Ever Deeper Away-Day Blues

Not for the first time in recent years, the root of Everton's ills lies in a void of a midfield that is cripplingly short on options and continues to be let down by one of its most high-profile signings.

Lyndon Lloyd 19/02/2022 83comments  |  Jump to last

With the first real opportunity he got, Carlo Ancelotti moved to address what he had diagnosed was Everton’s biggest problem in 2019-20 — namely a void of a midfield that was critically undermining the team’s ability to win matches. It didn’t take one of the game’s most decorated coaches to figure the issue out — the middle of the pitch is fundamental to a team’s effectiveness going forward and in terms of defence and Evertonians had long been aware of the shortcomings of a side that was depressingly one-paced and lacked genuine dynamism in that department.

So it was pleasing when Addoulaye Doucouré, Allan and James Rodriguez were all signed during the summer transfer window of 2020 and the early results appeared to signal a night-and-day shift in the Blues’ posture. That was until all three new signings spent spells on the sidelines with injury, Jean-Philippe Gbamin suffered relapse after relapse and those left still standing represented a continuation of the very problems Ancelotti had been trying to resolve.

Gylfi Sigurdsson may not have kicked a ball this season, Gbamin looks likely to join the ranks of expensive Goodison flops, Tom Davies may never reach the heights hoped but André Gomes may be the most crushing disappointment of them all. A potential future star for his country when he made a high-profile, big money move from Valencia to Barcelona, the Portuguese’s career has been in decline ever since.

His star turn against Brentford in the FA Cup a fortnight ago offered hope that he might be able to seize an opportunity for redemption under a new manager but, instead, his maddening inconsistency remains the salient feature of his continued membership of Everton’s squad. It’s unfortunate, because with Allan as the only other fit central midfielder at the club apart from Donny van de Beek, the Blues really need him, today more so than ever.

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At St Mary’s, Frank Lampard felt compelled to withdraw Allan at half-time after picking up a booking with less than 15 minutes gone. With the match in the balance at 0-0, the manager didn’t want to run the risk of the Brazilian picking up a second yellow and turned to Gomes for the second half.

Unfortunately, the substitute had only been on the field for eight minutes when he dithered on an admittedly poor pass from Michael Keane, was robbed of possession in a dangerous area and within seconds, Southampton had scored the first of the two goals they would score on what was another chastening away day for Everton.

It provided the starkest of contrasts from a week ago when Lampard’s men comprehensively dismantled Leeds and it leaves the team back in the doldrums and uncomfortably close to the bottom of the table as they prepare for the visit of champions Manchester City next Saturday.

And yet for 15 minutes, it looked for all the world as Lampard had helped them turn the corner. Vibrant and purposeful, Everton took control of this match from the kick-off against one of the Premier League’s form teams and might have been ahead inside five minutes.

Richarlison will rue a vital moment with less than 90 seconds gone when the ball broke to him off Seamus Coleman around 12 yards out but the bobbled off his foot before he could rap it goal-wards.

Two minutes later, Everton’s players were baying for what looked to be a nailed-on penalty when Oriol Romeu clearly handled a cross from the right but in waving play on, referee Andy Madley put the onus on Video Assistant Referee, Andre Marriner, to prove he had made a clear and obvious error in regard to the ever-shifting regulations around handball and the latter went with the status quo.

Still, the visitors retained the upper hand even if the way they were opened up in the sixth minute that required Jordan Pickford to save from Armando Broja was a portent of what was to come through what would become a black hole of an Everton midfield in the second period.

The game changed irrevocably when Allan was booked for another of his needless lunges. This one caught Kyle Walker-Peters near the halfway line and the Brazilian was left walking that tightrope on a yellow card until he was hooked at the break. Everton never recovered their composure and by the end only Pickford and Richarlison could claim to have come away with any credit from another demoralising defeat.

So impressive last weekend, Van de Beek struggled to consistently find a blue shirt, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ineffectively and anonymous without service in the box, Anthony Gordon had a day to forget and there was to be no repeat of the superb outings from Jonjoe Kenny and Seamus Coleman down the flanks.

Instead, a succession of opportunities followed for Southampton, the first coming when Allan barged Armstrong over just outside the box and Pickford palmed James Ward-Prowse's free-kick behind superbly before comfortably saving from Mohamed Elyounoussi in the 26th minute.

Six minutes later, Ward-Prowse delivered a low cross into the six-yard box that Tino Livramento touched on from close range but Pickford made an excellent reaction save to keep it out. A minute after that, Broja was in on goal again but Pickford was equal to his attempt to fire the ball across him and the striker had one more chance shortly afterwards when he sold Kenny and cut back inside but Michael Keane charged his effort down.

Walker-Peters went closer to anyone to finding the net in the first period when he grazed the outside of the post with a low drive while Everton had evaporated as an attacking force by the time the referee blew the whistle for half-time.

Gomes's introduction for Allan installed in defensive midfield a player who has repeatedly proved to be a liability in that role and so it proved in the 53rd minute after Everton had had the ball in the net but seen the goal chalked off for a clear offside against Richarlison.

Keane put Gomes into trouble with a highly questionable short pass but the Portuguese mis-controlled it, was pitifully slow in trying to reclaim and was clattered off the ball which was worked across the box by Adams to Armstrong to then place a low shot inside the post and beyond Pickford's despairing dive.

Alex Iwobi, who had started brightly but, like his team-mates, faded badly, had a chance to test Frazer Forster in the Saints' goal almost immediately but elected not to shoot and the move ended with Gomes slicing awkwardly off target from 20-odd yards out.

Ward-Prowse and Che Adams almost combined three minutes later when the former chipped a ball over the top but the striker couldn't get enough on it to guide it past Pickford before Armstrong fired a shot narrowly over the bar and Elynoussi somehow headed over at the far post with the goal at his mercy from another Ward-Prowse free-kick.

Lampard threw Andros Townsend on for Iwobi and then Dele Alli for Anthony Gordon but it was Southampton who looked the more likely to score next. Walker-Peters had another shot that took a nick off Mason Holgate's heel but Pickford was able to gather and the full-back then burned Seamus Coleman before testing the England keeper again 12 minutes from time.

Then, after Broja had despatched the ball across the face of goal and then been replaced by Shane Long, the substitute popped up to jump higher than Coleman to meet a deep cross from the right and plant a header back across goal and inside the post to wrap things up for Ralph Hasenüttl's men. Naturally, it was the Irish international’s first goal in two years.

Lampard lamented his team’s inconsistency after the game, a trait that has dogged them for a long time and to a debilitating degree this season, but the root of the team’s ills lies in that midfield which desperately needs the return of Doucouré’s legs and power.

Without the extra option he offers, the Blues are gallingly open, vulnerable defensively and it’s been made abundantly clear that the manager cannot rely on Gomes – at least not away from home and especially not in any kind of defensive holding role. With Gbamin out of favour, it leads one to the conclusion that despite his tender years and inexperience, Tyler Onyango surely cannot be any worse.

