Questions at every turn as brittle Blues succumb to spirited Saints

By Lyndon Lloyd 20/01/2019 83comments  |  Jump to last
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Last season’s trip to St Mary’s Stadium came in a week that marked the nadir of Everton’s 2017-18 season. A 4-1 drubbing by an awful Saints side that came hot on the heels of a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Atalanta was followed four days later by the appointment of Sam Allardyce… desperate times calling, in Farhad Moshiri’s view, for desperate measures.

The Blues were 16th at the time, just two points above the relegation zone and in continued free-fall under caretaker boss, David Unsworth, but while the situation isn’t nearly as parlous this time following another demoralising south coast defeat, there is a familiarly depressed air among Evertonians.

It’s a distant cry from the week leading up to the Merseyside derby last month when Blues fans were hopeful that the doggedness and spirit that Marco Silva’s men had showed at the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea was an indication that they were finally ready and able to bury arguably the most painful hoodoo of Everton’s modern history.

The manner of that defeat to Liverpool — not to mention, of course, who the opposition were — appears to have derailed what was, up until then, a promising debut season for Silva and knocked the stuffing out of a squad whose mental frailty and absence of leadership remains an ongoing concern. One could ask what it says about all concerned that one result eights weeks ago could have such lasting effects.

In terms of ability, this Groundhog Day of a situation isn't merely a question of personnel. Again, this was a team that prior to the Anfield debacle was heading for a top-six challenge with a favourable fixture schedule ahead of them once the trip to Manchester City was out the way. They have won just three times in 11 in all competitions since and only the win at Burnley was done so in any convincing fashion.

Psychologically, though, there are huge question marks over this team and they pose a challenge that Silva has thus far been unable to address. The confidence that was gained from beating Lincoln and Bournemouth was disappointingly ephemeral, vanishing as soon as Southampton put it to any kind of test in a match that the Everton of two months ago would have been a decent bet to win.

The Saints, concerned enough by relegation to sack Mark Hughes last month, were involved in an FA Cup replay on Wednesday that went to extra time and then penalties. If you didn’t know better, you would have said on this evidence that it was Everton who were the ones haunted by the threat of the drop and had just been through a 120-minute cup tie only to be knocked out of the competition on their own turf to a lower-division side.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side were by far the more energetic, displaying a desire and willingness to be quicker to the ball and faster in their execution in general. Where Everton were laboured and seemingly unable to string more than a couple of passes together, their hosts routinely evaded the press with quick interchanges that took two blue shirts out of the game and opened up space in midfield.

And when they weren’t able to do that, Everton’s sloppy distribution did the job for them, particularly in the second half when poor giveaways in the middle of the park led to Southampton’s two goals.

The Toffees’ problems revealed themselves pretty quickly this afternoon. The debate over Richarlison’s best position has occupied Blues in pubs, online discussion forums and social media for weeks now and it will have been fed further fuel by this display, easily his worst since donning an Everton jersey and one that lasted just 65 minutes before he was withdrawn after Southampton’s second goal went in.

An out-and-out centre forward in the traditional English league mould he clearly isn’t but as his goalscoring record at Everton suggests and his national team would seem to agree, he is very adept at operating in “false nine” role if the rest of the team is set up to maximise his strengths.

Everton had as much as 70% of the possession at times during this game but did precious little with it. Silva has set the team up to play out from the back and, presumably, through midfield but they proved utterly incapable of doing it; the net result being a succession of long balls punted forward by Jordan Pickford, none of which Richarlison was able to deal with against the three big centre halves that Hasenhüttl deployed.

It would take almost a quarter of an hour for the isolated and out-matched Brazilian to touch the ball in any meaningful way and it’s hard to remember a single contribution of positive note that he made all afternoon. The system and his team-mates utterly failed him but when he did get a chance to run from deep with the ball at his feet, he committed his all-too familiar sin of ignoring team-mates beside him and trying to go it alone before running into a cul-de-sac.

Gylfi Sigurdsson, of whom so much is expected, was anonymous for 45 minutes while Bernard and Ademola Lookman had the odd of individual moment but overall struggled from the general lack of cohesiveness that plagued Everton all afternoon and has done for weeks now.

By contrast, Southampton seemed to have adopted the perfect game plan: operate more like the away side, allow Everton to have the ball but swamp André Gomes, be first to the ball when it broke away from the visitors, skirt the high press and release the ball quickly through the centre to the likes of Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings.

Their first couple of chances actually arrived via a move down the left flank and then a set-piece. Matt Targett’s cross found James Ward-Prowse in the centre who controlled and shot but saw effort deflect behind off Michael Keane. Eight minutes later, a corner from the Saints’ left easily found Ings’s head but he was denied brilliantly by Pickford’s smart one-handed save.

And the England ‘keeper was called upon 12 minutes after that when a dreadful giveaway by Gomes was clipped over the top to Ings but Pickford was on hand to parry the shot away to safety once more.

Then, not for the first time on the day, Southampton were able to dissect the away defence with a pass between lead-footed Everton defenders for Redmond to chase but he could only graze the far post with his shot as Pickford closed down the angles.

In between, Everton’s only move of any technical merit had produced a chance for Lookman when he combined neatly with Bernard and attempted a drive from the edge of the box but it was charged down by a defender.

Time and again, Everton struggled to thread their way out of defence to mount attacks on the deck and their inability to work their way through Southampton’s midfield saw the hosts go as close as would come to breaking the deadlock before half-time when Kurt Zouma passed into traffic trying to find Bernard and Oriel Romeu intercepted before quickly releasing Ings.

The striker profited from a fortunate bounce of the ball off Idrissa Gueye but drifted past the Senegalese all too easily and was shaping to shoot when Gomes intervened, the ball coming back off the post via the Portuguese before being hacked away by Coleman.

As was the case last week, Silva’s half-time team talk looked to have had the desired effect as Sigurdsson and Bernard combined before the latter fed Digne on the overlap and his cross was met by the Icelander whose strong header was beaten behind by Alex McCarthy in the Saints goal.

Any attempts to build on that were cut short, however, two minutes later. Once again possession was squandered by Gomes in the middle of the park, Gueye lost out trying to pick up Zouma’s header off a lofted ball forward by a Southampton defender and Ward-Prowse held the midfielder off as he drove towards the “D” and rifled an impressive strike past Pickford.

That kind of incisiveness was in stark contrast to Everton, whose use of the ball lapsed back into being atrocious again with Bernard providing a case in point in the 55th minute when an opportunity to break forward opened up but he simply gave it away with a weak pass aimed in Richarlison’s general direction.

Gomes’s afternoon was mercifully brought to an end a minute later, the Portuguese making way for Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a belated change in formation but Sigurdsson dropping back into a deeper role simply changed the face at the origin of a poor pass in the centre that squandered possession and led to a goal.

Romeu intercepted his under-hit return pass looking for Lookman and three passes later, Redmond was steaming in behind the Blues’ defence once more with just Pickford to beat. This time, Digne had come across to cover and nip the ball off his toe but the Frenchman’s touch diverted the ball beyond Pickford and inside the post of his own goal.

2-0 almost became 3-0 when the zonal marking system failed again and Jack Stephens was allowed to power a free header just wide from an 82-minute corner.

Everton tried to rally and Coleman picked out Calvert-Lewin in the centre with a deep cross but the striker couldn’t keep his header down while yet another turnover in possession by Sigurdsson in midfield set up a chance for the Saints to pad their lead. Ward-Prowse crossed and substitute Shane Long met it but Pickford made another good save to deny him.

The game had moved into stoppage time before the Blues’ fleeting attempts to affect the scoreline finally proved successful and it came as the ball pinged around the edge of the Southampton penalty area before falling to Sigurdsson who expertly passed it into the empty side of McCarthy’s net to make it 2-1.

It was far too little far too late for Silva ’s outfit, however, and a last-gasp corner with Pickford joining the fray in the box came to nothing before referee Graham Scott answered the desperate pleas from Hasenhüttl’s bench to blow for full-time.

So another winnable game has gone begging amidst an all-round performance that throws up questions at almost every corner. The spotlight will be shone squarely at the manager but plenty of responsibility for this shambles rests on the heads of the players, many of whom were on the pitch when Allardyce was smirking a year ago about how he couldn’t help it if the players couldn’t find each other with basic passes.

The paucity of Everton’s possession play beggared belief at times today, almost as much as Gomes’s precipitous decline from Messiah to quandary in the space of a few short weeks, Gueye’s up-and-down form and the vexing questions of who should lead Silva’s line and where the creativity is going to reliably come from.

