Balance in the Team

Rick Tarleton 17/12/2018 45comments  |  Jump to last

I look at the current Everton squad and as individual players they are immensely talented, but the question that plagues me is: "Are they a team?"

I look back on three great Everton teams, the 1962-63 team, the last team in England to play with the old structure of three at the back and with a midfield full of energy, Gabriel, the underrated Dennis Stevens, Harris or Kay , supplemented by Morrissey in midfield and with Scott, Young and Vernon upfront, providing balance and energy throughout the team.

Similarly the 1969-70 team with a solid back four marshalled by Labone, the Holy Trinity, again supplemented by Morrissey in the middle and then Royle with either Husband or Whittle upfront. Then the mid-eighties team a great back four, Steven on the right, Bracewell and Reid, as the energy and centre of midfield and Sheedy with his brilliant passing ability, sending the ball to Gray, Sharp and briefly Lineker.


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Today, we have a back four or five, let's look at it as a four: two fullbacks, both better going forward than as defenders, but good players, any two of Zouma, Mina and Keane in central defence and then what is next?

I'll start with our front players: we have in no order of ranking, Bernard, Lookman, Richarlison and Walcott as wide men, Calvert-Lewin and Tosun as possible central strikers. How many of these we can accommodate in a well-balanced team is questionable?

Then in midfield we have Gueye, a defensive midfielder, good at interceptions and tackles, but perhaps not a great creative talent; Gomes, a fulcrum, astute and available to be the springboard of a good midfield provided he has a runner alongside him to be his engine; and we have Sigurdsson, a number ten who is at his best just behind a front two with his passing ability and shooting power, but whom no-one could describe as a midfield dynamo and whose covering and defensive skills are certainly not his strengths. There is also Tom Davies who has energy to burn, but who perhaps lacks a little of the coolness necessary.

I struggle to see how to get a balance out of this squad. I can see Silva rates Richarlison very highly for obvious reasons but, to be honest, if we had tens of millions to spend I wonder if he was the player we needed. I know he has provided sublime moments and in the right team he could be another Neymar, in our team he is not a central striker. He would be better supporting a central striker, playing wide on alternate flanks, using his skill and pace when he is facing goal, rather than when he has his back to the goal. But who's to play alongside him? Calvert-Lewin? Tosun?

But it's in midfield that we have the real problem. We need a Kante or a Henderson to provide an engine for three static but skilled midfielders. Sigurdsson and Gomes, for all their gifts, can be overrun by the high intensity of modern midfields. They also struggle to press quickly enough when we do not have possession. Our three midfielders also all want the central ground. We need four midfielders, not three, but, in order to accommodate our plethora of widemen, we are stuck with three.

Our full-backs are probably best suited to playing with a back three and being supplementary wingers, but we already have that space, filled by Walcott, Bernard etc.

I see Silva's main issue as sorting out this lack of balance in the squad, of getting us a balanced midfield of four to supplement Gomes's and Sigurdsson's obvious craft with energy, with an "engine". He may have to move on some of our widemen and develop Calvert-Lewin or Tosun; or, if it's possible, sign a central striker to work with Richarlison.

Because, until this lack of balance is sorted out, we are not going to be challenging any of the top teams. Good teams are generally balanced teams, they have a solidity in defency, a flexibility and energy in midfield and skilled strikers. Four thrilling wingers are possibly an excess. I know Real Madrid like the galactico approach, but I genuinely don't think it is for us. Guardiola moved on Ibrahimovic when he would not or could not play with Messi. Silva may need to look at his squad and start pruning and planning, so that we can challenge the so-called big six, most of whom play with a high-intensity midfield foursome.

It's a question of getting the balance to form a team, not just of signing gifted players.

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Reader Comments (45)

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Stan Schofield
1 Posted 17/12/2018 at 15:43:14
Rick, I agree totally about the balance of the 60s sides. Especially, for me, the 69-70 title side, the perfect football team, IMO the then equivalent of today's Man City.

I think that this season we have shown balance. It's been a shame that the right side hasn't been functioning so well as it could have been, but I think that's just unlucky circumstance, and it should improve.

