Obstructed View – Reflections on the Bournemouth (A) Game

Heavy legs, no energy, listless, and clueless on how to improve performance once things got tough.

Anyway, enough about me and my laboured Robin Hood Half Marathon on Sunday. What about Everton?

Oh.

Ditto.

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We could talk about ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ and if Boric hadn’t pulled off a Banks’ Worldy to keep out Lukaku’s header, things may have turned out differently. But the reality is we were (altogether now) heavy legged, no energy, listless, and clueless on how to improve performance once things got tough.

What I can’t quite work out is why? Ok, defeat to Norwich won’t have helped, but Bournemouth also lost at home, to PNE who are worse than Norwich, throwing away a 2-1 lead late in the game, and after playing 120 minutes. Travelling all that way won’t have helped, but we won away at Sunderland on a Monday night and surely these days with fitness and preparation, journeys to far flung places like, er, Bournemouth can be no excuse whatsoever. Were they a better team perhaps? Always a debate, they won, so yes they were better, and it wasn’t as if we battered them and lost to a scrappy far post bundle, but you’d look at the team sheets, and unless they played unbelievably well, you’d be hard pressed to think they’d get anything out of the game, especially given their capitulation to City and our impressive turn of speed against Boro.

But Bournemouth did win, and deservedly so, and it has to be down to ‘desire’. Were we a tad complacent? I think so, perhaps the players read too many of the forecasts, and the pundits generally had us down for a win, at least a draw, and probably only the Bournemouth Echo thought the Cherries could turn us over. In front of the massed ranks of 11,000 spectators, that’s exactly what they did, and frankly, we let them. Right from the first minute we could have been behind, and whilst Bournemouth ‘Shots on Target’ wasn’t a stunning stat, that being their goal (and what a finish by the way), we only managed one better, and we never really had any periods of dominance when we knew what we were going to do differently to win the game.

Gueye was good, but nowhere near as impressive as previously, Barry was clearly nursing his injury, and the back 4 seemed a little more exposed as a result. The goal is a horror show of defending, right out of the Martinez Top Drawer, and I thought we’d said goodbye to that sort of thing with RK’s arrival and the solidity of Williams. But in front of that back 6, the 4 further forward looked completely devoid of ideas, and whilst you can possibly excuse 1 player, for all 4 at the same time to apparently have downed tools more collectively than a Junior Doctors’ strike action, is quite extraordinary. There is no point in blaming an individual, easy though the Keyboard Warriors have made that seem, because why pick out one player amongst many?

The reality is, we didn’t want to win enough. Brave pre-match words to camera or on twitter, count for nothing when you walk over the white line and your opponent out-muscles you, out-runs you, out-thinks you. That’s when you need to change something yourself, do something different, or surprise surprise, you’ll get the same results.

But I would urge perspective. We have lost a game against opposition we should beat, no argument there. But 6 games in, we’ve won 4, drawn 1 and lost 1. I think that’s pretty good. But if we don’t change starting this Friday, we’ll start to follow Hull sliding down the table, and that, frankly, is not even remotely acceptable. Good starts count for little if you can’t keep it going. I know: I ran my first 2 miles in record time, which meant the last 5 were a disaster.

Don’t do that to me Everton, I can do it to myself, but it’s not your job.

Ross Crombie

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