How the manager and team respond now is going to be key. The team remain just three points off seventh place but that small gap feels like a chasm given the inconsistencies in the Blues’ form and the crippling lack of confidence that seems to have gripped them once more.

Ultimately, apart from the not insignificant issue of a few million quid in prize money, finishing seventh or 11th where Everton are now will be of little consequence in the context of this Premier League season already being a write-off. Everything now rests on the FA Cup but with the trip to Millwall just a week away, who among us will be going into that one with much more than trepidation and blind hope?

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Reader Comments (83)

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Jay Harris
1 Posted 20/01/2019 at 03:43:29
A very succinct, elegant and accurate summing up of the game, Lyndon, although I wouldn't excuse the manager from the players poor passing and lack of cohesion.

For me, just like Martinez, the tactics are kamikaze and are totally dependent on not turning the ball over in the opposition's half – something we have proved incapable of for years. Manchester City we ain't.

I hate to say it but I can't see Silva rescuing this situation. He is meant to be the leader but looks more perplexed than the players and, if he can't understand what is going wrong, he can't fix it.

Dave McDowell
2 Posted 20/01/2019 at 06:23:59
Kudos to our fantastic away support making the long schlep South but this performance/result felt like a bridge too far as they were as muted as I have heard for many years.

I fear the continued false dawns are taking a toil on all Toffees, as they say it's the hope that kills you.

The match, we could just copy paste from Martinez era, 70% possession is worthless if it is just passed sideways along the back four.

Silva post match mentioned aggression a number of times but what was night and day was the manner and pace that Saints broke versus our ambling unfocused attack.

Richarlison at CF does not work, far better to let DCL an actual CF, play that role rather than destroy Richarlison's confidence by not using him in his most productive position on the left flank.

Bernard broke from our half a couple of times and the out ball he should have had available was to a left wing Richarlison but in his absence had to try and play a cross field pass that was easily intercepted.

Siggy has been off for many weeks and Bernard should have been given the opportunity in the number 10 position as he is far more mobile and agile in that role than an out of form Gylfi.

The reality is we have only have two significant games left. Beating Millwall for a much needed Cup run and beating the RS at Goodison to open the door for City.

Brian Porter
3 Posted 20/01/2019 at 06:42:43
When he was appointed, some people would have had us believe Solva was going to be the new Messiah, a modern, young, vibrant coach who would bring a new style and vibrancy to our team.

I was skeptical at the time, as he really had nothing in his CV to give me reason to believe that, and of course, getting Hull relegated did little to negate that belief.

All I see now is a 'rabbit in headlights' look on his face as he watches with seeming impotence on the touchline, offering nothing in terms of emotion or game changing solutions when things go pear shaped.

Is he the man for the job? If the first half of the season is to be seen an 'on the job' interview/audition, then the only conclusion I can come to is a very big, NO.

Poor tactics and substitutions, appalling in-game management, and a total lack of motivation from the bench. Do these sound like the attributes of a great coach? Answers on a postage stamp please.

Lyndon Lloyd
4 Posted 20/01/2019 at 07:06:28
Brian, I’ve said this before and I don’t offer it as a defence of Silva, more of a point or order, but to say he “got Hull relegated” is more than a little harsh.

He was unable to save Hull; they were already pretty much gone when he took over. What he did do was come very close to pulling off a near miracle but was scuppered by a run of poor results at the end of the campaign.

Was that an example of his tendency to have an instant impact but then go off the boil as he did at Watford? I suppose we’re about to find out. I can’t see Moshiri sacking him any time soon and I’m not sure I’d want him to.

We need a period of stability and for a young manager to get the chance to prove he can work his way out of the hole he and his team are digging themselves. The signs he’ll be able to do that aren’t encouraging at the moment but let’s give it time.

Steve Brown
5 Posted 20/01/2019 at 07:41:05
Have defended Silva since he was hired, although I asked at the time of hiring why we were again appointing a manager who had a recent relegation on his CV.

But he is really frustrating me at the moment in these areas:

1) Picking players who have lost all form - Richarlison, Gomes, Coleman. Fans will accept Kenny, McCarthy and Cenk in the team right now.
2) Sticking to a formation and style that require high levels of technical skill and confidence - we don't have either of these at the moment so tighten it up.
3) Starting every game without a recognised striker - play DCL or Cenk and live with it till the summer.
4) Zonal marking at set pieces - enough said.
5) Switching to 4-2-4 when we are losing - it never works and we end up losing games were we might have grabbed a draw.
6) Starting the game so slowly - I don't know what is happening before games but change it now.

He is beginning to show the deluded, one-dimensional stubbornness of Martinez. And we all know how that ends.

Tony Everan
6 Posted 20/01/2019 at 08:12:59

Lyndon , excellent , on the money review .

The formation and system employed by us is ineffective.

We need a specialist top quality CF, on a par with Lukaku, sign one get a loan in, if the right man is not available play DCL, he can cope better than Richarlison with the constant physical pressure.

We need a disciplined, tough and organised midfield . We have too many lightweight 'luxury' flair players and not enough disciplined team men. When the flair is not creating goals or chances the rest of the team will suffer. The balance is not right at all.

Ideally and desperately with a top class CF, if its not possible, DCL in my view still has quality not been given a fair crack. Gomes may improve for this midfield and set up. Give Lookman a free role.

4-4-1-1

One flair player only plays in Lookman/Bernard/Richarlison or Walcott.

Pickford

Kenny Zouma Mina Digne

Sigg Gana [Gomes or McCarthy] Baines

Lookman

DCL

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 20/01/2019 at 08:33:54
Way too many questions right now and nowhere near enough answers.

There's no Plan B that's clear and another thing that's clear as day is that Silva doesn't trust certain players. Jonjoe Kenny deserved to stay in the side for example and it was pointless taking him out to replace him with the grossly underperforming Seamus Coleman.

What's with Yerry Mina's exclusion from the side all of a sudden too? If you pay that money for him surely you need to persist?

The other question is why has a striker not been priority and when our scouts and coaches have had half a season, why has none been identified for availability this month?

Why are we looking so tired and jaded, and why did Southampton look fresher after 120 gruelling minutes on Wednesday night? We have no Europa League so there's no excuse.

Too many questions really and just nowhere near enough answers.

Tony Abrahams
8 Posted 20/01/2019 at 08:38:38
Worrying thing is Lyndon, that the performances are getting worse and, at the moment, you could honestly drive a train through some of the gaps in Everton's team.

John Keating
9 Posted 20/01/2019 at 08:44:26
Yes we need a striker but there's 11 players on the pitch.

Silva only has one way of playing regardless of who is on the pitch and, for whatever reason,he will only change it when we are losing.

Right now, more than a tactical genius we need a man manager, a motivator someone who can get an average bunch of under-performing wasters to give 100% for 90 odd minutes and have pride in themselves and the shirt.

Silva must be one of the most dour and uninspirational coaches in the country. Every time you see or hear him it's like he's on his way to his best mate's funeral.

I have no doubt we will stick with him until next season; however, if we don't get out of the blocks quickly, we have to bin him even quicker because, with a bad start, this joker will never get us to 40 points.

James Hughes
10 Posted 20/01/2019 at 09:04:03
The team has no spine at all. No forward to hold up play and disrupt. Midfield goes missing and the centre-backs are not using the same book never mind being on the same page.

Add into the mix me very own Bete Noire of Pickford, Keane, Zouma and Gana have all experienced relegation and it doesn't look good. As I have said before it's not backed by hard facts just opinion but, if you have been tested, failed and relegated you ain't for me.

The manager — half the time, he looks like he's wondering what to have for his tea (dinner?), not what is happening on the pitch. Our recruitment has been shambolic, both on and off the pitch, since Dour Davie buggered off.

Three years after Moshri took over, we were supposed to be challenging the elite. Instead, we are still in transition and besieging The Samaritans en masse.

Ian Hollingworth
11 Posted 20/01/2019 at 09:08:44
In the summer we signed some players with better quality than we currently had. We signed a young coach with a not so great record in the Premier League but with some previous highlights abroad. We were told he was a top class coach who improved players. We were told our style of football would improve and it would be a lot more enjoyable to watch.

Richarilson started brightly, looked a great player and scored goals and we were starting to worry about losing him in the summer. By January, his performances are shocking and the goals have dried up.

Gomes when he eventually came into the team was absolute class and to be honest he looked head and shoulders above everyone in the team. We thought we must buy him quickly and build a team around his silky skills and passing ability. By January, he passes like every other Everton player, ie, usually to the opposition or behind the intended blue player.

