If asked during the week whether they’d accept a point in the Merseyside derby, I’d have expected the majority of Evertonians to nod in agreement. In recent years, it has verged on certainty that the Liverpool team dominates any derby fixture, what with the gulf in quality that has opened up significantly between us and them. Time and time again, us Blues are caught in the optimism and the “you never know” feeling that builds in the week preceding the big game, only to be given a hefty slice of humble pie when we realise how superior the Liverpool team is on the day. 

But looking back now at Saturday’s 0-0 draw, the sense of frustration that we didn’t take 3 points will massively outweigh the relief that we avoided defeat for the majority of fans. Of course, Liverpool were not at their best, but an Everton team that narrowly avoided relegation last season and has consistently fallen at the derby day hurdle year after year went toe-to-toe with one of the league’s finest with our own problems to face. We are not at our best either – we’ve had a significant clear-out and a huge rethink in the squad over the summer, and we’re missing a number of our best players through injury that’s forced a reshape of our starting eleven. On another day, we could’ve won the game convincingly.

The main reason for Evertonians’ revived hope is the dedication that we have across the pitch. Ever since David Moyes departed the club in 2013, we have spiralled into a painful abyss where scattergun player purchases, a woeful business model, and failure to fight for the badge have not been controlled. Frank Lampard is seemingly the first manager in a decade to identify this problem and tackle it head-on. 

Together with newly appointed Director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, they have moved on a vast amount of the deadwood that we were forced to call first-team regulars and replaced them with exciting, hard-working alternatives. The squad that Lampard inherited had been built over 10 years of unstructured recruitment, brought in under various managers with very different ideas.

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It is refreshing to see that our signings in this summer’s transfer window have all been aligned with a single positive game plan. That plan is high-energy, direct counter-attacking football with defensive solidity and leadership. It’s almost the exact opposite of the way we have been playing, making our failure in recent years even more evident for someone to want such wholesale changes so quickly. 

The early signs are good, but our problems do not have a quick fix. Proper resolutions come from a sustained vision and delivering a blend of continuity and carefully managed risks within the business model. Our near-relegation last season came from sustained senselessness and those stains still exist within the squad. But Lampard has identified which members of his squad were lost causes last season and sought replacements, while also repurposing or recalling other players to bring the best out of them. 

The main beneficiary of this approach from Lampard is Alex Iwobi. He was resurgent in the second half of last season after Lampard’s appointment, almost playing in a floating role and pressing from the front. Despite this, I personally felt that Iwobi might have seen his opportunities a bit more limited this season as Lampard took charge of his first full transfer window.

However, the boss somewhat surprisingly deployed Iwobi as a makeshift centre-midfielder, a role which came with much more discipline, responsibility, and a different required skillset. Iwobi has taken to his new role majestically, his meteoric rise in the last six months making him a mainstay in the new-look Everton team. 

We all loved Iwobi’s incredible engine and die-hard attitude while fighting for our lives last season, and I believe he has been the trailblazer for both the rest of the squad and the club’s strategy going forward. Because the truth is, I see passion and hard work oozing from every member of the squad at the minute and it is growing with every game. As with any team that goes through a significant overhaul like has happened at Everton over the summer, there needs to be a bedding-in period before you really start judging the team and the manager. 

That’s why our seemingly below-par start of 4 points from six games can’t be critiqued too deeply. Mainstream media outlets would have you believe our poor start points towards another grave struggle around the relegation zone and that Lampard’s job is under threat.

However, this doesn’t align with the optimism that Evertonians have as Lampard enacts his plan. We see the work in progress, we see beyond the results and our position in the table. Granted, it doesn’t make for such pleasant reading and we will need to start seeing results at some point in the near future, but the majority of us do have faith in the future after last season's diabolical mess.

Reader Comments (65)

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Trevor Powell
1 Posted 05/09/2022 at 21:34:47
"Of course, Liverpool were not at their best".

Why were they not at their best? The old adage is that you play as well as you are allowed to play! Bournemouth clearly were not up for the fight at Anfield last week and they allowed the RS to play their game, their way.

On Saturday, the Blues got in their faces and simply did not let them play how they would envisage!

Good on you Blues, you gave them something to think about and they fell short.

Your comment should read, "Of course, Liverpool were not allowed to be at their best".

Martin Mason
2 Posted 05/09/2022 at 21:44:17
Saturday was exceptional but please don't let us get carried away. There are lots of hurdles along the way for this potentially very good squad to gel into a very good team.

We must understand, if it doesn't go well, that this happens and even our best teams of the past have struggled at times. What we have now is potential and, as supporters, we must nurture that with patience.

Bill Watson
3 Posted 05/09/2022 at 21:48:07
The obvious weaknesses, well at least obvious to us fans, in defence and midfield have been addressed and we now have a bit of pace and aggression in the side. Lampard and Thelwell were quick to identify the issues and bring in a mix of experienced leaders and younger players with energy and pace. Full marks to them for that.

Even though it's still early days, and we've yet to win, only three sides have a better goals against tally. We have a stronger, much better balanced, squad and cover in most positions.

Once we get the Arsenal game out of the way and the team is better bedded in I'm confident we can start picking up points, despite the continuing weakness up front.