The problem for me is, strength in depth, or the lack of it. In the 60s, we could have just one regular team, but these days we need a squad to rotate players, given the high intensity of the game. In other words, we have a team that could on paper beat anyone, but we don't have sufficient strength in back-up when things aren't going quite to plan because of lack of form or injury.

The last transfer window was very good. If the next one or two are comparable, then we could have the balance and back-up that would give us the strength in depth and consistency that we need.

Given how our midfield has been playing, if we'd had a top striker (like Lukaku) knocking goals in, things could have been massively better. Also, the current absence of Gana shows the need for the strength in depth.

Dave Ganley
2 Posted 17/12/2018 at 16:25:23
I can only echo Stans comments really. I agree, Rick, that balance is so important to be a successful team but I think, generally, this season the balance has been okay. The last 3 games the intensity has dropped by all not just Gomes and Sigurdsson and this is where Stan is spot on. The squad quality is just not good enough.

Gana not playing on Saturday just highlighted how important he is. He breaks up play, intercepts so many balls and frees up Gomes and Sigurdsson to do their roles. Tom Davies is the obvious replacement but Tom needs to work on his speed off the mark. For all his qualities he just seems to be a yard off the pace when playing against quality midfielders. Gana is no speed merchant but whether he anticipates more or is just that yard quicker, is so much more effective than Tom.

Apart from Richarlison playing as an emergency striker at the moment, the players are playing in their proper positions and look happy this season. We definitely do need a striker as soon as but if brands and Silva can't get what they need then I'm prepared to wait till summer.

Calvert-Lewin and Tosun at present are just not good enough. Tosun won't ever be good enough in my opinion and Calvert-Lewin needs to bulk up a little and get a bit more streetwise in holding up the ball. However, this team does have balance, they just aren't as good as those champion teams you mentioned.

We have only had 1 transfer window with Silva and Brands and we will add more a quality so I'm happy in general with where we are at present. Significant improvement this season, team spirit appears good and the side feels balanced to me. Unfortunately, we have to play the same 11 most weeks because we don't have similar quality to come in and replace bar 1 or 2.

We have had some setbacks recently but we have expected that; I'm not sure that lack of balance is the issue, more quality of squad.

Rick Tarleton
3 Posted 17/12/2018 at 16:30:22
Hi, Stan, though I would agree that we have three talented midfielders, I'm not sure I see them as a unit. If you have a midfield three as distinct from a four, then one has to be a Duracell bunny, a Kante.

Sigurdsson and Gomes are talented, but neither has an engine and so at times we seem overrun by more energetic, if less talented midfields. I also think playing Richarlison in the centre to accommodate Bernard, Walcott, Lookman etc. makes us unbalanced. Richarlison is obviously a talent, but is he a central striker as we have tried to make him for much of the season?

I'm obviously as puzzled as most other Evertonians as to what the solution is given the make-up of our squad, but we are trying to accommodate too many similar players. Early last season we tried to accommodate a number of so-called Number 10s with disastrous results, now it is all these wide men. A good team is essentially one in which there is a balance and I'm worried that Everton are manifestly lacking in balance, despite many individual talents.

Jay Harris
4 Posted 17/12/2018 at 16:46:08

I don't see the issue as balance I see the issue as lack of goalscorers throughout the team.

Coleman used to chip in with a few as did Leighton but apart from Sigurdsson and Richarlison we have no players with regular goalscoring ability.

Once we resolve that the rest will fall into place as it takes pressure off the rest of the team. For all I think so well of Gomes and Gana one of them has to be replaced by a goalscorer from that position.

Walcott needs to step up or step out and Bernard for all his silky skills falls apart in the penalty area.

We are playing good stuff but have not yet got the killer streak that is needed to be a top team and regrettably goalscoring is natural not manufactured so changes in personnel is absolutely essential.

John McFarlane Snr
5 Posted 17/12/2018 at 17:04:51
Hi Rick, if the Everton team was as well balanced as your article, we would be title contenders, and you're right in suggesting that it's easier to identify problems than to rectify them.

Thankfully, that's not our responsibility, because I feel that you could appoint ten supporters to overhaul the squad and you could finish up with ten permutations. Like it or not, we have to trust in the ability of Messrs Brands and Silva to come up with the goods.