Overall the team did start the season well, we created chances and were fairly pleasing on the eye. "A new dawn at last", we all thought. By January, we are not playing well, we are not creating chances and it's shit football to watch.

It is a worry as it doesn't look like the coaching our players receive is actually improving them.

What the hell is the curse that is placed over Everton?

We are told we can't spend money this January. Get used to that, folks, as the board is going to prioritise the stadium move over the next few years. If this continues we will be asking ourselves if we need a new ground. The manager has to show his coaching ability with the existing players.

For me Silva has to change a few things:

1. Play Calvert-Lewin as the main striker in a sustained run of games (I say that even, though I am not convinced he will make it as a top striker); Richarlison and Lookman either side of him.

2. Play Bernard behind these three.

3. Kenny should play instead of Coleman.

4. Demand total effort from the players and be prepared to drop the ones who don't give that

5. Consider changing the zonal marking system.

6. Find a captain on the pitch as, Christ knows, we need one.

We won't / can't change another manager just yet so he needs to find a way to improve quickly.
As fans we need to support the team for the 90 minutes they are playing and then, if necessary show our frustration at the end if the game and on these forums etc.

Buckle up guys it's going to be a bumpy ride again.

It's not easy being an Evertonian but come on we love it, we are all proud blues and all want the team to be successful. As fans, we have no control of what happens on the pitch so let's just enjoy supporting Everton regardless of everything.
Here's hoping for a result Saturday and an cup run might just bring the spirit in the team we are looking for.


Jim Bennings
12 Posted 20/01/2019 at 09:11:16
When the season started, the first three games we looked like a breath of fresh air. We were trying different moves from set pieces (remember the Southampton pass and move goal?).

We really looked like we had a manager that had a plan of action and wanted to vary things up and work on elements of our game which had for years been neglected. But since August we stopped trying different things.

Yes we had a decent Autumn period but why have things reverted to type?

Why are our set pieces just the same thing game after game, nothing has changed after that early season promise.

Why do we still look like we can't defend corners?

Why do none of our midfielders shoot? (Sigurdsson the exception)

Why can't we mix up our crossing from wide areas, why not try firing some in low on the ground instead of aerially when we don't have that kind of striker on the end of them?

What started as a season of potential has just regressed badly ever since Pickford dropped that ball on the crossbar at Anfield.

Trevor Peers
13 Posted 20/01/2019 at 09:21:06
The consensus seems to be we will have given Silva enough time by the end of the season. His career at Everton follows a familiar pattern to his two previous clubs, he starts off well and then crashes and burns never to fully recover.

I'd be surprised, given what Moshiri said at the AGM and there is not a huge improvement in results, if Silva is still here next season, who might be his successor is anyone's guess.

Constantly changing managers is not uncommon these days: Watford, Southampton even Chelsea do it on a regular basis and it seems to work if you happen upon the right man for the job – it's just part of the modern game.

Daniel Bentley
14 Posted 20/01/2019 at 10:00:19
We have no leaders or winners on the pitch whatsoever.

There is Palace they just scored 3 goals at Anfield. Come on, let's be honest. Imagine us scoring 3 at Anfield... we would have DVDs out in our two shops.

The team have lost identity and the root of the problem is two things: we have spent the money wrong, and got the wrong managers in.

Eddie Dunn
15 Posted 20/01/2019 at 10:00:36
Lyndon - well balanced report hitting all of the bullet points. It's fairly clear where we need to improve. Steve Brown points out that whenever we fall behind, Silva goes 4-2-4, and ineed it just opens us up exposing our defence.
Yesterday Gomes was poor, he was over/under hitting his passes but he was at the fulcrum of the system. I would have taken off Sigurdsson and dropped Bernard into the ten role .

Silva is predictable and stubborn. His changes rarely work.


I just watched Sari's interview after Chelsea lost and he roasted his men, saying they are very difficult to motivate.

Well ditto our lot. They were motivated for the derby but ever since they've been in a coma.

Paul Kennedy
16 Posted 20/01/2019 at 10:44:32
We have been dross for many years now with lots of false hopes dashed as one good game turns into many poor lacklustre non-committed performances. Behind it always a manager without the nous, savvy, or guile to take us to challengers.

Write the first half of the season off, remove the problems, obtain a proven successful Manager, and let's give the fans the club and football team that we deserve.

Rob Dolby
17 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:00:17
Silva and his tactics were beaten hands down by the new Saints manager.

We all know teams near the bottom fill their team with workers and run hard. Why did Silva think that we could get away with playing Bernard, Lookman and Sigurdsson and play agressive against high pressure football with players who aren't suited to it.

Why not sit deep and try to hit the opposition on the counter like most other away teams. Match them for effort then play football.

Davies and McCathy should be getting game time especially in away games. If we are to buy Gomes I want to see him tried further up the pitch. The formation and usual faces are not working. He needs to shake things up.

Richarleson needs to be back in the midfield facing the goal instead of back to the goal target man stuff.

Walcott has a proven record in the prem for scoring goals from a strikers position. I am not saying he is the answer but we haven't even seen him tried there.

Saints had 10 hardworking players relying on Redmond to create, simple as that and it worked. We didn't need a crystal ball to suss that one out.

How much preparation and planning goes into studying the opposition or is it just arrogance on Silva's part that he thinks that it's plan a and no other way.

The only players safe from being dropped in my opinion are Pickford, Keane, Gana, Digne, Zouma. The rest of them should be worried.

Jim Bennings
18 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:08:49
Rob,

It's not just a case of wanting to see Gomes tried further up the pitch; he's not playing further up because he's not a player that hurts teams going forward and never has been in his career.

Take Sigurdsson out of the team then all you get is no goals whatsoever from midfield.

Saying Davies and McCarthy need game time but one, McCarthy, has not kicked a ball for a year and the other is a 20-year-old with no real outstanding attributes to qualify for a certain position yet.

We are stuck with this squad and its limitations available in it, just the same as Allardyce was, and Unsworth before him, who selected Davies etc regularly and got zero performances from them.

Ian Pilkington
19 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:10:04
Unless we are badly beaten at Millwall, I agree that Silva, despite his increasingly haunted and negative demeanour, will survive until the end of the season.

Can Silva change the ponderous build up from the back, truly awful passing, and the fear of conceding a goal from every corner courtesy of his stupid zonal marking system?

Almost certainly not, and by May we will have endured another wasted season by which time Mr Moshiri will have been in place for over three years, Blue Bill will probably still be Chairman and no progress whatsoever will have been made on the pitch.

A final thought: Keane, improved from last season but still fragile, and Zouma, a loan player with no option to buy, are played in preference to Mina. Could the Columbian be the one player in the squad capable of providing the desperately required leadership on the pitch?

Joe Francis
20 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:18:51
Is it a problem of formation and too many attacking players? As I understand it, Silva played 4-3-3 at his previous clubs, but has switched to 4-2-3-1 to accommodate Sigurdsson as a Number 10...

For me, the result is that Gueye isn't sitting properly as a holding midfielder, as he has to cover the ground in front of him. If there was another runner and passer (eg, Davies) next to Gomes in front of Gueye, it wouldn't be so easy to play through us on the break...

The downside would be playing Sigurdsson as an inside left forward, although he could be given license to roam, with Digne overlapping to the left. Silva could also consider bringing Mina in and playing Zouma at right back, because at least then you'd have a defender there, and they could act as a back three when Digne goes forward.

Graeme Beresford
21 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:21:55
Silva out!

Have we improved? Not at all. I'm not even sure Silva has a style of play. It just seems shoddy and all over the place.

Imo we have a good enough squad to be challenging for the top 6, this just is not good enough. Silva out.

Fran Mitchell
22 Posted 20/01/2019 at 11:23:16
All well and good saying we need a striker but the problem is with the players we have got. Silva has until the end of the season to show he has the tools to turn this around, but if not, I do imagine Brands and Moshiri will be tentatively talking about potential managers.

Silva needs to find a system that suits this team and players we have. He needs to organize the defense. He needs to find some spirit, because the players look like they're being dragged onto the pitch. Just no fire.

This rut is something that is changed on the training pitch, so let's see if Silva, who apparently is a great coach, can do it. I'm not confident he will be here come June.

Alastair Kelly
23 Posted 20/01/2019 at 12:30:08
We don't need to be writing off either the team or manager yet. It's a new team — we've had a lot of players come in within a short period. Many are young as well so we will see inconsistency in performances.

