Like most fans of Premier League clubs, Everton fans love a youngster who comes through the system, a local hero that can live out their dreams of pulling on the royal blue shirt.
Everton seemed to have one of those local heroes in England attacking midfielder Ross Barkley. Unfortunately the 23-year-old has not quite lived up to his potential.
He has struggled to find form and the Evertonian’s are the first ones to tell him.
Criticism has been counterproductive
Most Everton fans are willing Barkley to succeed, but with every stray pass, they get frustrated with their undoubtedly talented star. It is that frustration that leads to the fans criticising Barkley. Unfortunately, the criticism is counterproductive.
Although regarded as a creative player he often looks scared to lose the ball. This leads to him giving the ball away as he is being tentative and seems to lack confidence. Barkley works best when he does not have too much time to think about his actions.
His football instincts are wonderful, but his decision-making skills are truly woeful for a player who now has a fair bit of Premier League experience.
Everton boss Ronald Koeman has tried the hard line approach with the star. However, it has not worked so far and the England international has found himself on the bench on occasion this season.
Failing to live up to expectations at number ten
Barkley was always regarded as a number ten. He could create behind the striker and have more freedom. However, on the odd occasion that Barkley has played in a deeper role he has been more comfortable.
By no means is Barkley the complete central midfielder, but maybe playing in a deeper role he can surge forward and have more of an influence on the game. Everton have been crying out for top quality number ten this season.
However, Barkley has failed to live up to expectations in the number ten role, yet last season he enjoyed his most productive campaign in the top-flight. In the first half of the campaign, he was outstanding, but his form tailed off towards the end of the campaign.
Barkley may have been overhyped in the past, but only two players in the Premier League produced more dribbles last season. Only three other midfielders could match his tally of eight goals and eight assists in the top-flight last season.
Barkly was only behind Riyad Mahrez, Dele Alli and Dimitri Payet in effectiveness from an attacking midfield role last season. To put that into perspective Mahrez won Player of the Year, while Alli won Young Player of the Year. Payet was also regarded as one of the best performers in the top-flight last season. Barkley was in esteemed company, which is what makes his struggles so frustrating.
Could be recalled at Hull
Everton face a trip to rock-bottom Hull on Friday night, in a game, the Toffees are favourites at odds of 19/20 to record a victory. Barkley was left on the bench for the Boxing Day win at champions Leicester. However, he came on and impressed in the 2-0 win.
Toffees boss Ronald Koeman is no doubt toying with the idea of recalling the star for the trip to Humberside. The Dutchman like most is trying to work out Ross Barkley and how to get the best out of the star.
Recent media speculation has suggested that Tottenham may be interested in signing Barkley. There was even talk of Moussa Sissoko coming the other way in a swap deal. I suspect most Evertonian’s would shun that deal considering Sissoko’s position on a move to Merseyside in the summer.
Most Everton fans want Barkley to succeed at the club. He is after all one of them. Unfortunately, being one of their own adds to the pressure placed on his shoulders.
Hopefully, Barkley’s performances will start to improve, beginning with Friday’s clash with Hull. The 23-year-old looks to be coming to a crossroad in his career. If he is to start fulfilling his potential he needs to start soon.
If he does not then I am afraid he may well be shipped out elsewhere and who knows if he will ever produce the performances that we all know he is capable.
Will Ross Barkley’s performances improve at Everton?
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