Are we just one signing off a European spot?

by   |   24/06/2022  29 Comments  [Jump to last]

Much has been made of our current squad, with some advocating that we need 5 or 6 new players and many believing that our squad is that of a lower-table squad – with 12th place being a success. However, to offer an alternative view, could we be just one player away from having a team that could genuinely challenge for the European places?

This assumes that none of the current first-team players leave, despite the rumours circulating around Richarlison.To look at the current squad, I feel it’s best to first consider the way we should be playing. In Calvert-Lewin, we have a striker who feeds off crosses.

Unfortunately, none of our wide players, with the exception of Townsend, is particularly good at crossing the ball. With this in mind, we need a system where the wide players make space for overlapping full-backs to put crosses in, like what Pienaar used to do for Baines.

For this to work, we also need a player who has the positional discipline and awareness in midfield to cover for the marauding full-backs when they do press forward, like what Barry used to do and what the likes of Rodri and Henderson do so well.

A standard 4-3-3 formation with 2 inside forwards, attacking full-backs and one deep-lying disciplined central-midfielder would be my choice going forward for most games. With this in mind, let’s look at what we currently have.

Calvert-Lewin is obviously the focal point of this; we also seem to have an improving player in Ellis Simms who looks ready to make the step up to deputise where needed so we have some potentially decent cover.

Our wide attacking midfielders are currently fairly strong; any two from Gordon, Richarlison and Gray represent a decent forward line, with Townsend offering us something different with his ability to cross and defend deeper, so no desperate need to strengthen here.

We have 2 young full-backs in Patterson and Mykolenko; Patterson, by all accounts, is great at getting forward and delivering a decent cross so plays right into this system, while Mykolenko shows willingness – although his final ball does need some work.

We then have Coleman and Nkounkou in reserve who, whilst Coleman can’t cross a ball and Nkounkou is largely unproven, do represent some back-up and wouldn’t force us to change that much.

At centre-back, we have the imminent arrival of Tarkowski, alongside the much improved Holgate, Godfrey or Branthwaite. If we decide that Godfrey or Branthwaite are the future, then we have to play and trust them.

Four players into two positions, with some promising youngsters, or Coleman, to call upon if we use a back 5 should be okay.In the centre of midfield, we have Doucouré and Iwobi who are both very athletic and could thrive in a midfield 3, and we have Dele Alli who could also thrive as the attacking focal point of a midfield 3.

Allan could also be used in a midfield 3 to harass and force high turnovers; however, he does not have the discipline to play the defensive role.

That leaves the defensive midfield role – which is the one role we need. I still believe that we saw enough in Tom Davies to suggest that he could possibly play this role; however, I feel that this is the area that we need one key signing for as I wouldn’t want to start the season with just Tom being able to play here.

There we have it, a young promising defence with attacking full-backs containing Patterson, Godfrey, Tarkowski and Mykolenko; 2 central midfielders out of Iwobi, Doucouré and Dele Alli, Gordon and Richarlison out wide and Calvert-Lewin up front. Just one defensive midfielder away from having a team that could compete for the European places.

Note that I haven’t mentioned Keane, Mina, Gomes or Rondon… I don’t believe there is a place for these 4 in the squad, especially considering FFP and their reported wages; their places could easily be occupied by the likes of Welch, Price, Warrington and Dobbin.

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Reader Comments (29)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 24/06/2022 at 19:00:07
Yes... err, Isn't that where Winks plays?
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
2 Posted 24/06/2022 at 19:04:14
Michael - maybe a reason that Frank and Kevin are interested in him? 'cos they sure aren't looking at him for a 15 goal a season Lampard clone.
Peter Mills
3 Posted 24/06/2022 at 20:11:02
Funnily enough, Kevin, that has been my thought throughout the Harry Winks thread. I haven’t seen enough of him to be able to form a judgment, but there is often a place for a “water carrier” in a football team.
Tony Dunn
4 Posted 24/06/2022 at 21:17:01
I ll have a pint of whatever Kevins drinking
Tommy Carter
5 Posted 24/06/2022 at 21:38:20
Let’s be realistic here.

Richarlison is a potential too 4 player. In fact no. He’s guaranteed quality at that level. I know. I’ve seen enough of him and he’s performed well in an atrocious squad.

DCL if he can produce his 2020 form consistently - a top 4 player. 1st Everton player to score 2 hat tricks in the same calendar month as Dixie Dean. A unique threat in the 6 yard box. Although I do believe he needs to get back to the pre-Ancelotti all round effort and dominate more than the 6 yard box. His performance vs Man City away in the 2017/2018 season is the blue print for this.

