There are many ways to look at the season so far. Yes we have been unlucky at times and yes ref/VAR decisions have gone against us yet again. There is no doubt in my mind that we deserved to beat Fulham and four points would look a damn site better than one. This time last season we had three points after 5 games and our best run of form was just starting.
It is clear we were not ready for this season to start. With forwards we might have beaten both Fulham and Wolves. We have had Beto available only for Sheff Utd and Arsenal. McNeil is now back and after 5 games the team should be up and running. But the problem is pressure is already building and the team is playing with no cohesion or belief. This seems to be stemming from the midfield not getting a grip on things.
My opinion is Onana is the main problem in midfield.
Gueye is the ball winner and covers a lot of ground for us, Doucoure provides energy in the midfield and provides a few goals. Neither are the greatest of passers so we must have someone in there who can keep possession for us and get the team moving forward. Onana doesn't do this for us mainly because he just can't get into a game enough. He kind of drifts in and out and lets a game pass him by instead of stamping his influence on a game.
What's baffling to me is we do have the player who fits the role Onana just can't play. We have Garner who is an excellent passer, he can also tackle and has a good work ethic.
When he was played in centre midfield towards the end of last season, when Onana got injured, the midfield started to function better culminating in the excellent performance against a very good Brighton side.
So why on earth Dyche doesn't refer back to this I do not know. The Onana Gueye midfeld has struggled whether it was in combination with Iwobi under Lampard or Doucoure under Dyche.
Make no mistake Gueye is essential to our midfield and without him we would be in a bigger mess. He plugs a lot of gaps in the middle but at the moment he is all over the place having to cover for Onana too.
To be honest I have never liked the idea of a tall centre midfield player (you can count the good ones on one finger, maybe 2!). I was brought up on the idea that a good midfielder is on the smaller side, is nippy and knits the midfield together with short passes and has an engine and remains busy throughout the game. Peter Reid and Paul Bracewell obviously spring to mind. But even a fit James McCarthy did so much more than what Onana does.
Onana is opposite to this. Tall, slow on the turn, drifting around, in and out of the game. Sure if we are on top we would see the best out of him but we are usually up against it and need to win a midfield battle and he just can't do it.
Gueye's best form last season was towards the end when he mainly played with Garner so I would be looking towards this combination again. And definitely not trying to fit Onana in a number 6 role which is just not going to work.
The midfield problem must be sorted quickly. We are just not looking solid in this department and a midfield of Gueye Garner and Doucoure should get the better of the lesser teams in the Premiership, at the very least.
We don't want someone who comes up with a good pass here and there we need someone who can grab a game by the scruff of the neck and keep it going for 90 minutes and I think Garner can do this.
As I've said before, the Brighton 5-1 team should be our template. It worked not just in that game but in other games too.
For this reason the selling of Iwobi for £20m was bad business. We needed him at least for the time being and points are more important for the team than money. If we had to sell I would have let Onana go.
We should never have sold Iwobi or Canon, total stupidity for me, but nonetheless we still have the players to be able to stay out of trouble, but the team must be set up right.
Dyche must get this team to look more solid very quickly. The next 3 league games are huge and we need the midfield to be on the front foot and firing. Onana is not the right man for this job in my opinion. Give him a rest and he might just come back with more fight and a point to prove!

Reader Comments (72)

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Andy Crooks
1 Posted 22/09/2023 at 19:22:47
I agree, Jim. Onana, at the moment, is in my view a luxury we can't afford. I think he will be a top player but right now we need a run of wins. Your argument seems to give us the best chance getting them.
Paul Tran
2 Posted 22/09/2023 at 20:24:44
Agreed Jim. Dyche is wasting Garner out wide. Part of me thinks Onana would look some player in a better team, but the way he's playing for us, he might not get that chance.
Ian Bennett
3 Posted 22/09/2023 at 20:57:18
I think all three have been piss-poor. Onana goes missing, Gana can't pass or shoot, Doucouré is looking slow, passing is poor and fails to create or score enough.

I like Garner. He was at fault for goals earlier in the season, but he's a proper footballer who can pass.

Once Harrison is fit, I'd like to see him or Danjuma wide left, and try McNeil central. He can strike a ball, isn't rapid and could be a decent advanced midfielder with options ahead of him.

That leaves Gana or Onana in front of the back 4. I'd go Onana, but it's marginal.

Tony Everan
4 Posted 22/09/2023 at 20:57:44
Thanks for the article, Jim, as it's now our Number 1 issue.

I think the comments here are bang on the money. The team can't afford to carry anybody, whoever it is – no matter what they cost. Onana is not justifying his place at the moment. Still not happy with his laconic closing down for Sheffield's second goal and, as has been said, he drifts out of games too easily.

Like Andy and Paul above, I think Onana will look the business in a year or two in a better team. But right now at Everton, we need a better balance and more industry and that means Gana., Garner with Doucouré more advanced. Gana breaking up play, Garner receiving and feeding it forward, Doucouré up and down supporting attacks.

It's the key to getting some wins on the board.

