Jan 242015

After a couple of improved performances, last Monday night was a major step back for Everton.

It was a frustrating night, and one which left every Blues bitterly disappointed.

You have to give Tony Pulis enormous credit for galvanizing a squad of underperforming players and turning them into a side that can pick up points.

He is under no obligation to play the game in a certain manner, and Monday’s game was always going to come down to whether Everton FC could get that first goal and open the game up.

Which is why the penalty incident was disappointing, to say the least.

I don’t for one second believe Roberto Martinez’s job is under threat, or that Everton are in any serious danger of relegation, but they need points, and the fact of the matter is that Kevin Mirallas’ actions cost them two.

His behaviour was disrespectful, unprofessional, selfish and arrogant, and has simply added to the pressure which is building around Goodison Park.

The only good thing about the whole incident was that thanks to the professionalism and character of Leighton Baines, we avoided the unseemly sight of an on-field scrap, which would have been even more embarrassing for the club.

With the best part of £1m on offer for every place you finish up the Premier League, Mirallas’ miss may prove costly come May. If the unthinkable happens, which I don’t think it will, then it will have cost the club a hell of a lot more.

I’ve tried to think, but I’ve not come across that on the field. Well, not since primary school. Teams always have a designated penalty taker, and that is that. The only changes arise when the result is beyond doubt, and even then I wasn’t keen on it. For me, it should always be up to the designated taker

What Mirallas’ actions also did was put his teammates and his manager in the awkward position of having to explain the incident away on national television. Steven Naismith did his best but was unconvincing, while Roberto was visibly uncomfortable as he tried to answer questions on the subject.

All in all, a sorry state of affairs, on what was already a disappointing night for Everton Football Club.

Warm weather training trip makes sense

When I played football, a “mid-season break” was code for “a good old-fashioned jolly-up”.

The idea was simple; you’d go away, somewhere nice and warm, and you’d have a few good nights out then sweat it out in training the next morning. I went on some memorable such trips, and the stories could fill a fair few of these columns.

Thankfully, things are a little more professional now!

Everton have gone to Qatar , and I expect their ‘camp’ will be very different to some of the ones I was part of.

The benefits of a warm-weather training camp are obvious, especially given some of the weather we have been having in this country over the last few weeks.

Roberto has things he clearly wants to work on with his players, and it is much easier to put on technical, repetitive sessions on shape and tactics when players are stood around in warm conditions rather than shivering in the freezing cold, trust me!

In terms of the wider argument about whether a winter break might benefit the English game, I’m firmly in the ‘No’ camp.

We have enough fixture congestion as it is, so I don’t see how we would manage to shoehorn a three or four week break into the middle of the season.

Change is in the air for our friends at FIFA

It finally looks like some semblance of sanity might be on the horizon at our old friends FIFA.

The news that a number of people, of varying credibility, are willing to stand against Sepp Blatter is encouraging enough.

But the one thing that will always provoke a reaction with those in power, in football or any other sport, is when the money is threatened.

And when sponsors start to voice their displeasure, that is when you start to see the domino effect.

The news this week that a host of major sponsors are considering withdrawing their support of major international tournaments may just accelerate the process of a significant change.

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.

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