Other teams have sussed out that if you sit on Gomes we can't play through the middle. I think we'll be fine but we just need to have patience.

By the way, Southampton's team has as much quality as ours — this is the reality in the Premier League. We have no right for top 6, I'm hopeful of top half this season and build from there.

Mick Roberts
24 Posted 20/01/2019 at 13:04:43
The simple fact is a good manager can see what's not working, ie, Richarlison up front and the suicidal zonal marking; a bad manager can not... hence Marco clueless Silva.
Brian Dagnall
26 Posted 20/01/2019 at 14:48:19
I agree, Alastair @23. As other people have said, is it likely our good signings have all become bad players? Richarlison has been hopeless, and Gomes too. Sigurdsson has not performed as well as I personally had hoped, and Bernard has shown his skills only fleetingly.

If you think these players are indeed not up to standard, then you would have to have a close look at our new board member Mr Brands. If though, like me, you think these players are pretty damn good, then we have to look elsewhere for why they are playing together so poorly. Man Utd seem to have solved a similar problem by bringing in an old player to motivate.

My view is that, even if we do have a managerial problem, we should give it more time, say, end of the season. Are there any reports of mutiny in the changing room, as there were at Man Utd?

I also do not agree that the team has no fight. What we see is frustration from the players when nothing is going right. Southampton pressed us hard, and we didn't press them. But maybe they do that under instruction rather than out of disinterest. Give them a break.

Separately, I have been a bit critical of Pickford lately. But he gave a faultless display yesterday.

Bill Watson
27 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:00:05
Mike; # 24. Spot on.

Everyone, except Silva, can see Richarlison cannot cope at centre forward and Coleman should be nowhere near the first team.

Failure to beat Millwall and Huddersfield would surely mean the end for Silva?

If we perform remotely like yesterday, the Leicester game and for an hour against Lincoln then we will struggle in both these games. Worrying times!

Christopher Timmins
28 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:04:30
For what its worth I hope that the following occurs over the remainder of the season:

1. The manager is given the time to turn things around. If he succeeds then he gets another year; if things are similar to the last 10 games, then I am afraid he has to go.

2. If we don't buy a striker in the window then Calvert-Lewin must be given a run of games over the final 15 games.

3. James McCarthy must be given an opportunity to show what he can do over the next 15 games. If nothing else, it will help in securing a better transfer deal at the end of the season.

4. Gomes needs to be pulled from the starting 11 for the next couple of games.

5. Gomes and Sigurdsson just don't work in the same team.

If the current manager was following anyone other than Sam he would be in big trouble at this point in time. He appears to be a mile behind Moyes as a manager. If Moyes had the funds the last 3 occupants of the hot seat had, then we would be in a better place today.

If, at the end of the season, Silva has not turned things around, then we should look to bring Arteta back to the club.

Stan Schofield
29 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:26:10
We were undoubtedly 'on the up', playing some high-pressing, high-tempo, attractive attacking football, but just lacking the killer finish in front of goal, up to and including the Derby.

It's the same players and manager still, so we should be able to reverse the decline and revert to what we were showing until December. Hopefully that will happen, but it require mental toughness.

We do seem to have lacked mental toughness for a long time, the attribute of keeping going regardless of misfortune. However, we were showing such toughness until the next game after the Derby.

What has happened? Maybe it's a combination of things: The manner of the derby defeat is one, but there are others. Many refereeing decisions have been unbelievable, opposing teams in the top-6 have got away with murder, and the game does appear biased against sides outside the top-6, and (I have say) ultimately corrupt (no doubt because of all the money). The decision last season to penalise Niasse for deception whilst allowing the likes of Salah to repeatedly get away with it is an example. Cheats are allowed to prosper if they play for the 'right teams'.

None of this is an excuse for poor play, but nevertheless can take its toll mentally on a team that has decisions consistently go against it unfairly. Maybe that's what's happened, and what happened in the Derby was the straw that broke the camel's back.

What I do know is, the refereeing decisions this season, and lack of action from the authorities to stamp out cheating, is putting me off football. Not Everton, and our struggle to escape from midtable, but the cheating. It's a massive issue.

Jim Bennings
30 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:34:10
Huddersfield taking a beating today, their next game, guess who?

We just know Huddersfield will have a new manager in place by a week on Tuesday and they’ll consolidate against us!

John Keating
31 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:48:52
Stan
This high-pressing, high-tempo, attractive attacking football prior to the derby

Did you go to the Southampton league and cup games? Rotherham in the cup? Huddersfield, Cardiff, Fulham and Palace. Even though we won the last 3 we were poor at best.

This fantastic football never existed either preseason or pre derby.

We deserved a point at the Emirates, Chelsea. United could have gone either way.

Apart from the derby itself we have been piss poor. Yes it was different from Allardyce time in that we had shots, did some attacking and scored a few goals. That might be the reason some supporters see this “vast improvement”

Sorry Stan high-pressing, high -tempo attractive attacking football is witnessed by supporters of a few teams this season but certainly not by us

Stan Schofield
32 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:56:58
John, I wouldn't disagree entirely, but what I'm saying is that we did play such attacking football, to the extent that it was encouraging, certainly for me. I thought we showed signs of being able to beat anyone, but now we show signs of being beaten by anyone.

We were playing better against the top-6 teams, which is something we'd been wanting for some time. The results in those games could 'easily' have been different, unlike the hammerings we've got used to.

I'm not looking for excuses for us playing shite, I'm hardened to that. But I am looking for reasons. I might be wrong, but the apparent corruption in the game surely isn't giving a 'level playing field'.

Jim Bennings
33 Posted 20/01/2019 at 15:57:14
Stan

I don’t think we were playing this fabled outstanding high tempo football even prior to the derby.

We had a mixed bag to start the season with a draw at Bournemouth, draw at home to Huddersfield and then a poor loss at home to West Ham followed by a defeat at Arsenal.

October picked up a little bit but still saw a shocking League Cup exit at home to Southampton who were terrible at that moment and a loss at United under a manager in Mourinho that they hated.

November was our best month but since December it’s been horrendous in terms of results and performances.

I would like to see Silva given time but this type of form and performance standard can’t be allowed to fester and become somehow accepted as transition.

I can’t say I was over the moon when Silva got the job but I thought he might be a breath of fresh air now though I’m not sure he’s experienced enough to move this club forwards in today’s climate.

My choice last summer was to try and give Wenger a two year deal with Arteta his number two and the opportunity to take over from Wenger in 2021.

I don’t know if that was a bridge ever even crossed by our board, given the tenacity of the Marco Silva pursuit, I doubt it.

Tony Cheek
35 Posted 20/01/2019 at 16:09:11
Three very important games coming up. The fans want to see a good cup run. If Silva dares to even think about rotation against Millwall, then he needs to pack up and get his arse out of Goodison. If he also loses the next two league games, then I fear for his job! We broke the law to get this man, why?
Dick Fearon
36 Posted 20/01/2019 at 16:16:43
It does not take a genius to see that physically most of our players are a yard behind their opponents. We can all chuckle or sneer at statements from ex players that coaching at Bellefield and now Finch Farm is seriously lacking in that and the technical parts of the game.

Game after game those shortfalls are exposed but the powers that be do nothing about them.
Who has the power to demand answers from Silva. The club is paying a small fortune to the players and the only response from them is to say they will pull their finger out in future.

We have shirkers in the ranks who would absolutely dread the incoming of a whip cracking manager like you know who.

Tom Bowers
37 Posted 20/01/2019 at 16:24:28
With all due respect, Tony, all games are important but the club doesn't seem to worry about that as long as the sponsors are there and the season ticket holders and of course they remain in the Premier League.

It is, more than ever, a business more than an entertainment — as it was many years ago before all the sponsorship and TV money.

Bobby Thomas
38 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:04:37
Regarding the players' mentality, I know the formation and tactics aren't working, you do, everyone in Goodison & the away sections does. So, do you think the players think it's working?

Sometimes it's not an intentional lack of effort, I thought they went right at it in the 2nd half against Bournemouth. Maybe they just don't think it's working. We are hardly free-scoring so, when we go behind, I guarantee there's more than one player thinking "We've had it." I know it shouldn't happen but it does. I've seen Everton teams like that, other teams like that and I've been playing on a couple of occasions where that's the case.

The long and short of it is Silva needs to bite the bullet and change the formation and tactics.

We are leaky and we have become "nice" or easy to play against when not in possession. We are becoming very Martinez-like in the ease with which we can be hit on the counter. Bournemouth were hitting us on the counter in the first half at Goodison. Can you imagine what Liverpool will do to us?

