When Oumar Niasse was signed for what was, at the time, a massive transfer fee of £13.5m for an untried prospect plying his trade in the comparatively remote environs of the Russian League, there was a justifiable fear among many Evertonians that he had been brought in to replace Romelu Lukaku.
After all, the Belgian had been making noises again about wanting away and while the club was clearly in need of back-up striking options, the Senegalese striker’s apparent pedigree and big price tag led to the inevitable speculation that his arrival was greasing the wheels for Lukaku’s departure.
In the following weeks and months, as the gangly 26-year-old made an embarrassingly ineffective start to life in England and was summarily written off by new manager Ronald Koeman, the notion that Niasse could realistically stand in for the Belgian was eminently laughable.
And yet, fast forward 13 months past Lukaku’s sale and Everton’s infamous failure to replace him by 31st August, the former cast-off finds himself with a second chance to prove that he can be some sort of answer to the gaping hole in the Blues’ forward line left by Manchester United’s new £90m man.
It may have been necessity — read: desperation? — on Koeman’s part combined with Niasse’s own professionalism, determination and commitment that brought Everton to this point but the events of the past few days have been quite the storybook narrative.
Ironically enough, for a player deemed not good enough even to merit a locker at Finch Farm with Everton’s U23s, Niasse could, if his heroic exploits against Bournemouth are any indication, end up saving the backsides of his manager and the club’s recruitment team at large this season.
He certainly helped bail Koeman out of another uncomfortable post-match inquest with a two-goal blast in the space of five minutes that turned this match on its head and delivered three points that seemed unlikely before he entered the fray in place of Wayne Rooney 10 minutes into the second half.
Wednesday’s League Cup win over Sunderland had been lit up by a resurgently strong performance from Tom Davies, an impressive display by Nikola Vlasic and, of course, Niasse’s his first Everton goal — a fine chest-down and half-volley that wrapped up a 3-0 win.
Koeman reverted to an increasingly questionable line-up for the visit of Bournemouth, however, with Rooney, Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson shoe-horned into a formation with three “number 10s” ahead of the two holding midfielders, Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin. Handicapped in defence by injuries to Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane, the Dutchman was forced to field his only remaining centre-half partnership of Ashley Williams and Mason Holgate.
The result was a team bereft of pace and width but apparently sent out with instructions to compensate for those short-comings by moving the ball about quickly and switching flanks to open up crossing opportunities for Cuco Martina and Leighton Baines.
It was a strategy that worked to a point but yielded just one effort on target on the first 45 minutes, a deflected Williams effort following a corner with 10 minutes gone. The Blues weren’t terrible and there were some pleasingly neat interchanges in midfield but there was precious little being created in the final third.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin went close to finishing a nice passing move early on but couldn’t guide his header on target and Rooney was unfortunate to get his legs tied up trying to finish another decent piece of play late in the first period.
In between, Everton had been denied two possible penalties by the typically awful Martin Atkinson, first when Sigurdsson was crudely barged over in the Bournemouth box by Dan Gosling — a foul given anywhere else on the pitch — and then when Simon Francis caught Rooney with an elbow that left the veteran needing to have a gash to his eye patched up on the sidelines.
The Cherries had made a lively start to the game but failed to test Jordan Pickford in the first half beyond a daisy-cutter from Junior Stanislas that was easily gathered.
That changed four minutes into the second. Josh King picked up the ball from Charlie Daniels in an innocuous position wide on their left but after escaping the attentions of Holgate, he took up the invitation to keep running. Easily evading Holgate’s despairing slide tackle, the Bournemouth striker advanced unimpeded towards goal and drilled a low shot into the corner to make it 1-0.
An awful giveaway in midfield by Rooney seemed to have handed a second goal on a plate for the visitors but he was rescued by Pickford who made an excellent save with his foot to thwart Jermain Defoe.