I think that you, I, and our peers were privileged to have watched the players you have mentioned. I'm still hopeful that you and I can meet up and reminisce over a bottle of Guinness. I am being discharged from physio rehab on Friday morning, but I'm not sure when I will be fit enough to take my place in the Park End. [Not the best of years for me...]

Kieran Kinsella
6 Posted 17/12/2018 at 17:30:50
Why are we not utilizing our centre-halves on set-pieces? Mina, Keane, Zouma and Jags are all very capable of scoring headers from corners and free-kicks.

Since we are clearly lacking goals from midfield, why aren't we being a bit more pragmatic and rehearsing set-pieces. It doesn't mean we have to stop playing football, it just means we capitalize on an obvious strength we have.

It would help to get us through to the next window, or the one after, when hopefully we can get a better balance of goals throughout the team from open play.

Dave Williams
7 Posted 17/12/2018 at 17:55:57
Interesting post, Rick, but you overlook Temple who played more than Moggsy in 62-63 and my favourite Adrian Heath in the eighties team.

You are absolutely right that the balance isn't there yet and it took City and RS years to find it in their current sides. Other posters seem to think Silva should do it all at once and, if he can't ,then he must be crap. This is so short-sighted he has started well but Siggy must go if we are to become a top side as he cannot fit into the team. He couldn't last year with Rooney around and he is not a player to play just behind the striker.

Gana cannot pass sufficiently accurately for a top midfielder and he will have to go too.

Coleman looks like he is on the slide and Walcott will not improve – Arsenal sold him for a good reason; he is neither good enough nor consistent enough for a top side.

I think we are fine at centre-back and left-back; Pickford, despite his critics on here, is good enough and should improve further; Gomes must be signed and Richarlison will revert to wide left(-ish). I still believe Calvert-Lewin will come good at centre-forward.

So, in my mind, we have six or seven who, given 12 months in the same side, will gel and be part of a top team. If Richarlison and either Calvert-Lewin or a new striker take the front two positions we need three new midfielders unless Davis or Bernard or Baningime come through.

Just reading how well Browning has been playing – any chance of trying him again at right-back?

Rick Tarleton
8 Posted 17/12/2018 at 18:01:12
Temple played very few games in 62-63. Ray Veall played more games than Derek Temple in that season. Morrissey played the majority of games in that season.
Neil Quinn
9 Posted 17/12/2018 at 18:38:10
I think we've all had a moan about Gueye from time to time but we missed him badly on Saturday. There was nobody nicking the ball from the opposition & there were huge gaps between our midfield and defence.

He's the man who can get in the way. Yes, I know his passing is erratic, but his absence meant that Gomes had to try and be more of a ball winner.

Mike Gaynes
10 Posted 17/12/2018 at 18:42:02
Ah, to me "balance in the team" means having players who won't fall over.

Rick, not trying to be snarky here... I just consider "balance" to be a rather precious and nebulous term, difficult to clearly define beyond I-know-it-when-I-see-it. And at a time when the winningest club in the world has been generally unbalanced for years, heavily overdependent on Messi in attack and Pique in defense, I wonder if the term really has much meaning in today's game.

Stan and Jay are on the right track. Everton's issue is talent, not balance. None of our players would crack the line-up for any of the sides above us, and as long as that's true, "balance" is irrelevant. Put enough great players in the right positions and balance will take care of itself – meaning they won't topple off the platform while hoisting the Cup.

Jamie Crowley
11 Posted 17/12/2018 at 19:04:43
I think we have as much balance in the side as we possibly can, or afford to have, at the moment. With the one glaring position of striker being the "unbalanced" part.

Solid centre-backss who can defend and have actually played the ball out from the back well enough.

Right-back and left-back who can defend and get forward.

Solid in the back.

Midfield we're very, very balanced with a master technical distributor of the ball, a ball winner, and a capable goal scoring threat and set-piece guru.

Out wide we have pacy wingers good on the ball, who track back in the main (Lookman needs improving).

We have a good keeper. There's no glaring spot on the pitch where we are deficient in comparison to the other spots on the pitch. That's not to say there aren't deficiencies, there most certainly are.