We are way too open and when a team attacks, usually after we give it away, they are straight into our back 4, or should I say the centre-backs who are left increasingly exposed, and we have big problems. It's getting worse and more ragged. The full-backs, at least one, needs to sit and get tight to his centre-back. Preferably both in the first half away from home.

Silva needs to get this side tight and we need some shape and clean sheets. As we are currently doing a passable impression of Martinez seasons 2 and 3, and that leads to deep shit. We are weak, easy to play against, have no threat, and are easy to counter as the side is imbalanced with too many ball-playing attack-minded players, apart from Gana, and he lacks positional discipline. He needs to be told in no uncertain terms: "Do not run beyond the ball. Ever."

The formation we use to get tight is up for debate. The way Silva likes to do things we aren't going to be going 4-4-2 and hitting Calvert-Lewin with long diagonals. So I say we could do 3 centre-backs with a strong case for getting McCarthy back in the side and playing 2 defensive mids. Get Gomes away from defensive responsibilities by playing him ahead of them. Or give Gomes a break and play Sigurdsson in there.

We could go with two strikers then... Fuck it, give Calvert-Lewin and Tosun a run and see if they can click. Why not? It can't be much worse.

Alastair Kelly
39 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:04:42
Stan, I totally agree with you on the cheating. The diving is ruining the game. For me, what doesn't help is the media, they should be shaming it but they say things like it is players being clever.

Back to Everton, I would like to see Calvert-Lewin given a run in the middle and have Lookman and Richarlison compete for the left-side slot. I think Bernard is not yet up to the defensive side of the game physically which exposes whoever is playing behind him. If McCarthy is fit, I would like to see him in a midfield three with Gomes and Gueye, especially away from home.

Pickford should have saved Southampton's 2nd goal and he makes mistakes every game. The poor guy needs a rest and we need a better No 2 to compete with him. He will get better but realistically I think we will struggle to finish top 6 with him in goal.

Mark Taylor
40 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:07:12
I think some of this comes down to expectation. Perhaps because we finally opened the cheque book, ideas have formed that we should be targetting top 6 — they did in my mind. But we've spent our money in a mediocre fashion and frankly, we are just a bang average mid-table side and have been for many seasons now. We're 3 points off 7th which is clearly the only viable target at present and within reach but admittedly that is a mile behind 6th in quality terms.

Morale appears to be near rock bottom, confidence just ebbs from our players, they look knackered and there is a total lack of leadership on and off the pitch. With my bucket half-full hat on, a strong FA Cup run could turn things around. With the half-empty hat on, you could imagine us going into meltdown, albeit with enough points earned already to just about dodge relegation.

Is yet another manager the solution? Hard to say but I know this much, Moyes's record while he was with us is looking better with every passing week, bearing in mind he actually had us seriously threatening the top 6 on a budget of a fag packet and three bob from Teary Bill's pocket.

I suppose you could argue that Moyes's abysmal performance after leaving us shows how capricious management actually is and that basically it's like a lucky dip, where maybe you have to keep drawing a ticket till you finally win.

Tony Abrahams
41 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:13:18
Do we have shirkers in the ranks, or do we just lack a couple of real leaders?

John Keating
42 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:23:36
Tony both.

Said for ages we need one real horrible dirty cheating bastard in the team who is more than happy to bollock the ref, linesmen, and, more importantly, the players. I detest that shit Ashley Young at Man Utd but someone like him – only worse!

Some players appear to be playing well within themselves and when it suits them, as they are undroppable.

Dave McDowell
43 Posted 20/01/2019 at 17:37:46
Nominations please for any of our players you think hurt, really hurt when we lose?

Players such as Reid, Big Nev, Rats, Sharpy, four players there who bled for the club. Jump a few years and Cahill is the only player that comes to mind, maybe Barry who was old school.

I acknowledge these are different times but I for one was well pleased when Gomes lost his rag against Bournemouth. Delighted because I seldom see it in a blue shirt.

City, brilliant team, but also full of nasty gits like Aguero, De Bruyne, Walker, Kompany. It’s why United have fallen, too many big time charlies with no heart.

The RS have at least 4 in the first team exemplified by Klopp who you can see how much it gets under his skin when they lose.

We are the classic soft touch.

40 plus mil should get you skills but we don’t seem to buy those players with heart, courage, you know the nasty bastard who hates losing.

John Raftery
44 Posted 20/01/2019 at 18:35:53
In moving Richarlison, Silva has not gained a centre forward but has lost an effective, goalscoring left-flank attacker. He needs to be switched back to his best position if he is to recover his form of the early weeks of the season when he scored six goals.

It is glaringly obvious the shape of the team is wrong. Most of the problems stem from the midfield where the blend is just not working.

Gomes does not have the pace or goal threat to play further forward. Sigurdsson only comes to life in the final third; dropping deeper he is a liability.

With those two as colleagues Gueye is left to do all the graft. When he is below par, as he was yesterday, we look wide open.

Tony Abrahams
45 Posted 20/01/2019 at 18:47:13
Playing Richarlson up front is killing both him and the team. Most people can see that Bernard probably suits the Number 10 role... so there's two changes already that would probably make us stronger but we definitely need a proper forward because it's killing us right now.

Benjamin Dyke
46 Posted 20/01/2019 at 19:03:21
Siggy gets the goals and cost bucketloads so perhaps he gets the nod but I'd like to see the midfield set up differently to stop this rot.

I'd try McCarthy and Gueye in the middle with Davies and have two wingers and Calvert-Lewin. At least we'd have energy with a bit of aggression in Macca. Get the ball to the channels and wingers and do the obvious. It's not working, this progressive crap.

Lee Whitehead
47 Posted 20/01/2019 at 19:15:40
People going on about the defeat at Anfield!!! That was fuckin months ago — for fuck's sake, Marco, get this bunch of losers to grow some balls and fight for the cause.

We lost 1-0 to a fucken fluke – grow up and move on.

Seb Niemand
48 Posted 20/01/2019 at 19:18:06
The manager clearly is not cutting the mustard. Time to start looking for someone else.
Mark Wilson
49 Posted 20/01/2019 at 20:07:56
Ian, #11 great post.

Every time we get beat, which is a lot, the Allardyce, comparisons surface, then the row is extended to include a wider set of comparisons with Unsys brief reign, Koeman and Martinez and then, Davy Moyes. It's become dull, I know, but some of the phrases used are becoming more and more absurd.

“We are vastly improved on [insert one of previous lot above]”. We have become so used to failure that the odd decent passage of play, a nice goal, a “tight defeat” or an apparently “well deserved draw” bring forth this crazy comparison. Wake up for pity's sake.

We are not vastly improved on any of the previous managers listed. They were all flawed, some more than others but, after 25 years, I honestly see very little difference with the exception of Martinez's first year playing with the benefit of a really solid Moyes setup and yes, getting more from it before collapsing in spectacular style.

The Allardyce thing is hard. I didn't like his style, or his gob, but frankly, if I'd have taken as much stick as he did, I'd fight back a bit. The argument about Allardyce looks and feels a wee bit different right now. It was the fans who cost him his job and I wasn't critical of what happened then but I'm less sure now.

Why? Because I think we are currently worse under Silva than Allardyce. Worse because I have a very clear view on what matters to me about Everton. I want winning first and will wait a surprisingly long time for style.

The only progress is winning. It's a tribal view and reflects my upbringing as a blue and being lucky enough to watch us when they made us proud.

Harsh, I know, as some here argue. But going in the right direction is winning. Being competitive is winning, and I'm sorry, but I see zero sign that Mr Moshiri and his £250m have made us competitive because being competitive is, you know, heavily linked to winning whether you like it or not.

Had Allardyce stayed I now feel our style would still have left much to be desired but tho this will me get me slaughtered, my version of hindsight is that, had we somehow managed to put aside our let's face it slightly arrogant view of history, I'm wondering where we'd be right now? A suicidal view here I guess but I was very angry about Big Sam like most, tho not quite as toxic as some about the hate.

However, here's the thing. Why could I feel that we've not necessarily done the right thing sacking another manager last summer. Here goes Sammy Lee. Hateful Sammy Lee who frankly I thought was a revelation on our touchline. That passion for the win, achieved anyway, is missing now. I just don't see it in Silva or his team, Duncan apart. I certainly don't see it on the pitch.

Lee brought that to training I've read. First in last home, totally dedicated to the win. A comical character I admit at times, but we somehow lost something when he left and I accept that is not a popular view but I see no urgency in our coaching, and again, so little passion for the cause.

