I’ve long thought that once we get to Christmas, we have a clear picture of where we are in as a team, despite our hopes, fears and cynicism. And here we are; won 7, drew 6, lost 6, the picture of mediocrity. Or is it?
I wanted Fonseca, so I was non-commital about Silva. I liked what he did at Hull, despite his ultimate relegation and he was reasonably good at Watford. The most important signing of the summer was Brands. The shenanigans at Old Trafford shows how important it is to have someone with authority and football knowledge high up in the club. I can see why Moshiri wanted him in the first place. Brands will help managers and make it easier for Moshiri to reward them or sack them, without de-stabilising the club.
The first shock was that we actually bought players that are footballers. Digne, Bernard, Richarlison, Mina, Gomes and Zouma. All improvements on what came before. The only pity was that too many came after the start of the season and/or needed to recover from injury and get match fitness. However, in that respect, I liked these signings, because it showed we were thinking about the future for a change.
The football for me has been better, with plenty of room for improvement. We’ve shown a clear intent to win games, create more, shoot more, score more. We’ve played well in fits and starts. Friends who are fans of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool all telling me it’s the best Everton team they’ve seen for a long time. Nice, but a double-edged sword. We only got one point from those four games. Not good enough, yet.
Some results have been perplexing. Home draws to Huddersfield, Newcastle and Watford. Losing to West Ham Utd, a team who, like us, seem capable of every type of performance possible. Not to mention that result and the Spurs hammering. We were started to look like a solid, half-decent side before that defeat at Anfield. And then the wheels came off.
We looked mentally and physically shattered and in need of some luck and a lift from anywhere. Thankfully we got it, and took it, against a dreadful Burnley team, who proved the rules of randomness by following a season where everything seemed to go their way with one in which their percentage football by numbers has been found out.
Back to us. We’re 8th for a reason. There are three leagues; top five, bottom five, middle ten. We can’t beat the top five and can win, lose or draw against all the rest. What do we need to be top of the second league and look to the one above? First, someone to grab hold of Pickford and tell him to command his box, stay calm, make saves when he needs to and stay un-noticed. Second, sign up Gomes and get him a partner who is physically strong and a good passer. That’s not Gana, good as he’s been. It isn’t Schneiderlin or Davies, either.
We desperately need a goalscorer. I’d love Dominic Calvert-Lewin to do a Sharpie and turn his promise into goals. At the very least he needs a proper run in his proper position to show what he can do. I think he’s got till next summer. Beyond that, a new right-back will be needed soon, with the proviso that Seamus Coleman stays on the staff.
I like Silva. I like his earnestness, his absence of flash, his desire to win games. To me, he has an eye for a player. He, and Brands, are thinking ahead, rather than just focusing on this week’s results. That’s why we got them in place of the last manager. My main questions are whether he can instil some mental toughness into the players he has and whether he can find the two players we need to start making a significant difference.
That’s why my jury’s out... with a bit of optimism.
Reader Comments (32)
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1 Posted 28/12/2018 at 17:45:12
We look like a 7th or 8th place team in terms of the flaws in our game, the mistakes we make that cost us games that we should get results in but then when we do play really well and click then we look the best of the rest (though Leicester might have something to say about that).
The League Cup loss to Southampton was a low point for me because I thought Silva would want a real crack at that.
The Merseyside derby defeat will take a long time to heal, probably until the next time we beat them.
The games against the top six in general were all hugely disappointing with the exception of a decent draw at Chelsea but I guess it just shows us what we need to do to compete at the top end of the league table.
The win at Burnley was easily my most satisfying result because it came three days after our biggest home humiliation for years in my opinion.
My wish list for 2019 would be 7tj place finish (realistic)
Winning the FA Cup (probably not so realistic right this moment)
Winning the Merseyside derby.
And somewhere down the line improving the first team with a new right back (Wan Bissaka) and a quality striker that WILL make a difference in the games against the top sides.
2 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:01:56
I don't see a striker coming in. Much will rest on the shoulders of Calvert-Lewin's, if he delivers we can improve . .but only if Pickford stops dropping clangers at crucial periods of the game.
Will Bernard, Walcott and Lookman find their shooting boots ? can Mina settle ? Is it time for JJK or somebody else, to replace Seamus ?