There'll be downers along the way but the early signs are good.

Many pundits etc, including a majority of the usually objective Athletic journalists, have us as one of the relegation favourites but it's lazy journalism/comments based on what they saw last season.

Three things saved us last season:

i) the fantastic efforts of the fans in getting the side over the line;
ii) Lampard realising his error in selecting Gomes v Palace and replacing him with Dele whose brilliant 45 min cameo changed the game; and
iii) the protester who chained himself to the goalpost v Newcastle and we went on to score the winner in the 98th minute!

The one constant is the weak board whose incompetence, over a number of years, led to the shambolic season we all had to endure. All of them are still in situ!!

Tony Everan
4 Posted 05/09/2022 at 22:12:29
Matthew, thanks for this, it's definitely what many are thinking at the moment.

Me too, not just about the performances but with the injection of some real quality young players, blending in with tough excellent experienced professionals. It's this blend that is exciting me, it seems balanced and thriving. This time it feels like the green shoots cannot be stopped.

All the while, sitting there in the corner of the room is the results grim reaper. Not just for us but for every team. The results reaper is always there lurking in the shadows of the managers office, waiting for his hour. Optimism, green shoots, renewed hope count for nothing if the wins don't come.

So whilst the signs are very, very good, the focus needs to continue. Results are needed to keep the dark-cloaked forces far away.

Si Cooper
5 Posted 05/09/2022 at 23:56:21
Sorry, but you do have to look at the points tally and understand how vulnerable it makes us, especially as so far this season you'd be hard pushed to make a case for us getting more than one point for the draw in any game.

The three points for a win becomes a big problem if all you ever do is draw. Even a club that is inconsistent but wins one game in three and snatches some draws along the way will acquire more points than a team that only draws.

The good news is that most of us would agree that the squad has been improved overall and there is good reason to believe that performances on the field will improve as players bed in.

We don't even need an out-and-out goalscorer (but we do need at least some pretty consistent contributors to the tally) and we can get enough points through a version of KITAP1. However, we really do need key players to stay fit, good chances to be converted more often than they are squandered, and a decent percentage of the draws to become wins instead.

Dupont Koo
6 Posted 06/09/2022 at 01:04:27
Well written, Matthew.

As much as I would like to see us back to the Top Half of the Table quickly, we still have a lot of high-paid misfits on our books (Keane, Rondon, Dele, JPM, Gomes, Mina). Not until they are fully off our hands, either through sale or expiry of our contracts, can we really sort our books out and shoot for more dramatic acquisitions and improvement.

Meanwhile, we finally have a team that we can be proud of again. So, let's be patient for the rest of the season and enjoy the growth of Onana, Patterson, Mykolenko, Garner, Gordon and McNeil as well as the reincarnation of Iwobi! Fingers crossed for a quick recovery for Godfrey too so that he can revert back to his dynamic self shown during his first season with us.

I'll be happy if we finish anywhere between 10th and 14th by the end of the season.

Danny O’Neill
7 Posted 06/09/2022 at 01:27:21
Passion, hard work and commitment. I'm seeing all of that, and it ls important.

But I'm also seeing players much more comfortable with a football. They want the ball rather than the hot potato they've chucked around the pitch in recent seasons.

I'm not getting carried away, but I'm more positive than I have been previously and those who know me will know that's saying something.

Take me to Wembley Everton and Frank can do his corner flag dance for Everton and his dad!!

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
8 Posted 06/09/2022 at 08:17:42
We were 3 points worse off than last season after the opening day.

We are still 3 points worse off than last season.

Last season we took 3 points from the next 6 fixtures scoring 6 and conceding 16. If we only have 7 points after 12 games we are in trouble both in terms of improving against last year and being stick in the bottom 3. Look out for WC break. Based on last year - more than 12 points are needed to show an improvement in results.

But the whole mood music has changed.

Robert Tressell
9 Posted 06/09/2022 at 08:31:09
Phil # 8, we had a decent start last year. The disaster came later when DCL, Richarlison, Allan, Mina and Doucoure had extended spells out.

I'd rather fluff the opening games and then kick on, which we will now surely do.

The Rich 6 are already moving into their inevitable positions. Otherwise its all much of a muchness. We'll be fine

Mal van Schaick
10 Posted 06/09/2022 at 09:26:24
Mane is usually a key player for them but he has moved on. Diaz and Nunez are still bedding in, but in my opinion they could have won on the balance of play, missed chances and great saves by Pickford.

As the headline says it was determined and energetic from Everton, and the obvious ploy from Liverpool was the counter attack, and that nearly paid off.

I like the set up now from Lampard 4-3-3, and the new centre back pairing. This formation also gives us the opportunity to counter attack at pace. We also have a stronger bench, which will be useful in case of injuries.

Although, we haven’t got too many points on the board and a reflection of improvement in the squad will be getting something from the Arsenal game on Sunday. We know how difficult that can be given our past experiences. Still onwards and upwards, let’s hope it’s not too long before we get a league win.

