Sitting here in Devon listening to still more wind and rain and awaiting the call to arms this evening, I have been reflecting on our current state and why things have reached this point.
I was pleased with Sam's appointment, us being in the bottom three, whilst having reservations as to whether he could produce the type of football we want and I am guessing that the board had similar reservations with the short contract they gave him. Time will tell with Sam and he has to be allowed at least this transfer window to give an indication of whether he can move us forward from mere safety.
What, however, has got us to this point? The aging defence which Martinez failed to address has been a big problem. Williams was bought to patch things up but the decline of Baines and the injury to Coleman have been critical. Pienaar becoming injury-prone and then leaving certainly reduced Baines's efficiency but his decline this season has been significant. He no longer seems able to overlap and attack, his dead-ball delivery has declined markedly, he seems less robust physically and unable to recover his position when he has been in the opponents' half.
Coleman, whilst by no means perfect last season, was still one of the best full-backs in the Premier League and his absence has hit us hard, both defensively and offensively. We used to be acknowledged as having the best two attacking full backs in the Premier League when these two were at their peak. Their absence / decline has meant that we have lost a lot of our attacking threat whilst having a weakened defence to the extent that it appears that Kenny and Martina have been told to stay back to cover and we are playing wide midfielders who can cover the full backs rather than combine with them in attacking down the flanks. Hence two of our brightest attackers in Lookman and Vlasic don't get picked because Lennon and Sigurdsson are better at helping out defensively.
The full backs might be trusted to attack more if the centre-backs were dominant but we all know that Jagielka is close to the end; Williams is slow, ponderous and has a mistake in him; Keane looks shaky; and Holgate has not yet been given a decent run at centre-back.
Similarly, the defensive midfield position is dictated by the shaky defence – thus we have two of them in every team, which reduces creativity. Schneiderlin's attitude has been questioned and, despite his denials, the Echo has stood by its story of the training-ground incident. He was billed as a box-to-box midfielder when we bought him but he seems unable to run with the ball, only passes sideways or backwards, and is predictable in how he turns towards his own goal. Gana is a good harrier and interceptor but is unlikely to be the dominant force in central midield. I don't see the solution here as being at the club: McCarthy and Besic won't fill the role; we need to buy Nzonzi or a similar type who can dominate on his own.
This moves me on to the big mysteries of the last transfer window: Why did we buy Klaassen and why did we pay such a crazy amount for Sigurdsson? Alarm bells should have sounded seeing how ineffective Davy was against Man Utd in the Europa League Final. He looks physically weak, too slow, and doesn't possess the skill required to play in the Premier League. I do wonder whether his nationality was key to his purchase as Koeman accumulated a staff of largely Dutch nationals plus players Stekelenburg and Martina.
Sigurdsson has been played out of position which has been a feature of our club over many years. Keith and Henry Newton were acquired for big fees and played out of position, as was Ernie Hunt and many more. To pay £45M was plain ridiculous – Swansea clearly saw the Lukaku money and decided that we might just be prepared to pay over the odds. He looks a decent player but worth £30M at a push – no more. That said, we have him... so play him in his proper position. The problem is then who plays wide left who can cover the left back?
Much of the blame for our plight has been put on the sale of Lukaku and without doubt his loss has been felt even though Rooney has scored as many goals as him this season. The problem has been that, despite his laziness, Lukaku did occupy the opposition defenders, meaning that they could not move forward to support their midfield. In contrast, Rooney lies deep in the midfield, allowing defenders freedom to draw our players out before playing colleagues into space. Calvert-Lewin has done very well but cannot lead the line on his own. Sandro is only a young man himself and not built to lead on his own. Niasse has done very well whilst not being good enough to build around – he will however cause trouble to most defences and will pick up some goals.
That leaves the strange case of Ross Barkley. He claims to be a diehard Evertonian; the new contract offer would apparently be lucrative – and Koeman, with whom he did not get on (we are told), has gone. So why no word from Ross and why does it seem likely that he will be moving on? I cannot help but think he wants away from Merseyside for personal reasons because otherwise I would have thought that he would stay and despite his faults he would be a certain starter given our lack of creativity.
