So there we were on Saturday, 2-1 down at half-time to Luton. We had controlled the midfield, we had missed chances and had conceded two sloppy goals.
The good news was, after the VAR tried to find a reason to disallow our goal, it had been given so the momentum was back with us. So keep the good work going, keep pressing and a second goal will come. 
Enter, self-professed “I've been in this game all my life” Dyche. He took Gueye off who was playing his usual game and getting slagged off as usual for his passing, but as usual it turns out, according to the stats, that in fact he was our most reliable passer.
Dyche puts his faith in Onana, he played well against Villa reserves in the week, this is his time, we are up against it but he will now show us what he can do. The outcome was the only one it could be. He did nothing, we did nothing, zero, the game ended at half-time. The guy who 'has been in this game all my life' masterminded a total surrender of the game by taking off a crucial member of the midfield.
For good measure Dyche also bought into the recent bandwagon of playing Beto with DCL together, failing to realise that if your midfield is too weak to get attacks going and the forwards receive no service it won't work. Our other midfield engine who is one of our best assets for a goal was taken off for Beto. And of course the one chance we did get Beto didn't put away.
I want to say at this point. This is no attack on James Garner. He is our best orthodox centre midfielder and should be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Back to Onana, the new no.6. He hardly ever tackles, he has no engine, he does not cover the ground, he does not pick up the runners. He drifts about, treats the ball like it's a hot potato with his sideways or backwards 4-yard passes and creates a massive hole in the midfield. But some people including Dyche now think Onana is the answer to our problems. It is the latest insanity.
And it is insanity. We have a Derby looming and we are toying with the idea of playing someone who is no more of a No 6 than I am. But at least I know what a number 6 should be doing.
We do have a no.6 who wins the ball, constantly hassles opponents (he will make opposing players rush their pass so they lose possession), covers a lot of ground, never stops working, does have an engine,  but is totally unappreciated by some supporters and now presumably Dyche. He clearly needs the right person next to him so he can get on with doing his job properly.
I have been watching Everton all my life and I know what a No. 6 should be doing. Yes there is a mistake in Gueye but let's clear a few things up.
The team is struggling so we are always up against it and because of this the odd mistake will happen, it is bound to happen. Gueye does not hide. If you hide you can avoid making mistakes but Gueye gets in there and does his best. The modern high press is designed to force an error from an opponent. It is not just Gueye who has been caught in possesion.
But the biggest point is that without Gueye we would be in a bigger mess and Saturday proved it once again.
Some people love stats. So I am going to mention one simple and obvious fact:
Brighton 1 - 5 Everton - midfield consisting of Gueye, Garner and Doucouré.
Everton's fate was almost sealed last season when they went to in-form Brighton and against the odds shocked the Premier League.
Onana was only just back from injury so Dychye stayed with the midfield that had done well away to Palace and Leicester and Everton showed what they could do with the right balance.
Gueye was excellent with Garner, Doucoure was terrific with the excellent Calvert-Lewin up front, capped off by a great performance by McNeil. Freed from the inconsistencies of Onana the team put in a perfect performance. Once the game was won, Onana came on and played in McNeil for the 5th. It all worked perfectly. If you set things up right, this is what happens. If you set things up wrong, it is uncanny how it all works against you.
So why the hell is 'I've been in this game all my life' Dyche not referring back to this? This season only against Brentford when Onana went off injured have we seen Garner and Gueye together.  We finally looked comfortable in that game and put that game to bed. Wouldn't you think Dyche would go back to the winning formula instead of trying something new.
Dyche says Everton's inconsistency drives him mad. Well, let me tell you, Mr Dyche, you drive me mad. You have a winning formula so use it and stick with it.
With Harrison instead of Iwobi, we can now go with the Brighton set up so why would anyone toy with new ideas of Onana at number 6, Beto & Calvert-Lewin up top together. Just go with the common sense obvious and simple, the tried and trusted and barring injuries and suspensions stick with it.
Some kind of madness came over Everton years ago. I remember some Evertonians suddenly having a go at Arteta (one of the reasons he left early), Barry and McCarthy were terrible sideways passers, Jagielka, Baines and Coleman were finished (years before they were and, in Colemans' case, still not), some of our best homegrown talent always getting slagged off, cries for a clear out (lost count how many we have had since Koeman) and it has led us to here. 
Now we have people slagging off Gueye. He is not just important to the team he is essential. He was one of our unsung heroes last season. In that last game against Bournemouth he was still there putting in a challenge in the last seconds of the game, ensuring our safety. Last person appropriately to touch the ball and I for one would like to thank him for all his effort in very difficult circumstances.
Can we now just drop the madness, do the sensible simple and obvious things. We do have a decent first eleven that we can field right now so please please please Mr Dyche don't make things hard for yourself and the team just do the simple and obvious thing. The near as damn it Brighton XI:
Pickford, Patterson (or Young or Coleman), Branthwaite, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Harrison (or Danjuma), Gueye, Garner, Doucoure, McNeil, Calvert-Lewin. 
Onana and Beto on bench.
Is it too much to ask for sensible simplicity?
Garner must start in centre midfield every game and Gueye must start with Garner, not Onana!

