Defined by who you sign

by   |   24/10/2021  21 Comments  [Jump to last]

Well, the wheels certainly fell off yesterday. The question is: Was anyone really surprised? The inquest was not long in coming and not surprisingly, Rafa is copping some stick… but is it fair?

Looking at it objectively, his substitutions yesterday and possibly his team selection can be argued. At this point, it is with hindsight although the selection of Rondon I guess many would have questioned. However, in the cold light of day, I would suggest he has been let down just as much as us the supporters have by the players.

Of this group of players, some are fine but, as a collective, they are only consistent in demonstrating that they will never remotely get us to where we would like to be. Or even close! Our quality, I feel, is Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Gray, Townsend, Doucouré, Pickford and arguably Mina, Digne, and Godfrey. Gordon has not played enough games to form an opinion. This is half a team at best.

Can anyone realistically expect anything much better than average from this collection? Factor in injuries, loss of form, and my question would be: Who could we install as manager to get a tune out of this lot? Indeed, the last manager (supposedly one of best, "world class") decided it was beyond him.

Benítez has walked into an extremely difficult situation with the ground prepared by a succession of poor managers going back to Ronald Koeman and the appalling recruitment of players. How can we not have a new right-back? Have a 32-year-old centre-forward who seems to be past it, and an unbalanced midfield? Josh King was released by Ancelotti but there appears to have been no idea who would replace him. Great!

We are where we are but I feel we should give Rafa breathing space. My instinct is that he is a talented coach and manager but sorting the mess he has inherited will take time. The players must take the bulk of the responsibility.

A former professional player who I was talking to about David Moyes (who was in his early days at Everton and doing well) said to me, “He will be defined by his signings”. Applying this to our current situation, Rafa has had £1.7M to spend and of his major signings, Gray and Townsend are currently two of our better performers; however, Rondon is not cutting it at the moment.

By any footballing estimation, it is going to take time for Rafa or anyone to bring in their own players; and at that point, he can then be judged. We need to be fair and arguably forget the Liverpool connection and be objective about the current situation.

If blame is to be apportioned, then at least train the guns in the right direction. For what it is worth, Benítez would not have been my first choice as manager, but I believe we have certainly got a man of capability. He might even be what the club needs at this time.

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Reader Comments (21)

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Derek Moore
1 Posted 24/10/2021 at 13:56:13
I mentioned Brands in another thread, and my belief is he should have already departed the club. Our squad is one of the thinnest in the league, and with a few key injuries entirely unfit for purpose.

Rather than just sacking the manager annually, or watching him swan off for nowt to Madrid, perhaps it would have been wise to look at the contributions or lack thereof of each aspect of the playing, recruitment and coaching groups.

My feelings on Benitez are well known, but making him a scapegoat for the systemic failures of others isn't going to fix Everton anytime soon either. Root out the incompetence and fuckwittery, set high standards and hold the people the club employs to those standards – it's really not that difficult.

Going on thirty years without a trophy. And then serving up performances like yesterday – it disheartens so many of us who can recall a time our club was renowned for it's serial success.

We're further away than ever.

Tony Everan
2 Posted 25/10/2021 at 08:13:32
A couple of seasons ago, every man and his dog knew that Everton's midfield was the weakest in the league. Teams were playing us as if we didn't have one. We went out and addressed it in summer 2020 by buying Allan, Doucouré and James.

We're now back to virtually square one, down to just Allan. Saturday's performance was akin to some of those diabolical midfield performances of the 2019-20 season.

With Doucouré injured we have absolutely nothing of Premier League standard in back up. Delph, Gomes Gbamin and Davies for various reasons are four central midfielders who need replacing by two who can improve us. If any of those were the answer, they would have stamped their authority by now.

With regards Gbamin, who knows? It is telling in the extreme, though, that he wasn't trusted on Saturday. Iwobi seen as a better alternative. What diabolical message does that send us?

Iwobi's signing is unfathomable. Why? Have we ever made a more pointless signing? He's not a winger, more of a No 10, but we already had ‘the player with no name' a £45M No 10 on the books earning £5M a year.

Benitez has brought in Townsend and Gray for £1.7M, the two give him credit in the bank. Rondon, although free, is on the debit side of the accounts.

There must have been a few other strikers we could have enticed, who may have been happy to play second fiddle at a bigger club or even challenge Calvert-Lewin. I'd advise Rafa to cut his losses and readdress this in January.

Admitting mistakes and putting things right is a strength, not a weakness.

The team is set up and almost exists to provide for Calvert-Lewin. Before Saturday, some stat said we were creating as many chances as Bayern Munich so far... but, with Rondon permanently half-fit, and really not of the required standard anyway, all the providers are seeing no end product.