Jim Lloyd
11 Posted 06/09/2022 at 09:36:00
I think we're in the process of getting a good team and squad together, I look at Grays goal and Coady's goal, both ruled out by minute measurements, we'd have had 6 points.
If's and but's, of course but I think we are becoming a strong squad. Hopefully we're learning to be a clever one. We are not far away from scoring the goals and more importantly, we are drawing games we would formerley have lost.
I thought at the start of the season that our first priority was to get a way from the mire; and stay away. Much to the disdain of some for having so low a target, I still think that is our first priority, strop losing the games that we did last season. get that right, which it looks like we're doing and build on that. If it still shows by the January window, we need a goalscorer, we can concentrate on that now. We've got a good defence and a strong and clever midfield, so I'm hopeful now, we'll move away from danger; but I'll wait and see how we go on before thinking about the dizzy heights of european places.
Brian Harrison
12 Posted 06/09/2022 at 09:54:05
I think the mood amongst us Blues is far more positive and in getting Gana Gueye back will make a massive difference. I loved him when he was here first time and I know its only 45 minutes but he looks like he has never been away, and as Lampard said he isn't match fit and he is this good.
By moving to a 4-3-3 it takes away my worry of how uncomfortable Tarkowski looked on the left of a back 3, and I am convinced it gives us more attacking options. Onana can be anything he wants, likes like the kid has all the tools at his disposal, and having Gueye next to him will be a massive help to the youngster.

Our 2 young fullbacks can defend and attack and now that Patterson is getting a regular game after his injury you can see the improvement. Would be interesting to see who did push through those transfers, although Benitez was the manager by not picking either then they weren't bought on his recommendation. My only concern for this team is who will score the goals, its nice that both Gordon and Gray have got off the mark but while Maupay works hard he has to be more clinical than he has been so far in his career. After spending most of last season on the treatment table DCL is again battling back after another set back, and even when fit it will take 3 or 4 games to get match fit. Yes its good to see us improving game on game and the new signings will I think make a huge difference but goals win games and we have to find a way of scoring more goals as all the possession in the world counts for nothing if you don't put the ball in the net.

Brian Murray
13 Posted 06/09/2022 at 10:12:47
Danny. We have never won a trophy without a jock in the team. Remember the name patterson.
Stu Darlington
14 Posted 06/09/2022 at 10:12:50
Don’t go much on comparing stats from season to season.The situation is too fluid to draw valid conclusions.
Fixtures change,personnel changes.etc.
But I do know we are in much better shape than we were this time last year.Our defence looks much more solid and our midfield is no longer as weak as it was.
There is a different,more positive vibe throughout the whole team,better attitude,work ethic,team spirit etc
The fans can feel it and will respond to it.
Some of the games we have drawn this season we would have caved in and lost last season..
We still lack a cutting edge in the final third,but I hope the powers that be have already compiled a short list of possible candidates ( I’m sure Robert and Sam can provide them with a few options if they’re stuck)
The challenge as I see it now is to maintain the intensity and consistency throughout the rest of the season.
If we can'the results will follow
Ajay Gopal
15 Posted 06/09/2022 at 10:23:40
Good article this, Matthew. However, I think we should acknowledge that Lady Luck has been kind to us so far - 4 shots by Brentford and 3 shots by Liverpool against our woodwork, and we still come away with draws in both games. Yes, we did have our share of bad luck, the 2 VAR offside decisions and the Tom Davies hit against the upright and the point blank miss by Maupay, etc, etc. but on the whole we have been luckier than in the past and we need to acknowledge it. Having said that, there is no doubting that we have improved significantly especially in defense.

But, we need to start picking wins starting from the next game. It is no use saying - oh, it is Arsenal away and we always lose there. Every game is winnable if Lampard is able to instil the right mentality among the players. Every game is tough - there are no gimmes in this league. Our next 6 games look like this:

Arsenal (A)

West Ham (H)

Southampton (A)

Man United (H)

Spurs (A)

Newcastle (A)

That us one tough run of fixtures, and it won't get much easier thereafter. So, every game is a must win - there is not 1 game that we can afford to either relax or give up. Opponents should fear playing us.

I agree 100% with Tony (4) - "So whilst the signs are very, very good, the focus needs to continue. Results are needed to keep the dark-cloaked forces far away." Couldn't have put it any better.

