One Swallow…

by   |   06/02/2023  20 Comments  [Jump to last]

One swallow does not a summer make...

Firstly, this is not meant to be a negative article or put a dampener on celebrations. I was really impressed with the performance on Saturday. The tactics were good, the effort was there and the crowd was great. I'm hoping we put in a similar performance in the derby. However, in some ways those are the "easier" games.

The expectations are low against teams like Arsenal and the crowd are up for it. Tactically, we can sit back and hit them on the counter. It's the games against teams lower down the table that I am worried about (eg, the games against Leeds Utd, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest). Why? Because we have, in my opinion, two major issues. 

The first issue is the team itself. We don't have a bad squad as such but we don't have many goals in us. Calvert-Lewin has been (still is) plagued with injuries and is not playing anywhere near the level he was the season before last. Maupay puts in a good shift but is not really a goal threat and we cannot expect too much from Simms at this stage.

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In addition, we don't have a proper Number 10 (ie, a creative playmaker). So, we find it really hard to break down "weaker" teams – especially at home. These teams know that, when they come to Everton, they just need to sit back, frustrate the team and crowd, and wait for the inevitable mistake… to pounce. 

The second issue is the crowd itself. The home support on Saturday was fantastic but the atmosphere is very different when we play "weaker" teams. It's all well and good to meet the bus and let off blue flares but the real support needs to come in the game itself.

As teams sit back and we find it hard to break them down, then the crowd often starts getting on players' backs. It creates a nervous, almost toxic atmosphere inside Goodison Park, and the opposition thrive on that. As supporters, we need to be more patient and positive to back the players in these games especially.    

I'll be really interested to see how Dyche addresses these issues. I've been impressed with how he has handled himself so far and I hope he can address them as our season depends on it.

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Reader Comments (20)

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Christine Foster
1 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:10:58

I understand your concern and in truth a similar thought had crossed my mind that it's always the lower clubs we come a cropper against. But, as our last game shows, follow the tactical plan laid out and we should have back-up for the continual error-inflicted players.

We seemed to be doubling up all over the pitch, so back up was always there. Funnily enough, I quite fancy our chances against the other lot because they will be on the front foot and are making loads of individual mistakes, leaving the door open to be hit.

It's against the likes of Leeds Utd, Nottm Forest, Aston Villa where Dyche has to change the tactics to win. I am sure he will as he seems to have his head screwed on!

Robert Tressell
2 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:18:25
It's a fair observation, Frank. And time will tell. However, in games against weaker opposition, we do have Simms and Gray to help with additional goal threat. We also have the option to play Calvert-Lewin and Maupay as a double act.

And tactically Dyche will be very familiar with pitting on poor team against another. The opposition coaches will be wondering how to outwit us too with their own limited squads.

None of these games will be easy but we should be confident of points.

Stephen Davies
3 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:18:27
But how would you fancy our chances if Calvert-Lewin gets an injury that keeps him out for a number of games?

He's being assessed at the moment.

Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:18:54
The good news for you, Frank, is that we haven't got many of those lower-in-the-table teams to come to Goodison before the season ends. Sadly, that's because we've already lost to a few of them!
Colin Glassar
5 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:19:15
I share your concerns, Frank. How many corners have we turned over the last 10 years only to find ourselves in the same spot?

I will take each game one at a time as I don't really trust this bunch of players. They've shown over the years that they can't sustain a decent run of more than 4-5 games so a Dyche bump is welcome but there's a lot more football to play.

So, sorry for not joining in with the festivities but trust has to be earned.

Brian Harrison
6 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:33:14
I posted something very similar on Sunday, and the time to judge Dyche is in a year's time. He still has a mountain to climb to get us out of being relegated, because Lampard was allowed to stay too long and lost what should have been winnable games at home.

He walks away with between £5-7 million pay off for being the worst manager we have ever had, and even up to a couple of weeks back there were still some fans saying stick with Frank.

Arsenal would have ran out easy winners against Lampards team; Dyche might not have the same charisma but he knows how to set a side up.

Probably Sean Dyche was just a notch better than Allardyce in some fans eyes, but we need pragmatism right now and he has that in bucket loads.

How nice for a manager to come in and put them through a rigorous training routine, and told the players no snoods, no gloves, no hats – as he said, you can't play with these things on so you don't train with them either.

Joe Corgan
7 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:41:03
I am always grateful to those ToffeeWeb visitors who choose to submit articles, and this one is no different. In this case, however, I disagree with a few things underpinning the premise.

