Sam Allardyce has put the blame squarely on the players in recent times in a move I can’t fully support as I believe any sustained failure in football (or lack of success) is usually the result of a combination of errors by many parties. And certainly to me it feels hypocritical to accuse the players of being inconsistent whilst chopping and changing both the team and the system more than seems necessary. However, these players have failed to find form under three different managers this season and I think most of us would agree that few of them have covered themselves in glory.
I thought I might take a closer look at the players we have bought in over the last couple of years, especially the ones we have paid decent money for, and maybe even consider one or two alternatives that we might have opted for.
Yannick Bolasie £28m
We needed some more pace and power, that was obvious, and here was a player who appeared to provide that. Plus, he had embarrassed Liverpool on a few occasions so plenty to like there. Quick and direct, with some fancy skills and an off-field friendship with Lukaku, we were led to believe. Except his end product had never been good with a surprisingly low number of goals and assists for an attacking player.
Bolasie actually had a decent start last season before his injury with 4 assists and a goal in his 12 matches; he was frustrating like most wingers but seemed to give us a genuine out-ball and attacking threat. Since his return he has sadly looked well out of sorts, not surprising for such a nasty injury. Hopefully he can recover some of his former sharpness.
At the time, I thought we had overpayed for him and for that amount (or possibly a chunk less) we could well have got Wilfried Zaha, who is younger and has more end product. Other wingers sold that season included Konoplyanka for about £22m and Mo Salah for about £16m. Or even Ousmane Dembele to Dortmund for £13m!
Morgan Schneiderlin £22m
I was really happy when we got Morgan. I remembered him being a brilliant box-to-box midfielder at Southampton and that was clearly what we needed. Someone who could pass and tackle and run the game for us. And so it looked for a while; the man seemed to have intelligence and passion and was very good for us. For a while... Now, he is my least favourite Everton player bar none. He just cannot seem bothered. I think this tweet summed it up for me.
A shame, as there’s a player in there. It was rumoured he downed tools at Man Utd and it looks like history repeating itself. In 2016-17 Spurs got Wanyama for £13m, Banega moved on a free transfer, Leipzig got Naby Keita for £21m.
Ashley Williams £12m
I was on the fence about Williams. He had been great at Swansea and seemed a great old-school option who would marshall our defense. But he was quite old. And quite slow. And not actually that great in the air. At that price, he was decent value and has been OK for us but nowhere near what we hoped. Too many mistakes and part of a defense that is so slow it struggles deeply when faced with genuine pace, movement and skill.
We might have bought the excellent Djibril Sidibe (a right-back admittedly) for £13m, Rudiger went to Roma for £8m and Marc Barta to Dortmund for £8m and Swansea replaced Williams with Alfie Mawson at the very reasonable price of £5m.
Jordan Pickford £27m
Some better news. Probably our best Summer signing. So far at least. I had concerns about Pickford’s size and I still do but he has been mostly very good this season. A great shot-stopper who hates losing and will hopefully get better and better. His communication is not always excellent and his distribution is mixed to say the least but there’s a decent chance he could be ours and England’s No 1 for some time to come. Less need to trawl through alternatives though Matt Ryan to Brighton for just £6m looks like great business.
Michael Keane £27m
I thought Michael Keane looked like a good idea. I was worried about his pace but thought it looked like he had good positioning, was excellent in the air and decent on the ball. I might have got one right. He’s been a big disappointment for me and has looked our worst defender at times which takes some doing. He’s still youngish and I hope we will see much better of him in a settled team but I am concerned that his basic reading of the game is actually very poor and suited only to a team that sits back a fair amount as Burnley often did. I’ve seen him marking empty space far too often and what’s worse is that he does not seem (like many of our players) to have much fight for it. Must do better, Michael.
I think Nathan Ake at Bournemouth may prove a better player at £20m, Mattias Ginter went to Gladbach for only £15m and the obvious alternative who has settled very well is Harry Maguire who cost less than half the price of Keane at £13m. How about we get Maguire and Andrew Robertson who was only £8m, solving the left back issue too?! How did we pay so much for someone in the final year of their contract?!
Davy Klaassen £24m
The captain of an Ajax team who got to the Europa League Final. Surely he would be the playmaker we have needed, able to pull the strings in the middle and get goals at the same time. Our very own David Silva or Christian Eriksen. Truth is that we may never know. The Dutchman was admittedly somewhat underwhelming in his time on the pitch but has had so few chances to show what he can do. Can he really be that much worse than our current midfield who struggle so badly to keep possession?