Brian Harrison
16 Posted 06/09/2022 at 10:31:50
I know we have all commented on the positivity that Lampard and his coaches have instilled this season, and also the improvement that the new signings will make. But for me the biggest change is the fans, yes we can all remember great nights at Goodison and the atmosphere in our league winning sides. But in the 67 years I have been going to Goodison I have never seen our fans as motivated as they are now, for too long we have been reluctant to show our passion on a regular basis, yes against our neighbours and other top sides the fans have been motivated. I was lucky enough to go to the game at Leicester towards the back end of last season and the atmosphere created by the Everton fans was incredible. They were singing before the game during half time and 25 minutes after the game finished, and many of the Leicester fans I spoke to said they had never seen anything like that support. And I think the Everton fans have realized what a fully motivated fan base can achieve, and I think the fans have carried on with their magnificent support. I think the regurgitation of " the spirit of the Blues" and "We are the Goodison gang" has transformed our fan base and long may it continue.
Brian Harrison
17 Posted 06/09/2022 at 10:31:50
I know we have all commented on the positivity that Lampard and his coaches have instilled this season, and also the improvement that the new signings will make. But for me the biggest change is the fans, yes we can all remember great nights at Goodison and the atmosphere in our league winning sides. But in the 67 years I have been going to Goodison I have never seen our fans as motivated as they are now, for too long we have been reluctant to show our passion on a regular basis, yes against our neighbours and other top sides the fans have been motivated. I was lucky enough to go to the game at Leicester towards the back end of last season and the atmosphere created by the Everton fans was incredible. They were singing before the game during half time and 25 minutes after the game finished, and many of the Leicester fans I spoke to said they had never seen anything like that support. And I think the Everton fans have realized what a fully motivated fan base can achieve, and I think the fans have carried on with their magnificent support. I think the regurgitation of " the spirit of the Blues" and "We are the Goodison gang" has transformed our fan base and long may it continue.
Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 06/09/2022 at 11:26:42
I think the key phrase is “ We are improving “ and a lot of fans can see that, we have improved since the season started, let’s be honest here, maybe Frank didn’t have the players we have now or maybe we he was too reluctant to let the team attack more than we did, those first two games versus Chelsea and Villa we hardly attacked at all, against Villa it took us twenty minutes to get into their penalty area and only when we went 2-0 down did we attack them and we could have got, luckily, a draw from the game, same versus Chelsea they were pretty timid going forward but we never had a go until the last few minutes, Villa have not done much this season and Chelsea have conceded goals in every game they have played and don’t look to have got their act together yet.

Now I can see the tide changing and Frank has got better players in and can start attacking more knowing he has a stronger defence and a much better midfield to defend and attack with and a stronger bench to make the replacements with.

Sooner or later we will rectify the absence of strikers and add to Dominic and Maupay and then I think we can all go to the games and start and enjoy them instead of fretting, worrying and making a mess of our finger nails, early days with Lampard and Thelwell but they seem to be clearing those dark clouds and bringing clear Blue ones in, onwards and upwards Blues, it might be time to start remembering the words to
“ We shall not be moved”

Jim Lloyd
19 Posted 06/09/2022 at 11:36:39
We'd have had a hard start, whoever we played,because we've got players in, good ones, who are slotting into the team. It's even harder that we played Liverpool (obviously "not at their best" and well pointed out Trevor) as they only scored 9 in their last game!! That's the rubbish the press for you. Then we've got Aresnal away.

I think we'll see more of Gray getting into goalscoring positions and Maupay? I thought he played well and put down the misses to being to anxious. He'll be playing in a good team and he's working with a manager who knows all about goalscoring, so I'm hopeful that he'll start bagging some of the chances he missed on Saturday. Otherwise he played well.

Paul Burns
20 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:10:44
Results ARE everything, better to play crap and win than play well and lose.
I worry about the mindset of our fans.
Jim Lloyd
21 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:16:48
Brian (17) You're absolutely right! I sit in the Upper Bullens and we've got supporters even sing round where I am. Another bonus is I hardly here the away support now. Too many times I've heard the away fans chant "It's like playing in a library!" I hope we carry on as we have been doing this season and the tail end of the last one. It boosts our players and intimidates the opposition.
Brian Murray
22 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:24:05
Jim. Quite right. Look at leeds getting a flattering draw v us on chances created but it’s still a fierce place to go and their home form may keep them up. Our fans though are second to none home and away. Got to be worth points on its own. This cutting edge may come back with dcl otherwise i’m sure it’s only a matter of time and another window.
Tom Bowers
23 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:24:48
We are a work in progress and it is going the right way I believe.

Rome wasn't built in a day and last season was a rude awakening to all of us loyal fans that no team has a right to stay in the Prem.

Okay some will say (especially RS fans) that they weren't at their best against the Blues but I believe they played as well as they could against a team that surprised them.

Sometimes they get wins against teams like Bournemouth when everything they touch goes in and sometimes lucky last minute wins like the Barcodes game.

That could have been us on Saturday but it would have been an injustice.

We will lose some games this season but I predict we will win a lot more than last season.

The Gunners game will be a stiff test but if they go in with the same spirit as the Derby match then they will give a good account of themselves and get something out of it.

Nick Page
24 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:44:53
Agreed Tom.

All good teams have spirit and work ethic and if we go in with anything less than we did against the shite we'll be up against it so to quote an old but seemingly forgotten cliche; we have to leave it all on the pitch.

Then I think we stand a good chance of surprising a few a people. The other thing is not giving these teams too much respect. They're just another football team and we have to get our heads over that.

Raymond Fox
25 Posted 06/09/2022 at 12:51:29
We will definitely be more difficult to score against but can we score enough goals, that is likely going to be our problem.

We need one or more of our midfielders to be playing more through balls to the forwards. Its not obvious if any of them have that in their skill set but that is where the coaches can earn their wages.

With DCL injured too often and Maupay is not really noted to be a prolific goal scorer ( he does however create chances for others to his credit ) as in Saturdays game.

Nevertheless its pretty obvious where our achilles heel is.

Dave Cashen
26 Posted 06/09/2022 at 13:17:48
Enjoyed that Matthew mate.