This result and display will have given the new boss yet more to chew over as he tries to fashion a winning side out of what he inherited from Rafael Benitez but he will hopefully have learned that Everton’s parlous position now requires team selections based on players’ natural positions and that an excellent display one week is no guarantee of a repeat display next. Lampard needs to put his strongest team out for every League match now until safety is assured.

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Reader Comments (83)

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Dave Evans
1 Posted 20/02/2022 at 07:22:05
To counter the collapse to fragility of our players, 4-5-1 would be better away from home. Play close, play tight and, if need be, bore the crap out of everyone.

I'm not one to knee-jerk but I am starting to worry. Recent history has seen the players' away mental angsts come rolling back to Goodison.

As fans and lifers, it's our club. We have to try to stop it happening.

James Kirrane
2 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:20:02
Agree Dave. That really was embarrassing. The inability of our players to do the simple things.

Gomes has had his chances. Yesterday he was woeful. Gives the ball away far too often and gives away far too many needless fouls. Very unprofessional.

Iwobi is a headless chicken, despite his decent performance last week. He has had his chances and failed miserably.

Hopefully Gray and Doucouré will hit the ground running next week when they return.

Duncan McDine
3 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:36:21
I will judge Lampard on what he does with Gomes. At the game, we could see Townsend giving the manager's instructions to Gomes when he came on. Lampard also called Gomes over and had a long talk to him during a stop in play.

Unfortunately, neither instruction had any kind of positive impact on his attitude, stinking body language or play. The guy is a liability and I don't want to see him play for us again.

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:38:39
It really sinks in just how bad we are when you look at the Premier League table and you see Everton just 5 points from bottom! We are in February and that's how perilous our situation is this season.

Next up, we have a wounded Manchester City, a team that usually just swat us aside.

Then we have Tottenham away, a fixture we historically don't normally do well in.

Followed by two more huge home games against a teak-tough Wolves team and a resurgent Newcastle side on another potentially monumental night at Goodison on Thursday, 17 March.

Four games that will define whether or not we go into those remaining weeks of the season fighting to avoid relegation.

John Cook
5 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:41:57
"Marcelo Bielsa, 66, is set to walk away from the club in the summer after saying it is impossible to compete in the Premier League without total commitment. (Mirror)"

Says it all really.

James Lauwervine
6 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:47:51
Embarrassing is right, James, exactly what I thought as the game went on. You could feel the resignation amongst our supporters and the second half was about as bad as it's possible for a team to play.

We gave the ball away so many times and no-one in a blue shirt had an even half decent game. Every defensive header seemed to go straight to a Southampton player.

I was going to have a go at writing a match report as I don't often get to a game, but – like the players yesterday – I really can't be arsed.

David Bromwell
7 Posted 20/02/2022 at 08:59:00
Welcome to our world, Mr Lampard; you have now seen the good, bad and ugly in your short time with us. The problem, as we are all too well aware, is we desperately need points and yesterday was an obvious complete failure by the players on the pitch, your initial team selection and your substitutions.

We all know our defence is fragile at best and for away games; against an in-form team, surely we should be set up differently? Yesterday's two-man midfield and four forwards was asking for trouble and the change at half-time simply made things worse.

In our current predicament, we simply cannot afford to lose matches... and points – however we can get them – are essential. Time I think to make us hard to play against; it may not be pretty but, in the circumstances, we have no choice.

Bill Fairfield
8 Posted 20/02/2022 at 09:01:51
That second half performance was the total opposite to the Leeds game. There was no fight and no heart once we went a goal down.

This relegation battle is going to the wire. Very worrying times.

Mike Allison
9 Posted 20/02/2022 at 09:42:22
Southampton's first goal yesterday was a foul on Gomes. Armstrong runs in, clatters him over, and never gets near the ball. The ref waves play on and the MotD commentator praised him for playing an ‘advantage'!

Not sure what my excuses are for the other seven chances Southampton should have scored from though.

Dave Bowen
10 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:11:39
Mike @ #9.

My thoughts exactly. I couldn't work out why it was advantage Southampton, when Gomes didn't foul anyone and, if anything, was fouled himself. Baffling.

Barry Hesketh
11 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:14:58
Mike @9,

I've just had a look at the build-up for the first goal, I can see what you mean; however, Gomes had already tried and failed to pass the ball before he was clattered. Maybe there is a slight case for a foul, but not an obvious one.

More salient is why did Van de Beek move the ball backwards when he could have made a simple pass inside to Coleman?

The more important decision was the 'handball' call in the opening minutes, what is the actual rule for handball in the area because anywhere else on the pitch it's a free-kick to Everton. The fact that both the official and VAR ruled it legal beggars belief.

Jim Bennings
12 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:41:28
For the first goal yesterday, Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford probably need to look at themselves as well as Gomes.

Keane has played with Gomes for 4 years, he should know his strengths and weaknesses, his inability to be a speedy thinker.

Keane played a hospital ball in to Gomes.

Pickford will be equally as disappointed that the shot crept in on the near post, shouldn't really be going in, that.

Steve Hopkins
13 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:48:12
Not sure if anyone else noticed this but, when Southampton had a free-kick late on and the ball was bobbling off the pitch to advertising boards, Holgate – who was no more than 10 yards away, just turned around and walked away and left it but Townsend sprinted probably three times the distance to give it to Southampton to get on with the game.

To me, that shows the difference in mentality between the serial losers who make up most of our team and those that have come in and know what it takes to win or, in yesterday's example, to try and salvage a draw. I've never been a massive fan of Townsend's but I'd take a team of 11 Townsends compared to the weak, cowardly majority like Gomes, Iwobi and Holgate.

Barry Rathbone
14 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:50:00
Steve @13,

Good spot and I totally agree.

Jim Bennings
15 Posted 20/02/2022 at 10:55:21
Steve @13 and Barry @14

That's the problem with Everton though and standards. The fact that we had Mason Holgate and Michael Keane in the team in 2017 under Sam Allardyce yet we are still pulling them out now in 2022 expecting different expectations says it all.

We have seemed happy accepting mediocrity. What are the odds that next season we are still starting with roughly that same central defence?

Barry Hesketh
16 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:01:44
Surely Everton's fixture list is a joke? Newcastle at home on Thursday 17 March, followed by a trip to Watford on Saturday 19 March? What a challenge that would be in normal circumstances, with this current lot, an excuse ready for the taking?

Although, if Everton manage to overcome Boreham Wood, they will be playing a 6th Round FA Cup tie rather than travelling to Watford.

Rob Halligan
17 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:07:34
During the half-time interval, I watched Gomes “warming up” with one of the coaches. It was for almost the entire 15 minutes, and it must have clearly worn Gomes out.

