Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 7

With 2017 fading into the sunset and 2018 showing itself in via the back door, there was little let up in the fixture list for Everton.

A daunting December had offered up a mixture of results and, whilst most were positive, we needed to bounce back from two expected losses against two elite sides.

Our first game of the New Year saw West Ham host us at that there London Stadium with the opportunity to put that Chelsea defeat behind us:

everton38Well stalemates are always likely, and neither side could break the other down in a even contest. I guess our upcoming FA Cup third round game would be the game to end our mini goal drought.

Fleetwood Town were the opposition we’d be facing on home soil and the prospect of a giant killing at Goodison Park didn’t bear thinking about:everton39It’s a good job we did a decent enough job to prevent that then. Sandro and Gylfi Sigurdsson bagged first-half goals to put us into the hat for the next round, though it would’ve been nice to score more.

But we must plow on, and another long trip down to the south coast is in order to face recently promoted Brighton at the Amex. We hadn’t been playing well but I still expected a win:everton40And a win is what we got, albeit in late fashion. They were the better side but, like any good Manchester United knock-off team, we grabbed the decisive goal to leg it back up the north west with three points in the bag.

Speaking of United, how about we host them next in the Premier League? I’d prefer not to either, but we might as well get the formality that is a loss to them out of the way:everton41I was joking, lads, we can end this run you know. Not this time around evidently as the Red Devils’ class told once more. We’ll find a way to beat you one day, Jose…

Croydon called next and the chance to move on swiftly from that Goodison defeat was in order. Would we reign supreme against royalty in the form of Crystal Palace (see what I did there? No? Oh blow you then…):everton42Hmph. I don’t know what was more baffling. That both of our goals were own goals from the same guy or that we drew because our nemesis Christian Benteke nabbed himself a brace. Curses and what have you.

No matter. A fourth round FA Cup encounter with Championship side Wolves would get us back to winning ways, even if it is at Molineux:everton43Double hmph. It seems we just can’t hold a lead of late and, even more annoyingly, they outplayed us for much of the contest. We’ll have to do the deeds at Goodison instead.

I’m not tempting fate by saying “Blah blah we’ll beat Spurs blah” as I’m starting to learn that not everything is rosy in our camp… but I remain hopeful. We’re at home after all and beat them in north London back in October. What could possibly go wrong?everton44That. That’s what could go wrong. Uuuuurrrggggh.

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Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 5

After an outstanding October, the bitter winds of November could have heralded something of a downturn in Everton’s fortunes.

The wind was certainly behind us and, with a Merseyside derby win fresh in the minds, it was time to take advantage of our confidence levels and continue to perform above expectations.

A trip to Sparta Prague was first up as we looked to book passage to the next round of the Europa League:everton24And the disappointment of failing to hold a lead away from home continues. We weren’t bad as the stats show but, ultimately, a goal on the stroke of half-time for our Czech opponents did enough to throw us off our game. Qualification for the last-32 would have to wait.

A draw away from home is never particularly a bad result, especially on the continent. Or when compared to this absolutely out-of-nowhere scoreline as we travelled to face a Leicester side struggling in the Premier League:everton25Go on, laugh it up. I certainly did. Once I’d stopped crying into my coffee and resisted the urge to launch my laptop from my bedroom window.

I’m still at a loss to explain why we were so bad. We genuinely couldn’t handle Kelechi Iheanacho or Jamie Vardy. I’m still having nightmares about them now.

We couldn’t out-battle the Foxes, but maybe we’d have more look against the Magpies. They’re much more squishable, right?everton26Right. The perfect response after a drab first half with super-sub Cenk Tosun showing his class against a team we should be beating – and did beat – on home turf.

Back to Europe and another chance to throw our name in the hat for the last-32 stage. Rosenborg secured an unlikely draw in our first encounter but, with a strong team out there, I had every expectation of securing a vital victory to all-but-confirm our progression:everton27Bish, bash and bosh. A stunning display of attacking verve, unrelenting tempo and clinical finishing -let’s not talk about our lack of clean sheet again eh? – ensured we’d at least finish runners-up in the group.

And still the games come. Another journey away from Merseyside, and this time our team bus trundled up to surprise top flight package Stoke City, who were lying in fourth at the time. Could we ‘do a Spurs’ and secure a priceless three points?everton28This is starting to smart. They weren’t lethal but we were second best throughout the game and deserved to fall to defeat. It’s not as if we were resting players either. A return to the drawing board for our away tactics was long overdue.

