Boom, Bust & Bad Medicine — 2017-18 Season Review

2017-18 may have offered few moments to savour but it will live long in the memory… hopefully as the nadir in a decade that has promised much but delivered very little

Lyndon Lloyd 24/05/2018 27comments  |  Jump to last
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It began with an almost unbridled sense of optimism in pre-season and ended with the club at perhaps its lowest ebb since 2002. In between, Ronald Koeman's much-vaunted project was brought to a mercifully premature end, a highly-regarded long-time Blues servant struggled to get things back on an even keel, and, after two harrowing defeats in late November, Everton's hierarchy felt compelled to resort to hiring Sam Allardyce to dispel any threat of relegation.

2017-18 was almost completely forgettable in terms of entertainment or achievement on the pitch but no Evertonian is likely to forget a season that promised so much and yet consistently delivered frustration and disappointment on a painful scale.

Most of the platform from which Everton could finally mount a viable assault on the Champions League places or make a concerted effort to end 23 years without silverware in one of the domestic cups appeared to be coming together last summer.

After making an impressive start to life at Goodison Park, the bloom had come off the rose of Koeman’s reign between September and mid-December 2016 with a poor run of form but he appeared to have got things moving in the right direction after that, particularly with regard to the Toffees' home form.

Winning 10 of his next 11 Premier League matches at Goodison and securing both a seventh-place finish and entry to the Europa League's group-stage qualifying rounds, it seemed as though Koeman had primed Everton for further progress in 2017-18. The spending spree that followed in fairly short order only seemed to reinforce that notion.

Sunderland's highly-regarded young goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, and Ajax's captain, Davy Klaassen, arrived on the same June day for a combined outlay of £48.6m; Sandro Ramirez and Henry Onyekuru, young strikers aged 21 and 19 respectively were snapped up for £13m; promising young defender Michael Keane was drafted in for £25m before the prodigal son, Wayne Rooney, returned to Everton amid much fanfare.

If there was a nagging discomfort at the fees being doled out on some of those acquisitions, prices seemingly paid to get them in the door with the minimum of fuss or competition, the general feeling was that Everton were finally doing what needed to be done in a massively inflated market to get the players to rebuild the spine of the team.

That rampant optimism began to be tempered, however, once the Europa League campaign kicked off, the previous season's top scorer, Romelu Lukaku, was sold to Manchester United without an obvious replacement in the pipeline, and negotiations with Swansea City over midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson started to drag out towards the kick-off to the new season.

The Koeman project crumbles

Even accounting for rustiness and a lack of proper pre-season preparation, Everton's grind through two qualifying rounds to make the group phase of the Europa League was an early indicator of the struggles to come, particularly when it came to moving the ball effectively, creating chances and scoring goals.

The Blues edged their way past unfancied MFK Ruzomberok by a solitary goal in each leg and needed a sublime goal out of nowhere by Sigurdsson — the Icelandic international had finally arrived in a club-record deal a few days earlier — to settle their nerves in the next round against Hajduk Split but the overall feeling was one of underwhelm mixed with fervent hopes that the club would fill the gaping hole left by Lukaku before the transfer window closed the following week.

In the Premier League, the positivity engendered by a narrow home win over Stoke City on the opening day and a misleading 1-1 draw at eventual runaway champions Manchester City quickly evaporated at Stamford Bridge where a dreadful Blues display ended in a routine 2-0 defeat.

The unease among supporters wasn't helped by the fact that the transfer deadline would come and go without the addition of a reliable goalscorer and only Nikola Vlasic, the young Croatian who had impressed for Split over the two legs in the Europa League, to show for the club's final efforts in the transfer market.

As it turned out, the result at Chelsea was the moment at which Everton's top-four charge and Koeman's tenure as manager effectively left the rails as he failed to get to grips with an admittedly daunting fixture list. Humbling defeats to Tottenham (0-3) at home and Atalanta (0-3) and Manchester United (0-4) away set the alarm bells ringing and although passage to the fourth round of the League Cup was booked thanks to a 3-0 win over Sunderland and Bournemouth were despatched thanks to the heroics off the bench from Koeman's former outcast, Oumar Niasse, the latter two results merely papered over the cracks.

Just as they had been during their worst spell during the former Southampton boss's first season in charge, Everton were toothless, directionless and lacking any discernible style of play and concern over the team's future under Koeman returned in the next Europa League group game against Apollon Limassol in which the Toffees threw away two badly-needed points by conceding a soft, late equaliser to the Cypriot side.

