Choose Your Glass

Martin O'Connor 14/05/2019 27comments  |  Jump to last

The first season of the Silva - Brands era has ended with the blues finishing in 8th place, the exact same position as 2017-18. So... as we review the 2018-19 season, it is time to choose your glass: Is it half-full or half-empty?

Firstly, let’s look at the work which was carried out in the transfer market during the Summer of 2018, both outgoings and incomings. The number of not-fit-for-purpose players piled up at Finch Farm was quite frankly staggering. Left-overs from the Moyes, Martinez, and Koeman - Walsh eras had to be moved on by Marcel Brands, and moved on they were. Unfortunately, most had to be loan deals, but at least they were removed from the squad which new Manger Marco Silva had to work with. Many of these players will be coming back to the Club this Summer but Marcel Brands has shown he knows how to move players on permanently or on loan. We can expect the same this time around for the bunch of misfits who will be rocking back up at Finch Farm.

Secondly, let's look at the incomings. During the Summer of 2018, Brands brought in Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Bernard, Richarlison and Joao Virginia on permanent deals, while Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma came on season-long loans from Barcelona and Chelsea, respectively. Virginia is a highly promising goalkeeper who has performed admirably in the Under-23s and will, in my opinion, soon be the Number 2 goalkeeper for the Blues, although a loan spell may be the next step for him. As for the other four players, Digne, Richarlison and Bernard have all been great acquisitions, while Yerry Mina has been unlucky with injuries but has the potential to become a valued member of the team next season.

It goes without saying that both loan signings have been successes. Hopefully Gomes and Zouma can be brought to the club on permanent deals next season but, if not, then Brands has shown he is an astute operator in the market. If one or both players do not return to the Blues next season, he will have replacements on his radar. Marco Silva has said that Everton already have their targets for next season and, with the work of Brands last summer, we can expect some more astute signings to bolster and bring more quality to the squad for next season.

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Concerning transfers, the Club have the right person in charge with Marcel Brands and it seems, from the words of Brands and Silva, targets are already lined up for this Summer's window (Marcel Brands confirms Everton's Summer transfer targets as Blues prepare for major shake-up — Liverpool Echo, 2 April 2019). By the start of the 2019-20 season, I expect an even stronger trimmed-down squad with some new signings, with the deadwood who will be returning to the Blues again being shown the door. Our work in the transfer market was a success last Summer and, with hand of Marcel Brands on the tiller, we can have high hopes it will be the same this Summer. Another thing to note here is that Marcel Brands became a full Board member during the season, so we now have the Director of Football in the position where they should be — on the Club's Board, and reporting on all aspects of their work to the Club's Board.

Which bring us to the just-completed season. Without question, the Blues started the season well, playing good attacking football and pressing the opposition. By the time the December derby at the shower across the park came around, Everton sat 6th in the Premier League. Apart from a disappointing early exit on penalties at home to Southampton in the Carabao Cup, things were undoubtedly looking up. The only quibble Evertonians had, besides the Carabao Cup defeat, was the thorny issue of zonal marking introduced by Silva.

Come the disastrous ending to the derby and things went in one word: pear-shaped. By the time of the shocking 4th round defeat in the FA Cup at Millwall, many Evertonians seemed to be baying for Silva’s head. This was very short-sighted. We had just endured a nightmare 6 months with quite possibly the worst manager in Everton's history. A manager who had come in to be a steady hand after the car crash of Koeman/Walsh and who, in taking the club to 8th in the Premier League, was also destroying its soul.

The first part of the 2018-19 season may well have been a new manager bounce for Everton with everything being new and with the players being released from the strait-jacket of Allardyce. So, when the blip came — and it certainly was a big blip — this was to a certain degree to be expected. This does not excuse some of the shambolic performances from December to the end of February. But this was a team, which, after the new manager bounce, were actually trying to get used to what Marco Silva wanted, and the way he wants the team to play, which is light years away from the Allardyce and Koeman - Walsh eras. So, when things started to go wrong, the team had to knuckle down, work hard, and embrace the way Silva wanted them to perform. The 17-day break due to the early FA Cup knockout was an opportunity to in essence have a mini pre-season. It would seem intense work was carried out during this period and, starting with the win at Cardiff City at the end of February, Everton turned in some great performances (Newcastle United and Fulham away games apart). By end of the season, Everton were a team playing football more in the Marco Silva mould and getting results in the process.

