A result to savour despite Everton's continuingly split personality

By Lyndon Lloyd 17/03/2019 60comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea

Goodison Park has had to wait a long time — far too long — to celebrate an Everton win over the current “big six”. That 4-0 hammering of Manchester City in January 2017, one that seemed at the time to herald a defining moment in Ronald Koeman’s tenure, felt like a distant memory coming into this clash against Chelsea and there was every sign in the first half today that this was going to be another afternoon of misery for the Blues faithful.

There were long periods before half time where the gulf in the two teams’ ability to retain and move the ball was verging on embarrassing — a men-against-boys exercise, it seemed only a matter of time before Maurizio Sarri’s seemingly improving outfit scored the goals that would ease them to their first victory over Everton in three games.

Indeed, had it not been for a deflection guiding Eden Hazard;s shot onto the post or some stellar work from Jordan Pickford, himself reacting to a poor day at the office at St James’s Park in laudably impressive fashion, Chelsea probably would have been comfortably on their way to three points by the halfway stage.

Everton’s vexing split personality remains, however, and having made it to the break with a clean sheet intact, it was left to Silva’s apparent half-time inspiration to spur his charges into raising their game by a significant degree early in the second period.

The result was a goal for Richarlison within five minutes of the restart and, eventually, a second scored on the follow-up from a saved spot-kick by Gylfi Sigurdsson with 18 minutes to go that reduced Chelsea to the role of beaten side long before the actual conclusion of the game.

Forced into making one change by Kurt Zouma’s inability to face his parent club and able to make another because of Seamus Coleman’s recovery from illness, Yerry Mina was drafted in to partner Michael Keane and the Irishman replaced Jonjoe Kenny at right back.

Richarlison kept his place wide on the right, André Gomes was preferred again to Morgan Schneiderlin and Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept his place in what was the expected Everton starting XI.

Playing like they were the home team, it was all Chelsea in the first 10 minutes, however, with Everton unable to really lay a glove on the visitors in the first period. Hazard jinked his way easily past Keane and forced a good save low at his near post from Pickford and the Belgian went even closer in the seventh minute when played in all too simply again, he found himself behind the defence but watched as his shot came back off the woodwork.

Gonzalo Higuain was then played in behind Mina but he scuffed his shot and it allowed Keane to hack it out of the six-yard box before Jorginho’s one-two exchange with the Argentine in the 20th minute ended with the Brazilian’s low shot being saved by Pickford.

On their fleeting forays forward, Everton had proven singularly unable to make the ball stick in the final third. Calvert-Lewin gave the ball away trying to find Bernard, Coleman passed straight to a yellow shirt instead of a blue jersey and Gueye’s attempt to find Calvert-Lewin also went astray.

A smart interception by Lucas Digne did present Calvert-Lewin with a chance to test Kepa in the Chelsea goal but his rising shot drifted over the crossbar before Gomes managed the only Everton effort on target in the first half but the keeper was equal to it.

Otherwise, Silva’s defence was worryingly open at times and with Everton generally unable to play their way out of the back or through the midfield, the ball kept coming back at them with uneasy frequency.

Chelsea, on the other hand, proved very adept at picking their way past their hosts’ high press and would turn defence into attack with lightning speed with half an hour gone but, thankfully, Pedro sliced his shot across goal and behind for a goal kick.

Meanwhile, Ross Barkley, booed with decreasing intensity as the match wore on before he was substituted in the second half, had sent a tame effort Pickford’s way before he tricked his way to the byline and cut back for a shot but made a mess of it, to the audible delight of the Goodison crowd.

Richarlison, largely anonymous to that point, was then pulled back by Marcos Alonso setting up a Sigurdsson free-kick that Calvert-Lewin couldn’t steer on target while Pedro had the last sight of goal before half time but screwed a decent chance wide after being allowed to drift across the 18-yard line unimpeded.

Whatever Silva said — or threw against the wall — at half-time seemed to have the desired effect because, having made it to half-time at 0-0, Everton emerged for the second half with a completely different posture.

Assertive and imposing from the whistle, they launched the first dangerous attack within seconds as Calvert-Lewin curled a dangerous ball behind the visitors’ defence but it was just beyond the reach of Bernard.

Seconds later, a really nice move ended with Gomes stinging Kepa’s palms with a fierce left-footed drive from the edge of the box. From that corner, Mina’s header was blocked by a defender but from another dead-ball three minutes later, Everton broke the deadlock.

Sigurdsson whipped in the corner, Calvert-Lewin’s header on goal was parried by the goalkeeper but it sat up invitingly for the alert Richarlison to head home from a couple of yards out.

The mood inside Goodison was transformed, with belief now flooding through the stands of the Grand Old Lady but there would be a brief Chelsea response before the Toffees would double their lead.

First, Alonso smashed a first-time shot into the side-netting in the 55th minute and then, after Calvert-Lewin had passed up an inviting Digne cross at one end, Higuain prompted the save of the game from Pickford with a fizzing low snapshot from 25 yards off Ngolo Kanté’s lay-off that the England goalkeeper turned away with a strong left hand.