Worse still, Rondon is not even getting close to connecting or being in the right place at the right time. Calvert-Lewin out is killing us as we have no meaningful replacement. Surely now Richarlison has to play through the middle and we have to pray for his fitness.

So Barry, Benitez will be defined by who he signs and, at the moment, Rondon is unfortunately defining him in that respect. His ineffectiveness is overshadowing Gray and Townsend.

The plus side is we've spent hardly any money on these players. Rondon may be shipped out at the end of the season (or 1 January!) to Qatar or somewhere.

The players that will define Benitez have yet to be signed. I am expecting a few changes in January and some big, big changes next June.

This season is now another one of damage limitation. We have to live with the hope that the Benitez's defining signings over the next two windows can address the shortcomings and give us a chance of being a Top 6 competitor next season.

Kevin Prytherch
3 Posted 25/10/2021 at 09:05:54
Defined by who you sign….

Look at our second XI, 3 youth players and 7 Brands signings. How do you reckon this team would fare in the league??? (Then think that at least 6 of them are likely to be on £50k + a week and it gets even more depressing)

Kenny, Holgate, Godfrey, Delph
Davies, Gomes, Gbamin
Gordon, Rondon, Iwobi

Stan Schofield
4 Posted 25/10/2021 at 11:04:02
I’ve been patient with every manager we’ve had over the last few years. But the current manager brought in Rondon, who is basically a mediocre player not fitting with our supposed ambitions, and got rid of Rodriguez, who has unusual class enough to change games and generally be influential.

The irony here is that some on this site have criticised Rodriguez, since Benitez arrived, on the basis that he is fragile and injury-prone. Well, it seems that most Everton players are fragile and injury prone, hence our current predicament.

So we get rid of class and bring in mediocrity. The signing of Townsend and Gray is obviously very positive, but does not make up for what’s happened.

I’m patient with Benitez, but that patience might not last long. I don’t waste my time watching disorganised shite. I’ve wasted enough time in the past with Everton, but no more. If there’s no significant improvement from the next game onwards, I’m unlikely to be watching anymore despite following this club for 60 years.

Niall McIlhone
5 Posted 25/10/2021 at 16:36:40
We should sign Chair from QPR in January. That would be a good start.
Paul Swan
6 Posted 25/10/2021 at 17:13:19
If we're quick, we could get a sofa before Christmas to go with it.
Robert Tressell
7 Posted 25/10/2021 at 17:38:36
Stan #4. Someone said that, because of injury, Rodriguez has only managed one appearance in Qatar since he left – a 3-0 defeat. So it's not like he'd be making any difference right now.

As for the general criticism of Rondon, of course he's appalling but we needed a free transfer and, due to bad luck, he's been forced to play much more and much sooner than anticipated.

In fairness, Benitez pulled off a near miracle bringing in the pace and quality of Gray and Townsend for £1.7M.

If we could get Maitland-Niles and someone like Djuricic (the Serbian attacking midfielder at Sassuolo linked today at bargain price due to expiring contract), then the quality and depth deepens again at very low cost.

This season was never going to amount to much – so my hope is that we end it with the likes of Gordon, Dobbin, Branthwaite, Onyango and Simms having started to make a good impression in the first team.

If we build carefully over about 2 or 3 seasons, we could have a very good squad. If you're hoping for a quicker pace of improvement, then you're likely to be disappointed.

Dale Self
8 Posted 25/10/2021 at 17:39:02
Right on, Barry! I know it's not easy coming on and speaking reason after having one's head explode.

Obviously, I'm with that. As long as he is making the right moves and saying the right things, he is more than what we need; he may be the best we can get for now.

After seeing this debacle, the adverse selection effect of who would want the Everton job is too much for my risk preferences. Benitez may offer the additional value of being a good picker of discouraged Premier League level talent, probably the most valuable of his various competencies.

Stan Schofield
9 Posted 25/10/2021 at 17:55:48
Robert @7:

Yes, true, if we make those signings, then the quality in depth would likely be better. But we need to do it ASAP; otherwise, the effect of Townsend and Gray could well decrease rapidly, in the way that quite a few of our signings have declined following initially good performances, once they've become mired in the Everton mould of fragility that we've come to know so well.

It's really Everton I'm losing patience with, mainly the fragility and the predictability of fucking up at every opportunity. The problem is clearly systemic, because you just know it will show itself every season, seemingly regardless of who the manager is.

