Allardyce’s no-risk approach – short-term expediency or dyed-in-the-wool trait?

Sam Allardyce's unexpectedly rosey honeymoon period offered the journeyman boss an opportunity to reboot and begin re-building for Everton's future. Instead, his joyless, defensive approach has favoured ageing players without achieving positive results.

Lyndon Lloyd 18/01/2018 115comments  |  Jump to last

Last Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Tottenham was a pretty sobering one that left many an Evertonian feeling bereft. Bereft of hope for the remainder of the season, bereft of faith in the current management and bereft of belief at how a club can spend £200m-plus on players in a year and find themselves in a markedly worse-off position than before that particular spending spree started.

The manner in which this season unravelled in a perfect storm of poor team- and man-management, unfinished transfer business and misfit signings, all set against the backdrop of a disrupted pre-season and a difficult start to the Premier League season, is well-trodden ground.

However, picking up where David Unsworth left off with his swan-song victory against West Ham, Sam Allardyce appeared to have fulfilled his primary brief of getting Everton away from the threat of relegation in short order. The Blues were 9th in the Premier League over Christmas, with eyes turned upwards rather than looking over the team’s collective shoulder.

What that unexpectedly rosey honeymoon period offered the journeyman boss was the opportunity to spread his creative wings (or at least demonstrate that he had any to spread), finally prove he could manage a big club, and handle the expectations of a fanbase steeped in footballing traditions to match.

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It also created a less intense and pressurised environment for some of those struggling new players plus the younger members of the squad to finally prove themselves. Already, there was a chance to fully assess the playing squad and build for next season by giving valuable minutes off the bench to the likes of Sandro Ramirez, Davy Klaassen, Ademola Lookman and Nikola Vlasic while also easing Yannick Bolasie back into action after a year off.

Instead, whether it was through an abundance of caution or because it betrayed the manager’s propensity, as one ToffeeWeb reader put it, of “marginalising younger players with big potential for short-term gain,” or both, Allardyce has largely ignored those fringe players and opted for age and experience while prioritising Bolasie’s reintroduction to the side.

The manager essentially confirmed his approach this week when he said: “We have some young players who are very attractive in terms of their abilities, like Vlasic and Lookman. But they are so young and having to play them in the first team every single week — we have already been running with four players 23 and under — is for me risky in terms of results.”

There is a crushing irony here because results have been awful anyway. In a month of tedious football, it’s been many of those preferred more senior ‘professionals’ and not the youngsters “23 and under” who have, arguably, been most responsible for some horrendous statistics and a run of four defeats to start 2018.

Jordan Pickford has been, head and shoulders, the standout acquisition from the summer; Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate — errors against Spurs aside — have been models of consistency recently; and Dominic Calvert-Lewin has carried striking responsibilities admirably in a badly misfiring team. Even Tom Davies, despite struggling to match his form of last season, has contributed his much-needed verve and drive in midfield when called upon, particularly off the bench.

It’s been said before on these pages but it beggars belief how a Premier League team can go 90 minutes without registering a single shot on target – let alone do that three times in five games, as Everton have done. Indeed, since beating Swansea 3-1 on 18 December, Allardyce has overseen six matches with just five shots on goal in that time and his team averaging 44% possession.

The one successful effort on an opponent’s goal in the last 270 minutes-plus of football that Everton have played, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s goal at Anfield, came from Lookman. Indeed, it hasn’t been surprising that, in the context of Allardyce’s unimaginative management style, Lookman has only played 38 minutes of first-team football since coming on against Swansea seven games ago. Or that Vlasic has only been given one chance since the Newcastle match before that.

Both were electric against Limassol but their omission since when, particularly at West Brom and Bournemouth, either could have added some entertainment at the very least and, perhaps, have made a real difference, smacks of this inconsistent, “seniors first” stance from Allardyce that failed to reward the youngsters for their impressive performances in Cyprus.

Sandro (admittedly, a far less convincing case for inclusion), meanwhile, got 45 minutes against the reigning Champions in a team bent on defending rather than attacking while the youngsters have been overlooked as Allardyce has made unadventurous substitutions favouring defensively-minded or ageing players.

Bogged down by an over-abundance at times of holding midfielders and without any attacking verve, flair or direct running, Everton have been beginning games, particularly against the better teams, playing for a draw. And the bar has been lowered so far that a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool set — at least based on Allardyce’s post-match comments — a benchmark for what is a “good” or acceptable Everton performance.

So, if fingers need to be pointed anywhere, it’s at the manager’s tactics, team selections and the more seasoned, experienced players who have been under-performing to an almost criminal degree.

Wayne Rooney may have chipped in with 11 goals, including some vital penalties, but he has been a source of enormous frustration of late, with poor distribution and petulance that belies his 33 years. Morgan Schneiderlin, who looked to have been a stellar acquisition a year ago when he was lauded as Goodison’s “Rolls-Royce”, has suffered a mystifying collapse in form.

Ashley Williams can count himself unfortunate to have lost his place in what many supporters feel has been a successful defensive partnership with Holgate but he was as culpable as anyone for the slide under Koeman. Too much was expected of Aaron Lennon, a player who has scored just two goals in as many years. And the less said about Kevin Mirallas, the better.

In light of the fact that Everton are out of the FA Cup and that most of the players selected for the debacle against Spurs have shown that humiliating results are likely to continue, therefore, a solid line should now be drawn under this season.

This team needs to be rebuilt, re-tooled and re-shaped — it is already evident to these eyes that Allardyce shouldn’t be the one doing it — but there is plenty that can be done in the remaining 15 games to build a platform for what we can only hope will be a new manager come the summer.

It could have been done after that win over Swansea when safety from relegation was looking likely but, instead, Allardyce’s now stated intention not to blood youth because of the “risk it poses to results” has resulted in a spell of turgid fare utterly devoid of any entertainment.

Now should be the time that significant attention is turned towards the future with priority given to grooming the younger players and essentially finding a settled core that can take this club forward next season.

That means giving difference-makers like Lookman the chance to change a boring goalless game against a team in the bottom three by being introduced from the substitutes’ bench rather than sitting it out while the ageing Lennon, six months from the end of his contract, or another holding midfielder is chosen instead.

That means playing Sigurdsson in his natural central role behind the forwards, ditching Rooney from the starting XI, or at least reassigning him to a deeper role at home against perceived weaker teams, and dispensing of the dual defensive midfielder formation that has, on the one hand, been undermining our ability to get men forward, while failing to provide the intended protection of the back four — see Wembley last weekend — on the other.

The arrival of Theo Walcott looks likely to help give Allardyce a leg up in terms of attacking output that he otherwise wouldn’t have been able to engineer himself. The new £20m man can provide this side with a bit more identity even if, as Andy Hunter writes in The Guardian, his arrival will likely come at Lookman’s and Vlasic’s expense (and even if the Croatian looks more like a No 10-in-waiting rather than a winger).

While it’s not a formation that would be suited to playing all opposition, a forward line of Walcott, Bolasie and Tosun suddenly offers something Everton have critically lacked all season: pace and goal threat. (Lookman can add that, too, off the bench until his acknowledged defensive deficiencies improve.) Walcott’s versatility as a player who can operate wide or as a supporting central forward, meanwhile, means he could play the role once envisaged and occasionally fulfilled by Mirallas.

That won’t come automatically, though. Bolasie will need many more games before he can get back to full fitness (even then, he has plenty to prove after flattering to deceive last season prior to his injury); Tosun will take time to adapt, and Walcott will need service. The former Arsenal man is noted for his goalscoring record with the Gunners but that was achieved in an expansive, passing side built to attack — plenty will have to change in terms of how Everton move the ball and link play before they can get the best out of the new signings.

It’s a start, however; and, with better attacking options will hopefully come less pressure on a defence that has been crippled by confidence and the absence of Leighton Baines, not to mention weakened of late by Allardyce’s decision to ditch what has looked like his most successful-looking centre-half pairing — Williams and Holgate.

Back-to-back home games with a fortnight’s break in the middle while we watch forlornly as the FA Cup progress without us will give the manager and team another opportunity to try and find some rhythm and cohesion. A win against West Brom this coming weekend will hopefully breed some confidence to take into the date with improving Leicester City at the end of the month.

You would hope, though, that in the interim, those talented younger players aren’t overlooked entirely and left to stagnate in limbo between the Under-23s and the first team. Getting to the 40-point mark remains the priority but as achieving that target gets closer, so, too, does the imperative to entertain the paying crowd and ensure that the long-term future of this team isn’t neglected for the sake of short-term expediency.

Note: The article originally overlooked Nikola Vlasic's 90 minutes against Manchester United on New Year's Day which has been corrected above.

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Reader Comments (115)

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Ian McKenna
1 Posted 18/01/2018 at 18:46:20
Couldn't agree more, Lyndon. I can't even imagine what "revert back to a more defensive structure" looks like.
Colin Glassar
2 Posted 18/01/2018 at 18:56:08
Sam out!!

Lyndon, I didn't read all of it but I got the gist. Sam isn't a fool, he isn't going to risk his huge wage packet on a bunch of grotty, spotty faced kids who still haven't started to shave. He's going to keep us up with whatever means he has available and to be perfectly honest, I don't blame him. I'd do the same to get another few million into my bank account.

Jay Harris
3 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:01:13
Lyndon, I don't know where people keep getting this fallacy that Allardyce will not give the kids a chance. He has walked into a shambles of a squad and football club and is trying to put some shape and organisation into it.

The old adage of "if you're good enough you're old enough" still applies.

The fact of the matter is Tom Davies has suffered an almighty fall in form this season while Kenny and Calvert-Lewin have been looking a bit burned out recently.

He has favoured Holgate over Keane, Jagielka and Williams and Pickford is a shoo-in.

I agree, Vlasic has looked okay when he has played and Lookman stood out in the last game but was atrocious in previous runouts.

Any manager in any walk of life prefers experience to youth and the proper way to develop youth is a gradual introduction into an already successful unit which we are not currently. We have played some really tough fixtures recently and, apart from the Spurs game, acquitted ourselves okay for a side in recovery.

This misnomer about not troubling the opposition keeper also needs to be corrected. Was Rooney's disallowed goal not an effort on target and, for that matter, that has been levelled at this squad long before Allardyce arrived.

I just wish people including those in influential positions such as yourself would get behind the man and give him a chance. He might surprise you.

Chris Regan
4 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:10:02
This has been such a poor season, we are all gutted at the moment and it's hard to see where the club is going with regards to player recruitment.

Looking at the Spurs performance, we need a new back four or a manager with a more positive mindset. Something Allardyce has never been known for. Someone senior at the club needs to get a grip before Farhad's cash is gone.

However, who that person is, is a total mystery. Certainly, none of the board have ever shown a set of balls in the past.

Stan Schofield
5 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:15:25
I think any manager has to be cautious about relying on youth when the team is struggling. Apart from needing to avoid unnecessary risk when trying to get some points and secure maintaining our place in the Premier League, relying on young players in this situation can put too much pressure on them and ultimately undermine their confidence if they don't play well.

Considering the struggles so far this season, the inclusion of young players has actually been greater than might have been expected. And they have handled it very well, to the point where it's very encouraging to think about what impact they could have when we do start playing better.

Phil Walling
6 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:15:54
I have little doubt that as at his other recent clubs, Allardyce is heavily incentivised to avoid relegation. Thus, until the magic 40-point mark is achieved – perhaps with a couple more for safety – we can expect the same turgid fare with our recent recruits either waiting on snips for service or running the channels, a la Andy Johnson.

Like many others, I feel the heart has been plucked out of Everton since the blustering arrival of Moshiri. There is no plan or way ahead. All is lost on the altar of pragmatism and that search for 40 points.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:19:49
With the greatest respect , we have toiled and toiled all season with a 20-year-old striker (Calvert-Lewin)that whilst he has worked hard he is not, has not and does not look like being any immediate answer to solving goal droughts.

We have suffered with a loss of form , too much pressure , second season syndrome whatever it is with Tom Davies but, hand on heart, has he done enough this season to really be considered as a nailed on name on the team sheet at this moment? No.

Jonjoe Kenny has filled in relatively okayish for Coleman but lately it's even looking like the weekly demands are starting to weigh him down; he struggled badly at the hands of Tottenham.

