Here we go again. When the games come thick and fast over Christmas it gives teams an immediate chance to overcome any issue they might have had in the previous game. Lose a game and you get the chance to atone for this in two or three days. Lose four games in twelve days however and you can find yourself drifting down the table at an alarming rate.
Again, there were positives from an utterly woeful performance. Ross Barkley looked bright again, Naismith does what he does and gives a solid performance no matter what, and Ovideo returned from injury. That’s it. Three positives from 90 minutes of ‘football’.
The game started in typical (of late) fashion with the Blues on the front foot. This (as of late) died off after three or so minutes, at the end of which Hull should have been awarded a clear penalty. Gareth Barry tripping Hernandez just inside the box. The ref pointed for a freekick right on the line – finally a decision that went our way.
That attack was just the warning shot though and Hull continued to pour forward exposing our back three or Jagielka, Alcaraz and Barry. Yes Gareth Barry played centre back.
Hull took the lead around the half hour mark. Despite having effectively five defenders on the pitch Everton were again undone by a simple cross into the box and a decent glanced header by Elmohamady.
From there things went from bad to worse.
Hull doubled their advantage just before the break. Hernandez player a blind reverse lofted pass and the back three stood still, allowing Jelavic to run through on goal unchallenged. With the chance that he would have missed during his final year at Goodison Nikica dunked the ball over the onrushing and helpless Robles.
This was essentially the end of the match. We did get some mazy runs from Barkley, one resulting in a shot on target the other resulted in an air shot, however once again the players lacked effort, belief and fight.
Now that the facts are out of the way lets analyse this from a different perspective.
We have written in the past twelve days about the need to be bold. Take some risks, whilst also playing a system that we have fit and available players for. Players that can play in their natural positions.
After the game against Hull, I feel that many many more fans are going to be questioning the position of the manager.
For the record I am not, yet.
His persistence with Gareth Barry in a multitude of positions is frankly scary. As is the fact that we almost always start games with at least 3 players out of position.
The manager himself has spoken about getting back to basics, I think he needs to look in the mirror and apply that to himself. Basics for me would be playing naturally wide players in wide positions. This means the only three options are Mirallas, McGeady and Ovideo for the two wide positions.
Naismith for me is the stick on number 10 if we play the 4-2-3-1 formation we seem to favour. You see where I am going with this? With our fit players the team effectively picks itself at the moment.
The two deep positions should be held by Barkley and Besic as this allows Barkley to play with the game happening in front of him, driving forward not worrying about having to hold up the ball and bring other players in (which Naismith is better at anyway).
The back 5 again probably pick themselves with Joel, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka and Alcaraz, but any of the back four would be under pressure if we had more players fit.
The only real question is up front. Kone looked hungry against Newcastle but was isolated against Hull. The shift in formation probably never helped, but also as a player that likes to come deeper to get the ball left us short up front at times.
Now, picking this simple formation, with players in the right, natural positions may not get results straight away, or even at all but it would make the manager a much smaller target and put the pressure onto the people who are under-performing, the players.
Whilst speaking to Graham Stuart this week I discussed the slow play we exhibit at times, even when chasing the game. I said that the instructions come front the manager and therefore he was to blame. Graham was more circumspect saying that it’s the players who are on the pitch at the time, and they appear to be hiding behind the managers style, when they could choose to go more direct if they wanted to.
Things need to change, and in a big way if we are going to turn our season round. I guess we go again against West Ham at Goodison in the FA Cup on Tuesday night. Under the lights Goodison will be rocking and hopefully some of that can rub off on to the players.
Come On You Blues – We can turn this around. Together.