But that would have to wait as, a mere 72 hours later, Arsenal rolled into town. This would be a true test of our mettle. Beating the Gunners would surely send out a massive message to everyone else, despite our terrible record on the road:everton29What. The. Absolute. F*ck. Just take that screenshot. Take in all of its majesty, its awe and realism.

A quite amazing 25-minute hat-trick from Sandro blew the visitors away as we scored our first three main goalscoring opportunities and, in spite of the north Londoners’ valiant fightback – which did make me bite a few nails down to nothingness – a fourth for my Spanish hero and one for Gylfi Sigurdsson handed us the points.

A rollercoaster of a month brought to a close, it was time to draw breath before heading into the madness that was December. Though how much more crazy could it get? Wait, don’t answer that.

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 4

October. The month of colourful leaf shedding, the sugar-laden holiday of Halloween and the time of year that I celebrate my birthday.

Would Everton, then, hand me a four-week celebration to savour or make me so mad that I spend it drunk and crying about why we’re so guff?

A visit to Wembley – the temporary home of Tottenham Hotspur – could show whether the latter would prove to be binge-drink inducing. I was expecting the worst:everton19In the words of Ron Burgundy: ‘By the beard of Zeus!’

I don’t know how they did it, or what I said, or what we collectively did, but somehow we were celebrating a first away victory in the Premier League at one of the best teams around.

Even more impressively the lads came from behind to win, with Cenk Tosun in particularly fine form as he nabbed another brace to continue his decent start. Hip hip and, dare I say it, hooray.

With that result in the bag, the FM gods would, by the powers of balance, decide to hand us a shock home defeat to newly-promoted Huddersfield off the back of that surprise triumph:everton20Huh. I guess they’d all been partying the night before and were too hungover to intervene.

The customary ‘rocket at half-time’ team talk at the interval thanks to an underwhelming first 45 performance and, the good lads that they are, elected to smash the Terriers and leave them with their tails very firmly tucked between their legs.

A home tie against Sparta Prague in the Europa League followed those two domestic clashes, and another win would do very nicely indeed:everton21It’s a relatively easy thing to state, but it’s pleasing to see us rack up three successive wins. It was a deserved victory and, coupled with our earlier results, had us sitting nicely in second place in our group.

A potentially tricky trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley was next up. Given how well we’d done against Spurs, had we finally turned a corner with regards to our away form?

In a word, no:everton22It was to be expected. We’re not the tallest team in the Premier League and, in Chris Wood, Burnley have a powerful striker who dines on whipped crosses into the box. That’s something to bear in mind for next time we play the Clarets.

Those are the kinds of matches that will put paid to our hopes of finishing as high as possible in the top flight and, with a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park fast approaching, those two dropped points could be something that bites us on the arse.

Could I become the first Everton boss in almost eight years to lead the Toffees to victory over them lot across the park? I guess there’s only one way to find out:everton23I’m not sure what’s more incredible. That we actually beat Liverpool, that ‘Mr Snake’ himself Mo Besic scored his first ever goal for us or that it proved to be the winning strike in a Merseyside derby.

Theo Walcott got us off to a storming finish inside 30 seconds – the best way to start any game, let alone against your rivals – and, while Daniel Sturridge’s late goal led to some squeaky bum time, Besic’s maiden Everton goal proved to be the difference.

I take it all back, Mo, play as many games as you damn well like from now on.

Unbeaten in five matches and fourth in the league standings, October seemed to finally be a turning point in our season.

Next time: Into the crunch domestically and continentally…

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 3

The long summer days of August make way for Autumnal winds in September, or Fall if you’re of an American disposition.

There could be a hilarious joke about ‘falling’ down the league table here, given how wildly inconsistent we’ve been this season, but things have actually appeared to be looking up.

With the international break providing a much needed break for those not in action for their countries, a return to action against Manchester United was the perfect setting to get domestic proceedings back underway he said through gritted teeth:everton13And that, ladies and gents, is how frustrating we are on the road. Luke Shaw’s sending off just minutes after Anthony Martial’s opener gave us huge hope of actually winning a match outside Merseyside but, no, we fell further behind instead.