So, to sum up where are we at the end of the season: We finished in 8th position, the same as 2017-18, while the aim was to do better than that season's 8th spot. But, in a season of transition, this was always going to be a hard thing to achieve. But, if not in league position, then in most other ways, the team and Club have progressed and performed better than the 2017-18 season:

  • That season saw Everton finish with 49 points, winning 13, drawing 10 and losing 15 games, a goal difference of -14 scoring 44 goals and conceding 58.
  • This season, Everton finished with 54 points, winning 15, drawing 9 and losing 14. Goal difference was +8 for 54 against 46.

So the Blues gained more points than in 2017-18 while also scoring more goals and conceding less. These figures do not show a massive change but what needs to be added here is some of the football the team played during the season, especially from March to May. The signs of a team finally gelling together and playing a brand of football which the fans actually want to watch is night and day from the football played by the Koeman and Allardyce zombies in 2017-18.

More significant has been the steep learning curve that the first season has been for Marco Silva as Everton Manager. At just 41 years of age and with just a half-season at Hull City and another half-season at Watford under his belt, Marco Silva is in Premier League standards a novice, but a novice with rich potential, which the final part of the season began to show. Look at what people have said about Silva since he took over at the Blues. “He hops around Clubs and cannot stay with any for the long term”. They use Hull City, his move to Watford after their relegation, and then his head being turned by the Blues as evidence of this. Yet Silva has now completed a full season at Everton and is clearly set for the long haul with plans afoot to improve the squad for the 2019-20 season.

The next chestnut is that, “Teams start well under him but, as soon as they hit a bad patch, he has no answers to stop the decline”. Again Hull City and Watford are used as evidence of this. Yet, this season, Everton started well and then had a horrendous three months. But Marco Silva came out the other end, clearly getting the Blues out of the slump and playing the best football of the season between March and May. So he has shown he is able to arrest a slump in a team's form.

Finally, we come to another claim about Marco Silva — this one being “He cannot organise a defence”. As the Blues struggled to come to terms with the zonal marking system Silva implemented, quite a number of fans seemed to jump on this bandwagon. But, as the team started to gel, this became much less of a problem. By the end of the season, the Toffees ending up with the 4th best clean-sheet record. The record at the end of the season does not back up the "can't organise a defence" claim. The initial problem with the defence and zonal marking was a case of a new team having to get used to Silva’s methods and his zonal marking system. The longer this system was implemented, the better the team got at playing it, which consequently saw the zonal marking complaints from Blues diminishing as the season progressed.

So what can be said of the season just gone. The Blues have had a season of transition where the football has at times been great to watch. We have a Director of Football and a Manager who have a clear plan and vision, and seem to know what they want and need from the up-coming transfer market. Finally, we have a manager who has had a big learning experience during the season. He hit a really rocky patch in the middle of the season and came through this with the team looking like a real unit by the season’s conclusion, and with the possibility of improving in the forthcoming season. Not everything was rosy last season and the two domestic cup campaigns were absolute non-events. But the Brands - Silva duo have a vision and a plan. The team was playing well by the end of the season and the signs for next season are good. So, at the end of the 2018-19 season, is your glass half-empty or half-full?

For me, it is certainly half-full.

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Reader Comments (27)

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Jon Withey
1 Posted 14/05/2019 at 16:38:05
Half-full - I just get the feeling we are moving away from percentage football and it just seems a bit...braver.
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 14/05/2019 at 17:04:16
I'll go along with the half-full version. This is incontestably a better team than a year ago... an improvement of +22 in GD is truly significant.

I am thoroughly convinced by Brands.

I am not thoroughly convinced by Silva, but I did see improvement over the last two months of the season. Next year will be very interesting for him.

Looking forward to the summer window.

Peter Warren
3 Posted 14/05/2019 at 17:04:27
Half full but I don’t buy that our transfer record is a huge success. The loan market was but only unparalleled successful buy was Digne. Richarlison has potential but for £45m/£50m a lot of money and Bernard will hopefully score more than 2 goals next season. Mina who’s on high wages too looks dodgy
Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 14/05/2019 at 17:43:07
Richarlison was £35m, not 50. Scored 14 in 38 at the age of 21. More than Lukaku, Pogba, Zaha, Sane, Rashford.

...and guaranteed to bring a rich return when we do sell him on.