Richarlison then sliced an ambitious half-volley over the bar before he drew the decisive penalty from Alonso with 18 minutes to go. Collecting the ball from Coleman in the Chelsea box, the Brazilian looked to drive past the Spanish football and went down under the challenge on his foot, prompting referee Anthony Taylor to point to the spot.

Sigurdsson, who has been unconvincing at times from penalties in his time at Everton, despatched his spot kick to a comfortable spot for Kepa who had guess right but the keeper could only block it straight back to the Blues’ midfielder who casually tucked the rebound away.

That effectively broke the resistance of a Chelsea side whose temperament and spirit has been under as much scrutiny as that of Everton lately. Hazard had a shot blocked, Callum Hudson-Odoi would have a powerful shot pushed over by Pickford and substitute Olivier Giroud would see an injury-time header blocked by his team-mate, Cesar Aspilicueta but it was another sub, Theo Walcott, who replaced the industrious Bernard, who would have the best chance late on.

Threaded in by Sigurdsson, the former Arsenal man perhaps under-hit his shot as he tried to guide it under Kepa and the keeper was able to keep it out.

It was just over three years ago that Roberto Martinez, facing similar criticism to Silva for a massively disappointing season, oversaw a potentially transformative victory over Chelsea by the same score line in the FA Cup.

That stirring result proved to be the death throes of a doomed regime as meek defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United were followed by humiliation in the Merseyside derby and a succession of awful performances to see out the campaign.

Silva won't be facing Liverpool again this season but with the Gunners and Red Devils due at Goodison before the current season is out, the Portuguese has a couple of big occasions to further enhance his standing with the Goodison hierarchy ahead of another important summer.

Many of the recurring issues remain — poor distribution in general and a worrying inability to pass and move the ball forward at times; the conundrum of a general a lack of supporting numbers in attack while the team often finds itself dangerously short-handed at the back when facing counter-attacks; wide open gaps in and around the back line; and a failure to perform evenly over 90 minutes.

However, more results like this and Silva may begin to turn the tide of doubt that has risen over his ability to be a long-term success at Goodison, although he will likely need to add a good deal more consistency and dynamism to his team’s game before he can truly restore the fans’ faith in him.

Reader Comments (60)

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Rick Tarleton
1 Posted 17/03/2019 at 20:45:54
It was a game we possibly didn't deserve to win, but praise today for the spirit shown.

I'm not a Richarlison fan, but the lad put in a shift. He defended and chased back continuously and still managed to pop up in their penalty area for the header. Mina and Keane also worked well.

I didn't think much of Barkley's treatment; I'd still like to know what the real story is behind his move away.

John Boon
2 Posted 17/03/2019 at 20:51:29
Obviously delighted with the score, but the split personality descriptor could be applied to the entire season. The first half was as bad as the second half was good. We were really lucky to get to half-time tied. I think very few honest Evertonians expected a second half like the one we saw,

Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues to improve and is showing the potential that he does have. I single him out because he has come in for a lot of criticism from many fans.

Actually the entire team played well in the second half and showed just what we can do. I still think we need some speedier players to add more dynamism to the team.

The game leaves me bewildered. How can a team that looks clueless for 45 minutes turn everything around after a 15-minute break? Tell me.

John Keating
3 Posted 17/03/2019 at 20:55:44
Just back home and got a smile on my face for a change, though that could be the ale!

Good summation Lyndon.

Whatever Silva said or done after one of the most atrocious halves of football for a few years, it certainly worked. Thankfully, we were lucky to go in at ni-nil half-time to give us something to aim at.

Why can't we play like that for 90-plus minutes. Once the second half, started the whole mood of the place changed. The crowd responded and players did too.

No histrionics from Pickford and what a difference. He was touch and go with Calvert-Lewin for my MotM.

Your last two paragraphs are the most telling and unfortunately we've seen a number of false dawns this season to expect great change, though fingers crossed.

Paul Birmingham
4 Posted 17/03/2019 at 21:39:10
Nice to take the knock this evening, and happy with a very good result. It started off looking foreboding but fine margins, as we say between success, a goal,and losing games.

A typical EFC tale of two halves again. But a win is a win but why is it so often this is the case? It's a game of 95 mins, and we turn up in the second half.

Hopefully this will give confidence for the Hammers next week.

Dan Kemp
5 Posted 17/03/2019 at 22:01:59
Fantastic to hear the Goodison crowd in full voice again.
Jerome Shields
6 Posted 17/03/2019 at 22:30:02
Lyndon, your second-last paragraph analysis is where the questions exist regarding Everton. But this Everton team under Silva defies analysis in their performance highs and lows. Even in performance highs and lows during a game.

Silva, I believe, will see out his existing contract, because at times he has a team that shows a lot of potential with obvious redeemable weaknesses. He also has players who are capable of good performances, though many can be irritatingly inconsistent.

At the end of this season, Brands will be able to claim he and Silva have achieved Premier League survival. The real threat of relegation, which I have pointed to recently, has been annihilated.

What's more, Everton are unpredictable and baffling to other opposition teams in the Premier League. They used to be so predictable and Silva's tactics were apparently naive. Now, no team can be sure of the Everton team they are likely to face. . .

