It’s fair to say that most Evertonians had written off the Blues’ chances of making it past the fourth round of the Carabao League once they had been paired with Chelsea. The team was already struggling under Ronald Koeman when they turned Sunderland over with ease in September so a date with the Champions on their turf was viewed as a bridge too far.
Even with the Koeman reign prematurely terminated, replaced by David Unsworth’s seemingly indefatigable positivity, fans travelled to West London last night in renewed hope rather than any belief of seeing a victory.
And that is largely how things panned out. Chelsea won but Everton ran them very close and, having caved to Arsenal on Sunday amidst shot confidence and increasing fragility, it was heart-warming to see the players grow in stature as the tie wore on.
Those with loftier expectations of what Unsworth’s “new broom” could have achieved in his first match in charge have pointed to the fact that Chelsea, with nine changes to their line-up, were ordinary on the night and that Everton probably should have done better.
It’s worth maintaining some perspective, though: Unsworth has had just one training session and two days on the job; he was deprived of two first-choice central midfielders in the form Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin; and Chelsea’s so-called reserve side boasted a slew of names — Willian, Antonio Rüdiger, Kenedy, Michy Batshuayi, Gary Cahill, Davide Zappacosta and, perhaps on his best day, Danny Drinkwater — who would walk into Everton’s first XI at the moment... not to mention that of Burnley, Brighton and certainly Appollon Limassol. And with Antonio Conte’s two youngsters, Charly Musonda and Ethan Ampadu, on one side you could arguably match impressive debutant Beni Baningime and Jonjoe Kenny in terms of inexperience.
Furthermore, by the final whistle, Chelsea had introduced Cesc Fabregas, Pedro and Alvaro Morata; Everton turned to 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 19-year-old Ademola Lookman and former outcast Oumar Niasse. And yet it was the visitors, with just one win to their name since the last round of this competition, who very nearly — and probably should — have forced extra time.
Unsworth expressed justifiable pride in his players after the final whistle. They had clearly responded to instructions to carry out a plan on the back of a formation that boasted balance, width and a semblance of order. (It was also a team selection that left £104m of summer expenditure on the sidelines as Davy Klaassen and Sandro Ramirez missed the cut completely and neither Gylfi Sigurdsson nor Michael Keane were introduced off the bench.)
It played out in a tentative first half display aimed primarily at feeling Chelsea out and containing their superior attacking threat and were it not for a lapse on concentration from Ashley Williams, it would have worked. The Welsh skipper will find uncomfortable the video of Rüdiger easily escaping his attentions to emerge free at the back post to loop a header back across goal and over Jordan Pickford.
The second half promised a shift in tactics from Unsworth but it initially only manifested itself in a freer role for Kevin Mirallas who looked to reduce Wayne Rooney’s isolation up front. Baningime ploughing through the ball taking Ampadu with him with a hard but fair tackle set up the best Everton move of the game thus far and that was the Toffees’ cue to start turning the screw, particularly once the substitutions started coming and more pace and firepower was introduced.
Growing in composure, they pressed their hosts back but found Caballero in stubborn mood. The Argentine saved from Rooney, Lennon, Jagielka and Mirallas while Lookman hit the crossbar with a tremendous effort.
Yes, it was all decidedly Everton that they finally made the breakthrough when Calvert-Lewin capitalised on determined work from Niasse to bundle the ball in after Chelsea had killed the game in stoppage time but this was a hugely encouraging performance overall.
Baningime, who only played because of illness to Schneiderlin, put in an impressively precocious display, keeping it simple and tidy in the first half before beginning to express himself the more he grew into the game. He looks a fine prospect.
Best of all was the confidence that visibly crept into the team’s performance, particularly when they started to impose themselves as an attacking force in the second half.
This was always going to be in incredibly difficult assignment and while Everton emerged with enormous credit, Sunday's game at Leicester was always going to be the more important one in terms of how the team reacts and what Unsworth can do with them. Given that, Romelu Lukaku aside, this is supposed to be a squad capable of finishing at least seventh, it is matches like the one at the King Power Stadium that Everton need to start winning, no matter who is in charge in the dugout.
A narrow loss at Stamford Bridge — or rather the performance that went with it — at least showed that the fight, the spirit, the organisation and the belief can be there to start putting wins on the board in the near future.