Whether he was suffering from the effects of his wounded eye or was just having an off-day, Rooney was withdrawn four minutes later along with Klaassen allowing Davies and Niasse to make their entries to the fray.
Davies was booked less than 60 seconds after coming on for clattering through an opponent but he stayed on the pitch to make two telling contributions later in the half.
Everton nearly levelled in the 69th minute when Sigurdsson won a corner on the right and Holgate nodded Williams’s subsequent header goal-wards, only to see Andrew Surman clear his effort off the line via the woodwork.
Parity was restored, however, 1 1 minutes from time when Niasse struck his first. Driving from midfield, he exchanged passes with Davies, the latter finding him with a pin-point pass towards the penalty spot, and took a touch before lashing an unstoppable shot past Asmir Begovic.
Five minutes later, when substitute Jonjoe Kenny’s centre to Calvert-Lewin was laid off to Davies and his attempted cross looped up to the back post, Niasse was initially foiled by Begovic on the line but he was able to pick up the loose ball and despatch it past the ‘keeper to make it 2-1.
Everton benefited from a let-off at one end when Lys Mousset glanced an unchallenged header over the bar from a corner when he could have done better but almost made it 3-1 at the other through Calvert-Lewin but he could only steer Jonjoe Kenny’s cross the ball over the crossbar.
Koeman suggested after the game that the victory and the dramatic manner in which it was achieved could turn out to be a turning point in the season. The manager should get credit for making the two changes that he did 10 minutes after half-time — the introduction of Kenny for Martina with 15 minutes left and the score 0-1 was a little harder to fathom even though the youngster did very well after coming on — but then his decision to drop Davies, for example, was questionable to begin.
It’s difficult to see the Blues kicking on back towards challenging the top six if he persists with chopping and changing while returning to the same formation and personnel for League games. It’s also hard to see how the Blues could have won this game without Niasse’s predatory instincts and neither factors reflect all that well on Koeman who might otherwise have been left reflecting on another League game without a win.
It will be interesting to see whether Niasse has earned a more prominent role in the team now, though, and if he starts what the impact will be on the line-up. Some Blues have been calling for a more conventional 4-4-2 formation, particularly at home, but whether Koeman is ready to eat the entire humble pie just yet remains to be seen.
Regardless of those ongoing concerns, there is no doubt that a come-from-behind win with a new cult hero in the side can only be a boon for confidence, something that was in short supply coming off the hammering at the hands of Manchester United. It’s certainly starting to course through the veins of a certain Senegalese striker and it can spread through the team, it could help make up for the shortage of creativity and speed in the side that has been so evident in recent weeks.
Two more home wins before the next international break and Everton tails could well be up again before the next away challenge, a trip to the south coast to visit Brighton & Hove Albion for the first time in the Premier League, looms.
Reader Comments (54)
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1 Posted 24/09/2017 at 08:42:32
2 Posted 24/09/2017 at 08:57:55
3 Posted 24/09/2017 at 09:15:36
Dowell is a shining light at Forest and should be integrated into the first team set up as soon as he returns.
We have some great young players and the future could be so promising if handled correctly by combining them with the senior members of the squad. Is Koeman the man to do this? I have my doubts.
4 Posted 24/09/2017 at 09:19:48
5 Posted 24/09/2017 at 09:36:59
Wining the ball in midfield, playing a nice lay off and heading towards the penalty area to collect Tom Davies's pass. The second goal also showed a predatory instinct and good physicality.
Calvert-Lewin had another good game and their defence certainly knew that they were in a game with him around.
Davies has to start in midfield and I would like to see Sigurdsson given a central role in the middle of the park to show off his creativity for our new found striking partnership of Calvert-Lewin and Niasse.
Let's hope Koeman learns from his mistakes (God willing) and picks his best 11 in their right positions in the upcoming fixtures.
6 Posted 24/09/2017 at 09:48:43
Calvert-Lewin had a lively game, and Niasse looks a willing partner with something to prove. Bad balls look good balls when you have pace and intensity.