Matters were further compounded when Muhamed Besic received his own marching orders, because 10 vs 11 wasn’t annoying as it seemed  and, after yet another blast in the dressing room at half-time, an improved showing saw Davy Klaassen grab a consolation.

Not content with serving up a ‘early bath’ performance at Old Trafford, Besic had also elected to induce a changing room mutiny when he was dropped from our 25-man Europa League squad in favour of loan signing Daley Blind.

What? I didn’t mention that? Well, we’ve got Blind on loan for the season as Garbutt’s, well, garbage and Baines needs cover.

Despite being told it was necessary to cull a midfielder for much-needed defensive cover, the Bosnian threw a wobbly not unlike that of a child being denied its favourite bedtime story for the fifth night in succession.

Editor’s note: This is where that conversation with Besic would have gone if Tom had elected to, you know, print screen it before – well, this would spoil things now wouldn’t it?

Given that Besic wasn’t too influential in the dressing room, I was informed by my assistant that it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. He was wrong.

Editor’s note 2: And here. Sort it out Tom, for goodness sake!

With morale down among my stars and a revolt just two months into my reign, it wasn’t a surprise to see us stupidly throw away a 2-0 lead away to Rosenborg in our first Europa League group game days later:everton14Two late goals from Yann-Erik de Lanlay robbed us of all three points and Besic any opportunity to feature for us for a loooooong time to come. The dickhead.

Four games without a victory and a home encounter with recently-promoted Brighton offered a huge potential banana skin to us. How would we fare with almost everyone against me thanks to Besic-gate?everton15It was crap, we were crap, but a vital win was picked up thanks to Sandro’s solitary strike. Bless you, you wonderful Spaniard.

A tricky Carabao Cup home contest against Arsenal was thrown up three days later and, with injuries starting to mount and the games coming fast again, the chance to play some fringe players wasn’t to be passed up. Hopefully they could do the deed and send us into the fourth round:everton16Eh, there’s always next year. And at least Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his first of the season…

One win in six. Ugh. But, with two more home matches to come against ‘easier’ opposition, we had a grand chance to get some positivity rolling. Crystal Palace were up first:

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Keane as mustard! Hahaha…haha…ha.

Much like Brighton it wasn’t pretty, but Michael Keane’s first Everton goal proved to be the difference. Coupled with yet another home league clean sheet and we were looking good at home. If you forget that Arsenal loss. Ahem.

It was time to round September out with a Goodison meeting against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League. We need a win here. Nothing else will do:everton18That’s more like it. Tosun and a Walcott brace – though it should have been a hat-trick – in a commanding display not seen since Norrkoping. Back-to-back wins again and things were looking rosy ahead of *gulp* an away trip to Spurs…

Next time: Obscene October has Evertonians dreaming of success?!

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 2

It’s all come down to this. Pre-season preparations done and dusted, squad assessed, a couple of decent Europa League matches to get us to speed and the bread and butter of the season is ready to get underway.

The start of a new Premier League campaign is always a fun-filled romp of hopes and expectations either beginning in scintillating style or being dashed within 90 minutes of a new term.

You don’t need me to tell you, then, which one Everton chose to kick off the season with an away trip to Southampton:everton8Standard Everton. Just when you expect them to deliver and usher in a new dawn they go and toss your dreams aside like that time in secondary school when a teacher laughed at me for wanting to take up medicine. But I digress.

To be fair to the hosts, they completely deserved it. Two assists for Cedric setting up goals for Charlie Austin and Steven Davis, a display to forget for Leighton Baines’ stand in – in the form of Luke Garbutt – and a curious case of Wayne Rooney being played on the right wing. Yeah, I don’t why either.

What better way to brush aside that huge disappointment, then, with our Europa League Play-off round first leg clash with IFK Norrkoping:

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Norr-koping chance of us throwing this one away, am I right?

Hat-trick heroics from Cenk Tosun and a maiden goal for talented winger Nikola Vlasic and the tie is as good as over. Supposing we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot a la Odd…

Only three days had passed – and that was something we may have to get used to – before we entertained former Blues boss David Moyes and his merry band of West Ham stars at Goodison Park. It seemed our home form would be key to enjoying a decent season, so it was imperative to get points on the board and truly put that sloppy Saints display to bed:everton10A laboured first-half performance gave way to a much improved second 45 showing after a rocket was shoved where the sun doesn’t shine, with Gylfi Sigurdsson’s first Blues strike and an own goal from Aaron Cresswell sealing a first league win of this gaffer’s reign.