Yes, Arsenal and Liverpool were always going to be “free hits” but the idea that we could afford to “sit back and hit them on the counter” is just plain wrong. That isn't what we did on Saturday.

Arsenal, being Arsenal, did have some lengthy periods of possession. We were set up to press, force them into mistakes, win the ball in midfield and, where possible, further forward. At no point, bar the last few minutes, did we attempt to simply soak up pressure.

It's also true that we've struggled to score goals but I don't buy the idea that we don't have goals in us. What we've failed to do the last two seasons is create chances. Richarlison being a notable exception due to his exceptional ability to create them for himself.

Lampard's Everton was set up to try to play football. A passing game, without the players to do it right, always coming up against eleven opposing players behind the ball. If Saturday's match is an indicator of our new approach, I expect to see balls hit long for players to run on to and early crosses into the box.

Calvert-Lewin may not have gotten the luck last weekend, but he was there. He won individual battles and was always in the right place to carve out a chance. If he keeps doing that, and we keep creating chances, he'll score.

My final point is about the fans. This article suggests the crowd played a big part in driving the team to beat Arsenal. And while it's true that Goodison can sometimes be a nervy, edgy place, the crowd has shown time and time again over the past 12 months that it will get behind the team.

Our fans have been exemplary in finding the balance between protesting against the board while supporting the manager and players. And it's not just against the big teams.

Without the fans, there's no way we come back from 2-0 down against Crystal Palace. We're at the stage of the season now where I expect every home match will be treated like a cup final by the fans.

One swallow does not a summer make, but there are blue skies on the horizon.

Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 06/02/2023 at 19:58:31
I've already judged Dyche on the biggest aspect that we currently require and he's come through with flying colours.

His problem is the players; if they can beat Arsenal and draw at Man City but constantly lose at home to the bottom team, then it's obvious they lack real discipline. This might not be easy to instil into a lot of players who have been on Easy Street for years.

If the players buy into this newfound discipline, then I expect us to win quite a few of our remaining games, but what can the manager do if they don't?

Barry Hesketh
9 Posted 06/02/2023 at 20:11:03
I never felt that Arsenal were threatening during the whole game. I don't know if their fans felt that they were below par on the day, but the Gunners didn't lack confidence and rarely gave the ball away, so the lack of chances for them should be put fairly and squarely on what Everton did right.

I found the game reflected more of the Joe Royle master plan, than the Sam Allardyce plan; for that, Dyche should take the credit. He managed to get the players to look like a team and not a collection of individuals who happen to wear the same shirt. For my money, a single-goal victory was less than Everton deserved and Arsenal couldn't have complained had we won by two or even three goals.

I don't know if the players are capable of keeping up the same energy levels for the rest of the season but, from what little I've seen and heard of Dyche, I see no way that this manager will allow the standards set on Saturday to fall very far from that baseline.

I do agree that Dominic's fitness, or lack of it, will provide a headache for Dyche, but that would be the case regardless of which manager was in charge of this current squad. I'm sure he'll be aware of our lack of goals, which is why it's very important to prevent the number of chances given to any opponent in future games.

Set-pieces have already been identified by the management team as a way to score goals, so we can have some hope that will continue to be the case for the rest of the campaign; some people of the purist persuasion may not have enjoyed the game on Saturday.

Quite apart from the result and its importance, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole game, a proper contest between two contrasting styles but without quarter given by either side. Long may it be the case that Everton actually look competitive – it's not always been evident in very many games in recent years.

Kevin Molloy
10 Posted 06/02/2023 at 20:16:36
A timely reminder. There is no chance we can keep that level of intensity up.

That's not to say we won't start climbing the table, but it's going to be a real slog. We need to be patient.

Fran Mitchell
11 Posted 06/02/2023 at 20:53:13
The relegation battle will go down to the wire and we cannot afford to be complacent.

It was a fantastic showing on Saturday. What impressed me most was the organisation, pressing as a team, moving in blocks, players understanding their roles and performing them, holding position. Previously, players would press, notably Iwobi and Gueye, but they'd do so at their own whim, and leave us wide open.

We won't score 30 goals in 17 games, but the hope is the days we don't score, we scrap a 0-0, and when we do, we can hold on to victory. 7 wins – that's the target, 1 down, 6 to go.

But it will be tough – Southampton and Bournmouth appear to be the lost causes this season. But then there is no telling who will be the 3rd team to be relegated. Leeds are probably the favourites, but now they've sacked Marsch, so who knows.So realistically, anyone from 18th to 12th is vulnerable, just 6 points separating them.