The one unbalanced spot on the field where we are noticeably weaker than the rest is up top. That needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

But the one thing Silva and Brands have done, darn near Jesus style, is balance our squad. Or am I missing something? I ask this not flippantly, but genuinely, as there's many brighter minds on TW when it comes to the intricacies and nuances of the game than I. My late arrival to the sport equates to missing things – smaller details especially – when it comes to footy.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
12 Posted 17/12/2018 at 19:13:39
It pains to say but Shankly bought Phil Boersma and said he was the missing piece of the jigsaw.

Lampard and Gerrard always had to play for England because they were "too good for one to be left out in favour of the other".

Shilton only got 125 caps because Clemence and he would turn and turn about.

It is not about having the best 11 players, it is about having the best 11 players to play in the team and formation of the manager's choosing.

That seemed to be Alf Ramsey's philosophy (Kendall's caps? Jimmy Greaves over Roger Hunt?) and he won a Championship with Ipswich and a World Cup.

Mark Murphy
13 Posted 17/12/2018 at 19:22:49
“Sigurdsson must go”? — Seriously??

Our second-top scorer in a team that needs goals... and, imo, the man we should be building the forward line around. We need a striker who can play in front of him, not bin him!

Lawrence Green
14 Posted 17/12/2018 at 19:40:24
Shankly! Shankly! Shankly! Over 40 years ago! and a Liverpool legend to boot. He's as relevant as Dixie Dean, Stanley Mathews and every other true footballing legend in relation to the modern game. Kendall, Gray and Sharp are also irrelevant to football as it is today. Even in more recent times, what Royle did by lifting the FA Cup and how he did it – going on to nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago – isn't relevant in today's money driven sport.

I love nostalgia, the people, the players, the great and not so great games but that was then and this is now. Evertonians have elephantine memories, but many of us want to see what the current boss does with the current team. We want to see how Silva and Brands try and rebuild the team to cope with the modern stresses and strains of the Premier League, each and every game.

One thing I will concede is that the best players in the best form should be selected for each and every game and if, for example, that means that Baines plays left-midfield because he would be more effective than Bernard, I wouldn't argue. The manager, on the other hand, would probably never do that because Baines will probably leave in the summer or be moved into a coaching position within the club.

There's a fine balance to be had betweeen short-term goals and long-term ambitions; I'm glad I don't have to make any of those game to game decisions, which is why the club pay huge sums to the people they hire, like Brands and Silva. I don't believe either of the pair take much heed of what was fashionable or successful in the long distant past; their job is to create a club side which will have success in the future, using modern methods that suit today's game and players.

Stan Schofield
15 Posted 17/12/2018 at 19:49:03
Mike @10: To disagree with you on one point, I think we do have a main team of individuals who each would get into top 6 sides. The trouble is, we don't have many others in the squad who would qualify, which is the strength-in-depth problem.

Dermot Byrne
16 Posted 17/12/2018 at 20:18:30
When is next game? Stop filling time then?

Footy is about 90 mins.

Lest we just pretend to be managers and fall out.


See ya next game.

Steavey Buckley
17 Posted 17/12/2018 at 21:20:00
I disagree about Everton being that talented. Teams that rely upon a few players don't have a team problem but a talent problem.

Everton rely heavily on Richarilson. If he is not playing or his game is off, Everton have problems.

Rick Tarleton
18 Posted 17/12/2018 at 21:28:38
My basic point is very simple: the best teams have always had talented players, but in the best teams, the players supplement and complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, so that the ship is more than the crew. My feeling is that the current crop of Everton players do not do that and that too many of them particularly the widemen, replicate each other rather than complement each other.

Mike Gaynes, you are obviously from your many comments on this site knowledgeable about all things Everton and I think you do know what balance means other than in the ice-skating sense. I think Phil Robert's point about Ramsey's '66 team when he dropped Greaves for the greater efficiency of the team is relevant here.

Jim Bennings
19 Posted 17/12/2018 at 22:00:14
Any blurt that thinks Sigurdsson should go needs their head testing; remind me again how many goal scoring midfielders we have? It's all well and good saying go out and buy a better one but where are these goal scoring midfielders and why have we rarely signed them in recent years?

