10 Point Tactical Post-mortem on the Bolton defeat

1.Our starting line up was a 4-4-2 variant (4-2-2-2) with Heitinga and Neville holding with Donovan and Osman coming off the flanks to play advanced behind the strikeforce of Saha and Stracqualursi . Bolton lined up in a 4-5-1with Ngog as the lone forward.

2.With our squad, 2 strikers just doesn’t work. 4-5-1 is much maligned but it makes us a lot more compact . In modern football most teams in the top flight leagues across Europe don’t play with 2 strikers. Man United is an obvious exception, but they have Rooney who can dip into midfield when they are not in possession and then pivot to the striking role when they regain the ball (4-5-1 becoming 4-4-2) We do this to an extent with Cahill in the side and it makes us harder to play through.

3.If only the formation was our only problem!  Player wise, we have the smallest squad in the top flight – our first choice 11 has quality and will be competitive against any side in the division, but when the squad creaks we are left with the fringe players who are not good enough.

4.We were not helped by basically having a first choice midfield which oozes energy (Drenthe, Fellaini, Rodwell, Coleman) all injured whilst two of our top performers Jagielka and Osman also limped off  which disrupted what little rhythm we had in the first half. This led to our ball retention in the second half dropping alarmingly from 72% to 61% – the key factor in the match.

5.The  key advantage of 4-5-1 over 4-4-2 is the advantage of a 5 man midfield to a 4 man midfield. Bolton outnumbered us in the middle of the park 3 v 2 which made it very easy for them to pass the ball around us, especially as we had little in terms of legs in the middle of the park to press and regain possession with old man Neville’s creaking legs put through its 5th game in 19 days.

6.Moyes is not a fool and whilst fans will point the finger at him for retaining the likes of Neville, Heitinga and Saha we simply have nobody else to call on.  Gueye, Stracqualursi and Donovan had 1 prem start between them and it showed as we looked increasingly disjointed as the game developed.

7.Jagielka’s injury in particular made us vulnerable at the – his ability to get vital blocks  and interceptions in our 18 yard box is massive . In the first half we conceded just 2 shots on our goal inside our 18 yard box, whereas in the second the figure rose to 10 – although point 5 is also a contributory factor to this.

8.As noted in point 4 our passing deteriorated as the game went on. Having a numerical disadvantage in the centre of the pitch makes it very hard for defenders to play the ball into midfield from the back , so the long ball into the channels becomes the default option. Some of the passing on show was truly dire. Of our outfield players Hibbert ( 55%), Straq (67%) and Neville ( 68%) were the worst in terms of pass completion – all comfortably below Stoke’s average pass completion of 70%

9.The strike force of Saha and Straqualursi was terrible. The original tactic seemed to be for them to both pull wide with Osman and Donovan coming off the flanks and using the space the forwards had vacated, but once Osman came off this plan wilted as Gueye is heavily left footed and will rather hug the touchline (and in doing so reduce Baines room to manoeuvre) . Even when the strike duo played closer together in the second period there was no chemistry at all – the chalkboard (below) shows Saha’s passing (numbers shown are squad numbers) ….Saha made 2 passes to Straq in the 90mins.

10.In Conclusion, we were basically inept. Playing 2 out and out strikers was the wrong move. Osman should have started through the middle with one of the mediocre wide men (Billy/McFadden etc) wide left. The man dis-advantage in the middle of the park gave Bolton the advantage and led to a lack of cohesion for ourselves. Credit to Bolton, they were comfortably the better side and should have won by a higher margin.




18 thoughts on “10 Point Tactical Post-mortem on the Bolton defeat

    • The lad is obviously going to be ace but Moyes must think hes not ready yet..to be fair I went the blackburn game (his last league start) and he give away a pen and looked shaky before being dragged off. Hes only a kid but think people look at rooney coming through at young age and think barkley will be same…rooney was a once in a lifetime situation so the comparison isnt fair.

  1. Barclay may have looked shaky at Blackburn, but he may get better, Neville & Heitinga also look shaky & won’t. I’d have put Barclay in the middle with reluctantly one of the other 2 beside him. Upfront Straq & Saha won’t score if the size of the goal is doubled, neither can cut it at all. What’s happened to Vellios? again he may not have set the world on fire with his 2 starts, but he does offer some sort of threat.

  2. A fan of your postsmate, it was a really bad 2nd half performance from everton. I’ve got some question for you: do you recognize a dip in baines form this season? Not as much creative and adventurous as he did last season..and what position do the team require to come out better in 2nd half of the season? Cheers.

    • Cheers. Baines misses his mate pienaar a lot and the space he used to creat for him- he’s had 8,9 left wingers in front of him this season so lack of consistency. He’s still playing well. We need an att mid and striker to kick on.

  3. This is a really cool site, it is nice to see a tactical interpretation after watching the match from the emotional point of view. As one who used to do match reports, they were almost always as others saw it but full of my own gripes. Kind of makes it more objective. Thanks!

  4. Well-written post. Good stuff. Particularly Point 4 and Jags going out. If there was a Club custom-made to be taken on a given night by an EPL shit team it was EFC last night. Basically a one-off.

  5. Well
    judging by the terminology and the plans you are from the states and that means you have only become interested recently ,we had a player of 16 years of age come into the first team and play for many years -Joe Royle -and by the way Donovan has more than one first team start

    • Oh dear! Born in liverpool and season ticket holder of 25 years so your way of the mark. To dismiss people from the states is also laughable – I know a lot of fans from the us who are very knowledgeable about efc and what joe royle has to do with any of this I do not know. Crazy comment.

      • I’m from the good ol’ U.S. of A., and I think y’all are just the funniest bunch! The Executioner’s Bong is good medicine for the misery of following Everton from afar.

  6. the apparent ‘intellectual’ analysis here hides one thing – everton, the club and its management are shit. end of.

  7. How stupid to say the formation was wrong.
    It was the oicking of players.
    Neville must never play in midfield. Saha is gone, bye,bye.
    Cahill is also out of form. It would have been better to play Mcfadden,(Billy),Barkley,Osman and Donovan in midfield with Vellios up front along with Mcaleny and then Anichebe.Straq is far from ready to start games, Barkley is the only creative alternative left because of injury.

  8. Really enjoy the analysis executioner — don’t have anything else to say but hate to let the tactical geniuses who left the last three or four comments above be the only ones who are heard.

  9. Barkley needs to play behind a target man (straq or Velios) so that he can display his enormous talent in the final third without having any defensive responsibilities. At least forthirty minutes every game to gain experience.

  10. Great analysis as ever, I can’t believe some of the posts. This is the most insightful Everton FC website available and still people have a go. It is probably the same folk who want Moyes out of the club. Well you can’t please all the people.

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