Where would I start with putting things right? At the back, with a strong attacking left-back such as Rose who would improve our attacking threat and allow for Lookman or Vlasic to play wide left. Rose would cost a lot but would solve two positions for me.
A big, strong centre-back who attackers would fear playing against. I don't know who that would be – Walsh must know one or two? Again, that solves two positions in that the defence should then be strong enough to allow for only one defensive midfielder. I'd play Holgate alongside the new centre-back and sell Keane.
The new defensive midfielder would be physically strong with a good engine and able to play too. Nzonzi impressed me in pre-season against us and might be worth a try. Sigurdsson would play in central midfield with Rooney alongside him for now until someone better can be found. I can't believe how poor Wayne has been with his passing and would hope that, with the strengthened defence etc, he would improve.
Lookman and Vlasic for me in the wide positions with a new centre-forward. Sell Keane, Klaassen, Mirallas, Besic, and Schneiderlin. Integrate Dowell into the squad as soon as we get him back from Nottingham Forest and see if Liam Walsh is up to it. Joe Williams and Antonee Robinson might also make it, thus providing squad cover for the departing under-performers.
It always seemed to me that Koeman didn't really want to be here for whatever reason and Sam is clearly going to be a short-term fix so we need to be looking at his successor, whether next season or the one after.
I still think the dark days of Tommy Casey etc in 1971-73 were worse than this but whereas he had a very poor squad of players we have some decent ones who just will not or cannot perform.
The next month will tell us whether Sam can take us further and also whether Steve Walsh is worth his salary and justifies the hype – at present, he is very lucky to be in a job.
What a mess!
Reader Comments (33)
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1 Posted 31/12/2017 at 20:06:10
2 Posted 31/12/2017 at 20:09:37
3 Posted 31/12/2017 at 21:52:28
I think most accept what we need regarding personnel the problem is getting them.
Do you really think Rose would leave Spurs to come here? City wanted a right back, they wanted Walker they gave Spurs a shed load of money and got him. Spurs were happy as they got dosh, had Trippier there and Walker plays for the best team in England and will get medals! Rose will be the same but not here I'm afraid.
Unfortunately at present we will only attract 2nd tier players and hope the manager, whoever that might be, can gel them into a top team, a la Kendall.
We have just wasted an entire season and a shed load of money to fall further behind the top 6 just to get near them in the next 2-3 seasons will be a miracle
4 Posted 31/12/2017 at 23:14:31
I remember the Aussies saying after the debacle which was the '99 Ashes, that the only English player they would have in their team was Darren Gough. Out of our entire squad who are fit to play at the moment, I doubt that apart from our goalkeeper, the top sides would take on any of them (and their wages).
So, Happy New Year, everyone and your resolution for 2018? Why not join me in striving for ... patience. We may just need it over the next few months.
5 Posted 31/12/2017 at 23:42:16
On Rose, he did complain to the media about Spurs' wage structure. So, you never know.
On Schneiderlin, watched the Arsenal-WBA game today. Barry, 6 weeks short of his 37th birthday, is still better than him by some margin. Always in the right place and ALWAYS making the attacking pass.
What's done is done. But I'd wish we had him instead of this other guy.
No real quarrel with the rest of your OP, Dave. But, boy, do we need to strengthen the mid-field. Not a single team we've played fears our mid-field's ability to attack.
Only ones I can see some fear in is our keeper and back-line fearing to pass the ball to our mid-field, having to worry about it being given away and coming right back at them.
Odd to think back on our optimism when the Summer window opened and the Club making signings. And here how it's all turned out.
6 Posted 31/12/2017 at 23:50:23
I think the aging defence problem started with Moyes. Martinez never got the aging defence message, which was his glaring weakness. Koeman was headless for such a defensive pedigree and also failed. Unsworth didn't cop on either.
