For a man who has been in an overt mode of self-preservation lately, Sam Allardyce’s comments after this frustratingly predictable draw with Swansea can’t have come as a surprise to many. In addition to the usual guff about a point against a team that started the day four points off the relegation zone being a “great” result because Swansea had won their previous four at home, the manager declared that what he has achieved at Everton since he arrived at the end of November constitutes success.
Granted, the question from the interviewer came loaded with that particular word but Allardyce is on tricky ground when it comes to discussing success in relation to a club like Everton. We’ve known it, revelled in it, been robbed and then starved of it for too long now and, bitterly enough, the fact that the journeymen former England boss sits at the helm of this grand old team is a by-product of the latest shambles to befall it.
Allardyce has fulfilled the brief handed to him by a panicked Farhad Moshiri four and a half months ago. He has kept Everton in the Premier League, albeit with a win percentage of just 35%. In truth, his job was done by Christmas; the last 15 games presented an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and transform his image of a one-dimensional, motivator type whose simple talent lies in saving clubs from relegation.
We’ll never know whether David Unsworth would have been able to achieve the same feat for Everton this season following that 4-0 drubbing of West Ham; the decision to replace him had already been made. What’s clear, though, is that if this were one long job interview for one of the plumb jobs in English football, Allardyce has shown little appetite to ace it.
This game was as neat an illustration of his play-for-the draw lack of adventure as any. Seemingly without instruction to retain possession, dictate the game, or attack their hosts with any conviction, Everton found themselves 1-0 up at half time thanks to an own goal by Kyle Naughton.
It was unfortunate for Swansea who had belied their lowly status by employing crisp pass-and-move football and an impressing harrying game when out of possession almost from the off and fashioning three clear-cut openings by the time Yannick Bolasie’s 34th-minute daisy-cutter had registered for the Blues their first shot on target.
Jordan Ayew thought he had opened the scoring at the end of a 21st-minute counter-attack that led Wayne Rooney in an embarrassed heap after he’d missed a tackle in midfield but the Ghanaian’s shot took a vital deflection off Leighton Baines.
From the resulting corner, Federico Fernandez went even closer, rising highest to head back across Jordan Pickford’s goal but Cenk Tosun cleared his effort off the line.
Five minutes after that, the two Ayew brothers combined at the end of a good passing move from Carlos Carvalhal’s side but Andre, having out-muscled Michael Keane, could only fire straight at Pickford.
Everton offered a brief flurry of attacking intent in the waning minutes of the first period and, after Keane had headed wide after Lukas Fabianski had parried the defender’s initial header back to him, the visitors struck two minutes before the interval.
Seamus Coleman got forward well to ping a cross the back post and pick out Bolasie in space and, true to established form of doing on good thing a game to justify his inclusion, the Congolese forced a parrying save from Fabianski who repeated the feat a split second later to deny Idrissa Gueye from the rebound.
Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, his second save hit Naughton and crossed the line before Alfie Mawson swept it clear, the goal decision system alerting referee Lee Mason to the fact a few seconds later.
Theo Walcott was almost in a minute later from Tosun’s quick thinking but couldn’t bring the Turk’s long pass under control and that allowed Swansea to begin the second half on the front foot as they searched for an equaliser.
Keane’s header from a Swansea throw fell straight to Tom Carroll but Pickford was equal to his placed header with a diving catch and Andre Ayew was denied by the Blues’ keeper when he batted his shot behind in the 51st minute.
There was precious little desire or impetus from Everton to try and turn the screw on the Swans but Walcott did deliver a rare cross of quality from the right to find Gueye in a central position but his header was a poor one that had no hope of troubling Fabianski’s goal.
Benefitting from the introduction of Tammy Abraham with 25 minutes to go, Swansea kept probing as the half wore on and got their reward against a ponderous, untidy Blues side in the 71st minute.
For a second time, Tosun was called into emergency action to head off his own goal line but this time Everton’s defence couldn’t get it clear. And when Coleman’s scuffed clearance fell straight to Carroll and he shanked a ball out to Jordan Ayew on the left side of the penalty area, the forward accepted the chance with gusto, hammering a shot off the inside of Pickford’s left-hand post.
