Some musings on why this role is so important to the side
There has been a lot of confusion and conjecture on the position Andre Gomes will play for Everton, and that's just me. Everton have made this video on the ball which shows every touch Gomes had. So I thought, why not offer you some musings and try to articulate why it's so important to the side.
The first bit of play I have captured is at 4 minutes. Everton have their shape with the diamond 4 up top, the back four with the fullbacks pushing up and Gomes receiving the ball with Gueye parallel to him. The fact that the fullbacks are quickly level with play shows just how deep Gomes is. And this is the position he is to operate in. Very clearly, and you'll see more as we go, Schneiderlin's position.
Gomes has a brief to receive the ball deep and to take charge of getting it forwards.So straight off, we see what he's about. He strides forwards with the ball, Barkley-esque and draws men to him. He then lays it off to Gueye who is in acres of space, and pulls back into space ready for the return ball, before making his way forwards as the ball goes to the right flank.
The next period of play sees Gomes on defensive duty. He does well here shielding the ball and quickly recycling possession, albeit going backwards, but note the good weight of pass and how he's given the ball to Keane with opportunity to do something with it other than a hoof or ball back to the keeper. Note again though, classic number 6 position, particularly as the ball does go back to Pickford and Gomes moves back into his default position.
The next passage of play is unclear exactly what happened beforehand, but I believe it was a throw in on the right and that's why Gomes is over on the right flank. Note how he moves to receive the ball and puts himself into so much space. He gives the fullback something to think about before releasing Coleman and so gives Coleman a decent pass and room to operate. Note how he holds position ready to offer Coleman a pass and how he positions himself so he immediately has the ball inside. He's clearly always thinking of what he will do next and giving himself options. This is why he's such a good player, he's so aware of what is going on around him and he's trying to make the next move happen before he even gets the ball.
At 14.46 you will see a bit of the Gomes you will see a lot more of. There's the silky footwork, intercepting the ball and moving around the Palace attacker. A prime Gomes will do a bit more here to keep possession rather than go for the easy pass back. Then again, maybe he's a more conservative player following his Barcelona spell and will give the ball away less by trying less fancy stuff in his own half.
At 16.18, we can see he is very much still operating as a classic number 6. There's a few nice flicks and passes until we get to 39.30. Here I want to draw your attention to a master passer. Gomes is primarily a passer. Just admire that pass, an elite player like Digne will love to receive a pass like that, it's one you can knock on and accelerate after. That's a real Gomes pass.
At 45.30, this is the only real glimpse all game of the Gomes I know, and most of you don't, yet. He's attacked a loose ball and accelerated into it, told you he ain't that slow like some portrayed him to be. It's a lovely bit of close control, using his left foot to get a great pass off, whilst using his strength to hold off the tackle as he does so. Once he gets a bit fitter he will be able to get away from players in this position and carry the ball forwards, unless, of course, there is a pass on.
By 51 minutes, you have seen Gomes stepping forwards more than Gueye and almost taking up 8 type positions as Gueye sits a bit deeper ready to sweep up behind him. This is going to be the classic position in possession, Gueye tucked behind Gomes. But at 51 minutes, Gomes is back between the centre backs reminding us that he's playing the Schneiderlin role and taking the ball off the back four and brining it forwards. Note that when he does get it forwards it's another gorgeous ball to Digne. Note how Digne is given balls in the air to control, whacked at pace. If we received these passes, we'd mis-control them and make them look bad. Digne is an elite player with great touch and so Gomes treats him to passes like that, whilst players like Gueye get the ball to feet, on the deck. Passes are tailor made to the recipients.
At 51.20 sees Gomes come forwards from deep in midfield to receive the ball and drive at the Palace midfield, and then slip a brilliant pass to put Walcott on the ball in a dangerous position in the Palace box. This is very Gomes, and the type of passing that we've missed since Arteta.
At 54 minutes we see some lovely touches that remind me of the best little Spaniard I know in his pomp. At 78 minutes they spare him the indignity of running after the ball and falling over. I'm sure if they had, kopites would have made a few gifs of it, like they did recording the game live. What he said afterwards as that he was out of gas and just couldn't get after it like he thought he could and so lost his footing. It's clearly something he was capable of pulling off when he has more stamina and is something I promised you he would do when he came. Dribbling in tight spaces, over short distances, is a strength of his, but not quite lung busting 50 yard runs. Barkley he is not.