The coach was playing a ball into Gomes's feet and he passed it back. He would then twist and turn and do light jogging, but nothing too strenuous. There just seemed to be no effort at all by Gomes, and the effort he put in during the second half was the same as he put in during the break.

I'm reading reports that Gbamin could be sent out on loan to CSKA Moscow, as the Russian transfer window is open until 22 February. Maybe keep Gbamin and send Gomes instead???

Dennis Stevens
18 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:15:21
5 players brought in during January, and we're seeing very little of them so far, but nobody brought in to address the one glaring problem in our midfield. Oh, for a Carsley or Gueye clone!
Christine Foster
19 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:17:32
Rob @17,

Buy one, get one free?

But that's not all! You get 2 defenders of your choice absolutely free! We will even deliver to a place of your choosing, absolutely free!

Hurry – this offer will end soon!

Rob Halligan
20 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:18:12
Steve #13,

I did not notice that, but there was another incident not far from us, where we had I think a throw-in. The ball was lodged against the advertising board, and a ball boy just sat there without fetching the ball. Obviously all ball boys are told not to fetch the ball for the opposition at Southampton.

Rob Halligan
21 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:24:53
Christine, BOGOF!!… That's not an insult, that's the offer!
Tony Everan
22 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:27:56
James #6. A good observation.

‘Every defensive header seemed to go straight to a Southampton player'

I couldn't believe what I was seeing with regard to this. I have never seen so many defensive headers go directly to a perfectly placed opposition midfielder, in space and ready to attack us. Maybe it was also symptomatic of our 4-4-2 set-up yesterday.

This failing is just a small part of it all, but nevertheless, still needs addressing urgently. Our coaches have to be all over it. You tell me what to do about it: Get more strength in the clearing header? Head out of play? Head to a blue shirt if possible?

Christine Foster
23 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:29:26
Replace the complete back line. Drop them all. Play 4 at the back and not one I'd allow to cross the half-way line.

Play 3 in midfield: two defensive, one creative, and two wide / anywhere attackers with a striker up front...

Bring in a couple of kids with legs and ambition. Two advantages of this: they have no playback so the opposition will not have a form book to use to nullify; and secondly, they have hunger.

Jimmy Hogan
24 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:51:45
It didn't take long for Van de Beek to learn how to become an Everton player...
James Lauwervine
25 Posted 20/02/2022 at 11:56:38
Any of those three options would be better, Tony. You'd forgive one or two, but it happened pretty much every time. Holgate was the worst culprit.

As I said before, I don't get to many games so I didn't realise how bad Gomes can play until yesterday. His positioning, control, awareness and tackling were all absolutely awful.

Clive Rogers
26 Posted 20/02/2022 at 12:03:57
A shocking and very worrying performance. Not one of the outfield players had what you could call even a decent performance.

Calvert-Lewin's form is very worrying. He seems to be ambling about aimlessly and hasn't had a shot or a header on goal in five games.

Kenny showed why he hasn't made the grade yesterday, he was really poor. Every Holgate long ball and header went to them.

I can only see us picking up a maximum of 6 points from our remaining games. Relegation is becoming a probability.

Brian Harrison
27 Posted 20/02/2022 at 12:10:51
Christine @23,

So if we drop the whole back 4,I presume you play Patterson at right-back, a player even the manager who bought him didn't play him. Duncan didn't have him in his squad and Lampard hasn't chosen to come on or start a game. So what have you seen that would make him your first choice right-back?

I presume you would play Mykolenko at left-back but, seeing you have dropped the whole back 4, who partners Branthwaite at the back, seeing Godfrey isn't yet fit to start a game?

I think you are also suggesting we revert to what Carlo had us playing with us defending deep and seeing what we could pinch on the break. That might be what Frank has to adopt, but Carlo was vilified by many on here for playing the way you suggest.

Me, I think Frank might have to curb his natural attacking instincts and go with this formula away, but I don't think it's how he wants us to play.

Derek Cowell
28 Posted 20/02/2022 at 12:25:40
I just cannot believe how bad some (all?) of our players are! I know I should be able to believe it because in the main they are the same players who have been failing us for years! Still, only a wounded Man City up next. What the score will be is anyone's guess.

Negative? No, very realistic!

Another thing. How can the club increase season ticket prices when they cannot be sure which league they will be playing in next season? Will there be refunds if we go down?

Rob Halligan
29 Posted 20/02/2022 at 12:36:41
Christine, whatever else happens regarding the back four, Mykolenko simply has to start from now on. Kenny is simply not a left-back, and cannot use his left foot.

He tried to play a pass down the line yesterday, near to the touch line, but he used the outside of his right foot and the ball simply went out of play. A natural left footed full-back would have used the inside of his foot to curl the ball infield.

Geoff Williams
30 Posted 20/02/2022 at 12:42:55
Haven't seen the match and have no intention of doing so either but I followed the comments on TW. It has been obvious for some time that Everton need to play three players in central midfield, we simply don't have the players capable of playing in a two against half-decent opposition.

Everyone seems to have been taken in by Iwobi's performance last week but what is consistent about him is his inconsistency. He cannot string together two good games in a row... in fact, he struggles to play well in consecutive 45-minute halves.

Calvert-Lewin doesn't have the ability to live off scraps. The centre of the defence regularly seems under pressure and forced into making mistakes. An ineffective attack and an iffy defence is due to the failure to control midfield and, unless Lampard realises this, then relegation is on the cards.

Nigel Munford
31 Posted 20/02/2022 at 13:26:12
At least we aren't calling for Frank's head!!!
Dale Self
32 Posted 20/02/2022 at 13:37:09
Time's up, Frank out! We can still get Pulis.
David Hallwood
33 Posted 20/02/2022 at 16:13:28
I don't know about Frank's head, but he mightn't have any hair left by May.

What's he seen so far? 4 games – all against teams in the bottom half of the Premier League; two at home W2 F7 A1, two away L2 F1 A5... sort that one out, Frank!

I still believe that we'll be okay – just, but surely come May, there needs to be a clear out. I know it's easier said that done, because you need buyers, and let's be honest, who is going to buy Gomes or Holgate?

But I'm hoping that 8-10 players never pull a blue shirt on again, and I can't recall in my time supporting this club that I've felt this way.

Tony Hill
34 Posted 20/02/2022 at 17:00:15
Yes, the manager and his team need our backing just as much as the players do. They must feel that we trust them and we must let them know that. I think we all do trust Frank and his people, so it isn't a hard ask. There must be no cracks in our unity now, none at all. We all understand the job this manager has to undertake.

This really is a circle-the-wagons moment. I know it's tough and I'm one of those who fires off angry stuff post-match, but the stakes have never been higher. I'm damned if we're going to be out-supported by the likes of Leicester, Palace and the Geordie Apes.