Allardyce pointed to fact that Coleman came so close to winning it for Everton with a quarter of an hour to go but his shot on the run from Tosun’s cross cannoned off the crossbar. In retrospect, however, a victory would have flattered the Blues and the manager’s decision to throw Ramiro Funes Mori on for Bolasie in the closing stages was evidence enough that he wanted to protect the point rather than build on Coleman’s chance to earn all three.
In keeping with his tenure, Allardyce’s side did enough but did exhibit the necessary guile or gumption to secure a win to reward the travelling faithful who once more sold out the away end. He will, no doubt, continue to insist in his press conferences that the criticism is only coming from a handful of unprofessional speculators on social media but as “fuck off Sam Allardyce” rang out unmistakably from those massed ranks in Blue, he can’t have been left in much doubt what they thought of him.
Allardyce is unlikely to walk away of his own volition — indeed, rather disconcertingly, he is now talking of pre-season plans and squad-building — so, again, the hope is that behind the scenes, there is no doubt about what needs to be done come the end of the season, if not before. If there is anything to the rumours that the decision has already been, it’s hard to see what good from stretching his tenure out over the last four meaningless games.
Yes, Sam, you’re a success. Now how about going out on “a high”?
Reader Comments (39)
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1 Posted 16/04/2018 at 06:36:08
"You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go!"
2 Posted 16/04/2018 at 07:19:03
3 Posted 16/04/2018 at 07:22:41
4 Posted 16/04/2018 at 08:05:31
We will now likely finish 10th as Benitez has found a winning formula at Newcastle and they are playing confidently, I expect they will take at least a point from Goodison next Monday whilst we will continue to flounder in the away games remaining.
Even finishing 10th will flatter this woefully inept Everton team though.
There are teams below us who are actually putting more effort in on a weekly basis but are struggling because of a genuine lack of quality/spending power but at least the effort is there.
West Brom have had a dire dire season yet they yesterday gave their fans at least some feel good factor after a horrible season with a fantastic away day.
When is the last time travelling Evertonians went away from home and came back feeling euphoric after a triumph like that?
5 Posted 16/04/2018 at 09:52:08
7 Posted 16/04/2018 at 10:08:24
Watching Southampton against Chelsea, for the majority of the game they did just this pass, move, accept, pass and move, und so weiter as the Germans say, and pester the crap out of the opposition players etc until they make mistakes.
I'm starting to think that football is a simple game made complicated by massively overpaid, mentally under-endowed managers and coaches!
8 Posted 16/04/2018 at 10:10:17
9 Posted 16/04/2018 at 10:13:57
10 Posted 16/04/2018 at 10:28:21
11 Posted 16/04/2018 at 10:35:55
Yes that smacks me in the face too!
For so many so-called international players at Everton, it's amazing that none of the team can actually do the basics of passing and moving into space, we can't even keep possession from throw-ins, can we?
Couple that with the fact lesser clubs all seem to display more work rate and passion than us.
12 Posted 16/04/2018 at 11:11:43
Play the kids for the rest of the season just to give us a break and pick somebody from the crowd to be stand-in manager.
13 Posted 16/04/2018 at 11:49:04
'Why can't they do that themselves?', I hear you ask. Interesting piece in yesterday's Sunday Times with Paul Lambert. He said when he took over at Stoke, he asked the players what they wanted. They replied, 'Discipline'. That's right, modern top-level footballers need discipline imposed.
That's why the right coach is important. It's not Sam.
14 Posted 16/04/2018 at 12:05:12
The supporters gave a clear message to him from the packed away end on Saturday which surely Moshiri heard from Monaco but Allardyce disgustingly dismisses as supporter ignorance.
Wishing for the end of the season is one thing but finding out this man will still be in charge is something else altogether!!
15 Posted 16/04/2018 at 12:39:54
16 Posted 16/04/2018 at 14:40:35
To think Koeman is still taking £450k a month from us for doing a 100% shit job. So the club will pay almost £1m a month to Koeman and Allardyce until June 19, whatever happens. What the fuck is going on? Possibly the two worst managers we've ever had.
I can't remember things ever being so bad. See you all after the World Cup... maybe.
17 Posted 16/04/2018 at 16:05:54
Never mind the Barcodes playing better than us... did you see West Brom?
We are 9th and defying gravity.