Reader Comments (24)

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Karl Masters
1 Posted 06/10/2023 at 00:37:20
It’s refreshing to see a bit of analysis and reasoning that seems to make sense.
Whilst it may not work against all teams, the reasoning seems sound enough.

With Onana, this is clearly not the finished article and we get glimpses of what he could be one day. He needs to accelerate his progress though as currently his development is a luxury we cannot afford.

This Bournemouth match is only a fraction less vital than last season’s. You could have hoped for 10 points from our first 5 home games and expected 7 as a bare minimum. If we end up with 3 it’s still been a disaster, less than 3 would be catastrophic considering who we’ve played.

7 defeats in the last 8 matches at Goodison. Meanwhile only 2 defeats in the last 10 away matches… clearly we need to learn how to set up at Goodison. Our away form is half decent.

Ernie Baywood
2 Posted 06/10/2023 at 00:55:09
If you love a stat... Compare them...

Paul Ferry
3 Posted 06/10/2023 at 03:34:20
Thank you Jim for speaking sense about Gueye. There is so drivel written about him, much of it rooted in his far too forward position that he has been asked to take. Here, out of position, he is exposed and the weaker elements of his game have become the basis on which he is being evaluated.

Gueye is someone who should sit deep and deeper still. This is what Jim's team will allow him to do. Various posters point out again and again that certain players are being player out of position, Jimmy Garner more than anyone else, I think.

Gueye seems to get this positional attention rather less often. Yet he is, I think, a thoroughbred number 6 who does the stuff that often passes unnoticed and unremarked: closing someone down, winning tackles ten yards either side of the half-way line, getting the ball back, hounding opponents, short passing, and so on.

Gueye in front of the defence not being told to always get higher up the pitch; Garner in the middle being encouraged to spread the ball, run into space, be more creative; Doucoure with a license to push up into the attack, although I also think that Onana could do this too.

It seems that nearly all of us agree that it is not a good idea to have Gueye, Doucoure, and Onana in the starting eleven. Nearly all of us seem to agree that Jimmy Garner should be in the middle, meaning that one of the first three needs to drop out. That would be Onana for me, but there is new scope here for mixing and matching and bringing in Onana for one of the other three as the situation might require.

Gueye, Garner, Doucoure is hardly the Holy Trinity or Reidy and Bracewell in a 4-4-2, but it might well be the best we have at this particular point in time.

If, as surely will happen as night follows day, some will pop on with unadulterated vitriol for Gueye, take a moment to be constructive and to consider that he is being asked to do things on the pitch that are not a part of the role and game that got him a move to P.S.G.