I'm glad that, despite your clear and obvious optimism, you planted your feet firmly on the ground in your last paragraph. You are right, of course: if we are to sustain this improvement, we need to see it reflected by accumulated points and a climb up the table.

I loved the comments about the fans in the Upper Bullens. I don't have a season ticket as I only get "home" for half the games. That means I end up sitting in different parts of the ground and I have noticed an incredible transformation everywhere I have sat since Rafa left.

I'm in awe of these young Evertonians. They have never seen a successful Everton team in their lives, but you will not see their level of passion at any other club in the country. Impossible not to join in.

Nick White
27 Posted 06/09/2022 at 14:08:00
Great article, thanks for posting it. Some tough games coming up but I’m confident we’ll get a win where we don’t expect to and kick on from there.
Paul Kossoff
28 Posted 06/09/2022 at 14:49:45
Results aren't everything? Oh, okay.

Suppose we get battered by Arsenal next game 5-0, oh that's okay because we really tried and put a lot of effort and commitment in, so we can accept the result because we tried.

Then we get battered by West Ham, that's okay too because we put a lot of effort into that one as well and results, well they don't matter do they, even if by Christmas we are firmly planted at the bottom of the table, that's okay because we aren't in a results-based game, are we?

Me, I would rather stink the place out with boring draws and wins if it means we don't have to go through what we did last season.

Results don't matter? Yes, they do 100%.

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 06/09/2022 at 14:53:51
I'll remember the name, Brian Murray!

Totally Brian Harrison; Goodison Gang & Spirit of the blues are unique and create a fantastic atmosphere. Too many teams, ourselves included over the years just copy. They can't be copied; they are Everton.

On Dave's last note, I mentioned that in my end-of-season write-up. It really struck me how many young fans there were home and away, generating passion and atmosphere. A gang of lads above me at Stamford Bridge banging on the panels to Goodison Gang.

The Crystal Palace fans I sat with on that night in total awe of Goodison as Spirit of the Blues rang out for what seemed like a never-ending rendition. Second to none.

On the team, yes, still work to do, but the wins and points are coming. The management team deserve credit. Seemingly by stealth and quietly under the radar, they have transformed the squad.

I looked at our defence on Saturday. We have 3 centre backs out injured, who would have been starters last season and are decent defenders. Even if fit right now, I think Mina, Godfrey and Holgate are struggling to replace any of Saturday's back 4. Gueye, Obana and the transformed Iwobi across a midfield 3. Different team from this time last season.

Brian Murray
30 Posted 06/09/2022 at 15:03:14
Paul @28.

Yes, you are right: we don't want to fall into our old trap of being glorious failures so your point will be very valid. If, however, we turn up at Arsenal and they know they have been in a game and if we win or draw we will know this new mentality is here to stay.

I know it's all 'ifs' but we have to start somewhere and we know all them weeks failing to replace Richarlison would cost us potentially 15 points. Maupay may help with that and then if Calvert-Lewin stays fit.

Andy Meighan
31 Posted 06/09/2022 at 15:15:46
If I have to go through what I went through last season, sleepless nights, wondering where the next few wins were coming from I swear I won't see us move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

I'm Frank's biggest fan and I've been banging his drum on here for months. The last couple of games have seen us move from a back 5 to a 4-3-3 and we've benefited from it immensely.

The VAR has robbed us in the last 2 games and, as far as I'm concerned, another 2 points. But, and this is my worry, the lack of goals is a big concern but at least we're creating chances, so our luck has to change soon… doesn't it?

If it doesn't, it's going to be more of the same from last season. That said, I can't see any side giving us a hiding the way we're setting up now. The optimist in me can see he's building something here, the Evertonian in me is saying was the derby display another false dawn.

Haven't felt this optimistic for a while but, until the goals start flowing and we rack up a few wins, I'll reserve judgement.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
32 Posted 06/09/2022 at 15:40:49
Robert #9 - my comparison is against the 6 fixtures from last year, not the first 6 games of last year. If we started with 6 matches against the Sky 6 and had anything we may be grateful. But against the bottom 7 including the promoted teams and had just 3 points, we would be worried.

Stu #14 - Consistently 40-45% of results are the same as the previous season. Even for Everton it has been 34%, 37%, 42% (Carlo), 37% the same as the previous season.

Robert Tressell
33 Posted 06/09/2022 at 16:11:26
I get you now, Phil. That's an interesting observation then.

Whatever the case though, I'd compare our opening games (regardless of who we're playing) to the period last season when we were without Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

In those games, we were hopeless. Rondon and others like Gomes were total passengers. Iwobi looked shot. Coleman couldn't run. The team capitulated.

In the games just gone, we were similarly understrength but no passengers, good work rate, and we were competing. We have also picked up points where last season it would have been defeats.

The main issue this season, aside from lack of striker, is 3 / 5 man defence which wasn't working.

The switch to 4-3-3 and the recruitment means we're in good shape. Good team spirit, quality in depth and one or two really good players emerging from the mire, like Iwobi and Patterson.

John Raftery
34 Posted 06/09/2022 at 16:42:30
Of course in the long term results matter. In the short term we all wanted some evidence of improvement. I think we have seen that. We have signed better players, ten since January. From what we have seen so far they are much better equipped to play at this level than most of their predecessors.