A home defeat to Burnley, an unconvincing 1-1 draw at Brighton and a shabby, undisciplined home defeat to Lyon pushed Evertonians and major shareholder Farhad Moshiri to the limits of their collective patience, with the next Premier League encounter against Arsenal proving to be the last straw.

Just as they did the season before, Wayne Rooney's opener, which harked back to his history-making strike as a 16-year-old against the same opposition in 2003, had the potential to be a catalyst for Koeman and his Everton team to kickstart their campaign with a home win over the Gunners.

Unfortunately, after Arsenal had turned the match on its head, Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a second bookable offence and the Blues collapsed, eventually going down a humiliating 5-2 defeat with Moshiri watching on from the Director's Box next to a shell-shocked Bill Kenwright.

The result left Everton sitting in the relegation zone for the first time in 12 years and it left the hierarchy with few choices but to fire Koeman and instate David Unsworth as his stand-in, albeit with no defined or articulated end point.

Unsworth struggles to keep an even keel

Given how impactful he and Joe Royle appeared to be when they took over the reins at Goodison following the sacking of Roberto Martinez for the final game of the 2015-16 season, there were high hopes that Unsworth could spark something in a demoralised squad.

At the very least, if he could bolster results sufficiently, it would have bought the club time to fully vet potential long-term candidates or wait until the end of the season when attracting a new manager would have been that much easier. In the best-case scenario for Rhino himself, of course, the door was open to former Toffees defender to earn the job for himself if he could really lead a complete transformation in the team's fortunes.

As it was, the problems ran too deep for a novice coach to resolve, particularly with the pressure to get results and move the club away from the drop zone hanging over him.

Between Koeman and director of football, Steve Walsh, Everton's recruitment over the summer had been scattergun, ill-considered and expensive. The lack of a striking signing left a huge onus on the shoulders of the ageing Rooney, the unpredictable and inconsistent Niasse, the young, inexperienced duo of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ramirez.

The midfield was overstocked with centrally-focused players with three of them — Klaassen, Sigurdsson and Rooney — all vying for the first-choice No.10 spot. It was Rooney who was most often entrusted with the role, which often left Sigurdsson playing out of position wide on the left while Klaassen eventually dropped to the bench and wasn't to make a Premier League start from late September onwards.

At the back, Keane was struggling to adapt to his new surroundings, Cuco Martina was forced into deployment as an emergency left-back when Leighton Baines suffered a calf injury in mid-November and of the new recruits only Pickford was looking remotely good value for his acquisition.

Things looked promising for Unsworth in the first match of the post-Koeman era, a League Cup tie at Chelsea. Everton lost the game 2-1 but, in the second half especially, they had shown spirit and increasing confidence against superior opposition that offered hope that he could stabilise the situation at the club. However, the next two games, a limp 2-0 defeat Leicester and a 3-0 drubbing at Lyon as hope of progressing in the Europa League slipped away, once again illustrated the scale of the problems he had inherited.

Nevertheless, a stirring 3-2, come-from-behind win over Watford and another determined display in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace, in which the Blues twice trailed, suggested once more that Unsworth had been able to regroup his charges and find a way forward.

There is no question that the 44-year-old was eager to be given the chance to oversee first-team affairs until May but his interim tenure was undone by two of the most alarming results of the season. Progress from the Europa League group phase was already out of the question when Atalanta came to Goodison on 23rd November but Everton were steamrollered by the Italians in a 5-1 rout. Three days later, they were ripped to shreds at Southampton amid more shambolic defending and sent back to Merseyside with a chastening 4-1 hiding.

The preceding four or five weeks of Everton's season had been played out against the backdrop of an increasingly public approach for Marco Silva, the young Portuguese who had come close to saving Hull City from the drop in 2016-17 and then made a strong start as Watford's latest manager, leading them into the top four immediately prior to the Blues' decision to oust Koeman.

Believing they had finally found a head coach they were prepared to keep, the Hertfordshire club knocked back successive bids — depending on reports, they were offered between £12m and £20m — from Everton to prise Silva away from Vicarage Road, leading Farhad Moshiri to eventually admit defeat in the chase.

With reported overtures to Shakhtar Donetsk with regard to their promising young manager, Paulo Fonseca, also rejected, Everton's de facto owner was forced to go, “cap in hand” back to the Premier League's renowned relegation specialist, Sam Allardyce with a compromise offer.

