Whilst Managers/coaches understand that you have to be difficult to beat as a starter, all have a “vision” of how their teams would ideally play. This isn’t (shouldn’t be) totally fixed. It will need to be adapted to cope with in-game changes and the tactical approach of the opposition but the basic principles need to be consistent. All teams would seek to be compact enough to have players supporting each other with different options on and off the ball. All teams would want movement from players who were intelligent enough to use the space created by that movement and to be aware of that space being a potential threat when the opposition recover the ball.
It is rare that any manager or coach would move into a club and find a squad already moulded to his ideal.
They assess the qualities of the players they have and they organise those players into a way of playing that makes the most of those qualities. Over the short term the manager or coach seeks to improve those players; make them fitter, improve their ball control, their tactical awareness.
He seeks to bring in players who appear to be a better fit for what he aspires to. Sometimes, if you are Rafa B in the Championship for example, you have to use players and approaches that are necessary to get out of the division knowing that your ideal in the higher division means that those players and approaches won’t cut it. Talk to any manager who has done it and he’ll tell you that doing this successfully is the toughest challenge in English football.
Respect to those who have done this. Allardyce, Pulis and Howe spring to mind.
Of course nobody has a blank cheque, so compromise is called for. Few successful managers allow squads to go unchanged season-on-season. This is a result of working towards their ideal; however, that might change as circumstances change.
After this season are we any closer to understanding what his vision might be?He went public with his displeasure at the lack of fitness of the squad generally. Credit to him for doing this. Post-Christmas we were much improved in this respect. Ross Barkley for one looked to have trimmed considerably. What does he want from a fitter squad though?
I supposed that he was bemoaning the inability to press but once the improvement had come we didn’t much. It didn’t result in any greater urgency in breaking quickly. We didn’t look to push out quickly when we turned the ball over.I have banged on about a lack of pace this season and also a lack of guile.
Absence of pace at the back and up front, Lukaku on the run being the sole exception, limits what we can do on turnover because of vulnerability to pace at the back. However, not all of the opposition were possessed of pace front and back anyway but I saw no difference of approach in this respect, home or away, no matter who we were playing.
Now, assuming that players bought reflect what the manager aspires to, he certainly tried to buy more pace and he has been unlucky with Bolasie. Likewise, Coleman’s injury has limited options going forward to an extent. Coleman could give us the confidence to push out more quickly from the back. He often makes last-ditch covering tackles when we have been under the cosh because of his pace but staying with the back four as they push out and coming narrower to do the job negates his impact forward.
Despite the adverse comments from some on here Baines is still pacey. In my view he has been less effective because he has not been encouraged to get forward early enough and the players he needs to set him up with 1-2s are not there. (Despite his greater prominence this season than Baines, I think Coleman is restricted, though to a lesser degree, by team orders.) Remember those divine triangles between Baines and any two of Pienaar, Cahill and Arteta?
In the current team Mirallas is always looking to drift and is allowed a completely indisciplined role. (Unless we are trying to secure more money on sale, I despaired when I saw the news of his new contract. Bigger squad needed or not the only place I can see him playing where he will put a shift in is up front or behind the striker.) Barkley is too slow to see the opportunity and support it with one-touch passes.
Koeman sanctioned the purchase of Lookman. He could be the type of player we are needing down that side to work with the full-back but his development is likely to be too late for Leighton Baines. We need to look to his replacement benefitting from Lookman in time.
The purchase of Ashley Williams was welcomed by most, including me, but I did think it odd. There is no doubt that Jagielka is a much more effective player on the right of the back two. He was messed around when Stones was preferred to him and he was forced to play left. The same thing has happened again with Williams signing.
Jagielka has taken some stick, and so has Williams, for lapses in what we must acknowledge to have been a tighter unit, one which has been more effective in relative terms compared to other teams. Jagielka, in my view is at least as good as Williams but I think both have been let down by Koeman’s inconsistency in selecting genuine sitting midfield players.
Too often there is a big hole in the D and our central defenders are focussed on this, often coming out to make last-ditch blocking attempts. Whatever the outcome (Conte’s strike from just that position effectively won the game for Chelsea), the defensive line becomes unbalanced and reverts to fire-fighting at that stage. We then come under intense pressure as we chase the ball around our own area.