There’s no let up in the number of fixtures, and no time to rest on our laurels, with an away trip to try and prevent Norrkoping from pulling off – stop sniggering at the back – a shock come from behind victory, however, but how did we fare given we’d lost our other two away games so far this campaign?everton11Hmm. It wasn’t vintage by any stretch, but Sandro’s goal just before half-time really put us in the driving seat before they nabbed a late consolation. I’m getting the feeling that our trips away from Goodison may become something of an issue.

Maybe it’s because I’m an Evertonian and I’ve been taught to expect the worst. Or just because we generally are guff on the road:

everton12Yep, it’s definitely an issue. Le sigh.

Next time: Ordering a main course of a rack of wins, and discontent in the changing room…

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 1

Pre-season. The time of year when hopes and expectations are renewed among fans and players alike. Until the inevitable sorry start leads to pessimism, obviously.

With two Europa League qualifying rounds to navigate ahead of even booking our place in the group stages, the 2017/18 pre-season campaign was wrought with friendly encounters interspersed with those competitive fixtures – which is always nice when your team doesn’t have a clue how you expect them to play.

Thankfully, a few fitness-driven matches were to come before a showdown with Norwegian outfit Odd saw us perfectly primed to face off against even opposition. Shit joke, don’t care.

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Look at that lovely green patch ended by that horrible red colour. I never liked red.

A drab defeat to Argentine Primera Division club Tigre being the only blot on an otherwise solid start, then. Time to take on Odd.

Thankfully, we were drawn at home for the second leg, so a lovely easy victory, with a couple of crucial away goals, would be the perfect way to start off my reign in L4 with my beloved Blues, wouldn’t it?

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Club captain Phil Jagielka with his best Titus Brambell impression there, the utter pillock

You stupid bastards.

3-0 down after 47 minutes and I was raging. We hadn’t even been that bad and, like a Slaven Bilic West Ham side caught in European headlights, we were staring into the ‘third round exit’ abyss.

On came Ademola Lookman and Sandro who, presumably because Odd thought they’d done enough, gave us a sliver of hope of progression with a goal apiece to set up the return fixture nicely. The lads weren’t getting off that easily, however, and a stern telling off had them well aware of what was expected next time out.

A 4-0 friendly thumping of Hungarian team FC Ludogorets got us back on track before the return leg of our third qualifying round tie against Odd. Surely we couldn’t mess this up?

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A sea of Blue as far as the eye can see

You’d be right, we didn’t. A pulverising display of attacking verve – not seen since my protein pancake mix was decimated by my Nutribullet last week – was much deserved and sent us into the next round, with a Sandro hat-trick and Theo Walcott goal on their home debuts doing the deeds.

It wasn’t all good news as Leighton Baines and Walcott both succumbed to ankle problems, but we were through. Huzzah and hooray!

Transfer wise, not much had happened by comparison. Jonjoe Kenny and Shani Tarashaj were packed off on loan to earn them regular minutes – the latter laughably suggesting he should have stayed and fought for a first-team place, bless ‘im – while Saint Etienne opted to give Oumar Niasse some regular football with the caveat that we’d haul him back here if our strikers ever became short of a leg or two.

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Nice that Saint-Etienne decided to pay us Theo Walcott’s weekly wage for the privilege of temporarily taking Niasse

A slender 2-1 home win over Turkish side Akhmat set us up perfectly for an opening day trip to the south coast to face Southampton… or so I thought.

Next time: The proper season starts, and transfers galore! Maybe…

Everton Football Manager 2018 Series: Episode 0

Managerless Everton. ‘Trophyless in 27 years’ Everton. “What the p*****g hell are you playing at!?” Everton.

This English giant has slept for too long. Now, a new challenger emerges from the shadows to bring back the glory days to this wildly inconsistent club.

Step forward ‘Couldn’t Even Make it at Sunday League Level’ internationally renowned fledgling boss Tom Power…


NB: Before we begin this journey, a couple of alterations have been made ahead of this Football Manager save.

Firstly, the squad has been updated to reflect the incomings and outgoings during the January transfer window. Hola Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott, ‘Ta-ra’ Ross Barkley and a hearty farewell Aaron Lennon, Gethin Jones and Liam Walsh.