Silva is not an inspirational manager and I doubt that the players paid any attention to what he said at half-time. His work is done quietly in the treatment rooms and on the training ground. It is based on players being self-motivated, knowing the selection criteria to play in the first team. Increasingly, players are getting the message.

I expect that there will be increasing competition for every position on the field at Everton. None of us are able to predict his team selection, even now. Even McCarthy is not running to Ireland like he used to. . .

Interesting times ahead. Brands and Silva may build something, but it's going to be a roller-coaster ride. Moshiri will see this season as a success: he may not have to pay yet another Manager off! Brands is singing off his hymnsheet, very conscious of the wages bill, and maybe Moshiri might be able to change the Board. The latter is a long shot.

There is a difference about Everton.

Jay Harris
7 Posted 17/03/2019 at 22:35:05

There are a few stories knocking about re Barkley.

One: that he felt publicly humiliated by Koeman's treatment of him.

Two: that the gangster's girlfriend he was knocking about with gave him a "get out of Liverpool" warning.

Three. Lukaku told him he would have to leave to play Champions League and get his England place back.

The only thing for sure is he screwed us out of a £35M deal and took 6 months extra wages and medical care than he should or could have done.

From feeling he should have been nurtured and developed by the club, I now feel that he stabbed the club that gave him his chance in the back.

Bill Watson
8 Posted 18/03/2019 at 02:09:07
Today's match marked a first for Richarlison. It's the first time he hasn't gone down and needed lengthy treatment for a, seemingly, minor knock. Long may it continue!!

I was surprised the Premier League and the FA didn't instigate a minutes silence for the killings in New Zealand as they did for the atrocities in Paris.

Double standards?

John Pierce
9 Posted 18/03/2019 at 02:24:44
My caution with today is marked by Chelsea's failure to have us ruined by half time. We scored two set-piece goals but barely troubled them from open play.

The first half defined by our passive inferiority complex against a side who are ageing and without Hazard firing much less potent. Our inability to pass and retain the ball is where the roots of Silva's tactical ploys fall short.

Asking a team who has maybe four at best passers of the ball, to play high tempo intense aggressive football will always leave you short. In my estimation, only Digne, Sigurdsson, Bernard & Gomes have passing range good enough.

We breakdown repeatedly going forward, it leaves us wide open in transition and unable to build pressure because we can't hold onto a pig's bladder! Walcott, Richarlison & Calvert-Lewin are all much better coming onto the ball but we insist on playing up or into them; they all wilt under contact, although Calvert-Lewin is getting there. Why play that way when a direct game maximizes your players?

I could go on. But for me Silva is trying to get players who cannot execute his style they are being set up to fail.

Alan J Thompson
10 Posted 18/03/2019 at 02:58:24
Well, we've gone from waving white flags and a coach with questionable man-management skills to him giving the players something more with their halftime cup of tea which stood this game on its head. However, we shouldn't underestimate Pickford's contribution. Let's just hope Silva can now get the team to repeat that for the full 96 minutes.

And what happened to the days when we used to give our former players a welcome back round of applause as we did to visiting keepers and any good save they made. There was really no excuse for the treatment of Barkley after his treatment by the club through Koeman, albeit I didn't expect a Jimmy Gabriel type welcome home when he came back with Southampton.

Rick Tarleton
11 Posted 18/03/2019 at 09:09:34
Jay, I know the "stories", it's just such a pity we lost a talented Evertonian who is better than any of our current midfielders.

What is it with Evertonians and local lads? Tom Davies gets stick now for the slightest mistake. I'm old enough to remember Derek Temple getting stick in the late fifties before he established himself properly in the mid-sixties.

Brian Harrison
12 Posted 18/03/2019 at 09:25:24

I think what upsets most Evertonians about Barkley is when Chelsea and Everton agreed a fee of £35 million, and after being at Chelsea for a medical, he pulled the plug on the deal. Everybody new that he would join Chelsea the following summer which he did for £15 million.

For me, he was never a top player, and despite many of his fans claiming you would see his true talent when he plays for a better team. Well, he is playing no better at Chelsea despite being with better players. Like so many lads who are outstanding from 12 to 20 but never actually push on from there.

Jerome Shields
13 Posted 18/03/2019 at 10:08:53
Barkley was a great player and would still have been for Everton, had Koeman not publically humiliated him. Throughout his serious injury, he received little support from Koeman and the fan base were kept in the dark regarding the injury's extent and the serious operation he had to go through.

There was even speculation in the press and on ToffeeWeb that he didn't want to play for Everton, throughout his recovery.

Koeman had a history of publically humiliating players, and playing politics rather than coaching, with his last Spanish club. It was the main reason he got the heave-ho at Valencia. It turned into a feud played out in the Spanish press.

Barkley never really wanted to leave Everton. He was politically forced out by a regime that backed Koeman. All was lost before Big Sam arrived.

Barkley should be treated with the utmost respect when he comes to Goodison Park. He was a good player and an Evertonian.

Jay Harris
15 Posted 18/03/2019 at 10:41:31
Totally agree Brian and despite suggestions to the contrary Barkley was treated like blue royalty for a long time even getting songs dedicated to him "We've got a diamond called Ross Barkley".

But unfortunately, like so many young lads, he didn't kick on.