So, we need a quick, left-footed centre-back. At one time I thought that Galloway might do that. I like Funes Mori. His positioning to defend crosses is good and that pays off when he attacks our corners. He isn’t quick enough though. If the purchase options this summer are right-sided we’d be better saving our money.
Finally, well almost, on defence, I like Robles, I think that like all goalkeepers he develops and plays more confidently behind a defence he trusts. He will get better. Stekelenberg won’t. If we can buy a goalkeeper better than Robles we should do so.
My biggest beef this season has been an absence of shape going forward. For me this always starts from your defensive midfielder(s). You can survive and prosper (to a degree) with a lack of pace going forward but without shape the attacks degenerate. Take a simple example from not too long ago when we were no more successful. Under attack, ball breaks, “whoever” hits it to Tommy Gravesen who sweeps it to Kevin Kilbane on the half-way line facing a full-back and nothing else. Kilbane looked at his best at the time because of this and Tommy went to Real Madrid.
Back in the day, Lineker would come short, thumbs up and we knocked a long ball, no thumb and he came short and gave and went. Results? Loads of goals and he’s Barcelona bound.
Now we have Lukaku hanging on the last man or going wide. Option 1 is a fantastic ball for him to get on the end of, usually from our half. Last time I looked, we didn’t have Gunter Netzer playing, so that comes off rarely. Option 2 he collects the ball and either cuts in and, more often than we have a right to expect, beats men and gets shots away, or he holds the ball plays it back and the impetus is lost.
So what shape? A very personal view, admittedly, trying to take into account who we currently have with a couple of touted additions. I haven’t considered any of the U23s. That’s not because I don’t rate them but realistically I don’t know enough about how they shape when training with the first team squad, as Koeman does.
So, back four, one of whom is a quick, left-sided centre-back. Happy with Coleman and Baines for now.
I would think about a back three with a really strong, lone defensive midfielder. Full-backs looking to get forward early, enabled by two defensive midfielders, one left-footed, one right, both confident enough to get forward, one at a time, when opportunities arise. In a more compact shape Barry could continue to do this but he wouldn’t be getting forward. Besic or McCarthy might prove up to it, though I haven’t seen any signs of impact from either further up the pitch. Schneiderlin and Gueye could both do it but they would have to prioritise defensive duties, not go a wandering five/ten yards forward as they do now where they do intercept balls but make too little effective contribution defensively or going forward. There was a reason Jose didn’t rate Schneiderlin.
Two linking midfield players, again right and left. One or both could be wingers but both need to be prepared to both tuck-in and push wide to defend “their” side. Tom Davies is that kind of player. Schneiderlin could do it too. Sigurdsson would be another. They both, from a compact formation, need to be prepared to make runs beyond the main striker. (See Deli Alli.)
Up top we need a mobile striker with good touch. I like Rom and would want to keep him but I don’t think that he has got it yet when he comes off the back four into central midfield. There have been glimpses and he will get better. I hope it’s with us.
Of those we have currently, I like the look of Valencia. I would like to have seen him given a run instead of Rom last week to see what he was made of against an “uncompromising” back four. I don’t rate Mirallas but he scored lots of goals in Greece as the main striker and he could be an option away in the Europa League.
Finally, No 10. Needs to get around and beyond the main striker, needs to fill holes between the lines, needs to have the intelligence to spot gaps and passes. Yes, if he’s that good, we wouldn’t be able to afford him. Currently, if stuck, Valencia or at a further push, Mirallas. No to Ross.
I don’t want to provoke a Rooney thread but a motivated (why wouldn’t he be?), two-stone lighter Wayne could be the man.
Reader Comments (37)
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1 Posted 21/05/2017 at 10:14:06
A year in and, other than 1 up top and a Number 10 I am not seeing anything else in the Koeman philosophy.
We don't move the ball quickly enough in the final 3rd and have a single source of goals, both things have to change if we are to improve.
Let's hope Walsh earns his money in the summer and we sign some gems, hungry young players who want to win.
As far as formation is concerned I think that is dictated by the players available. Rom can't play anywhere other than upfront as we don't have any other strikers, Barclay has to have a free role as he can't track back though both players are effective and have to be included, for now anyhow.
2 Posted 21/05/2017 at 13:12:08
Excellent article and well observed. You brightened up my day with the mention of my all time favorite "non Everton" player... Gunter Netzer.