I don't see what we would really learn from Baningime on a weekly basis; he looked ok in the games he played but didn't look like offering a massive world of variety from Gueye, Schneiderlin and Davies that we sorely require.

The two who in my opinion could offer something different are Lookman and Vlasic.

I particularly like players that carry the ball and feel comfortable and confident with the ball at their feet, these two offer something that not many of our current squad (besides Walcott now he's signed) possess – pace and direct running.

But for three managers to not be entirely convinced by them it does make you begin to wonder what exactly is missing here? We obviously don't see these lads in training every day so there must be something behind their regular exclusion from squads?

Steve Hogan
8 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:22:04
Lyndon, it's not often I disagree with you, but you seem to have made your mind up already on Allardyce?

I'm a big fan of Lookman, he's quick, strong, and has an eye for goal for such a young player. I'm convinced he's going to be a really effective player in the future, but I'm not convinced if we had've brought him on against Spurs, the result would have been much different.

We were pretty much outclassed all over the field – particularly disappointing was our inability to simply hold onto the ball in midfield, for more than about 30 seconds. Defensively we were absolutely shocking.

I haven't (or can't) make my mind up about Sam; I do know he inherited an absolute crock of shite from Koeman and his coaching staff. Never have I seen such a large and unbalanced squad of players.

Right from the opening game against Stoke, you could see we lacked real pace throughout the team, and no apparent goal threat, either from the midfield or those supposedly 'attacking' members of the side.

In his defence, he has identified pretty quickly those areas we need to strengthen, a much stronger, robust centre-forward, and a wide, fast, experienced player who scored 19 goals last season.

I also believe a new left back will arrive before the end of January as well; let's at least give Allardyce a chance or opportunity to shape or fashion his own team.

Jerome Shields
9 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:23:32
"Allardyce's honeymoon period was due to luck, " said Mark Lawrence predicting the Bournemouth defeat. In the previous game, West Brom showed how to neutralise the simple Everton attack and put their defence under pressure.

In the West Brom game, Allardyce showed an inability to adjust tactics by failing to bring Niasse on to add unpredictability and win a winnable game. Allardyce had no intention of trying to win the game. His idea is to nick a goal. There is no chance he will use young players or alter tactics, as has been shown since.

His defensive tactics are also suspect, firstly changing the Williams - Holgate pairing, and then sticking with Jagielka, who no pairing could depend on. The other problem that his tactics now give rise to is that more opposition players (defenders) are able to support forward players and close down Everton players in their own half, in the knowledge there is no Everton forward threat.

Walcott will be used to try and reinvigorate the forward play and of course track back, based on already failed tactics. Allardyce in the next game may bring Williams back. Hopefully Holgate's confidence isn't shot, but there is no chance of any new young additions in defence. Keane may get a run-out as a young transfer, but that's as close as we will get, more likely Jags will partner Keane.

Wish we had continued with Unsworth after the West Ham game with his young additions, but Moshiri pissed him about that much. Hope he follows Moyes's advice.

I totally agree with your analysis. This season is a write-off. Allardyce needs a relegation threat to save his bacon, the sack and relegation would get him a big payout.

I was at the stage with Koeman I wanted Everton to lose; I won't mind if West Brom beat us to show Allardyce up for what he is. He is starting to damage Everton.

Don Alexander
10 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:25:52
Lyndon, it's a nice summary admittedly but I suspect you're in danger of turning the criticism too much onto Allardyce rather than onto those truly responsible for this season's ongoing debacle, namely Moshiri and Kenwright.

My desperate hope is that Allardyce grabs the chance this season to do something similar to what you'd have him do for the good reasons you give. We cannot and should not squander anything that prevents development for success next season, after all, but what's the brief to Allardyce by the dynamic duo given his mere 18-month contract?

If Allardyce believes he's due for the boot in summer, he's got zero interest in developing our club because he's virtually certain to be managing a competitor team next season. Only a muppet would allow that to happen to us, but if the muppet had previously allowed a sitting manager to stay in post for six months after having agreed to manage another competitor club, that muppet would be a traitor and would deserve to be run out of the club.

That's the real-world view in my opinion, but Everton are too nice to even contemplate doing anything as, erm, beastly as that of course.


Ian Bennett
11 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:32:55
He's got 15 games left. A poor return from that and he's gone in the summer.

Based on that, of course he's going to go with senior players over youth. His problem is that those senior players have failed plenty before him.

Jay Wood

12 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:38:07
And yet...and yet...

14,357 Minutes And Counting - Everton Letting Young Lions Roar

See the final slide for the punchline.

Jim Lloyd
13 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:53:05
I think this is the article of someone who has decided that Allardyce isn't an appropriate manager for EFC and views our attempts to ensure safety as a one tactic man who knows no thing else. I think this view may well have been formed before the manager was chosen.

Well. Maybe not; but to me, he has come in when we were on the one way ticket to the Championship and the longer Koeman was here, the less likelihood there was for us to get off that train.

Until these two players have now signed and given us a slight view of how Sam Allardyce wants to play when he has had the opportunity to have a sort out of the playing staff and also bringing in better players.

As for the kids... well that's just it; they're kids and I've seen as we all have, youngsters ruined in previous Everton teams when trying to learn their trade when we were down among the deadmen; and we're not that from from those dire days now.

We've got a back line with two young lads in it, while thy are trying to learn their trade. We've got two centre half players well over 30 who are not among the best in the league by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I'm not sure either of them would fetch a decent price if they went on the transfer list. We've got young Davies, another really bright prospect who has now been the target for stick for weeks. Another lad learning his trade.

Then there's Lookman and Vlasic, neither of which, in my view are yet ready to play week-in & week-out; and they'd be two more who'd come in for the stick should they not just break onto the team as fully seasoned professionals that some seem to think they are.

And then there's Dominic. He's been pulling his tripes out week after week for little reward. It will be said by some "Ah, but that's cos of the shite behind him not giving him decent balls to run onto." And that might well be right.

If it is, then even a top class marksman won't have much success in pooping the ball in the onion bag. Then he'll come in for the stick.

We've now got two players in who might give us a chance to cause opposing defences a lot of trouble. We might then find that those two professionals offer Rooney a Sigurdsson a lot more opportunity to be creative, and also to come up and support them.

What we have though, even with these two good players (in my view) ready to carry the attack, we still have the young lads carrying a weight that isn't fair to them. They should be coming in, when we have a good team like the reds have been doing for decades.

I don't think Keane is anywhere near the finished article, yet there's no Seamus as yet, nor Ramiro Funes Mori and Bainsey looks to be in need of some time each match, either as a sub, or someone coming on for him when he's in need of a blow.

The thing is,. we were left as a disorganised bunch of players, some good, some okay and some...well just not good enough.

Between now and the season end, my thoughts are that I hope we steer well clear of relegation. That is the first, top, priority. If we begin to gel as a team, which we haven't been from the beginning of the season, then I don't mind being Bored, if we get away from the quagmire.

Some will say Where's your ambition? I'd reply that it is to stay in the Premier League this season and build from there.

We could have kept Roberto if we didn't fancy being bored... but we might not enjoy the ride.

Lyndon Lloyd
14 Posted 18/01/2018 at 19:54:43
I'll admit that this piece came from a place of deep frustration and it didn't quite have the clarity in the end that I would have wanted. Jim (#13) offers a very balanced 30,000-foot viewpoint when my concerns come from what I see under the surface.

I'm not overlooking the chaos that Allardyce inherited (I chopped out a number of paragraphs from the piece that re-trod that ground because I felt it was largely redundant at this point) and I'm not suggesting that he rely on youth, but use it where appropriate to change games.

I do think he has been inconsistent and neglected to introduce younger players (like Lookman, Vlasic and, to a lesser extent Davies) when it could have been beneficial to both the player and the team. The Spurs game wasn't one of those occasions because it was a dreadful performance and a lost cause. But there have been other times when Allardyce has played it either incredibly safe or been plain unadventurous against weaker opposition.

I made no secret of my misgivings about Allardyce when we hired him but I was — and still am — more than prepared to be won over by him. I still don't see an Everton manager there, though, and I worry that he will consistently err on the cautious and the unambitious course, and that's the thrust of the piece.

I also think he has used younger players because he has had to. For me, Holgate won his place in the side (first under Unsworth against West Ham) when there were no other options. Likewise Kenny and Calvert-Lewin. (Pickford is in a different situation because he is the best player we have in his position.) Allardyce played them because he had no other option.

I'm yet to be convinced he is the kind of manager who will bring young players on to build for the future and I fear we could lose some of them if they aren't given a decent crack at proving their worth while we continue to pay big money for players aged 27, 28 and above who haven't quite fulfilled their potential elsewhere.

David Morgan
15 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:02:16
Phil (#6):

I can't accept that Moshiri can be blamed or the plan is weak. He tried to fix the Martinez mess by getting in Koeman who we all thought was a good appointment. Obviously, that didn't work out and now we have an emergency guy in place.

Moshiri has spent loads on players and tried to keep the better guys we lost. He clearly would get Simeone if he could, but he can't. Magaye Gueye and Vellios for £1.5m in total was a previous summer's business. Times are financially good just the football is crap.

What should the plan be? Attack in a relegation fight? We tried to attack from 7th and ended up here. We have to build and get a team back together. The flops and the not-good-enough players need weeding out and replacing. The youth that isn't good enough needs replacing, the youth that is needs a chance.

Leicester found their formula at the end of the season before they won the league when they were in a relegation fight. We need to use this time to figure out the best 11, any positions we need, figure out the youth and find a way to play as a team that wins games.

Everything I have seen from Big Sam so far suggests he is trying to get us better, not just defend.

Tony Hill
16 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:03:00
Yes, this is a load of fantasy tosh. Allardyce is a dullard, won't use our young players, hoofball, where's our famous flair and so on ad nauseam.

String the prejudiced cliches together and make an article.

Kevin Tully
17 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:11:49
Lookman could offer something if he can step up. The rest? They all look distinctly average to me. Obviously they may improve with experience, but the likes of Davies, Kenny, Holgate and Calvert-Lewin are not good enough, yet. That's not to say they should be written off, but we can't depend on these youngsters to push on. Nor should we after blowing an absolute fortune.
Pat Kelly
18 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:15:53
Allardyce was signed on an 18-month SOS (save our skins) contract. Not to entertain or think of the future. We can rage against it all we like, and probably will after every game until he's gone.

But this is the price being paid for all the mistakes made by the owners, directors and managers. And the fans as usual pick up the tab – regardless of what fare is offered.

Michael Lynch
19 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:18:04
Three managers have failed to get anything from this squad, and only Allardyce has managed to string together even a limited run of decent results.

The young players have done their best, but have proved inadequate. Not to say that they won't be able to improve, and make a mark at some point, but it would be madness to continue with the ineffectual Lookman, Vlasic, Davies, Calvert-Lewin and Kenny, if better options become available.

I'm not sure why anyone would pick Lookman or Vlasic over Walcott, he's a class above them in both talent and experience, and Kenny is surely only keeping Coleman's berth warm until he recovers.

Calvert-Lewin has worked hard and clearly has a lot to offer in a couple of seasons' time, but Tosun looks the real deal right now.

Hopefully Sam will give the youth some minutes over the next few months, but it's been a terrible season, and none of the youngsters have done enough to deserve a regular place. It would be a terrible thing to sacrifice our Premier League status to prove some kind of a point about giving youth a chance.

Like they say, "If you're good enough, you're old enough." None of our young lads are good enough yet.

Brian Harrison
20 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:23:07

I think you wrote a very pertinent and honest appraisal of Allardyce's time here so far. I said when it was rumoured that he would be given the job, don't expect any flair or youngsters to flourish under Allardyce.

Allardyce, his whole managerial career,has been very very reticent to play young players, and invariably leaves every club he manages with an older team than he inherited and all on long contracts. So managers following Allardyce have a job to move on players who are on long contracts and an even bigger job trying to change the playing methods from a long ball game to something resembling football.

He has in this window been allowed to spend nearly £50 million on 2 attackers, and yet I heard him this morning saying we probably need to get back to being more defensive. How more defensive can you get 2 or 3 shots on target in our last 4 or 5 games.

As I said in another post going to watch Everton under Allardyce is like visiting a dying relative in hospital, you cant not go but you know it wont be pleasant when you get there.