Tony Everan
5 Posted 22/09/2023 at 21:06:31
* Laconic, meant to be 'lazy'.
Kevin Prytherch
6 Posted 22/09/2023 at 21:44:39
Gueye was not essential to the team in his first stint, and is even less essential in his second. He doesn’t plug gaps, he creates them with his ridiculous charges out of position to try and win an un-winnable ball.

The amount of times an opposition midfielder gets a free shot on goal is ridiculous. Someone with an ounce of football intelligence would read the game and stop a lot of these.

If Gueye is one of the answers, I hate to imagine what the question must be.

Barry Rathbone
7 Posted 22/09/2023 at 22:03:32
"Neither are the greatest of passers"

This is why we are totally inept.

Once you accept 20% of your outfield players can't do something as basic as passing, the only way is down. Peak Barcelona would struggle to cover such a massive hole and I can't see us reaching Barca levels till at least Easter.

(Not saying what year…)

Jim Lloyd
8 Posted 22/09/2023 at 22:31:45
Well, we've suddenly got a fair number of athletic, clever, attacking and maybe even goalscoring players in the squad!

Beto, Danjuma, McNeil, Harrison, Garner, Calvert-Lewin, to add to Guaye, Doucouré and Onana.

From what I've seen of them so far this season, Onana, and Doucouré are both a weakness, either going forward and creating opportunities or taking shots, coming back and defending, and then there's the midfield battle to be won. All three of them together don't make a midfield that do much of any of those jobs, with perhaps Gueye, doing much more tackling than either of the other two but he's slowing and can't shoot!

As it stands at the moment, I'd like to see our team play 4-4-2 and have a midfield of Harrison, Garner, Danjuma, McNeil and up front Beto and Calvert-Lewin. At the back, until/if Seamus comes back fit and raring to go: Patterson, Branthwaite, Tarkowski and Mykolenko.

Both full backs are a bit naive but extremely fast with plenty of energy. Branthwaite and Tarkowski seem to be a good partnership in the making. All of the midfield are creative, athletic and can score or create. Both forwards can score, hold up play and are athletic.

I think, then, we have sufficient players to fill the subs bench and I haven't given up yet on Gomes and Dele Alli coming back into the squad, two top-class brains but... we'll have to wait and see!

I'd feel a bit more at ease knowing that our team is full of athletic and fairly creative players, with at least 4 goalscorers in the team.

Jim Wilson
9 Posted 22/09/2023 at 23:08:23
I agree with nearly all the comments posted.

Chemistry also plays a part for me. For two seasons, Barry and McCarthy had it. They just gelled as a centre-midfield pairing and Barkley was the perfect No 10 for them.

I think this is the case with Gueye and Garner. Last season, Gueye looked more comfortable on the ball when his partner was Garner. And the knock-on effect was that Doucoure had more freedom to play a better game too. This just does not happen with Onana in the team.

Derek Thomas
10 Posted 22/09/2023 at 23:09:12
Jim, we are in a sort of agreement, let me take the liberty of rewriting your headline: "Garner can stay, but Onana and Gueye, need replacing, probably followed by Doucoure."

Off and on since the days of Rogers and Suarez, who if I remember correctly, gave us a right seeing to at Anfield (and probably before) I've been saying we don't have a midfield that works as a unit and has any sort of 'Intensity'.

I don't know how Belgium use him, but the odd snippet I read says he does okay... which may or may not be any use to us as we don't have a Kevin de Bryune or a Lukaku.

Some players for no reason of their own, just don't gel. Anybody offers us what we paid, or even more if they want, I'll drive him there myself.

Mike Gaynes
11 Posted 23/09/2023 at 02:31:13
Amen to this idea. I don't know about the alignment, but I do know that, with Garner in the center of midfield, we will get better. With Iwobi gone, he is the only decent midfield passer in the squad.

But Jim... whoa, man. Barkley was never remotely a perfect Number 10 for anybody, with anybody, at any time. And if Gomes is a top class brain, I'd hate to see second or third class. He's thick as a brick.

Kieran Kinsella
12 Posted 23/09/2023 at 02:50:39
Jim Wilson,

Excellent post. I honestly think the only reason Onana is in the team is that, since the day we bought him, we've been trying to hype him up as the new Patrick Vieira hoping someone doubles our money. No one has and no one will based on the way he's playing. Drop him.

Robert Tressell
13 Posted 23/09/2023 at 08:11:16
You are right, Jim, that the chemistry is wrong in our midfield. And it doesn't seem to work when the trio is Onana, Gueye and Doucouré.

However, my view is that the problem is Gueye and Doucouré. Both are very poor players.

Neither of them can show for a pass, control a pass or pass a ball. They are rubbish at the fundamental basics of midfield play – which means we struggle to string two passes together even against weak sides.

Personally, I'd like to see Garner and Onana together as a double pivot because they have the most quality on the ball.

Eddie Dunn
14 Posted 23/09/2023 at 08:43:08
I agree and quite a few of us have been banging -on about playing Garner in the middle for ages.

Onana will develop into a good player but he is not suited to the role of sitting, plugging gaps.