What a player, he could hit those 30-yard passes with unerring accuracy but also drove his teams forward with great skill and verve. I remember him always demanding the ball in midfield and dominating possession. Fantastic player in my view.
Let's hope for a win today, regardless of what that will mean to Liverpool.
3 Posted 21/05/2017 at 14:06:12
First of all, Baines is in decline and doesn't look half the player he was 18 months ago, maybe longer than that. Robles is no more than a solid back-up keeper.
As for Rooney, don't even get me started on that subject!! Lots of work to be done in the next transfer window, I feel (hope!!) of which at least one new player should be a left back.
I do agree with your Mirallas comments though...
4 Posted 21/05/2017 at 15:59:22
5 Posted 21/05/2017 at 18:13:51
There will be tons of posts over the next three months about dozens of players, the vast majority of which the club will have no interest in, so I'd welcome comments on how we ought to play, given that most of the team will already be at the club, and the kind of player, with a name attached, who we have a realistic chance of signing.
6 Posted 21/05/2017 at 18:14:23
After today's match, he all but shouted that this is the problem for the club and him to sort by way of numerous new signings of players.
He didn't say it but I trust he'll make sure none of those signed will have no interest in letting defenders have all the time they want when they've taken the ball off you, no interest in failing to control the ball when it's delivered to you, no interest in being scared to get hurt, and no interest in fannying around with contract offers or publicly bigging themselves up at the expense of the team that puts them on a pedestal in the first place.
Well, I can dream can't I?
7 Posted 21/05/2017 at 18:31:03
Winning at Goodison is great but it has to be backed up with more points from our away fixtures, otherwise we'll stay in and around 7th in the league at best.
The current team, unless all eleven are firing on all cylinders, is mostly ponderous, and lacking in many key areas. Until the club stop treating performances like today's as acceptable we will continue to tread water whilst other clubs march onwards and upwards.
Many fans believed that last summer was key, but this close season is without doubt even more important; a new ground won't be filled regularly, regardless of its capacity if the board don't invest some proper money and the manager doesn't demand a higher level of work-rate and desire.
Spurs have just won two away games on the spin in emphatic style, we have managed a last minute away win at Crystal Palace in January, in four months. There lies the problem, we don't as fans expect Everton to win away from home and are usually happy enough if we haven't taken a hiding at the homes of the big-hitters.
I'm not concerned about which current players stay at the club or which players arrive in the summer, but this pitiful away form and the attitude of the players towards some games is unacceptable and has to be addressed the fact that many of the hierarchy refer to this season being a success is also testament to how much work needs to be done if we are to see Everton challenge the big boys in the near future.
8 Posted 21/05/2017 at 18:48:45
Gana, Schneiderlin and Davies have given our midfield a new look but we are still shakey at the back and look a bit weak up front.
A new keeper is essential.
I have no idea what Koeman's Everton will look like and what style we'll play. I think finally (or hopefully) we have a manager who can see we need better quality than what we have and with the correct signings could move us up to the next level.
If Barkley leaves it's a sad day.
9 Posted 21/05/2017 at 18:53:05
If he won't go out on loan, consign him to the Under-23s. This whole business with Barkley and also Lukaku, who looks like he will definitely be sold, has ruined team spirit within the club.
Koeman hasn't exactly been inspiring, and if, after bringing in new signings in the summer, we are as equally inept away from home as we have been this season, his time will also be up I think.
10 Posted 21/05/2017 at 19:09:00
Koeman is interviewed and says: 'The players are crap and don't produce anything'.
Storm of criticism, for the manager, 'not taking responsibility' etc. Hasn't he simply told, a rather painful truth? ... And doesn't he have form, for telling the painful truth?!
11 Posted 21/05/2017 at 19:11:37
There's an announcement being made regarding Barkley tomorrow.
13 Posted 21/05/2017 at 19:41:47
Jags has been playing on the right ever since he returned. Mirallas has only averaged 4 goals per season in 5 seasons with us and this season has mostly played centrally and again has 4 goals, none since early March. He's 30 next season and will never start scoring in the Premier League. He is in decline. Valencia would have been a better option.
Our style of play next season will be determined by the players we sign IMO. The system has to fit the players, not the other way round. That was something Moyes never understood and was his downfall. I am expecting 5 to 7 new faces so it will be a new team and a new system.
15 Posted 21/05/2017 at 22:08:27
The first step to that is buying the top-draw players. At the moment, Everton are still buying from the bracket below that class.