On other matters now and, in hindsight our right side is no better than it was three years ago, in actual fact at stages, Deulofeu and Lennon offered more than Walcott and Lookman and Bernard are at present.

Striker-wise, we are worse off now than when Lukaku was scoring 20 goals a season for us.

Defensively on paper we look better than three years ago but judging by the goals conceded on Saturday, 6'-5" defenders letting two midget gems score headers is concerning to say the least.

Goalkeeper-wise, we are better off than three years ago but still feel Pickford has a touch of the jitters about him which he needs to quickly erase from his game and unlike 30 years ago I think keepers peak sooner these days as in general keeping with the pace of the game and the way balls move now.

Pickford is good but he's 25 and by 27 he needs to be better focused and not allow consistent stupid mistakes into his game which define what makes a great keeper.

Dave Williams
20 Posted 17/12/2018 at 22:27:39
That's rich coming from someone who has rubbished our talented young players and can't see their potential, Jim!

We beg to differ – yes, he has scored goals but, in my opinion, he will not be part of Silva’s preferred midfield.

Dave Williams
21 Posted 17/12/2018 at 22:38:51
Rick #8 – apologies, I thought Temple played more than that; l age is dimming the memory!!
Don Alexander
22 Posted 17/12/2018 at 00:15:08
Jim (#19),

I tend to empathise with your general views on our club because of the frustrations and Kenwright-backed bullshit we've all had to endure for decades.

However, Jordan Pickford is only 24 and is still learning, I think, how to best integrate with a very new team in front of him. He/they've only had 20 games or so to consistently get it right and that observation causes me to extend into the very very short tenure, thus far, of Marco Silva.

As Darren Hind and Brazilian-based Jay Wood say (there's another, even saner, version of Jay Wood in Latvia, folks – but what on Earth happened to him on these pages?) the marked improvement engineered by Silva, Brands and Moshiri in way less than six months cannot be dismissed amid the disappointment of one or two negative results or performances.

"Imbalance" would become history the moment a prolifically lethal, ball-adhesive, grafting centre-forward was to join us.

Easy, this critiquing lark, ain't it?

Derek Thomas
23 Posted 17/12/2018 at 01:31:42
Spot on, Ray, I've been saying this for ages... 'The game is and always has been, both won and lost in the Midfield.'

Mike Gaynes, I take your... well, dip me in obviousness and call me Sherlock, slightly disingenuous point(s?) yes, midfields function better with better players.

Rays premise – and mine – is that Midfields function better as a whole unit and there are too many individuals with one over dominating skill.

Take Gana, he wins the ball... and basically, that's it. He then has to give the ball to somebody who can use it... but wouldn't tackle a paper bag...classic 'double handling'.

But what happens when the ball is over by the 'wouldn't tackle a paper bag merchant'? See where I'm going with this?

To go with your 'better players' thing, proper Midfield players are basically multi-taskers and yes cost is a factor. With all due respect, your Sheedys will cost more than your Kilbanes.

Coaches must stop following fashion and go for the more versatile model... but the 'QC rule' applies – quality counts... but not only does it count: Quality Costs.

Laurie Hartley
24 Posted 18/12/2018 at 01:42:15
Don # 22 – I think the centre-forward you are describing is Salomon Rondon. He would slot right into this Everton set up and is the catalyst that would go a long way to enabling Marco Silva to bring the best out of this talented group of players and also bring the balance that, in my view, Rick is quite right in saying the team lacks.

Derek # 23 – Okazaki could be getting a bit long in the tooth now but he would make a big difference to us – classic "multi-tasker" and a very courageous footballer.

Their inclusion would probably leave Bernard (my favourite), Lookman, and Walcott fighting for one a spot in midfield and Zouma (my favourite), Keane, and Mina for one of the centre back spots.

Concerning Jay Wood (Latvia), my guess is he decided to give ToffeeWeb a miss after he expressed a religious point of view on this site and got hammered. I would like to see him back - perhaps Michael or Lyndon could drop him a line to see how he is doing.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen anything of Phill (sevenish) Walling for some time. Also a pity.