Last week I watched him jogging gently back as Arsenal raced into the space he had left.

There was no urgency.

The current three simply do not have the skills to do their jobs.

Doucoure has a good engine and an eye for a goal, but his passing is terrible and Gana follows one good thing,with one bad thing.

We have Thing One and Thing Two.

Garner in and Onana on the bench.

Jim Lloyd
15 Posted 23/09/2023 at 09:29:07
Not sure I agree with the view regarding Gomes that he's not a good player. I might be wrong but in his first season with us he was pretty good to very good, until those two Spurs players crippled him.
I remember him at Anfield when he was our best player and got man of the match. I remember each match at Goodison until his injury, playing well going forward.
Could be wrong with this as well. We might be skint!

So come January, I don't know if we'll have any money to pay wages for an incoming player. Let alone a transfer fee. Unless we send him out on loan, he's our player.
He might be permanently knackered. But if Dyche can get him fit then I think he'd be on the subs bench. As for Dele Alli, whether he can make it back into the player he was, who knows, I certainly don't but if we've got him and until/if he goes, he's our player. Once he's fit, then Dyche can judge whether he's lost his love for the game, or not.

Jim Bennings
16 Posted 23/09/2023 at 09:48:03
As soon as someone does come in with an offer of anything like 40 million plus for Onana we've got to take it.

He's not the answer and certainly not what we need now.

He may develop five years down the line as a good player, but we haven't got five years to wait for that to happen.

Jim Wilson
17 Posted 23/09/2023 at 10:12:51
Mike @ 11 - it might be an exaggeration but for a while with Barry and McCarthy behind him Barkley could do no wrong for me. Great runs, some great goals and assists. That version of Barkley would be 'perfect' for us right now and I hope to God he does not come back to haunt us.

Jim @ 15 - you are right. Before he was done by Spurs he was excellent in the midfield with Gueye. We went to Anfield and they ran the midfield.

One thing is clear, we need a midfield that is prepared to work hard and keep possesion for us.

And we are all in agreement that Garner should be in that midfield..

Onana is not for me, unfortunately, but it is on Dyche to find a way of getting this team to look solid and start winning games.

Colin Glassar
18 Posted 23/09/2023 at 10:16:41
Some harsh, and unfair imo, comments about Onana. Reminds me a bit of what was thrown at Lukaku and Stones.

Dyche has said in a perfect world Onana would’ve been introduced slowly into the first team as he’s still quite immature.

He frustrates the hell out of me a lot of the time but as with the two above mentioned there’s a raw diamond in there that needs polishing. But we don’t do nurturing and developing any more do we?

Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 23/09/2023 at 11:06:07
Let's wait for the rough diamond to develop whilst we keep getting overrun in midfield. I had to listen to my brother giving Onana stick for 90-odd minutes last week and, although I like to argue with him, how could I reply when he said,

"He's twenty-fuckin-one, Tony, but he strolls around like he's a veteran!!"

Lee Courtliff
20 Posted 23/09/2023 at 11:10:16
For me, I think Gana has been pretty much awful since his return. Yes, he covers ground and works hard but the amount of times he's given the ball directly to the opposition is astounding considering his experience. Yet he still first name on the teamsheet!!

I'd happily put Garner and Onana together and give them time to blossom. What's the point in persisting with a 34-year-old player who can't pass a ball and certainly can't shoot?

Develop the younger players and we'll make a fortune on Onana... hopefully.

Robert Tressell
21 Posted 23/09/2023 at 11:41:16
I agree, Lee. Onana is certainly frustrating but Gueye has been consistently rubbish since he came back.

He had good spells (albeit still very patchy) in a much more talented side under Silva – but he's now an absolutely awful player that would struggle to make any impact in the Championship.

Alan J Thompson
22 Posted 23/09/2023 at 12:07:00
I got as far as he is too tall and needs to be shorter to be any good in midfield, him and Fellaini I suppose.

I'd rather that he replaces Gana as the holding midfielder as he at least offers more in both roles, that is defensively and moving forward.

Dave Evans
23 Posted 23/09/2023 at 13:15:55
Both Onana and Garner can do more to influence games. They are both young and quite talented and would benefit from the increasingly famous patience that we have with our young players.

The only difference I can see about their situations, is that Garner is often given a free pass for his responsibility, when our midfield has performed poorly.

Dale Self
24 Posted 23/09/2023 at 14:08:26
I won’t be found arguing with Jim much but Garner did lose two runners in the box when the proper cover was obvious. He needed a sit to work it out. Just as we cannot stick with underperformers, we can’t play some strugglers into form. If we had faith in Myko at LCB we should have gone 352 until Harrison and McNeil are 100%.