Credit goes to the current regime for a well executed recruitment drive in the summer. I believe the progress we have made is below the radar of the national media at present. That is a good thing, I think. We may surprise a few teams in the coming weeks.

Stu Darlington
35 Posted 06/09/2022 at 16:44:11
I agree Robert the switch to 4-33- and the recruitment of some quality players in midfield has certainly made a difference.

To see us breaking at pace and in numbers on Saturday was very satisfying. No looking round for the easy back pass, as in previous seasons, getting the ball forward quickly, looking to put pressure on their defence

They certainly weren't comfortable with it, and subbed their two fullbacks.
We were robbed of course by two disgraceful decisions, aided and abetted by the VAR, but I expect that now.

If we can maintain the same formation, mindset and intensity, I'm confident not many teams will relish playing us this season.

Robert Williams
36 Posted 06/09/2022 at 16:44:53
We face Arsenal on Sunday. All I want is the same energy and commitment that we showed against the Shite.

With a little luck and a kindly VAR, I do believe that we can put one over them. I will settle for a draw but banking on a win. A loss will mean starting over again.

We have the momentum, we have the players, we have the manager and the backroom staff and what's more we have the fans who will settle for NSNO. COYBs.

David Currie
37 Posted 06/09/2022 at 17:07:06
Brian 13,

Also we have only ever won League Titles and Cups with an English manager! Let's hope Frank can add to that list.

Danny O’Neill
38 Posted 06/09/2022 at 17:40:16
Surprises that start with Sunday, John, when I see Everton win at the Emirates.

Or at least not get thumped and humiliated!

I get it's a results business, especially at this level, but I always used to say to the teams I coached, focus on performances and the results will come.

It changes as the season goes on, especially at the business end, buy I think I can see what Frank is trying to do. Get the performances and team playing. Points are on the way.

Lev Vellene
39 Posted 06/09/2022 at 17:54:40
Ajay #15,

Not much to disagree with there, but Lady Luck has not been our friend very much for this past decade or more. So maybe it's time for her to belatedly take a fond look at her poor, forgotten step-child? :)

Lev Vellene
40 Posted 06/09/2022 at 18:04:52
Paul #28,

You are thinking about our defense and midfield from last season. Yes, those players could have spinelessly gone that route under pressure. But this far, I see no hint at all of defeatism in our team.

Six games, two defeats, four draws. Did anyone get close to slaughtering us so far?

Derek Taylor
41 Posted 06/09/2022 at 19:17:04
I have to admit that at the end of that pulsating performance I believed that we had 'crossed the Rubicon' -whatever that is or was! Necessity determined that Frank had to rely on a back four and how that paid off. in spades!

With a new surfeit of midfielders, he should have no reason to return to his beloved 'muddle five' defenders although I wouldn't bet that the lesson has been learned. But we can only hope!

Christy Ring
42 Posted 06/09/2022 at 19:49:03
Good article, Matthew, regarding the redshite not at their best, they had chances, as we had, but our team was strong in most positions.

Frank has improved the team with little money, got rid of our pedestrian midfield, and looking at the team on Saturday, it's the first time, we had a balanced team.

It was Maupay's first game, missed a good chance, but ran his socks off, and Calvert-Lewin back training is a huge boost as well. We haven't won yet, but we're on the up, and considering we played the first handful of games with no striker. NSNO

Peter Carpenter
43 Posted 06/09/2022 at 20:40:06
Great article, sums up our start very well.
Barry Rathbone
44 Posted 06/09/2022 at 21:56:14
As we proved with the early Moyes years, the club excels in aiming for mediocrity – the present drive for Premier League survival being exactly that.

The issue comes when fans get fed up with such crap and break rank demanding a proper competing footy club… then the entire edifice crumbles like a house of cards.

Too early for judgement but we're muddling along as lower-ranking stiffs quite nicely at the moment with signs we could avoid the drop.

Derek Knox
45 Posted 06/09/2022 at 22:08:03
Matthew, good article and one which pretty much sums up the 'feel good factor' amongst the fan base, it could be argued that we have had these before, after a decent run, but it certainly feels different this time. Like many have mentioned already, that positivity is ubiquitous, and certainly must influence the players after they have emerged from the tunnel.

Considering what Frank and his team have inherited, and because of unrestrained profligacy in the past, resulting in FFP dictating limitations in spending, he has and his team with Kevin Thelwell used what was available very well.

Moshiri has come under criticism, unfairly in my opinion, while it is rumoured he has insisted on, or backed some foolish buys, I think it goes a lot deeper than that and most of us know where and who the real culprit is and he's still here. If I was Moshiri I would be fuming seeing how my dosh has been squandered like Joe the Fatboy in the Tuck Shop.

Martin Mason
46 Posted 06/09/2022 at 22:13:26
Barry@44, time doesn't improve the absolute garbage that you say about Everton. Why do you bother?
Derek Thomas
47 Posted 06/09/2022 at 22:50:35
I'm not Klopp's biggest fan... he's only ever 1 smart comment from a ball boy away from losing it on live TV – I can't wait... but you have to give the devil his due, he said;

"Rule one with derbies: If you can't win it – don't lose it."