The one-time England boss, who had resurrected his image to a degree with a stint at Palace after being sacked in disgrace by the FA from the national team, had held talks with the Toffees in October but had insisted on a minimum contract of 18 months. Preferring terms just until the end of the 2017-18 season but concerned enough by the danger of relegation, Moshiri relented and, in a deeply unpopular move, Allardyce was appointed as Koeman's successor on 30th November; the foul-tasting medicine for a malaise partially self-inflicted.

It's impossible to know how the rest of the campaign might have unfolded had Unsworth remained in charge. With back-to-back home games against other floundering teams in the form of West Ham and Huddersfield Town, Rhino either had two eminently winnable matches in which to push the club back towards the right half of the table or he ran the risk of squandering six precious points if he oversaw two more defeats.

As it was, with Allardyce watching on from the Directors' Box — the Dudleyite would tate take credit for the victory — Unsworth's swan song was a thumping 4-0 defeat of David Moyes's Hammers on the back of Rooney's first hat-trick in Everton colours. That the win and clean sheet was secured with a makeshift defence made it all the more impressive but with Allardyce already agreed, it was too late for Moshiri to change his mind and stick with his caretaker head coach.

Allardyce does what Allardyce does

Everton's momentum from the win over West Ham carried into the clash with Huddersfield and after Ademola Lookman and the fringe players secured a magnificent 3-0 win over Limassol in Nicosia, two wins and a draw in the Anfield derby followed, leaving the Toffees in a healthy ninth place in the league.

Having dispelled fears of a protracted battle against the drop, Allardyce was presented with a rare chance to spread his managerial wings… or at least demonstrate that he had any. Sitting just six points behind Champions League-chasing Tottenham heading into the Christmas period and seven behind Burnley in sixth, the opportunity was there for the journeyman manager to finally prove his claims that he was a better, more dynamic coach than his limited reputation suggested and for Everton to re-mount a challenge for Europe.

That such hopes were ludicrously ill-founded would be starkly proved over the subsequent four games. Drab 0-0 draws against Chelsea and Championship-bound West Bromwich Albion were followed by a defeat at struggling Bournemouth and a dismal 2-0 home loss to Manchester United, a sequence in which Allardyce's team managed just four shots on target in total.

The lack of a regular goalscorer to share the load with Rooney was an ongoing handicap that would be addressed later in January with the acquisition of Cenk Tosun from Besiktas but the new boss was demonstrating a distinct lack of imagination or willingness to experiment with some of the young, creative elements of the squad who could have made an impact off the substitute's bench in close games.

The FA Cup Third Round tie at Anfield was a case that proved the point. Trailing to James Milner's 35th-minute penalty, Everton threw Lookman on as they chased the game and the 20-year-old quickly sparked the move that resulted in a Sigurdsson equaliser. The reds would ultimately prevail thanks to a late header by Virgil van Dijk but Evertonians had taken encouragement from both their exciting young winger's cameo and Allardyce's willingness to use him.

It didn't last. A brutal 4-0 hammering by Spurs at Wembley, where Everton again failed to register a single shot on target, followed by a frustrating home draw with West Brom put supporters back in the doldrums. Leicester were vanquished at Goodison thanks to a brace by new signing Theo Walcott and the energy of the returning Seamus Coleman but a 5-1 reverse at the Emirates to Arsenal made a mockery of Allardyce's reputation as a defensively minded manager able to nullify opposition threats through preparation and analysis.

Damningly, Lookman was let go on loan, albeit not to Derby County at Allardyce’s suggestion but RB Leipzig in Germany. The surprised manager predicted the winger would struggle in a foreign league; instead, used as he should have been at Everton – sparingly but effectively – he delivered the goods.

Allardyce, meanwhile, would lean heavily on the Blues's strengths at home as he kept the club in the top half of the table over the run-in. Apart from a humiliating 3-1 reverse to champions-elect Manchester City at the end of March, his side would stay unbeaten on home soil between New Year's Day and the end of the season but the crushingly unadventurous football that would characterise his reign led to increasingly vocal opposition to his tenure from the stands.

Starting with the 2-1 loss at Burnley in March, Allardyce was barracked by travelling Everton fans at away games and by the time a desperate Southampton side had been denied victory in the penultimate fixture of the campaign, that clamour had spread to the terraces of Goodison Park as well. It meant that by the final-day defeat to West Ham, it was clear that his position as Blues manager was untenable; his relationship with the majority of the Everton faithful, uneasy from the outset, had become increasingly toxic.