I would give Garner an early shift and bring Onana on at 60 minutes with enough time to influence the match

Dennis Stevens
25 Posted 23/09/2023 at 14:29:09
It's down to Dyche to get the midfield, & team, balance right. It's not at the moment & Garner being played in the middle might well be part of the way to achieve it.
Farkov Redz
26 Posted 23/09/2023 at 15:44:47
Totally agree Jim, Onana has done nothing imo and i've seen enough since day 1 to prove me otherwise. Garner is definetly worth a starter over this overhyped gazelle.
Christy Ring
27 Posted 23/09/2023 at 16:04:39
Great article Jim, Onana isn't playing consistently, and he's only playing in patches. Garner has been playing totally out of position, he's a central midfielder. I believe Garner or Gomes can play in a 3 man midfield, also Dyche could play Onana in Gueye's position, but also Doucoure is not a no.10 in my opinion, he's a box to box midfielder.
Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 23/09/2023 at 17:21:24
Jim #15, I was at Anfield that day and Gomes was great, and he never again approached that level of play. In the 11 months between that game and his injury occurrence, Gomes produced absolutely nothing in attack and cost us several games with his penchant for idiotic fouls around our 18-yard box.

None of this surprised me, by the way. I had watched Gomes many times for Barcelona and knew him to be a lovely, rhythmic, occasionally brilliant but ultimately totally ineffective player. Barca nursed him through an emotional crisis and brought him back, only to see him fail again in multiple positions.

Mihir Ambardekar
29 Posted 24/09/2023 at 12:50:15
I feel Onana is good at tackling but lacks tactical intelligence. Our midfield players do not complement each other. Gueye is good at breaking up the play but has a mistake in him every game. He is also not helped by Onana enough.

Doucoure is poor at passing. He is good at final third with creating chances and does scores important goals. Free role behind the striker suits him.

Garner in midfield will help us improving our forward play better. Though he lacks physicality he reads the game well. Maybe Dyche is worried that Garner may get bullied off the ball in the midfield and hence sticks him on the wing. But with Harrison coming in, I think Garner is best suited in a midfield along with Gana. A front-foot football will suit this team rather than sitting back.

Mick O'Malley
30 Posted 25/09/2023 at 08:16:15
Colin @18 well said.

I'm probably one of Onana's biggest fans and to me, if anyone one is the weak link, it's Gana. He’s constantly out of position, atrocious passing and woeful shooting,

Onana will get better, Gana won't, I agree about getting James Garner in the side.

Joe McMahon
31 Posted 25/09/2023 at 08:31:09
I agree with Mick above, Gana shouldn't come back, and while we are at it, neither should 38-year-old Ashley Young be starting.
Brian Harrison
32 Posted 25/09/2023 at 09:37:26
I have seen nothing from Onana since he arrived that convinces me that he will be an asset to this club. He does nothing particularly well, he hardly attempts any forward passes he runs back towards the back 4 demands the ball and then when he gets it he knocks it back or square to one of his fullbacks. He goes to ground to often when making tackles and he very rarely carries the ball forward. His positional sense is non existence and he doesnt seem to sprint, just ambles about the park. Usually if young players arent very good they at least run round Onana doesn't even do that. While Gueye isn't the player he was first time around, he is far more use to us than Onana will ever be. Gueye has never been a great passer of the ball but those suggesting we leave him out in favour of Onana, go and have a look at who makes the most interceptions and tackles in this team, and I will give you a clue it aint Onana. As you will guess I don't rate the lad one bit, and all I hear from his supporters is he has potential which really means he is hopefully young enough to get better.
Geoff Lambert
33 Posted 25/09/2023 at 09:39:05
A great display and scoreline could have been four or five with a bit more luck.Onana in place of Ganna all day for me he will only get better.

Only two days till Villa in the cup.

Should Dyche play a full strength team or concentrate on keeping players fit for the league?

Dave Abrahams
34 Posted 25/09/2023 at 09:57:23
Brian (32), I agree with everything you said in your post, just to add that Gana on the way down offers the team a lot more than Onana is offering on his way up, witness the Doncaster game Gana came on and steadied the team and pressed forward gaining the ball and helped, very much, to get the victory when defeat to the bottom placed club in the football league was staring us in the face.

How many of the top clubs are going to pay £60-£100 M for potential, that’s all Onana has got at the moment and it is hardly showing itself after 40 odd games with the club and he’s going on 22 very soon.

Bernard Dooley
35 Posted 25/09/2023 at 10:33:34
I undertand why Jim Wilson has set this discussion going because I too struggle to see what Onana's role is at times and what he does for the team. My fading memory may have let me down but in his first few games after he got into the side I seem to recall that he won the ball and made foreward runs to help set up the transistion.
Has SD limited his role to "sitting" only, letting others take responsibility for getting us forward? It's one explanation.
Anyone know any Belgium fans?
Onana gets into their national side regularly and didn't he captain them at least once?
I guess they must see something in him which I haven't, though I don't know the role he plays for his national side.
Paul Hewitt
36 Posted 25/09/2023 at 10:39:02
I guarantee that Onana will get sold and go on to have a great career. And show just how we have simply managed him wrong.
Les Callan
37 Posted 25/09/2023 at 11:27:28
Paul, there’s several of us on here who will remember what you have said. Me. I think he will disappear into obscurity.
Steve Brown
38 Posted 25/09/2023 at 11:40:23
Go on, I am going to respectfully disagree with the consensus that Onana should be dropped.