He is unique; I have watched us since Ian Buchan was our manager, and we have had some terrible managers and players in that time. But the difference between all of them and Allardyce is they all tried to win games. This seems alien to Allardyce.

Dave Abrahams
21 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:30:22
I agree with Jim Lloyd (#13) in that I also am only interested in Everton staying up and don't really care how we play until we are safe.

I think that Lookman and Vlasic can be played either coming on or starting with Bolasie doing the opposite. By the way, Bolasie is not a team player and is just as likely to lose the ball as the two youngsters.

Furthermore Rooney is more of a danger, playing deep, to Everton than either Lookman or Vlasic losing it further up the field. When he went deep at Bournemouth is when the opposition really looked like winning the game. If Rooney plays, he is better coming on up front later in the game.

David Barks
22 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:32:49
Where did the idea that you have to defend your way out of a relegation fight come from? It's the most simplistic take on football that might explain the lack of success the British national teams have seen for decades.

Did Roy Hodgson go into Crystal Palace and make them defend? No he didn't, he had them attack, play football. I don't hear about Zaha and Loftus-Cheek needing to focus on defending. Instead, I see them getting the ball forward and attacking.

Even Moyes has West Ham attacking, getting the ball wide and getting it forward. Did Leicester go into a defensive mode when they sacked Shakespeare and were down the table? No, he had them playing attacking football, most recently seeing them go to Chelsea and dominate before having a man sent off.

There is no excuse for the way Allardyce has started so many matches just going for a point. And there was no excuse to continually play Schneiderlin. Lookman and Vlasic are both better than Lennon, yet Lennon was his go to before Bolasie came back. And he continues to stick Sigurdsson out wide.

Rick Tarleton
23 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:33:06
Basically, Lyndon, you've got it right. Lookman's the big loser in this, because with Walcott, Bolasie and Lennon he will be very lucky to get time on the pitch.

The other player I feel sorry for is Keane. he came to us on the fringe of the England team; he chose us over United because he could see more game time at Goodison Park than at Old Trafford. At Burnley he'd been in a very organised defence with the left sided and very under-rated Mee alongside him. At Goodison he came in with two ageing, right sided centre backs and, surprise, surprise, he has struggled.

I don't think Allardyce is going to take any risks with selection or tactics. He'll play two up, probably Tosun and Walcott, four in the midfield, two of whom will be defensive, Sigurdsson ahead of them and possibly Rooney as well. There'll be a back four, left back's a mystery until Baines returns as Garbutt seems to be out of favour.

Allardyce will hope to sneak games or draw them, he won't be going for the Guardiola approach and will be happy with nil-nil. West Brom will be fascinating in terms of selections and tactics, but don't expect an attacking formation.

Paul Thompson
24 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:43:13
Like others, Lyndon, I normally agree with your analyses, but am sceptical of or your original argument. Nomatter what Sam has said, there is no real evidence that he has marginalised younger players.

Most have had a shot and he's stuck with those (Holgate, Kenny) who have done well or for whom there is little alternative at the moment. The others have been at best inconsistent and it's an open question whether they (and the team) would have benefited from an extended run.

Vlasic, in my view, has been the unluckiest in terms of chances, but there are obvious holes in his game and this hasn't really been the time for experimentation. Age is not the key issue in our current predicament – absence (strikers, left back) and balance (excess of No 10s, preponderance of defensive over creative mids). Some of these are now being addressed.

I remain agnostic about whether Allardyce and team can complete or at least substantially advance the transformation. The next 15 games will tell us one way or another.

Andy Crooks
25 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:47:28
Lyndon, your original article is one if your best. I enjoy it when you use your skill to be forthright. I know as editor you like to strike a balance; sometimes writing with the heart is very effective.

Obviously, as you are endorsing the views I have, I will admire your article, but I still think you had no need to post #14. The original was spot on.

Frank Crewe
26 Posted 18/01/2018 at 20:47:30
When are you guys going to give up on this "young player" fantasy? How many young players are there in Man City's side? Or Man Utd's? Or Chelsea's?. Or any of the top sides in any of the top leagues in Europe? Sides full of youngsters win nothing. sides full of experienced top players win everything. Don't say Man Utd did with Beckham, Giggs etc. A million-to-one fluke.

We have seen our young players:

Sandro – waste of space.
Calvert-Lewin – average.
Kenny – average.
One goal Davies – average and weak.
Pennington – loaned out.
Galloway – loaned out.
Browning loaned out,
etc etc.

The list is long and sad. Most young players never make it in the Premier League. You should know this. We are only 7 points above the bottom three. One or two more defeats and we'll be sweating again.

Sam is doing the right thing for himself and for the club. If he wants to stay then he has to start winning consistently. He is buying experienced players in their twenties.

Cenk is just coming into his prime. Walcott is in his prime. We need more players like this not the might be good in five years youngsters. Or 30+ has-beens like Rooney. Stop dreaming about top class youngsters who will stay for ten years because they don't exist. Did Rooney stay? or Rodwell? or Barkley?

You want to see top class youngsters at Everton? Well when they see a decent chance to have a career with the prospect of winning leagues and cups maybe we can start buying them instead of the million pound might be's we currently buy.

So let have no more of this "journeyman manager" nonsense. He's doing what needs to be done. This journeyman has spent £50 million on two players and will probably spend more before this window ends. Hopefully on good experienced players in their prime years.

John Pierce
27 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:00:22
The piece might be an indulgence, it might even be letting off steam but there's more than it to citing the standard criticism towards Allardyce.

Allardyce and the board are playing themselves off against each other – both risking Everton's future for their own myopic short-termism.

Despite the deep despondency around this season we have a unique chance to blood a group of younger players without penalty. It could be the best pre-season opportunity we could ever have.

Allardyce has hinted he won't risk it and is desperate to use results as the bridge to keep his job beyond the summer. As Colin says, who'd blame him, he knows the score. This policy is selfish and to the detriment of the club.

A manager with a better vision, a more positive outlook, would use the remainder of the season to see if the youngsters can make it in the hardest proving grounds around. If not bin them.

The board deserve what they get; as Tony says they are the real villains here. If they had any vision then they would have either offered Allardyce a lengthy contract which would have encouraged Sam to think longer term, and not the selfish miser we've got instead. Moshiri has no compunction to pay managers off, so no love lost there if he made a hash of it, right?

And should he be paid off come the summer, the next 14 games will be for nothing. What don't we know about Walcott, Bolaise, Rooney et al? Just back to square one passing over the golden chance to think longer term.

But the fact we didn't appoint a more forward, in every sense, thinking manager has forced an already defensive manager to bunker in and serve up nothing better than gruel.

The board have actively enabled the situation which Allardyce has grasped with both hands.

I can't blame Lyndon for posting an article which has driven the most balanced Evertonian I know to the limits of his tolerance and patience, and beyond even you might say.

Robin Cannon
28 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:05:49
I do think there's the evidence of his career that he is largely conservative, safety first, in his approach to the game. And that that extends to marginalizing "risky" youth.

I tend to think (without bothering to research) of his Bolton team in particular as one of the oldest in terms of average age. Lots of over 30s.

I remain unconvinced that anything Allardyce does is materially better than what Unsworth might have achieved given a role through the end of the season.

Our football is turgid, I don't know what the real plan is to kick on next season.

David Barks
29 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:06:14

We were doing pretty well with the young Lukaku and young Barkley. Rashford is 20 at Man Utd, same age as Vlasic. Pogba was doing pretty well as a 20-year-old at Juventus and is still only 24. United did pretty wel with Ronaldo.

Sterling came through as a youngster at Liverpool and is still only 23 at Man City. Sane is 22 at City. Gabriel Jesus at City is 20. Dele Alli is 21. Martial at Man Utd is only 22. How many more do you want?

Christine Foster
30 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:11:16
Lyndon, I can fully understand the frustration but I confess I am a pragmatic sod who fully endorsed and understood the possible consequences to our game in appointing Allardyce. Because I too believed I had never seen the club in such dire straits, and I have seen some bad managers, but the combination of Koeman, his brother, Kenwright and Walsh gave rise to a perfect storm which resulted in "a one way ticket to the Championship"

My concern, and I am sure it was Moshiri's, was to stay in the Premier League, and the best way to do that with the playing staff we had available was to appoint a man who, like him or loath him, could do the job.

I will not say he inherited a team, because frankly that's a lie, we sold the spine of the team, alienated others and stood by when other key players incurred long term injuries.

He has had to find out who he could rely on, young or old, and many have been found out. I could go through many on an individual basis but its been highlighted before. He knows full well of our lack of attacking ability, hence the new arrivals.

Too often have old and young given up v unforgivable. There are players in the team right now that should not be there, but he has to balance risk against youth and in the current situation he is trying to utilise players in a team, rather than individual ability. And that is the real problem.

I think, irrespective of his "history", he is trying to build a team from the ground up; if he does, it will be a far better team he leaves than he inherited.

Lyndon Lloyd
31 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:11:58
Thanks, Andy (#25), but responses like Paul's (#24) and Jim's that I alluded to above have merit and I think that my putting so much emphasis on youth has largely obscured the fact that since winning four of his first five games, we have been getting steadily worse. A lot worse if last Saturday is any indication.

So, for me, it shouldn't actually be about the age of the players not being used appropriately/effectively but about what they can offer, particularly off the subs' bench. Except, of course, that it's precisely the fact that they are "so young", in Allardyce's own words, that they haven't been utilised as much.

Again, for clarification for those like Frank (#26) who have misconstrued my argument, I am not saying we should play with a team full of kids. (I'm specifically talking about two or three who have made a demonstrated impact and I'm not even saying they should necessarily start.) And the teams he mentions (like Man City, Chelsea, etc) don't have an abundance of kids in their sides because they have had the massive financial resources to build big squads of mature players so they don't have to. It's why Mourinho was so quick to sell Lukaku and De Bruyne, for example.

In our situation, we have to use what players we have to influence games where appropriate over the 90 minutes and I don't feel that we have been doing that at all lately. For me, the inability to maximise the various weapons at his disposal paints a concerning picture of Allardyce as Everton manager going forward and validates my concern at his hiring in the first place. Performances and results will need to markedly improve before I'm convinced otherwise.

Frank Crewe
32 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:17:11
Lukaku got nothing but slagged off as a lazy so and so all the time he was here. Not to mention he cost us £28 million. Pogba cost Man Utd £89 million. Ronaldo was a prodigy like Rooney.

Sterling came into a side with Sturridge and Suarez at the top of their form. Even then Liverpool couldn't keep him once Man City turned up with a fat cheque and £200k a week for Sterling. If Liverpool can't hold onto their top youngster how are we supposed to do it? Sane, Jesus, Martial – all bought for top dollar.

Clubs can get away with one or two younger players if they are really good and in a side with plenty of experience. But you can't fill your side with average youngsters and expect to do well. It won't happen.

Jim Bennings
33 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:18:31

I do agree with you what you say about this “young player fantasy”.

It's almost been every fans weakness ever since Alan Hansen quoted that “You don't win anything with kids” back in 95'.

But let's be honest – that Manchester United team was a rare beast, a one-off that bred winners in personality as well as sublime footballing talent.

Ever since then fans in the late 1990's, Michael Branch the next Ian Rush.

Danny Cadamarteri the future of English football.

Jack Rodwell is this and that , coupled with all the others that fans would have you believe are “going to be this or that”.

I even recall some nutter in 2015 stating the long since departed Chris Long being better than Harry Kane!!!!

The only sublime super talent we have developed so far is one Wayne Rooney. The kid was a freak of nature at 16 years old and you knew instantly he was going to be a beast of a player for the following decade or more.

The kids we have now, whilst they look quite poorly coached to be fair, they just don't look like anything better than average.

I watched Norwich and Chelsea last night and the lad Lewis of Norwich, got me instantly sitting up thinking that kid look alive, he looks full of zest and energy.

I look at our lads this season, then I look at the Liverpool vs Manchester City game last week and I thought, “How many of our young kids would have had the energy and endurance to play 100 miles an hour, like the Redshite were?”

All our lads looked knackered after less than an hour of “jogging or walking“ around the pitch.

The fact is, it's always a comfort for fans – not just of Everton but throughout – to believe every young lad of 18, 19 or 20 is “going to be amazing“ or “going to be the future”.

The truth is few will make it at the highest level.