Tony Everan
16 Posted 18/03/2019 at 11:36:54
Last four halves:

Great, Shite, Shite, Great...

We're half-way there by the looks of things.

Paul Curwen
17 Posted 18/03/2019 at 11:41:20
Rick... you consider Barkley to be better than Idrissa?
Jay Wood

18 Posted 18/03/2019 at 12:02:01
On Barkley, I can understand both sides of the argument.

Everton created the situation themselves under Koeman by being too laissez-faire about his contract situation which was counting down to termination without a renewal or improved contract on the table.

Koeman's 'tough love' messages, together with other events – the assault in a night club, his injury – all added to the mix.

His biggest 'crime' I guess is his refusal to transfer to Chelsea on the final day of the summer transfer window having just picked up a long term injury. He went in the following January window, but for £20 million cheaper than we could have got in August.

And Paul @ 17, it's difficult to compare different midfielders and Gueye and Barkley cannot be directly compared but, on yesterday's game, I thought Barkley was the best player in that area from both teams until he went off with a calf injury, in spite of all the boos he was getting. That shows a good mentality and maturity, IMO.

That maturity was further displayed for me when, on being substituted, he applauded all four sides of the ground. That suggests to me that, whatever drove Barkley out of the club, it wasn't the fans. His gesture was one of respect to them, in spite of the boos he received all game.

Bobby Mallon
19 Posted 18/03/2019 at 12:18:12
Just off topic, I watched Real Betis v Barca last night. I hope our new ground is like Betis's inside – great looking ground.
Martin Mason
20 Posted 18/03/2019 at 12:21:45
Great win and it shows that we have a good side in there somewhere. I wish we had never allowed Ross to go, he's one of ours and he is a very good player. I blame Koeman 100% for his public crucifixions of Ross. That man did a lot of damage to the club that will take some time to repair.

Ross can't be compared with Gana and should not be as they play different roles. Gana is the best player I've seen at Everton in many years, we must keep him.

Kevin Prytherch
21 Posted 18/03/2019 at 13:33:46
John 9 - I said something similar on a different thread.

Repeatedly in the first half, when we had the ball in defence, we had both wingers, Sigurdsson and Calvert Lewin very high up the pitch, with both midfielders deep. This meant a succession of sideways passes before an inevitable 20/30 yard attempt of a pass forwards that would be cut out. We then looked vulnerable because we effectively had 4 attacking players now out of the game. When turned over, we didn’t transition into a defensive unit quickly enough.

It was similar when we were defending, we often had 10 players behind the ball, then when we got possession we only had one outlet, which was Calvert Lewin. We didn’t get the players transitioning into attack quick enough.

We would either lose the ball through a quick forward hopeful punt, or retain possession sideways before losing it with a 20/30 yard hopeful ball to players who were too far forward by this point, or just too far from our defence.

In the second half Richarlison made a massive difference by dropping quickly into midfield when we lost the ball and being available in midfield when we had the ball in defence. Sigurdsson and Bernard did to some extent, but Richarlison was the catalyst for this in my opinion. He was back to being the Richarlison he was for the first couple of months of this season.

Sam Hoare
22 Posted 18/03/2019 at 14:33:08
Yes, Kevin, despite yesterday's result and second half performance I continue to have doubts about this formation and implementation.

To often we look exposed in defense but lacking threat in attack. As you say I think a lot of it is about speed of transition. And movement as well, certainly when attacking. Calvert-Lewin has got to learn to run those channels behind full backs as he did at the start of the second half to create that Gomes chance. He's got the pace to get into space and the strength to hold the ball up. But too often he seems to get high balls up the middle which even if he wins he has no strike partner to profit from.

I also think that we are too slow in the middle. Sigurdsson and Gomes especially take a while to react and get either forwards or backwards. Gueye is able to cover for them a lot and I think we will really miss him if he goes, a definite contender for Player of the Year in my opinion. As silky as Gomes can look at times I find myself hoping we swerve his transfer and try to find a ball- playing midfielder who is a bit quicker around the park.

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 18/03/2019 at 15:41:08
Just as an aside issue, The Daily Mirror stated this morning that we have missed the last six penalties at home, surely that cannot be true?
Sean Patton
24 Posted 18/03/2019 at 15:51:31

I see what you are saying about Gomes but it all depends on the price for me if we can get him for £25M or under, which is the same as Klaassen cost, then it is a no-brainer. He doesn't have to be an automatic first choice but someone of his undoubted class would only benefit the squad.

Sam Hoare
25 Posted 18/03/2019 at 16:12:14
Sean, it depends on how much we have to spend I think. I suspect that the purse strings will be tightening a little this Summer and moving forwards as focus turns to the stadium. If thats true its debateable whether we can afford to spend £25m on someone who's not going to be an automatic starter or pretty darned close.

Perhaps the next month will be revealing but my worry is that Gomes is someone who has some great moments on the ball whilst not being solid defensively (he got outmuscled a few times yesterday) and not getting enough goals or assists. I also think we just need some more natural athleticism in the middle if we are to persist with Sigurdsson, which I think we have to.

Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 18/03/2019 at 16:16:45
I'd also love to know how many penalties Anthony Taylor has given to Everton or their opponents in the games that he has reffed us down the years?
Steve Ferns
27 Posted 18/03/2019 at 16:21:00
Sam, I keep going back to Silva's Sporting side. They had a 4-3-3 similar to Liverpool's system:

Gk: Rui Patricio (Wolves & Portugal)
Rb: Cedric Soares (formerly of Southampton)
Lb: Jefferson (Silva brought him from Estoril - great left foot)
Cb: Mauricio (6'1" journeyman who was often injured but started the big games)
Cb: Paulo Oliveira (6'2" centre-back who's now in Spain)
(sub Naby Sarr 6'5" monster Silva bought who since has ended up at Charlton)

DM: William Carvalho (of Betis)
MC: Joao Mario (of Inter - was at West Ham last year)
MC: Adrien Silva (of Leicester - on loan at Monaco)

LW: Nani (the Man Utd one)
CF: Islam Slimani (the Leicester flop)
RW: Andre Carillo (Benfica - but Silva had him on loan at Watford)

So, we know the front three. Nani is skilful, Carillo is fast and Slimani is big and strong. The were a proper front three in that they stayed up.

My main point is over the midfield. Carvalho sat in, barely moved. You know the guy, the size of a wardrobe. Sure, he usually just taps it sideways for an easy pass, and can appear quite one paced and lazy. However, he has an excellent range of passing and can really ping it around.

William Carvalho

Then you have Joao Mario and Adrien Silva. Neither very big. Neither defensive players, but they worked well together going box to box and getting stuck in.

Adrien Silva during his time at Leicester
Joao Mario

Whilst none of them are past 30, I am not advocating buying any of them. It's a rough guide to what Silva would want. The main two in point didn't do very well for Leicester or West Ham. However, they are skilful little players who get stuck in and battle, with the safety of a holding player sweeping up behind.

Gomes would fit this mould, although not little. He does not fit the Carvalho position. Silva is turning Gueye into one of these types of players and he progresses every game, with another glimpse of flair against Chelsea. The issue is Sigurdsson who just cannot fit that system. I'm hardly his biggest fan, but with 12 goals, a hand in most of the good moves on Sunday, I have to concede that he's one of our best players. If you dropped Sigurdsson and put Schneiderlin instead. Playing him behind Gueye and Gomes, then it's more like that Sporting midfield. It just likes that speed and precision of passing. I think that unless someone comes in for Sigurdsson, he will play a big part for us next year as well as the rest of this, but (if he can keep the job long enough) he will eventually shift into the 4-3-3. Richarlison / Calvert-Lewin / Bernard are certainly a match for that Sporting front three.

This summer is all about sorting out that midfield and giving the side more balance and protection on the counter-attack. At least in my eyes anyway.

Stewart Oakes
28 Posted 18/03/2019 at 16:37:14
Dave @23, sadly it's correct:

Sigurdsson vs Chelsea, Watford & Fulham

Rooney vs Brighton, Swansea & West Ham

3 of these we scored from the rebounds.

Bill Gienapp
29 Posted 18/03/2019 at 16:59:17
Against Swansea, I know Rooney missed a penalty right before halftime that Calvert-Lewin scored on the rebound, but didn't Rooney then convert a second penalty attempt later in the match?
Brian Williams
30 Posted 18/03/2019 at 17:04:14
Jay #18.

There's no way of knowing for sure, but the feeling in and around me was that Barkley's action of clapping all sides of the stadium was one of sarcasm rather than respect.

Bearing in mind the manner of his departure and some of his comments since, it's quite probable that was the case.

Tony Everan
31 Posted 18/03/2019 at 17:13:02
Dave, Stewart,

It's time to review the penalty taker.

I just can't watch Sigurdsson take them, he doesn't look 100% confident to me. Too many misses or rebound jobs have planted the seeds of doubt.

How about Digne, he could be a candidate? Does anyone know if he has had the duty in the past?

Steve Ferns
32 Posted 18/03/2019 at 17:13:26
Brian, he did it BEFORE the game kicked off too. He ran out the tunnel and clapped all sides, despite the boos ringing out.
Rob Halligan
33 Posted 18/03/2019 at 18:30:34
Brian and Steve. When we played Chelsea away, Barkley came down towards the corner where we were to warm up, and got all the "There's only one greedy bastard" song thrown at him. I think he was kneeling down on one knee and started clapping the Everton fans. It was definitely done in a sarcastic manner.
Jay Wood

34 Posted 18/03/2019 at 18:39:30
Brian @ 30. I did wonder if it was sarcasm on Barkley's part, but as he was dead-pan as he did it, as you say, nobody but the player himself can know for sure.

That he did it before a ball was even kicked as Steve @ 32 mentions rather reinforces my own personal belief: he was being sincere, signalling to the fans his respect and gratitude for their support, that his leaving of the club wasn't down to the supporters.

He is and I'm sure will always be an Evertonian at heart, having joined the junior ranks aged 11, spending more than half his life – 13 years at the club – before moving on.

No doubt he had mates and family in the crowd at Goodison yesterday. Impressively, he was unfazed by the reception he got.