Jay Harris
5 Posted 14/05/2019 at 17:44:13
I've gone from being a glass completely empty at the end of January to a glass half full awaiting a full glass soon.

I doubted Silva and particularly his ability to turn a nosedive around but it seems like Steve Ferns maintained that the 17 day Silva was able to spend with the players worked wonders.

The defense is now very solid as evidenced with the number of clean sheets despite Pickfords wayward behaviour and the players all seem confident and motivated.

We just need those 1 or 2 quality additions and keeping Zouma to be on the up.

Kieran Kinsella
6 Posted 14/05/2019 at 18:09:46
My glass was smashed to smithereens during Colin Harvey's first season as manager. Occasionally when I am being optimistic I try to lick the drying sticky residue of the drink from the floor but I lacerate my tongue on shards of glass. Silva's first season has done nothing to alter this state of affairs.
Jamie Crowley
7 Posted 14/05/2019 at 22:45:57
Half full for me.

And I've come to a decision.

I'm backing Silva for at least the next two seasons.

I've seen enough progress this season for him to warrant our support and our patience.

And that's saying a lot, because despite my glass half full presently, things could go south a bit next season.

Gana gone. Gomes gone. Zouma gone. And if that happens, guess what? Silva will need yet more time.

We started ok this season. We hit a terrible dip after the Pickford derby. And then, after some consistency, Silva altering his system a bit and adjusting to his player's strengths, and player familiarity with one another, we got pretty damn good.

In short, I saw enough this season to think Silva has what it takes.

And next season, if we lose three very important players this summer, and we start off poorly, I will afford Marco the entire season to turn it around, and the one thereafter to grow.

Because he can do this.

Our timeline might "blip" next year for success. If it does, and you can note this, I'm backing him through thick and thin in 2019-2020, and 2020-2021.

It's time to buy in for the long haul. I don't want to be a Club continually chopping and changing managers. We have a good one. He'll still piss me off from time to time, but I think he plays good football, has a plan, and is a talented young manager who simply needs patience and time to get us up there with the "big boys".

Again, and I can't stress this enough, we might be in for a bumpy start to 2019-2020. But I see us developing a core that is going to be good for many years after we've flushed the system as it were. And Marco, for me, has earned the right to guide the ship.

He really did well in the end, especially rebounding from a terrible spell, one in which I was losing faith. Not this time. He's earned my faith.

Christopher Timmins
8 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:11:33
Half-full, I am confident that next season will be an improvement on this season and that we will be pushing Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal and Manchester United and have passed out Wolverhampton and put a distance between ourselves and the rest of the Premier League.
Jimmy Hogan
9 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:24:50
Two of the successes this year, Keane and Gueye, were actually Walsh signings. They just needed a decent manager to get them playing.

I'll go for half-full, just because we had some joy in beating top 6 clubs in the last quarter of the season. I would still like to see better pressing, better passing and better finishing next season and if we can get that right, I look forward to finishing 6th or 7th with a cup to our name as well.

Rob Dolby
10 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:37:02
Half-full based on the beginning and good end of the season. We have decent quality in most positions.

We need at least 1 striker and a bit more quality out wide to kick on and try to get into the top 6.

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:41:03
I will tell you after this summer's transfer window has closed.
Derek Thomas
12 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:55:11
Half-full, half-empty, the amount is still the same... but it does taste a bit better than many of our recent vintages – may improve with age.
Clive Rogers
13 Posted 15/05/2019 at 10:55:56
Got to be half full. Definite progress in the last third. Having said that, we may have to take a step back if Zouma and Gomes leave. Kurt in particular will be difficult to replace the way he finished the season. Mina doesn't look in the same class. Hopefully the summer will see a clear out of the old hands and the bad buys and the signings of some players with potential. I trust Brands to get it right.

A striker is a must. Calvert-Lewin has improved, but doesn't look like a finisher.

James Hughes
14 Posted 15/05/2019 at 11:01:05
The finish to the season has put a rosier glow on the position, so at present it's glass half-full for me. Whether we can maintain those performances we will duly find out.

There were times during that awful run when it felt more like glass down to day-old dregs. Spurs & Wolves at home and Brighton away were really awful games and tough to take. After some of those games I really couldn't see where we would get our next point.

Calmer souls on here were stating we were safe and everyone take a deep breath, Jay Woods springs to mind. I had very little faith in Marco at that time but did not agree with changing manager again and could not see Marco turning things around.