But apart from that. I’m afraid we are struggling.

There is a distinct lack of character in this squad. A distinct lack of somebody who is going to make their mark on a game - in whichever way this may be.

With players such as Pienaar, Arteta, Cahill, Fellaini, Baines, Coleman … you could guarantee that they could offer a moment of match winning quality - not each of them every week, but any of them on a single given week could win you a game.

Too many plodders in this current side. Nobody there who’ll win you a game. Too many who are there just to prevent you from losing one and they don’t even do that very well

Sam Hoare
6 Posted 24/06/2022 at 21:49:35
I’m not sure I trust Godfrey or Branthwaite to be consistent over a season. But if Mina could somehow stay fit then him and Tarkowski could be a pretty formidable if somewhat immobile pair.

If we signed a really stellar 6 (not Winks) and had no injuries issues at all and all the players played to their highest levels all season then perhaps we could scrape a 6th. But those are very unlikely ‘ifs’.

In reality it’s another rebuild that is needed. I’ll be relatively happy to sign some young talent and stay clear of a relegation battle this year.

Pekka Harvilahti
8 Posted 24/06/2022 at 22:02:31
I don't understand the Winks talk, a player who does not get a game at spuds, do we really have to collect all their left overs? the guy is useless.
We must buy one or two good defending midfielders, a playmaker, a number 10 (the guy behind the strikers) and at least a really good striker.
We have to sell Mina (even if he is really good when he is available)
Richie will be gone and it will be hard to get another one like him.
I'm not holding my breath to see the new faces because they are not coming.
If the take over is under way, Moshiri is not going to spend anything anymore.
The worst scenario is that the take over drags and eventually happens but they don't have the money or time to get any new guys.
Robert Tressell
9 Posted 24/06/2022 at 22:06:43
In short, no. We're a summer of wheeler dealing away from reclaiming a top half spot.

We're 2 to 3 summers of careful planning and player development to get back in the top 6 for the first time since 2014.

Tom Bowers
10 Posted 24/06/2022 at 22:15:22
I would like to think so but no, we need a few quality additions.

Phillips from Leeds would have been nice but he would never have come here once City showed interest and besides they probably offered him ten times the wages he was getting at Leeds.

Joe McMahon
11 Posted 24/06/2022 at 22:57:20
With Gomes and Davies as the central midfield powerhouse and Richie (probably) going, we are about as near to Europe as the 3 teams that got relegated.

Teams that qualify for Europe score goals, and thats also a huge stumbling block.

Tony Hill
12 Posted 24/06/2022 at 23:05:57
Of course, it's fun to talk bollocks together about which players may or may not do what in this or that system.

What encourages me is the weird, but unmistakable, spluttering-sparky closeness between Chelsea Silver Spoon Boy Frank and the sort of urchins who painted his name on Goodison. It could be alchemy and there's no reasoning about that. Or base metal but so what, that's where we are anyhow.

We anguish about making it all happen, plotting our charts and our permutations. We are a club, team and fan base beset by anxiety accrued over grim decades. We need to let it all go before it devours us. Things just happen sometimes if you stop your worrying and get out of your own path.

Wu Wei, you know or don't.

Kunal Desai
13 Posted 24/06/2022 at 23:07:13
We have holes all over the first 11. People are bonkers if they think we are even close to a West Ham, Wolves or Leicester who are likely yet again to vy for those European positions next season. We are not even close.

Maybe when we move to BMD, certainly won't see any more european football at Goodison.

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 24/06/2022 at 23:57:39
We are most definitely just one player away from challenging for Europe.

But I don't think that player is going to be leaving City's central midfield for Everton this summer.

John Chambers
15 Posted 24/06/2022 at 23:59:52
To answer the question, no. I think we have to be realistic and expect to sell some high value players to gradually strengthen the team over the next couple of seasons and bring some of the younger players through to be established PL players, e.g Patterson, Dobbin Branthwaite, Gordon so we can be in a position to challenge for Europe when we get to BMD
John Pickles
16 Posted 25/06/2022 at 00:14:45
No, we're one poor replacement for Richarlison away from relegation.
James Flynn
17 Posted 25/06/2022 at 01:53:24
First, no Tom Davies is not nor will ever be "that guy" we need in front of the back 4.

We need to do what just happened with Kenny. We're cutting Jonjoe loose. Still, he's a local lad been in the Club since a 7-8-year old. With that, we put it out to the media that the Club is offering him a new contract [Which it isn't].