Andy McNabb
4 Posted 06/10/2023 at 05:09:37
I have no desire to have a go at Onana and I'm not at the game every week (or any week, come to that) but this article seems to make perfect sense, to me at least. Have been thinking this all season, regarding, Gueye, Garner and Onana. Thanks, Jim for putting my thoughts into words.
Derek Thomas
5 Posted 06/10/2023 at 08:20:21
Garner is our only / best Orthodox Centre Midfielder.
Gueye is a one trick pony.
Onana is a No trick pony.
Doucoure is a jack of all trades - master of none.

A manager who doesn't know his best be honest - not as easy as it sounds

Current League position - 16th on goal diff.


Jim Lloyd
6 Posted 06/10/2023 at 09:39:31
A good article Jim! Like most of us supporters, you've made good observations and I could imagine us sitting in a pub and coming up with some good alternatives for the make up of our team.

I think Gueye, is too slow now, to do the job he's asked to do, especially with Doucouré and Onana alongside him. I looked at Luton's second goal (well played to them, I thought it was an excellent goal) and we were all over the place. With only Garner anywhere near the goalscorer, as Patterson and legged it over to the left side to cover Keane, who was somewhere on the left wing trying to get back.
Anyway, you're point is a good one. There is some weaknesses in the team, that might be put right once we've got a full 1st team squad. Especially helpful would be the full fitness of McNeill and Harrison.
I'd like to see a midfield that is fast and creative but with the defensive midfielder of Gueye included, In other words, the other three; Harrison Garner and McNeill are much more capable of covering more ground than Gueye. He should be the poor man,s Peter Reid and get the bulk of the breaking up done.

And in our best time during the great team of the 80's we had two forwards, with Andy and Inchy, and later, Andy and Sharpy, then I'd like to see a similar set up. In my view, considering the dangerous place we're in, we need a settled team, a fast team and a settled formation.

That to me means that Doucouré and Onana wouldn't be in the midfield. Doucouré or Beto would be up front with CL and Onana would be on the bench. Doucouré's decent going forward and can score goals. The other three are fast, skilful, can cover a lot of ground, and can score goals.

The defence, until Seamus is back, It seems to me that Patterson, Branthwaite, Tarkowski and Mykolenko are first choice and Young could cover either full back, in need.

About Dyche! I can't see what the point of his tirade was, and perhaps it came about by frustration. Whatever it was, I don't think it's good to wash your dirty linen in public. I can't see us getting another manager in, until. at least,the Enquiry is over and what ramifications come from that. Then only when the takeover is completed.

Eddie Dunn
7 Posted 06/10/2023 at 09:59:12
Jim @6. Keane didn't play in the game. Do you mean Mykolenko?
Barry Rathbone
8 Posted 06/10/2023 at 10:03:23
Gueye can't play complete football he can't do anything going forward, coughs up the ball in possession and people run past him like his feet are set in concrete.

This snippet had me howling - "He took Gueye off who was playing his usual game and getting slagged off as usual for his passing"

Well, yeah you can't fool Evertonians.

On the whole they know who can play and who can't but remarkably there exists a group of fans who think the inability to pass a ball is just fine. No wonder we're in shit st

Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 06/10/2023 at 10:19:03
Jim (O/P) Gana never hides, Gana never hides, worth repeating, you didn’t even have to say that’s what Onana does for large parts of the game, that makes a big difference, to me, why one should play and one should be on the bench and let’s be honest about the central midfield there is only Gana, Garner, Doucoure and Onana to pick from unless you include Gomes and we are stuck with him and he won’t move because of the wages he is getting!
Brian Harrison
10 Posted 06/10/2023 at 10:26:28

Suggest you look at the stats for our midfield players, Gueye makes more tackles more interceptions than any of our midfield, and a few weeks back Sky put up a list which showed Gueye was in the top 5 in both these categories in the whole of the Premier league. Also his pass completion is about 89% so not disastrous. While he probably has lost a yard of pace he is still as the stats prove he is the best that we have at present.