Kieran Kinsella
10 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:02:49

Level-headed reasonable post IMO. With regard to the Watford game specifically, I think Rafa made mistakes but the problem with this group is their inherent mental weakness, energy and effort. Meaning, a manager's tactical error that might cost you a goal snowballs into four or five goals as we've seen under Koeman, Silva and Carlo.

The other thing is the zonal marking. It's frustrating to see him use that approach because we saw what happened under Silva. But in fairness to Rafa, it's something that works for other teams, indeed it worked for Everton under Howard Kendall, according to Ratcliffe. But our players seem to have some kind of inability to learn how operate it. How hard can it be? Really? But again, it's seemingly an accommodation we have to make because of their ineptitude.

David Pearl
11 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:03:30
Brands's main job has been to shift out the deadwood and he failed miserably. He recouped next to nothing. Moreover, he now has his own imposible deadwood to shift.

It would help of course if we had some fit midfielders so we could change the shape of the team or else if we drop Rondon then Richarlison will be up on his own and we know he can't help himself coming deep to get involved. Not that there was any shape, rhyme or reason for those last 13 minutes.

We'd better hope some of those younger players noted above are actually good enough. How can we possibly be in such better circumstances in January that would allow us to fix this squad?

I'm not just pissed off with our manager, l'm pissed about the last few years, the last few choice of managers, the money wasted... on managers or transfers, and it's all too much. I'm sure we even paid £2M for Walsh. Urggh

Tony Everan
12 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:17:27
Niall, Paul …

DFS to stand in for DCL?

Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:21:58

Far from unloading, Brands was the one who scoured the forest floor for our current wood pile of Delph, Rondon, Gbamin, etc. Not to mention, he cleared out other petrified logs he had lumbered on us, such as Bernard this summer.

Niall McIlhone
14 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:33:01
Ha, either DFS or SCS for DCL Tony. Whilst on the theme of furniture, most of the team played like stools on Saturday – smelly brown stools, not the ones you sit on!
David Pearl
15 Posted 25/10/2021 at 18:48:10
Yes, Kieran,

Utterly depressing. Along the current theme of the thread, l need a bar stool.

No doubt we signed Rondon on his past relationship with our manager. No scouting, no trial. No fitness test. Nothing.

I didn't expect him to be so far off it that when he jumps his feet don't leave the ground. He can't even hold the ball up. He is even worse, unfortunately, than Koeman's Cuco Martina and Martinez's Antolin Alcaraz.

John Pickles
16 Posted 26/10/2021 at 12:32:03
Well, clearly Rondon was unlike the hundreds of other strikers who are instantly capable of 20 goals a season in the Premier League, who were available on a free transfer.

I mean, I don't know why teams spend a fortune on a top striker when there are so many available for next to nothing.

Robert Tressell
17 Posted 26/10/2021 at 21:47:48
Stan # 9, that is why I think we should not generally sign players over age 22 or for more than £20m.

Stop gaps are fine, but they can't all be stop gaps otherwise you're always in transition.

We should build towards something capable of success in the 2024/25 season and go all out in the cups in the meantime.

Barry Rathbone
18 Posted 26/10/2021 at 22:27:06
Mostly "who you sign" is the defining factor but elite clubs bin managers every 5 mins and still win stuff usually with the same players who got the previous joe sacked. To complicate matters the days of quietly building as per Howie no longer exist a shed load of money is a pre-requisite and the time scale 6 months before the knives are out.

I mentioned on a previous thread the true greats of Busby, Shankly and Wenger tended to find unheralded talent for buttons and/or inspire ordinary players to greatness. So it is possible to shake off the shackles but the odds are massively against.

Is Benitez in the company of Busby, Shankly and Wenger? Townsend and Gray suggest possibly but Rondon and the goalie indicate otherwise. I've long held the view that a hit rate of 50% on transfers is pretty usual for most managers but the truth is we need more, a lot more

Danny Broderick
19 Posted 27/10/2021 at 17:48:14
Recruitment is key, but so is knowing what to do with that recruitment to make a team. Just ask Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
John Zapa
20 Posted 31/10/2021 at 05:54:37
4 out of 5 of Benitez signings last summer were already over 30 with no resale value. Meanwhile, players who many millions were spent on previously continue to walk out the door for free, such as Bolasie, Walcott, Besic and others. Next Summer, it will be Sigurdsson, Tosun, Delph and more.

It's not sustainable to have £50M+ of players walk out for free each year and trying to replace them with whoever other clubs don't want and hope they turn out to be a Gray rather than a Rondon.

Steve Brown
21 Posted 31/10/2021 at 06:53:10
I think we would all be excited if Rondon was capable of one Premier League goal this season. Let's start with that as a target, given he has managed one shot this season.

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