Mike Oates
35 Posted 20/02/2022 at 17:31:32
Until we've got a decent centre-midfield with a true leader in there dictating things, demanding players play to a required level, demanding we play through the channels etc, then we are going to struggle.

Our current lot – Allan, Gomes, Davies – aren't good enough, they all lack pace, lack presence, lack any leadership qualities. Van de Beek might have more but he's no leader either. Doucouré is a cut above the rest and has pace, has quality but isn't a true ball winner or leader.

Until we sort that area, then our defence will crumble under any form of pressure and they can't as expected play the ball out from the back on the deck through the lines. You may have noticed yesterday how many times Pickford just hoofed it upfield, with no one showing at all for the ball, not even Van de Beek, no leader forcing this issue, a complete and utter dereliction of Lampard's game plan.

We haven't got the leader at the moment and we desperately need to bolster the centre area with 3 players, god knows who, but definitely, 3 as we haven't got a twosome with any quality.

If we get through this season, and that's not a given at all, then Lampard's got a huge overhaul, I'd guess at least 6-8 out and 6-8 in, defenders, midfielders and probably upfront as can't see Calvert-Lewin or Richarlison staying and living off scraps.

Derek Moore
36 Posted 20/02/2022 at 19:26:20
What a difference a day makes.

With only the four in the middle, Southampton just used the width of the pitch to drag us narrow and then move it wide to open up channels for runners and advance the ball, and it carved us up time after time.

Yet it seemed at round 30-odd minutes until the end of the first half that the adjustment had been made and we looked a little more sound. That we had learned to at least occupy the vacated space – to at least not allow the easy cutback to let Southampton easily hold and recycle the ball.

Then Gomes was introduced for the second half, neither capable of commanding space nor with the movement to track ball runners or win the ball. From that moment on, they ran through, behind and between our lines almost at will.

Gomes looked spent after about 20 minutes. At times, the Saints knew our patterns before we did, just moving us around the pitch to maneuver wave after wave of attack. Chances and goals were an inevitability; and they came. And the game was gone.

They were well worth the victory; anything less than 3 points to the home team would have been a gross injustice.

We were outmanaged and outplayed in that one. The first half clean sheet represented some progress - first consecutive Premier League first-half clean sheets since September 26! – but the battering we took makes it look like a statistical oddity more than anything else.

The Allan slide tackle yellow came more or less because we were getting blitzed through the middle of the park with a torrent of runners overloading the two in there. When we would narrow, the quick switch and drive from the wing would come, using our formation against us again and again. Because we'd just get narrow again on the other side of the pitch and create the same problem ad infinitum. We lacked the means to adequately disrupt the ball.

With the ball, passages seemed decent enough, but it just always seemed as if we didn't really care as much as the home team to look for easy possession. Rather than take an intelligent angle to create a return ball or a new chain of possession, there were a number of low-percentage attempts to break the Saints lines, and they were dealt with quite easily.

None if it was very good in truth. Injuries play their part of course, but Lampard will need to do better with what he's got before anything else. Understanding that Gomes in a central 2 in the Premier League 2022 is not going to work isn't a difficult concept to grasp - and I'm sure Mr Lampard has well and truly learned from it - but it isn't really the entire issue. Why did anyone think that would work? – is the greater question for me.

The table has tightened up considerably: only 10 points separate 11th from bottom. A few positive results will ease tensions quickly, but it's achieving them that appears right now to be an issue.

Shane Corcoran
37 Posted 20/02/2022 at 19:32:05
Barry #16, the Watford game is likely to be replaced by an FA Cup QF.

Barry Hesketh
38 Posted 20/02/2022 at 20:03:16
Shane @37,

I did mention that in my original post.

Jack Convery
39 Posted 21/02/2022 at 04:13:01
Until we can get Doucoure back, to give us the chance of a 3 man midfield, I reckon we should try playing Holgate as a DM away from home. I have been looking through his stats and it appears he has played that position 4 times for us. On each occasion the match ended up in a draw. Two of which were scoreless. The last outing we ended up losing on penalties in a LCup Q/F, against Leicester. The 3 EPL games were Brighton 0-0, Spurs 0-0 and Man U 1-1.

Given our midfield is constantly being over run, an extra pair of legs and defensive ones at that, plus pace, can't be any worse, than what we witnessed at Newcastle and Southampton can it. It would allow Allan to press the ball, without worrying what was going on behind him. It would also mean, once Doucoure was back that we have 4 midfielders, De Beek, Doucoure, Allan and if it went well, Holgate, fighting for 3 positions. Competition for places never did any team any harm and it might do EFCs midfield some good.

I have discounted Gomes, Gbamin and Delph because they obviously cannot be relied on. Davies, also because he's out for the season. I would use Ali or Onyango as a sub before any of these players. For me Deli Ali is a cross between an attacking midfielder and a second striker and so far looks far from match fitness.

Robert Tressell
40 Posted 21/02/2022 at 07:12:28
Makes sense to me, Jack @ 39.

A more solid base of Allan and Holgate would mean the likes of Alli and Van de Beek are then operating in roles which play to their strengths.

Had Godfrey been fit, he'd have been an option as a temporary measure.

Onyango has been mentioned too and whilst I think he probably offers something, he's very inexperienced. So Holgate is probably our best bet until we can recruit a specialist for this position.

Tony Everan
41 Posted 21/02/2022 at 08:00:37
Jack 39, Robert.

Using Mason Holgate as a central defensive midfielder is a big concern, (Mike G flushes purple at the mention of it) I can understand his reticence too.

However, the whole idea of it is ‘what's the alternative?' and Is that any better? At the moment, we have a 31-year-old Allan trying to do keep the midfield tight and break up play by himself. He can't be expected to do it in a 2 with the slow, hapless, Gomes or even the promising, attack-minded Van de Beek.

This issue of having more tenacity in midfield is not just an away issue either. Any team who rigorously presses us at home too will make us spill the ball, offer chances, and make us revert to hoofball.

Mason Holgate said last week in an interview that his drop in form was due to him being constantly shifted from his favoured centre-back position. It doesn't bode well him being shifted once more to central defensive midfield. Until Doucouré is fit, though, I see this shift as the least worse option. Holgate operating with Allan and Van de Beek given free license to support the attack from an advanced midfield position.

Far from perfect, but it temporarily gives us some more solidity and physicality where it's needed, until Doucoure can do the role.

Still on the subject of the central defensive midfield issue, is Doucoure's role for the club going forward.

He has said diplomatically to Benitez few months ago that he craves to be used as the attacking central midfielder. I think he feels trapped being used in a more defensive role. I completely agree with him; I think he is a top-class midfielder who we need to be allowed to support attacks, to exploit his strengths. We have tragically not used Doucouré to best effect.

So, in the summer, we really have to be thinking about the structure of our central midfield and the players we need to sign to complement the ones we have got. Mainly getting in two tough, mobile, physical, ball-winning fighters (who can pass the ball too).