The sad truth is the top six clubs will not take Everton serious playing kids like Calvert-Lewin, Baningime, Holgate, Kenny, Davies etc because they just aren't that effective..

We look at the top six as Evertonians and we fear players like Salah, Kane, De Bruyne, Sanchez and so on, because they are supreme quality.

We have toiled on with Calvert-Lewin who looks as likely to score as a monk at a brothel and it's easy to blame a lack of service but Lukaku scores 43 goals across two seasons with hardly Iniesta and Messi behind him at Everton.

We need to really start admitting to ourselves what stares us in the face and stop pretending the next generation is going to be good enough to challenge the top 6 .

Terry White
34 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:37:17
Rick (#23), looks like we shall be playing with at least 12 and maybe 13 on Saturday in your line up which should give us a real chance of not losing.

I would like to see us play like we want to win rather than play not to lose. I'd like to see Tosun, Walcott and one of Bolasie, Lookman or Vlasic start up front. But, in doing that, if you play Sigurdsson as well, you are only left with 2 midfield players to protect the middle, support the full backs and hopefully supply something creative.

Which 2? Take your pick. Gana, McCarthy, Baningime, Besic (who?), Schneiderlin, Davies, Klaassen, Rooney, Lennon. Can any 2 of them do the job between them?

Paul Smith
36 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:43:34
That John Peirce knows what he's talking about. Spot on!
Tony Abrahams
37 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:50:10
I thought the midfield that finished the game at Anfield deserved another go, because we had just started to look balanced, and Lookman especially deserved to start the next game, because he was a big threat once he got on the pitch that night.

Same with Sigurdsson who had played so much better from a central position, but I think it's best to see what way we play on Saturday now we have Walcott.

Lookman has got to start getting involved more though, either from the start, or from the bench, because if he doesn't, he won't want to wait around for long, which is probably the same for all our younger players, now that they've had the taste...

Dennis Stevens
38 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:53:02
I'm still awaiting the moment when I realise why Allardyce was appointed, rather than confirming Unsworth in post a week or two earlier – it hasn't arrived yet & I ain't holding my breath on the off-chance that it ever will!
David Barks
39 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:54:57
Again, the article was not about and in no way said the side should be filled with young players. I don't know why things immediately get taken in a complete wrong direction. And even when you try to answer one of those claims about top sides not using young players, then they change the argument to be about money and Sterling being sold to Man City??? And your point is?

We have had and continue to have skillful players available but they are being overlooked in favor of older and less skillful conservative players. Starting 11s with Gana, Schneiderlin and McCarthy. Not playing wingers. Sticking Sigurdson out left.

Nobody said the side should be packed with all kids. Simply pointing out that Lookman can hardly get a minute on the pitch. Same for Vlasic. And when they do get on the pitch, they seem to disappear for weeks afterward regardless of how well they do. How can you justify Schneiderlin continuing to be picked instead of giving Klaassen a single minute of game time?

We've gone into matches against West Brom and Bournemouth with overly defensive lineups and tactics. And when things are not going well in attack, we still don't see any of those attacking players brought into the team as subs. All Allardyce seems to talk about is what the opposition might do to us instead of talking about what we might be able to do to them in attack.

Iain Love
40 Posted 18/01/2018 at 21:58:19
If everyone's fit, from the youth players only Pickford & Holgate would make my first eleven. Nothing to do with age; everything to do with performances. Kenny & Lookman in particular appear to have what it takes to make it in the future, whilst Davies and Vlasic are worth keeping an eye on.
Darren Hind
41 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:01:48
What I don't get, is the notion that playing this pug ugly anti football is necessary to save us from the drop... why? Have people not seen the cut of some of the teams below us? It's going to be really hard to get relegated this season... the competition is fucking fierce.

I was one of Koeman's most persistent critics, but I firmly believe we'd have beaten Huddersfield, Newcastle and Swansea had he still been here. They are appalling sides, yet Sam has dined out on those three results since... £6m well spent, he'll tell you

A disastrous appointment. No good can come from a manager who's only answer to a 4-0 twatting is we have to become "more boring"!

Jim Lloyd
42 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:05:31
I see our manager, trying to get a bunch of players who were taking us down –or who were being taken down by Koeman, into the Championship – and forming those players into something like a football team.

To get a bunch of players playing as a team needs time and I can remember Howard Kendall bringing about seven in and we were not very good, to say the least and I can remember a petition going round to get our most successful manager, the chop.

I don't think I can understand one point of view that why do we need to defend to get out of trouble? Well, it seems to me that if we can't score, then the very least we should be able to do is, as much as we can, stop teams from scoring against us.

True enough that a young Lukaku was good enough to score plenty of goals in the Premier League, though he got plenty of stick from a fair old section on here.

Crystal palace were mentioned; Leicester, and West Ham also. In my view they have already got the players to attack with and to put opposing defences under the cosh. I haven't seen us have anyone remotely as competent as Mahrez and Vardy, Zaha, Lanzini and Autovich, except maybe Rooney, for both bringing the ball forward and as goalscorers. They also have more cohesive teams around them than us.

If we didn't defend, we would be very unlikely to score enough to bring us a point, never mind a victory because, until now, we haven't had the players.

From what I've seen, we've got a poor mixture of over the hill players, mediocre players and young players, with a few bright lights among them. I haven't seen that much of Vlasic or Lookman that inspires me to believe they can come in every game, whether for the full 90 minutes or as a sub, to regularly expect a game.

I can't remember us having so poor a collection of players to start the season with and they aren't going to change overnight into any of those teams mentioned who attacked their way out of trouble.

We might just have got two players in now that will give us a chance to play a more attacking game. I cannot believe that there are comments that we could have attacked our way out of trouble.

What I think I'm hoping to see is that we now begin to learn to play our way out of trouble. In order to do that, we have to become a team... and we certainly are not that yet.

I think Sam Allardyce has brought in a couple of good attacking players and I look forward to see if they help improve the players around them.

Again, I say, until we are safe then with the frailties we've shown this season, we would still be in danger until we get to the 40 points, or whatever it takes.

Posters who blame Allardyce for the performances have their point of view but I don't agree with them. He's been here less than two months and I think he's done a decent job of trying to make a team out of the collection we've had available, young or old.

I think that I'll wait to see if we can get a left-back in and maybe a midfielder who can distribute a ball to good effect. But above all, we need to get to the summer with the teamwork being the top priority.

I'm chuffed with the two forwards he's brought in and I hope they'll give us an attack... at last.

Frank Crewe
43 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:06:52

Allardyce has brought in Cenk and Walcott to give us more attack. Lookman and Vlasic were never going to do it. Top players be they young or old cost money. Man Utd have just paid £35 million for a 29-year-old Sanchez and are paying him £500k a week. Don't see them worrying about resale value.

All I want at Everton are quality players. I don't care what their age is. Remember Allardyce sees all out players in training everyday. We only see them for 90 minutes once or twice a week. He knows if they are ready for the first team. Plainly he doesn't think Calvert-Lewin is ready hence we have Tosun. Vlasic/Lookman isn't ready hence we have Walcott and as soon as Coleman is fit it's back to the bench for Kenny.

This is the reality. If we had another young Rooney I'm sure he'd be playing but not for long. The moneybags clubs would have him off us just like Man Utd did with Rooney 16 years ago.

Everton need stability not experimentation with youngsters.

Tony Hill
44 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:07:08
I think Lookman has it in him to be a fine player, but he was given a good chance to impress under Koeman this season and was, frankly, very poor. He had a nice cameo against Liverpool but that's all it was.

Kenny, Holgate, Baningime (in my opinion the best of our prospects) have all been played by Allardyce. Calvert-Lewin is exhausted.

Otherwise, it's the same old carousel. A lot of people just despise Allardyce, others of us want to let him have a go for longer than 7 weeks and to have the benefit of buying a few of his own players. Round and round and round we go.

David Barks
45 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:16:38

You don't honestly believe that those players were signed by Allardyce do you? You think that Allardyce had a striker scouted after being in the job for a couple of weeks? Don't you think that maybe Walsh was the one behind finding these players?

We paid £10 million for Lookman. Why does that matter? We also paid money for Vlasic. Both have done well when rarely given a chance. And more importantly, they offer something completely different than having a three man defensive midfield. Why are you talking about resale and who would be signed away by another club? What does that have to do with anything?

You say we need stability. Allardyce says we need to go more basic and less attacking, after failing to win for weeks now and hardly being able to fashion a shot on goal. As Lyndon wrote, 5 shots on goal in the last six matches, and one of those was Sidgurdsson's goal that was assisted by Lookman.

Brian Williams
46 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:19:22
Despite the deep despondency around this season we have a unique chance to blood a group of younger players without penalty.

John, we're a couple of losses away from being right back in the shite and so I can't see how taking the risk of blooding a group of younger players is without penalty, to be honest.

To me, it's about balancing risk and Allardyce doesn't seem to want to take the risk of blooding the youngsters while there's still a chance that the penalty could be getting dragged back into a relegation fight.

A quick glance at the Premier League table looks like there's nothing to worry about. Having a more in depth look shows that's not necessarily the case.

I think the majority of managers in a similar situation would tend towards experience and maturity and what he would perceive as a lower risk strategy until he had no choice. If he went for the youngsters and suffered loss after loss he'd be crucified!

Not saying which is the right way to go, just playing devils advocate.

John Boon
47 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:24:25
Young or old,veteran or novice. Every player needs to be fit enough to last an entire game. As depressing as it can be, most viewers need to watch a game twice in order to make an honest assessment of how individual players performed. Even then we all have our biases about which players we expect to play well and those who we know are going to be the major reason we lost.

I suggested watching twice because the emotions of watching a live game usually clouds ones vision to the point of idiocy. We lose our minds, I know I do. We become wrecks, swearing at the television, vowing to never watch again.

Nobody can ask you any even reasonable question. I say this because my wife of many many years, and many many games asked me if I liked her new shoes in the second half of the Spurs game. I think I am a rational human being so I will refrain from telling you my response.

Back to the second viewing and fitness. Two days later I forced myself to watch the game again. Yes we were still dreadful, but I knew what was coming and I actually watched the game as a neutral viewer might see it. I was still disappointed by most of the individual players. The Allardyce game plan did not work, and we were clearly second best.

However, there was one general factor that I did notice. Everton players just did not seem fit enough or they just didn't try after the second goal. I have felt that we aren't as fit as most teams too often this season. However, there are no excuses for either a lack of fitness or just plain giving up. The manager and coaching staff are responsible in either case.

Tony Hill
48 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:32:37
I should correct myself on a point above. Lookman was not really given a chance this season by Koeman, apart from a couple of performances (he had a bad game away in the Europa League, I recall); it was Unsworth who put him in more and again the young man was erratic (as he was when Koeman did give him a chance last season).

I hope he stays and flourishes though, and I think he will.

Mike Oates
49 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:36:38
I have read countless football autobiographies and I'm just finishing Peter Reid's latest book and just into Pep Guardiola's life in football and all to a man state quite categorically that you cannot rely on youngsters to get you out of any mess you're in v you need your seasoned professional to deliver. Youngsters need to be bred when they are not under tremendous pressure to deliver, week-in & week-out.

I don't like it as much as anyone on here but I'm afraid we cant rely on Kenny, Holgate, Lookman, Davies, Vlasic, Calvert Lewin and even Sandro, who is only 20 years old, going out there and putting on a attacking feast.

Maybe one or two at the right times, showing us their ware, but not 4-5 continually we've been using, because our "so-called established" players are struggling big-time: Jagielka, Williams, Baines (when fit), Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney, have had a terrible season, totally devoid of any confidence, gone missing when needed and just so risk-averse.

Like it or lump it, Sam is right, bringing in people out there who've done it at higher levels, particularly forwards as a priority, because he saw from day one and knew before he took charge that we are so so lightweight up front.

His real test is to get draws as he cannot turn a toothless team into 2-4 goals a game team, it just wont happen, particularly overnight. He can't go out with any hope of taking the game to the opposition, his main men, his creative men just aren't delivering and at Tottenham his whole defence and midfield didn't deliver.

If he sees that Tosun and Walcott striking up a goal scoring partnership then he might open the game up in the future, but first and foremost he wants to go and get the magical 40 points (which wasn't good enough for Reid at Sunderland and with 41 points they went down).

