Everton’s slow start syndrome; no Davie, hypnotism not the answer!
It took just half an hour for QPR to put the ball in the Park End net, a goal which in truth had been coming, with the visitors passing the ball neatly, dominating possession and keeping Everton pinned back in their own half for long periods. Amazingly, given all the discussion and a pre-season designed specifically at avoiding the slow starts of previous campaigns, the Blues looked soporific and off the pace. QPR’s passing game isn’t rocket science but Everton did not pressure them enough and were unable to get a foothold in the match. That said Jack Rodwell might well have won a penalty early on and a few minutes later Leighton Baines crashed a free kick against the underside of the bar, with Paddy Kenny beaten, after debutante Ross Barkley had won a free kick.
In the memory of this writer only two other home grown players have had the immediate impact that did 17 year old Barkley – the 16 year old Wayne Rooney and David Johnson back in 1971. Physically Barkley cuts an imposing figure; 6ft 2 tall and solidly built with a severe short back and sides haircut he has the look of a throwback to the sepia tinged days of the maximum wage and post-war austerity. Stationed in the wide midfield role he immediately impressed with his excellent close control, his ability to shield and hold the ball and his range of passing – his cross-field delivery was sublime, triggering murmurs of approval and ripples of applause. He has a hunger and obvious desire to hurt the opposition which on this day was sadly lacking in his team-mates. Time and again he worked himself into excellent positions around the edge of the QPR area, feinting and jinking to try and get a sight of goal. On a couple of occasions he got his shot away, one attempt in the second half passing just a foot wide of Kenny’s right-hand post.
Arteta and Saha did not start and when they finally appeared as second-half substitutes, for Rodwell and Heitinga respectively, neither looked on the pace or match fit. It pains me to write this but Mikel Arteta was poor last season, as if his new won reputation and long term contract weighed on him. Where is the sparkling, penetrative player we used to know and love? It was more of the same yesterday; his sideways recirculating of the ball in benign areas in the pitch reminiscant of some sort of half-baked Ray Wilkins. Anyone spreading the rumour that Arsene Wenger is interested in buying him either hasn’t seen him play recently or is mad. Osman was quiet, Cahill subdued and Rodwell again disappointed. There were a number of acceptable chances which were missed; Cahill – twice, Rodwell – once, Fellaini – once, Osman – once. Most telling of all is that the only involvement Tim Howard had in the action was stooping to pick the ball out of his net, for the full 95 minutes of this game he was a spectator.
Tuesday’s Carling Cup game against Sheffield United will be an excellent opportunity to rest Ross Barkley and Tim Howard, but as for the rest of the squad – they look like they could do with a further hard pre-season work out.
EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville ©, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Barkley, Heitinga (Saha 73), Osman; Rodwell (Arteta 55); Cahill; Beckford (Fellaini 64)
Unused subs: Mucha, Hibbert, Anichebe, Vellios Booking: Osman
QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-2-3-1): Kenny; Orr, Gabbidon, Hall, Connelly; Derry, Faurlin; Smith (Ephraim66), Buzsaky, Taarabt; Agyemang (Bothroyd 57)
Unused subs: Murphy, Gorkss, Perone, Moen, Andrade Booking: Hall
Referee: K Friend