Only when we do that will the likes of Doucouré and Van de Beek truly flourish.

Robert Tressell
42 Posted 21/02/2022 at 08:50:22
That's captured it for me, Tony.

Allan cannot do it all on his own and the only centre-midfield players fit enough to help him are Gomes (absolutely hopeless) and Van de Beek (not good at all in this role).

Holgate would effectively become the sweeper in front of the defence rather than centre-back. It seems to play well to his skill set too.

I agree with Mike G that this is not ideal – but, as you say, what is the alternative?

All I can see is that our two-man set up of Allan + AN Other is costing us games because it cannot shield the defence, cannot gain a decent share of possession, and cannot support the attack.

Jerome Shields
43 Posted 21/02/2022 at 09:38:33
Whilst midfield is a problem and Gomes's failings are obvious, there are three other problems: defenders who stay deep, a forward line that can be ignored by opposition teams who push their defensive line, and a fitness preparation regime that is not up to Premier League standard.

When pressed by a fitter team, many Everton players are not up to it, with nose-diving technical ability as a result. So the problem, though obviously midfield, is compounded by other factors.

It is not the first time we have seen such a performance; we can all recall verbatim numerous similar performances. Frank has got sucked into the shining facilities of Finch Farm with a ring-fenced additional budget over this past 2 years.

Medical Services and the School of Science look impressive and up-to-date, but the truth is that they belong to a bygone age, as all the other teams in the Premier League have adopted the more modern approach of high performance.

Many of the players signed suited the old regime, with its bloated squad and rest and recovery methods. They were the justification for continuation of a bygone age structure.

Now, Everton can simply not afford it, having wasted Moshiri's largesse in trying to maintain such structures. Moshiri directly controls funds and wants the club financially in line with other clubs. It could be said he was forced by the authorities to do so.

So the money is not available and Everton have players and a regime preparing a team for Premier League fixtures that is not fit for purpose.

Everton are light-years away from having a team that could challenge for a Top 4 position, maintain cup runs and play in the Champions League in one season.

Frank will have to adapt the tactics of Ancelotti or Big Sam every second match and away from home to survive in the Premier League and then there will need to be changes from top to bottom at Everton to get off the mediocrity roundabout.

Good Luck, Frank – you are going to need it.

Lee Robinson
44 Posted 21/02/2022 at 11:01:06
I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's a case of the Emperor's clothes with Allan, Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. They all seem to escape criticism, especially Richarlison.

He stunk the place out again on Saturday: zero threat, poor touch, runs into blind alleys and constantly makes a poor or the wrong decision in the final third. That's without going into his goal/assist ratio.

Calvert-Lewin, if he doesn't get service 5 yards from goal, is non-existent, and Allan is so out of his depth in this league, he gets ran ragged every week.

All 3 need to go. I'm sure Frank will have worked it out already.

Mike Oates
45 Posted 21/02/2022 at 12:12:07
Where did it all go wrong vs Southampton? Well, I watched the game again last night and after 15 mins of being well in it, we then over the next 5 minutes gave the ball away 5 times, all just 5- to 10-yard passes, too short, too hard, or completely wayward.

First of all Coleman, then Gordon twice, Richarlison and Allan, most in Southampton's half, but within 10 seconds of receiving the ball given to them, they'd en masse, blitzed their way through our defence as there was no cover. Two or three of them led to a good chance or Pickford save.

After that, it was all Southampton; we were afraid to build up play, Pickford went long every time, and we didn't have the confidence to play through the lines. Even worse when Keane tried with his pass to Gomes which gave away the first goal. Mind you it started when Van de Beek chickened out, when he passed it back 20yds to Keane when he could have gone forward.

We haven't got the players with the quality to open up defences with quick interchanges, ability to spot the open man. This leads to giving the ball away whilst we have 6-7 players over-committed up front and a clear run for the opposition to test our shaky defence.

I think the relegation threat is going to be around for some time yet and we will need to beat the teams below us. I don't think we'll escape it other than by 2 or 3 points only.

Gary Jones
46 Posted 21/02/2022 at 12:16:27
Lee@44 - yeah, at a time when we need to win football matches, let's “run out” last season's 34-goal strike partners for being “shit”. Better still, let's also fuck off one of only two midfielders we have who can intercept and tackle. I'm sure we'll be all the better for it.

For fuck's sake, the site gets some strange comments sometimes. One thing to be pissed about where we are, another to blame the better players for it (who we've missed badly already).

Christopher Timmins
47 Posted 21/02/2022 at 13:22:04
With most contributors looking for a three-man midfield, can anyone see a scenario where Alli is one of the three or is it the case that one of the three up top will have to make way for him to start?

Stephen Williams
48 Posted 21/02/2022 at 13:23:08
Gary (46) spot on.

Evertonians truly embarrass me sometimes. Surely only we can lambast our better players and want them gone – I just don't get it.

I'm not suggesting that Richarlsion, Calvert-Lewin and Allan played particularly well, but there are far more that should be ushered away from the first 11 before them. For all his faults, Richarlison never stops giving effort; Calvert-Lewin has just come back from a really serious injury and I for one don't expect him to be back to his best before next season.

As for Allan, there's a reason why he appears to 'get run ragged' – he's doing the work of three players because the rest of the midfield just evaporates under any pressure. It's no coincidence that those slagging Allan now are those that slagged Gana a few years back and how we could do with that little fella now.

A combination of players running on zero confidence and getting no luck whatsoever is not a great combination. We'll need to pick up enough points at home to get us safe – and for that to happen, the fans will need to be four-square behind the team every game. I really hope that some on here don't go the games because we can do without their nonsense and negativity.

Steve Brown
49 Posted 21/02/2022 at 14:17:47
Lee @ 44, of all the players you could criticise in this squad and demand be sold, you choose Calvert-Lewin, Allan and Richarlison!

Brian Harrison
50 Posted 21/02/2022 at 14:45:55
I see Calvert-Lewin has been chosen to speak to the press on behalf of the players. He said he apologised to all our fans who travelled to the game, and he said he knew they didn't want to listen to the same excuses. Quite right – we hear the same platitudes after every away defeat: "Sorry we let you down..." blah, blah, blah.

Look, any team can lose a game to anyone in this Premier League, but what we can't accept is less than 100% commitment from players, and I have to say the biggest culprit on Saturday was Dominic himself.

I know he is coming back from injury after a long lay-off but that doesn't mean it should result in a lack of effort and very poor body language. Yes, after a lay-off, your first touch might be a bit off or you start to tire with 15 minutes to go, but not putting in the effort is unforgivable.

I just hope this was a one-off from Dominic and he will be much better on Saturday if selected, and not someone who is eyeing a move out of Everton at the end of the season and is more concerned not to pick up another injury that could put that move in jeopardy.