Barry Rathbone
11 Posted 06/10/2023 at 13:11:46
Brian @10,

Never use stats over the evidence of your own eyes especially when inadvertently confirming my point.

You're saying don't look at his whole game just look at a limited part and compare that to other players just as limited.

As I keep saying it's no mystery why we're in the cacky stuff with such a dreadful trio but 2 of them can at least run and contribute with the odd goal, Gana is so bereft of basic skills and athleticism he can't. I said it was delusional madness at the time bringing him back and so it's proved.

Jim Lloyd
12 Posted 06/10/2023 at 13:13:24
Eddie, Sorry mate, your right, I got a bit mixed up there. (doesn't take much!
Dale Self
13 Posted 06/10/2023 at 13:29:42
A good article as usual Jim. The focus on Dyche's selection is being misrepresented. He knows the system that can work and why. We were able to deploy a 3-4-3 v Villa because of how they were expected to set up.

That requires the players selected and we can't just keep a system when those specific players would be risked. Harrison just got healthy and playing Wednesday ruled him out. Patterson needs Harrison on front to be effective so he was out of the picture. That takes out the 3-4-3 option and now you have to set up differently.

It isn't that he doesn't know the most effective eleven. He is working on a rotation that allows that system to be played often I think. We simply don't have the replacements to stay with a system. This doesn't even address whether we could get away with playing the same way each week. Our speed would likely have us found out after a few games.

Brian Williams
14 Posted 06/10/2023 at 13:55:28

What the stats don't show is the uncompleted passes that lead directly to an opposition attack or even a goal.

They don't show him losing the ball in dangerous situations leading to an opposition attack or even a goal.

They don't show him often out of position leaving a gap which leads directly to an opposition attack or even a goal.

They don't show that his shooting skills are on a par with my mum's. (She's 98).

Statistically he MAY be our "best" passer but if 2 of his 100 passes go directly to an opposing player and lead to goals against us then fuck the stats, thank you very much.

Mark Murphy
15 Posted 06/10/2023 at 14:03:41
Onana is a luxury we can't afford. He's a player who is earmarked for the Champions League and I get the impression he's playing within himself for us.

Dyche needs to either drop him until the penny drops or his agent needs to tell him the Champions League clubs won't pay the big bucks if he's not catching the eye. I'm not a big fan of Gana Gueye Mk 2 but I'd 100% have him in the team before Onana.

That team Jim picked looks good to me. UTFT

Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 06/10/2023 at 14:13:51
If it was me, then our midfield would consist of:

Doucoure - Garner - Gueye - McNeil - Harrison, but the manager has got to be flexible, and with Onana, Bete and Danjouma starting on the bench, then he has got ready-made replacements, to use once he sees what way the game is going.

It's fuckin dead easy sitting on my arse, writing this!

Dave Abrahams
17 Posted 06/10/2023 at 14:47:14
Brian (14),

Yes, Gana does make mistakes but, when you are doing somebody else's job as well as your own, it makes it very hard.

Who does the covering when Gana presses further up the field or who is supposed to do that job? I'll give you three guesses… but you have to search for him when he's on the pitch.

Jim Wilson
18 Posted 06/10/2023 at 15:25:46
Dave @ 17,

I think you have hit the nail on the head, that is exactly what the problem is. And to switch Gueye's and Onana's roles has only increased the problem, not helped it.

Garner has the all-round game and a good work ethic to help Gueye and not hinder.

Eddie Dunn
19 Posted 06/10/2023 at 15:46:19
Gueye has given the ball away when under little pressure and it has led to goals against us.

Onana has been given the deep lying role. When I first saw him, I thought he was going to be a marauding Vieira type of midfielder. Instead, Dyche has him lying very deep.

Doucouré has been charged with aiding Calvert-Lewin but it looks to me like they have all been told to join in attacks where possible, hence Gueye's regular errant shots!