Sam knew the defensive had to improve but has failed because he changed personnel and brought more pressure on the defence by failing to manage a defensive system. I agree with your analysis of present players.
8 Posted 31/12/2017 at 00:08:48
Since then, Everton have gone from nearly happy after one season with Martinez to near disaster with Koeman. Who managed to damage the Everton squad left by Martinez but added further players who damaged it even further.
If it is difficult to manage Everton, it is far more difficult to be an Evertonian. Especially, as our neighbours across the park have bought quality so their immediate future is brighter.
9 Posted 01/01/2018 at 00:36:47
Nothing to argue with and totally agree with the Danny Rose option.
He is dissatisfied with Spurs pay and is worth a tilt.
I think our midfield has been a particular weak link.
Tom Davies has had a poor season, don't even mention Schneiderlin and Rooney while displaying class and goalscoring knack is miles off the pace of a top Premier League side.
Jonjoe has filled in admirably for Seamus but Keane seems a very poor buy and is a liability at the moment.
We can only hope Tosun is the real deal
10 Posted 01/01/2018 at 01:02:14
Sams success at Bolton is often quoted but what is barely mentioned is its most potent factor Kevin Davies. Kevin was a determined and aggressive centre forward with a powerful shot and equally powerful in the air. He was voted by the media as player of the year and was a huge boost to Allardyce's budding managerial reputation.
Tim Cahill goal scoring ability played a similar role for Moyes.
Sam has not changed his style.
He is trying to use Calvert-Lewin as a surrogate for the powerful Davies but that is only like making a sows ear out of a silk purse.
11 Posted 01/01/2018 at 08:50:53
This is one such moment.
How do we celebrate the New Year? Mr. Hourigan and Mr. Williams post the most sour of articles, one bemoaning the manager and the other the talent in the side. And the equally sour supporters come pouring out to join in the general dirge.
Not a word from anybody about the things we have to be thankful for as 2018 begins. Like the tradition and support in the Everton family. Like Everton In The Community and the commitment of this classy club to doing the right thing... again, and again, and again. Like the great fortune we have to be able to take pride in being a part of this club and its fan base no matter how things are going on the pitch.
It's a few minutes after midnight here on the West Coast, and I'm still feeling sentimental enough to be grateful I'm here and able to watch us kick ManU's ass over breakfast tomorrow morning.
But hell, don't let me interrupt this rip-fest with my pollyanna schmaltz.
Happy New Year.
12 Posted 01/01/2018 at 09:53:47
13 Posted 01/01/2018 at 10:10:06
Under Moyes it was never great don't get me wrong but you knew the nucleus of the team picked itself for about 5 or 6 years .
The keeper stayed the same, the back four of Distin and Jagielka , prior to that Lescott then you had Coleman or Hibbert as the main two right backs for a decade and Baines as the mainstay with Pienaar in front of him.
The midfielders of Arteta, Cahill and Fellaini usually picked themselves, likewise before that Carsley and Osman were the shoe-ins.
Even under Martinez you knew the team for that first season, Barry and McCarthy, Barkley behind Lukaku , and Delboy on the wing simples.
But you look at the team now , the midfield is a mishmash of defensive tortoises , and then the few attacking midfielders we do have are so slow and I'll stand to what I say to this day , Sigurdsson will never be a good wide left midfielder, I don't care that he played there for Swansea, he's just a waste of £45 million stuck out there and right now it's the odd great goal but little else, a bit like the much cheaper and much maligned Diniyar Bilyaletdinov under Moyes.
Schneiderlin is a waste of time, Gueye has improved and about the best but even he doesn't do anything outstanding.
Tom Davies , yes he's young but again , in today's modern game , is he quick enough, strong enough?
The answer is no.
So that means to be a success , has he got a great eye for a forward pass or score goals?
Again so far this season the answer is no.
You are relying on these types of players to achieve things and frankly they aren't good enough at the top end of the league.