16 Posted 21/05/2017 at 22:20:26
And Don, please stop calling Koeman "Ronko" – it's pathetic.
17 Posted 22/05/2017 at 04:11:03
2 x centre-halves (one left, one right, both mobile)
Right back 'cos Seamus may take most of the season to get fully fixed
Left back 'cos Bainsey is neither immortal nor invincible
Central Midfield Tiger, a "Boss in the Middle"
Winger, no make that x 2, 'cos Bolasie might not have his turbo anymore (but could he then move inside as a #10?)
2x Strikers with finishing, pace, touch, strength, aerial threat
To do list:
Barkley, if staying, then 100% every game. Or, time to move on.
Lukaku, I seriously believe that, IF the new blood arriving grabs his attention, then we may get a season out of him. Win a trophy and he could even want more.
Silverware, no arsing about next season, there are three pots we must contest with conviction. We're in them so let's win them.
Attitude, let's fully revert to"Nil Satis Nisi Optimum", I don't ever recall there being a Blue Referendum on us adopting "Not Bad Will Have To Do".
18 Posted 22/05/2017 at 04:58:48
19 Posted 22/05/2017 at 05:21:40
Just add up the points lost against the likes of Burnley, Hull, Watford and others and we could have been in that fourth Champions League place easily!
20 Posted 22/05/2017 at 08:29:33
"I'm not concerned about which current players stay at the club or which players arrive in the summer, but this pitiful away form and the attitude of the players towards some games is unacceptable and has to be addressed."
I can't see how to address the "attitude" aspect without ridding the team of the players, who have the "attitude". With this in mind, I am concerned as to who goes and who comes in.
The art and science, I suppose, is for the management team to have worked out who are the ones that need to be gone (surely they must have worked this out already??) and to bring in decent players who have the right attitude.
21 Posted 22/05/2017 at 08:56:50
I have only recently found out that he had/has been coaching for Bradford City.
I appreciate that Ron & Ernie have their own crew, but surely Nigel would make a great addition somewhere in our wider team of coaches.?
22 Posted 22/05/2017 at 09:15:33
Somehow, I think it ain't gonna happen!
23 Posted 22/05/2017 at 09:16:45
I didn't see yesterday's game, but have seen enough over the last few games to imagine what it was like.
There is no one in the team that can or even try to arouse the other players out of their sleepwalking through games, so one of the first signings has to be a player with real captain's qualities, and plenty of fans have asked for this type of player in the last THREE seasons.
After signing this player Koeman should have well thought out where the next positions need rectifying and along with Walsh get on with the job of signing these players.
The result yesterday tells anyone who wasn't sure how bad the team are how pathetic Everton play away from home, the performances have stunk and belittled the efforts of the thousands of fans who make the effort to get to these games.
Mr Moshiri, you gave me faith when you arrived that our fortunes were changing, I haven't given up on you, but action is needed to prove that the old ways under Kenwright, have changed; it doesn't look that way at the moment with regards to the signings of players. This summer will prove a lot to many supporters, I hope you provide the right response.
24 Posted 22/05/2017 at 10:02:27
We have lacked real quality players for a long time, just ask how many of our players would get in the top 6. I am not sure apart from maybe Lukaku, but he is not in the class of Costa, Kane or Aguero.
And therein lies the problem: How do you attract the quality players without being able to offer Champions league football. Unless Moshiri gets Usmanov on board and they ignore FFP for a season or two, then sadly I think we might be destined to be the best outside the top 6.
25 Posted 22/05/2017 at 11:29:50
Summing this current Everton team up, I'd say on a bad day we are really really bad, on one of our better days we can look pretty good but never great.
Our truly good days this season have been few and far between, apart from Manchester City and Arsenal at home nearly all of other good performances have been solely down to Romelu Lukaku, think Bournemouth, Sunderland etc.
I do believe now to move forward we need at least four new attacking players to go straight into the first team, we need pace, if ever have I seen an Everton side struggle to get behind opponents this is the worst I've seen since Moyes early years of square pegs in round holes.
We need to pension off the likes of Jagielka, Barry, we need to face the fact that Baines best years are gone now; sad that is to say about what has been a fantastic left back.
We need a right back, as again not meaning to sound cruel on Coleman but he's facing nearly a year out and may not be the same again.