Not the daftest thing you ever heard.

Christine Foster
48 Posted 06/09/2022 at 22:54:00
Matthew, good article and it is a welcome sea change in the quality, ability and style of play. No longer watching, Keane, Holgate knocking the ball sideways, or a midfield knocking the ball backwards. Probing at pace constantly puts the opposition on the back foot.

But sadly a more positive style of play does not guarantee results, there are good teams with better players out there, what we have now is a team that can compete, the first step on the ladder of a team that can win.

We are in the results business, not just the entertainment business. But what we now have is a team that has sufficient desire and skill, playing in a team with the ethos of attacking play.

It brought joy to my heart to watch the game on Saturday, and we will win far more games than lose in the coming season playing this way.

Importantly and worth noting, teams think Everton are an easy touch and set up accordingly with a more attacking intent leaving them more open to our attacking style of play. Respect from the opposition means lesser teams will park the bus... and not leave the back door open!

So, where are we? You're right in the fact of getting the attitude, style and belief are the foundations we can now build on, so missing since Martinez, who failed to do so on Moyes's defensive legacy.

We still need to improve defensively but the spine is there, no longer are we missing critical pieces of our team photo. Now we can build, now we can compete, now, at last, we look like winning.

Don Alexander
49 Posted 06/09/2022 at 23:24:28
Barry (#44), to me you've summed up the present actuality.

Martin (#46), within your denigration of a fellow Toffee, to me you've summed up what we aspire to.

I respect you both.

Bill Gienapp
50 Posted 06/09/2022 at 23:53:41
Did anyone see the piece The Esk wrote about the derby?
Interestingly, he makes the claim that Moshiri wanted to get rid of Lampard after the season and the Board had to talk him out of it. I certainly hadn't heard anything along these lines previously.

A new Everton we can finally get on board with

Mike Gaynes
51 Posted 07/09/2022 at 00:48:01
Bill, I have the highest respect for The Esk and his knowledge, but the phrase: "it is believed" makes me skeptical. Believed by whom? According to whom?

And aside from Lampard's success in keeping us up, it strikes me as illogical that in the midst of our financial issues, Moshiri would be eager to swallow the last 2 years of a 2½-year contract. He may not be the world's best owner, but he has never struck me as a Looney Tune.

Bill Gienapp
52 Posted 07/09/2022 at 01:10:09
It's definitely peculiar, Mike.

In the comments (and on Twitter) the Esk cites "well placed sources" and leaves it at that.

I'd be surprised if he just plucked the claim out of left field. But in addition to the financial reasoning you mention, even though Moshiri was mostly AWOL over the second half of the season, I can't imagine he wasn't fully aware of the emotional connection developing between Lampard and the fanbase.

He'd be – to use your phrase – a total "Looney Tune" to try and sever that bond, under the circumstances.

Don Alexander
53 Posted 07/09/2022 at 02:21:54
First off, results ARE everything.

Second, it's long been apparent to me that in six years Moshiri has established himself as a world-wide imbecile when it comes to football decisions.

To me this means that Frank and Kevin in partnership are swimming against the Moshiri tide even as we seek this weekend, against Arsenal on their turf, to achieve one point per game played.

Yes, the ESK piece stated Moshiri thankfully supported his own hitherto inept board/chairman in standing by Lampard lately, but what are we to think of the future with such a ramshackle feckless bunch of no-marks owning and running OUR club?

Danny O’Neill
54 Posted 07/09/2022 at 04:32:25
I never aim for mediocrity (got that right this time, Michael!).

I aim for success. In the short term, that can be Europe and a trophy.

Longer term we are back challenging for bigger and better things.

Aim high, Barry. It's what we should be doing. Not shooting low to then get frustrated with mediocrity.

Everton; 9 times League Champions. Despite a 35-year gap, still, for now, 4th in that table. That's our benchmark.

Results are ultimately what any team is judged on. But over time. Kendall would have been long gone before he had the chance to get his team and act together if short term results are the measure.
As someone on the fence with Lampard, I am fed up with the revolving door and want to give this time. Are we building something? That's the question.

I'm mid air somewhere over the Atlantic right now. But planning my day out at the Emirates on Sunday.

See you all there to bring the points home. Be that in person, in spirit (of the blues), from near, or from afar.

Tony Abrahams
55 Posted 07/09/2022 at 08:20:38
I understand what you're saying Mike G, but maybe the man understands very little about football? I have heard it said from someone inside the corridors that, if you think Kenwright is bad, then you wouldn't want to listen to Moshiri. My first thoughts were obviously “Good old Bill.”

My own feelings are that Moshiri was too busy trying to sell the club this summer but, once due-diligence was performed, he realised that this was going to be impossible, unless he was prepared to lose a lot of money.

Brian Murray
56 Posted 07/09/2022 at 08:41:04
Hope the owner is not even thinking about pulling the trigger. For once, I reckon we have the best chance to at least compete and get the Sky luvvies worried as we seen on Saturday. Especially Frank's backroom and the set up with Thelwell.