Against popular opinion, I think Koeman has played the Kenny bit dead right. It was a bridge to far to drop him into a struggling side. The clamour to drop the lad into those opening games was a massive risk. Swim and it would have been great. Sink, and you could have really crushed a young career before it got off the ground.
Hopefully he now gets his chance phased in against slightly easier opposition.
7 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:12:06
As a byline, Mr Koeman, we all make mistakes you more than most but the look of disappointment on your face as you walked down the line after Niasse scored was testament to your arrogance. Most of us believed he was not going to be good enough but I am happy to say his work ethic and motivation appears to have proved us wrong.
Now is the time to be a bigger man, learn from your mistakes, and use the players who can change our season around. Start with Jonjoe, Tom and Oumar, give our star players time to find form in the Europa League and the cups and at the end we may have a squad firing on all cylinders.
8 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:16:44
Koeman's persistence with Klaassen is looking very questionable when he is playing the central role ahead of Rooney and Sigurdsson. It is going to take 12 months before we can make a proper judgement but at the minute he is way off the pace.
Davies should play every game and pick one of Gueye or Schneiderlin to partner him.
Kenny looks better going forward than Martina, it's all about quality and Martina hasn't got it.
Still lots of expensive square pegs trying to cram into a team that looks unbalanced and lacking in pace. Play players in their best positions and we will start gelling; dropping players that Koeman has signed should be the starting point.
9 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:18:35
What a good player Tom Davies is too. I think he would walk into all of the top 7 teams except Everton.
My view at the moment is fair team but poor coach but I'm positive
10 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:28:10
Yet, it must be understood Niasse does his best work inside the penalty area, and this guy hardly misses. No wonder he was voted best player in Russia some seasons back.
Martinez with Lukaku has saved Koeman again with Niasse.
11 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:41:39
My other gripe is Ronald's take on the game. He stated, "So okay we changed things we went perhaps a little more direct." Well ,Ronald, it worked, and it got the crowd up. Hopefully lesson learnt playing more offensively.
So pleased for Niasse, by the way. Probably saved Ronald his job; very ironic.
12 Posted 24/09/2017 at 10:47:26
Sigurdsson, Klassen and Rooney, should never start together, it's one from 3 in my view.
Schneiderlin and Gana should never play together at home against outside teams outside the top 6. Indeed if McCarthy comes back fit and well he must get in ahead of Schneiderlin at this point in time.
I was very disappointed that we did not start with Vlasic out wide. However, the manager made 3 changes in the second half and all 3 contributed to the victory.
Hopefully, we have turned a corner and going forward there is a better balance shown in team selection between youth and experience.
Two must-win games before the International break!
13 Posted 24/09/2017 at 11:05:06
14 Posted 24/09/2017 at 11:09:59
Bang on, Ian, regarding Kenny. The clamour to throw in youngsters, whilst understandable, has to be tempered. They are still developing and must be managed accordingly.
15 Posted 24/09/2017 at 11:16:20
Yeah Calvert-Lewin looks a bit 'thin' around the face. IMO, all bulking up does is just that, it doesn't make you faster... unless you're a steroid sprinter.
Just as you are born with stamina, you are also born with sprint/pace; call pace muscle Group A or the twitch muscles as they are sometimes called and stamina Group B.
You can put stamina on sprint, but you can't put sprint on stamina. Footballers are more or less middle distance runners.
How many bulked up 10,000 m runners do you see. Is Niasse bulked up, Vardy? Kane. It may be no coincidence that Lukaku has the lowest distance covered per game... but he can really shift in a short sprint, when he feels like it, but Mo Farah he ain't, more like Linford Christie.
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog...would you have told Bobby Collins he was too small?
Here endeth the mini rant.
16 Posted 24/09/2017 at 11:34:06
I remember when Rooney first went to Man Utd. Fergie wanted to bulk him up, and in my view they over done it which killed his pace after a few years.