Lee Robinson
51 Posted 21/02/2022 at 14:55:19
Gary 46 & Stephen 48

Maybe my post came across as unnecessarily scathing towards some of our better players and the intention wasn't to wish to 'run them out'. It's just frustrating for me when I see the same limited players getting slated, week-in & week-out (Davies, Holgate, Coleman, Kenny etc), when players who we are relying on to carry us over the line are seriously lacking in quality too often. I would suggest only Gray and Gordon have turned up as a constant this season.

I agree with the point about Allan, Stephen, but we do really need to rely on these guys for quality where it matters, understanding a huge lack of confidence is running through the team. But all were very sloppy again in possession. Sheer effort and running isn't going to get us out of this, I'm afraid, with everyone around us putting runs together.

Not worth discussing now, I guess my overall point – although probably put across incorrectly – was, in the summer, it might be worth cashing in and using the money wisely for a re-build. They aren't as good as they or many think they are.

Brian Murray
52 Posted 21/02/2022 at 15:05:12

I can probably see where you're coming from as in our better players we rely on for goods times (see Bill Kenwright) are not all that. Still. it's all we have until Frank can make his mark on this squad, if we survive.

Stan Schofield
53 Posted 21/02/2022 at 15:07:45
None of our players needs to apologise to the supporters. All they need to do is to get over this mental problem that has been happening away from home for too long, involving a dropping of heads when adversity strikes in the form of injury or bad refereeing or both, like in the last two away games.

Hopefully Lampard, with his established winning mentality, can do something to sort this problem out, and introduce a ‘fuck you' attitude when opponents are trying to scythe our players down or referees are making patently biased decisions.

Too often in away games, we're trying to climb a muddy slope in playing against 11 players and a biased ref, and something has to be done about it. Perhaps Lampard can begin the process of stopping Everton being such an easy target for biased decisions, and make us more resistive to it, as some other teams are.

Mike Gaynes
54 Posted 21/02/2022 at 15:35:48
Tony #41 and Robert #42,

If we're going to play somebody out of position at central defensive midfield, it should be Andros Townsend. Right before we signed him, I read an article that ranked him as one of the most defensively efficient wingers in Europe, and he has shown that for us.

He can tackle without fouling, makes interceptions, and is positionally aware. He's naturally quicker than Allan. And unlike Holgate, he's a professional on the ball and won't commit horror giveaways 30 yards from his own goal.

Holgate is faster and a better tackler, but a central defensive midfielder must do more than win the ball -- he must distribute it properly. Townsend can. Holgate cannot.

Brian #50,

What would you have preferred him to say? Personally, I saw no lack of effort from him Saturday -- he was just woefully out of rhythm and, as usual, completely out of communication with his strike partner, who was even less effective than Dom was. But lazy? Eye on a move? Unfounded IMO.

Lee #51, I agree with you about Richarlison's performance on Saturday. However, your overall point is based on a huge, unfounded assumption... "using the money wisely for a re-build."

Not sure who you're counting on for that wisdom, but you cannot assume that the money from Dom and Rich will improve the squad overall. It certainly didn't happen with our last two large sales, Rooney and Lukaku. Nor has Moshiri's injection of cash produced a wave of quality.

Dom and Rich are both 24, have had injury problems this season, and for most of their careers have played without the support of a creative midfield. For all their many limitations, they seem to be more players to build around rather than sell off for uncertain profits and uncertain replacements.

Stan Schofield
55 Posted 21/02/2022 at 15:41:14
Mike, good post, spot on.
Lee Robinson
56 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:02:21
Agreed, Mike, good post.

Many on here including myself are all looking at possibilities of a 3-man midfield. Instead of the suggested Townsend and Holgate, how about trying Gordon there?

He's strong in the tackle, good at winning the ball and has a decent footballing brain to be able to pick the quick triangle passes Frank is looking for, plus can get up up the pitch when needed with his pace. We have plenty of options wide to cover his favoured position at the minute.

Gerry Quinn
57 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:07:53
Light-hearted comment, off-topic...pity this couldn't be Van Dijk against us come April!!!!!

New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore scored 3 own goals and was substituted before half-time in a heavy defeat by the United States at the SheBelieves Cup. Moore, who plays for Championship leaders Liverpool, scored twice at the wrong end in the first 6 minutes. Things then got worse for Moore when she poked another one past goalkeeper Erin Nayler before half-time.

Raymond Fox
58 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:23:54
To be honest, I didn't fancy us on Saturday and I wasn't suprised with the result.

I was disappointed with the performance… though it's been the same for years now: players not finding space and the man on the ball finds he cannot pass it forwards. It's basic stuff really, but they never seem to do it well.

Whether our three new players can make an improvement, we will have to see.

Pickford is sound at the moment, but the defence in front of him is playing moderately, probably because they are moderate players.

I think Godfrey is a good versatile player but Keane makes too many blunders and he is one player I will be pleased to see the back of. We will miss Digne, I fear.

Mike Gaynes
59 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:25:36
Lee #56, two hesitations on Gordon at DCM. One, he fouls a lot, which is harmless on the touchline 50 yards from goal but would be suicidal at the top of the arc. And two, he's defensively inexperienced, hasn't shown he can mark a man off the ball. But yes, he definitely has the composure on the ball and can make those critical passes.

Gerry #57, that's both humorous and heartbreaking... according to ESPN, that has happened exactly once before in the recorded history of the game. Imagine living with that memory for the next 60 years. And she's actually a top player with 50 caps.

Steavey Buckley
60 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:33:27
If there are 3 men in the middle, there's one less person. The other person is further up the field. It's the same with 3-5-2. There's an extra man in the middle but one less man at the back.

Whichever way you look at it, 4-4-2 formation is more compact with wider players playing more narrow when needed. So, when Van de Beek and Allan became overwhelmed, then Gordon and Iwobi should have helped them. Then the Everton full backs should have covered for them.

My personal view there is a communication problem going on with players not really aware what's going on around them. When Gomes was caught with the ball that led to Southampton's first goal, he had no-one to pass to because no Everton player near him made himself available.

Brian Harrison
62 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:35:36
Mike @54,

I might have misread your interpretation are you suggesting we play Townsend instead of Allan in central midfield. If that's what you are suggesting, then you want us to play him in a role that he has never played in for any of his previous clubs, against probably the best midfield in the Premier League on Saturday.

I fully appreciate that Dom is coming back from an injury and it will take him time to get back to full match fitness; I just thought he could have put himself about a bit more than he did on Saturday.

Lampard described Allan as a warrior and we don't have too many of those at the club at this time so I think Frank sees him as being a key figure in midfield. I would like to see Dele Alli and Doucouré partner Allan against Man City.

Let Allan sit in front of the back 4 and allow Dele Alli and Doucouré to join the attack when appropriate. Hopefully Gray will be fit to maybe start on the bench and come on in the 2nd half, as could Donny van de Beek.