I think Forest will stay up, Leicester and West Ham really should have too much. That then leaves Palace – they impress but also are in a bad run and lack goals.

Wolves have signed some impressive players and have an impressive manager, and seem to be finding form. So unfortunately, we are still among the favourites to go down and will be until we manage another 2-3 wins more than those around us.

But who knows, maybe the wheels will well and truly come off on the Klopp era and they'll tumble down the table, starting on Monday.

Wouldn't that just be glorious?

Paul Hewitt
12 Posted 06/02/2023 at 20:55:51
I've a sneaky feeling Crystal Palace could be the 3rd team to go down. You sometimes get a team falling from nowhere into the relegation zone.
Barry Hesketh
13 Posted 06/02/2023 at 21:04:32
Paul @12,

I think it will be any three from Leicester downwards, those above the Foxes are unlikely to drop into the Bottom 3.

Obviously next week's match is important for the fans, but the two home games against Leeds and Villa are going to be of far greater importance, assuming we don't win at the other place, for the club and its fortunes. Hopefully, the Goodison crowd will be up for those two games as much as they were on Saturday.

Barry Rathbone
14 Posted 06/02/2023 at 21:11:40
False dawns from the fabled new manager bounce are our stock in trade. But players quickly tire of a new master's voice once the wins dry up – and "winners" this group are not.

A great start but we've been here so often the mania isn't for me especially with the script about to go into the usual kick-in-the-bollocks routine. A decent win, hopes raised and the RS arrive needing a boost and BINGO! the balloon is popped.

I've watched this film more than "Zulu" and I like "Zulu".

Avoid defeat and maybe, just maybe…

Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 06/02/2023 at 21:13:28
I've been having similar thoughts, Paul H, but think they might just do enough to stay in the Premier League because of their current points tally.
Andy Crooks
16 Posted 06/02/2023 at 00:02:44
Barry, a very disheartening but spot-on post. It is hard to get over that we would not have been in this mess had Lampard gone earlier but this is it.

We were, before Saturday, in my view, the worst team with the worst coach in the Premier League. We have lost the worst coach but we now need teams who look better than us to quickly be worse.

We will need a remarkable run to survive… but now it is thinkable.

Dave Lynch
17 Posted 07/02/2023 at 00:36:12
The problem as I see it with Frank was he was one of, if not the best midfield players of his generation. He tried to coach a team to his standard that didn't have the skill-set to meet that standard.

Dyche is a no-nonsense "play to your players' strengths" manager, like some have said, and I pointed out before the Arsenal game... we have been here too many times for us to take anything for granted.

One thing's for sure, though: Dyche will not take any shit or a drop in intensity from our current crop of incumbents.

Oliver Molloy
18 Posted 07/02/2023 at 01:06:49
I wonder, if Leeds had sacked their American at the same time as we said Good-bye to Lampard, would Dyche be here?

Will Leeds consider Lampard ?

Everyone happy with the result on Saturday, some getting very carried away thinking all is well; 'Far from it' is the truth.

Someone on here thinks it's a foregone conclusion that Southampton and Bournemouth are gone. Didn't they both beat us?? Do we play them again???

We can only look after ourselves and hope that we get some favours along the way.

The games against Leeds Utd and Nottm Forest coming up will provide a decent indicator as to where we're at.

We have a chance with Dyche, but it's going to go down to the wire I believe once again.

Frank Wolfe
19 Posted 07/02/2023 at 01:20:44
Hi Joe (7).

A fair point about us "sitting back". I agree that we did more than that and pressed all over the pitch. However, my basic point was that the impetus and possession was with Arsenal. We were relying on disrupting them. That won't happen when we play weaker teams, especially at home. The onus is on us then.

You said we have goals in us but just haven't been able to create them. That's one of my points. We don't have a Number 10 which I find staggering. We cannot break down teams who sit back against us.

In terms of the crowd, I agree that, at the end of last season, the mood changed when people realised the proverbial could hit the fan but it has returned to normal this season. It's not just me saying this, numerous opposition players and coaches have admitted that getting the crowd on Everton's back is part of their strategy. Here's just one article touching on it:

'It doesn't matter' – Slaven Bilic sends blunt message to Everton fans over 'atmosphere'

Jerome Shields
20 Posted 08/02/2023 at 15:33:10
I think Dyche will be capable of varying tactics and with more direct play be able to provide more scoring opportunities.In such a scenario, a No 10 is therefore not necessary.

The formations under Lampard forced Everton into slow ponderous play getting forward.

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