Okay it may be a frustrated reaction but look, we think we are so special when results over two and half decades say something else, that's not to rubbish some great years but they are a very distant memory and it feels arrogant to be just so sniffy about Allardyce and frankly sometimes Moyes, when they were probably the most grounded and realistic managers we've had for years.

Martinez and Silva are like twins as far as I'm concerned. Stubborn beyond belief, fancy and stylish in the face of extreme pressure to re think and be flexible. Koeman too was stubborn but quite how or why he imploded like he did is still hard to understand.

Moyes could be stubborn, of course, but the difference is his teams fought like mad most of the time and played, again most of the time, like a well organised steady unit, often in spite of lacking quality compared to others. We never really had the quality in Davy's day and yes had some terrible spells but, having money hasn't produced anything like the team spirit and, competitiveness that the owner thinks he's bought with those millions.

I feel like I've just put my head in a noose! “He liked Sammy Lee's passion, what a twat!" I probably deserve it but there's something missing throughout the club right now and I'm just not sure that our play-like-Barca demands aren't derailing the need to “go in the right direction” which inherently should mean winning more games each season.

I'm not sure Silva getting sacked would see us implode. I don't want it to happen; I want him to turn it all round and end the season with momentum so we have a shot at attracting quality in the summer, at cheap prices!! But, for me, far worse than any Allardyce “rubbish football” is the simple – but, I feel, very real – danger that we are becoming serial losers to serial losers. And it's happening without a fight.

Time for a cup run!

Rick Tarleton
50 Posted 20/01/2019 at 20:17:05
We have four wide men: Richarlison, Bernard, Walcott and Lokmaon and possibly you could include Calvert-Lewin in that category. We do not really have a reliable central striker; Tosun? Not really.

In order to fit three attackers we are constantly playing a three-man midfield. But our midfield has three very specialist members. Sigurdsson a number ten, dead ball specialist whose covering and tackling skills are very limited.

Gomes a fulcrum, who makes himself available to receive passes and move the ball on quickly, but who again is defensively limited and Gueye who breaks play up and moves the ball forward.

These three men need to be in a four-man midfield, they haven't to use the modern parlance got the energy and drive to overcome any team that plays a four man midfield against us.

When we were acquiring all these wide men didn't anyone ask how we were going to use them all in a balanced team? How we were even going to be able to use three of them in a starting line-up?

Last season, our plan was to buy up every Number 10 in the world: Sigurdsson, Klaassen, Rooney, Vlasic... this season it's to buy wide men.

We are asking players to do jobs that are unsuited to their talents. Richarlison is never going to be a central striker. Bernard and Walcott will have their moments, but their defensive help is limited and they both rarely deliver a good final ball. Both our full-backs are better as additional wingers than as defenders. We are full of square pegs filling round holes.

And we have a manager who seems lost, out of his depth, and a poor copy of Roberto Martinez in his tactical naivety.

Hence we are not winning games. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Tommy Carter
51 Posted 20/01/2019 at 20:35:33
Pay the hard cash and bring in Mourinho. We would benefit from the ruthlessness he could provide.

I want to see if he still has what it takes to build a side and I want it to be with us.

Brian Williams
52 Posted 20/01/2019 at 20:38:07
Haha. Nice one Tommy.
Geoff Cadman
55 Posted 20/01/2019 at 20:45:59
After 12 months out, McCarthy will not be anywhere near match fit. Seamus is still not up to speed after a year. Silva has already admitted he will not play too many youngsters at once. Richarlison, after costing £35m to £50m (does anyone know how much he really cost) is a shoo-in. So Calvert-Lewin, Jonjoe and Ademola keep getting rotated. They all need a long run in the side.

The worst thing that happened to Pickford was becoming England Number one. Every mistake is slaughtered by the pundits, especially a big-headed Geordie who hates Mackems and has never forgiven us for ruining his Newcastle debut.

Too much abusive un-warranted criticism leads to one of two outcomes. Players lose confidence and make more mistakes. Or say to themselves "Why should I bother?" The third hoped for "I will prove them wrong" unfortunately never happens

Jerome Shields
56 Posted 20/01/2019 at 23:16:26
The seeds of what we have now where visible from the start of the season. Lack of good play in the final third was clearly a problem. It also emerged that Tosun wasn't good enough and the much heralded high press wasn't working. Weaknesses in defence were clear, as was the decline of Coleman. The only let-up was that a midfield trio started to emerge and Digne.

Silva failed to address any of these problem areas and a lack of coaching was evidence. Players with poor stats for their positions kept getting selected. When Silva seemed to find a solution, by the next game it would be clear that this was by luck rather than design.

What has simply happened since the Liverpool game is that the survival half of the Premier League starting with Newcastle have worked out the tactical and technical weaknesses of Silva's Everton and have come up with tactics to implement to take advantage.

Silva has no answers and persists in presenting sides in the same format. The opposition managers are so grateful to see the Everton team sheet before the game, because they have spent all week practicing the tactics that they know will work against Everton.

Even Lincoln City, of League Two, were able to set themselves up tactically to expose Everton.

Silva showed in the Southampton game that he has totally lost it and has no answers. The players are demotivated and will become more so, as they have and will realise further that Silva is not good enough.

Bob Parrington
57 Posted 21/01/2019 at 01:47:10
Ian #19,

"Silva, despite his increasingly haunted and negative demeanour" says it all! The big stand-out recently has been Silva's body language. No player will respond positively to body language like his lately.

Silva, if you can't buck yourself up and become a good example to the players, go see a psychiatrist or you will end up on the scrapheap yourself!!!

But, admittedly, the team performance was nothing short of crap vs Southampton, perhaps with one or two exceptions only. IMO, this was the worst performance by Gomes so far. Decision making in general by the mid-field and front men was shocking.

Kevin Prytherch
58 Posted 21/01/2019 at 08:34:15
I've said it on another thread...

Time to write this season off and prepare for next season.

Have the conversations about Zouma and Gomes now; if we don't look like we can realistically get them, don't start them. They're not our players.

£40million for a 29-year-old. Plan for the future and take it.

Walcott, Coleman, Baines etc are the sadly past their best. Time to give the youngsters a proper run in the side so we know at the end of the season exactly what we need.

Pickford
Kenny, Mina, Keane, Digne
Davies, Beningame, Bernard
Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman.

Maybe replace Bernard or Richarlison with McCarthy for the games against the top 6.

This way we can end the arguments about whether the youngsters are good enough, and we could potentially save ourselves a small fortune in transfers and wages if they are. And we'll probably show a lot more will and desire than we have done in recent games.

Jerome Shields
59 Posted 21/01/2019 at 09:18:34
Kevin #58,

I agree, but I think Sigurdsson is a victim of Silva's tactics and Bernard is better than Richarlison. I think McCarthy is what's needed in midfield but he wasn't played; although on the bench against Lincoln he wasn't even on the bench against Southampton. There is no way Silva is getting any players in January.

The problem is that Silva doesn't see it as you see it, unfortunately.

Craig Walker
60 Posted 21/01/2019 at 09:29:35
Any money that we could have spent in January on players will be used to pay off Silva and his coaching staff. I'd be surprised if Silva is still manager by the time the next season kicks off.

This just seemed inevitable to me when we were linked with Marco in the first place. He did the same at Watford: a great run of form and then they plummeted. I read a lot of articles on these pages about his tactical acumen which won me over but I see yet another manager who steadfastly sticks to a plan which is just not working.

I think Millwall away will be a really stern test for these players. I don't think they have the bottle or stomach for a fight in an intimidating atmosphere. I hope I'm wrong.

It's hard to see any positives at present. I thought Gomes was superb for his first 5 or 6 games but now he just looks knackered and has become a liability. He's ominously looking like Schneiderlin II.

Richarlison is turning out to be what a number of Watford fans predicted. Some good performances and some absolute shockers. Only Zouma looks remotely half decent at present.

I genuinely can't pick a fixture and confidently say "we'll win that one."

John Raftery
61 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:00:34
Mark (49),

Nobody seems to have commented on your post. I will.

I agree with every word.

John Hammond
62 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:30:57
I didn't see the game not even highlights and only read bits online so can't comment too much. Sounds like it was the usual problems compounded by a lot of players having a serious off-day.

The confidence is draining out of the whole team and our top scorer is cutting a more and more frustrated figure. I'd like to see us revert back to how we set up at the start of the season with Tosun as the forward but dropping deep to drag defenders with him and create space for Richarlison to run at the opposition defence.