Stan Schofield
63 Posted 21/02/2022 at 16:39:19
Raymond @58: Even if the three new players can make an improvement, based on past performance it's likely to be temporary.

Players come and go, but the Everton mentality problem away from home has been a constant. That's where we need to improve, imo, our general approach and mentality to games, in a way that becomes less dependent on the 12th man Goodison factor. It's in this respect where Lampard can hopefully make a difference.

There was nothing wrong with selecting, for the Southampton game, the team used in the Leeds game. The problem away from home is the inabiity to battle as at home, when things like refereeing are not going our way away from home.

Mike Gaynes
64 Posted 21/02/2022 at 17:13:30
Brian #62, no, no, absolutely not. I was suggesting Townsend as a partner for Allan in central midfield (if Doucouré isn't available), not a replacement. I think he would fill the role better than Holgate.

If Doucouré is healthy, obviously he's the top choice. But I have seen no confirmation that he will be able to play.

Bill Gall
65 Posted 21/02/2022 at 17:19:24
There appears to be no problem in the playing of various formations; other teams do it. Everton's problem is finding the correct players in the squad to do it. It is not the formations that are the problem: it is the players.

We need Doucouré back to form either a midfield of either a 3 or a 4. The major problem in the back 3 or 4 is we have no leader. All the top teams have a dominant central defender, who the other defenders listen too.

It is hard to criticize Lampard for what he has inherited, but he will be criticized if he keeps playing players when it is obvious to supporters watching at the game, or on some form of media, that certain players are not going to improve, no matter how many chances they get.

The only other way may be to bring in some of the improving Under-23 team. They may not have the experience, but given a chance to stay in the team, they may improve with intensity and effort.

Good managers show what they have got when managing a team playing poorly and fighting relegation. Lampard may not be an experienced Premier League manager but he has an experienced coaching staff for assistance.

Time to prove he is going to be our manager in the future; sometimes it may not be good to watch but it has to be effective to get results.

It is hard to believe that we have a squad that is not good enough to finish mid-table, but results are showing it is. It is the manager and his coaches to prove that they are capable of mid-table, and maybe higher.

Robert Tressell
66 Posted 21/02/2022 at 17:37:24
Mike @ 54, I disagree that our holding midfielder needs to have quality distribution.

A top class one does, certainly.

But a stop gap to help us through a sticky period does not. He just needs to hold a position, shield the defence and play fairly simple balls away from danger (including into Row Z if needs be).

Dieter Eilts once played this position to brilliant effect for the Germans and couldn't pass to save his life.

Townsend is very diligent but his skill set is very different to that of a holding midfielder.

Mike Gaynes
67 Posted 21/02/2022 at 17:56:28
Robert #66, I don't equate "quality distribution" with avoiding nightmare turnovers 35 yards from goal. You're right, we can do without the former. We cannot have the latter. And Holgate has repeatedly proven incapable of playing "fairly simple balls away from danger." We'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

Nice callout on Dieter Eilts, who played at Bremen with one of my all-time favorites, Klaus Allofs. I'd guess Eilts made fewer blunders in 15 years than Holgate has in 15 appearances this season.

Barry Hesketh
68 Posted 21/02/2022 at 17:58:32
Away from home can we afford the 'luxury' of selecting Iwobi and perhaps even Gordon in the starting line-up?

The defence is a problem area and because of this we need all hands to the pump away from home, the two wingers if that's what they are, have to be full of energy and purpose going forward and add to the midfield defensive duties when that's what is required. Iwobi for me offers no protection whatsoever and he isn't even that great going forward. Gordon does work hard but is less effective away from Goodison, but could be uitilised as a useful sub in the last 20 minutes or so of a game.

Lampard has to solve this issue because it's almost impossible for the team to rely purely on its home results to gain enough points to stay in the diviision, particularly with crucial trips to Watford and Burnley to be navigated in the remaining games.

I feel sure that Lampard wants his team to play in the same way at Goodison and away from home, but for this current squad they're unable to do it, so he'll have to sacrifice some of his footballing principles in certain matches in order to give his team the best chance of picking up points.

Martin Mason
69 Posted 21/02/2022 at 18:27:51
We should try to be fair. The dynamics of having a good side are very complex and, while we simply aren't good enough as a squad to compete away against any decent side, and Southampton are pretty good at the moment, it may not take too much for us to become a good side, even with the current squad.

After so many managers and such gross mismanagement at every level, they are very much damaged goods but, with hard work all round and a couple of decent acquisitions, we could become a good side again.

I believe that we have a great management team now and, despite the current gloom, the future could be very bright.

John Raftery
70 Posted 21/02/2022 at 18:44:53
We definitely cannot rely solely on our home form to avoid relegation.

Lampard was lucky to face a really poor Brentford and a weakened Leeds in his first two home games. The home defeats against mid-table teams Brighton and Villa are a truer reflection of our home form.

John Boon
71 Posted 21/02/2022 at 19:29:59
As a long long-time Evertonian who experienced our 1951 relegation, I fully understand the despair of all the loyal supporters. It is also the time when results really count and I am sure, in our latest game, it was mainly the result which mattered.

I am a glutton for punishment. I must be because I have watched the Southampton game three times, including the live game. I am as disappointed as any fan but I am also trying to look on the bright side. We played as well as we did against Leeds for the first 25 minutes. I agree, not long enough.

We really did not get any breaks in those 25 minutes:

(1) We could easily have been awarded two penalties if we had had a more experienced Ref. The handball was as obvious as any I have seen this season.

(2) We are just not getting the breaks. We set up some good chances, particularly early on. There were a number of bounces that did not go our way.

(3) Calvert-Lewin did put it in the net. Agreed, he was offside, but still unlucky regards timing.

(4) Allan's yellow was ridiculous. Once again, a more experienced Ref would have let it go. That alone affected the tone of the game.

Once they scored, also questionable, we did completely fold. No excuses. I just don't know how a team can surrender so meekly. Basically, it is a lack of confidence and belief. I still think we have the talent to win more games and stay in the Premier League.

I think every ToffeeWebber has the right to make sensible and valid criticism. However, I also think it is unacceptable for any so-called fan to describe a player as a "bag of shit". This is only one example among many vitriolic comments. It might make you feel better but it achieves absolutely nothing.

Personally, I am despondent about the possibility of relegation; we cannot afford to be demoted. We need to get the best fans in the world behind the team. We just have to at least try to be positive. COYB

Dale Self
72 Posted 21/02/2022 at 19:47:51
Good stuff, John, but I would advise avoiding the Live Forum for a couple of weeks... maybe barring Thursday.
David Hallwood
73 Posted 21/02/2022 at 23:33:43
Here's a question for ya: Supposing we get something out of the game vs Man City, or even if we get beat but play really well, would that make the Southampton game more or less inexcusable?
Stan Schofield
75 Posted 22/02/2022 at 09:33:10
David, the Southampton result was neither excusable nor inexcusable. It just was, and the previous posts have put forward possible causes for it, including inexcusable officiating that hindered us. The devil is in the detail.
David Hallwood
76 Posted 22/02/2022 at 10:25:55
Sorry Stan #75,

I can't agree because, yes, the officiating was garbage; yes, we started brightly and coulda woulda shoulda, but I've seen the same performance 30 to 40 times in the last 3 or 4 seasons.