He plays a defensive midfield role for Belgium, and appears better suited to that role in our midfield since he was moved there by Dyche. He is also less likely to give the ball away than Gueye in a vulnerable position.

I would play Garner and Onana together, with Doucs linking up with attack.

Paul Hewitt
39 Posted 25/09/2023 at 12:04:40
Les, funny how Gordon has suddenly become a better play since he left us.
Ian Jones
40 Posted 25/09/2023 at 12:31:55
I agree with those who believe Onana will go on to greater things. Hopefully with us or elsewhere, possibly abroard where the pace of the game is different. I think we have been too much of a basket-case club for a number of years, struggling, seemingly in endless stages of transition, for any players to fully show there true ability.

It would be surprising what players could do in a settled side with a team that is winning and drawing more than losing and with less pressure and playing with confidence.

Also, bringing up our Barry/McCarthy midfield duo playing with Barkley should also remember that we had a reasonably pacy attack as well with Mirallas, Lukaku and Deulofeo, so plenty of options

Good times

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 25/09/2023 at 12:55:55
Paul@36, how and why do you think Everton, have simply managed Onana, wrong?

Football is about many different aspects, but when you play midfield, you have always got to work very hard, and once you do this, then I believe that this is when natural talent begins to shine through?

Maybe Everton, haven’t got the kid fit enough then?

I do think Onana, has played too many games, because his performance hasn’t always warranted being on the team sheet for the next game, although adjusting to life in the very physically demanding EPL, definitely takes a lot of time. Maybe this is were he’s getting mismanaged?

If Onana, can master working very hard in every game, he will definitely go far, but right now I don’t see a player who has mastered working hard in even 50% (I always try and be conservative) of the games he has played?

Barry Hesketh
42 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:11:27
Onana was purchased precisely because he has a sell-on value to the club, and as a Belgium international he was the right age to come to us, but even if he was playing like a world-beater, he wouldn't be staying at Everton for more than a couple of years.

I know he gets criticised, but he must be doing something for the team, even if it's only a marking job. I've watched Rice a few times lately on TV and he doesn't seem to do a great deal, but obviously he's a good player and just because he isn't making defence splitting passes or scoring worldies every week, he's still doing good a job for his team.

As for Gordon, he's a little older, he's always been a good player, but his attitude sometimes wasn't right, he can't afford to sulk or go into his shell at Newcastle and he knows he can be dropped, as he was yesterday until the Barcodes suffered an injury. Plus Gordon was part of an Everton side struggling at the bottom levels of the Premier League, Newcastle aren't.

I still think Newcastle aren't that special, and with a few less injuries and the focus that our team showed on Saturday, we aren't as far behind them on the pitch as some would think.

It's a great pity, that just when we seem to have a good spine to the team (Pickford, Branthwaite, Garner and Dominic / Beto,, the financial mismanagement of the club in the last few years could easily see us lose a few of those, if not the whole lot, depending on what transpires with the finances in the coming months.

Paul Hewitt
43 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:28:22
Tony@41. Having seen most of Onana's games I still don't know what role he plays. Is he a DM is he a 10 just behind the striker, I haven't a clue, I don't think he knows either. That's the manager and coach's fault.
Tony Abrahams
44 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:39:41
Do you think it is the manager and coaches fault that he strolls around for large parts of most games Paul?
Robert Tressell
45 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:47:25
Onana has generally been a sitting midfielder for Belgium, Hamburg and Lille.

He's like an auxillary CB placed in front of the CBs like, say, Fabinho when he was at the RS. For Belgium and Lille he had much more technical players around him and was usually playing possession based football for a side with better players than the opposition. In particular his stats for aerial duels were outstanding, which helps clubs with ball playing CBs who aren't great in the air.

He's got very different situation at Everton.

Although he cost £30m (it was Euro 35m) we are paying on the drip. Its true we bought him for resale potential but its also true we bought him due to a low up front payment.

This made him more accessible to us than other ostensibly cheaper players - and skewed the price tag.

He is a good player in the right system with the right players around him. We haven't got the luxury of giving him those conditions at Everton so it's difficult for him to shine.

It's entirely possible we'd be better served by a much more limited "up and at 'em" player, and he'd be better suited to a Champions League club.

Steve Brown
46 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:49:52
The defensive midfielders fetching huge transfer fees are calm under the press and can find a progressive pass to break out

Onana isn't great in this regard, but he is a lot better than Gueye; he lost the ball when Brentford pressed him and we almost conceded a goal as a result. Dyche could consider Garner in that position if he had more physicality.

But, we'd be wasting Garner in this role. Since we sold Iwobi, he the ONLY midfielder we have who can put his foot on the ball, or find a progressive pass.

Dale Self
47 Posted 25/09/2023 at 13:58:31
Yes Steve, that is the main answer to the proposed switch. Garner is effectively our 10 right now, not in the middle but picking up possession and finding the forward pass or recycling. I noticed him on the left wing delivering the first chance and also on Dom’s goal.

