Our opening so far is strong evidence of an ineffective and weak preseason. Our friendly fixtures haven’t really been much of challenge and even then we went winless and not particularly impressive. Pass and move football only works works if you have the technical skills and vision to pass, and the physical capacity for the moving element to this style of play. After the first two games we look unfit.
Each game has seen us in positions of power that has been relinquished by a lacklustre finish. Our own manager notes in his post match interviews how much energy we were lacking in the last 20 minutes, again. We could easily be top of the league on 6 points at this stage given the way the games have gone against Leicester and Arsenal. We aren’t.
I for one am left frustrated saying ‘why?’ It is disconcerting further both in the sense of what might be from our first couple of games, but also for what is to come with the Europa League in our schedule also. For teams in shape and with large squads the extra games of European competition can be damaging.
But Everton have a smaller squad in terms of replaceable quality and seem like the preseason has barely touched the surface of the sort of fitness the players require. How are we going to raise fitness levels whilst appropriately preparing for the oncoming games? I’m not sure. But things need to be raised a level before we start our campaign in the Europa League otherwise these late rallies against a weary Everton will become a trend.
Our management team have known we have the Europa League and that fitness will be a key aspect to doing well in domestic and european football, and yet we don’t look ready to perform anywhere near the full 90 minutes. The world cup may be said to be an excuse but more of the Arsenal squad were involved than ours, and Ozil and Mertesacker went all the way to the final.
From the outside you can’t help but feel that our pre season has been a failure in leading to what it is meant for.. making us ready for the start of the season. We will only start to finish teams off and get wins when we get our fitness beyond its current lowly level.
If not then we have a long season of watching our team wilt amidst a hectic schedule.