Every week, the ECHO gets the views of an Everton fan to gauge the feeling among supporters over the week that’s been and the week ahead.
Today we speak to Rhodri Cannon, co-editor of the efcfeelinblue.com website, about Saturday’s battling win over West Ham and the Europa League clash with Wolfsburg.
The Blues had to grind out that win over West Ham. What did you make of the performance?
A win’s a win, but we are still no way near the levels we set last season. The lack of Barry and Baines had a real impact, I never thought we would see Tony Hibbert at left-back but three points are the most important thing, and somehow, we are only two points off of fourth.
There are some players in the side that still aren’t firing on all cylinders, but the Toffeemen are gaining momentum at just the right time, and hopefully we can end the week with six multicultural points.
Kudos to Samuel Eto’o, who changed the game when he entered the fray at Goodison on Saturday. The Cameroonian is such a valuable asset to Everton, and it’s a privilege to watch him at work.
It was a good day for Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert. What do you make of the veteran pair’s contribution so far this season?
Tony Hibbert hasn’t put a foot wrong for Everton this season. He’s never going to be the attacking outlet of Seamus Coleman’s calibre, but he’s dependable at the back and can still put in a crunching tackle or two.
There were questions over the 33-year-old being rewarded with a two-year deal in the summer, but his performances have merited the faith Martinez has shown in him thus far.
Leon Osman will always be subject to criticism, and his influence is certainly on the wane.
But on his 400th appearance against West Ham he really rolled back the years, and his goal was nothing more than what he deserved. Hopefully the midfielder can push on and build on his impressive display against the Hammers in order to stake a claim for a more regular starting spot, otherwise the bench will be waiting as soon as Gareth Barry returns from injury.
Is Romelu Lukaku back to his old best yet?
No, he’s not. Lukaku may have got his goal against West Ham, bringing him to five for the season, but his performances have fluctuated severely. His performance against Lille in the last European game was excellent, but he then followed it up with a dismal display against Sunderland.
He is young and he is still learning, but £28million is a lot of money for any club to splash, especially for a club such as Everton, so he needs to start showing why Martinez has paid such an astronomical sum for his pivotal No10.
The World Cup and niggling injuries haven’t helped, but the big Belgian needs to return to his rampaging best, otherwise the Toffeemen will not achieve the goals they’ve set for this campaign.
It’s Wolfsburg up next, followed by Spurs away. How do you see both games going and how will Roberto juggle his resources?
If our past two European away games are to go by, then another hard-fought draw is on the cards for the boys in blue.
Wolfsburg have been excellent in the Bundesliga this season, and although they suffered defeat at the weekend, they will be itching to get back to winning ways, and they’ll also be hungry for revenge after the Blues dismantled them 4-1 at Goodison in September.
Ricardo Rodriguez and Kevin De Bruyne will be the obvious threats, but the Wolves are a balanced, dangerous side and it will be no mean feat if the Blues return to Merseyside with three points.
With the return of Kevin Mirallas and the momentum Martinez’ men are building upon three points and qualification are a distinct possibility, but I will plump for a score-draw – 2-2.
Martinez has said he’ll consider using the likes of Ty Browning, Matt Pennington and Brendan Galloway get help the injury-hit Blues through this busy period. Is that a worry, or would you like to see them given their chance?
It’s a catch 22 for Martinez. The fans are eager to blood the youth and see some exciting young starlets strutting their stuff for Everton, but most fans also want to see new arrivals add strength in depth.
You can either have one or the other, as if a new centre-back is brought in, the likes of Browning, Pennington and Galloway will have their opportunities limited as a result.
With the fixtures coming thick and fast during the winter period, the likes of Tyias Browning should be given the chance to prove their worth to the senior squad.
Any other business?
Our injury luck is close to derailing our season. I’m beginning to think we will never be able to field a full strength side! If it’s not Barry it’s Mirallas, if it’s not Mirallas it’s Stones, if it’s not Stones it’s Baines.
If we don’t hire a new team of physics or come up with a quick and effective solution, the excellent squad we have will never realise it’s full potential.
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