Allardyce's dismissal was confirmed in the days after the season and was followed by a boardroom shake-up that included the departure of Robert Elstone as Chief Executive Officer and the appointment of Marcel Brands as the club's new Director of Football to replace the outgoing Steve Walsh. The former Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle, West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace boss had successfully extended his record of never having taken a Premier League club down and, in so doing, had finished in his highest league position, eighth, since leading the Trotters to sixth place in 2004.

All of which underscored two, perhaps, contradictory arguments: the fact that Allardyce had inherited — and then augmented, with Walsh's assistance we presume — an Everton squad with a good deal more talent than their early-season travails had suggested on the one hand (particularly once Seamus Coleman and Baines returned to steady the defence); and that the paucity of the Premier League outside the top six was so great that it was difficult to conceive of there being 12 teams worse than the Toffees in the top flight.

On the face of it and to observers outside of Everton, Allardyce had not only done what was asked of him, in securing a top-half finish he had perhaps over-achieved with a team that had looked to be in serious danger of going down before he agreed to come on board. But the underlying statistics supported the fans' frustrations and their dislike of the fare being served up week in, week out. In the final reckoning, only relegated Swansea City managed fewer shots than Everton over the course of the season and in Allardyce's time at Goodison, the Toffees were ranked last or next to last in almost all of the key attacking metrics.

Had Moshiri elected to keep Allardyce in place of the remaining 12 months of his contract, it would have been the final slap in face to a fanbase that had witnessed an almost unfathomable change from pre-season hope and expectation to fear and despair before the Festive season had even begun. That the club not only staved off any relegation fears but finished just one place below where they stood in May 2017 allowed the hierarchy to make a forward-looking decision aimed at getting the “project” back on track rather than one that promised stagnation and almost guaranteed restlessness and angst in 2018-19.

The identity of Everton's next manager isn't known for certain — Silva is the overwhelming favourite at the time of writing — but with the decks cleared and Brands installed as the new man in charge of recruitment and the playing structure, Evertonians can look forward again with a degree of cautious optimism. The hope is that the new management team can address the imbalances in the squad, both in terms of age and position, ship out some of the dead and less useful wood and bring in highly targeted, quality personnel to usher in attacking and effective football.

2017-18 may have offered few moments to savour beyond Rooney's stunning third goal against West Ham, Sigurdsson's terrific first goal for the club in Split. Coleman's adrenaline-fuelled full-90 comeback against Leicester, and the odd thrilling contest like those against Watford and Leicester but it will live long in the memory… hopefully as the nadir in a decade that has promised much but delivered very little in the way of tangible on-field progress for a genuine sleeping giant of domestic game.

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Reader Comments (27)

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Andy Crooks
1 Posted 24/05/2018 at 22:11:29
I would guess, Lyndon, that you have worked on this piece for some time. It is balanced, and sums it up accurately. A really top article. I think the key point was the failure to sign a striker, gross negligence on the part of the custodians of our club. Then, the dismissal of Unsworth and the appointment of Allardyce was panic-stricken ineptitude.

To me, Lyndon, the most telling moment was when you and Michael led the way. It was subtle, clever and effective. Change was needed and this site supported it. I know you take a restrained view but when change was imperative, Michael's on-the-spot reports and your reflective views captured the mood and gave a voice to those who could take no more.

Kunal Desai
2 Posted 24/05/2018 at 22:18:12
A season of optimism and high expectation for possibly the first time in the Premier League era.... yet we somehow end up getting managed by Sam Allardyce. Says it all really. Only at Everton can that happen. It's the hope that kills you.
James Flynn
3 Posted 24/05/2018 at 22:47:07
Telling it like it was.

And just because you're a fine writer, this:

"Allardyce was appointed as Koeman's successor on 30th November; the foul-tasting medicine for a malaise partially self-inflicted."

Nice.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

4 Posted 24/05/2018 at 22:47:58
A nice concise and fair review of the season.

But I really hope it doesn't live long in the memory, as you pen, Lyndon.

I would rather it is rapidly expunged from the memory banks with a plethora of entertaining football from the off next season.

Even the (genuine) relegation-threatened years under Howard Kendall Mk III and Walter Smith weren't as dire as the paucity of entertainment in this grey dismal season.