So it's fair to say my opinion of Silva is similar to our team performances, changeable, inconsistent and depends how I am on the day.

Anyway here's hoping for a good transfer window and if we can start like we finished we will be in the mix. I have a feeling that Spurs will lose Poch, Chelski will be in bother and The Arse will continue their gradual decline, The red lot down the East Lancs Road have made a big error in OGS and need massive changes.

So a bit of continuity here would not be a bad thing, as they say 'it's the hope that kills you'

Andrew Clare
15 Posted 15/05/2019 at 11:29:43
Definitely glass half-full for me. As long as our team isn't ‘cherry-picked‘ and we add 3 or 4 more quality signings, I can see next season as being a cracker.

In the last few months, Silva's ideas have clicked into place and the team have played at a much better level. Brands has been exceptional in the transfer market proving that he has a great eye for a player. For me, things are looking better than they have for many years.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 15/05/2019 at 11:45:16
I’ll go along with Tony (11) and James (14), his last line,
“It’s the hope that kills you”.
Sam Hoare
17 Posted 15/05/2019 at 11:46:27
Definitely half-full! I backed Silva last summer and before, although I wavered during the long winter I’m delighted he showed resilience to turn it around and end the season strongly.

The interesting question will be that of expectations next year? I’d be happy enough with more points a better GD and higher up the league even if it was 7th. We have a young team and Brands will buy young-ish again this summer. Gradual but steady progress is the way. The top 4 will prove a very hard nut to crack but I believe we have and excellent DOF and a very promising manager; the players clearly like and believe in him and that is gold dust.

Martin Mason
18 Posted 15/05/2019 at 12:13:15
Overflowing, this club has become professional and is going places.

If I have one worry, it is still having Bill Kenwright as an Executive Officer when he possibly is an emotional rather than professional attachment. Liverpool have come good because they have been run professionally, and very well and from the top down, as it has to be.

Craig Walker
19 Posted 15/05/2019 at 13:42:46
I agree with everything James Hughes @14 says.

My thoughts are that our home form after the derby draw (which effectively cost them the league and seemed payback for Klopp running on the pitch at their place) was outstanding. We need to work on our away form - I never fancy us away from home and to lose to Fulham away was massively disappointing. We also threw leads away in the early games against Bournemouth and Wolves whilst playing with 10 men and then blew a 2 goal lead at Newcastle. We generally faired better against the Sky 6, especially at home - Spurs at home being an exception.

Positives have been the improvement in Keane, Gueye, DCL and Schneiderlin and some of the new signings performed well. I think Davies, Walcott and Tosun have gone backwards.

I still think we need more creativity in midfield and a top-class goalscorer. DCL has done well but I don't see him getting the goals that we need. We need to trim the squad size and I hope we don't get too sentimental in offering contracts to players who are past it unless they can offer us something.

Jamie Crowley
20 Posted 15/05/2019 at 14:20:50
Craig -

For a player going backwards, Tom Davies has done well signing a new 4-year contract!

Silva and Brands obviously don't think he's going backwards.

Craig Walker
21 Posted 15/05/2019 at 20:36:21
Jamie - they must see something in training because I haven’t seen anything on the pitch this season.
Jamie Crowley
22 Posted 16/05/2019 at 13:57:50
Probably Craig. ;0)
Paul Birmingham
23 Posted 16/05/2019 at 20:24:05
Glass Half Full, with some luck in this transfer window, it may even get topped up.

Massive season, and we can’t be making up the numbers, this time next year.

Martin Mason
24 Posted 16/05/2019 at 20:49:34
The key is not perhaps who we buy but how quickly we unload the players that we don't want.
Alexander Murphy
25 Posted 18/05/2019 at 15:50:51
At some point I knew that I'd have to post again and that meant making My confession, because I'd (albeit sadly) called for Marco Silva to depart.

Fortunately, Marco got things right and I was wrong. I am sorry Marco. (Just let's both promise not to do it again, can we?).

From Martins article "Brands brought in Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Bernard, Richarlison and Joao Virginia on permanent deals, while Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma".

Digne 9/10
So far in all respect he really looks the best signing in a decade if not more. (Some time ago, I cited Seamus as the benchmark standard for future signings. Tall order, I know. However, enter Lucas Digne in that category).