Few days later, Kenny "rejects" the offer, new horizons etc. Thanks his lifetime Club for all the years, etc.

Deserved, well-played and all the best. Young KENNY DECIDED he wanted to try something else. Not "One of Us" being dumped. Classy and well-done all-round.

Davies is different, though. For one, he's a waaay better player than Kenny. Next it appears Tom has some kind of natural attraction or natural leadership qualities few have. We're talking about an 18-year old come out the tunnel wearing the armband a couple of times; for the first team!

He's 24 next week and appeared 160 times for Us already. If he's the answer next season, we got problems. Smart, brave, gives his all? Top of the list. Skill and athleticism? Not top league.

That aside, I don't think Keven is far off in general. This season ended, Carlo's 59 points from the season prior has in Europe next.

The midfield needs to be tightened up. Let's get a couple no nonsense players to shore that area up and let's see what happens.

Caveat: Richy has 2 years left. Refuse to sell him and let's see what happens. The money we'll get won't make such a difference in FFP. If we can squeak into Europe, he just might stay.

Lee Courtliff
18 Posted 25/06/2022 at 06:13:28
I've always agreed with Carragher when he says, "you're never as far ahead or as far behind as you think you are".

A couple of good signings, better 'luck' with injuries and refs/VAR and we could easily be looking at a much improved season next year. West Ham were fighting relegation only a couple of years ago when Moyes went back.

I'm no big fan of Winks, but if he's brought in to fit a system (3 at the back?) then he could actually benefit the overall team without outstanding individual performances from himself.

Round Pegs in Round Holes, as is so often said on here.

Danny O’Neill
19 Posted 25/06/2022 at 08:26:39
Thanks for the article Kevin.

It obviously caught my attention because I'm looking forward to European trips in the 2023-24 season.

I know it's debatable but it's also a fact; the core of this squad was one game away from European qualification under Ancelotti.

For many who see anything other than Champions League as a Sam Allardyce distraction, look at what it meant to Roma. I'd have swapped places with them and our only European Trophy was the 3rd tier competition at the time. But it was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

We do need the sweeper or true number 6. Mind the gap has been a problem of ours for a couple of seasons now, especially when we try to play on the front foot.

We do have players who can deliver crosses. Although from dead ball situations, watch Mykolenko's delivery that led to the first goal against Palace and then Gray's for Dominic's storming diving header. And I'd add Anthony Gordon for Branthwaite's equaliser against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Again though a set piece, not open play.

So we do have players who can deliver those crosses for Calvert-Lewin if we can get on the front foot and play higher up the pitch. It will also be tactical. the players I have mentioned, probably with the exception of Mykolenko tend to want to run with the ball when in open play rather than play as traditional wingers who "whip it in". Although Gordon in particular will look for the cut back and low cross, which DCL can also feed off. Gray tends to want to go for goal himself.

Aside from the top 2, this league is open. Anything is possible. Europe it is.

Robert Tressell
20 Posted 25/06/2022 at 08:51:16
Lee @ 18. I think that principle is probably true. However we face the challenge of improving a squad at the same time as losing (probably) at least 2 of Richarlison, Mina and DCL.

To get into the top 6 we need (statistically) about another 25 goals at the same time as returning to our recent meanest defensive position. I did an article about this a couple of seasons ago which I cannot now find.

I believe we can buy the sort of attacking talent capable, after development, of playing Europa and Champions League.

But if we buy ready made it will be of a lower standard because of our limited pulling power and finances.

Hence I think we can do it if we chart a path over the next few seasons but I doubt it is possible to climb 10 places in one season.

Barry Rathbone
21 Posted 25/06/2022 at 08:59:44
Need to discover a peak Jamie Vardy someone who can score from nothing, finish in the box and quick enough to chase the out ball. Such a player takes the pressure of the midfield and to an extent the defence. Find him and we are transformed
Jerome Shields
22 Posted 25/06/2022 at 09:02:01
Everton are currently sorting out their situation in regard to Premier League Profit and Sustainability Rules which is on going. If they qualified for Europe they would be subject, in addition, to Ueafa FFP rules. The Everton objective will be Premiership survival and a improvement in their situation in regard to Premier League Profit and Sustainability rules. I doubt a European place and further scrutiny will be a objective.

Certainly relegation was a obvious no no, given the Football League's attitude to their Profit and Sustainability Rules and in the previous season there was little enthusiasm for European Football as Anchelotti found. There could be good reasons for this.