The games really mattered then and, poor as the players evidently were, they at least tried!

This season's viewing was totally mundane – pure purgatory, even – with very little counting on each game.

Let's hope the winds of change blowing through Goodison Park and Finch Farm will have a deep cleansing effect to ensure a marked improvement by all next season.

Tony Everan
5 Posted 24/05/2018 at 22:55:48
I bet you didn't want to write it, Lyndon. However, it will serve well as a record of a dismal season. Future regimes can refer to it to avoid the catalogue of basic errors those entrusted with power made.
Don Alexander
6 Posted 24/05/2018 at 23:25:27
Excellent summary but, with respect, because it's still unknown to all or nearly all of us, just who was responsible for the huge failure in transfers-in last summer? I ask, again, because that failure made the season a write-off from the start and would have done so even if Guardiola (who's yet to be tested at a club where money doesn't come from a bottomless pit by the way) had been the manager.

Sure, Koeman was sent on his lavishly paid way, and now Walsh too, but was it only those two alone, or is a meddling third person still embedded in the club like the football equivalent of Japanese knockweed, which is also genuinely known by some as, appropriately enough, "Donkey Rhubarb"?

Jack Convery
7 Posted 24/05/2018 at 23:50:20
Great article but I would have included Coleman's wonderful 90 minutes on his return to the team. For me, the only time a player wearing the blue shirt actually gave his all for the whole match and for his team, his team mates and us the fans.

11 more like him is what we need and a Manager who will ensure NIL SATIS NISI OPTIMUM.

Peter Mills
8 Posted 25/05/2018 at 08:18:06
I still think that Atalanta home game was more “unfortunate” than “steamrollered”. We were 2-1 down around 80 minutes, with the players giving their all in a dead rubber to get an equaliser for Unsworth; we got hit with a breakaway then completely capitulated.

Just my view of the game (there weren't many of us there), but it was a rather harsh result which made a major contribution to the panic that led to the most shameful managerial appointment in our history.

Ian Burns
9 Posted 25/05/2018 at 10:54:31
Another great piece, Lyndon, not that I enjoyed reading it mind!

Jack - 7 - I think you will find Lyndon did mention Seamus's return you mentioned.

I wish we could whitewash this past season from our records, it will sit as a recurring nightmare each time it's mentioned.

At least Brands's appointment has given me a lift for next season but having gone through the 2017-18 debacle, I will take a deep breath and wait to see what the opening weeks bring.

I hope this coming season gives you some better material to work with, Lyndon – how you have managed to deliver some excellent articles these past few months is all credit to you.

Steve Ferns
10 Posted 25/05/2018 at 11:15:46
Very balanced, Lyndon. I'd love to see Michael's review of the season, I doubt he would be so "complimentary" towards Sam Allardyce.
Jay Harris
11 Posted 25/05/2018 at 11:29:31
Your literacy speaks volumes, Lyndon.

My view is that there are problems throughout the club with Trainset Bill at the head of it. I think his insistence on Rooney replacing Lukaku caused Koeman to go on golf leave and Walsh to know his place.

That one transaction alone destroyed the team and didn't help a dressing room that had been fed with “We can't afford top wages” while bringing Rooney in on 𧵬k a week.

Wages, especially inequitable wages, are always a contentious issue and are set to become even more divisive with more signings. I can only hope that Silva and Brands are strong characters and excellent man-managers.

Paul Tran
12 Posted 25/05/2018 at 11:49:16
Another good piece, Lyndon. Much has rightly been said about Koeman & Walsh's lack of competence last summer. One day I'd love to find out more about the clearly dysfunctional relationship between them and the club management.

Moshiri has clearly learned by appointing an actual Director of Football to that position, though I'd still like some detail on that role and how it sits with the other staff and players.

Hopefully we'll know more next week when he and Silva are formally announced, after Silva's 1st June 'breakout' deadline.

Paul Tran
13 Posted 25/05/2018 at 12:23:28
Errr, meant week after next!
John Keating
14 Posted 25/05/2018 at 12:50:37
Moshiri is obviously a very clever and successful businessman. Unfortunately, as we all know, football isn't a typical business. Emotions play too big a part for it to be so.

As in any business it is difficult to have two bosses, impossible in football.

I believe until Kenwright is turfed out, we will continue to have a disconnect. Do we really think Moshiri wanted Wayne back on those wages? To me, that had Kenwright written all over it.

