Date: 1st December 2008 at 10:18am
Written by:

For the first time I have to criticize Harry Redknapp for a badly thought out team yesterday, I felt he got the tactics wrong pure and simple…

I wrote on Friday that I was convinced Everton would play a 4-5-1 formation for two very obvious reasons, this is the formation that Moyes has always preferred and also he didn’t really have another option. His selection was pretty predictable, I named ten of the starting line up and the only area I didn’t mention was the final midfield place as there were several injury doubts, the man who filled that role was to be the goalscorer, but Pienaar was himself returning from injury, so if I can get the team right, why didn’t Harry look to play a team to win the game, as for me the one he played was all wrong…

When I say all wrong I may be being harsh, but firstly the formation was wrong, it should have been a five in the middle all day long. Harry had a problem with the absence of Jermaine Jenas and of course Luka Modric as players who could play a box to box role and support the strikers from deep, but surely there were options that would have worked better, even if this meant taking a gamble with KPB, Hossam Ghaly or John Bostock.

The pairing of Zokora and Hudd in the middle simply didn’t work, they are both players who take a time on the ball, though for differing reasons.. neither are players who will run into space to support play, both also naturally stay deep and therefore want to work the same areas, creating un-necessary congestion, something which nullifies Huddlestones game and therefore restricts our movement in the middle.

Whether picking David Bentley was the right move is a point of argument, but it seemed logical that if you played Lennon and Bentley together yesterday, they should have started with Bentley on the right and Lennon left. Playing Lennon on the left would have put him against Phil Neville a good defender, but Lennon’s pace would have troubled him far more than Bentleys stepovers.. similarly Bentley would have been happier facing Lescott and his ability to move inside and deep would have caused uncertainty for the full back, but with Lennon you know what you are going to get and Lescott is quick and organised.

In attack, both Bent and Pav were ok, but still seem to struggle as a pair, but again is this due to our midfield two’s inability to get up in support? On several occasions the ball was perfect for a player like JJ or Modric to run onto, but both Hudd and Zokora were nowhere in sight, not their fault in some ways, as it simply isn’t their game, Hudd isnt a box – box player and never will be whilst Zokora doesn’t have the vision to make those runs..

Defensively I thought we were ok, Woodgate was the pick for me, whilst King was great at decision making, but I think he is still adapting slightly to a loss of pace and is occasionally getting caught wrong side, which was once never an issue, but at a yard slower, is now. Corluka was good again defensively, but I still feel his future in is the centre as he offers no threat going forward. Credit has to go to BAE, who worked well going forward and his final ball was very impressive on 3 or 4 occasions.

Although Gomes made some great saves, I am still very concerned at his inability to catch the ball. Clearly he couldn’t get every ball as just getting body behind ball was the best he could do. The defence as a unit were also guilty of loosing concentration and failing to pick up runners on a number of occasions, which forced Gomes into so many point blank saves.

Overall I don’t think there were any poor performances, but there was again far to much careless loss of possession and lack of concentration, Highlighted perfectly by the Everton Goal, Lennon had his back to the ball, instead of facing the play, an argument was obviously the better course of action, similarly both Hudd and Corluka were not focusing on play, but although this was the play which cost us the points, it was one of many and I am sure will be something Harry will be looking at this week.

Player Ratings:

Gomes 7 (great shot stopping, needs to catch more)
Corluka 6 (tidy, but for me should be in the centre)
Woodgate 7 (Now our defensive leader)
King 6 (adapting to loss of pace)
BAE 7 (still erratic, but some excellent crossing)
Lennon 6 (looked more dangerous facing Neville)
Zokora 6 (doesn’t work in a two with Hudd)
Hudd 6 (went for the long option far to often)
Bentley 6 (looks confused when he isn’t on right)
Bent 6 (had chances, but just couldn’t convert)
Pav 6 (should have done better with chances)
Campbell 5 (unimpressive)
Bale 7 (livened things up and was the pick for spurs when he was on)
KPB 6 (I would have put him on earlier as Zok & Hudd wasn’t working)

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