributes that if he truly believes there won’t be many that can handle him.

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Barkley is similar but homegrown which is a blessing and a curse from time to time. He’s added maturity to his game this year and it really shows. What we need now is him being the difference in tight games at home (not necessarily this in case West Ham gub us) by unpicking the lock of the most shrewdest and least ambitious defences.

Mirallas done enough to get another go and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Deulofeu play some part in this as his arse must be itching on the bench, but really Aaron Lennon has been much better than I ever anticipated. Maybe he just needed a change, how’s McGeady doing?

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Besic is gently returning to fitness so we are led to believe and that will be a definite add to the team as sometimes that central two can look a bit deep. But for the time being Barry and McCarthy are time proven and effective, really good midfielders to have and have been important in helping shore up the goal conceding problem we had. McCarthy must be ready for some comedy booing from St John’s Stone Island bells.

Presumably the back four will stay the same with Coleman, Jagielka, the predictable fan favourite Funes Mori and Bryan Oviedo who has quietly and confidently put in a row of performances at left back which have been very effective. Martinez said Baines still has an ankle problem so it’s reassuring the Costa Rican quiff haired lid is doing his bit. Robles is putting together assured performances in the goal too, although there will be setbacks along the way and I hope he’d building enough goodwill to counter them when they come.

Far too positive of a preview so you can guess what’s coming next. Rich shareholders or not there’s something reassuringly fatalistic about following Everton and particularly this team right now.

Guarded pragmatism is the best approach for a remainder of a season that shouldn’t hold too much fear for us, and despite the media fawning that includes this West Ham team.

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This is the first of three important home games in a row against London clubs. With a season now on countdown it would be a good time to showcase what this team can do.

Send a signal even.

Wrap up well and be alert fellow warm blooded blues, better times may be coming.

The post Everton v West Ham Preview appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Evertonians Supporting Lucas’ Legacy

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lucas2

Last month, Evertonian’s travelled to Stoke to support a memorable 3-0 Everton victory.

The day after, we received a letter which we shared across our platform;

Yesterday ‘Lucas’s Army’, a group of mums’, teachers and Stoke fans were fundraising for Childhood Brain Tumour Research outside the Britannia Stadium at the Stoke City v Everton match in memory of a brave little Stoke fan Lucas Williams, age 6.

Lucas, a keen football fan, died in August 2015 just 4 weeks before his 7th birthday as a result of a brain tumour.

Lucas was treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after first becoming ill in May 2015 but tragically died at home just 11 weeks later.

The Everton fans arriving on the away fan coaches donated £976.44 plus Everton fans donated at other places around the ground and altogether raised over £1,000 for Lucas’ Legacy. Thank you for your amazing generosity.

With great thanks, Lucas’s Mum and Dad

Over a month later, Lucas’s mum, sent us another letter – which we published Yesterday;

Dear Daniel,

Our just giving page has another day to run and we have raised £885 against a target of £1,000, with a significant amount donated coming from Everton fans. https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/Lucas-Williams6-LittleStokie

I wonder if you would mind promoting our page again to let people know if anyone else would like to donate?

We are working with Alder Hey, where Lucas was treated, to raise money for Childhood Brain Tumour Research to develop new and more effective treatments for children with cancer. Since 6th December 2015 we have raised £25,693 in Lucas’s name so far.

Many thanks for your help – Jo

We’re delighted to update that a tremendous response from Evertonian’s saw an already impressive £885 raised to £1,421 within a day! The response has been so great, Lucas’ mum, Jo has told us ‘Just Giving has agreed to extend the deadline for our fundraising page’

Lucas’ parents, Jo and Andrew Williams: “Due to the phenomenal support from Everton fans today, Just Giving has agreed to extend the deadline for our fundraising page, which was due to close tomorrow. Football fans are amazing and their continued generosity is helping to raise desperately needed funding to develop new and more effective treatments for children with brain tumours like the one Lucas had. Thank you so much your support is so appreciated and we are humbled by it x”

The post Evertonians Supporting Lucas’ Legacy appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

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