If's, but's and maybe's. There are some very good reasons why your jury is still out
3 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:08:22
On the plus side, the mood around the club has drastically improved from this time last year. We always look capable of scoring, and in some games a little bit more ruthlessness would have seen us take all three points. Our signings have all (to varying degrees) been a success so far, to the point where the only negative around any of them is that André Gomes isn't officially ours.
Impressively, and unlike his most recent predecessors, Silva seems to have actually coached some players. Keane has improved dramatically, Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks better with every game and Sigurdsson looks far more like the talisman we thought we were signing.
Yes, there are caveats. The heartbreak of the derby seemed to leave us with a hangover that had shades of last year's mental fragility. We have still conceded silly goals. I think Coleman can get back some of what he lost but whether his buccaneering style can be accommodated with our new way of playing is another matter. We crave more goals but the lack of alternatives on the market mean that I think we should persist with what we have at the top end of the pitch. And there is still some deadwood to be moved on (although Brands seems to be on top of things in that department).
All in all, this is the season I expected. One of transition, of bumps in the road with - hopefully - some happy memories to savour. A run in the cup and some more consistency wouldn't go amiss but I think Silva and Brands will be judged far more next season.
COYB and a Happy New Year to Evertonians near and far!
4 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:09:58
Talking of stable, say a few prayers for the mighty Getaway Trump (I own 0.06% of him!), running in the Challow Hurdle tomorrow. Won his last two, stepping up in grade, very exciting!
5 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:15:45
Then I read posts like the one above and I think the complete opposite.
I'd agree with almost everything you said above except the bit about 'the games against the top six'. Spurs aside, if you said results against the top six you'd be right. Our performances and attitude have been way better against them than in previous seasons.
We've missed chances (didn't create them previously), had some terrible decisions, bad luck and our own poor decisions to blame for the low points return.
Plenty of reasons to be optimistic, let's hope we're partying at Wembley in May :)
6 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:19:55
7 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:22:54
I hope the team gets more belief and steel and elliminates the kamikaze, and suicide passes and slumberland support and cover defensive duties weve seen against a City and Spurs.
On recall in other games when we were lucky as Huddersfield, Watford, The Barcodes and Soton could easily have been home reverses.
Im happy in that the philosophy has changed but its something haunting, the mental collapse we saw v Spurs.
I hope and hope we turn over a top 6 so called team, next time around and go for the kill from the first minute and dont stop. The first big win, could unhinge further belief and potential and would be BAU for this squad.
To do that consistently we need a very good squad and I still see at least 4 and possibly 6 new players needed across attack, midfield and defence.
Lets see how we trade next summer, hopefully well have won the FA Cup, are in Europe, and have some pulling power for top players.
That would be something.
8 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:24:06
The right back issue has to be addressed and we will then be fit for purpose.
9 Posted 28/12/2018 at 18:28:33
11 Posted 28/12/2018 at 19:29:20
Dave #8, I'd bet anything that Gana isn't going to be "replaced" at all. He's been our player of the season in my view (with Digne a close second), and his absence against Spurs was a major contributor to that disaster.
This side doesn't keep the ball very well, and without someone to get it back when we lose it, we're extremely vulnerable to counters. And Gana is the ball-winner supreme – until missing the last two games, he led not only the Premier League but all of Europe's top leagues in both tackles and forced turnovers.
Sure, he doesn't contribute much in attack, but he performs a task nobody else in the side can accomplish, and he does it better than anybody in the world at this moment.
12 Posted 28/12/2018 at 20:00:42
13 Posted 28/12/2018 at 20:23:45
Anyway, as we are now, he is vital, as I'm sure Marcel will testify and he will get players in – despite him saying otherwise in recent echo interview.
Coyb and the Chas n Dave crew, lol 😂
14 Posted 28/12/2018 at 20:45:10
The balance has been there, fleetingly with combinations starting to look like they might blossom.
The left side and the centre-backs look settled and the midfield too. Although I believe Gana is a placeholder until someone with his skill set and more comes along.
I think perseverance with Calvert-Lewin will bear fruit and we can leave a new centre-forward for the summer.
Maybe another central midfielder might be the better signing, or another right-back? That's the genuine area of concern, too little production from that side and teams looking to go at that flank as they perceive it weak.
The next 3/4 weeks will tell us a lot. Springboard for a decent shot at the top six or just another mediocre season to forget.
The imports have been a success, all first-team players and whilst not firing on all cylinders have shown why they were bought and definitely better than what we had. Progress.