John Pierce
25 Posted 18/12/2018 at 01:43:08
Balance is best exemplified by the Everton team of the 80s. It had both vertical and lateral combinations which complemented each other and together as each unit. Often each offering something the other player didn't have.

This current Everton side still lacks it but has elements of it. Gomes - Gana looks promising,

Even Moyes's 2008 side had good balance too, save for a centre-forward.

Oddly the England team of 2002 had great balance. Robbed of the better players through injury the replacements; Mills, Sinclair etc offered the combination play which England just didn't have when all the golden generation were crow-barred into the side.

It emphasizes Rick's point: the best teams often don't have 11stars.

Nice article, Rick.

Laurie Hartley
26 Posted 18/12/2018 at 02:22:59
John # 25 – I really like that expression "both vertical and lateral combinations". If you could throw a dash of "pace" in to the mix, you would be in football heaven.
Dick Fearon
27 Posted 18/12/2018 at 06:59:37
Before we start pigeon-holing players by describing players as defensive this or that or attacking midfielders or wide men or goal scorers, can someone explain to me who in the top few teams can be so described?

For instance, is Salah a left- or right-winger or what used to be called, a goal poacher? Or is he a playmaker, or is that Sane's role?

Where do Henderson and Milner do their best work? Is Van Dijk and attacking or defensive centre-back.

The players mentioned have many parts and give credible performances whatever job they are asked to do. We should base our praise or criticsm on a player's full range of skills and not make excuses should he be a few yards from his favourite position.

Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 18/12/2018 at 07:10:59
Rick #18, thanks but I'm not all that knowledgeable. Although I'm an old fart, I became an Everton supporter only in the late 1980s and never saw us play regularly until the mid-90s. I know the name Jimmy Greaves now, but have no idea what he and the other players of that era looked like, let alone how he played.

Laurie #24, we've discussed Rondon before and I stand by my belief that a striker with a 1-in-4 career record in the Premier League is far less than our standard now. And Okazaki is 1-in-7 for Leicester since 2015. Well past it I think.

Derek #23, it's easy to write off Gana's ball-winning skills (actually he also forces lots of errors with his pressure that are intercepted by teammates) but there's nobody else in the squad who can do what he does. City sailed through our midfield unimpeded with Gana missing. He's critical.

Stan #15, care to be specific? Our best players are (in no particular order) Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Gana, Gomes, Digne and Pickford. Only Digne would start for even one of the "Top 6" in my opinion.

Tony Abrahams
29 Posted 18/12/2018 at 08:21:02
I think Silva knows his football and I think that, other than the Newcastle game, and possibly Man City (I only saw the 2nd half) the team has had a good balance.

I think we maybe play too open, but the balance across the pitch seems okay, although this obviously depends on what way you look at things.

I look at two things: Does a team have width? And are the team compact? We have width, but could obviously play with more, and we are usually compact, but still leave ourselves wide open at times.

Anyone who has played football though will know one thing: a team needs a focus point up top, someone to get hold of the ball. Hold it, keep it, bring other players into the game, take the pressure off, and hopefully score some goals.

Laurie Hartley
30 Posted 18/12/2018 at 08:33:32
Mike # 28 – It seems you and I are unlikely to agree on the type of footballer we admire. You probably remember our discussion about Zouma. I still rate him highly.

I have always been an admirer of Rondon. True his goal scoring record in the premier league is poor but look who he has been playing for. He is starting to hit his straps for Newcastle now (4 in 6) and I think he would excel with the players we have around him.

I did say Okazaki “could be getting a bit long in the tooth now” but he is my type of footballer, all action, quite fast, brave, and likely to pop up anywhere on the pitch. He is going to be out of contract shortly – someone will snaffle him up. Let's see out that plays out.

If you are interested in how I think my team would look with those 2 players in the squad it would be 4-4-2 able to transition to 4-3-3 very quickly.

Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne
Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Okazaki
Rondon, Richarlison.

By the way, give yourself a treat and have a look at Jimmy Greaves in his pomp – what a footballer:

Jimmy Greaves

Stan Schofield
31 Posted 18/12/2018 at 09:48:08
Mike @28: I believe that any of our current 'best team' would get into a top-6 side. For example, Keane, who this season is on fine form, would get back into the England side, etc. It clearly depends on current form, but I think that any of them 'on their day' would slot into a top side.

