Mar 052015
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Following the latest catastrophic Blues defeat away to Stoke City. We ask the question: Are Everton a team in crisis?

Everton FC correspondent Phil Kirkbride and Everton editor Greg O’Keeffe will be answering your questions here for the next hour.

Greg O’Keeffe

Guest: Boys, do you think it is totally the managers fault that the players cannot resort to plan b or is it just a lack of confidence and that actually they are only 1 weekend away from being 3 points ahead of the relegation zone?

PHIL: As I wrote in my match verdict from Stoke last night, this is a collective responsibility.

Martinez needs to show he is flexible and set up a team now that will get results in big games with Newcastle, QPR etc and not worry about style. But there are too many players not playing well enough. 

A number of the squad need to realise that they are playing for their futures.  Too many didn’t show anything like the attitude Steven Naismith did in that game.

Everton's Steven Naismith and Seamus Coleman clash with Young Boys' Raphael Nuzzolo and Sekou Sanogo Everton’s Steven Naismith and Seamus Coleman clash with Young Boys’ Raphael Nuzzolo and Sekou Sanogo  

Too many are allowing themselves to be dragged into his confidence-drained malaise. I’m saying there needs to be some frank discussions between the players and the managers this week.

Clear-the-air talks, if you like.

Greg O’Keeffe

@MisterSob: Greg, do you still stand behind your initial post-match analysis last night that Tim Howard was blameless for both Stoke goals? Notwithstanding the fact the cross should have been stopped and then dealt with better, do you not accept that Howard’s footwork was ultimately the reason that header ended up in the back of the net?

Greg: I’ve read Jamie Carragher’s interesting piece about Howard’s habit of bouncing on his toes in the build-up to goals. I can certainly see how that applies to Steven Gerrard’s in the derby last September.

Last night I still don’t feel he was directly to blame for either of the goals. But having had time to watch them again, I do wonder whether he could have done a bit more?

You’d have to be in possession of a huge axe to grind against Howard to say he was outright at fault, but maybe little things – like this bouncing/positioning habit – aren’t helping at all.

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard picks the ball out of the net after conceding during the Barclays Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard picks the ball out of the net after conceding during the Barclays Premier League match at the Britannia Stadium.  

That said – why aren’t people asking about Lukaku’s horrendous and irresponsible back pass that started the chain of panic before that second goal? Or then Darron Gibson not reacting as quickly as Mame Diouf?

To be fair – you’re spot on about the cross which ed to the first goal. Should never have been allowed. Then you wonder how Victor Moses leaves two Everton defenders flat footed?

It was a (horribly) tremendous header. I don’t think may keepers would have stopped it. But a top four side goalkeeper (Courtois, Lloris, DeGea) might have.

Phil Kirkbride

Chris Harry How about playing Ross Barkley in centre midfield were we have seen the best of him? and drop this 2 holding midfielders garbage.

PHIL: I definitely agree that if Ross is to play anywhere then it has to be a central position.Although if we’re thinking of the same game from this season – QPR at home – when Ross played in central midfield then he did play as part of a holding two along Besic.

Everton FC v QPR in the Barclays Premier League at Goodison Park. Ross Barkley celebrates his goal after makes it 1-0 for Everton.  

Granted, it worked well and Barkley scored and had his best game of the season but it was as one of two holding midfielders.Does he have the defensive discipline to play there regularly?

Maybe not although I recall he played as part of a midfield three against Arsenal at home last season and that worked well.  That could be an option for bringing him back into the team.

Marek Powalski Surley Martinez should be playing Mirallas from the start, two up front, Naismith and Lukaku and give Robles a chance given how well he did while filling in for Howard, if Chelsea can bench Cech then Everton can bench Howard. Changing Martinez is NOT the answer.

