This was a draw that was hard to put into context. Did we merely play a good Everton side at the wrong time, just as they were emerging from their annual poor start, or were we the victim of a European hangover?

I believe that this European hangover syndrome is something of fallacy. Yes, we’ve dropped points against Wigan and now Everton after playing in Europe in midweek, but we’ve also followed up our Champions League games with wins against Stoke, Wolves and Villa. We could have won this one also, but our momentum was lost after a baffling substitution.

I’ve always stood up against the anti-Harry brigade and have the greatest respect for the way our manager has turned our fortunes around, but where I find it hardest to support him is in his tactical decisions in big games and when making substitutions.

Crouch was having a terrible game against an Everton defence who knew that the best way to nullify him was to unbalance the gangly striker at every opportunity. I was expecting him to make way when Pavlyuchenko was brought on, but instead Harry opted to play the two together, despite the fact that they have never really shown signs of gelling as a partnership, as Pav doesn’t work hard enough to get into positions to feed off Crouch’s flicks.

What baffled me far more though was the way that our midfield was reshaped. Lennon didn’t have a great game and still seems to lack confidence. A year ago he was running towards the byline with the ball at every opportunity, while he now cuts inside without trying to beat his marker. Yet his presence on the right gave us a certain balance that was lost when he was taken off.

To make matters worse, Bale was moved over to the right, which completely nullified him. Bale also didn’t have the best game, as Everton doubled up on him, but this creates space for others to exploit. Out on the right he was no longer a threat, while Van der Vaart once again demonstrated that he has no intention of sticking to a wide position, leaving the left flank empty.

We weren’t creating much in the way of chances before the substitution, but at least we had a shape and a strategy. It clearly wasn’t going to be Crouch’s day and it would have made more sense to swap him with Pav. In terms of the midfield, if it needed refreshing (and Bale had every reason to feel jaded) why not bring Kranjcar on?

The plus points from this game was the fact that Van der Vaart helped himself to another goal and good performances from Kaboul and Modric. Everton are a decent team and will take results of our rivals this season, so I’m not too downbeat about this draw, but you just have to hope that we don’t come to regret these lost points at the end of the season.



  1. Lennon was not having a bad game, only he was not fed any good passes and we seem to be concentrating too much on the left hand side, besides with Bale shifted on the right and VDV retreated we lost our shape. I agree Crouch was having a bad game and it should have been a straight substitution with Pav.

    • I agree with the lack of service to Lennon. Since Bale’s been on form, too much of our play goes down the left and we should mix things up more.

  2. Saw nothing wrong with trying to win game by bringing on extra striker. It wasn’t about gelling as partnership, it was trying to nick something. Bale on right side worked before against Stoke away. There is nothing wrong with trying something. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Bale was not causing much danger anyway. When you play a team that is well organised, sometimes doing something unexpected can throw them of course. Some would have seen swapping Crouch for Pav as a non-attacking substitution when you are chasing victory. The ironic thing is that Crouch’s “terrible” game involved him setting up the first goal – which would have gone in had Vdv not kicked it. Yes, rather fortunate but Crouch was in the right place to make the goal. I am not saying that Harry is a tactical genius, I just don’t think that it is as easy as people think.

  3. we all no he isn’t a right winger,we were doing everythink to win the game,what a waise of my life reading this rubbish,rubbish,go get a life loser

  4. I agree that Harry’s done a lot and for that I’m really loath to criticise him. But it really is the case that tactically he leaves a lot to be desired. When it comes to squad rotation, substitutions and formation changes during a game he comes up with some really wierd decisions. Rather like Bale on Saturday he has previously moved Lennon to the ‘wrong’ side with zero effect.

  5. bale is being wasted.its no good makeing good crosses when your target man and striker are not first class.crouch was double marked and roman is not a great striker.(not sure what he is)bale should take defoes place as striker and our excellent kids could supply the crosses to the centre.when defoe is fit ,both alongside crouch would be a lethal combination.


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