This is not going to be a standard setup. Lack of outright speed will cause the need to rotate through the middle and overload one side at times. Garner is essential to that work until Harrison is in.

As our offence settles Onana will be more of a force going forward. Until the possession is durable Onana will be cautious and look uninvolved. That is a misleading look.

Dave Abrahams
48 Posted 25/09/2023 at 14:09:57
Robert (45), you mention Onana has good stats for winning aerial duels, he doesn't look very good with his heading ability for Everton even at 6ft. 4ins, and you would think being so good for Belgium he would really stand out amongst players with poorer ability than himself, he doesn't, twenty two years of age he should be full of energy, he looks lethargic to me.

I don't see as many Everton mates since the lockdown but when I do they tear the back out of Onana, lazy so and so being the one thing they all comment on as well as a few other bad points.

What are his good points apart from he is going to be a great player in the future!

Paul Hewitt
49 Posted 25/09/2023 at 14:20:10
Tony, he keeps getting picked. So maybe that's what he's coached to do.
Tony Abrahams
50 Posted 25/09/2023 at 14:25:56
I don't think you are making much sense, Paul. He doesn't know if he's a defensive midfielder or a Number 10, so that's on the manager, who is maybe coaching him to stroll about?

He keeps getting picked is the only thing you have said that is true, imo mate.

John Raftery
51 Posted 25/09/2023 at 14:57:35
Having watched Onana in all his games for us, I am of the view he is too passive to be an attacking, box-to-box midfielder. He is no Fellaini. His heading is disappointing mainly owing to an inability to time his runs while his shooting is a skill largely kept hidden.

That leaves him with the role of the deeper central midfielder, managing the ball out from the back, linking the play with the front runners, being alert to danger and shielding the back line with tackles and interceptions. It seems to me he is still learning that role. He does some positive stuff, then disappears from view for long periods. Gareth Barry once said about himself he did not really understand the game, especially the midfield role until he was 25. Possibly Onana will be the same, maturity coming with experience.

One final point. It would be helpful to his game if he stopped playing the cheerleader role for the fans and focused his entire attention on communicating with his team mates. He could, should be the player who galvanises the team. The fans don't need galvanising.

Tony Abrahams
52 Posted 25/09/2023 at 15:13:30
Sensible post, John. I wonder how Gareth Barry eventually learned how to play midfield, especially considering he never had any pace.

I've seen Onana chase back and win the ball with some very effective sliding (when he gets it right) tackles, I've seen him burst forward with great pace and desire, and I've seen him hit some very good, clever, both long and short, forward passes, which means he can do a bit of everything.

But I don't see enough work rate, or enough desire, on a regular basis, except when he's being the cheerleader.

Jay Harris
53 Posted 25/09/2023 at 15:21:13
I think a lot of posters are not watching Onana enough.

He is the opposite of Gueye who buzzes all over the pitch but often misplaces or misjudges passes in dangerous areas. Onana just gets on with his job making telling tackles and linking up play.

Yes, he can look lethargic and disinterested but he certainly covers the yards and very rarely makes a mistake. He is the Steady Eddie of our midfield.

I agree he doesn't impose himself consistently but for me he is a top midfield player who we should look at building around rather than "dumping".

Our biggest problem is Gana, Garner and Onana all have similar weakness.

They are not the most creative and can't score goals. I leave Doucouré out of the argument because he can score goals and covers an enormous amount of ground but again he fills a position in which he is imperfect.

So we have four players doing the jobs of three if we had the synergy and the correct qualities.

I believe Dyche is aware of this and is trying to get the balance correct but creative midfield players are expensive, especially those that score goals.

Steve Brown
54 Posted 25/09/2023 at 16:09:10
Dale @ 47, great post.

If Garner is given the flexibility to be mobile from the right, he will be really productive before he switches inside eventually.

Anyway, back to Onana in the defensive midfield role. Peter Reid really loves him so let's be patient while he develops in that role.

Mark Taylor
55 Posted 25/09/2023 at 16:15:13
It's a bit of a case of a silk purse from a sows ear, but personally I'd replace Doucoure with Garner. I see the former as the biggest weak link, despite his goals and endless running. He is just about the least skilful midfielder I've seen. I think Garner can pass better and has more vision. Now we have attackers willing to make runs, they need feeding.

Duke would make a good sub when we need someone to make a nuisance of himself in the box.

I think Gomes is a busted flush and I doubt whether Dele will ever play at the highest level again and in any case, we can't afford to trigger the payments for him.

Danny Baily
56 Posted 25/09/2023 at 17:18:18
Garner is doing a better job of the Iwobi role than Iwobi. Unless we change the system up I'd leave him where he is for now.
John Raftery
57 Posted 25/09/2023 at 17:37:59
Hi Tony (52),

I remember reading an interview with Gareth Barry in which he credited Fabio Capello with tutoring him how to play the role when on England duty. I imagine elements such as positioning, creating angles for receiving and delivering passes and I dare say optimal use of the tactical foul were part of the tuition.

