Well its my birthday so first things first, happy birthday to me. Many more happy returns yours truly.
On to the gist of the matter, Gor Mahia, my Alma mater, humbled the toffees. I want to take a critical match analysis of the game but I can't do it without looking at stages the two teams are in their seasons.
Everton are in their second week of their six weeks preseason. Ronald Koeman being a Dutch, most likely belongs to Raymond Verheijen school of thought. Verheijen a fitness guru per excellence contends that preseason should take between 6-8 weeks (these are called cycluses), each cyclus is divided into two weeks blocks. The first two weeks are mainly for extensive endurance training. No speed work during this block. And there are also many double sessions plus gym sessions. This perfectly explains why Everton looked jaded and lacked their normal explosivity. EPL is known for highly explosive games, that they will achieve at the end of Cyclus One (week six). Probably they had a morning gym session yesterday morning.
Physically Gor Mahia were at a higher level than Everton because they are on their 26th week of their season. That is Cyclus Five, Week Two. They have played about 20 competitive games and about 6-8 friendly games. Metaphorically, Everton were the bicycle racing an F1 Ferrari (Gor). The Ferrari won the physical contest.
There was nothing much to choose between the two sides. Gor showed that on a good surface they can match the merseysiders pass for pass. They were never overawed. That was a good show from Wuon timbe. Everton never bossed the game the way many expected. A little explanation can be found in preseason tactical Periodization.
The first two weeks is where coaches are trying to introduce their tactics to the team. For example Koeman may be changing a few things, tweaking here and there from his maiden season with the toffees. New players will also be inducted to coaches way of thinking, tactics and strategies around this time. Thus there is so much for players to take in coupled with a very heavy physical load. Tactically Everton are still on their marks, athletics style. While Gor are way passed the half way mark.
My take, Gor Mahia edged the better part of the first half, applying a medium to high press with Meddie and Tuyisenge. This denied Everton the chance to comfortably build up from the back. This completely cut off their midfield from the game. They never featured. Well done Zico and Kerr, 4-4-2 worked perfectly against Everton's 4-3-3.
But the moment Gor changed the shape into a 4-3-3, then Everton could easily find their rotating midfielders and the game became one way. I should add it was not a negative tactical switch but more about the players they had on the pitch and on bench. The didn't have a second set of twins strikers. Thus Kahata could only play behind lonely Timo.
Well done Gor. Well done Zico and Kerr and well done Sportpesa.
This article originally appeared on www.geniusoffootball.com.