The cull has started but is far from complete. Hopefully, when it is, we will see the Club advancing; whilst the past disasters sit in the boardroom, we will continue to struggle.

Neville Jones
15 Posted 25/05/2018 at 18:07:59
Nothing much to do with above but think you might like this especially with a certain game in Kiev.

To the tune of the coffee song or “There's an awful lot of coffee in Brazil”.

They had Vikings in big numbers
Who drank from massive tumblers
But there are much worse people there today,
They have an awful lot of koppites in Norway.

Oh me, I think I'm feeling bad,
Oh my, it makes me very sad,
In fact, I'd rather sail on Biscay bay,
There's an awful lot of koppites in Norway.

Everywhere they wear red (not pink),
It's enough to drive us all to drink,
But when they drink they have a lot they have to pay,
There's an awful lot of koppites in Norway.

Oh me, it makes me very sad,
Oh my, I think I'm feeling bad,
I'd rather jump into the river Tay,
There's an awful lot of koppites in Norway.

I'm sure that you will all like this song,
Fingers crossed that it is not too long
I wrote this on the 25th May,
There's an awful lot of koppites in Norway.

Apart from that, Brands a great appointment, not convinced about Silva, has a lot to prove but give him the benefit of the doubt.


Danny Broderick
16 Posted 25/05/2018 at 19:44:34
I hold Walsh responsible for our failure to bring in a striker. Koeman was on record stating that we needed a striker, yet we didn't get one.

It would have been a completely different season if we had managed to get Giroud over the line – I believe that Koeman would still be our manager if that had happened. We would have still had the problem of a botched recruitment, however – it's clear to me that Koeman and Walsh did not see eye to eye, and with Kenwright possibly getting involved also, we would have probably had more of the same chaos this summer.

Whoever gets the manager's job this summer, I hope everyone will be pulling in the same direction. That, I believe, was our biggest failure last season.

Andy Meighan
17 Posted 25/05/2018 at 22:13:34
Another brilliant piece, Lyndon, though it did make tough reading. I personally think – and I've said this many times – I don't think Koeman knows anything about football. A great player doth not make a great coach and, mark my word, he will never be a success in the game.

That said, Walsh has a lot to answer for, as well as you-know-who. As for the board, well... 'incompetent' springs to mind. Let's hope this Brands guy has something about him or it'll be same old.
Rick Tarleton
18 Posted 26/05/2018 at 09:21:47
A fine, literate and objective account which neatly encapsulates Everton's season's travails.

Unlike many of your correspondents, I was pleased to see Lukaku go. His unwillingness to make runs to open up space for others or to give his midfield space in which to break through never appealed. I saw him as lazy and selfish. This does not mean that we should not have replaced him properly, but that he was replaceable rather than irreplaceable.

The Barkley saga, however, to me saw us lose a talent. A better Number 10 than any of the signings we made. Whatever the intrigues of that unusual situation were, I wish he had stayed. His future at Chelsea looks problematic and it is only four years ago when he looked the best player in our World Cup squad.

Whoever is appointed to be our next manager, and Silva to me has a worse record than (in alphabetical order) Dyches, Howe, Hughton or Wagner, they need to sort out the central defence and replace the ageing players in our squad. Keane at Burnley, alongside the left-sided and underrated Mee, looked excellent. Tarkowski playing alongside Mee this season looks equally good. Is Mee a possible short-term signing?

Lookman must come back and be integrated into the team and Tosun needs a service from a constructive midfielder. Walcott is a mercurial talent with pace and good feet. He is not a great football brain or finisher or Arsenal would not have got rid of him. Bolasie is not the player he was before the injury, and I doubt if he was anything other than a mercurial talent before the injury.

Whoever the manager is, and it looks like Silva, they need to have a plan and they need to be backed. Their plan must include the idea of entertaining the customers, not merely surviving.

Above all, Everton's future depends on the new ground and its development. The sooner the better is my feeling.

Mike Kehoe
19 Posted 26/05/2018 at 10:26:49
I know optimism is a dangerous thing but it is hard not to get caught up in it. For me, Silva is well worth the gamble because he has improved every team he has managed by developing the players at his disposal. Last season was a car crash from start to finish with shocking failings seemingly at every level: that Allardyce was ever appointed illustrates it all really.

