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Everton at Newcastle United: Five Thoughts

Another day, another Everton defeat. This is becoming an all too familiar scenario this season. No matter the circumstances; luck, injuries, Europe, etc; Roberto Martinez is under pressure and now in real danger of overseeing Everton's first finish outside the top ten since the mid-2000's.

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No confidence, but lots of conviction

From the outside it certainly didn't seem as though the manager has lost the team. They were willing runners with lots of conviction in closing players down, and strong in the tackle. Sadly though, the one thing that Martinez should be good at, building confidence, seems to be his achilles heel at the moment. You can see just from watching a 60 second spell of possession that the players have no confidence, passes fall short or are slightly over-hit, arms are waved when moves break down, and heads drop when things don't go Everton's way. When you're attempting to play a possession based game as Everton are the players have to be sure in what they're doing as any doubt results in the type of performances that Everton are producing at the moment.

Fluid formation. Or players not knowing where they're playing?

Was Baines left wing, left back, no. 10, or all three? Eto'o played centre mid, left wing, no. 10 and wasn't effective at any. There were times it was tough to see what formation the Blues were playing, particularly in the attack part of the pitch where the front four seemed all over the pitch, often getting in each others way. When it works it looks great and fluidity is what Roberto's football is all about, but when it doesn't work it leaves massive gaps for the opposition to exploit. It also relies heavily on McGeady and Kevin Mirallas who are two players that could work this system, but Samuel Eto'o - dreadful against Newcastle - and Ross Barkley cannot adapt to playing the wide roles.

All this leads to another big issue; a chronic lack of width when Everton break quickly. The onus falls to the fullbacks and though Seamus Coleman and Luke Garbutt did well enough it leaves some of those massive gaps. In short, this system isn't playing to the players strengths and is leaving the team exposed at the back and confused in attack. On the plus side, the Leighton Baines experiment was interesting and showed enough promise to suggest that he can play in an advanced role, which would bring some much needed verve to the team and also allow for Garbutt to develop further.

Aiden McGeady

Seriously, how poor was the Irishman yesterday? He was well off the pace, his touch was poor, his passing was awry (his 76% success rate was far worse than the average for the team), he couldn't beat anyone, and most importantly his pathetic effort at playing his way out of danger cost Everton the second goal. There's a case to be put forward that McGeady isn't helped by Martinez's constant chopping and changing and that he's the kind of confidence player that would benefit from a proper run in the side. He's shown what he can do on occasion this season but he's turned out to be exactly what Evertonians expected: frustratingly inconsistent.

Individual errors

Two more cost Everton, McGeady's wayward pass and Barkley's sloppy control. It's the type of thing the two players have been guilty ogf regularly this season and Barkley in particular needs to stamp it out to become the player everyone wants him to be. With Joel Robles actually making some saves in goal - Tim Howard's saves made stats aren't good this season - it was mistakes that let Newcastle in. This is one of the biggest contributors to the goals against column this season, sloppy play in the Everton third of the pitch. It needs to be fixed. Fast.

Arouna Kone

The Ivorian was excellent. His movement for the goal was in stark contrast to Romelu Lukaku's lack of movement at the very end of the game. He took care of the ball, linked the play, worked the channels and generally got involved. After being somewhat of a joke for the last eighteen months it's great to see Kone getting his first start for the club and also proving his worth. Our Belgian number 10 should have been watching closely, he would have learnt a thing or two about forward play and desire.