It's a great video by Everton. A performance made all the better on the wide camera angle. It's a real opportunity to study him at work and really see the position he will operate in. He's not quite fit yet. He will be better. He will be more adventurous with his passing once he learns his teammates like he knows Digne. He will play more through balls like he did for Walcott. And he will also carry the ball and showcase his ability to beat a man. He will certainly retain a position as a 6, which will mean utilising Gueye's strengths to cover for his own failings.
We need some balance though, so let's consider the bad. This was a revved up Gomes, with something to prove. What's he going to be like on a cold night in February when the opposition are kicking us up in the air? Can he maintain the intensity and drive he clearly had for the first time in a long time? And the most important question of all, is he in this for the long haul? If you want that to be a yes, then making him feel the love at games, and not getting on his back in bad games, is critical.
Reader Comments (39)
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1 Posted 25/10/2018 at 06:20:51
I really hope he stays fit so we can enjoy more of what we have seen. The great thing is that the opposition will now have their hands occupied – do they watch out for Richarlison, or Sigurdsson or Gomes, or Bernard?
I sense that, when Palace dropped deep in the last 10 minutes, Gomes would have flourished closer to the opposition area (he also seems to have an eye for goal with that curler just past the post). He was too knackered but, in future, I look forward to seeing his abilities in the final third.
However, this is a tough league to sustain your form. I hope he keeps his consistency levels and does not go the same way as Schneiderlin.
2 Posted 25/10/2018 at 09:40:20
3 Posted 25/10/2018 at 10:59:58
What this article does is show you how to quantify that kind of player, so thanks, Stephen, for such a decent analysis.
It is this kind of player that everyone needs and, whilst I have been very happy with Silva's signings so far, this is the one that fills me with hope.
4 Posted 25/10/2018 at 12:43:08
5 Posted 25/10/2018 at 12:46:16
6 Posted 25/10/2018 at 13:38:17
7 Posted 25/10/2018 at 13:50:27
Dean #3 sums it up perfectly in that nobody knows how they do it; they just do.
He looks a real class act!
8 Posted 25/10/2018 at 14:32:24
Passing accurately to players in advanced positions is a rare gift. Gomes showed he has got some of this talent, but it has to be accepted it won't always come off. With the quality of Richarlison or Bernard and Walcott or Lookman anticipating Gomes's killer pass, we are a dangerous outfit. We should fear no team.
9 Posted 25/10/2018 at 15:18:51
10 Posted 25/10/2018 at 15:21:37
Gomes had me purring at the weekend more than anybody else. Gana was Man of the Match perhaps, but all I could think of on the way home was that Gomes performance.
11 Posted 25/10/2018 at 15:21:57
12 Posted 25/10/2018 at 16:27:07
The thing I like about Gomes is his ability to find space and keep it simple.
Unlike Schneiderlin and, to an extent, Tom Davies, he does not get flustered or pressurised and it was so refreshing to see a player always looking for that forward pass.
As others have said, let's hope he can keep that up consistently.
13 Posted 25/10/2018 at 17:19:06
14 Posted 25/10/2018 at 17:43:03
I think he is enjoying his time here.
It is important to understand that this is the kind of role Tom Davies can learn. He can become this type of player. The best thing Gomes can do is rub off on Tom, that will save us a few bob, for sure.
15 Posted 25/10/2018 at 22:04:37
Interesting to see what happens on Sunday but he looks like a key player in the midfield engine-room, and I see him being potentially one of the first players on the team sheet, if fit.
He's got vision, and a calmness and style, yes he's a very good player.
Early days but if he can play like that and regularly and he buys into the club, the City and UK lifestyle, then perhaps there's a chance he could be bought.
For now, let's hope he kicks on and the team kicks on. I'm looking forward to Sunday's match.
16 Posted 25/10/2018 at 22:38:52
Will he have to wait for an injury? A formation change? I wonder what Silva has in mind for him.
Keane or Zouma cannot be dropped, it would be folly to disrupt a successful central defensive partnership. When you find one, it is the bedrock of a successful team. Keane and Zouma have been formidable.
Something that Mina can bring is the aerial threat from set-pieces. Someone posted on Sunday that we have scored 1 goal from about 145 corners. Is that true? Mina will address that stat. Also Pogba, Fellaini, Lukaku, Smalling will be aerially testing our defence to the max on Sunday. If we go one up, we may see Mina late on in the match to combat that threat.
17 Posted 25/10/2018 at 23:01:47
18 Posted 26/10/2018 at 04:41:45
There is real competition for places now in all positions except goalkeeper which is going to take me some time to get used to.