Secondly, Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen will be kept at Goodison for the time being as this journey begins ahead of the closure of the winter window. Should either depart by the end of transfer deadline day – or anyone else for that matter – well, a decision will need to be made about keeping them.

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Nothing like an Everton squad without the customary ‘legs falling off’ injury crisis.

Thirdly, the club’s staff has been modified as best as possible to remove anyone brought in by Ronald Koeman before his departure last October, enabling us to have a clean slate to work with backroom staff wise.

And, finally, Everton will be moving to Bramley-Moore Dock in time for the 2022/2023 season in line with the club’s current vision to be their new world-class stadium. Because why wouldn’t we be?

Okay, housekeeping done, let’s press on!


Goodison Park and its fans have suffered long enough in recent times. Managers, players, the dawn of a new century and countless pints have come and gone since the Toffees last tasted success. It’s high time we change that.

A brief welcome from owner Farhad Moshiri, chairman Bill Kenwright, first-team coach Duncan Ferguson and director of football Steve Walsh – alright, so not so brief – and it was time to run the rule over the squad.

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The usually mild mannered Roy Hodgson has taken an immediate dislike to me, so there’s that.

And a bloated squad at that. A creaking defence with no alternative to the heroic Leighton Baines at left-back, a glut of centre midfielders despite Ross ‘snake man’ Barkley’s departure, not many stars in the peak ’25-30′ age bracket and two new strikers who would need more time to bed in than someone who’s just returned from a week-long bender at Glastonbury.

Oh, and the youngsters. So. Many. Talented. Youngsters. At senior, Under-23 and Under-19 level. It’s a good job they aren’t all ready to play now.

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I don’t care if Susan’s devastated that you have to leave, Jim. You’re going to North America and that’s final.

Pre-season friendlies were set up, training sessions, individual foci and coach assignments were given an overhaul, scouts sent off to various backwaters of the globe, staff job vacancies were posted in the window of the nearby Post Office (that’s still a thing, right?) and tactics were whipped into shape.

A long first day completed and it was time to move this story on. And that, dear readers, is where our story truly begins…

Yeah, not this episode. It’s the next one you want. Whenever you’re ready.

Next time: Pre-season matches, an injury crisis circa ‘the David Moyes era’ and an emotional rollercoaster of an Europa League third play-off round…

Which Everton youngsters could feature for the first team before the season’s end?

Everton supporters could be forgiven for turning their attentions elsewhere as the 2015/16 season draws to a close.

Heartbreak in two cup semi-finals, a potential second bottom half Premier League finish in a row and a loss of faith in current manager Roberto Martinez have rendered the final four matches of this campaign irrelevant to many Toffees fans.

Despite gloomy skies engulfing Goodison Park, though, there is a chink of light for those of a Blue persuasion.

Sitting third in the Under-21 Premier League Division One table, Everton’s youth side have impressed under the watchful eye of former Toffees left back-turned coach David Unsworth.

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The club has a long tradition of handing youth players the opportunity to work their way through the ranks into the first team, with Michael Ball, Wayne Rooney, Leon Osman, Tony Hibbert, James Vaughan and Ross Barkley just a few of the talented young stars who have gone on to feature for Everton’s senior squad.

And, with a number of the current crop making their mark at under-21 level, here are five of the brightest talents who could feature for the Blues in the final weeks of this term.

Keiran Dowell

Kieran Dowell has been the name on the lips of many Evertonnians in recent weeks thanks to some sterling performances for the Under-21 side.

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The 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who has been with the Club since the age of seven, has netted a number of sensational strikes in recent victories over Norwich City, Manchester City and Leicester City – the latter of which saw Dowell bag a superb hat-trick.

Adept with the ball at his feet, with an eye for a pass and a box of tricks to boot, the Ormskirk-born teenager made his first-team debut in the 1-0 home defeat to FC Krasnodar in the Europa League in December 2014.

Dowell put in bright cameo appearances in two of the first team’s pre-season fixtures against Hearts and Dundee before an injury curtailed his chances of impressing further, but expect him to be in and around the senior squad for the Toffees’ final fixtures of 2015/16.

Matthew Pennington

Warrington-born Pennington is another of Everton’s youth players who has enjoyed first-team exposure during the current campaign.

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A centre-half by trade, with the ability to figure at right-back, the 21-year-old has started matches against Barnsley and Dagenham & Redbridge in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup respectively.