I do believe reading other managers or top players views that Allardyce is a top manager who deserved a top club, never got one, got England and buggered it up.

Interesting view from Peter Reid in his last chapter written in the summer of 2017 and before Allardyce got the Everton job – "Allardyce is a top manager who never got the chance he deserved"

Football is a cruel game and we will probably find out in 3-4 years from now that the likes of Kenny, Davies, Lookman, Vlasic, Sandro plying their trade at a club higher than Everton; they've arrived at the wrong time for Everton.

Last point again from my readings – you need to give Foreign players at least a season to discover what levels they need to attain to be a success in the Premier League – namely Klaassen and Sandro, who will both be moved on... again, wrong time to arrive.

John Pierce
50 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:38:40
Brian, that's opinion, which is completely fair. We aren't nor in my opinion were ever close to going down.

A tailspin for sure but not a death spiral. The league is so poor West Brom can go 21 without a win and STILL not be bottom. The league is hopelessly poor.

That's the point; more vision looking at the predicament from both the board should see we had more to offer than installing a carpet salesman in Allardyce.

Jer Kiernan
51 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:52:05
The Second one, Lyndon, a footballing dinosaur.
Jim Lloyd
52 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:52:34
We certainly were in a death spiral and we are not completely out of it yet. I'm not so sure that is opinion but a fear that was based on our league position, our goals for and the horrendous goals against. Even now, if we lose 1 game and the four or five below us win one, then we wil drop five places.

The trouble is, the nearer we get to the dreaded bottom three, the more pressure builds up and confidence drains. It would seem sensible not to take that blase chance.

David Barks
53 Posted 18/01/2018 at 22:54:35
I agree with John Pierce. It wasn't that Koeman wasn't failing and shouldn't have been sacked. The issue is that the Board made a terrible call by sacking him without a plan, and then turned to Allardyce instead of a far more ambitious target.

You should always be building for the future in one way or another. The football that Allardyce has us playing is setting us back.

Trevor Peers
54 Posted 18/01/2018 at 23:05:08
Allardyce has made his signings and will be judged, rightly, on how or if they work out. At least we now have some real attacking options, if they can't add the pace and power we have been lacking all season, then Sam will have been found out as totally unsuitable for the manager's position.

Either he is a totally defensive minded manager tactically, or has never been given the finances to prove otherwise. One thing is for certain – we're now going to find out which.

Until now, we have had very poor attacking options, Lookman and Vlasic have shown very little, other than potential, when called upon. Premier League goals are what we needed from both of them.

Brian Williams
55 Posted 18/01/2018 at 23:12:21
John/David. You may recall the clamour on here to get Silva in from Watford. There was a real "he's the one we need" from a great number of people. Now Watford appear to be close to pulling the plug on him.

There were calls for Howe and now he's getting slated for going meekly out of the FA Cup to Wigan. Every manager's a risk when you're in the position we were/are in.

I'm sorry but watching the team every other week and trudging out of Goodison totally demoralised and wondering where the next shot was coming from, let alone goal, said to me, and many others, we were in dire straits.

I admit the league is poor down the bottom but so were/are we mate, so were we.

Mike Hughes
56 Posted 18/01/2018 at 23:15:41
Context is sorely missing from the article. And balance. And objectivity.

Lyndon made his mind up about Allardyce before the man was even appointed as Everton manager. That was abundantly clear to me in the tone and innuendo of his articles a couple of months ago. I thought they were appalling / unfair and aired my views.

Here's another scenario:

Instead of Allardyce, we appointed one of the managers many were calling for on here – a 'glamour name' - eg, Ancellotti, Simeone (as if) or even a 'non glamour' one - eg, Silva, Dyche.

And we got the same run of results and same level of performances. (Hypothetical, I know, but just go with it).

I have no doubt that the non-Allardyce manager would be praised for stabilising the club over the first 6 games; excused the last 5 given the squad he inherited; lack of activity in the transfer market; etc. "Give him time, lads!" etc.

But, no, right now the anti-Allardyce boot has to go in.

An example from the piece above refers to Allardyce's "inconsistent seniors first approach" while praising the youngsters' performance in Cyprus. Of course, no added context. The Cyprus game was a no-pressure game as we were already out of Europe due to Koeman's ineptitude. The kids were sent over to prioritise the senior group for the Premier League. And that Cypriot team were supposed to be the whipping boys of the group anyway.

The "seniors first" were – on a historic basis for EFC - quite expensively, if incompetently, assembled by Sam's predecessor. There would likely be an outcry if someone on £50k+ a week was not getting a regular game. Not that I think that would affect Allaryce.

But why bother adding context when you already have a narrative to fulfil?

Saturday's 4-0 defeat did not leave me bereft. I've had that feeling for a long time - long before Sam Allardyce came here. Context – Spurs have been flying for a few years now (having splashed the cash over a much longer period of time and with deeper pockets) and we... errr...haven't been.

Lyndon's opening paragraph apparently speaks "for many an Evertonian".

Well, it doesn't speak for me because this club has been taken into mediocrity long before Allardyce's arrival. I may well be proved wrong but I do think that Allardyce, given time, will be part of the solution to progression at EFC. At the very least I would give the man time.

And the bulk of the £200m+ was blown by someone else, not Allardyce. We're 18 days into his first transfer window and he's already made (on paper at least) a couple of potentially good acquisitions.

But let's screw the context and objectivity hey?

References in the article to "Allardyce's unexpectedly rosy honeymoon period" (not for me because I expected it) and "creative wings – if he had any" just add to Lyndon's obvious bile and bitterness. Allardyce has been here barely 2 months, inherited a team/squad low in confidence and effectiveness and without a full transfer window.

If the article is advocating the increased use of younger talent that we apparently have then I take the opposite view right now. If they are good enough, they are old enough. Allardyce sees the lot of them in training and makes his selection accordingly in order to get results.

He doesn't strike me as the type to pander to anyone else's views when it comes to what he wants to achieve. So he must have reservations about them. I'll take his view of that situation over anyone else's right now, thank you very much.

Given that Allardyce is the EFC manager and therefore wants success for this club – I'll be sticking with Allardyce for the time-being as an Evertonian rather than taking the view of his detractors. I had the same views of Martinez and Koeman – give them a chance – until they proved themselves to be clueless.

We all know that the football is crap but we are in a survival / salvage mode right now due to the shambles the last manager left us with. Context needs to be applied in lavish helpings to what we are experiencing. I haven't read through every single post but Michael Lynch (#19) nails it for me with a much more balanced and pragmatic view that IMHO "speaks for many an Evertonian" – at least those that I talk to rather than read online.

Anyway, I'm off to bed now. It's hard work being a Blue sometimes and I'm knackered.

Derek Thomas
57 Posted 18/01/2018 at 23:56:47
Short term? Yes.

Ingrained? Possibly.

Key point here...Can he take the next step? We wait and see.

FWIW; I don't see him getting the 'thank you and good night' come the end of May.

As always with The Ev – more questions than answers.

Don Alexander
58 Posted 19/01/2018 at 00:39:00
Sam Allardyce is not an Everton fan or supporter and I'm not an Allardyce fan. He is a professional who knows his stock is highly valued, and paid for in terms of salary, by just about any team that finds itself in danger of relegation. He knows he'll always get another lucrative contract next season or whenever another team feels the need to avoid relegation but what he really might be craving is the opportunity for once to manage a club with the will and means to be successful by playing winning football.

So, when he finally signed for us, what might his mind-set have been?

Well the first thing that might have been there is a certain coolness towards Moshiri and/or the board on account of them having publicly dissed him whilst avidly seeking the services of a manager with zero expertise in avoiding relegation from the Premier League. He all but said so publicly whilst Moshiri and/or the board courted the Watford chap.

Whilst he was left stewing, we squandered several league games by not improving our position where he'll think, with good cause, he'd have won us more points than did the (other) relegation-avoiding novice we first relied on, and that made the relegation-avoiding job even harder for the new guy.

He then gets the job, but only for 18 months, inheriting a squad that he, like everyone but Moshiri, Kenwright and Walsh it seems, can see is bereft to varying degrees of any goal threat, defensive solidarity, midfield competence, pace, fitness, nastiness or will. Meeting many of the abject failures populating Finch Farm, he detects a whiff of indifference from them towards him though, because almost all of them have contracts stretching way beyond his, regardless of results.

I suggest he could be forgiven for thinking “Bollocks to future planning for Everton, I'll just revert to type unless in January we sign good players in positions where we're empty” and I further suggest that his terse “We'll have to get more boring” comment was a thinly veiled boot up the bum for the owner and/or board to get their chequebook out this month to achieve what we and he, Allardyce, really crave, namely success.

I'll be pissed off to the max if that chequebook's already gone back into the safe. Moshiri and Kenwright need to grasp the magnitude of their ineptitude last summer and get a good left-back and centre-back as well this month so that the club can start to field a team that by the time next season starts will be playing cohesively and well, and if that delays Bramley-Moore for another year, so be it, because – with the crap currently being served up on the pitch at Goodison – they can wave bye-bye to a sustainable massive new stadium anyhow.

Huge amounts of speculation admittedly but I think it's not far off the mark.

Lyndon Lloyd
59 Posted 19/01/2018 at 00:42:53
Mike (56), there might not be as much objectivity as you'd like but there certainly wasn't any "bitterness or bile" in my piece. Bit sensationalist that, but why let that get in the way of your narrative, eh?

Seeing as you're after context, the context within which I was lauding Vlasic and Lookman in the Limassol game was that, regardless of the "pressure's-off" nature of the fixture, they went out on a foreign ground against almost the same side that drew with us at Goodison and shone.

They showed invention and directness where there has been so little from other players this season. Taken in tandem with the fact that Vlasic was often one of the best players on the pitch when played under Koeman and Unsworth (in the case of the latter, it wasn't much, unfortunately) and that Lookman again showed what he could do at Anfield, that is my argument here. Both have been worthy of more opportunities, specifically in the games against West Brom and Bournemouth but didn't get a look in.

Again, I've "owned" my misgivings about Allardyce (“many an Evertonian” by no means implies “all” or even a majority of Blues, by the way) and have said a number times on this page that I remain to be convinced he's worthy of staying beyond this season. But make no mistake; any manager that had overseen three full games where his team failed to register a shot on target would, quite deservedly, be getting the "boot in".

Si Cooper
60 Posted 19/01/2018 at 01:16:05
It is my opinion that Sam Allardyce has not conclusively shown that he has correctly assessed the relative strengths of our players against those of the opposition in enough games for me to be convinced that he is an adaptable wise old head rather than simply proficient at drilling to a given standard.

Many people, including the manager, appeared to be surprised at how easily the Spurs midfielders controlled the game last Saturday. I didn't see players simply giving up, as it has been characterised, as much as being exposed by lack of specific footballing traits and match fitness. We were never going to out work or out muscle the likes of Dembele or Dier, but we could potentially have pegged their full backs back a bit.

Perspectives are shifting really quickly at the moment. Three weeks after they started, the Sams were being applauded by some for having got the players fitter but, after a few poor performances, the fitness of the players is now being questioned again.

Tosun and Walcott are promising signings but we still need a couple more, and we are still waiting for concrete evidence that Big Sam is worthy of more than a holding role.

Kevin Kolasinski
61 Posted 19/01/2018 at 02:04:30
I like the signings we have made. I think Walcott is a reach because he is hit and miss, the team is aging, and bringing in other 28-, 29- or 30-year-olds isn't ideal!

We need to bring in guys 22 to 26 who are here for the future and, even though they're thrust into the season, some like Kenny, Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Davies we can't forget to give them game time!! They all look good in spells and need minutes to improve.

With Sam as manager, I think these players may get bench time and not any real game time, which is wrong.

A few of our other academy players out on loan who look good in coming seasons may not get game time if Sam is here!!! To offset high market transfer values, academy players are ways to offset that. We still need the kids coming through the system.

Jay Harris
62 Posted 19/01/2018 at 02:49:17
Lyndon, it's not often I disagree with your opinion but, for god's sake, Limassol are about as good as Marine and it shows how useless we were before Allardyce that we only drew with them at Goodison Park. There was no pressure on any of the players who went to Cyprus because we were already out.

If we are to judge players and the manager after giving him time to make the improvements he requires then we should be judging them by their Premier league performances and results.