The problem we have is strength in depth to replace them as needs be.

Mike Gaynes
32 Posted 18/12/2018 at 14:37:00
Laurie, thanks for the Greaves link.

As for the "type" of footballers we admire, I think we're much closer than you might expect. Rondon and Okazaki are very much my type. In my view, however, they're simply not good enough at the striker's most important job, which is scoring. Rondon in particular earns excellent chances with his strength and pace – and then chokes on the finish far too often.

Stan, you have a far higher opinion of our talent than I do, although I will concede that Keane in recent form is one who might start for at least Man Utd and Arsenal. But I still doubt he'd start for any of the top 4.

Stan Schofield
33 Posted 18/12/2018 at 15:19:58
Mike, I recall when we had Stones, Lukaku and Barkley, many posts on here saying we didn't have anybody who'd get into a top-6 side. I'm not saying you said that, only that it's difficult to assess talent when it's part of a team that is dysfunctional or finding its feet.
Pete Edwards
34 Posted 18/12/2018 at 15:34:44
Sorry, but I stopped reading at the part you mentioned Sigurdsson's lack of defensive play! Have you not seen the ground he covers at both ends of games!!

Plus the game has moved on, unfortunately, as great as the teams you mention were (I'm only old enough to have seen the 80s) it's a different game now one that we are trying to catch up with. Fullbacks aren't generally playing because they are purely needed to defend; them getting forward and delivering in more advanced positions is absolute key to being successful.

Basically though, being a team is something that needs to be worked on. I think right now we probably have a really strong team mentality with the players in the team trying to implement the managers and coaches vision of how they should play. I don't think for one minute its because we aren't a team, look back to the months before Martinez went – or Koeman's last few months for that matter.

Pete Edwards
35 Posted 18/12/2018 at 15:37:37
And now I've just seen your comment that Gomes doesn't have an engine!!

The lad hasn't stopped since the first minute of his debut!

Alasdair Mackay
36 Posted 18/12/2018 at 15:41:54
This is a great article which makes a good point about the lack of balance.

Two things are worth pointing out, in my opinion.

1) We are one window into the fix. Silva and Brands have both done an exceptional job tidying up the mess of the Koeman years in a very short space of time, but I don't think either of them are pretending that they are done.

2) The challenges of the modern game are so different that you need a squad to compete, rather than just a team. The comparison with Man City is perfect – other than 2 or 3 key individuals you could not necessarily name their best team. They have 2 or 3 options for every position. Our great sides of the 60s through to the 80s roll off the tongue. We had subs, but the first 11 was far from interchangeable.

I think we are living in a different world and we have work to do to catch up to the contenders, despite the great work done by Brands et al so far.

Kieran Kinsella
37 Posted 18/12/2018 at 15:46:57

I like Rondon but I don't think he scores enough for a top six team. He is like a slightly more prolific version of Marcus Bent (yes, Bent came fourth one season but the rest of his career was mediocre).

Rondon is like say Garry Bannister of QPR, Colin Clarke, Brian Stein of Luton or someone like that; good enough to have a solid career for a mid-table team.

Rob Dolby
38 Posted 18/12/2018 at 19:37:04
Balance is achieved when the likes of Albrighton, Kante, Drinkwater and Okasaki run their plums off to cover for Mahrez who creates for Vardy unless you are in Man City's position by gambling that Fernandinho is the only destroyer whilst the other 10 players can be given the ball anywhere on the pitch and have multiple passes available.

You have to have unsung heroes or water carriers to achieve balance. Too often over the last few years, we have had players who look good on the ball but are a liability off it.

Coleman is a prime example; he is taking an even bigger gamble going forward knowing that he will have get back and cover as his midfield partner won't bother. Baines was the same with Mirallas. I lost count of the overlaps only for super kev to go it alone and Lose the ball. In the end, Baines stopped making the runs and blunted the best part of his game.

It's also probably one of the reasons why Bernard is starting ahead of Lookman.

