Style over substance? Everton must be careful what they wish for

by   |   25/04/2018  29 Comments  [Jump to last]

It's fair to say that the 2017-18 season won't be looked back on with much fondness by Everton supporters.

The Toffees spent almost £150 million in last summer's transfer window under former boss Ronald Koeman, but most of those signings have failed to make much of an impact.

The club's failure to replace striker Romelu Lukaku was a major mistake and effectively ended Everton's hopes of his success this season from the outset.

There was very little for fans to get excited about during the early part of the season. A 1-1 draw with Manchester City raised hopes that they would be challenging at the right end of the table, but four goals in their opening six matches quickly highlighted Everton's biggest problem.

A 5-2 home thumping by Arsenal signalled the end for Koeman, but the lack of a coherent plan about who would replace the Dutchman added to the sense that the people running the club aren't pulling in the same direction.

David Unsworth stepped in as caretaker manager and many fans would have been happy to see the man who wore the Everton jersey with such distinction handed the job on a permanent basis. Five weeks later former England boss Sam Allardyce was appointed and the news didn't go down well.

Criticisms of his style of football are never far from the surface for Big Sam, but he has achieved what he was appointed to do and that was to guide Everton up the Premier League table.

A 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Monday took the club into the top eight, but the manner of the victory was once again crticised by fans. However, Everton have now picked up 30 points since his appointment at the end of November. That puts them among the top six clubs in the Premier League since his arrival. He has collected more points than Arsenal and just four less than Chelsea.

Fans will argue that 'style' still matters at Everton. Mentions of the famed 'School of Science' places managers at Goodison Park under perhaps more scrutiny than many other clubs.

Whether those arguments stack up in the modern game is hugely debatable. Sure, the likes of City are able to implement Pep Guardiola's stylish footballing ethos, but it's hardly come cheaply.

Some fans would take playing a good style of football ahead of being successful by playing the wrong way. In many ways, that mentality bears all the hallmarks of the fabled 'West Ham Way' and it's one that seems to have its roots in nostalgia rather than common sense.

Both Koeman and Roberto Martinez are managers who would be credited with trying to play football 'the right way', yet both were dismissed by Everton for failing to win enough games.

With a full summer to prepare for next season and the World Cup in Russia providing the perfect opportunity for scouting potential incomings, Everton have a crucial decision to make regarding Allardyce's future.

While someone like Paulo Fonseca is the 'sexy' appointment many fans crave, there is no guarantee that the current Shakhtar Donetsk boss would be a success in the hurly-burly of the Premier League.

As the likes of Blackburn Rovers, West Ham, Newcastle United and Sunderland discovered after parting company with Allardyce, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Be careful what you wish for.

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Reader Comments (29)

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Lawrence Green
1 Posted 27/04/2018 at 19:49:19
One question for you Gary, name me one of the top six clubs in England who would hire Mr Allardyce? Is it really too much to ask for a team to play football in a recognised manner, nobody I know is expecting to see Everton go out and play like Man City or Barca but nobody I know is happy with the current style of play either.

When I see other teams in the division, outside of the top six playing some semblence of the game I recognise, I despair that for the last few years Everton have done nothing of the sort and believe it or not, it's gotten worse not better since Sam arrived.

Sam won 3 and drew 3 of his first six league games in charge and since then he's won 4, drawn 3 and lost 7 out of the fourteen league games played, hardly the signs of an improvement once the new manager bounce had ceased to influence things. I assume you have counted the West Ham games as part of Sam's 30 points, I haven't as Unsworth is in the record books as manager for that game.

I'll be careful what I wish for, but if the entertainment is not there and the results match the entertainment levels I can't see how anybody would not want a change of manager.

Peter Warren
2 Posted 27/04/2018 at 23:16:54
I don't remember Koeman trying to play good football.

All we want is a manager to play attacking aggressive expansive football. What's the club coming too when some fans are fearful about losing Allardyce

Gavin McGarvey
3 Posted 28/04/2018 at 09:43:51
I don't think most fans are being unrealistic at all. Broadly speaking, they want us to be more attacking against the weaker sides, and more defensive against the stronger sides. They expect the team to have a game plan and be well drilled in both those scenarios. To be honest, we have looked a right mess for the whole of this season, which has been as poor as I can remember.

Now, I imagine the blame for that can be spread far and wide, and I expect it goes past the management, and ultimately to the top of the club. The mistakes have been so basic that even a non-football fan could have spotted them. There's no way that's good enough. Selling a striker you are so heavily reliant on, and not replacing him was both catastrophic and an obvious mistake. You didn't need a crystal ball at the time to see that.

Buying both Sigurdsson and Rooney was another obvious mistake that the club sleepwalked into. You can't make mistakes like that and not get punished for them, and so it has proved.

As for the fans expecting too much, clearly our expectations are too low.