Allardyce is still assessing the squad, so please allow some of your usual impartial judgement to give the man a chance before we execute him.

Laurie Hartley
63 Posted 19/01/2018 at 03:35:45
Lyndon - I was indeed gutted and dismayed by the Spurs score but - "Gylfi Sigurdsson's goal at Anfield, came from Lookman." No it didn't – it came from Bolasie who did three of the seven things that Sam Allardyce says a team must do to avoid relegation (which he is still a working on):

Bolasie won the knockdown
Bolasie retained possession
Bolasie passed the ball forward to Lookman.

I might add that he did all that under extreme physical pressure – he got taken out just after he released his pass to Lookman.

The young bloke did indeed do well to cut inside but then again it was Jagielka with his terrific run that stretched their retreating defence and found the space on the edge of their box to receive the ball.

Jagielka then showed his experience by laying the ball of for Sigurdsson to stroke the ball into the net. A beautiful team goal – all along the deck.

If a team managed by Guardiola, Mourinho, Conte, Klopp or Pochettino had scored that goal it would be up for goal of the season but it won't happen – why? Because it was Sam Allardyce's team.

He's a tough character, Sam Allardyce – he'll ignore his critics, he won't wilt under pressure, he'll get us to safety and then, I remain convinced, we will see more of the above. Don't write him off after six or seven games.

David Barks
64 Posted 19/01/2018 at 05:14:15

Do yourself a favor and look at Allardyce's career. First of all, he's been here longer than six or seven matches. He also has decades of a resume where he has played the same boring, negative football. These pages used to be filled with vitriol about his teams ruining the game when we faced them.

Also, it was Lookman that was upfield and did indeed receive a ball from Bolasie. But Bolasie was back toward our box. You're making it out as if he won a knock down around midfield. He did not. He was only near our box, looked up and saw Lookman in space out on the wing right at midfield. It was Lookman that took the ball, turned up-field with a nice first touch, cut inside of the defender with a great second touch, and had his head up to find the man in space that could lay it off to Sigurdsson.

But again, you are overlooking the fact that this was one of only 5 shots on goal in the last 6 matches. He's had far more than six or seven games as you say. It's just in the last six or seven games we've been absolutely dreadful, and getting worse with every match.

Amit Vithlani
65 Posted 19/01/2018 at 05:23:11
Mike Hughes, here is a little context for you:

Everton had no shots on target for the third time in their last five league games, having had no shots on target in three of their previous 222 league games.

4 shots on target in the last 6, Huddersfield next on 15.

The context is this: we are playing wretched, safety first football and, following an initial upturn, have reverted back to wretched results.

Do we continue lining up to defend a point rather than trying to win 3?

Why must defensive solidity and organisation come completely (as the stats bear out) of the expense of attacking intent?

David Barks
66 Posted 19/01/2018 at 05:37:52

It doesn't make sense does it? I get the feeling that we could win 2 and lose 4, but drawing 4 nil-nils and losing 2 would be celebrated as better results. Neither would be good mind you. But a win is worth 3 points and a draw worth 1.

I hate draws. I will never understand going into a match playing for a draw. Win 10 matches or draw 30 matches. Same amount of points, but one takes a third of the time to achieve.

Alexander Murphy
67 Posted 19/01/2018 at 06:49:40
Big Sam has always been pretty high on my "No! No!! NO!!!" list of managers. I've never, ever liked him, his brand of football but mostly his bloody great spacehopper for a head.

Appointed as Everton manager gained him free space for a fair chance, a clean slate from his previous crimes against football. Sit back and see what he can do.

Of course, managing a decent club which is run properly (according the the overwhelming opinion in the media) with ambition, finances and staunch support, the expectation is that Allardyce has fewer if any restrictions and can therefore prove how misjudged he has been, or not.

What his new circumstances mean is that he no longer has any excuse for his coaching manual automatically falling open at "How to Secure 18-mm Ply Across Your Goalposts".

Only what seems like moments ago, he of the hallow'een pumpkin head was spouting how he hadn't had to do anything with our defence as we kept yet another clean sheet. Now he is frightening the villagers with his tales.

Bar your windows at night!
Hang garlic around your neck!!
Do Not invite a stranger over your threshold after sunset!!

When you hire "The Witchfinder General" don't be surprised when he finds a witch. (And later turns out to be a far greater threat than an old crone with too many cats and a pointy hat.)

I said that I'd give him enough time. I have. My pitchfork is lit and my torch is sharpened.

Cast out the foul necromancer, I say! Cast him out!! Him and his misbegotten familiar of the same name!!!

John Keating
68 Posted 19/01/2018 at 07:15:50
Like football only began with the advent of the Premier League, it seems the crap football and results we are getting only started the day Allardyce walked through the door. The only remit this season is to stay up and hopefully begin again from scratch next summer.

For every poster who wants to play a youngster, there's another who doesn't. Let's leave it to the management team who see them every day in training.

As for those who continue to say we were never in any risk of going down under Koeman or Unsworth, well good on you. You must be weekly lottery winners with such foresight.

Laurie Hartley
69 Posted 19/01/2018 at 07:53:58
David, I will stand corrected on the number of games he has been in charge – 10 Premier League games? But not on my other points.

Regardless of where he did it, Bolasie had to fight really hard to win that ball and get his pass away. That was what made the rest of the passage of play and resulting goal possible.

Like Lyndon, you don't even mention Jagielka's contribution to the goal

As far as Sam is concerned, I rate him so I have a choice: say so or keep quiet about it. If by the end of the season I am proved wrong about him, I'll say so.

Paul Tran
70 Posted 19/01/2018 at 08:21:57
As ever, the debate is far more nuanced than many on here believe.

We are playing awful football at the moment. You don't need to park the bus to keep clean sheets, you need to defend well. Little or no shots on goal means you have to be perfect at the back and we can't expect that.

Lyndon's point about Lookman & Vlasic is a fair one. I see them both as impact subs that should have been used against West BromA & Bournemouth. Would I rely on them as starters? No. That's why buying Walcott makes sense. Pace, goals, strength, experience. Ditto with Tosun, who looks a good buy to me.

The obvious left back and midfield are the issues now. Too many players who can't stand and tackle, get brushed off too easily, can't pass a ball. Our most creative player is shunted onto the wing to accommodate a player that shows flashes while looking short against the better sides. Sigurdsson in the middle in front of at least one New physically strong player who can pass.

And yet, within two weeks of the transfer window, the defensive manager has brought us two pacy forwards who can score goals. Toss your bias aside and consider this: we're either going to play more expansive football, create and score more, or the excuses will run out and the noose will tighten.

We'll find out in the next two months methinks.

Rob Dolby
71 Posted 18/01/2018 at 08:44:23
Let's just say that we appointed Simeone instead of big Sam. The priorities and restrictions would be the same. Unbalanced squad, lots of youngsters and lots of older players.

We need to bring in better players who can win games and make a difference. Walcott and Tosun are the best available to us.

We are not in the same position as the the top clubs at the moment. If we were we would be signing Sanchez and Aubameyang.

Without Moshiri's money we would be back with Moyes shopping in the bargain basement.

Allardyce has an 18-month contract and is used to fighting fires. We cannot play expansive football as it exposes our weak defence. At least we are trying to correct the squad and not hear the platitudes of previous years.

I hope that the youngsters develop into top players though it's a balancing act. You can't have too many younger flair players in the team if they don't work their bollocks off. Lookman and Vlasic don't work enough off the ball, Bolasie isn't much better.

There aren't many players in the premiership top teams who don't work their socks off; maybe Ozil and Mata.

We just have to get on with it. If Sam can't get things working then he won't make next season... then we can start all over again.

Tony Hill
72 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:01:42
Paul Tran is right that we will see what happens; but it is the anti-Allardycers who have made up their minds. No-one on the other side of the debate is saying that the manager is definitely going to succeed or that we are playing stylish football; merely that he should be given a proper chance.
Kevin Prytherch
73 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:22:59
Tony – a lot of the people on the other side who say that Allardyce should be given a chance are the same people who wrote Unsworth off after 3 or 4 games. Comes across as a bit hypocritical.

Also – why the clamour to give Allardyce a chance, but then write some of the most promising young players off within a few games. Again it's a bit hypocritical.

It seems that some people only give those a chance who suit whatever agenda they're trying to push.

Jeff Spiers
74 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:39:58
The magic 40 points, but would that keep us up? I've tried to research the last team to go down with 40 points and even higher than 40.... No joy.
Jim Lloyd
75 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:44:02
The thing is Kevin, Unsworth has never managed a club in his career. It seems that the Board were the ones who felt that David wasn't ready. I'd have thought if he really wants to become a manager, he'd go and apply for manager jobs at clubs where he can learn the ropes. Not as a manager of a great club facing the drop.

As for writing off young players, I hear enough around me, giving stick to young lads, just like they did to Ross.

I think it's a bit more complicated than just we only gave Unsworth 4 games. It was a stand in that the Board picked him and it was an 18-month contract they gave to Sam Allardyce... not 8 weeks.

Jim Hourigan
76 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:55:06
In his 25+ years of football management, when has he ever produced an open expansive team? Bolton with Okotcha were a dour defensive team that relied solely on his flair, did anyone relish playing them in an open game? So please don't quote that back at me. Think of all his other teams and the issue is the same.

Whatever the merits or demerits of youth, the point is surely about his tactics and his approach to the game. The Bournemouth and West Brom games highlight his approach – not Spurs. All you can do is look at the evidence not speculate on what might have been or might be in the future. Allardyce has made a very healthy living out of playing a particular way – 'senior players with a defensive mindset' – might be an over simplistic description but it is not too far from the truth.

That was the label on the tin and that is what we will get, don't kid yourselves that suddenly the leopard will change his spots. Who knows how close we were or still are to a relegation battle, but one thing I'm pretty sure will happen is that from now to the end of the season (irrespective of the signings), we will get dour defensive football where we have less than 50% possession and very few shots on target.

Why? Because he believes totally in the analytics of football that show most goals are scored from set pieces inside the box, not from shots. Evidence, not conjecture.

Tony Hill
77 Posted 19/01/2018 at 09:55:34
Kevin (#73), the logical conclusion of your position is that we should dismiss Allardyce and his team now. There is no point waiting for the possibility of improvement if you consider the case to be hopeless. If that is your position then it would be consistent, even if I would say that it is madness.
Kevin Prytherch
78 Posted 19/01/2018 at 10:38:40
Tony – I never said dismiss Allardyce now. I simply questioned why he is willing to get time and the benefit of the doubt when others don't.

Personally I think we were hasty getting rid of Unsworth, that Allardyce, in time, will not give our youngsters a chance, that our football will stay dull and boring and we'll miss out on the best chance that we'll ever have to build something from within. But that's just my opinion and I hope I'm wrong.

Tony Hill
79 Posted 19/01/2018 at 10:51:17
Thanks, Kevin. I still don't see why you would want him to stay given your prognosis. Anyway there are others, including Lyndon, who think that Allardyce is beyond redemption for us and it must follow that they want him dismissed – and they should have the courage of their convictions and say so.

Otherwise, we will (as you say) be wasting time and putting our future at risk.

Tommy Coleman
80 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:03:15
Any manager that plays Sigurdsson left midfield doesn't know what they are doing. Opponents are targeting our left side game after game. I can't understand how a manager earning millions per year cannot change/see this.

Sam will be around until the summer; then we really need to go after a World Class manager.

Tony Abrahams
81 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:05:47
Interesting thread this, Lyndon, I find myself agreeing with some people who sit on both sides of the fence.

I felt that we had started to, look like a team which could take shape at Anfield in the cup and then I felt we looked like we had less than half a team in our very next game.

I would have kept the same 5 across the middle, against Spurs and was very surprised that Allardyce changed this and I also wouldn't be surprised if he now goes with two up top tomorrow?

Maybe Sam, will never change? Maybe his "should have been more boring" shout was a dig at the lack of creativity in the squad? He got it wrong at Spurs, so let's see what he does tomorrow...

Jay Wood

82 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:20:05
Jeff @ 74.

"The magic 40 points, but would that keep us up? I've tried to research the last team to go down with 40 points and even higher than 40. No joy."

Let me help you out, Jeff. The 40 points to avoid relegation is a myth.