Reader Comments (43)
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1 Posted 26/10/2017 at 07:40:02
2 Posted 26/10/2017 at 07:46:11
3 Posted 26/10/2017 at 07:51:33
4 Posted 26/10/2017 at 08:35:23
A solid base to build on. Team selection on Sunday will be interesting.
6 Posted 26/10/2017 at 08:43:08
7 Posted 26/10/2017 at 08:51:26
8 Posted 26/10/2017 at 09:41:57
9 Posted 26/10/2017 at 09:44:53
10 Posted 26/10/2017 at 10:36:04
Hopefully that second half performance is something of a turning point but still a long way to go I imagine.
11 Posted 26/10/2017 at 11:14:39
I know we still got beat but there were signs, albeit early and small ones, that things might not get as bad as we all feared. Brian Reade wrote a good column in today's Mirror, summed it up quite well IMO.
12 Posted 26/10/2017 at 11:28:39
We lost because we gave them too much respect.
We lost that respect when Beni sent Ampadu flying.
Let's keep Morgan away and give the Beni dude a chance.
14 Posted 26/10/2017 at 11:54:25
15 Posted 26/10/2017 at 12:01:18
It seems to me he is a flawed character, repeating the same mistakes , with a penchant for upsetting those who disagree with his methods.
I worry though, that Unsworth could be let down as well as Koeman.
Unsworth seems to understand how football is played and how a team is balanced. it is also clear that unlike Koeman, he is a hands-on type and is well liked.
The club/board and Koeman mismanaged the last transfer window, buying too many bodies to play ten and not enough cover at other positions, and obviously failed to replace Lukaku.
Unsworth will have to firstly prove that he can manage the team at this level over a period of time. If he achieves this the board will then have to decide how much money to give him to spend.
He has no bargaining chips as yet, but if he is still in the job by xmas, they may be prepared to back him financially, otherwise they will be looking for the long term replacement and his choices.
So Unsworth's hands are tied for now.
I have a feeling that he is the man for the job.
I just hope that the bungling amaturism of our board can be replaced by a cohesive strategy and that Rhino gets the backing he needs.
16 Posted 26/10/2017 at 12:27:10
In a way, I am glad we are out of the competition. I think we need to fully concentrate on the Premier League and getting away from the bottom.
Play the U23s in the Europa League, the so-called first team have embarrassed us enough in that competition.
I don't know about green shoots just yet but germination definitely...
18 Posted 26/10/2017 at 13:58:08
19 Posted 26/10/2017 at 14:46:13
Brian (Reade) is entitled to his opinion but is just a football fan like us, albeit a Red one, I enjoy his take on politics and look forward to his political column, but football, I'd rather read your opinion and other football fans, he is a lazy journalist when it comes to football and makes things up as he goes along, and that has nothing to do with him being a Red fan.
20 Posted 26/10/2017 at 16:06:18
21 Posted 26/10/2017 at 21:13:11
23 Posted 26/10/2017 at 22:16:41
I know all the reasons for choosing him, and they are good ones as well, but in a cold light he will want a name, not a Burnley manager, not a wannabe ex-player, Neville or Giggs, I think he will want an experienced winner and that rules out all of the above including Unsy.
Unsy gets Everton and Everton get Unsy. But Everton are not Kenwright's club anymore? If BK has the nod then Unsy will be in; if Moshiri has the say, then he won't I think... Sort of a shame but I get it too...
24 Posted 26/10/2017 at 22:30:02
25 Posted 26/10/2017 at 22:32:23
A tough away at Leicester where he will want to get off to a flier, away at Lyon - Im sure hell be desperate to get a win there to try and get a run to an unlikely qualification to the next stages- then the home game on the Sunday he will absolutely crave to win.
Its tough on the guy, but its why he has put himself forward. Good luck to him, hell get the support of us all.
26 Posted 26/10/2017 at 22:43:07
I suspect Moshiri wants a high profile manager to run his project, but these guys still win some and lose some. You've got to be lucky and pick one that's on the way up, or wants a new lease of life.
I'd like Unsy to have the job for the rest of the season. Gives him a chance to show what he can do, gives Moshiri the chance to do proper due diligence if he looks elsewhere.
Whoever we choose will be a gamble. Unsy strikes me as a competent coach who gets the best out of his players and instills a good attitude into them. And he knows our young players. Knowing the club and saying the right things will give him the goodwill and time that an outsider might not get.