Among the things which always struck me about Gareth were his game intelligence and the way he never took his eye off the ball, often running backwards for 15 to 20 yards to ensure he was in the right place. He was one of the cleverest players I have seen play for us.

John Raftery
58 Posted 25/09/2023 at 17:50:57
Mark (55),

I think in our current situation Doucouré's knack of scoring goals more than makes up for his obvious deficiencies.

Other than the strikers and McNeil nobody in the current squad is capable of matching his goals tally. Doucouré is a hard-running type of player who plays by instinct. When he has time to think his lack of composure and poor decision making leave him exposed. While he is knocking the ball in the net we can live with that.

Jim Lloyd
59 Posted 25/09/2023 at 17:53:16
I think that after Sunday, Dyche would be loathe to change the team, although with a bit of luck Harrison will be ready for at least one of the two home games. I hope he's not chanced against Villa

I think we'll have to wait and see with both Gomes and Dele. We're not in a position think about should we discard players. If the manager has them on his books then, unless Gomes goes on loan, he'll be on a lot of money and in the first team squad. As for Dele, it'll be the same with him. If the Club manage to change the terms of the transfer, then after all he's gone through, I can't see anyone else rushing in for him. So we've little to lose if we can change the deal, and we can then afford him if he gets his Mojo back; otherwise I can see him going back for Spurs to handle.

as it is, I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Great result by the Land of My Fathers.

Jim Lloyd
60 Posted 25/09/2023 at 18:10:35
ps: I thought Gana played well on Sunday, but I thought Onana didn't. If Harrison is fit for the weekend, then I'd like to see him in the midfield and Onana on the bench.

I think we'd have a very mobile attack and midfield. Garner could help Gana if required with Garner doing what he did on Sunday. I'd like to see that at the weekend, if Harrison's fit.

Geoff Lambert
61 Posted 25/09/2023 at 18:48:39
Just another lazy player that dosen't run around enough. I remember another lazy player that got slagged off on here every week who went to Man Utd for a nice fee and his goals were never replaced.

Lazy bastards both of them. Gana runs around a lot but can't shoot, pass or head a ball.

Conor McCourt
62 Posted 25/09/2023 at 19:05:09
I find the Onana debate very interesting because I understand both sides of the argument.

What I would say to those who are critical of the player due to his rawness and lack of work rate is that the Premier League is played at a much higher tempo and intensity than anything Onana has encountered before.

For me, Onana is a very decent passer, is a physical specimen, is much better positionally than Gueye and is quite a decent athlete who can also tackle. He is a leader who has captained many of the sides he has played for especially at under-age level. He has so much scope as a player.

Everton are a side that need each player to be effective now and certainly someone like McTominay would be an instant upgrade for our current predicament.

However I feel Onana is a young foreign player who is struggling to adapt but once the penny drops through experience, through training and his general development, he will be immense for us. I think he will be a different level of player than Mc Tominay (without his goalscoring prowess) and all he needs is time and knowledge.

Two of our best defensive players in recent years Carsley and Barry weren't that great positionally til their late twenties as I remember Carsley in his Ireland career was actually a bit of a headless chicken. Onana I feel reads the game quite well now considering his tender years and unlike Gueye doesn't rely on his pace to get him out of trouble.

Onana is not just a player of potential, many of them don't make it, he has everything you want for that defensive midfield role now. For me he is definitely a work in progress but I'm glad we have him and once he puts it all together, and consistently, he will be some player.

Robert Tressell
63 Posted 25/09/2023 at 19:26:47
Onana was bought when delusional Lampard was under the impression we might be a high tempo, front foot side scoring goals from quick passing around the box. Maupay too.

However, Onana wasn't supposed to participate in that quick passing around the opposition box. He was supposed to be the boring safety player who sat back and allowed everyone else (especially the full backs) to get forward. As per Fabinho at Liverpool. His role for the RS was to cover an otherwise exposed back 2, win headers (which statistically Onana was excellent at before joining us) and pass simply and first time. Onana is good at all these boring things. He's also good at spreading the play / forward passes for a team with plenty of forward options (like Belgium and Lille previously). Indeed he'd be better for the RS now than anyone they've recruited to replace Fabinho (Gravenberch and Endo are completely different sorts of players).

However, we have such little quality in all areas that we cannot realistically be a front foot team. Dyche has sensibly set us up as a back foot team, sitting back and counter attacking to compensate for the lack of quality. Onana gets completely lost in this set up. It doesn't make him bad player - it just means he doesn't get the opportunity to do his best work.

He might have done well under Martinez in the Barry role with the flying full backs on the flanks, more technical players like McCarthy and Cleverley alongside him and Barkley, Deulofeu and Lukaku ahead of him. Unfortunately we have nothing like that quality or style of player now.

He may not hit the heights in the end but that's why Champions League teams continue to be linked and he is highly rated within the game.

Dave Abrahams
64 Posted 25/09/2023 at 20:24:53
Robert (63),

I think I have said enough about Onana, I think all those who think he is a good player and those of us who don't see the same player but with different opinions, none of us are right or wrong.

Just on your last paragraph, have there been any serious concrete interest in the lad by any club or are all these links just plain paper talk?