Steve Dickinson
4 Posted 28/04/2018 at 09:56:21
Picture this. In the first half against Man City we kicked off four times. Once at the beginning of the match and three times after conceding goals. Our kick off tactics were identical on all four occasions. Centre forward passes back to the centre half, who then kicks straight into touch, over the heads of the three blue shirts who had been pushed out onto the left wing. This was no random error. The tactics were preordained and had clearly been drummed into the players at Finch Farm.

Having conceded the ball after all four kick offs, we didn't win it back again for long periods. If I recall correctly, our share of possession throughout the whole game was less than 20%.

Never mind pushing for a top 6 position, what we are witnessing in tactics would be inadequate in Division 2.

Allardyce and his coaching staff out!

Amit Vithlani
5 Posted 28/04/2018 at 10:02:34
"Be careful what you wish for".

Right. As winning and playing good football are mutually exclusive. Therefore, we should stick to a man whose tactics had us go through an 8 game spell where we could barely muster a shot on target.

Allardyce lovers are so easily taken in by the points we have accumulated since he took over, without acknowledging the easier run of fixtures he has had since taking charge.

We have won games we should be winning. What we have not done is laid a glove on the top 6 in our matches against them or indeed played anyone off the park. Why the fuck should we settle for a man whose philosophy centres only on beating the teams around him?

Ed Fitzgerald
6 Posted 28/04/2018 at 10:25:52
What a load of crap Gary. If you go the game ( I will assume you do) you will know that the football played Koeman was fucking dreadful, sterile, turgid stuff with a few minor exceptions. As for the football played under Fat Head don't even get me started.

Martinez did try to play attractive football and his stubboness to adapt a little cost him his job. At least we were getting to semi-finals unlike the past few seasons when cup runs have been non-existent. So yes, I want style and substance!

Lee Brownlie
7 Posted 28/04/2018 at 17:42:19
We already know that there are none or very few 'Allardyce lovers' on here, despite what some like to believe and or state (just to highlight that they are NOT one. Really? How impressive, so what?) but still, it does us no good not to at least have some respect - all this 'Fat Sam' and all that shit (Is that who we really are?) - that he's fulfilled this seasons remit of absolutely making sure we did not go down. We weren't anyway? Yes right, but even any Toffee TV watchers will know just how concerned even those lads were!!

So, some modicum of respect is what this manager deserves from us I believe, though, no, neither do I believe he's the right man to take us in to next season or beyond. Just, ffs, get a grip lads.. after Southampton we simply WERE NOT looking like a team that had much hope of turning things around. Disagree? Your perogative, but blue-tinted, Allardyce hating, specs on.. thats all that that denial actually boils down to isn't it? No? Okay, bollocks, I'll talk to the wall.

Andy Crooks
8 Posted 29/04/2018 at 14:42:54
"Be careful what you wish for", was the mantra of the Evertonians who defended the abysmal Moyes. Actually, I should say the end of era Moyes, because he did a fine job when he first came here. But that tired, defeatist, mediocrity accepting phrase should be barred.

We have Sam fucking Allardyce, Duncan "the legend", away supporters insulting, money thief, Ferguson, Shakespeare and Sammy Kopite Lee. And you want us to be careful what we wish for?

Bobby Mallon
9 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:11:39
Lawrence all of them would if they where in the position we where in.
Bobby Mallon
10 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:19:23
But I want F/S out. My manager choice would be either Mancini or pelegrini both have won prem with city and know the league.
Paul Gallagher
11 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:21:47
The RS have scored more in the champions league than we have scored in the EPL. 46-42, be careful what you wish for.
David Barks
12 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:44:06
The English press have tried to hound Klopp and then Guardiola into adapting their attacking styles in order to have success in the “English game”. They needed to master the defensive side of the game, they needed to be more pragmatic and go for clean sheets first and foremost.

Cut to, Guardiola just dominated the league with ease and Liverpool are back into a Champion League final, playing high scoring football. But yeah, we're Everton and we need to listen to those same English press and pundits and respect Allardyce for his greatness and occasional shot on goal. The message shouldn't be “be careful what you wish for”, it sounds more like “don't dare with for any better and know your place”. Pathetic is what it is.

Chris Leyland
13 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:56:34
“Careful what you wish for”

Well, I wish to be entertained when I go to the match. Just occasionally, maybe even just once a season.

I wish I could actually look forward to going to the match.

I wish other teams dreaded having to playing us because they know they are in for a game.

I wish we beat the shite once in a while.

Because I wish my son was going be excited to be an Everton fan and be able to look forward to Monday morning at school after the Derby.

I wish our manager wasn't a tit.

I wish our chairman wasn't an embarrassing ham actor.

Steve Ferns
14 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:57:28
I hope your tin hat is holding up Gary
Kunal Desai
15 Posted 02/05/2018 at 21:58:38
Sadly mediocrity and apathy has been engrained in much of the fan base for decades and as result of nothing being done about it back then we are where we are. As fans I think we represent the club in a similar way, just being 'nice' and not afraid to rock any boat.

Those lot across the park get what they want because they make noises if they don't like it. We do as we are told. Thats the reality i'm afraid.