Away from home, keep it tight and play on the counter – we've seen this season how good we can be. Just playing the same way every week regardless of the opposition or state of the team is crazy.

I'd rest Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Gomes, Keane and Digne for the Millwall trip. Give Tosun the full 90 minutes. Let's see if he can get himself a goal.

Fran Mitchell
63 Posted 21/01/2019 at 11:50:30
Persisting with Richarlison as centre-forward is doing anybody any favours. He could yet develop into a centre forward, I thought he performed well there initially but, as the form has plummeted, so has he.

I look at Man Utd, and Rashford, and the praise being heaped upon him. 'Same as Ronaldo at the same age'; 'Best in the country, atm'. And to much agreement.

Calvert-Lewin's stats are not far off Rashfords, Rashord has 40 goals in 150 games; Calvert-Lewin has 15 in 77. And Man Utd create far more chances. Yet Rashord gets praised and his mistakes are accepted as part of his development. Calvert-Lewin gets written off, and what he does well is dismissed as a fluke. It's high time Silva puts Calvert-Lewin as No 9, and leaves him there.

Lookman also, imo, is more effective on the left cutting in, or in the middle. I'd like to see him in Sigurdsson's place, with Sigurdsson dropping deeper next to Gueye. Then give Siggy orders to be more disciplined, stay in the middle, work hard, win the ball and make the through balls for the front 3/4 to run onto.

Silva needs to get the players playing to a system because, at the moment, it is just 11 strangers walking onto the pitch in the same colour shirt.

Daniel A Johnson
64 Posted 21/01/2019 at 12:24:29
Under Moyes, you generally thought that anyone outside the top 7 and Everton could beat them home and away. It was the shocking record against the top 6 that beggared belief.

Now under Silva I honestly look at any fixture and think we could get beat. Huddersfield away, bottom of the Premier League, and yet I'm not fancying our chances. How far we have fallen. Pride and effort used to be a given it was a lack of quality in the big matches that used to let us down. Now every player who pulls on the shirt lets us down.

With the passing of the old guard – Howard, Jagielka, Baines & Coleman – what we were/are is being lost and we're now just yet another team of can't-be-arsed mercenaries who couldn't care less.

Kevin Prytherch
65 Posted 21/01/2019 at 12:49:08
And yeah, Daniel, this wasn't heeded by many in the summer:

French left back
French centre back
Columbia's centre back
Brazilian winger
Portuguese midfielder
African midfielder (can't remember where Gueye is from)
Icelandic midfielder
Brazilian striker.

Moyes's teams had a British backbone and even the ones who weren't (Arteta, Cahill etc) usually had some British experience before signing.

Geoff Lambert
66 Posted 21/01/2019 at 13:15:54
People on here still comparing Calvert-Lewin to Rashford!! I wish.

FFS, both English. It ends there...

Steve Brown
68 Posted 21/01/2019 at 14:25:59
Kevin @ 65, it would be interesting for you to name the British players you would have signed for each position you have named (and the price thst you think they could be signed for). That would add a bit of context to your point.
Martin Mason
70 Posted 21/01/2019 at 15:20:40
What happened on Saturday was that we were beaten by the better side and couldn't manage their hard pressing game. Saints played very well and we couldn't match them.

Is it the end of the world as some would see it? Of course not, the project must go on and we must work through it.

Silva must not be sacked or we will go through another cycle and end up at the same place. As fans we must also stop calling for this totally ridiculous option.

Daniel A Johnson
71 Posted 21/01/2019 at 15:51:11
Calvert-Lewin isn't the answer, remember when he was clean through against the Gunners in the first 10 min and didn't even get a shot away?

He needs to get minutes and go out on loan and learn to find the back of the net on a regular basis possibly in the championship.

Rashford as a talent is light years ahead of Calvert-Lewin. But I do agree, he needs game time, but were EFC we can't let kids learn their trade over 90 min in the first team. We need a proven goalscorer. Send Calvert-Lewin off on loan.

John Boon
72 Posted 21/01/2019 at 15:56:18
It is regularly cited that it is difficult to make any progress in the Premier League without significant funds and consequently that is the reason why we have our present so called "Top Six", situation. While that does seem to be a very valid point of view, it is not always the case and Everton are a perfect example of how there is one other major factor. We have had the money but unlike other teams we have wasted what we have had since Moshiri came in.

I really hate to ever use Liverpool as a good example because it hurts far more than any other comparisons. However, when you look at what they have spent it is obvious that they have nearly always signed players who would be considered as very good players, who actually become worth more than when they were originally signed. I will refrain from using any names because it only increases my annoyance.

Unfortunately, in the last three years we have made far too many useless signings, and continue to do so, no matter who the manager is. However, perhaps a good motivator may have been able to turn very ordinary signings into good ones. Who knows?

However, even looking beyond the top six there are teams who are performing well above their financial assets. To name a few: Bournemouth, Wolves, Watford, Leicester and even Burnley all seem to have signed some really good players. Perhaps not enough to get into the top Premier League level but enough to be better or equal to Everton.

There are also examples of clubs who have history, funding and fan support who have not taken advantage of such assets and sink into oblivion: Sunderland, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wed and Newcastle should all be better than Watford and Bournemouth. I would hate to think that we could be added to that list but if we continue to waste funds as we have done of late it could easily happen.

I readily agree that the obscene funding of the likes of Chelsea and Man City allows for a "sign and throw away" policy that is detrimental to players, fans and the League itself. Unfortunately that is the football world we live in today and we don't have much choice other than to be a part of it, as tasteless and classless as it may be.

Everton of late have been clueless in creating a management team or system that is able to recognise talent, sign the right players or managers, and make even minimal or recognisable improvement. With the format we continue to use, it won't matter who is our manager, we cannot expect to move forward. Really we don't need a new manager we need a Magician. Even with that, we will probably sign one that pulls a monkey out of the hat rather than a rabbit.

Kevin Prytherch
73 Posted 21/01/2019 at 16:19:16
Steve Brown

LB - Chilwell, Shaw, Bertrand, Tierney
CB - Tarkowski, Mee, Mawson, Maguire
CM - Loftus Cheek, Cork, Cook, Drinkwater
Winger - Redmond,
Strikers - don't know!!!

There's a few and most are English. I reckon most of them would put up more of a fight each week.

Eddie Dunn
74 Posted 21/01/2019 at 16:46:06
John Boon, our friends across the park have wasted money on Andy Carroll £35M, Benteke £32.5M, Aquilani £20M, Downing £20M, Markovic £20M, and Robbie Keane £19M. Many of those figures don't sound so bad now, but a few years ago they were.
Henry McDonald
75 Posted 21/01/2019 at 16:51:48
Excellent analysis as always, Lyndon. It seems to me that if we don't get that cup run and end up near the relegation zone by end of season then Silva has to go. We cannot afford Martinez Mark II. Some on the thread are suggesting wooing Arteta which would be great. But why with Moshiri millions can't we woo an English, Everton supporting young manager, ie, Eddie Howe, this summer?

I will be at the derby but am looking ahead with trepidation to the game now. Ideally I would love if we could rain on the RS parade and enable City to win the league thus shutting them up for another season. However the current team are gutless, they lack bite and steel and fight. We miss players like Tim Cahill and Lee Carsley. Men who battled, who stuck the boot in and were not afraid of anyone. In this current crop of players can. you see any fighting spirit or passion?

The defenders of Silva have to ask themselves this: If the gaps and weaknesses in the team are so obvious (no mettle to tackle and tussle in the midfield; no cutting edge up front to get goals and no core defensive strategy) then why can't our esteemed manager not see that either? We also need an alternative club captain – one who will ball out the shirkers and the cowards on the pitch.

Personally, I would give it to Pickford because he deserves better cover in front of him. Yes he made a monumental boob at Anfield but overall I don't blame for the goal leakages. It's the gormless and the gutless in front of him who are responsible for that.

Trevor Peers
76 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:06:54
Martin @70. It won't be the fans asking for Silva's head — it will be Moshiri himself. If we get knocked out of the cup and keep losing to teams below us, he will be gone in the summer.
Vincent Borg Carbott
77 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:42:37
We long-suffering fans deserve much better effort. A first-class striker and a motivational manager must be at the top of our priorities.
John Boon
78 Posted 21/01/2019 at 17:52:19
Eddie Dunn (74).

Yes, to a degree I have to go along with you, although generally even those players mentioned are probably better than the dross we have signed in recent times. However, I am making my judgements on "good" players that the RS have signed.