Tielemans cost Monaco £22m, the lightning quick Balde cost them £27m. Or maybe we could have snaffled the excellent Leandro Paredes who went to Zenit for £20m and is able to both tackle and create, whilst being a bit more mobile than our Davy.
Gylfi Sigurdsson £45m
I really did not want us to spend that money on Sigurdsson. Not because he is a bad player but because he was another slow number 10 after we had already bought Rooney and Klaassen. And he was vastly overpriced. He was a player who achieved the majority of his assists and goals for Swansea through set pieces and we were a team with very few big players capable of taking advantage of those set pieces. In the Premier League so far he has 3 goals and 3 assists in 21 games. Not horrendous but way off what we might expect for £45m.
I like him as a player, he’s smart and works hard but I didn’t think he was a good fit and so far he’s not proved me wrong, largely because he has been played out of position in a team that doesn’t utilize his talents. I think Arnoutovic at £20m would have fitted better as he can beat a man at least. Salah cost £7m less. Yarmolenko cost £22m, Calhanoglu cost £20m and Florian Thauvin (who was terrible at Newcastle but excellent for Marseille this season) cost £10m.
Cenk Tosun £20m
Early days for the Turk though I’m worried that he has the look of James Beattie about him (the Everton one not the Southampton one). I would have preferred someone obviously very quick or obviously very strong but he is at least a striker who has scored goals at the highest levels. Fingers crossed he settles in quickly and shows that he has the ability to be our No 9 for the foreseeable future. Otherwise we will once more be back in the striker market this season.
Not as many options in the winter window and certainly no time yet to see how wise those moves might have been. Batshuayi has had a very good start at Dortmund though and I’m surprised we did not have a good go at him. Martin Terrier moved to Lyon for only £10m and, though more of a winger, looks a very handy prospect.
Theo Walcott £20m
I was unsure about Theo, concerned that his end product is mediocre and that his pace will diminish sooner rather than later. Is he worth £20m? But he couldn’t have asked for a better start and has looked our best player in the last three games. Is this just a honeymoon spurred on by his desire to make the England World Ccup team? What will he be like next season or the season after once the novelty of this move have worn off. No idea of course but after the start that he’s made its hard to argue that this was anything other than a smart move. He provides the pace that we need and seems so far to making good decisions and working hard for the team. And scoring/making goals. Can’t ask for more than that.
I guess what I’m trying ineloquently to point out in this article is that I think we have made some quite poor recruitment decisions over the last few years. It’s very difficult to know whose fault this is and exactly how the transfer responsibility is divided. It seems fair to assume that Koeman shoulders a fair portion of the blame and it was his bizarre desire to turn us into a one-touch possession team that presumably accounts for the strategy of buying so many ‘technical’ players this Summer.
Now of course Allardyce is in charge and these technically minded players do not suit his more direct, attritional ideas which require more athletic qualities (hence his saying that he does not want to play Rooney and Sigurdsson together). But surely there is someone who is meant to keep a track on the overall balance of the squad, to make sure that even if the manager changes there is a blend of options and talent to afford some change in playing style. And that person has surely got to be Steve Walsh. Doesn’t it?
Steve Walsh’s role has still not been made totally clear to me but presumably it involves the analysis of playing assets and recruitment of new players. So he must be at least partly responsible for the imbalanced squad and dubious recruitment we have shown over the last two years. I guess that ultimately it is the manager’s decision and so he has absolved himself of blame by dumping his portion onto Koeman too. He might point to the recruitment of younger talents such as Onyekuru, Lookman, Vlasic, Gibson etc whose value will be best judged in a few years time. But I’m not convinced.
I’d like to see come clarity as to what the process is and an explanation for how it is that we still have only one senior left-back at this club! Off the pitch there is some reason to be optimistic with the Bramley-Moore project moving slowly forward and our finances looking in good nick (mainly due to the TV revenue but still). On the pitch things look very dour though and it feels like we are further from the top now than we were when Moshiri came. There are big changes still to make to this squad if we are to compete at the higher levels and I wonder if Steve Walsh is the right man to oversee that.
Out of morbid curiosity, if we had gone for some of the alternatives I suggested might this be our team (I know retrospect is simple and transfers are not so easy, wages etc blah blah!)
Coleman Maguire Rudiger Robertson
Salah Dembele Zaha
Not too bad. What would yours be if you were spending our £250m or so?
Reader Comments (30)
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1 Posted 07/02/2018 at 19:30:18
Your last few paragraphs echo the concerns many of us have about where accountability lies for the mess the club has created for itself.
2 Posted 07/02/2018 at 21:47:43
Sam I agree with nearly all of this.