Change is happening and mere competence will see big improvements. A forward, midfielder and defender along with a manager whose attacking strategies go beyond kicking it into their half and running after it, and progress will be assured. My wish list is Ashley Barnes or Moussa Dembele up front, with Shaqiri, Drinkwater or Loftus-Cheek in midfield, with Dunk and Bertrand in defence.

Peice of piss, this management malarkey.

Tony Marsh
20 Posted 26/05/2018 at 10:59:13
This article should be sent to Farhad Moshiri and Jim White also; maybe Sam Allardyce should be made to read it.

Last season was bad and I'm already getting the jitters for the coming season. I don't trust the inept people running the club.

Let's face it, who had ever heard of Marcel Brands before we were linked with him?? Who is our new CEO Barrett-Baxendale? Where did she appear from? Nah... surely we won't fuck it up 2 years in a row, will we?

The only thing left this season, the only chink of light for Evertonians, is a Real Madrid win tonight. Please, a win for Madrid to shut these twats up... I can't even go into town this Bank Holiday weekend because it is full of them clown Kopites everywhere you look... It's part jealousy and part soul-destroying but It's hard to take when you live amongst it.

Dave Brierley
21 Posted 26/05/2018 at 13:05:35
Lovely piece, Lyndon. Brought all the salient points of this drab and disappointing season back with a vengeance.

I guess we all take a deep breath yet again and adopt this so familiar cloak of "cautious optimism" you alluded to for the coming season. Here's hoping.

Richard Lyons
22 Posted 26/05/2018 at 13:41:23
Thanks, Lyndon. An honest and accurate account, which somehow spins into a sort of optimism for the future. Who would have thought?

And "foul-tasting medicine" - spot on!

David McMullen
23 Posted 26/05/2018 at 21:23:58
Really good article; spot-on summing up for me. Whichever is the new manager, he needs to be given backing by us, the fans.

The club does need to (a) rid us some of the players that have laboured through a number of managers, and (b) shake itself up, act more professional and business-like, act like a big club, and we will reap some rewards.

We've been a tatty embarrassment of a club this season but, all-in-all, in the last 15-20 years, we've been anything but the big club we were renowned for.

Smarten up, Everton!

Jim Bennings
24 Posted 27/05/2018 at 10:32:45
The avalanche obviously began last summer with a woeful recruitment process.

We didn't need Klaassen or Rooney once we had already targeted Sigurdsson (for whom we grossly paid over the odds).

We failed dismally in our quest to replace Lukaku — you simply cannot sell a striker with 45 goals in the two previous seasons and not replace him, giving the job to a kid that was nowhere near in the same league (Calvert-Lewin)

Sandro was a poor signing with little homework done on his ability to adapt to the English league or his character which has proven fragile.

The signing of Jamie Vardy should have been priority ahead of pursuing Giroud (who I could have told you wouldn't move North as soon as I heard of our interest)... and as for the fantasy Diego Costa links, that was a joke at best.

The Ross Barkley saga was an embarrassment on behalf of everyone.

From start to finish, the season on and off the pitch was a complete joke.

Ash Moore
25 Posted 27/05/2018 at 14:26:22
Well, Tony, you got your wish, you shouldn't get any lip from the RS over last night. Quite the opposite.

It'a all down to recruitment. We paid Aston Martin prices for what seems at this stage two Ladas, a C-5, and a Vauxhall Vectra. The next round of recruitment must be a thousand times better.

It's a World Cup year to boot – what's the bet we buy the Russian World Cup equivalent of Amokachi though or watch Sigurdsson explode his ACL.

The club needs major surgery, the cult of failure now runs that deep. Does the latest round of changes go far enough?

Martin Reppion
26 Posted 28/05/2018 at 20:38:26
I enjoyed reading the article. But may I respond to a few comments here, and on other threads, criticising Michael Keane.

Bobby Moore (ask your dad) would have struggled in the back four combinations we used before Seamus and Leighton returned to fitness. For the last 2 months of the season, with a settled and balanced back line, Keane began to show why he was such a prized signing last summer.

I hope he gets the support around him to build a solid base for the team in the next and subsequent seasons. We will then realise we have a good one there.

Andy Crooks
27 Posted 28/05/2018 at 21:19:22
Tony Marsh, you have been on a few threads lately talking spot-on sense. I think you made a wrong call on Allardyce but you did it in your "no holds barred" way. Good to see you back on your game.

By the way, who would you have and support as our new coach?

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