As much as it pains me to say this but they have signed top class players who they were able to sell for a tidy profit. I know we have done likewise with Lukaku and Fellaini but I think it is obvious that we have been far below par in signing players who play consistently well over a couple of seasons. We seem to put the Everton Curse on them.

In the past, I have always felt that Everton are a club that good players would want to come to. We attracted many great players going back to Bobby Collins, Alex Young, Gary Lineker and Andy Gray and many many more. Quite honestly I am biased to the point that I only see through Blue glasses and the only good thing associated with red is possibly the Red Cross.

I actually don't really care who Liverpool sign and probably should refrain from ever using them as an example. However, I am realistic enough to recognise that we have had a useless scouting system over the last few years. As the saying goes, "The Proof is in the Pudding" — or, in scouse term,s we have been successful in signing too many "Puddens"!!!

Stan Schofield
79 Posted 21/01/2019 at 18:15:42
John, I personally wouldn't use Liverpool as a good example of anything, apart from perhaps gamesmanship and cheating. They were for quite a few years one of the best sides in Europe, winning many trophies, but those days have been behind them for some time.

Their supporters have frustrations (not as severe as ours though), because they often seem to come close to winning a major trophy, but don't quite make it, and are 'nearly men' who regularly come second best. Even if they win the Premier League this season, it would be about bloody time given the massive investment they've had over many years. And of course any such win would be aided by their cheating, for example Salah's habitual diving and deception.

I would add Balotelli and Torres to a list of expensive signings that have failed, despite other more successful signings. In a way, I would say that what we're going through at the moment, with a lot of money-wasting on fairly average players, is similar to what they've done over the last two decades.

As an example club to emulate, I'd choose one of the elite teams, Man Utd, Man City or Chelsea, the actual winners of trophies, over Liverpool.

Darren Hind
81 Posted 21/01/2019 at 19:11:32
You're right of course, Lyndon. The season did promise so much before the derby game. I think the majority of football observers (with the possible exception of a few on here) would recognise that we were being spoken about with admiration, other fans and pundits were beginning to see us in a different light.

If we believe a lucky break (like Inchy's goal at Oxford) can turn a season in your favour, then we have to accept a stomach-churning error like Pickford's at Anfield can do the opposite.

In isolation, Pickford's error would still have been a sickening blow, but it seemed to trigger a domino effect. Mina makes a suicidal pass – goal. Keane allows a ball to bounce off him – goal. The goalie and the centre-back run into each other – goal. Zouma doesn't play as high a line as the rest – goal... individual error after individual error.

Nothing – and I do mean nothing – destroys momentum, confidence, and cohesion like a catalogue of unforced, game-changing, individual errors. We've made a season's worth in half a dozen games. Take a look at our goalie and the 6 or 7 defenders Silva can call upon and you see a mistake in everyone of them. You kinda know that we will not get through 90 minutes without one of them offering up a gift.

People talk about our impotency going forward, and rightly so, but the midfield have lost faith in the defenders, the forwards have lost faith in the midfield, and the defenders have lost faith in each other.

A defence is the foundation upon which all decent teams are built. if the players in front of them stop trusting them, the whole thing goes to fuck.

Robin Cannon
82 Posted 21/01/2019 at 19:28:41
@Darren (81) – I think it becomes a vicious circle.

If we're impotent up front, then it creates more ongoing pressure on the defence. That makes the defence more likely to make a mistake. That makes the attack and midfield lose confidence in the defence. And so on.

It honestly feels like nobody in the team really trusts each other or fights for each other. Part of that might be the personality of the players, but a big part of that has to be the environment and culture that the management and coaching team tries to build.

Up to (and including) the derby, I felt a lot of positivity about the season. I even enjoyed the defeats more than some Allardyce-era victories because they were defeats where we had a go, and seemed to have some kind of plan.

A couple of underwhelming performances after the derby I might understand; a defeat in that manner is gutting. But it's the manager's job to address that. And probably my biggest concern about Silva is that he's demonstrated at previous clubs a failure to turn around a negative situation.

Rahman Talib
83 Posted 22/01/2019 at 01:09:40
I believe the team Moyes left behind was the best we had so far.

After 3 managers, we have actually digressed and not progressed.

The sad thing is that Moyes put together that team with spit and glue while the next 3 managers had money to burn.

We need to bring Moyes back.

GET RID OF SILVA!!

Rahman Talib
84 Posted 22/01/2019 at 01:13:20
Richarlison was useless. Gomes was injured and should not play.

We need a Bobby Mimms badly. Our goalie is prone to silly mistakes.

I dunno why we sold Niasse. He would have been much better than Richarlison.

Martin Mason
85 Posted 22/01/2019 at 04:09:34
Trevor @76, I really hope that Moshiri isn't crazy enough to continue with the sacking cycles. In a Premier League club now, the head coach isn't the man who determines the performances and results long term; he's a cog in a big machine and it's all of them who need to up their game.
Paul Cherrington
86 Posted 22/01/2019 at 11:01:42
The main problems with Silva's Everton team are the same as those seen under Martinez and Koeman. Interestingly, it is also the same things that Moyes and Allardyce got a firm handle on early doors. They are organisation, motivation, fitness and touchline presence.

I really think that some foreign managers do not understand how key these factors are in the Premier League. Style of play and tactics will count for nothing if these are not in place to begin with. this is exactly what we are seeing at the moment.

We are clearly nowhere near fit enough to compete as the Southampton game showed. We do not have enough energy or stamina to last games or even get on a level footing where we can then start to play football. We are no longer well organised with the formation being a mess, players not really sure what they should be doing and a defence that is not well drilled or well set up.

Motivation may be the key factor of them all. Most of the players look disinterested with a real lack of desire or passion to win games. We need a manager who can give the players the motivation and kick up the bum needed to start putting a shift in at the very least.

Then there is the touchline presence of Silva which for me is lacking. as with some other foreign coaches. Like Martinez, he has adopted a studious, arms folded look which sees him simply watching the game go by with no apparent interest. the problem here is that this then rubs off on the players who see him doing it. We all remember how Moyes would be out there barking orders for the whole game when in charge – I really think this is what is needed to stop players from slacking and keep them on their toes.

The key to all this for me is what happens day in, day out at Finch Farm. All the above (apart from the touchline behaviour) screams of a poor training schedule that is not interesting for the players and does not include enough fitness or organisational work. It also suggests that the players are not being coached with enough passion or discipline which is then leading to the attitudes we see at games.

The funny thing is that this is all pretty easy to fix if Silva wanted too. As Moyes, Allardyce, Klopp, the new guy at Southampton etc... have all shown, it can be done in a few weeks if you really want too. To say Silva has not had enough time to sort out these very basic things is crazy to me.

Bobby Thomas
87 Posted 22/01/2019 at 22:10:28
Paul #86,

It's very concerning that at this point in the season, after playing the same system over and over again, the side is looking increasingly disorganised.

At the moment, I just see a 2nd season Martinez side. And that means trouble. Millwall has trouble written all over it.

Don Alexander
88 Posted 22/01/2019 at 23:46:07
Stan (#79), I have full respect for your sentiments but a quick recce of the size of the wallets of the owners of Man City, Chelsea and Man Utd makes it clear to me that Moshiri needed football savvyness like an alcoholic needs a drink when he bought in.

What he got instead is Horlicks at Courvoisier prices – courtesy of those who "advised" him. That'll have made him puke but unfortunately reduces him to having to buy more and more Hors, like most of the Premier League clubs.

Paul Cherrington
89 Posted 23/01/2019 at 13:02:53
Bobby #87,

I agree with you there totally. There is no way the side should be this dis-organised or badly at this point in the season. As you say, simply playing the same system that is not working over and over is crazy.

It really does make me wonder what goes on at Finch Farm every day. Too much ball work, I suspect, and not enough work on shape, fitness and organisation. I also wonder if Silva is not strict enough in terms of the players sticking to what they have been told to do when on the pitch.

This current side is so bad, I almost pine for Martinez – trust me, I couldn't stand him... so that is really saying something. I think we will get beat at Millwall who will out-fight and out-run us as our players wander around the pitch looking bored.

Stan Schofield
90 Posted 23/01/2019 at 20:39:00
Don @88:

Presumably Moshiri will have to adopt a different tack, sooner rather than later, if he wants to do damage limitation on wasting money. For this reason, it's difficult to see him sacking Silva anytime soon, unless he really means business and replaces him with a manager who has a winning track record.

Similar with players, and presumably he'll now be wary of paying over the odds for average players given what's happened thus far. Perhaps this is why Brands is now on the Board, to provide more 'football intelligence'?

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