I'm giving the lad the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Rick Tarleton
35 Posted 18/03/2019 at 19:23:16
Paul, I don't think Barkley and Gueye are directly comparable, but I've been banging on in this forum for a few weeks about Silva needing a four man midfield, and I'd have loved to see Barkley with Gueye as the defensive cover and Barkley and Gomes in front and Sigurdsson as a number ten.
Sam Hoare
36 Posted 18/03/2019 at 19:52:43
Steve @27

I think there may be a reason that Silva and Joao Mario did not quite make it in the Premier League. And why the tactics adopted by Silva at Sporting may not necessarily work at Everton. The pace is much quicker, the game more physical.

Even technicians such as David Silva have had to bulk up a bit and learn to fight for everything whilst moving quickly. His namesake Bernardo has covered the most ground in a single match of any player this season.

I agree that the balance is not right but part of that in my opinion is because we lack the physical aspect. I'm still on the fence about Gomes but part of me hopes we go for more of a Doucore-esque option; someone able to dominate physically whilst being decent on the ball too. I think Gomes has it in him but I'm not sure he's got the fight.

Mike Berry
37 Posted 18/03/2019 at 19:56:42
The 2nd half cannot be allowed to gloss over our play in the first. Why do we need words at half-time for us to play in the second?

The team is crying out for a real "up and at 'em" leader on the pitch.

Tony Everan
38 Posted 18/03/2019 at 20:10:20
Sam H,

I agree fully with all that, I'm unsure about Gomes too, saying that I thought he played his best game for a while yesterday. He's got class but has he got the fight in him, that last 5% that makes a player a winner? For £30M-£40M there maybe alternatives out there .

Centre mid will be an interesting one in the summer . Gana may have been promised his move to PSG, Gomes goes back to Barca, Schneiderlin and McCarthy may move on.

Bob Parrington
39 Posted 19/03/2019 at 01:32:47
Possibly two things we'll never know the answer to have been on my mind since the game.

1. Was Barkley being genuine or sarcastic? Opinion is split on here but seems heavily weighted toward "sarcastic". I'd like to think it was a genuine gesture to the Goodison crowd... but

2. If we had come out of the traps in the first half as we did in the second half, would we still have won?

Half-time talks: – Sarri, "Okay, guys, you're doing a good job, opening them up, should already be 2 or 3 up – keep on doing the same and we'll score a few and win".

Silva – "What the Fuck are you guys doing? Drink ya tea that ya don't deserve and get back on that pitch and give your supporters what they deserve – a damn good effort and a win!"

Who knows?

Jerome Shields
40 Posted 19/03/2019 at 02:52:47
Gomes for me is not fully fit. A long lay off from playing and injury prior to playing for Everton has taken its toll on him. Prior to the February break he was gone, but the break revived him. But he is still not a 90 minute player.

Schneiderlin not replacing him against Newcastle was a mistake, but Silva got it right against Chelsea. I am of the opinion it should be the other way round. Gomes subbing Schneiderlin later in the game.

Schneiderlin is better for defensive shape and keeps Sigurdsson in the game. Gomes can be effectively hounded, but in a more open game is a good link man. If the team is playing well he can really blossom but, in a dig-out situation, Everton need Schneiderlin. I think it's better to have Schneiderlin on to prevent a dig out.

I don't think we have seen the best of Gomes yet. He is doing well under Silva, who seems to allow players to find their own level, building themselves up, and if they work with him they will get playing.

This may give ToffeeWebbers anxiety, but they are hardened by years of suffering.

Jerome Shields
41 Posted 19/03/2019 at 03:18:27
Steve #25

A interesting analysis of Silva at Sporting. I think there is a trending of Silva allowing players to evolve into roles and tinkering with different players to suit his system.

Sigurdsson going missing is a problem for Silva and the use of Schneiderlin or Gomes is trying to replicate the Carvalho role. In my opinion Sigurdsson would be better coming from deeper to keep him more in the game or Gomes and Schneiderlin pushing higher would sort things out, but then you may sacrifice support for the back and forward line.

I would prefer a more mobile midfield, rather than fixed positions, giving the pace in transition that Sam # 22 says is lacking.

Gueye is where Silva would like him to be in performance.

Jerome Shields
42 Posted 19/03/2019 at 08:44:20
Bob #39,

Silva didn't say much at half time.

"It's scoreless, do your best this half. "

The players where thinking that anyway, including the subs. Some of them didn't hear him.

Steve Ferns
43 Posted 19/03/2019 at 09:02:12
Sam, Adrien Silva was the one who signed 10 seconds too late and had to wait 6 months to be registered to play. He never really got going after that. If you watched the highlight reel, all at Leicester, then he looks top class, so he still had his moments regardless. He's also looking excellent for Monaco. He's the experienced head those young players need.

Joao Mário also looked great in flashes for West Ham, but let's not forget who the manager was and Joao Mário is hardly the kind of central midfielder Davie Moyes likes. Let's not forget, he played the similar Mikel Arteta on the wing for most of his career!

I think Joao Mário could thrive in the premier league with the right midfielders alongside him, ie someone tall, strong, and can get their foot in.