I was worried Ashley Williams was bought as a fad because of his success at the Euros but it looks like Klaassen was similar. It seems as if we buy the flavour of the month for a lot of dough but with no plan how to fit them into our team.
3 Posted 07/02/2018 at 22:04:54
£225,000,000 worth of players listed above, and unbelievably, only two I would be that bothered if I woke up tomorrow and found out they had decided to retire from the game.
I could name more players from the Walter Smith era who I enjoyed watching more than this current crop.
Walsh got lucky with Vardy and Mahrez. He's done nothing but piss a massive transfer kitty up the wall for us. Moshiri must be secretly fuming.
4 Posted 07/02/2018 at 22:20:30
I think, as a business analyst, you'd have to look at recruitment as one of, if not the most important thing to get right in top flight football. If Moshiri doesn't change the way that "talent" is identified, valued and then purchased at the club he is a bigger fool than I thought.
Football is not like other industries where if you spend enough you ultimately get an end result. You can spend £200 million a transfer window and still threaten the drop. Moshiri needs to change the way his money is spent or he will stop spending it, and we will probably "do a Villa".
5 Posted 07/02/2018 at 23:03:27
6 Posted 07/02/2018 at 23:06:19
7 Posted 07/02/2018 at 23:22:14
As a club we are leaderless.
8 Posted 08/02/2018 at 02:57:26
Trouble is I don't think Moshiri does when he went with this DoF method bollocks... which hasn't been helped by poor Coaching choices.
A DoF is a good servant but a bad master...you can't have him saying, here are players x, y and z, 'We' think they are the best we can get (for the money / availability etc) you're The Coach, coach them.
If we do have to have one, it should be as a servant... bring me a list of the best LBs, then we'll sit down and work our way down it until we get one we can live with.
I'm all for learning on the job but jeez Mosh, will you hurry up and get the training wheels off and start pedalling... Oh, and stop listening to Jim White or whoever it is feeding you these shite cunning plans. Get someone in who knows what the fuck they are actually doing.
9 Posted 08/02/2018 at 03:20:51
The behind the scenes stuff is a bit like the back of house stuff in a well run hotel. The front of house service is what brings the guests back for more. The team on the pitch is the driver of everything; without a successful team the Club drops off the radar and becomes a hollow revenue losing entity very quickly.
We also are losing sight of just how important the marketing angle is the success of the Club. I like many others have been moaning for years about how clever the Redshite have been in kidnapping the BBC, and how consistently this supposedly public body serves them. By contrast, its amazing how much negative and embarrassing publicity Allardyce is receiving by comparison, when previously we were hardly ever had a mention on Match of the Day!
It would be helpful if the respective job descriptions of the Manager and the Director of Football were known.
11 Posted 08/02/2018 at 04:55:36
12 Posted 08/02/2018 at 06:45:16
13 Posted 08/02/2018 at 07:07:49
He has great potential but has not realised it yet. When you look at Dea Gea, Courtois they were light years ahead at his age. The best keeper signing looks like City's Ederson which was a similar price. He has excelled since coming to the Premier League.
14 Posted 08/02/2018 at 07:23:28
His main weakness in my opinion is one area that he can do nothing about - he's not quite tall enough!
15 Posted 08/02/2018 at 08:30:44
Im not having a go at him and he has loads of potential. As I said I wanted us to sign him but he has a long way to go before we say he is like Nigel Martyn yet alone the greatest, Southall. I still consider it premature to say he is a raging success
16 Posted 08/02/2018 at 09:08:45
Klaasen, Niasse and Tosun have been the stranger ones of recent times.
17 Posted 08/02/2018 at 09:15:57
18 Posted 08/02/2018 at 09:54:18
19 Posted 08/02/2018 at 11:03:16
20 Posted 08/02/2018 at 11:36:56
21 Posted 08/02/2018 at 12:31:54
Ernie Baywood's excellent post @ 278 identified a number of issues offering an explanation as to why we are where we are today. This included:
* poor individual and team performances by the players
* inconsistent team selection and tactics by the manager(s)
* poor management and leadership on all levels of the club, with no apparent accountability
* poor recruitment
Ernie added: "...everyone is under-performing. And the recurring theme is that, as well as being the wrong people doing the wrong things, they're also not being given the best chance of succeeding."
And as he said, It goes right up to the board and the need to:
- Set a vision
- Set a strategy
- Put in place a plan
- Align every part of the club to that plan
Sam's OP reinforces one of Ernie's points. The poor recruitment on Walsh's watch (the one consistent over the term).