But even without it you are spot on, the lad has a natural fight in him which can't be taught, just ask Lukaku, Heskey an Co.
17 Posted 24/09/2017 at 11:42:10
Only saw the highlights but that's two games on the trot Tom Davies has put Oumar Niasse in on goal, and twice the quiet one has buried the chance. Well done to both of them.
I noticed on both occasions that his team mates and Duncan Ferguson were very happy about that. It's called team spirit.
19 Posted 24/09/2017 at 12:01:34
I don't think Koeman has a clue what to do. Sooner he is gone the better, making far too many mistakes and even his celebration is all over the place. Nothing for the equaliser then elation for the winner.
The team look confused, like they are leaderless.
20 Posted 24/09/2017 at 12:28:59
I hope Niasse can kick on now, not just for the club, but he does seem to be a really nice guy, honest and modest, rare qualities in an industry crawling with over paid drama queens.
21 Posted 24/09/2017 at 12:30:17
22 Posted 24/09/2017 at 12:36:56
The reason we got back into the game was Niasse has pace and that worries teams. He stretched their defence and I thought he and Calvert-Lewin worked well together. Also Tom Davies who should be one of the first names on the teamsheet every week and Kenny gave us energy.
Yesterday's starting 11 lacked pace and energy, something that the top sides have in abundance. Having good footballers just isn't enough to unlock defences, the one thing all defenders hate is playing against a player with pace.
I know many on here have been asking for Holgate to play in his rightful position which he did yesterday. But I would tell him whenever possible don't go to ground when making Tackles miss one and you are putting yourself out of the game, as you have no time to recover. Twice he went to ground making tackles he missed both and one resulted in a goal.
I think Calvert-Lewin is growing game by game another good performance yesterday, and he had to take on their 2 central defenders alone as none of our other forwards till Niasse come on got close enough to help him. Now Niasse cant play against Limmasol as he is not included in our Europa League squad. I wonder if Koeman will be bold enough to play him and Calvert-Lewin up top against Burnley.
I think the next few weeks are very important both for Koeman and Everton, if Bournemouth had managed a win he would have for the first time heard how hostile Goodison can be when the crowd believe the team is the wrong one being selected. So the win gave him breathing space but surely he must realize he cant play Sigurdsson, Rooney and Klaassen in the same side. He also needs energy and pace both up front and midfield, I would also question Schneiderlin's place in the team especially at home.
I see some papers are saying he will go back in for Giroud when the window opens in January. Now while Giroud can hold the ball up and is good in the air, he has no pace, so if he does buy him he needs more pace than we have at present in the team.
23 Posted 24/09/2017 at 12:49:11
Rooney what's the point in him then?
24 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:04:14
Now, to be fair to the manager, he was badly let down by Kenwright & Moshiri, who by their own admission, have stated they were the ones looking until the last minute on TDD. I don't know what they were thinking, spending all that money and not getting a player who can score you the goals needed to win games, the pair of clowns.
The manager needs to swallow his pride, and start Niasse for the next few games. I cannot watch this team of misfits looking at each other like they haven't played professional football before, it's soul destroying to watch footballers paid millions who can't pass the ball 5 yards!
I still don't think Koeman is remotely near to being a suitable manager for this club, he's had long enough to produce a playing style at least; I don't see it just a load of confused footballers.
25 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:09:17
If this is the case, it looks like Koeman's philosophy is to have the 3 No 10's doing little intricate passes with the pace and width supplied by the back/wingbacks hitting a target man. So be prepared to see Everton turned into a Dutch or Italian side, with little or no attempts by players to run ahead of the striker, or play in the 'crude' way we reverted to yesterday.
To quote Donald J Trump, Sad.
26 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:10:04
27 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:13:54
Appalling first half that had three people sat close to me walk out. Pity they missed the release of "The Lost Niasse Monster", with two superb goals and great input from Davies, also a promising run out for Kenny.