Rooney has been a breath of fresh air with the goals but obviously at 32 , an injury or decline in form or fitness could be just around the corner.
Bolasie has had a year out injured.
Lennon works hard but even his end product leaves a lot to be desired at times.
The younger players like Lookman and Vlasic haven't been fancied by three managers now, so what's wrong there?
Calvert-Lewin tried hard but I believe this is the season he should have been on loan to a Championship club, he's nowhere near ready for the Premier League, he gets much lauded but I don't think from what I have seen he's any better than other young strikers we've had down the years like Anichebe or Vaughan.
The defence is ageing and frankly poor in personnel. We have a right back filling in for a washed up left back and a rookie filling in a right back for a crocked Seamus Coleman.
It's going to be a long time in my opinion before we see an Everton team seriously capable of challenging the top sides above us no matter who the manager is.
14 Posted 01/01/2018 at 10:40:31
Team Selection also puzzling and more so change at half time. As stated on live thread, I would have subbed Rooney for Schneiderlin not McCarthy. Moved Macca back and allowed Gana move further up park.
My biggest consistent Moan is that habit we have developed since start of season of playing ball back to a goal keeper to hoof it up the field, particularly when his distribution is so poor. We must have done it at least 10 times against Bournemouth. That is a Koeman legacy and will really begin to believe in Sam when I see that habit eradicated.
Another moan is that in these threads we have our favourite fall guys: Macca, Williams, Schneiderlin, Martina, even Sigurdsson but in the games I watched:
Is Baines any better than Martina defensively,
Is Maccas poor backpass any worse than those of Davies, Gana or Bolasie? Only difference is he didn't get away with it whereas others were bailed out by defence.
Would Williams or Holgate have turned their back on a shot that lead to goal?
Finally, can our goalkeeping coach teach Pickford to (1) Keep ball in play from his hoofing of back passes? and (2) Hold the ball or deflect behind instead of parrying back into play? Yes he made some brilliant saves but he is not without faults and exempt of criticism.
We need to get more confidence in the side and Schneiderlin will not supply that.
Happy New Year
15 Posted 01/01/2018 at 10:59:18
Klassen, is the player I'd like to see get to grips with the EPL, a long shot because of his physicality, but to say he doesn't posses the skill for the English game, especially considering the lack of craft, in his own team-mates, is very, very, very, debatable?
It's hard, it feels like we have gone really backwards since the summer, but football changes very quickly, and although it's horrible to watch right now, I feel we have got to give the new regime, a little bit of time. I'm not saying ages, but in his last two jobs, Allardyce never got a victory in his first few games, so it's patently obvious that he fixes the defence first?
16 Posted 01/01/2018 at 11:29:08
- The Koeman era is over: we just seemed to be on a downward spiral and shockingly were contemplating an upcoming relegation battle under his stewardship. All the pre-season positivity had disappeared. The change was inevitable and badly required.
- Big Sam has steadied the ship: perhaps not everyone's first choice (me included) but no one can deny that he appears to have had an initial positive impact. Leaking less goals, battling draws against the big guns, rekindled optimism among the fans.
- Our injury crisis is abating: Bolasie is back, Macca is back, Coleman almost there, Ross is well .let's see about that one.
- January transfer window: surely a chance to address some of our obvious shortcomings. Tosun appears to be a done deal. Most talk about this guy is positive. A chance to have that experienced goal scorer that we have been crying out for. Could change the whole outlook of the season if he's a hit. Elsewhere we could certainly do with another LB. Even those two positions addressed would have a huge impact. Anything else is a bonus. Finally, the window also is an opportunity to ship out some personnel. I won't name names, I have my list, I'm sure we all have one. But I wouldn't be sad to see 4 or 5 faces leaving this month. Plenty of (now experienced) youngsters to name on the bench.
- A chance to make amends: the 2nd half of the season starts now. new faces, returning faces, renewed optimism. Now is an opportunity for the players to show what they are capable of. A strong showing from now until May and perhaps this season won't be write-off after all.