27 Posted 26/10/2017 at 23:14:10
That being the case, he may just realise he doesn't know the practical side of football management as well as he thought, and might be willing to listen to BK and perhaps the senior players, if they put forward a good case for giving Unsworth a trial period, maybe on a one year deal, to let him show his capabilities.
I'm sure he won't want to repeat his error in appointing Koeman and might be persuaded that Unsworth will be a pair of safe hands to help the club to recover from the disastrous Koeman reign, which he was himself responsible for.
If he gets it wrong again, the fans won't be so forgiving and billions or not, he will be made to feel very uncomfortable on any subsequent visits to Goodison Park. For once, and this is a rarity, I would side with BK if it's true he's in favour of David Unsworth being handed the reins.
As we all know, the decision is out of our hands, so we can only wait and see, but we can also show Moshiri what we think of David Unsworth by throwing our total support behind him and HIS team. Let's hear Goodison rocking again, and let the crowd put the fear of God into the opposition, as we used to. Let's see them raise the rafters with their support for Unsworth if that's what the majority of us want. I'm sure fan power helped in pushing him towards getting rid of Koeman.
By the same token, it might just help in carrying David Unsworth over the line and into the manager's office on a more permanent footing.
28 Posted 27/10/2017 at 02:14:59
My more pragmatic side 'gets' the argument why the club would prefer to recruit a more seasoned, proven manager.
The long and the short of it is, any and every managerial appointment is a punt. Some may give you a better than even chance of being a success, many are just a shot in the dark.
The great unknown in all this is the thinking of Moshiri.
Lest we forget, Bill Kenwright has been on the Everton board since 1989, but he personally has only dismissed one of Everton's NINE full time managers in that time - Walter Smith. That's one manager dismissed by BK in his 28 year association at the club at boardroom level.
Moshiri has dismissed two managers in his 20 month stint at the club as majority shareholder.
Fingers burnt and now reluctant to recruit an 'iconical proven manager' and now happy to stay in-house?
Or more determined than ever to land aforementioned icon to realise his ambition to haul Everton back into the ring as a real contender?
As ever, interesting times at Everton.
29 Posted 27/10/2017 at 10:47:38
Interesting to see how this is played out.
31 Posted 27/10/2017 at 12:39:20
Surely motivation and inspiration are major factors in improvement, so it will be very interesting to see how it pans out over the next few games.
33 Posted 27/10/2017 at 16:38:37
34 Posted 27/10/2017 at 20:10:53
My work involves hiring very senior and very specialist people in business and it amazes me that all of the science and learning that has been amassed on this subject since WW2 has never been applied to football and especially to hiring football managers.
Before I start, I will not accept that football teams are any different to high performing teams of traders, nurses, mechanics, marketers, consultants, teachers, dancers, actors (insert your job here) — they just get paid more (in most cases) and we pay to watch them go to work.
So how do you make sure you've got the best boss to make them perform?
There are five key criteria:
1. Horsepower (You've either got it or you haven't; it's measurable.)
2. Values (Are they the same as the business/club? — these don't change much through life...)
3. Motivation (Why are you here? Do you really want it?)
4. Behaviour (This is the bit that upsets people and gets you fired, but past behaviour is a great measure of future behaviour.)
5. Experience (So you've done it before but if you don't get the first 4 right you won't do it again.)
The lesson — assess your candidate in the order above and don't be fooled by gut feel or Number 5 and you've got a fighting chance you'll get it right.
I hope David Unsworth is a massive success just because he's not shiny and new.
35 Posted 28/10/2017 at 06:10:52
Rather sums up Koeman...
36 Posted 28/10/2017 at 06:51:24
There is little evidence of significant horsepower in Koeman's management record. His values I don't know. His motivation, if what was said previously is true, was the Barcelona job - hence we would have been part of the process, not the primary motivation. Behaviour? There was ample easily found evidence that proves him very lacking in that area.
I find it hard to believe the club would've made such a huge appointment without checking his background, even if the interview and assessment process was lacking, and tend to think his previous two seasons at Southampton were just what they were looking for. Thus they took a leap of faith based on his recent history alone.
The passion part I agree with completely.
37 Posted 28/10/2017 at 08:57:08
Seriously, great post.