Our away record had been abysmal for a long time and it points to shitbaggery on a level I've never seen before – and I've been following Everton for a long time.

You should watch the 2nd half again and especially the goal. Townsend and Gomes jogging back, Coleman not getting goal side of Long, Kenny not busting a gut not to stop the cross... I could go on.

But, as soon as we went 1-0 down, that was it, and to repeat myself I've seen that time and time again. You're right about one thing, the devil is in the detail.

Brian Murray
77 Posted 22/02/2022 at 10:46:49
John Boon.

Hats off to a fellow blue, you have at least 10 years on me but I think it's called adapting to homer refs, injuries, cards etc. We just fall apart when Plan A goes. Same for a long long time.

Frank has to somehow instil some game management as well as belief into these losers. One thing's for sure: I bet deep down him and his staff (see Paul Clement's heated advice to Gomes) won't have many of these next year if we stay up.

Stu Darlington
78 Posted 22/02/2022 at 18:05:58
The shortcomings of Saturday's performance have been discussed intelligently and analytically for the most part throughout this thread so I don't intend to go over them again.

One thing I would like to add, however (and it wasn't just a problem on Saturday), is that we are not clinical enough in front of goal

All our front players – Gray, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Gordon – with the possible exception of Townsend, have missed chances which, quite frankly, should have been scored.

This has cost us dearly in some games this season and will continue to do so unless we put it right quickly.

As I've said elsewhere, we need a forward who is a natural goalscorer and we haven't got a proven one in the squad. Go out and get one, for God's sake!

Steavey Buckley
79 Posted 22/02/2022 at 18:25:46
Liverpool exceed Everton easily because they have goal scorers in Mane, Salah and Jota. Without them, Liverpool would be far less dangerous to play against. But at Everton, there are no regular goalscorers, that's why Everton are 16th in the Premier League, and dropping into the relegation zone.
Danny O’Neill
80 Posted 22/02/2022 at 18:56:38
They also play a system that suits their strengths, Steavey. More often than not, they seem to bypass midfield and get forward from the full-backs quickly, often with a switch ball.

Okay, we don't have 3 goal machines, but we do have Calvert-Lewin. Right now we don't seem to be able to play to his strengths as we have cut off his supply chain. When on form early last season, he was forming a good relationship with Digne.

So our full-backs could be key as well, albeit in a different way. Let's hope these 2 we've bought can provide, but I haven't seen enough to judge just yet.

Stan Schofield
81 Posted 22/02/2022 at 22:55:47
David@76: I agree totally that the mental collapse is a chronic problem, something which rightly pisses us off. But they don't set out to be shite, it just happens mainly away from home. I don't consider it unforgiveable, but a problem that needs to be solved.

We're habitually a midtable team, with the ups and downs of midtable teams (currently down). We want to compete at the top, but our mental fragility stops us. It's frustrating, and we're searching for the solution.

It's not a case of forgiving or not forgiving, but of trying to find the solution. We could change the players, but we've done that a lot, and it hasn't solved the problem. The problem is deep, somehow rooted in the culture at Everton. That needs changing.

Barry Hesketh
82 Posted 22/02/2022 at 23:38:32
If we keep buying players who are not top level to begin with and don't seem to improve that much once they arrive or indeed go into rapid decline almost as soon as they sign a contract, we are never going to challenge at the top of the tree.

If we can't produce enough youngsters good enough to force their way into the first team and prove good enough to keep their place, we are never going to challenge at the top of the tree.

That's not the current issue though; we have enough players who should be able to cobble the odd good performance in three but they can't even do that on a regular basis.

We're paying most of them top-dollar in relative terms to most of the rest of the division, yet here we are battling to avoid the drop.

Is it because the players were conned into beleving they had joined an ambitious club and that causes them to say 'why bother'?, or is it because some of the players realise they won't progress much in their careers elsewhere and are happy to take the money at Everton without having to do that much for it?

There are exceptions such as Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and a couple of others who do most of the time give the effort and produce the goods, but will probably leave Everton to join more ambitious clubs in the future.

Whatever happens in the coming months out on the pitch, we have to realise that, unless Everton FC changes its modus operandi, we are unlikely to see any significant improvements in our fortunes in the near future.

Too much of how Everton FC operates is left to luck rather than good judgement; the last few years prove that luck is a mostly unreliable mistress – if she's not downright vindictive.

As for the January transfer business, in what way did we manage to strengthen a struggling team? If we do fall through the trap-door, it will be that business in January that has helped to seal our fate.

Bob Parrington
83 Posted 23/02/2022 at 11:54:35
Surely it's time we Webber's started to analyse what we see clearly has gone wrong with such a performance – in a constructive manner. I mean, let's stop saying "he was shit" and "the other guy sucked" etc.

Can I start this off by being somewhat AC/DC compared to other comments I have read? I'll use the "What if" – if you don't mind.

There were two instances that smacked me in the face. The first was the handball in the Southampton penalty area, which was as clear to anybody even a blind duck! But the ref and VAR chose to ignore it. Psychology Everton No 1.

Next is the soon after yellow card for Allan, which should never have been a yellow card. Okay, yes, a foul… but not a yellow card. Psychology Everton No 2.

Until these two situations occurred, we were looking quite good. We stayed in the game for the rest of the half but somewhat unconvincingly! We hardly passed a ball to our own teammate though, after the yellow card.

Taking Allan off at half-time – too much chance of a second yellow card – Psychology Everton No 3.

Sub Allan with Gomes, a totally different style of player – Psychology Everton No 4.

I'm sure there are more but it's no wonder we lost!

Brian Murray
84 Posted 23/02/2022 at 16:03:13
Bob. Your last comment. No wonder we lost.

In the last two away games, a player should've been sent off, blatant penalty… yellow card, boo-hoo.

For fuck's sake, it's called football. We are never going to get the vital calls, especially away, because we are not a fashionable club or Top 4. How about using these unjust calls to roll up the sleeves and having a go. No? Okay, the Everton Way it is …

Stan Schofield
85 Posted 24/02/2022 at 09:59:28
Bob@83: That analysis has already been done on ToffeeWeb since the Southampton game. Not all of us take the crude approach of "Roll your fucking sleeves up you overpaid bastards and get stuck in", but try to look at the reality.

Elite football, possibly all elite sports with dollops of dosh, appear infested with biases and corruption, favouring certain clubs. Everton clearly isn't one of those clubs.

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