If Moshiri wants to get the club to start earning him money, well do a proper in-house look at how that can improve. Think he's given up on that score until we move into the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.

Brian Harrison
57 Posted 07/09/2022 at 09:35:06
I think many are forgetting that Lampard was not Moshiri's choice, he was about to appoint Pereira and I can only assume that the fans' protests and some sound advice from somebody changed his mind.

So to hear that he was contemplating sacking Lampard doesn't surprise me in the least, he has fired a few whose team finished a lot higher than Lampard's did last season.

I also wouldn't rule out him sacking Lampard if we are in or very close to the relegation zone, by the time the players depart for the World Cup. This would be the ideal time as we will have every few going to the World Cup, so it would give the new manager a few weeks to work with the squad before the season resumes.

I really hope that Everton are clear of the relegation zone come the World Cup and moving in the right direction which I think they will be. Changing managers every 18 months or less has got us into this mess.

Also, let's remember Moshiri no longer has the financial backing of Usmanov, or why else would he be looking for investors. Remember with business money is king and if the threat of relegation looms large again I am sure Moshiri won't hesitate to remove Lampard.

Jerome Shields
58 Posted 07/09/2022 at 09:57:31
Lampard was selected by the fans as Brian #57 is right in stating that Pereira was Moshiri's choice. Kenwright & Co jumped on the bandwagon only when it looked that Pereira was the choice. In the initial process, they were not backing Lampard either.

Lampard kept his job during the relegation dogfight because both Kenwright & Co and Moshiri needed a scapegoat if Everton got relegated. Sacking Lampard before that, with Everton's fan support on the street, would have brought down almighty pressure on both. It was probably considered, but was too much of a hot potato.

Results are everything. In the derby, Everton looked as if they could have got a result and should have won the game. I don't buy into Liverpool not being at their best either. Just punditry, not fact.

Against Arsenal, following on that performance, I expect Everton to put in a similar performance at the Emirates and this time win. I think Arsenal have benefited a lot from the early start in August and the exceptionally dry weather. But that has now turned.

Moshiri has always been susceptible to fan pressure.

Dave Abrahams
59 Posted 07/09/2022 at 11:15:57
Tony (55),

Moshiri shared a friendship with Kenwright over many years and was enticed into buying Everton by his friend, so maybe his football knowledge has been learned from Bill and would explain its depth… or lack of it.

Tony Everan
60 Posted 07/09/2022 at 11:21:02
Brian, Jerome. I think you are right also remember they were trying to get Roberto Martinez back as manager, probably fuelled by Bill Kenwright . The idea was retaining his Belgium job until the World Cup, until Belgium FA said don't be ridiculous.

So if you think about it there is a glaring time space after the World Cup and before the January transfer window to make changes if necessary. A few clubs will do it.

Hopefully by then we will have progressed points wise, the last thing we need is more managerial upheaval. Getting Calvert-Lewin fit, and keeping him fit, will make life easier. From what I've see so far , with a proven striker we are looking like a top 8 team minimum.

Mick O'Malley
61 Posted 07/09/2022 at 11:45:03
If that's evenly remotely true that Moshiri was contemplating sacking Frank, then he is a bigger dickhead than I already think he is.

Lampard has persuaded players to sign for Everton because of who he is, he has only just started to assemble his own squad. There's a feel-good factor developing between the team and fans, things are starting to look better, a young dynamic team in the making.

Lampard was saddled with one of the worst midfields I've seen at Everton last season. Calvert-Lewin was constantly injured as he has been this season. Let's not panic – the season is only 6 games old, if we carry on playing like we did on Saturday, we'll be fine.

Danny O’Neill
62 Posted 07/09/2022 at 12:51:53
Having just commented on the Tuchel sacking and how the owners are seemingly behaving like experts behind their Football Manager 2022 console, it is worrying to hear rumours about Moshiri and Lampard, especially as it seems it wasn't his choice.

Abramovich got away with it as I guess he employed people in the background who knew how to run a business and football club. The manager became a figurehead.

Moshiri tried the same bankroll methodology but gave keys to the Kingdom to Bill and made him custodian.

I hope he's learned a lesson and it sticks. From someone who was a bit undecided on Lampard, but I like what I'm seeing, and just want us to see something through.

Jerome Shields
63 Posted 07/09/2022 at 15:15:11
Danny #62

i Was very surprised by Tuchel's Sacking. But I had noticed him being a bit preoccupied in recent interviews. Obviously he was not confident of support within the club.

Frank's strength is that he does have the backing of the supporters and was selected by them. It is based on the recognition that new ways have to be tried and a tolerance that they may work or not.

Both Kenwright and Moshiri know that, given Everton's recent close shaves, there would be little tolerance of an attempt to change this up-and-coming manager.

Everton are bumping along at a consistent level of competence. Players getting settled in and more familiar with what is required due to consistent template training week after week, stands a chance of taking Everton to a higher level.

Barry Rathbone
64 Posted 07/09/2022 at 16:49:46
Martin Mason @46,

I wish I could reply in kind but I long learned to scan past your sloth-like musings as I would any village idiot.

George Cumiskey
65 Posted 07/09/2022 at 18:38:24
Elementary, my dear Barry 😃🤣

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