Norwich v Everton Tactical Analysis: Moving On

Jamie McDonald

Nobody actually wants to analyze this game, so I'm not going to.

There are things I could write about last weekend’s brutal loss. I thought about breaking out the telestrator to show just how badly Fellaini marked his man to give up the first goal. I thought about trying to examine just why it was the Norwich got better and better at crossing the ball as the game went on (40% of their completed crosses came in second half stoppage time). I even thought about trying to pen something optimistic, breaking down the table and combing history for comeback stories. Honestly though, after the last ten minutes of that game I just don’t have it in me, and my guess is none of you have it in you either. I kinda hope everybody looks at the recap headline, decides that they don’t need this kind of negativity in their life and just scrolls right on by to the Cup preview.

So, I’m only really going to make one point before we all put the game in the rearview mirror forget about it. Games like that really serve to highlight the limits of tactical analysis. For a full 80 minutes the general theme of the game was that Everton put in a solid, if not spectacular performance, and got the job done. There were little tactical points to be made here and there, small worries, and small victories, but nothing particularly special, just a workman-like, much needed road victory. Then, obviously, disaster strikes. And those two goals were just brutal, and realistically they are all that matter.

The thing is, they don’t negate the first 80 minutes. Everton didn’t retroactively play a bad 80 minutes. They played pretty well for 80 minutes (well 70+ really, Norwich really came into the came a few minutes before they scored their first), not great, but well enough. It just so happens that those 80 minutes weren’t enough, and those last 10 were truly gut-wrenchingly horrible. But, that makes a tactics piece kind of useless, since tactics pieces examine the entirety of the game, and in this case the entirety of the game just doesn’t matter. Now, that’s not to say that Everton were unlucky. They didn’t catch a bad bounce or get a bad call or anything. They just had two dreadfully bad moments of execution. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Frequently, actually that’s all it takes, which is what makes it so frustrating really. The goals conceded weren’t a result of anything other than specific players at specific moments needing to play better.

The next logical step is to play the blame game and yell and scream about whose fault it is, and call for their heads and all that, and there are weeks where I do that, but this week, what’s the point? Although if you all want to, go right ahead. That’s what we have a comments section for. I’m choosing to focus on a midweek cup game. There’s nothing to help you get over a bad performance like not having to wait a week to try again. Unless they lose.

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