Just a perusal glance at our squad last summer as to its make up should have revealed the shortfall and areas that most need strengthening.
Walsh and Koeman had plenty of time to ensure that shortfall was addressed before a ball was kicked. It wasn't.
There is little to disagree with Sam's evaluation of the players we have recruited. There is a great deal to feel remorseful about on players we missed out on.
This is not said with the advantage of hindsight. There were good and arguably better and cheaper options available in the very positions we recruited for (or didn't recruit for, as the case may be).
The two standouts for me are the Hull duo Andrew Robertson and Harry Maguire. Everton were said to be interested in Robertson even before he joined Hull, whilst at Dundee United. Imagine those two alone in our squad this season and I believe results would be markedly improved.
Everton has spent unprecedented sums on recruitment since Moshiri got on board. His wealth isn't such that we can afford to get it spectacularly wrong each transfer window. We must get a good return on investment on our player recruitment, or we will end up in a downward spiral of diminishing returns.
In closing, I refer back to Ernie's referenced post. Unless and until the issues he raised are addressed and primarily, that must come from Moshiri, all the way down I for one don't see any radical upturn in the club's fortunes anytime soon.
22 Posted 08/02/2018 at 13:13:21
Let's not forget that Catterick had a transfer kitty bigger than all our rivals, but failed to reach a European Cup Final with all the resources he had. He won 2 League titles and an FA Cup. I suppose put against every other manager apart from Kendall he is the most successful we have had, but he should have won more.
But we had chances to appoint Clough and Bobby Robson when they were in their prime but failed badly. Clough in particular was brilliant without money, but if he had the backing of Moores money he would have won absolutely everything multiple times. The only British manager ever to win back to back European Cups with Nottingham Forest. That Derby team he won the league with were full of players that had been deemed past their best. But I don't think Moores had the bottle to hire such an outspoken manager.
Although we were one of the clubs pushing for Sky to televise games, our star was on the wain by then and have failed miserably to get back to where we once were. Obviously when John Moores stepped aside we didn't have the money to buy the best players. Sadly all we have done since is mark time avoiding relegation on a couple of occasions and a couple of visits to Wembley. With only Joe Royle able to boast any silverware, and the wait goes on.
We now have a manager a Director of Football deciding who we should buy, I could well imagine what reaction you would have got from Shankly and Busby and Clough if you had told them they would have to work with a Director of Football who would have a major say in transfers. But some say this is the modern way well I cant think were a Director of Football has worked in this country. I know Daniel Commolli was sacked from his DOF role at both Spurs and Liverpool.
So appoint a manager who has proved he can win trophies and whose teams play in a style that you want. Also let him decide who he buys and sells and everything to do with the running of the club. And if someone says it's not possible to do it in the modern game, I give you Sir Alex Ferguson who did everything at Man Utd, another manager we could have got when he was at Aberdeen.
23 Posted 08/02/2018 at 13:46:18
24 Posted 08/02/2018 at 13:52:35
We have wasted a massive opportunity to put this club firmly on the map, and it doesn't seem anyone at the club will be paying the price. The board are an absolute joke. Can anyone see this lot turning things around next season?
It is a well known fact that a certain Mr Kenwright will not let 'outsiders' have anything to do with the running of the club. Until that changes, and we bring on board the ruthlessness we witness at other clubs, we will not move forward. You could start by any player over 30 not being awarded more than a 12-month contract. What a mess.
25 Posted 08/02/2018 at 13:58:08
Surely any manager worth his salt is in charge of the recruitment of players, particularly for the first team squad? If not, he may be coaching up to half a dozen players whom he might not have chosen had he been truly managing as distinct from coaching.
At Goodison this paradox seems more pronounced than in the vast majority of other Premier League clubs, which leads us back yet again to the Moshiri - Kenwright axis that is running our club so badly.
26 Posted 08/02/2018 at 14:07:17
I'd disagree with your assertion that it was since Moyes left that the team hasn't been built around young players. Martinez was very much building this way, more so than Moyes. He brought in Lukaku and had the spine of the team being Stones, Barkley and Lukaku. He brought over Deulofeu and McCarthy wasn't exactly old when he was brought in at the age of 22.
He partnered him with an older Barry, but Barry was a senior player with quality. Even Besic when signed was not an older player. He brought in Atsu on loan but that didn't work out. Holgate was brought in. Funes Moro was signed at the age of 24. So I'd say it was a definite mix under Martinez, with the 22-year-old McCarthy in midfield along with Barkley, Lukaku, Stones all regular starters.