I have to save a special mention for Calvert-Lewin, who lead the line superbly, what a talent this boy is, quick, getting stronger all the time, two good feet, doesn't snatch at his chances and can head too! Potentially he could be another Harry Kane in a few years, we are going to have many other clubs sniffing around him soon.
What price for an outside chance to make England's World Cup squad next year? England do not possess his type of striker.
28 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:14:54
Some very good points there. I would add Schneiderlin into the three you mention. For me it would mean starting with two only out of the four.
Two defensive mids screening the defence is fine, a lot of the top teams play it. Difference is in the quality and ability of the full backs to bomb forward creating the width. We haven't got that.
I think he brought Kenny on yesterday to give Holgate cover, he struggled at times yesterday and Howe brought Afobe on to bully Mason. Until Coleman is back I would not play Gana and Schneiderlin together.
Calvert-Lewin is developing more and more each week. We can look forward to a very good player in him. I thought a lot of his best work was in his hold up play in the wide areas. A benefit of being played wide in some games?
He has to go with the little pace we have. I would look to get Sandro in the side playing off Calvert-Lewin. Another must is players who play at a high tempo. Tom Davies should be starting.
Finally pace. I would not buy a forward who did not have pace. Preferably lightening quick but if not at least one with some pace. Ally that to Bolasie and Coleman and we will be okay.
29 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:19:51
An interesting guess. That's all we can do.
30 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:26:00
It's being reported that we will go back to Arsenal for Giroud, offering as much as £40M, and also try for Joshua King from Bournemouth. In my opinion, buy those two and keep Niasse as it looks like he maybe the ideal impact player coming off the bench.
Also in all probability Giroud will be cup tied for the Europa League, so should we get out the group, Niasse can then be added to the squad for the knock out stages.
31 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:35:28
Of course, this stuff means nothing, unlike Ron's penchant for throwing similar players onto the pitch and hoping they gel. And waiting an hour to have the team we wanted in the first place.
Check out his next presser. There'll be more Dutch words in there as the pressure increases.
I'll say it again. He doesn't want them playing like drugged up strangers. He can't get his messages across. They looked like the Under-23 team on Wednesday and in the last 20 minutes yesterday. I think it was because some of the players took the bull by the horns and played 'their way'. And it was better.
32 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:46:05
We don't need Giroud @ £50M? Calvert-Lewin has more positives than him properly supported in a balanced team.
Plus we only need any 2 or 3 from Rooney, Schneiderlin, Klaassen, Sigurdsson and Gana not all 5 all game every week.
33 Posted 24/09/2017 at 13:49:39
34 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:06:04
35 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:07:52
Generals; always fighting the previous war. Somebody younger and more modern is required... well more modern anyway.
36 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:14:17
37 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:32:09
39 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:37:50
40 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:41:44
Rooney gives the ball away too easy and stifles what little pace we have in the team. He should have been dropped before this game; hopefully he will be now.
I like the look of Calvert-Lewin and Niasse upfront, they could prove a useful partnership. They can give opposition defences problems, which stops them pushing forward as much.
We should be playing with one defensive midfielder against weaker teams, and the January window needs to see a top defender come in to partner Keane. And a top striker of course.
Still, let's be positive, it's a win and 3 points that will hopefully give the player's some confidence to kick on with an unbeaten run. Upcoming fixtures are winnable.
41 Posted 24/09/2017 at 14:43:36
I think if the results are there. Koeman should have time to develop the team and the pattern we play. Having no quality 20-plus striker is debilitating.
42 Posted 24/09/2017 at 15:36:15
Niasse moved into the right place at the right time and Tom Davies spotted it on both occasions and provided "through the eye of a needle" passes. Now that is something that we have been looking for.
43 Posted 24/09/2017 at 15:43:31
I reckon she is right.