15 Posted 28/12/2018 at 20:55:00
I just want us to find that scorer and the imposing tackler/passer in midfield.
16 Posted 28/12/2018 at 21:13:50
17 Posted 28/12/2018 at 21:15:03
18 Posted 28/12/2018 at 21:54:10
19 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:13:09
While I have nevertheless supported him, he certainly has given us a diversity of displays, team selections and of course results. It is only early days though and, as frustrating as some of the performances have been, he should be given time to learn from his mistakes.
Let's just hope the result and improved play at Burnley may just kick-start our season, and put those unacceptable results aside as a thing of the past.
20 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:21:02
I really don't know of any talented player in any of the alleged top six teams that exudes the sheer cussedness that was welcome in the likes of Peter Reid and Roy Keane (and Alan Ball going back to my youth). Are there any such talented die-hards these days in what to me is disturbingly becoming a virtual non-contact sport?
21 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:27:09
I will be very happy if we can keep him, and cant imagine that we could currently sign a player who could combine all his qualities yet add faultless passing skills.
22 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:31:20
Interesting that we have suffered in Gana's absence and that City have struggled without Fernandinho. The nearest we got was when we missed out on Sissoko, who has impressed recently at Spurs. I could see why Koeman wanted him.
What I loved about the Chelsea performance was the cussedness, the commitment. Some of that every game would do for me. The bitter reactions of some Chelsea fans on Twitter was wonderful. That was the day when I thought this side had something.
23 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:32:05
If Gana is fit, Id expect to see a return to 4-2-3-1. The Burnley threat was one dimensional. Brighton offer good width and a much better central midfield.
A bonus is Ryan the keeper is off to the Asia cup and well have a newbie to shoot at.
If Everton can play at tempo, with good ball pace, we will win.
24 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:36:46
25 Posted 28/12/2018 at 22:49:39
The midfield just doesn't measure up to the better teams and sometimes struggles against similar teams who seem to show more aggressiveness and intensity if nothing else.
Gomes is a plus but the others including Gana are weak.
If Macca can return and do his best work that will improve things no end but the overall solidity that is needed is rarely seen.
Despite the five at Turf Moor, the goals situation is not good. If Richarlison gets crocked, they are in real trouble because Calvert-Lewin, Walcott and Tosun have not shown much so far.
It may well be that the second half of the season will be similar to the first half unless the team is strengthened now.
26 Posted 29/12/2018 at 00:15:10
Dave #17, as Peter says there's simply no such player, at least not remotely in our price range. The player you're describing is Kante or Busquets, maybe Casemiro, Khedira, one or two others in Serie A. Nobody we could aspire to.
And none of these, brilliant as they are, can defensively match the player Tom Bowers #25 derides as "weak". Ah, well, it's always nice to see a post from another planet.
27 Posted 28/12/2018 at 00:48:53
How's this as a yardstick for our other 10 players: "Are they as good at their job as Gueye is at his?"
Mine: Sigurdsson in the #10 role; Digne at left-back.... Not to mention, those two benefiting from having Gana in the side.
Who else in our team measures up to his standard?
Idrissa is one of the best players around. We have him. I'm glad.
28 Posted 29/12/2018 at 09:11:20
He does what he needs to, the other players need him to as well as he covers for half of the team!
Agree with Pauls assessment, cautiously optimistic
29 Posted 29/12/2018 at 12:17:52
some VERY smart opposition there. If you can win this one you need to think about getting measured for that suit mate.
Rooting for you
30 Posted 29/12/2018 at 13:40:37
31 Posted 29/12/2018 at 14:00:46
32 Posted 29/12/2018 at 14:24:10
33 Posted 31/12/2018 at 05:13:08
Clear out Ramirez, Mirallas, Niasse, Schneiderlin.
I would try Gomes as a roaming No 10 supported by Bernard more central with Gueye as the defensive-Bernard replaced by McCarthy if we need more metal or swop Bernard with Gomes going deeper if needed.
Build around Gomes not Sigurdsson – Gomes has 2 feet and can pass forward better; too many poor final balls from Sigurdsson. Play him as Gomes's cover or maybe on the right in place of Walcott.
We need more metal in the middle and better ball players. Gomes is our best bet and best midfielder since Gravesen... sign him now and break the bank, Mr Moshiri!!!
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