27 Posted 08/02/2018 at 14:13:08
Since then I can't think of a team in world football with such dreadful transfer business. We have been taken to the cleaners for some very very average at best players.
We need to rip it up and start again with a team in place that actually has a plan.
28 Posted 08/02/2018 at 14:19:45
All those players you have mentioned under Martinez's tenure have disappeared except for McCarthy who has fractured his leg. So at this moment there are not enough younger players to form a core, who can go and win something in the future. Everton at this moment are going from one crisis to another without a core of younger players to lead them out of it.
29 Posted 08/02/2018 at 15:13:54
If we marched out:
Coleman Holgate Williams Martina
Walcott Davies Rooney Sigurdsson
We'd actually win some games.
Holgate and Williams for Sam's first three or so games were very good in the back. Christmas came, fixtures piled up, and we've never went back to that winning combination. Why?
Gana is a ball winner and tireless, unlike the seemingly undroppable Schneiderlin. With Rooney and Davies in midfield – and this is the single most important change in my opinion – we'd actually go forward. Our biggest problem currently is we're scared of our own shadow and field a midfield that has no attacking nous whatsoever. And an all-scouse midfield would be fun to watch, week-in and week-out. Not a barometer to base a lineup, but as a fan I'd enjoy watching it.
Bolasie can come off the bench where needed to provide pace. Sigurdsson out wide isn't ideal, but to my eyes he's a playmaker and should be on the pitch. Where else do you fit him? If Rooney tires, move Gilfy to the middle and bring in Yannick.
And Tosun would do much, much better with two attack-minded midfielders behind him. If he's misfiring, Niasse seems to have a knack for scoring in a substitute role.
Instead of the above, we continually get Schneiderlin out there, Davies on the bench, a non-fit Bolasie starting, a revolving door of a centre-back partnership...
It comes down to team selection and a lack of desire to actually attack because our manager is a buffoon who has always preferred 10 men behind the ball creating the worst football I've seen in my Blue life.
Do we need to drop some dead weight in the team? Yes. Should we bring in a left-back? Yes. Are there areas where we should have done something different on the recruitment side? Yes.
But if this team were set up properly, we'd not have dropped near as many points.
Oh... and for subs – and this is where I'd like to punch Sam / Walsh in the face - Lookman (gone), Vlasic (out of favor and why?), Calvert-Lewin riding the bench an awful lot (why?) Our kids who were getting time and doing a pretty decent job (throw Holgate in there for argument's sake) have all but disappeared as Sam reverts to type and doesn't play the kids.
Our malaise is down to management, not recruitment, in the main. Boring football, poor set ups, an inability to actually try to have a go... and so it continues.
Nothing will change with Sam in charge. There's your problem. He has to go.
30 Posted 08/02/2018 at 17:55:19
It's hard to argue against the theory behind these acquisitions based solely on stats. Problem is that, moulding a team is about more than stats. It has a lot to do with teamwork, a proper suitable plan and tactics that suit the players, chemistry, sheer Seamus Coleman grit and will to win etc etc, not to mention a belief in the 'project' and respect for the manager.
Idrissa Gueye -–Interceptions 2nd, Tackles 2nd in 2015-16.
Williams – Clearances 1st, Headed Clearances 2nd in 2015-16.
Schneiderlin – during his Southampton days was 6th in tackles 2013-14 and 7th in 2014-15.
Keane – Clearances 4th, Headed Clearances 2nd in 2016-17.
Pickford – Saves 2nd in 2016-17, 3rd so far this season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson – Assists 3rd, 2016-17.
Sandro – 14 goals in La Liga 2016-17 cheap release clause.
Davy Klaassen –14 goals and 9 assists in 33 games for Ajax 2016-17.
Some other interesting finds.
Jagielka is 2nd on the all-time list for last-man tackles with 24 behind Richard Dunne on 28.
Schneiderlin is 19th in interceptions this season, perhaps the stat that gives the stats a bad name.
Gana is 2nd in tackles this season and the much maligned Cuco Martina is in 14th place.
The biggest surprise to me is to see Dominic Calvert-Lewin pop up in 5th place this season with 123 aerial battles won.
31 Posted 08/02/2018 at 18:56:49
Can someone please offer him a shirt swap soon so he can slope off somewhere far away from our club and its fans. Not fit to wear that number 2 shirt.
The rest of the recruitment? Pretty poor overall. We finally get some money and people like Walsh & Koeman. Pathetic.
Also of the players brought into the youth set up (Mathis, Markello, Bowler, Donkor, Adenarin & Gibson) only Adenarim & Gibson havelooked anything like a prospects. Pathetic again.
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