Robert Tressell
65 Posted 25/09/2023 at 20:44:05
Hard to say Dave until a bid comes in. But certainly he is strongly linked with Champions League clubs.

For me it's nor about whether he's a good or bad player - but whether he's a good fit for the side. Players like Will Hughes, Josh Brownhill, Jay DaSilva, Harrison Reed and John Lundstram will be free at the end of the season. None will remotely interest Champions League clubs (or get international recognition) but all of them could be a good fit for where we are right now.

Barry Rathbone
66 Posted 25/09/2023 at 20:59:04
The problem with Onana is costing £30m he's expected to be a top man, a cut above the freebies, loanees and cheapo buys we now dabble in. It doesn't matter that £30m buys squad players at challenging clubs he is expected to be the redeemer here - and he ain't.

Does that mean he's crap? - No.

He has the tools to be useful in a limited way in a better team he just doesn't have the sparkle to be the saviour. The hope is with injured players back the Brentford result starts a revival that should make the entire squad look better.

Robert Tressell
67 Posted 25/09/2023 at 21:30:40
I agree with that Barry. The same may yet happen with Beto unfortunately, when it transpires that for £25m he's not as good as Haaland.
Steve Shave
68 Posted 26/09/2023 at 09:34:56
I haven't yet commented on the match day thread but essentially I thought we were excellent. Aggressive pressing, forward momentum and intensity throughout.

The midfield gets alot of stick but ultimately Dyche picks the team. Onana is 21 FFS, we need to get behind him. This doesn't mean he is an automatic starter, I believe there is a case for Garner as CM in replacement of either Gueye or Onana but that does not mean we have to bash Onana.

We do this far too frequently, bash the youngsters until they become devoid of confidence or just plain want to leave. For those who cried about Iwobi leaving, personally I don't blame him one bit. For 18 months he was very poor and many gave him hell. Then he is consistently good and the biggest runner in the team and guess what? Many still moaned about him.

It's up to SD to get the right blend in midfield and I admit he hasn't found it yet, I hope Saturday's performance puts to bed the question as to whether Doucourè should be playing or not? He has been very good under SD and a real goal threat.

Despite the general consensus that we haven't got the midfield right yet I have no complaints about how they performed against Brentford, to a man we were excellent and I think Onana had a decent game too, though he faded second half.

As much as I would like to see us spend on a CM this next window and ship one of Onana or Gueye (perhaps Gomes as well) FFS let's not demonise Onana even if he needs to spend some time on the bench. He is going to be an excellent player, personally I'd like that to happen under our direction.

Sam Hoare
69 Posted 26/09/2023 at 10:59:00
I like Garner but I’m pretty sure that Onana will become the better and far more valuable player. But they have quite different styles I think. Garner is good technically and can pass and shoot well but whilst he is busy I don’t think his positioning is good. The calls to play him as a deeper CM are strange as he has very rarely played there (he played higher up for Forest) and I would worry that he’d leave us open.

Onana is quicker (though his long frame can make him look ponderous) and is very hard to get past both on the ground and in the air. His distribution has also been pretty good in particular his longer balls to the flanks.

I actually think Gueye and Onana have been a pretty effective pair this season and had we a proper striker available we’d probably be feeling relatively content around 10th. I’d be pretty surprised if Dyche changed much moving forwards but I’m sure Garner will get his chance in the middle at some point.

Dale Self
70 Posted 26/09/2023 at 16:25:32
Good work Jim, at first I was a little annoyed by the suggestion but the option is at the focal point of our squad problem. We have always had decent players but the system required, or simply preferred in some cases, a modified role. On top of that we have missed regulars in key places which forced even more drastic changes from natural positions. That has become the norm over several frustrated windows and is causing us to consider this particular tradeoff because no overall system is clear.

This particular tradeoff has the heavy cats (you know who you are) listing the players’ comprehensive abilities in an illuminating way. I previously believed we would be imbalaced in possession, retaining and working through lines on the left while expecting something more direct on the right. Garner has changed that. His ability to get the work in to retain solo possession while seeing the logical progression of play is crucial.

Onana’s case is already as well laid out as one of his signature tackles. Gana in front of Onana is a better arrangement. It will take more time for the play out of our box to develop but the rest should suit Onana. I think we can get by without bringing Garner back to solve the problem.

While the choices and selections will drive us to driving each other crazy with opposing views, this is a benefit to a small and slow squad. To some extent this is a Carlo variation, low rent and in sophisticated as it may be. On the other hand, the players we have look able to take that responsibility on and lay the foundation for what could be a difficult team to predict on the pitch.

Dale Self
71 Posted 26/09/2023 at 16:39:00
‘Unsophisticated' in the last paragraph, obviously since it refers to Dyche.
Rob Dolby
72 Posted 27/09/2023 at 22:03:32
Having watched tonight's game Onana and Garner looked like a partnership in the middle. Lots of good stuff from both of them.

Someone in an earlier post mentions chemistry between players, it's early days but I thought there are good signs from both in the centre tonight.

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