Andy Crooks
16 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:00:55
Lee# 7, I have never called Allardyce " fat Sam", or levelled any personal insults at him. However, I have not one iota of respect for him. He is greedy, money grabbing and mean spirited. Those are not personal insults, but facts.

He has described how bitter he was at driving a Morris Marina while other players, infinitely more talented, by the way, drove Jags. Nothing wrong with ambition but, in my view, it has made him what he is.
This was demonstrated by his grubby efforts to make an extra few quid while he was a very well paid England manager.
He had no need to make to derogatory, utterly toe curling comments about Roy Hodgson; who is a winner and a vastly superior coach and man to Allardyce.
We were never going to be relegated with the squad we had and it certainly did not require " fireman Sam", to save us. I find it dismaying that Evertonians should be asking for respect for this appalling specimen. He has been hugely paid for producing the worst anti football I have ever seen at our club.

Jamie Crowley
17 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:03:55
David Barks @ 12 - spot on.

I want something to watch that doesn't induce my gag reflex.

Is that too much to ask?

If we drop down the table to get it right, fine. We need to be patient as f**k with the next manager, and give him a lot of time to get his system, playing style, and players in and gelling.

It took Man City and El Stink a few years to get it right. Hell, Liverpool were conceding goals at a Martinez pace! They got it right, signed Van Dyck, and look where they are now

Bring in a guy who wants to play the right way. I'm ready to suffer for a while to get this right.

The suffering is nothing compared to the crap we are forced to "watch" currently.

Rob Halligan
18 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:06:19
Steve # 4. I said exactly the same thing after that match. It was also interesting to note that when city kicked off, I think it was for the start of the second half, they passed it back, played about 14 - 15 passes between themselves in their own half, before finally finding a man in our half, who was immediately fouled.

It has been the same every game, when we either concede or kick off to start the half, pass back and big punt upfield.

Great tactics Sam.

Steve Ferns
19 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:09:59
Rob do you remember after we scored? To use that old cliché, we had our tails up and City were a bit rattled. So what did they do?

Pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass ... for about 5 minutes, we chased the ball, didn't touch it and then all the impetus had gone, both from the players and the crowd. It was a masterful display of how you take the sting out of the game when you're leading but the opposition are getting on top. The kept the ball very easily, didn't do anything with it, and we couldn't do anything to get it back.

Paul Tran
20 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:23:13
I wish for pace, passion, passing, shots, goals, energy, cussedness.

I wish for it for as long as I'm alive.

I don't want to be careful. All my successes have come from taking risks.

We had years of standing still, being careful, knowing our limits, knowing our place. Now were taking risks and messing up. That's fine by me - we'll get closer to success that way.

Careful is boring. I'll stick with the wishers.

Bobby Mallon
21 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:28:38
i have sat through some rubbish games this season saints away Atalanta etc, but the worse was brighton away for me. I just sat there in a daze with how bad we where and I did'nt even get up or cheer when Rooney knocked the pen in. I am deflated as a fan and do not want our owner to mess up another managerial appointment.
Steve Ferns
22 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:33:40
Exactly Paul. If I was going to be selecting a manager the first question would be: tell me how you can win us the league?

Anyone who immediately does not have a plan is not worth considering. So the gravy slurper wouldn't have got past question 1.

Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:36:58
David@12, that's a very good post that mate,
Bill Gienapp
24 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:37:42
What has Allardyce honestly achieved? He's basically won a handful of matches at home against lower-half competition, and managed the occasional road win. As Amit (5) implied, that's the bare minimum that should be expected from any manager.

The closest Sam has gotten to a "signature result" was the draw at Anfield - a match in which we ceded 80% of the possession and basically prayed for a penalty. Otherwise, we've been hammered worse than ever by the top six. Some may disagree, but frankly, I'm not seeing a single result on his resume that Koeman couldn't have realistically duplicated.

Steve Ferns
25 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:41:41
Bill, I'm not sure what's best: Is it his League of Ireland Division 2 title? Or is it his 3rd Division Title (It was called the 3rd Division but it was the 4th tier) with Nott's County?
Jay Harris
26 Posted 02/05/2018 at 22:58:06
Style and substance are not mutually exclusive.

Just ask the top 6.

For the record we havent played many top teams under Allardyce, so results should have been better than early season, but when we have we were like lambs.

That is not the sort of inspiration I want for EFC.

Nor do I want to see 1 or 0 shots on target in each game.

That is the Allardyce recipe and the reason those teams went down after he left was because the substance was taken out of them.

Frank McGregor
27 Posted 02/05/2018 at 23:13:28
Gary, I congratulate you on your article this is the most common-sense article I have read on the current state of the club.

As you say, be careful what you all wish for...
Dennis Stevens
28 Posted 02/05/2018 at 23:17:03
I think the time for an article about being careful what you wish for was many months ago before we got Allardyce instead!
Matthew Williams
29 Posted 03/05/2018 at 17:11:09
Why can't we have both ?... we've waited long enough !.

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