38 Posted 28/10/2017 at 09:24:37
39 Posted 28/10/2017 at 09:29:50
40 Posted 28/10/2017 at 10:42:05
Being blunt is all well and good but it is not much use when you are trying to build a team of people to work together for the common good and once members of the team feel aggrieved it becomes difficult to turn it around.
Unsy showed some balls playing Beni with a very expensive collection of midfielders on the bench. I hope he continues to play the young lads who he knows will give him the effort and passion we need- recall Liam from Brum( he isn't playing there for some reason) and get Dowell back too if he is allowed. Mix the kids in with the more seasoned players who are prepared to fight and we will be fine.
41 Posted 28/10/2017 at 11:22:11
Two boxes for me.
Can he coach? It's about drilling the players defensively, drilling the passing & moving so the player receiving the ball knows what he's doing before the it reaches him. It's about making the midfielders effective in supporting defence and attack, finding ways of creating space to assist & score.
Can he get his ideas/tactics across to the players? Can he give the players the confidence to do what they think is necessary on the pitch? Can he relate to the fans and be an impressive figurehead for the club?
The last two managers failed on both fronts.
Nothing to do with being a 'Catalan Clown' or 'Fat Dutch Melt'. Unsworth has started well by infectiously saying the right things for our benefit. Time will tell how he fares with the consistentency of his competence and communication. What's sure is that he'll have a bucketload of goodwill from us and the players' joy at the end of what was clearly a stifling regime. I will be regarding Sigurdsson, Klaassen and Sandro as new signings from this point.
I'd give Unsworth the job till the end of the season and see if our 'unknown unproven' is better than someone else's.
42 Posted 28/10/2017 at 11:54:33
Just look at all the winning managers across the P.L. era. A good or great manager is just that, and can generally perform at any club. They get the players to buy into their ethos, which is then reinforced with successful performances. They also need to buy the right players, and be able to identify weaknesses. Tim Howard cost Martinez his job. Weak management.
It's not the 70's or the 80's. Modern managers have a dressing room full of players from every part of the world. Knowledge of history, getting the club, sentimentality, call you what you want, it's all becoming less and less relevant as each year passes.
Unsworth has been clever here, he's 'done a Bill' and tapped into the history facet of Everton the fans cling on to. I hope he can pull it off.
43 Posted 28/10/2017 at 12:13:00
Koeman didn't bring him to Goodison and look what happened.
Now I'm not saying Sammy Lee is the answer. My point is that we probably need to inject some proven winning mentality amongst the coterie of very comfortable Everton la's all enjoying themselves under the teary-eyed "My Boys" regime of Kenwright at Finch Farm
44 Posted 28/10/2017 at 15:32:07
According to other Everton threads Beni or McCarthy gave MotM performances. How come no mention of McCarthy. Curious.
I would start him as our defensive midfielder against Leicester and bench Gana and Schneiderlin. They have been in the team since the start of the season.
I like Unsy's effort to put hunger, width, desire (from Koeman's outcasts) to bring momentum and pride back to the team.
45 Posted 28/10/2017 at 16:13:05
Hes injured again im afraid.
46 Posted 28/10/2017 at 16:25:29
47 Posted 28/10/2017 at 17:15:45
Hopefully we start tomorrow.
48 Posted 28/10/2017 at 20:36:32
However, I have a suspicion, that we may need more than that. Koeman lacked two things for me. One was tactical acumen , he was incapable of using a system that suited the players that he had. Secondly he lacked man-management skills, so that his players were able to feel that playing for him was what they wanted to do.he even alienated some players so much that you felt they positively did not want to play for him.
If Unsworth can correct those faults then he is the man. But again, I do think that I'd prefer someone with a little more senior experience.I don't want someone appointing because he "gets Everton" or because "he's sat in the Gwladys Street".If Everton can get an experienced coach who'll have Unsworth as his number two, that may be a solution.
Like most ToffeeWebbers "I get Everton" and I've been on the Gwladys Street end. I want someone who can get Sigurdsson to look like a £50 million player, who can get Keane back his confidence and who can get Davies and Barkley integrated into the team. Someone who can identify a decent striker to sign and begin the proces of getting us to mid-table safety.
49 Posted 28/10/2017 at 21:08:09
Qualifying for Europe with a manager and football like that in this day and age? I don't think so.
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