I would have Jimmy Garner in the middle with Gueye, leaving Doucouré to get up and down in support of the striker.

Onana can sit on the bench and replace one of the others when needed. Onana is young and his stamina will improve with time. I think he will become a good player but alas, not with us.He will be sold in the summer.

Now Garner will become a very handy little schemer.

Bill Fairfield
20 Posted 07/10/2023 at 08:31:41
I am pretty sure Dyche doesn't tell them if they concede, then hoof the ball in panic into the air and stop playing football.

He was right to blame the players and point at their mental weakness. It must be so frustrating for a coach when the game plan goes out the window at the first sign of adversity.

Conor McCourt
21 Posted 07/10/2023 at 09:44:02
Jim great article

I totally agree with you that Gueye is a much maligned player and I can't fathom why either. I guess we all see football differently.

I do take exception to your Brighton line up being the template and a winning one. The difficulty there is that we produced just as a masterful performance against Villa (not the reserves) in which Onana and Garner were immense.

But here's the kicker we have generally played quite well away from home and I really don't think midfield is the problem it's made out. Had DCL been fit and pumping in the goals no one would have batted an eye lid.

You have been very critical of Onana who was brilliant, absolutely outstanding in his two previous games (both winning ones) and was also having a decent game alongside Gueye in that first half. Believe me the guy is still learning but he is going to be a top class number six.

Again in the first two home games of this season there was nothing wrong with the midfield who dominated but it wasn't as you say a winning team because we had no one to finish the chances off.

I have been calling for a midfield of Onana, Gueye and Garner in the home games where we are expected to win as I feel Doucoure becomes defunct when he hasn't got space. This midfield trio allows the option of replacing the worst performer on the day with Danjuma as a ten should we need a goal and Doucoure as a number eight if necessary. Hopefully with the options out wide and up front we will see more winning teams.

I personally think too many ToffeeWebbers and the manager are too set in their ways and don't see that players have attributes and deficiencies and things like form, fitness, opponent and now most importantly having five subs mean that you shouldn't just play your eleven favourite players anymore.

Take Jimmy Garner who seems to be every ones love child at the minute. He had a stinker on Saturday, was poor on the right wing and missed a sitter which would have changed the game then went into midfield and he was the worst player on the pitch. If that performance was from Gueye he would be massacred on here.

The manager now has the luxury of options to choose from to start and must have a plan b if its not working. It's up to him to use these resources a lot better than Saturday.

Jim Wilson
22 Posted 07/10/2023 at 10:30:20
Conor - there is a lot there that I agree with. A midfield of Gueye Garner and Onana might work. Doucoures energy and goals edges Onana out for me though. I don't see Onana as a No.6 either. He is not busy enough for me. I thought he was poor against Brentford, very nervous on the ball.
Garner won't be at his best when played wide right because he is not in his best natural position.

Simon Dalzell
24 Posted 07/10/2023 at 13:51:01
TOP analysis Jim. I can't find one thing to disagree on.
Si Cooper
25 Posted 07/10/2023 at 15:15:10
For good measure, Dyche also bought into the recent bandwagon of playing Beto with Calvert-Lewin together, failing to realise that, if your midfield is too weak to get attacks going and the forwards receive no service, it won't work. Our other midfield engine who is one of our best assets for a goal was taken off for Beto. And of course the one chance he did get, Beto didn't put away.

Bandwagon suggests it was or is an inherently bad idea. Of course using Calvert-Lewin and Beto together requires getting suitable and ample supply to them. No-one who fancied seeing them tried as a pair thought the way we got the ball to them wouldn't require modification from the way you'd play with just one of them. Question is: Had Dyche and his staff worked on that with the players and did the players play that way last week?

One of the reasons for trying the two together would be to remove the need for Doucouré to be trying to get onto all the knockdowns and give a hopefully even better finisher the opportunities he had been getting.

Don't understand what ‘of course' means in the last sentence. Are we writing Beto off already?

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