Mina 7/10
Taking the injury situation in mitigation and expecting better next season. Far from a disappointment.

Bernard 8/10
Once he got up to speed this "wizard of the dribble" has been a pleasure to watch in terms of style, work-rate and creativity. More assists and preferably goals and he's heading into the Coleman Class.

Richarlison 8/10
Expensive by the SC Classification System, however, good goals return and always a threat in possession. Opposition visibly shit themselves when he runs at them. Even learning to track back and roll his sleeves up. The downside? Drop the amateur dramatics, grow the fuck up, spend more time on the ball and less wiggling around needlessly.

Joao Virginia 7/10
Limited evidence (on My part), however, this guy looks like a keeper. Scoring based rightfully upon where he fits in at present in overall picture. Expect a few appearances on the bench next season.

Andre Gomes 7.5/10
We surely must sign this guy. He is he glue that binds so much else together in the side. AG is precisely the kind of player which our midfield simply hasn't had in donkey's years. Would certainly score a full point higher but for 4 factors a) the slow start b) the insipid performances when the side were playing shite c) more goals/assists d) the red mist moments. And I believe that he can deliver improvement in respect of the negative factors and that he will.

Kurt Zouma 9/10
Factors beyond Marcel Brands control may be the critical step but he is a nail on otherwise.

So by reflecting upon all of the above:

Marcel Brands 8/10 (55.5/70)
IF just "return" from the players he's overseen arriving was the sole issue. It isn't. He just exudes something else, this quiet undemonstrative air of confidence. When he speaks, it's rational. As intriguing as it might be to have greater insight into his thinking, his plans, his intel gathering and scouting, I'm glad that there is an air of mystery that shields his workings. That, is very much old school Everton.

So, therefore:
Marcel Brands 9/10
And,
Marco Silva 7.5/10
Basically, the "missing third", blotted an otherwise creditable first term at the helm. If his rating was solely upon team results and performances then this would be a clinical 6.5, it's not. The manner in which it was achieved was most palatable.

There's far more as Everton manager. There is so much that I like about this guy (like Brands that unruffled style).

Expectations here forward? Marcel Brands will ship out those not required on the future voyage. He's proved that. Marcel Brands will add to his so far impressive dealings. If we can't retain Zouma, Gomes & Gueye (who has shone since his "dream deal" was declined), then he already has suitable alternatives in his portfolio. I fully believe that Marcel Brands will bring in improvements to the squad both as acquisitions and on loan.

I fully believe that Marco Silva will build upon this season's positives. For instance, our dismal record against the "Sky Babies" feels like it's changing much for the better. In order not to tempt the fates, I'll refrain from stating what and where that record will be terminated next season. However. I fully believe that it will.

This time a year ago, whilst My glass contained 50% of its capacity and just I could not stomach another drop of its foul taste, I never ordered the stomach-churning gut rot and it was way overpriced. It was, thankfully poured away and the other unopened cans removed.

Today, My glass is half-full and there's more in the carafe. Providing others don't help themselves first. Hopefully, there are more of this quality already in store.

Mark Andersson
26 Posted 19/05/2019 at 08:11:56
For Silva, my glass is half-full. Quality loan deals without an option to buy will see us stay still or go backwards.

As others point out, if we lose 3 key players then their replacements will need time to bed in.

It's going to be another difficult season so let's hope that Brands & Silva have Plans A, B & C.

Kunal Desai
27 Posted 19/05/2019 at 08:58:18
Half full. Although two months ago I was certainly in the half empty camp and would have at that point been happy to let Silva go in the summer.

He's managed to turn it around. I still think the biggest challenge for him next season will be how he turns around a slump as he won't be afforded a run of three wins from fourteen. Scrutiny will also be on how he tactically changes a game by his substitutions, particularly if we are to come from behind to win.

I'm not so sure the club will trim down a bloated squad this summer. That will be done in phases over the next two to three windows. You cannot just get rid of players, clubs need to be interested in them and pay the wages that they are likely to command. I can see a few players leaving but not as many which we would all like, again this will be an almighty challenge for the club to move on, perhaps similar to last season players going out on loan.

An improvement on this season would be an increased points total around 60/65 points and going further forward in the cup competitions. The talk of challenging top six will be a tough ask. Clubs above us will all improve their squads next season. Chelsea will be an interesting one and wouldn't surprise me if they get their ban overturned.


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