It's still early days under Silva; whilst I think we are going in the right direction, I do think he needs to get more work rate from the midfield. We look unbelievably vulnerable to counter attacks with not enough quality going forward.

I would quite happily have a Matt Ritchie type player who works up and down the flanks covering full backs and also has quality delivery. A younger Vardy type would also slot into the team.

Balance quality with workrate and we won't be far away.

Laurie Hartley
39 Posted 18/12/2018 at 20:52:21
I would like to make a couple more comments about Rondon.

If you look at his career statistics, it appears to me that his time at West Brom put a big dent in his goals per game ratio of .33 in league competitions. That doesn't surprise me. With us he would have much better players around him.

Also in my view, Tony # 29, in his last paragraph, describes what Rondon would bring to our team.

Kev Jones
40 Posted 18/12/2018 at 20:52:50
I fear our bank balance is the decisive factor. Until we can buy the best talent, our midfield will continue to be overrun and we will not score goals.
Jerome Shields
41 Posted 18/12/2018 at 00:05:23
The weaknesses are clear in the current Everton team, as are unfortunately some of the tactical and coaching weaknesses. The extent of the influence of the former on the latter is still to be determined.

As Brands said at the start, Everton would not be challenging the top four in the first season. It will take time.

It will be interesting what happens in the January transfer window.

Matthew Williams
42 Posted 19/12/2018 at 16:04:45
A proper left winger would help, real pace, with a wand of a left peg that could fire crosses with ease all day long and also with an eye for goal too would help ease our goal drought.

Right-footed players playing out wide left just don't cut it for me; I'm bored of them. Even Henry became a centre-forward in the end. We need two proper wingers.

Danny Broderick
43 Posted 20/12/2018 at 02:14:33
I don't think balance is a problem. The biggest problem we have is a striker who can bring our attacking players into play and help knit things together in the final third. Because of this, our front three aren't firing.

We now have a pretty settled back 4. There is not much to choose between our 3 centre-halves. Any 2 from Mina, Keane and Zouma, plus the full-backs, and I think that's pretty decent and balanced.

In front of them, the Gueye - Gomes partnership looks the real deal. In front of them, I think Sigurdsson has done ok. If he'd scored his pens, he'd be approaching ten goals now from that position halfway through the season. He's made some assists as well.

Our problem is the wide players and striker. Whoever has played, only Richarlison has done himself justice. He is better on the left. The ball doesn't stick when he's up front.

I believe that the likes of Bernard and Walcott are good players. Put Olivier Giroud in this team, and the ball would be sticking up front, and they'd be involved more in the final third. As it is, they are struggling to link up.

Silva has pretty much identified his strongest 11. He's ditched the likes of Schneiderlin, Jagielka, Baines and Holgate and we've got a pretty settled team. If he can get a striker in, this team is a good team. He might as well stick with Calvert-Lewin up front in my opinion. The lad is still learning the game, but he has a bit of everything, at least until we can bring in that elusive striker.

Andy Osborne
44 Posted 20/12/2018 at 07:43:45
It is clear we need to bring a striker in, but Silva has to play with who he has got now. He has already "cut" Niasse, and Calvert-Lewin and Tosun are not up to the standard we need or require. But, given the premise Richarlison should play on the left and that Silva needs to chose one of them to play striker, who should it be?

Tosun has scored 2 league goals in 607 minutes on the pitch. Calvert-Lewin has scored 3 league goals in 493 minutes. So going by that stat, it should be Calvert-Lewin.

But if you dig deeper, you will notice that out of our 24 "team" goals that we have scored so far this season, 16 of them have been while Tosun was on the pitch. Only 6 team goals have been scored when Calvert-Lewin has been on the pitch.

You will all have opinions on why this stat is as it is, but based on both, Silva has to play Tosun up front.

I don't agree with this, by the way, I think Calvert-Lewin is the better striker, but going by stats alone, the team will benefit more with Tosun on the pitch rather than Calvert-Lewin.

Matthew Williams
45 Posted 20/12/2018 at 13:32:24
Just play Calvert-Lewin and Tosun together up front in a two, with four in midfield, and a back four.

The world's most simple game turned into some sort of American Footy-style bollocks — just do the basics right!

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