The point is, Silva wants a front three, rather than a midfield five. This means we need that midfield anchor. It'd be interesting to see if Schneiderlin could sit in behind Sigurdsson and Gueye. So not alongside Gueye with Sigurdsson in behind the striker, but Gueye and Sigurdsson level, and Sigurdsson a significant 10 or 20 yards deeper than normal where he can see more of the ball. This would answer the question as to whether Sigurdsson could play a 4-3-3 and mean we'd only need to sign a holding midfielder rather than worry about changing the whole midfield.

Martin Mason
44 Posted 19/03/2019 at 10:00:15
Brian@30 I saw Ross's actions as he left the field as I saw his actions during the game as he was crudely booed at all touches. That was good grace and manners.
Phil Sammon
45 Posted 19/03/2019 at 10:28:13
Martin @44,

I fully agree. Barkley seemed entirely sincere when he clapped all four sides of the ground.

I was a bit shocked with the level of vitriol, to be honest. I hold no grudge with the lad.

Martin Nicholls
46 Posted 19/03/2019 at 11:20:23
My own view was that Barkley was being sarcastic; however, who knows? What surprises me is that others were "shocked" by the reception he got.

The lad was party to an arrangement that ensured that as well as EFC paying his wages for an extra 4 months, his transfer fee was reduced from a reported £35million to £15million – a net loss to the Club of £20million that could have gone a long way toward signing the type of quality player we all crave.

Why then the "shock" that many Evertonians at the match resented his actions and let him know it? For the record, I didn't join in the booing and wish Barkley was still with us.

James Flynn
47 Posted 19/03/2019 at 12:00:51
Ross wasn't party to anything. His hamstring exploded. There was zero chance he was going to pass Chelsea's physical. The question would be how dumb an agent did he have to let him even fly down to London for the physical.

Ross running down his contract and low selling fee were just two of a variety of fuck-ups by the front office. And not remotely close to the worst ones.

Martin Mason
48 Posted 19/03/2019 at 12:06:03
Martin, none of us were party to what went on and as such we should really not base firm conclusions on what is only opinion. There is no evidence that he did anything malicious or deliberate and I for one don't believe that he did.

Having said that, Koeman (and the club) totally mismanaged the situation and publicly humiliated Ross like the buffoon that he is. If Ross did what he did to get his own back against Koeman then could we blame him?

As it was within the grasp of the Club management to have sorted out the situation with Ross, and I believe that part of the problem was parity of pay, then for me the blame is 100% with the club. I do respect that others see it differently but I'd hope that we'd treat him fairly. Hopefully, the truth will out.

James Gardner
49 Posted 19/03/2019 at 12:34:51
Steve @43, where do you stand on playing Sigurdsson as a “false” 9 in the 4-3-3 system? I think with a trio of Schneiderlin Gueye and Gomes would add more balance, while keeping Siggy (and his goals) in the team.
Martin Mason
50 Posted 19/03/2019 at 12:53:14
James @49

The real problem is not that we don't have good players but that we don't have the players to play Silva's 4-3-3. for 4-3-3 to work you have one defensive midfielder not the two that Silva seems wed to playing. Gana picks himself, he is amongst the best in the world as the 4-3-3 defensive midfielder.

The other gaps we have to stop us playing 4-3-3 well is that you need a number 9, Lukaku was perfect, we have no replacement. You also need two wingers who can attack and get back to defend and we're nearly there with that. You also need specialist full backs who also attack and defend in tandem with the winger.

Most importantly you have to press the opposition which is what we didn't do in the first half against Liverpool and Chelsea and did do in the second. In the first half we went through the motions without getting close, in the second halves we played with intensity and this is essential.

We have mismatches in personnel that stop us playing 4-3-3 well. Sigurdsson is not a false 9 or a creative midfield player (he would be fine in 4-4-2) so a waste of time, Schneiderlin and Gomes aren't good enough to be the creative midfielders essential in 4-3-3 so we really need 3 new players.

One of them I think we have in Tom Davies and one in Calvert-Lewin. We then need to learn how to play with the intensity that is needed to make 4-3-3 work. Watch Liverpool.

Tony Abrahams
51 Posted 19/03/2019 at 13:09:40
Some good points, Martin, but it's not just about the press imo, mate. It's also about what you do when you have the ball, and Everton lacked movement and enough players really wanting to get on the ball during the first half on Sunday.

I've read some people say that Ross Barkley was the best midfielder on the pitch during the first half on Sunday but I wasn't convinced personally because, although he's got talent, he strolls around too much instead of really trying to impose himself on the game.

Derek Knox
52 Posted 19/03/2019 at 14:22:14
Jay @ 7,

Yes, reason number two you gave, is the one that I have heard on more than one occasion, and when you think reasonably, it is the most plausible. I remember Barkley saying himself in an interview, when asked about his decision to leave, that it was not football related, and that he had to get away for 'personal reasons'.

I used to like Barkley, but at times he was most infuriating to watch – he would run with the ball beat a couple of the opposition, then either lay it off to Harvey the invisible rabbit, or backheel it to no-one. He was a good player, but not a great player.

I think a lot of resentment towards him stems from the Transfer situation, he publicly declared his love for Everton, then shortly after pulled out of the agreed £35M deal, only to sign 6 months later, losing Everton £20M. Whether this was totally down to himself, or one of these (clever) greedy agents ill-advising him is, and probably always will be, a matter of conjecture, but the end result will never change.