Robert Tressell
23 Posted 25/06/2022 at 10:01:59
Barry, the same is true for every other team in the Premier League.

Brighton, a well run club, are being proactive about finding their Vardy. They have bought Sima, Undav and Encisco in the last year from the Czech Republic, Belgium and Paraguay respectively.

Sima and Encisco are very young but they will persist with Maupay and Welbeck to allow them time to develop.

They have done the same thing with Caicedo as understudy to Bissouma.

If each club is just one player away from top 6 then Brighton's strategy means they are more likely to find that player than we are.

Lee Courtliff
25 Posted 25/06/2022 at 18:48:00
Robert, I'm not saying we'll get Top 6. Not for a while yet but I don't see why we should fear teams like West Ham or Wolves. They certainly aren't anything to be afraid of, despite finishing well above us last season.

They could easily have injuries or something of that nature, then suddenly that 7th spot could be within reach. I know the Europa Conference League isn't what we all dream of but it's a damn sight better than nothing.

Look at Leicester, two consecutive 5th place finishes and an FA Cup win then suddenly end up in mid-table. That could easily be West Ham next season.

I'm just trying to be optimistic, really.

Tony Hill
26 Posted 25/06/2022 at 19:08:24
Barry's right, of course @21. People who score goals render the finer technical and tactical arguments much less significant. Where is he?

I still say, though, that it's mainly about the "climate" at a club. It's impossible to define, but we haven't had a good one for ages. Again, things tend then to fall into place – because they just do.

It feels like Lampard can create that happy weather. He did it for himself as a player and I think we may, at long last, have got our timing right so that we benefit from him doing the same thing as a manager.

Jim Bennings
27 Posted 27/06/2022 at 06:28:34
No chance.

People must have very short memories from watching 80 percent of last seasons absolute dross if they think one signing makes a difference.

We need players that can actually pass a ball forward and can contribute to goals.

What midfielders do we have capable of creating or scoring ten goals a season?
Where is the number 10 that can create, carry the ball, score?

Since Sigurdsson and James left the party there's been nothing.

Our right back problems are laid bare, are we gonna be starting with a 34 year old again and flog him to death or take a risk to young Patterson who has no experience and could either get ripped apart or could become a mainstay?

Ok at centre half Tarkowski is coming in but to partner what?
Mina plays less and less each season, while I don't forget Holgate was absolute dirty shit most of the campaign.

Our striking option is null and void.

Even if DCL stays we need at least one quality back up striker, and I don't mean just some plodder like Simms or Rondon (who are both very similar in movement)

But with DCL anyway, I'm gonna say this, he's crap, I don't rate him, never have.

He had a purple patch under Carlo that happened to last a while longer than anything he's put together in his career, but frankly, football wise he's as average as they come, not great skillfully and misses too many chances and then of course there's the long term injury, will he even be the same athletic player as before?

It will take more than one player to get this team challenging for the top half let alone European football, let's not have short memories.

Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 27/06/2022 at 13:05:20
Okay Jim. Maybe not one player off.

One season off. This time next year Jim, we'll be looking at flights, ferries or Eurostar.

Tom Harries
29 Posted 27/06/2022 at 15:58:02
Are we just one signing away from a European spot? Yes - Guardiola.
Charles Brewer
30 Posted 01/07/2022 at 10:27:50
Sadly, the 'one signing' any of us is off European football is joining the Manchester City supporters club.

This club has a deep malaise and can take good players (Gray, Townsend, Mykolenko, probably Tom Davies, Kean, even Gomes) and turn them rapidly into mediocre dross.

We have undergone exactly the same process as Manchester United since Ferguson left. A collection of vastly over-paid players given far too much "respect" and allowed far too much say in the running of the team, and when opposed they go off in a huff, continue to be paid obscene amounts of money.

I actually welcomed Allardyce in the hope he could turn the team into one which was managed rather than some kind of crappy collective run by a collection of children. But it didn't work.

The process of fixing Everton will take a top to bottom cleansing of the Augean stables. Maybe the Yanks can do it. Poor Moshiri (for whom I have nothing but sympathy except insofar as he trusted a collection of snakes) will be well out of this sleazy industry.

Brian Williams
31 Posted 01/07/2022 at 18:06:41
Are we just one signing off a European spot?

Only if that signing is someone who organizes coach trips abroad, or if that one signing is an Evertonian Easyjet pilot, or if that one signing is the skipper of an illegal immigrant boat from France looking for a return fair, or that one signing is the world's best hypnotist, or that one signing proves that there is actually a god and he himself signs!

To summarise. No, we're not.

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