19 Posted 26/10/2018 at 09:39:52
20 Posted 26/10/2018 at 09:53:51
It makes a huge difference as it means we are always moving forwards. Receiving players don't have to take a touch to get the ball out of their feet as they are already moving forwards. Simple but effective way to make our transitions quicker!
It's been a long time since we've had a real ballplayer in the middle and it's lovely to see. Hope he keeps up the high standard he showed vs Palace. Won't be long till our opposition are closing him down quickly and denying him space.
21 Posted 26/10/2018 at 12:48:55
That is the benefit he offers – joining up the play in the middle of the pitch. Oh, and he spreads the play and had a shot also! It's early days but, all-in-all, he looks a much more complete player than Schneiderlin.
22 Posted 26/10/2018 at 13:03:44
Amen, the number of times I screamed for a player to pass into space and not to or behind when I used to go the game left me hoarse.
Gomes looks comfortable with the ball and doesn't panic and get rid when someone comes near him. Yes, he might get caught sometimes but he moves the ball and stops the pointless "to me, to you, to me" 5-yard passes.
Good debut, hope it continues.
23 Posted 26/10/2018 at 13:35:17
24 Posted 26/10/2018 at 14:19:14
He makes it easy for the player to continue forward with the ball rather that stop and come back.
Very decent quality that.
25 Posted 26/10/2018 at 15:35:30
Reminded me of a story I heard a few years back from a Liverpool fan who knew Phil Thompson. The fan was organising a charity fund raising event and wanted a signed Liverpool shirt to auction. He asked Thompson if he could arrange it for him? Thompson said "Sure, just go to the store and buy a shirt and I'll take it in and get it signed." Needless to say, Thompson was told to shove it where the sun don't shine.
26 Posted 26/10/2018 at 16:25:33
Amen indeed, when the hell did coaches forget to to teach players to pass in front rather than “at” their teammates? It's infuriating to watch and seems to be the norm.
Also, whilst on the pet hates bandwagon, when did every free kick have to become quickly taken affair that does a couple of triangles and ends up back on our 18-yard line?? Losing any advantage the original free-kick gave us???
Last one – and it's long been a moan of mine with successive managers – why do we pull EVERBODY back for corners and free kicks???? Silva is currently doing it constantly, even when we've now got pace to break.
I mean what advantage is Bernard at corners? What's he gonna do? Head someone in the kneecap? No; put him on the half-way line with Walcott and scare the shit out of defenders who are otherwise scaring the shit out of us with our zonal marking... Rant over.
27 Posted 26/10/2018 at 17:20:46
My cautionary note is that against a better side than Palace, he'll be expected to provide defensive cover as well, and that's where we'll see more of the downside. He was largely adrift defensively in this game, and against a top side with quality midfielders he won't get away with it.
But as several here have said, he is clearly a vast improvement on Schneiderlin. I'm looking forward to seeing more.
28 Posted 26/10/2018 at 17:58:48
29 Posted 26/10/2018 at 20:13:59
I have rarely known a player to have such an impact on fans after only 82 minutes of play; most players take a while to settle in, or some have a few nightmare performances before getting it right.
Like many have said, I hope he is the missing 'Arteta-esque' player we have craved for so long. Sunday's game will hopefully tell us more, not only about André Gomes but the team as a unit.
30 Posted 27/10/2018 at 08:45:17
Already in the video he's making people move forward, even Gana (who looked surprised!).
And as others have said, Gomes clearly didn't enjoy his time at Barca, so every chance we can sign him.
If not, it's a shame but we know what we need.
31 Posted 27/10/2018 at 09:41:15
Mike, interesting you say never get into the box, because this is the Gomes I will always remember from his time at Benfica, when he scored a world class goal in the O Classico, against Porto.
The young Gomes often got into the box. And you can see just how elegant he is, quick feet, lovely flick, and sublime finish. All this happened in the biggest game of the season.
32 Posted 27/10/2018 at 09:57:20
A really big goal in the scheme of things. I just think context should always be considered as sometimes (especially in this case) it can elevate a goal.
33 Posted 27/10/2018 at 15:21:10
But that was more than four years and 160 games ago, and he has never done anything remotely like that since. All three of the goals he scored in his two seasons (78 games) at Barca were one-touch finishes off late runs into the box. I rarely saw him even dribble into the box – he generally treated the penalty-box like it had a barbed-wire fence around it.
YouTube highlights do show him somewhat more attack-minded at Valencia. Maybe he can recover that aggression with Silva's encouragement and give us a goal or two.