Getting back to our schizophrenic displays, I would like to think that the penny has eventually dropped, but at the same time, being realistic enough to recognise that we haven't actually performed well in two consecutive halves of football yet.

Like many have mentioned, but for the volte-face performance of Jordan in the first half, and we managed to go in on level terms at the break, I doubt we would have played the we did, had we been 1 or 2 goals down, again conjecture.

Let's just hope the International break doesn't affect us too much, and we can carry on the good work at West Ham.

Martin Mason
53 Posted 19/03/2019 at 15:59:29
Tony @51, for sure.

I believe that the key thing in 4-3-3 is the dynamic transition from defence to attack via two creative midfielders and, as you say, it needs movement from the front 3 and the full backs. What good sides do with 4-3-3 (as we did in 1970 and Liverpool do now when allowed) is that you quickly overwhelm the defenders.

I guess my point is we don't have the midfielders to do it although I think Tom Davies could be one who can. to be good a 4-3-3 you have to really believe in it too because if you don't make it work you can be overwhelmed by counter-attack when you lose the ball.

Maybe we just aren't good enough to play it and we should just do what every other limited team do.

Jay Harris
54 Posted 19/03/2019 at 17:57:53

Barkley was always like that which is what frustrated Koeman.

The lad has all the skill in the world but doesn't have the application — nor a footballing brain. He always seems unsure of what he should be doing or where he should be.

Steve Ferns
55 Posted 19/03/2019 at 18:17:24
Martin, Gueye cannot play as the defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3. He can't sit and he can't pass. He has to play in a 4-2-3-1 alongside a passing midfielder or in a 4-3-3 ahead of a defensive midfielder.

Sigurdsson cannot play in a 4-4-2 unless you play him off the striker and doing so turns it into a 4-2-3-1. Sigurdsson and Gueye make it a 4-2-3-1. There's no other formation to play if those two are on the pitch.

John Pierce
56 Posted 19/03/2019 at 18:19:46
As per usual Barkley got rave reviews from the press, long form and radio. He prompted and prodded at Everton but nothing told me he has changed; however, the calibre of player around him has.

He offered little or no penetration, barely carried the ball, that has been firmly removed from his game at Chelsea. Sadly that was imo his greatest asset. Very few dribblers in that role nowadays. Midfielders are often continuity, water carriers for the wide play makers.

The event that is Messi has naturally created a glut of players who create from the side, diminishing the role of the winger, high emphasis on movement, attracting defenders to you and less on contact. It's created a strange balance between the creative playmaker and the scoring winger. Richarlison a good example.

Looping back to Everton the thread has touched on Bernard & Richarlison's work rate. I'm afraid they're there to impact the game. Our balance on midfield, especially the lack of good passers, results in their performance being diluted. Too much tracking back and covering because we lose the ball.

If Silva is to cling on, it's midfield where he needs to invest.

Steve Ferns
57 Posted 19/03/2019 at 18:29:01
JP, it's more to do with how modern coaches defend, deny and exploit space. It's not Messi-inspired but more Guardiola-inspired. Teams defend narrow and so there's more space outside.
John Pierce
58 Posted 19/03/2019 at 18:48:40
Steve, I think that has some merit. Lots of top sides defend very narrow. But our wingers, let's call them that for the sake of debate (it's a whole other thing) are often maligned because of the deficiencies of others. Surely the form of any of them – Bernard, Walcott, Lookman and Richarlison – is affected by the huge imbalance in the middle of the park?

I think without the ball we are getting better definitely that narrow more compact feel since the 17-day break; however, when we cannot retain the ball those creative players, the impact players are starved and reduced to nothing, this is very obvious at home when we are trying to dictate a game. An important factor why I think we start poorly at home?

We've had a back and forth over Wolves, I lucked out when Palace beat them just as we debated whose squad was better, they have been superb since then. They are too conservative for my tastes; however, we will see if Nuno can change that next year. Whilst I do think we have a better squad, Moutinho would change this team in an instant. Tempo, and control, not one of our midfielders has that quality.

But I insist midfield is where the problem lies.

Phil Sammon
59 Posted 19/03/2019 at 19:40:29
Steve #57,

Why do you have to present your opinion as fact? It comes across as very arrogant.

Tony Abrahams
60 Posted 19/03/2019 at 19:48:34
That's a good question, Martin, about us maybe not being good enough to play the system.

John P has often said that Silva has tried to run before he can walk. I like what he's trying to do (except for how open we are defensively) but I've never understood the 4-3-3 system, Martin, probably because it went missing through all of my footballing years.

Liverpool play it very effectively, but there will always be space in behind the full-back and good teams should find a way to exploit this so hopefully the bastards will fall short in the end!

I also think that wide players, are only as good as their midfielders, and it's possibly why Klopp prefers to play without a real playmaker because he just wants massive work rate coming from the middle of the park?

Bob Parrington
61 Posted 20/03/2019 at 06:10:23
Steve #57,

Right! I used this philosophy when I was coaching successfully (amateur) back in the '90s. Defend narrow and attack wide with rapid transition preferably. Worked well for us, at least!

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