Linda Anderson Sorry to mention the other lot across the park Liverpool had the same problem rodgers wouldnt change but in the end he did changed to w back 3 with wing backs 2 holding midfielders and 3 attackers its working from being behind us they are now 23 points above us why not try that at everton as much as I have said on here to get rid of alceraz 
Play him in a back 3 with McCarthy and Besic in midfield holding roles coleman and baines when fit as wing backs and then Mirallas lennon and Lukaku as the front 3

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers at the Ataturk Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers at the Ataturk  

Si Parkes @Sipper1979 Surely Kenwright can see how poor we are, as the owner he must be asking questions? How come he is so quiet?

Greg: I’m pretty sure Bill Kenwright will be as alarmed as every Evertonian at recent displays and behind the scenes he may well be in regular dialogue with his manager.

However, he never came out and undermined David Moyes publicly – even when the Blues were suffering hard times under the Scot, so he isn’t going to change now.

If he came out and said he was backing Martinez it would be out of character, and perhaps be akin to the dreaded vote of confidence given how things are right now.

Phil Kirkbride

Colin ?@colinjrob   what is happening with Roberto’s man management Barkley, Mirrallas, Eto etc. good players that seem unhappy?

Phil:  It appears to me that Barkley is suffering with his confidence. Last season he was playing in a side that was bursting with self-belief and it was easier to a young player like himself to cope with having such an important role. 

The scenario has flipped this season and Barkley looks to be caught up in the lack of confidence more than most.

As for Mirallas, I feel that he has always been inconsistent and his form of late is telling of that. As one of the side’s senior players, he should be offering more week in, week out. 

Everton need him to be a match-winner, turn the course of games and come to the fore in their time of need.

Unfortunately, he does it only fleetingly. 

Eto’o wanted regular first-team football. I didn’t really want to see him leave but he wanted to go and there is no point in keeping someone at the club if they are itching to leave.I don’t think, in the last couple of months at least, he was worthy of a starting place.

Greg O’Keeffe

Phil from Hunts Cross: Is it time for Martinez to go? I’ve always backed him but I’m losing faith.

Greg: I genuinely feel he deserves the remainder of the season to sort things out – but we need to see signs of him responding to the crisis rather than just trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Brendan Rodgers was in a sticky situation before Christmas and responded in the right way. He ripped up the way things were and tried something new. Since then Liverpool have, depressingly, picked up 29 points – one more than Everton’s entire haul this season!!!

So no – I don’t think Martinez should go now, what he achieved last term must still be taken into consideration, but he HAS to change. If we don’t see signs of that then the pressure on him will become overwhlming.

Phil Kirkbride

David Burgundy It’s the obvious one but why will he not change that formation when clearly other domestic teams have it sussed? It leaves us wide open and wingers not accountable for having to track back…

Phil: The formation Martinez picked last night looked more of a 4-3-3 to start with and then morphed into a 4-2-3-1 before they, basically, played without a midfield in the final 20 minutes.

I’m not sure the formation was necessarily the issue last night, I think it was the players selected.Steven Naismith gave everything but, out of the left, his impact is really limited. 

As much as he didn’t deserve to keep his place, I would have preferred to have seen Mirallas on the left to give Everton genuine width on either flank and allow Naismith to get closer in support of Lukaku.

I feel there has perhaps been too much chopping and changing of late and the manager needs to, injuries permitting, find a settled team and stick with it. You can practically name his starting 11 from week to week last season.  That’s not as easy this time

Greg O’Keeffe

So it’s a distinctly flat feeling on the Blue side of the office this morning, as we all pick over the bones of yet another defeat.

Graeme Sharp has been interviewed on Sky Sports with questions about relegation at the forefront, and Twitter is ablaze with angry Blues understandably venting.

So are Everton now a team in crisis? Are they too good to go down – or are they sleepwalking to an ever more likely exit from the top flight ?

What should Roberto Martinez do to remedy the situation? Wingers? A major reshuffle of key personnel in goal and midfield? And is it time for the Blues players to start asking some serious questions of themselves?

Perhaps it’s a dressing room lock-in or a proper sit-down at Finch Farm – whatever the tactic, things have got to begin improving. And fast. Feelings will still be raw from last night but a clear weekend should provide time to start the inquest.

Join Phil and Greg and ask us your questions…

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