Before anyway asks; the strongest drink I've had this morning was my second cup of tea. Perhaps the above is wishful thinking. But there is undeniably some truth in there also. So yeah, I'm choosing to think wishfully. And let's just see what unfolds. COYBs.
17 Posted 01/01/2018 at 11:40:52
Although we have rotated of late which is understandable at this time of year, we haven't managed to find a game were we played either Lookman or Vlasic. I think Lookman looks like he could be a very good player, but he cant do that if he isn't on the pitch. Obviously what ever happened for Unsworth to exclude Vlasic must still be relevant as Allardyce seems reluctant to start him.
Would be nice to see Lookman in for Lennon and Vlasic wide left, Gueye looks a doubt today so what about playing both Rooney and Sigurdsson in centre midfield. Just for once Sam through off your dire defensive mind set and have a go for once in your life.
18 Posted 01/01/2018 at 11:46:16
I would like to see more of Klaassen. From what I have see of him this season, I think he has the most potential, He is energetic and aggressive in the tackle yet we seem to have given more opportunities to Sandro. I would love to see him get a descent run to evaluate his worth.
19 Posted 01/01/2018 at 11:58:48
Roll on 40 points and the end of the season!
Happy New Year to you all!
20 Posted 01/01/2018 at 12:01:27
Not convinced yet in Lookman starting and our back four need protection. Would like to see
Kenny, Holgate Williams Martina
Lennon Sigurdsson, Rooney Vlasic
Hopefully a bit more positive.
Banigme for Macca when he tires
Davies for Rooney when he tires
Lookman for Lennon
Klassen for Sigurdsson
Sandro for Niasse
Keane if needed (Rest Jags)
21 Posted 01/01/2018 at 12:07:05
Tony- agreed re Davy, there must be something more to him than he has shown so far but can he cope with the physicality and show his worth?
Re DCL I have posted on a number of occasions starting last season that he reminds me so much of Graeme Sharp and perhaps like Sharp he needs a battle hardened partner to bring out the best in him ( I refer here to Andy Gray and not to Mrs.Sharp)! I think this lad can be special- his goals tally is not bad this season with some assists too but he needs help and now.
22 Posted 01/01/2018 at 12:11:23
23 Posted 01/01/2018 at 12:42:51
We make Bournemouth's defence look like a vintage Italian National team ðŸ™„
24 Posted 01/01/2018 at 12:56:17
I remember the most of the Glwadys street giving it the big MEH when Sharpe played his early games so I'm hoping DCL is given time to develop just like Graeme was!
26 Posted 01/01/2018 at 13:17:24
27 Posted 01/01/2018 at 16:15:13
I'm not disputing your opinions or your qualifications for expressing them -- 55 years is awesome. But the endless droning, moaning and groaning on this board just wears me down sometimes. And it's not unique to "down" years like this one... when we were seventh last spring and playing great, the whinging about our not challenging strongly enough for the top six was just as loud.
Like I said, I love TW and I check in every day. But too often these days I find it depressing and check right back out.
Colin and Tony, best wishes for the New Year to you as well. Colin, I hope you miss. Need you here, mate.
28 Posted 01/01/2018 at 16:26:07
In my post and posts I think there is a good team there to be unlocked. I also agree that too often on this site the comments on our players is nothing short of disgraceful and there are the usual fall guys like Mirallas, Macca, Barkley and now Sneids who bear most of the brunt of the vile where some of the poor performances and passing seem to be ignored.
From me our brilliant young goalkeeper is still an unfinished article but with good coaching will make it. But they are all Everton players.
30 Posted 01/01/2018 at 17:13:54
I think you are based in the States(?) in which case you are further removed from it. My schooldays were on Merseyside and I still recall the dread of getting up for school on Monday after losing a Derby match on the Saturday. Such experiences can influence attitudes. I do not defend abusers or moaners but can understand how bitter experiences and false dawns can lead to this behaviour.