Pennington had been earning rave reviews for his displays whilst on loan at Walsall but, due to the Blues’ injury crisis ahead of their recent FA Cup semi-final, the defender was recalled and took up a place on the substitutes’ bench at Wembley.

With Ramiro Funes Mori still suspended and Phil Jagielka’s season potentially over, Pennington could be in line for an appearance or two before the season’s end.

 

Callum Connolly

Accomplished in a variety of positions across the park, including centre midfield and full back, Connolly’s versatility has ensured his presence as a mainstay in the Under-21 side.

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The 19-year-old was part of the team that secured the 2013/14 Under-21 Premier League title, and has represented England at Under-17 level.

A member of the Everton youth ranks since the age of nine, Connolly enjoyed his first taste of senior football in the recent 1-1 draw with Southampton, receiving praise for his performance from fans and manager alike.

A likely contender for a place on the substitutes’ bench in the finals weeks of the season.

 

Tom Davies

Davies has been a member of the Toffees’ academy since the age of 11, and has rapidly risen through the ranks to become a regular at Under-21 level.

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The 18-year-old midfielder was on the scoresheet in the first mini Merseyside derby of 2015/16 – a match that ended 3-3.

Like Connolly, Davies made his first-team bow in the Goodison Park clash with Southampton, with his eight-minute cameo giving him a platform to show off his undoubted ball control and skills.

Feisty in the tackle despite his small demeanour, further appearances may lie in wait before the season’s end.

 

Mason Holgate

The only youth player on the list who hasn’t made his way through the Club’s academy, Holgate joined the Everton ranks from Barnsley for an undisclosed fee in August 2015.

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The 18-year-old defender has settled into life on Merseyside particularly well, and was handed a place on the substitutes’ bench during the Blues’ 5-3 Capital One Cup triumph over his former club back in September.

The former Tykes player has become a regular under Unsworth for the youth side, and recently bagged his first goal for the Under-21s in the 2-0 win over Chelsea.

With the ability to play at right-back and centre-back, Holgate could end up making his first senior appearance for the Toffees before the end of the campaign, with first-choice full back Seamus Coleman currently nursing a hamstring strain.

Opinion: Martinez comments on Baines a step too far for beleaguered Everton manager

If you were to ask Evertonians for their opinion of Leighton Baines, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would say a bad word about him.

The Everton left back has been a devote servant of the club for almost nine years, and has received widespread praise for his performances during that time.

The England international has also always come across as an honest, intelligent, salt-of-the-Earth individual when giving an interview.

Earlier this week, Baines was questioned over whether Everton’s first team stars were finding it tough to motivate themselves in the Premier League after progressing to the FA Cup semi-finals a few weeks ago.

“It is yeah, but the motivation should be in trying to get your name there for it, shouldn’t it?” Baines replied.

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“It’s like (pause of several seconds), I just think, you know, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like the chemistry is quite there on the pitch within the team at the moment and it hasn’t been for a while.

“Obviously results have an impact on that because chemistry and confidence can go hand in hand in a way. You start winning games. I mean look at the teams who are having success this year. You would say they’ve got chemistry, you know?

“If I had to say one thing it would be, I don’t know if it’s there at the moment for whatever reason.”

A typically candid, forthright answer from Baines then.

Which makes manager Roberto Martinez’s comments on the 30-year-old defender today all the more unnecessary and, perhaps, insulting..

The Catalan was quizzed over this apparent lack of on-the-field chemsitry, and replied in less than glowing terms.

“I think there are two aspects of that,” he said.

“First, it’s very disappointing when you see a misinterpretation of certain words that a player says and really this has been taken out of context in the way that it’s come out.

“And the other aspect is that someone of the experience of Leighton Baines knows he has to take responsibility for those words – I have had a chat with him – those words have given the opportunity to be maybe attracting a meaning that is not right, not correct and obviously for that he has apologised and taken responsibility for that for leaving those words open.

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“Those quotes have been taken out of context and that’s disappointing on one side.

“But on the other side, obviously Leighton takes responsibility for putting himself in a position which has given the wrong words and allowed the wrong interpretation and for that, as I said, he has apologised and is ready to move forward.”

If Baines’ words were indeed misrepresented – they weren’t – then why has he been made to apologise?

And if Martinez was justifiably concerned with one of his senior players being frank and upfront, when he did not believe Baines should have been, then why not keep all of this in-house instead of publically deriding him?