18 Posted 16/04/2018 at 16:42:09
I don't blame Allardyce for this mess but ask myself why have Kenwright and Walsh got a free pass on what is a worse team than 3 years ago with over £200m spent?
It will take a manager of considerable ability to transform the squad and deal with Kenwight who shows no sign of going.
19 Posted 16/04/2018 at 18:15:23
We can also still finish above Arsenal for 6th and get back into Europe.
Of course, we'd have to win out and they'd have to drop each of their last four by an average score of 7-0.
But it's possible. Mathematically.
20 Posted 16/04/2018 at 19:43:58
I find myself asking again and again if I didn't defend like that as a rank (term used advisedly) amateur when I was a lot younger, why does a pro do so now (eg clear the ball into the danger area rather than to the flanks)?
Why can't one player in blue pass to another player in blue? We seem to gain possession and give it away again within two or three passes. Swansea relegation candidates were several levels better than us on Saturday. They were unlucky to take a point, even if Coleman did hit the woodwork.
On paper, we have players who can pass a ball and run into space, so what is going wrong? I think the answer is obvious staring everyone in the face.
21 Posted 16/04/2018 at 19:57:49
22 Posted 16/04/2018 at 21:57:30
Strange thing is, I haven't heard a single challenging question about the execrable technical standard of play from anyone in the media at any of his press conferences.
23 Posted 16/04/2018 at 22:25:14
Yes, it is still possible for us to go down, even though some the teams below us have to play each other there are still enough points for them to gain for us to go down if we lose our last four and Southampton win their last five. It would take one hell of a freakish set of results for it to happen though.
I think there's more chance of me starting up front for us next season...
24 Posted 17/04/2018 at 06:39:36
26 Posted 17/04/2018 at 07:35:34
We have won 4 games since December 18th and those games we were extremely unconvincing in.
Leicester we scraped past and were hanging in by a thread at 2-1.
Only Palace and Brighton did we look remotely comfortable in, whilst at Stoke we were aided by playing for over an hour with 10 men.
Darren Moore has instantly got a poor West Brom side playing with passion and for eachother, all I can say is we are lucky he didn't get the job in December.
The fact Burnley went from December to March without winning a game yet are well out of sight of Everton again tells you how poor we have been, not being able at any stage to put together a winning run .
Allardyce crows about the “fantastic home record” but let's put it forward..
Since before Christmas we have lost to Manchester City and Manchester United easily, had a dour lucky draw Chelsea hanging on grimly and a a scrappy draw with West Brom, a dour draw with Liverpool's second team while recording unconvincing wins against mediocre opponents Brighton, Palace and Leicester.
3 wins from the last 8 at Goodison.
Hardly great in my eyes, Sam?
27 Posted 17/04/2018 at 08:01:01
The rest of the league is relatively poor, but as is often said, the table does not lie, and there are many teams who are worse than us this season. They may have played some more entertaining football than us, but teams have also defended horrendously too.
For all of Sam's irritating persona and decisions, we are unquestionably harder to beat than we were. I know much is due to the return of Baines, Jags and Coleman but our position has also been effected by having to rely on Williams and Martina as well as a rookie in Kenny.
Perhaps we should just accept that Allardyce has stabilised our team, and although we are dull to watch, we will stay up. A luxury that Southampton, West Brom and Stoke would covet.
28 Posted 17/04/2018 at 08:23:53
For the money we have spent though we should be something more than just “hard to beat”.
That is a luxury Southampton and West Brom should covet because they arent big spending spending ambitious clubs?
And there should never be such a gulf in class between Arsenal and us, again the money we have spent and the fact Arsenal havent taken a single away point in 2018 yet we are so far behind them why?
29 Posted 17/04/2018 at 08:28:36
Are not all domestic leagues just some big, internationally known and supported clubs with the rest just there for them to flex their muscles against and give media/ex-players something to market them with.
Then inevitably they all meet up at Champions League and clean up, thus securing their place next season. They can afford a blip when they miss a year. Fortnightly Premier League coverage will help that!
So us? Definitely part of the rest. I think the new stadium coupled with big playing investment at same time, a la Citeh, is probably our last chance.
If that fails, we will remain a plaything for the big clubs (and they will be big) and we can have a derby as our cup final, albeit in a nicer stadium.
30 Posted 17/04/2018 at 08:45:58
We are now looking like we could mount a challenge for 7th next season. The top six is miles off.