31 Posted 02/01/2018 at 07:47:46
This is one of the most well thought out and sensible articles I have read on Toffee Web for many years.
This mess is due to the past two foreign managers who are clearly overrated in the league they are expected to manage in.
We need to give our own a chance and by that I mean Sam, guess what people Sam and the likes of Pulis, Hodgson etc. Are generally given the job to clear the mess that foreign managers have left behind.
These are the Managers who make the EPL what it is by figuring out how to make the rich and wealthy who can buy any player they want stumble. I would have Sam over Mourhino any day. In fact if it wasn't Sam I would go for Rafa, respect to the man he stuck with the Geordies and is operating on a shoe string budget.
Given the support and the funds from the board I believe Sam will definitely deliver the football and trophies we desire. It won't be this year we need to get realistic it will take at least a couple of transfer windows just to get to challenging for the top four. I write this after watching the Blues Vs Its, were Its really that good. Two individual quality strikes got us. As a team they are not that good.
I have hope COBS
32 Posted 02/01/2018 at 13:45:08
Funes Mori 25;
The reason this defence got old is that Koeman sold a 22-year-old and replaced him with a 33-year-old. He also let Jagielka get old, and froze out the youngsters. The ages of the players (that's what we are talking here not quality) left behind was a good blend. Koeman, quite rightly, thought we need more quality, but the quality he introduced was old. He aged the team, not just in defence but all over. Martinez left a young side.
33 Posted 02/01/2018 at 14:50:00
34 Posted 02/01/2018 at 15:20:19
There is no doubt that we needed Big Sam, we were well and truly in the cart. He has got us moving in the right direction but is very limited with what he has.
The youth in the team have done very well, and there is no doubt they are the building blocks of the future for what could be a seriously challenging for honours team. I'm not down hearted about the future, I think it looks very bright, we have quality in the wings.
There is no doubt that football is eating itself at the present. I don't see how things can be sustained at this level. The gulf in the Premier League is now like the Grand Canyon, wide and, rocky for the clubs that cant keep up. We will not be a top five team for a few years. The green shoots are there, and need to be nurtured. I'm just glad the club had the presence of mind to concentrate on the youngsters, and would like to think it has been a strategy for the future.
There is much talk of tactics on here at the moment, but we don't have the players to play the forward pressing game. We do have a very defensive outfit, which at the present will have to do the job. Its not pretty but its an investment in our future we have to pay to stay in the Premier League. Its back to basics for the club, one tactic I would like to see improved on is basic passing and ball control, I have lost count over the last few games the amount of times we gave the ball away, and also failed to control it, this is basic stuff. Its time for heads down and show some character.
On a final note, I think both Sam's are very committed to the club. This is very important, and bodes well for the future.
This was a well written piece, with a lot of food for thought.
Get dug in COYB.
35 Posted 03/01/2018 at 12:43:00
There are multiple issues causing the team to perform badly, including have some of our better players injured or just returning from injury. Even then, thinking about it, would this potential team get us there? I don't think so.
Forget about fullbacks, we need:
a top notch center back to hold the defense together
box-to-box midfielder to hold the midfield together
a striker who can hold his own and score!
A striker will take the pressure off the rest of the team and will help but the team will struggle if those other two roles are sorted. If there's enough coins in the coffer then a left back and another midfielder would be great, but it's unlikely there'll be any pennies until the summer window.
36 Posted 05/01/2018 at 05:55:12
He played John Stones for most of his tenure and bought or brought through; Holgate, Browning and Calloway.
He only ended up with Alcaraz because the club were plotless and he needed cover while the youngsters matured.
If he's had the funds available to Koeman I believe he would have invested them more wisely but equally he had a team of players still in peak.
Koeman's transfers were lazy, unimaginative and harmful and he should be given a much tougher ride on here than Martinez who, while unable to setup a defensive corner, attempted to improve the squad in the right areas from window to window but without the transformative funds Koeman enjoyed.
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