It is a very dangerous game to try and leverage yourself against any individual who has given a truthful, honest answer to a genuine question.

It is even more perilous to do so against a senior member of your first team squad, and a player for whom Evertonians across the globe have a lot of time and affection for.

Of course, this is nothing new, providing you believe the rumours of discontent from both past and present Everton players who have allegedly had run-ins with Martinez.

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Samuel Eto’o, Sylvain Distin and Kevin Mirallas have all supposedly made it known that they have not agreed with the former Wigan Athletic manager’s tactics, opinions or management style – and all have paid the price to varying degrees.

But none of the above have been subjected to public embarrassment like Baines has, thanks to today’s comments.

Martinez was already walking a thin tightrope with Everton fans after another discouraging campaign; the upcoming FA Cup semi-final his only potential saving grace.

Now he has taken on a beloved servant and important first team member of his squad.

There is only one winner where Toffees supporters are concerned – and it certainly isn’t Martinez.

The Weekend Reflection: Fortress Goodison? Don’t Make Me Laugh!

Goodison Park used to be a bastion of hope for Evertonians.

It is a stadium filled with rich history that oozes charm and class, especially under the floodlights for an evening kick off.

And, when the opportunity arises, it bears witness to a vociferous, boisterous and unabating home crowd that has roared Everton to countless victories, struck fear into the hearts of opposing sides and bayed for blood when refereeing decisions have gone against the Toffees.

Of late, however, the Grand Old Lady is anything but a fortress.

It is merely a sandcastle, with the tide crashing ever closer, ready to sweep it out to sea.

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It is not the Goodison faithful that is to blame, however – for 78 minutes during yesterday’s infuriating 3-2 home defeat to West Ham United, a crescendo of noise swirled around all four corners of the ground as the Blues, despite disadvantaged by Kevin Mirallas’ first half red card, found themselves 2-0 up over the Hammers.

Instead, it is yet again the fault of a manager who is clearly out of his depth at one of the most successful British clubs in the history of the game.

True, Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge of Everton was a joy to behold.

A record-points haul during a Premier League campaign and European football back at Goodison were reason enough to celebrate.

But a record of 13 wins, three draws and three defeats from 19 home matches was even sweeter.

It seemed Goodison Park would  become one of the toughest grounds for any side to travel to, thanks to a blend of defensive resilience and artistic, free-flowing attacking flair.

And yet, it is anything but.

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Since the start of the 2014/15 season, Goodison has beared witness to just 11 wins from 34 home matches in the Premier League.

Perhaps more striking is that only four of those victories have come this season – even then they were routine triumphs over struggling Sunderland, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and, at the time, Chelsea.

Coupled with four home draws, Everton have amassed a paltry 16 points from 15 home clashes on home turf this campaign.

To make matters even worse, the Blues have been defeated on seven occasions on home soil – five of which have come since December 19th.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester City, Stoke City, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United have all left L4 with three points to leave Everton supporters bewildered, angry and forlorn.

It is, frankly, unforgivable that teams will travel to Goodison Park knowing that they can, and will, depart with a victory.

And Martinez is to blame for this slide in home fortunes.

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Too open, too lax at the back, too gung-ho, no game management, conceding from set pieces, conceding from crosses, unable to hold a lead – these have all been levelled at the Spaniard in the past 18 months, and not one problem has been rectified.

It is simply not good enough from a man who has Everton’s best first team squad since the last time the Blues won a league title, back in 1987, at his disposal.

To add further insult to injury, the Toffees have now conceded more goals at home (26) than Aston Villa – a side who currently prop up the league standings and suffered a 6-0 home thrashing at the hands of Merseyside rivals Liverpool just a few weeks ago.

It is a sign of just how abject Everton have become at home, and the sense of apathy and despair that greeted Martinez and his players at full time yesterday was indicative of such facts.

With just four more home league encounters to come, in the shape of Arsenal, Southampton, Bournemouth and Norwich City, the Toffees are on course to register their worst ever points tally at home in a single league campaign.

Even if the Blues win those four remaining matches, they will only be three points better off than their all-time lowest haul of 25 points at home garnered during the 1996/97 season.

There was a time when Goodison Park was the last venue that teams loved to visit – now they lick their lips in anticipation.

Fortress Goodison? Don’t make me laugh.