Clearly, we can't simply blame the managers for what has happened. Koeman, Unsworth and Allardyce have all struggled to get a tune out of this squad. It is no coincidence that the return of our old stalwarts in defence has helped us to move out of danger.
This season simply tells me that our squad is far poorer than we thought. The players have been the problem. There were personal problems, those that couldn't adjust to the Premier League, some lost form, others were injured. The youngsters were simply inconsistent(forgivable).
We failed to replace Lukaku and it has to be said that we spent unwisely. The board panicked and sacked Koeman without any idea of who would replace him and then panicked again when Unsworth failed to improve results significantly.
We survived but are now stuck in the process of recovering from the prior mistakes and, if we do replace Sam, we need to keep the disruption to a minimum.
We need quality not quantity and a manager that can inspire the fanbase and the players. For me, that guy is Eddie Howe.
31 Posted 17/04/2018 at 10:42:14
I think hes a manager that would be more understanding of the ethos needed at a club looking to play modern day football with more modern ideas.
32 Posted 17/04/2018 at 11:23:54
33 Posted 17/04/2018 at 11:47:01
The only time this has worked for us in appointing Kendall but let's not forget, he was 24 hours away from getting the sack before the Kevin Brock own goal saved him. I also think his decision to move Colin Harvey to first team coach was another reason he turned things around.
Why do you think that Chelsea can change managers on a regular basis yet still win the Premier League, yes they have money but they appoint winners whether it was Mourinho or Ancellotti or Benitez or Conte.
As I have said on here before Howe is just another Mike Walker in fact I would suggest what Walker achieved with Norwich before we signed him far outstripped anything Howe has achieved.
34 Posted 17/04/2018 at 12:22:48
Comparing Eddie Howe with Walker doesnt really hold much water because football has changed so much since those days of the early 90s when it was slightly easier to get a team up the league back then, a quick glance imat some of the clubs finishing in the top 6 back then tells you that.
Howe has done a very admirable job with little money.
He has got a team of limited footballers playing quick incisive pressing football and doesnt seem as phobic as the top 6 clubs as our dinosaur Sam does (imagine Everton going to Stamford Bridge and winning 3-0)
Martinez was the last manager even bold enough to have a bash at those clubs away from home, at least he took a team to Old Trafford with the belief they COULD win at United!
Personally Id take the odd thrashing away to the top clubs if it meant beating them regularly too.
Im sick of the anti-football thats been on show at this club for too long.
35 Posted 17/04/2018 at 12:22:56
36 Posted 17/04/2018 at 12:28:12
I like Howe because unlike Dyche, his sides play attractive football and attack with panache. I don't want us to play like Burnley- they are merely a more disciplined version of us.
We will not attract the top managers who have a pedigree of winning things, that is a fact of life. The only reason for joining us would be a paycheque. The best managers will want a real chance of enhancing their CV with silverware and Champions League qualification.
We won't get those guys, we can though, attract those on their way up, and hope that we can make significant progress, like we did under Moyes, to make ourselves appear a club going in the right direction.
This season's antics have blown that scenario apart.
37 Posted 17/04/2018 at 12:35:18
Sorry I should have said with his back pass, which Heath latched onto and scored. But that goal did save Kendall from the sack I have no doubt about that.
38 Posted 17/04/2018 at 12:56:43
However I agree totally with the sentiments expressed.
39 Posted 17/04/2018 at 17:59:53
40 Posted 17/04/2018 at 18:22:47
Howe simply cannot compare to Dyche given the similarities of limited resources but different results obtained. You won't hear Burnley fans claiming there is no flair or style to the play or moaning about a lack of offense. Did anyone notice that Dyche takes points from the big four/five in their own stadiums?
To label Dyche as just a defensive coach ignores the play in the Championship two seasons ago when he had players suitable for that level, and some of the play last season and this season when his squad is healthy. Unlike Howe, Dyche's teams know how to grind out some results and how to hold a lead.
It is also unfair to say he is too defensive etc., as he has not yet had money to go buy out-and-out Premier League-level attacking players and had to sell those whose offensive skills were highlighted playing for him. At Everton, he would have the money. Risky? Not as much as Howe and Silva.
41 Posted 17/04/2018 at 18:56:52
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