In the 22 seasons since the Premier League converted to a 20-team league, 66 teams have been relegated. Only 3 of them were relegated with 40 points or more:

Sunderland in 1996-97 – 40 points
Bolton in 1997-98 – 40 points
West Ham in in 2002-03 – 42 points

The average points returned for the 3 relegation spots in those 22 years reads:

18th – 36 points
19th – 33 points
20th – 26 points

From that, you can conclude 37 points is the more realistic tally to be safe from relegation.

Everton is currently 10 points shy of that tally with 15 games to play. If we can't earn that (or considerably more) from the remaining fixtures, we quite simply deserve to go down.

It isn't going to happen. It was never going to happen, as poor as this season has been.

Kevin Prytherch
83 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:49:33
Tony – honestly I don't want Allardyce. However I think we'll be in more of a mess if we dismiss him now. We might as well give him the chance and hope he proves us wrong.

I hope that there is a succession plan in place. I believe that Unsworth has the makings of being either a talented manager, or part of a talented management team.

If there's a plan in place to succeed Allardyce (Unsworth or Shakespeare) and they spend 18 months cherry picking Allardyce's knowledge then we'll be in a good position when he leaves. There might also be something for the youngsters to look forward to!!

Lawrence Green
84 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:50:32
Most if not all successful teams are built from the back; even our greatest teams which had flair to spare didn't enjoy conceding goals at any point in the game, but they loved scoring goals more.

That is the issue that most, including me, have with Big Sam and his footballing philosophy; he believes that keeping things tight, often times negating his teams attacking threat is the way to secure points.

Isn't this an accusation that David Moyes's critics, rightfully in my view hurled at him on many occasions? And, in Moyes's defence, he never had the access to the bundles of cash that our last few managers have had.

Moyes at least ensured that every defender in the first team could defend individually and as a unit, and of course he chose to buy players who could do that. Martinez and Koeman only tinkered with the back four and didn't buy players who you would put your mortgage on to prevent the opponents from scoring..

Of course, we needed more firepower in the current team and the two recent signings will surely help us in that department, but the defence needs a complete overhaul in the summer if we are to have any chance of seeing an Everton team who can be more than a mid-table side.

Big Sam is a pragmatic, organised and cautious manager, which is what was needed in this mess of a season, but do I want him to continue in the job after the summer? No, not really, as I fear that his safety first approach won't suddenly disappear and that our attack regardless of which players are chosen will continue to look toothless on too many occasions; not conceding goals is great but not scoring them or at least creating chances to score them is soul destroying.

David Moyes to Big Sam in five years and lots of money spent – is that really the recipe to take Everton to the next level or a sign of progress? Not for me, it isn't... and it's likely that I'll pick and choose which games to attend next season, rather than commit to a season ticket – and I suspect I won't be alone in that.

Jeff Spiers
85 Posted 19/01/2018 at 11:53:08
Jay @82. Cheers for your prompt reply. A club like ours should not be in this position.
Michael Lynch
86 Posted 19/01/2018 at 12:12:05
Lawrence @84

"Isn't this an accusation that David Moyes's critics, rightfully in my view hurled at him on many occasions? and in Moyes's defence he never had the access to the bundles of cash that our last few managers have had"

Moyes got us into the Champions League, and regular top 6 finishes. So, imagine Moyes with money to spend. That, as you say, could be Sam. If so, I can't wait to see where he takes us.

Martinez's first season, when he inherited Moyes's well-drilled, super-fit squad and added a bit of flair is probably the ideal. My feeling is that Sam wants to do something similar – build a really solid, athletic team, then add Walcott type players.

I'm not saying Allardyce is definitely going to succeed but, I have to be honest, I have more faith in him than I had in Koeman or Unsworth. I do feel for those who simply can't stand him, but the rest of us are cautiously optimistic.

I think Sam can sort out the terrible mess he inherited. If he doesn't, he'll be sacked. But I reckon, unless it all goes to shit over the next couple of months, our best option is to have him in charge again next season.

Pete Clarke
87 Posted 19/01/2018 at 12:28:57
Lots of talk on here about the youngsters at our club; I for one refuse to write any of them off and think they will all go on to have decent careers. Even doing what they have done so far would be a dream for most young lads.

However, I will criticise some of the older players. Schneiderlin has been atrocious. Williams completely lost control of his game. Mirallas has been shit for years. Even Jagielka and Baines have been poor defensively for a couple of seasons now.

All players need a good manager to get the best out of them and we have not had one to do that. As good as Man Utd's youngsters were, if it had not been for the best manager the football world has seen, then they would not have gone on to the greatness they did, I don't think!

The club is in a mess. I still feel a power struggle upstairs but hope that Moshiri prevails because the other option is sat very close to him.

Paul McCoy
88 Posted 19/01/2018 at 12:46:53
Allardyce is a one-trick pony and we all knew what was going to happen when he came here. I never wanted him here and I've seen nothing since he arrived to convince me otherwise.

It will be interesting to see how (or if) he deploys his two new attacking signings against the mighty West Brom. Was it 3 holding midfielders we used against their fearsome attack last time?

Fran Mitchell
89 Posted 19/01/2018 at 13:26:00
Those who hold out hope that Allardyce will suddenly add attacking flair/creative football to his percentage football, defensive "9 men behind the ball" style, obviously never watched a game of Allardyce's other teams in all their lives.

It isn't his style; after 20 years of management, he isn't going to be able to suddenly change, even if he tried – he has zero experience in building a team to play attacking football. Expecting Allardyce to make this transition now, just because now he is managing Everton, is stuff of fantasy.

Newcastle under Allardyce were safe, were mid-table, but then they sacked him due to the style... As a result, they ended up relegated, yet I have never heard a Newcastle fan lament his dismissal, the football was that bad.

Moyes, imo, was much more expansive than Allardyce. Moyes was a pragmatist, but via Arteta, Baines and Pienaar (and attempted via players like Fernandes, Mirallas) attempted to occasionally play decent football, but his pragmatism would always dominate.

Allardyce however is a long ball merchant. He is wrong for this club and for taking this club forward.

Our final 15 games should be about building for next season, so Lookman, Vlasic and Co require as game time so that come next season, they are 1st team ready. Schneiderlin, Lennon, McCarthy and to an extent Rooney are not what we need to grow next season, and will not (have not) offered stability or anything to merit a place.

Centre midfield should be Gueye and Davies, with Baningime as back up. Sigurdsson in the middle with Vlasic as his back-up. Walcott & Bolasie out wide, with Lookman or Calvert-Lewin as back-up. Tosun up top with Calvert-Lewin as back up.

Subs should be used to give game time to these players. And it is not just an act of giving game time – these players are young, energetic, skillful and offer options from the bench that can help us win games.

John Harrop
90 Posted 19/01/2018 at 13:29:10
What I find most baffling is why Allardyce does not really go for it now. He's getting on a bit, doesn't need the money, and this is his big chance to show what he can do. Surely mere survival, despite the over-enthusiastic endorsement of Moshiri, will not be enough to keep him in the job?
Tony Hill
91 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:01:39
Well said, Winston Williamson. I disagree with you about Allardyce but you are absolutely consistent in calling for his head now.
Raymond Fox
92 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:08:05
Lets face it our team consists of top 6 teams rejects and others that they don't deem good enough to play for them. In other words when we play the 'big clubs' we are going to be defending more than we can ever think about attacking. Since Allardyce has arrived we have played many games against the better teams.

Give the guy a chance, he inherited a real mess when he took over and hes been in effect fire fighting with defenders out of position, out of form along with inexperience in Kenny's case. Add a midfield struggling to create chances, Calvert-Lewin trying his best up front along with Niasse who you can't be sure what your going to get!

He has signed two decent forwards but we have a long way to go before we can challenge for the top.

Winston Williamson
93 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:27:06
Thanks Tony (92) - consistency is key!

I will however, quantify my "as soon as is feasible" comment - I can put up with this current situation until the season's end, as long as we have the hope of a new manager, with a long-term plan (from Board to Manager to Players).

For me, nothing is certain. In, other words, a new manager doesn't guarantee anything. Yet, can anyone really envision Allardyce changing his style of football, just because he's managing EFC? The evidence so far suggests a resounding No.

Tony Hill
94 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:34:47
Winston, there is another consideration for those who don't think Allardyce will ever do it for us. Appointing a manager in the summer, even with advance preparation, is fraught with risk especially in a World Cup year. We would not want a new manager getting to grips with transfers and settling in at the club at the last minute. That would put next season in doubt.

Of course, that is not something for me to address given my current support of the manager.

Sean Patton
95 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:41:41
I completely agree with Kevin – we should have stuck with Unsworth. If we had, we'd certainly be seeing a lot more of the youngsters and I don't think we would be much worse off points wise and could still be in the cup!
Winston Williamson
96 Posted 19/01/2018 at 14:55:39
Tony, I agree, the World Cup and a settling in period, must be a huge consideration when considering replacing Allardyce at the seasons end.

I must admit, I have as much confidence in our Board getting his potential replacement correct as I do in Allardyce changing his spots.

I'd be very happy if Allardyce proves me and many others wrong though! I don't dislike him as a person, mainly as I don't know him. His antics (proven or otherwise) outside of management don't interest me. It's the football which interests me.

When the wheels came off Koeman's wagon I wanted him gone. I wanted Unsworth to be given authority and allowed to try to implement at first-team level, what he'd done in the U23s – however, I just think it came about under the wrong circumstances.

In terms of transfers and transfer planning, the Director of Football should be the one this responsibility falls to. Yet, as with all things EFC, it seems a bit disorganised with blurred lines of responsibility.

Dave Abrahams
97 Posted 19/01/2018 at 15:34:18
William (91), there is much to agree with in your post. I love Aaron Lennon but not sure about him at left-back. Then I read today, according to Allardyce, we are unlikely to make any more signings this window, even though we are desperate, absolutely desperate, for a left-back...

So Lennon would be fine at left back, except there are three clubs after him, so he will be gone and Martina will continue to play (?) in this position.

The fan who suggested the other day, Robles in goal and Pickford left back might get his wish, even though he was acting the goat.

Everton... fuckin' Everton – you are draining the life out of loads of us.

Jay Harris
98 Posted 19/01/2018 at 15:37:21
For those who can't see the difference in organization and effort from the players since Allardyce took over from Unsy, then you don't know anything about football.

It was obvious and painful to see Unsy drowning under the pressure of trying to find the right formula but coming up wanting every time.

I'm not having a go at Unsy but for those people who say we would be no worse off under Unsy, I say "Open your eyes!"

Walcott, who has extensive Premier League and International experience says he only came to Everton because of big Sam. That should encourage all the pitchfork merchants to back off and give the man a chance.

I am sure we all want a winning and successful team, and that can only happen if we all pull together.

If it doesn't start to snap into place, at least there should be better quality management available to us at the end of the season. Hopefully the board have a Plan B now but, in the meantime, can we please park our views and feelings and get behind the team and the manager for the rest of the season?

Peter Gorman
99 Posted 19/01/2018 at 15:46:21
"Walcott, who has extensive Premier League and International experience, says he only came to Everton because of big Sam."

Dunno Jay. Think money is always the motivator, players will say pretty much anything for the sake of PR. How many times do we hear "must try harder" snippets from our shower after the latest drubbing. Players are, frankly, full of it.

I'd love to get behind the team for the rest of the season if they could only manage to give us something to shout about. With Sam's "more boring" brand about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting West Brom, what grounds are there to be an optimist???

Michael Kenrick
100 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:04:51
Great summary on the "40 points" myth, Jay (#82)... although where you say: "From that you can conclude 37 points is the more realistic tally to be safe from relegation" – you seem to be just adding 1 point to the average for teams finishing 18th.

In the interests of full disclosure, perhaps you could tell us the average points total for 17th place? If that's 37 points, then I'd agree; if it's actually closer to 40, then you may need to rephrase something...

Kevin Prytherch
101 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:06:51
Jay - you’re dead right on 2 counts there.

It was there for all to see that the games against Chelsea, Watford, Palace and, to some extent, West Ham were the best games in terms of effort all season. What Unsworth lacked and what Allardyce initially brought is defensive organisation, although this organisation at the start stemmed from defensive and midfield combinations that Unsworth eventually stumbled upon.