34 Posted 27/10/2018 at 15:59:55
As you allude to players change. Schneiderlin can't recover his earlier style because his mindset has changed. People became more conservative as they get older. So do footballers. This is why players usually drift back the pitch as they get older.
Gomes was coached into playing deeper, and clearly Silva sees him as the Number 6. The number 6 is very important to Silva let's revisit his comments in June:
"Depending the profile of my No 6, I can play one and two or I can play two and one behind the striker depending on the profile of our No 6"
Here he is saying he can play one and two:
RB CB CB LB
RF CF LW
or two and one
RB CB CB LB
RF CF LF
It is the latter he has used almost exclusively, particularly starting with it in every game.
Silva also highlighted his desire for pressing at Everton: "I really like a pressure team and if you can do that for as long as possible in a match then that will cause problems for our opponent"
What he said about Schneiderlin makes very interesting reading. Remember this is Marco Silva in June, before he had really worked with Schneiderlin:
“If we play Schneiderlin, he is a player who likes to play more alone which gives more freedom to the other two midfielders and this is the system I use more. But my model, first of all, the team need to work all together and, if we have a clean sheet, then everything will start from there."
So clearly whilst Silva has used the second of the two formations above, it is the top one he envisaged. Schneiderlin playing alone. That is, as a single defensive midfielder. Giving freedom to the other two midfielders, that is letting them get forwards more than defend.
He was very clear on this. Yet, he has not tried it once. Why not? Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out he's changed his opinion on Schneiderlin having worked closely with him. It's also not as if he got burnt in pre-season. He clearly saw something in training and decided he simply couldn't risk it.
I think that it was this that led Silva to decide to go for Gomes. I don't believe that Gomes is going to be the player that Silva described. I don't believe Gueye is the player that Silva described, nor that Silva will feel that either. I also think that Sigurdsson has impressed Silva enough to decide that the second formation is better for this group of players. Gylfi further up the pitch, and two deeper to balance it out.
Gueye doesn't fit in as a single defensive midfielder for the simple reason that he is not static enough. His greatest strength and ability is the way he gets around the pitch, making tackles, intercepting and breaking up play. If Gueye does this, say he's on the right flank, he can simply be passed around and the opposition can surge through a hole he's left to get at the back four. This makes the defence look poor, and it makes us concede goals. Therefore, to accommodate Sigurdsson and Gueye we have to go with the second formation.
Gomes naturally fits into the first formation as one of the midfielders, especially given a bit more freedom to get forwards. However, he is needed deeper alongside Gueye. To sit in when Gueye goes hunting, and to do what Gueye cannot and take the ball off the defence and to move it quickly up the pitch. It seems the defensive transformation of Gomes at Barca (and before that at Valencia) means that he is actually perfect to slot into the "Xavi Alonso" role alongside Gueye.
35 Posted 27/10/2018 at 16:34:37
The problem with Gomes in the Xabi Alonso role is that he can't handle the defensive responsibilities. He can intercept passes, but he doesn't mark well, and when he went in for a tackle at Barca, he did so without regard for his own positioning or where he was on the field. In four La Liga seasons he had more yellow cards than goals/assists combined, mainly because he was always out of defensive position and scrambling to recover by sticking a leg in. Barca didn't sour on him just because he lost confidence in attack, but also because he kept gifting free kicks around the top of the box.
He was defensively adrift against Palace last weekend as well, but it didn't cause problems because, well, it was Palace. But he won't be going up against Milivojevic and Kouyate tomorrow.
My own feeling about Gomes is that he's more of a #8 than a #6, but let's see if he proves me wrong tomorrow.
36 Posted 27/10/2018 at 17:30:22
37 Posted 27/10/2018 at 18:09:59
So I'm gonna make two predictions right now. One is that Gomes loves it here (and we love him) and he signs a permanent deal. Two is that by the end of the season, it'll be Sigurdsson playing the deep-lying #6 role with Gomes in front of him playing either #8 or #10, depending on how Bernard works out.
38 Posted 29/10/2018 at 09:17:25
39 Posted 30/10/2018 at 00:27:21
From the three hours I've seen of him, he looks suited to the part but he doesn't have the physicality as a midfielder that all the trophy-winning teams this century have displayed in at least one of their midfielders. That's not his fault either but I really hope M&M are seeking a midfield "beast" to make real the Champions League qualification Moshiri has set as his goal.
That maybe at the expense of whomever, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, McCarthy, Gomes et al, but frankly none of them would be signed by the Skybabe clubs as first-teamers right now.
That's why M&M deserve at least two more windows to make their play.
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