Koeman? None of the above.
Bit like Theresa May watching that no hope inspirer of the young, Corbyn!
44 Posted 24/09/2017 at 18:49:21
One of the challenges is that all the new players are taking time getting to know each other and need with a tight passing game react instinctively to each others movement. It will come over time.
Till then the combination of experience mixed with off the bench energy may be the recipe. I am a little concerned however about the two defensive midfielders who look out of form.
45 Posted 24/09/2017 at 19:34:54
46 Posted 24/09/2017 at 19:54:34
47 Posted 24/09/2017 at 20:44:31
Yet he didn't say that – he was very pleased for everyone he had made happy. What a guy – so cool.
48 Posted 24/09/2017 at 22:38:42
No of course not, but most other teams don't almost always play disjointed crap with an unsuitable set up until they bring their subs on.
49 Posted 24/09/2017 at 23:06:20
There'd be some difference but not necessarily an improvement. Giroud has experience and nouse but no pace.
The last two games, our first wins for a time, have both shown the immediate difference that a bit of speed and quick movement makes. The evidence is right there. In my opinion the last thing we need to do now is blow many tens of millions on another slow player, an older player with a limited future time-wise.
Giroud, at even his very best, is not about to propel us into the top four, so why not develop with what we have and save the big money for someone of the pace and potential tenure at the club that we need and can build with for the longer term.
Koeman needs the brakes putting on him with his penchant for plodding speed. His vision, whatever the hell it is, will have us back to the start-of-the-season stuff not that we've actually got fully away from it yet.
50 Posted 24/09/2017 at 23:42:50
From game 2 at West Brom, and him screwing over McCarthy after 30-odd mins, to a game to yesterday, when a pedestrian selection left him no alternative but to opt for energy and pace.
There were numerous games last year it happened. He often pulled Gana, a tacit admission he is too defensive.
Initially by many seen as a great strength to remedy a mistake quickly, its frequency became a symptom of poor management, compounded by using substitutes unnecessarily, wasting resources for later in the game.
I'd like to hear if there is a counter argument out there that can justify why Koeman gets that initial selection so wrong?
51 Posted 25/09/2017 at 00:57:51
Only Koeman knows that, John. He's not getting it wrong in his mind. He might be the wrong manager but he is not stupid. He has his own plan and his own motivations. It isn't working but he will obstinately stick to it unless forced to change.
52 Posted 25/09/2017 at 04:02:23
It's unsettling and actually not that productive as mostly changes at the back are there to stop the opposition not attack them. I'd even go as far to say his over rotation of the goalkeeper especially this season is baseless. To what end? We have a new, prodigious goalie. The team needs to understand his strengths/weaknesses, and he needs to settle. He doesn't need resting at all and Stekelenburg only serves to make the back four/five/seven nervous.
To try and get a handle on it, he simply over complicates and fiddles too much with the team. A more stable, less erratic approach would surely allow his team to gather some traction?
53 Posted 25/09/2017 at 10:32:51
54 Posted 25/09/2017 at 17:24:59
Both if these will come good, are great hard working professionals and in Davy, someone who scored 23 goals last season, took his team Ajax as captain to the final of Europa League.
Sandro has the Barca heritage and played well in Spain last season, scoring a number of goals.
A lot of relevant analysis on the forum of Koeman approach, tactics etc but I do remember Liverpool and Spurs bringing in a lot of players a few seasons back and it is very hard to gel and find form for all in a short space of time. It just might take more time and playing with formations and combinations of players.
55 Posted 26/09/2017 at 06:03:07
56 Posted 26/09/2017 at 06:13:59
Yes. In the absence of the power to obtain the big names, why not focus on what we have and bringing in younger talent in the right vein (which we have already to a degree).
The difference made by buying in cast-offs from the clubs above us is unlikely to justify the outlay. How many short-term older players do we really need, if we're trying to develop as a team?
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