To those who site Atlanta and Southampton for proof Unsworth shouldn’t have been given the job; one was a dead rubber where fringe senior players played appallingly, one was when it was obvious he wasn’t getting the job and again the players responded accordingly.

Dave Speed
102 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:07:00
As with all the posters on here I would like to see the 'kids' given a chance to some degree. But there is sort of a 50-50 split in how that should be done. On the one hand, too many kids has never worked.

The often quoted Hansen regarding the comment about Man Utd was actually true. I read somewhere that the 'kids' that year had a part in somewhere around 16 games each on average, meaning the success was mostly due to the battle-hardened 'older' players.

Also, although I am sickened by the tactics deployed by Allardyce, there is some justification in cautious play and not being reliant on the young players. However, playing a gang of defensive midfielders, putting Gylfi on the left wing, only playing 1 striker, not playing a left back at left back (even if it meant playing Garbutt - I am sure that the registration can be altered in January), breaking up the WIlliams - Holgate partnership that was looking quite solid – even with Cuco, etc etc; all these are on Allardyce.

As he says, we are already playing with a few Under-23s, but there is also no excuse for not repeating bringing Lookman on as he did in the FA Cup, or Vlasic who I feel is the hardest done by, as he can hold the ball, run at players and can release a pass.

It may be all for nothing now with Cenk and Theo, although I believe that those two and Lookman should start, with maybe Bolasie replacing the one who runs himself into the ground later on against West Brom.

John Pierce
103 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:15:04
Jay, c'mon open your eyes about Walcott. He only came because he was not wanted at Arsenal. He was surplus.

What player in the last 25 years has been transferred to Everton from Arsenal who wasn't being edged out? Limpar maybe...

His choice was Everton or Southampton. So no choice really. If you believe Sam was the influence, then okay, I'll weigh that against Everton's standing in the game, current league position and ability to pay his wages.

Stan Schofield
104 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:28:02
John, everyone probably realises that. It's not 1966, we don't attract the equivalent of Alan Ball. Players reaching their prime leave rather than join us. But given all of that, a lot of folks believe Walcott is a good signing for us.
Jay Wood

105 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:38:51
Michael @ 101.

Can't give you the average finishing points tally for clubs in 17th place as I don't have it immediately to hand, but I can give you a break down of how many times a particular points tally was achieved by the team finishing 18th over the referenced 22 seasons. First, the 'over par' tallies':

42 points - 1x
40 - 2x
39 - 1x
38 - 2x
37 - 1

As to be expected, the 'par' score of 36 was achieved the most - x5.

Then the 'below par' points tally goes:

35 - x1
34 - x4
33 - x4
30 - x1

Par was achieved x5. 'Over par' x7. 'Under par' x10.

If you actually split the 22 seasons, in the first 12 seasons teams finishing 18th averaged 36-37 points (36.42). That has dropped by 1.5 points in the last 10 seasons with teams finishing 18th averaging just (and exactly) 35 points.

John Pierce
106 Posted 19/01/2018 at 16:53:34
Stan, he has an up-side, I wouldn't deny that, which under Martinez or even Koeman I could see a place for him. Under Allardyce, the signing is his way to secure his job. It's short-termism at its worst.

But with an opportunity to look at Vlasic & Lookman over an extended period of time, what don't we already know about Walcott? He will chip in with a few goals and assists. Playing him or one of those kids won't change were we finish, which in broad terms is nowhere but not relegated. So why wouldn't you play the lad with the higher ceiling?

The youth vs experience arguement is about introducing 2 or 3 guys in the team. Not littering it with nappies and teething rings. Balance.

The opportunity exists, 15 games mostly against teams below us. Surely that's a environment that is perfect to get Lookman especially into the side?

But you have a manager ill suited to long term thinking, he uses narrow terms to define success, not getting beat etc. Seldom if ever uses the word entertainment. A key point as Everton sit in a group of teams most unlikely to break upwards, so entertainment is actually a very large consideration.

Look a Koeman last year won stacks of games at home, like a machine we were. The fans knew we were going nowhere so the lack of entertainment became the focus.

Its dreadful and it really doesn't have to be, that's the point.

Stan Schofield
107 Posted 19/01/2018 at 17:22:11
John, agreed. An advantage of having Walcott, Bolasie, Lookman and Vlasic is that we have at least four very skillful and fast wide players, and can mix-and-match them in such a way that the younger ones are given a chance whilst not putting too much pressure on them.

It gives us more options, including off the bench mid-way through a game. Similar with Tosun and Calvert-Lewin. That's the theory anyway, and it'll be interesting to see if and how Sam carries it out.

Frank Crewe
108 Posted 19/01/2018 at 17:32:37
"Jay, c’mon open your eyes about Walcott. He only came because he was not wanted at Arsenal. He was surplus."

Yeah. Just like Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain were no doubt.

Jim Bennings
109 Posted 19/01/2018 at 17:33:26
I'm actually still kind of waiting to see this skilful side to Bolasie's game.

I loved what I saw of him at Palace , although rather frustrating and inconsistent at times (typical winger?) he looked like he could add a new dynamic to our attacking play but I've got to be honest, prior to his injury the first half of last season he never really pulled up trees and I expected to be “off my seat” more with some crazy skills or shots etc, but he didn't really contribute a great deal.

I'm prepared to give him time and hopefully between now and May the fella can stay fit and play most games but I'd hope that by Spring time at least we start seeing some of what we paid for.

John Daley
110 Posted 19/01/2018 at 17:34:10

Good piece. Although, I feel you erred in cutting your Allardyce qoute too short as, for me, it was what he said as he elaborated on his initial claim that kids can represent too much of a risk that was far more illustrative of how much pull the magnet of pragmatism has over a man who has spent almost his entire career decked out in a tin hat.

"Everton needs results until such time as it is certainly safe in the Premier League. If I try to then groom those players further there is over £2m a place. You need to still try and win. Grooming a youngster then becomes even more difficult because of the money.”

Whilst many might go along with the notion that fielding young prospects when your nuts are well and truly on the line represents a 'not worth the trade off' risk, extending that mindset to a time when your team has secured top flight status and sits mid-table seems needlessly short-sighted and suggests 'the man is not for turning'.

Each spot in the league may swell the club's coffers by a couple of million, but is that worth more in the long run than a stretch of games that could see a promising, but relatively inexperienced, player come on leaps and bounds and lead to them being better prepared to contribute more fully to a Premier League campaign next time around? (What are the club going to do with that extra couple of million, anyway? Buy a raw kid who represents too much of a 'risk' to be brought into the side regularly, then rinse and repeat?).

If being out of contention for Europe, having absolutely no chance of winning.. or even challenging...for anything at all, whilst also being safe from going down, is still too "risky" a backdrop to blood or bring along young players, then when will the 'risk' ever recede?

During cup games? Well, don't we want to win those? Following Allardyce's reasoning, would relying on younger players then not put as at 'risk' of being knocked out and leave him open to the charge of not fielding his 'strongest' side? Unless concentrating on more than one competition during a season also constitutes too much of a 'risk' as well?

Dave Abrahams
111 Posted 19/01/2018 at 18:03:13
In my post at (98) I should have been agreeing with Winston, not William, apologies Winston.
Roberto Birquet
112 Posted 19/01/2018 at 21:40:56
A lot to get through here, so will deal one issue at a time: £200 million spent.

It makes a great headline, but it is utter utter nonsense. No £200 million has not been spent. About £65 million has been spent (About £40-odd mln in the summer, and £20 odd mln this month), and only this week are we getting close to some balance in the squad.

We have sold or lost (in the case of Coleman) probably our three best players – not to mention Baines losing much of what he had. And in the case of two of them (Coleman and Lukaku), no real effort was made in all that summer spending to replace them. While we replaced one (Barkley), not once, not twice but three freaking times!!!

So, the question could be flipped: How a club can sell or lose its three best players find themselves in a markedly worse-off position than before that particular spending spree started? It would be a slightly sarkier question; it would be equally fake. Because we could and should have replaced them.

After an initial week or two when very good players seemed to have been acquired with the Lukaku money (Keane, Pickford, Rooney, Sandro, Klaassen – all bought with United's money), we went on a long white elephant chase for Sigurdsson. This despite two obvious No 10s having just been brought in, and another (Barkley) not yet gone. What of full-backs? What of a striker? And where's the pace?

It was shambolic.

The only respite this season being that a clueless manager in Koeman has at least gone (he has to take much of the blame for the summer), and we have an owner who seems strong-willed enough to do the same with our present gaffer again in the summer; I think he will.

But this whole mess started with that second half of the summer when the only money of our own we were spending was on someone we surely did not need – or why buy Klaassen? – rather than replace what we were losing: A striker and pacy full backs.

We needed three players. And the only net spend we had in the summer was Sigurdsson. And that £45 million would have got us two of the three players we needed to replace Coleman, Baines and Lukaku. We got none! And we have been all at sea ever since.

Jay Wood

113 Posted 19/01/2018 at 22:25:35
For me, it isn't a question of giving or denying chances to younger players. The cool hard data belies the claims that Sam is marginalising them.

The question is a far more fundamental one than that. Regardless of who the manager is, the results and performances have largely remained the same.

We are EXACTLY where we deserve to be in the league, as the following shows. It includes our results against each team – the standard w for a win, d for a draw, l for a loss. The letters BEFORE a team name shows Everton's home results. The letters AFTER a team name shows Everton's away results:

1 - Man City d
2 - l Man Utd l
3 - d Chelsea l
4 - Liverpool d
5 - l Spurs l
6 - l Arsenal
7 - l Burnley
8 - Leicester l


10 - w Watford
11 - w WHU
12 - Palace d
13 - w Bournemouth l
14 - w Huddersfield
15 - Newcastle w
16 - Brighton d
17 - Southampton l
18 - w Stoke
19 - West Brom d
20 - w Swansea

The difference in results between the teams above us in the league compared to those below us could not be more obvious and starker than they are.

Our form against teams above us reads:

P 11 W 0 D 3 L 8 F 4 A 25 Pts 3 (out of a possible 33)

Our form against teams below us reads:

P 12 W 7 D 3 L 2 F 21 A 13 Pts 24 (out of a possible 36)

Given those numbers, we WILL (in the main) get tanked by the top six, home and away. We WILL struggle to score or force a draw against other middling clubs like ourselves currently above us.

By contrast, we will win most of our games – certainly at home – against all of the teams below us in the league. However, no matter who the opposition, as 12 months of results has shown us, we struggle to win away anywhere!

We have just lost 4 on the bounce. Sadly, based on the above, 3 of those results – against United, Liverpool and Spurs – were almost inevitable. The Bournemouth default less 'forgivable'.

Because of the presented data I have absolutely no fear of us being sucked into a relegation fight as some are getting twitchy about.

Rest assured, there are others teams with worst form than ours. Regardless of whoever we play, young or old.

Jay Wood

114 Posted 19/01/2018 at 22:34:04
To reinforce my belief that there are teams in worse form than us, consider this:

Over the last 10 games, we sit in the same position in the form table as we currently do in the league – 9th.

Even over the last 6 games since our form nose-dived again, there are 5 teams below us in that form table – Swansea, Watford, Stoke, Southampton and (bottom of the pile) Burnley. Even in that table in which we have 5 points, 2 more teams – West Brom and Leicester– also have 5 points but with a better goal difference.

Link to the above form tables:


It is only natural our primary focus is the fortune of Everton FC. But often that narrow focus makes us unaware that there really are teams in a worse state than we are.

Michael Kenrick
115 Posted 20/01/2018 at 04:50:22
This gave me a wry smile, Jay Harris (#99):

"I am sure we all want a winning and successful team, and that can only happen if we all pull together."

Really? In all your worldly knowledge of causation, do you honestly believe we can only have a winning and successful team if we all pull together??? Nicely setting up the natural corollary that, because we quite evidently cannot all "pull together" and we will surely fail to follow your bidding, then success and winning will forever elude us?

In the meantime, can we please park our views and feelings and get behind the team and the manager for the rest of the season?

For gawd's sake... What planet are you on? If they and he fail to perform, fail to pull out of the current tailspin, it is only going to get a lot lot worse on here. And with full justification.

Winston Williamson
116 Posted 20/01/2018 at 10:19:36
No problem Dave. Looks like the Lennon idea is out of the door, literally.

Let's hope we do have a left back lined up!

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