We know you'll be happy. Not with the result but with the return of 5 Thoughts. Oh yeah, we're back and telling you the five things we think. First up is the game against a more than competent Krasnodar. The Russian team were confident and competent in possession, and looked to take the sting out of the game by retaining possession whenever they could. Still the young Everton side took the game to them in the second half. Here are our five things.
Surprisingly good to have Arouna Kone back
In his fourteen months on the sidelines no-one has really been too fussed about Kone, other than to complain what a waste of money he was. Well last night showed that maybe we have been missing something. The Ivory Coast striker was powerful, direct, and a real handful for the Krasnodar defence. Whilst a little unusual at times his first touch and strength holding the ball up should have taught Romelu Lukaku a thing or two. He worked the channels, linked up with the midfield and widemen well, and wasn't afraid to shoot - and on target. Overall that was a more than decent return and offers something different for the Christmas period coming up.
Gareth Barry is great
Even when playing a position he hasn't played since his early days Barry was incredibly important for the team. Even though he occasionally looked like he was playing a libero role rather than centre back, and was caught out of position a couple of times his awareness and experience got him out of trouble. A 93% pass success rate demonstrates what he brings to the team. He'll be missed against QPR on Monday night.
Too many youngsters
Whilst it was a great opportunity for many fans to see these players for the first time, and for Roberto Martinez to see how they cope against professional players; it's a big call to put out a team with five youth players, two players coming back from long term injury and three players making rare appearances. Once they got used to the environment the experiment turned out to be mildly useful, but to get the best out of your youth they should be integrated into the team, not dropped into a completely different line-up. If you were watching on ITV4 you'd have heard Sir Les Ferdinand agreeing.
Ryan Ledson recovered from a quiet first half to put in an excellent second half performance, sitting deep, always looking for the ball, and playing short, quick passes as well as pinging the balls out to either flank. A 91% pass rate tells the story. Very promising.
Luke Garbutt also had a really good game at leftback, taking over where Leighton Baines has left off. Four chances created and a constant outlet on the left, Garbutt looks ready for regular first team games. He didn't start, and hardly touched the ball in the first half but Kieran Dowell showed some great touches and awareness in the second half. The unassuming youngster drifted across this pitch and looks like the sort of intelligent player that Martinez can mould into one of his own.
Finally, Conor McAleny. In flashes he showed why, at 22, he's still with Everton, hard working, fluid and strong on the ball, and dangerous running out wide; all this whilst playing out of position. His decision making needs some work though, whether he was too eager to impress or just not aware, there were a couple of times when he chose the wrong pass, or just didn't pass.
First off Christian Atsu didn't get the chance to impress anyone; cut down by a knackered hamstring at just seven minutes. Ty Browning doesn't really look like a fullback, he's got an amazing amount of pace but he didn't seem too comfortable on the ball and defensively needed more help than he was given. Worst of all though was Steven Pienaar. One of the most experienced players on the pitch was at fault for the winning goal, lacked any semblance of pace what-so-ever and just generally didn't do anything with the ball when he had it. The South African has looked like a player in decline for a while now and this was further evidence of that. Sad to see, and sad to say, but there's no future for Pienaar as a starter anymore.