We need a better goalkeeper that's obvious.
We need better than Barkley behind the striker, that again has proved obvious in every big game this season.
Whilst young Tom Davies is a breath of fresh air,I'm not sure he's quite ready for the burden of every game, and if we had a bigger squad he possibly would be blooded-in less frequently.
I don't think there's even really a discussion on if we can move forward with this squad, it's reached its limitations at 7th.
26 Posted 22/05/2017 at 11:38:29
27 Posted 22/05/2017 at 11:53:53
The one area you didn't mention was central defence. We need a tall, experienced 26- or 27-year-old who is mobile and knows how to defend.
28 Posted 22/05/2017 at 12:14:38
29 Posted 22/05/2017 at 12:26:06
30 Posted 22/05/2017 at 12:52:41
I'd say we need:
1 Central Attacking Midfielder
2 Wide Pacy Wingers (Left and Right)
Bloody hell... That's 10 new players.
31 Posted 22/05/2017 at 13:09:39
Before these issues can be resolved though, we need to know what is happening with Barkley and Lukaku, because where they are come late July will impact what the management team can/can't do to cure these many ills.
Personally, get shot of both of them if they don't want to stay and build a team, not a collection of individuals.
32 Posted 22/05/2017 at 19:28:16
A goalie is a must maybe even two. I would love to see Jonjoe Kenny given his chance at right back then, if Coleman gets back to his normal self, we would have two good right-backs.
I'm not confident in any of the centre backs, Williams needs to step up, need to bring at least one in and then hopefully one of the youngsters coming through will step up. We need to at least look for cover for Baines and maybe a replacement. Davis, Schneiderlin and Gueye and maybe one other for the centre of midfield.
It's further forward where we have struggled most even with Lukaku's goals. Bolasie and Mirallas have a few good games in them but not consistent enough, a few of the youngster should get a few more games especially with being in Europe, but we really do need some power, speed and skill which usually frightens the life out of defenders. I would hope for at least 5 or 6 new signings; if not, then it could be another very frustrating season.
33 Posted 22/05/2017 at 19:31:41
34 Posted 22/05/2017 at 22:13:43
Pay more attention.
Please don't rewrite, reinterpret or précis my words for me. Not needed.
Write your own material, that would be my constructive advice.
35 Posted 22/05/2017 at 00:19:06
My view is that interim measures are the only option and I am therefore going to do a complete back flip on what I have posted previously.
We are desperately short of leadership and guile and to fill that void, next season I would put a dual bid in for Rooney and Mata.
I also humbly admit that we have to keep Lukaku at all costs either that or replace him with a proven goal scorer.
Rooney and Mata would bring leadership and guile to the team. I also think they would bring the best out of Lukaku and Mirallas.
Then we have to find a tall, left-footed centre-half perhaps the the biggest challenge Koeman faces.
36 Posted 23/05/2017 at 15:09:26
The Toffees have appointed Charlie Reeves to work as part of their analytics department after being impressed with his work for the Football League new boys.
A graduate in Economics at Plymouth University Reeves is very grateful to Rovers and pledged to help improve what Everton do on and off the pitch.
Let's hope thar some of the data they utilise relates to some of the psychological aspects of the players, like the will to win, the desire to please the travelling supporters and all the rest of the shortcomings they have shown over the last few years. Solve some of those issues and we might be on to something.
37 Posted 23/05/2017 at 17:11:21
If Seamus Coleman, Mo Besic and James McCarthy had been fully fit at the start of the season now complete how many games would they have started?
38 Posted 24/05/2017 at 12:16:03
For spoiling tactics the Leeds United of the seventies could have taught them nothing. Not pretty, but they won 3-2. All the goals came from set plays.
39 Posted 24/05/2017 at 12:42:37
Stekelenburg and Robles have shared the goal keeping bu,t while both have had some good games, neither has been able to sustain a consistent high level for longer than a few games. Stekelenburg seems injury prone so of the two I would keep Robles.
The lack of pace throughout the team must be addressed, but first and foremost in central defence. We must sign a top quality centre-back who will allow us to close up the space between defence and midfield.
We must sign at least a couple of attacking midfield/forward players who have pace, can spot a pass and get into the box to score goals. They come at a premium.
As regards signings, generally I would like to see them span the age ranges. If they are all 27-year-olds we are storing up problems for three to four years down the line, when they will need to be replaced.
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