We thought that Silva and Brands did us proud back last July and August, signing two ex Barcelona players, one of Brazil’s rising stars, one of Brazil’s most coveted midfielders, and two excellent loanees, and they also managed to keep hold of Lookman. On the outgoing side, they shifted two players permanently (Funes Mori and Robles) and to temporarily move on, a huge number players who will never cut it at Everton, on my last count 11, with a further 2 gone out today.
Some may argue Vlasic is worth another go, but I don’t think he’ll get a chance or even want it. The rest have had their chances over the years to show either with Everton or on loan at other clubs and frankly none will be offered another go.
So where did that leave us? Well, we left with a squad of about 25-28, a mix of older players coming to the end of their careers, a number in the prime age group of 24-29, and a fair number of youngsters (20- to 24-year-olds) who we thought would have the potential to break through. A much more, balanced, exciting, and technically gifted squad.
I suspect, 6 months on we now realise that a few of the youngsters will not make it, and with Holgate and Dowell out today, probably for good, Davies is struggling big time to convince Silva he can do it, Calvert-Lewin and Kenny just have to deliver in the next month or so, and injury prone Lookman if and when he gets a run a games to prove his worth. We seem to have lost Baningime on the way. In fact, I’m not sure at all that Silva actually wants most of this lot, with the possible exception of Lookman and maybe just maybe Calvert-Lewin.
In the prime age, group Walcott, Tosun, Niasse, and Schneiderlin, are struggling to impose themselves on Silva and they could also be on their way out before the 2019-20 season, and the 3 older players Jagielka, Baines and maybe Coleman are coming to the end of their Everton careers.
This leaves us with a possible Premiership level squad of Pickford, Mina, Keane, Digne, Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Bernard, Lookman, Calver-Lewin and Gueye only. There are no guarantees that we will get Gomes or Zouma even if we want them. So squad wise I still feel we need at least 4 real quality players, a right back, a midfield dynamo, a wide man, and a goal scoring machine and on top of that at least another 4-5 good squad players.
The pace, the frequency of games in the Premier League means you have to rotate and you need a top squad of about 18 players, the rest being fringe or good youngsters. Mr Brands has a huge task on his hands over the next 2 years or so.
Silva, as he said he would, has produced a side which on its day and on top form can give anyone a game, there is only Spurs who completely dominated us, whilst we put up reasonable shows at Liverpool, Chelsea, and even created numerous chance at Man City, Man Utd and Arsenal.
Our problem is that we can’t win the bread and butter games, the games you should be winning even with mediocre performances. We can’t keep clean sheets, we can’t score, we can’t create, we can’t cross the ball to one of our own players. There is a worry, creeping in, that Silva can’t change his approach, he can’t change tactics to adjust to what is happening in a game. His substitutions always seem to be throw on 2-3 attackers and hope for the best.
I feel that he is totally dismayed with the players left to him, with the exception of Pickford, Keane, Gueye and Sigurdsson and he wants somehow to find a way of accommodating all his new players, Mina, Zouma, Digne, Gomes, Bernard and Richarlison – which he can’t.
It’s a bit like Koeman with Klaassen, Sigurdsson and Rooney all vying for that No 10 role, we now have 3 good centre-halves, 3 potential centre midfielders in Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, but seriously lacking down the right-hand side, a real midfield box to box player and of course a goalscorer. He has been brave enough to drop Mina for some poor displays, yet continues with Richarlison who is having a hard time at the moment. It’s very early to judge; we really do need to give them time, I suspect probably at least 18 months to 2 years.
The Goodison Park crowd, as stated on National radio this morning are an unforgiving crowd who tend to quickly display their anger even to the youngsters. After nearly 25 years of not winning anything, the fans and crowd are restless and find it difficult to give any “project” time. What we need is some tangible proof that we are developing, we can compete at times with the top group, we can get back to a fortress Goodison and we can also win away from home fairly regularly.
How are we doing after 6 months? I’d say 6 out of 10. There have been signs that Brands can really find us players, that Silva can produce football that is a step up, and we can hold our own at times; but, on the negative side, we haven’t got our Fortress Goodison back yet and it’s our inability to win against those teams all around us.
If Silva can get 4-5 away wins in the rest of the season, if we can come away from Goodison with pride the way we have taken on the Top 5 sides which have to come to us and just hopefully get us to Wembley for a FA Cup Semi-Final, or even better, the Final, then we can start to believe we are developing.