Everton FC slipped to defeat in Bangkok this evening to a competitive Leicester City side. We look at the five things we learned on a hot and sweaty night in the Thai capital.
Luke Garbutt is a bit good
The youngster did he best Leighton Baines impression during the first half tonight, and as far as impressions go he’s more Alistair McGowan than Darren Farley.
When Garbutt and Steven Pienaar stood over a free-kick in the first half, it was the South African that many inside the stadium expected to take it.
Instead, the England Under-21 international strode towards the ball and struck it sweetly at Kasper Schmeichel’s goal, forcing the Dane into a smart stop.
It was a Baines-esque free-kick and when the next one was awarded he was always going to take it.
This time he swung a curling cross towards the back post which was flicked on by Shane Duffy and turned towards goal by Gareth Barry at the back post.
Schmeichel knew nothing about it but he managed to keep it out, again.
Garbutt’s passing was sharp and, deployed further up the field by Roberto Martinez , he attacked with pace and intelligence, trying to overlap at every opportunity and looking to play neat one-twos with Pienaar ahead of him.
Defensively he was also sound, again like Baines he was a low centre of gravity and is plenty strong for his height and age.
He didn’t turn out for the second half due to a slight knock but he can rest assured that his manager is impressed by his assured performance.
Martinez labelled him Everton’s “best player in pre-season” and, despite having Baines and Bryan Oviedo ahead of him in the pecking order, insisted that Garbutt would be handed every opportunity to earn a place in the first team next year.
All he needs to do now is grow his hair and learn to play the guitar.
Everton are in need of a striker
It’s clear that the Blues lack firepower up front and tonight was more evidence of that.
And that’s not a knock on Steven Naismith either, he’s intelligent and full of running and was left a little too isolated at times tonight.
Nevertheless, the Blues could do with a real presence up top and, if a deal can indeed be done, Romelu Lukaku is the tried and tested choice.
The big Belgian fits perfectly into the Everton system and, with two players playing out wide like tonight, Martinez’s style of play suits him down to the ground.
There’s not a lot wrong with Everton’s supply lines, Aiden McGeady showed flashes of ability tonight and Pienaar looked sharp.
But the club clearly need someone to try to get on the end of things and ideally before Premier League kicks off in three weeks time.
The sooner that the Blues can get somebody in up front the better.
The weather takes it’s toll
To say it’s humid in Bangkok is an understatement.
It’s hot, muggy and intolerable at times here, and the players clearly felt it in tonight’s game.
Much like the World Cup in Brazil, there was a “cooling down” break in each half and you could see the physical toll it was taking on both sets of players at times.
Leicester probably dealt with that a little better and subsequently bossed the second half as Everton made a number of changes to their side.
But it will do the Blues no harm at all to come, play and train out in Thailand.
It offers a completely different environment to the one they will have back in Finch Farm and the younger players that made the trip will surely benefit from the experience.
Martinez said as much after the game and was clearly happy with the workout for his team. The result was an afterthought and he will lose no sleep about the performance.
Indeed, he will sleep just fine tonight because luckily for him, the air-con is great here too.
Everton fans are born, not manufactured
It’s fair to say that the Thai fans didn’t quite live up to their pre-match bluster during the game.
Apart from a few chants of “Leicester City” there wasn’t a great deal of noise in the stadium – unless the ball went anywhere near anybody’s goal, then the place went beserk.
There were a number of different Premier League shirts on show in the crowd and the Foxes did have a fairly decent following over here.
Everton though, have carved out an excellent niche for themselves in this country and that was on show here.
The Thai Blues clearly have an understanding of what the club is all about and they know the songs, the players and the history.
There were a few rumours flying around the King Power, Leicester’s sponsors, had handed out free shirts and tickets (Click to find tickets) to their employees in order to insert a little bit more atmosphere into their support.
No such measures were needed by Everton. The Blues are genuinely followed in these parts and many turned up in shirts from years gone by sang a variety of songs.
It was really good to see and they will hope that Everton return to Thailand sooner, rather than later.
The Premier League’s opening game will be a different affair
This may have been dubbed as a “dress rehearsal” to the the clash on August 16 – but expect a completely different game on that day.
You can rest assured, unless we’re really lucky back in Blighty, the weather won’t be anywhere near as hot.
The players will be fitter and the personel will change.
Ross Barkle y sat today’s match out as Martinez allowed the 20-year-old a little longer to rest. Tim Howard , Phil Jagielka , Baines and Kevin Mirallas will all come back and Seamus Coleman will recover from injury.
There should also be one or two new faces come the big (Free £25 bet offer) Kick-off.
Leicester certainly wont be counting their chickens and nor should because they will face a different game at King Power Stadium.
Nigel Pearson knows that and so does Martinez.
Forget dress rehearsals, this was a good workout, nothing more, nothing less.
More Everton FC news
Carsley: Blues have learned lessons from 2005 tour
Martinez confident of landing Lukaku – despite Real Madrid interest
Why World Cup star Besic is worth a gamble
Joe Rimmer’s diary from day two of the Blues’ trip to Thailand