Have a Plan and Stick To It

by   |   04/01/2019  7 Comments  [Jump to last]

The last month hasn’t been pleasant, has it? The last time I saw us play in the flesh was Newcastle at home. My brother maintains, as do many on this site, that the derby damaged our confidence. I disagree because of how we came back after the international break.

Cardiff City at home was a day when we were really out of sorts. That day we were up against a poor side who worked hard but did try getting forward (cluelessly when the ball was on the floor) but still they tried thus meaning we didn’t have the banks to block us like with Palace at home. Yet we made hard work of it and there were too many 5-out-of-10 performances.

We’d gone into the international break with a comfortable win over Brighton, a narrow loss at Old Trafford whereby the officialdom robbed us, and a point at Stamford Bridge. Not bad form at all and we were playing stylishly.

Yet, at home to Cardiff, we were mystifyingly poor and despite a spirited performance in the derby, we still lost with some decisions (officials and our own goalkeeper) going against us. Newcastle at home was an inept display and, since then, our form has been embarrassing.

The truth is that the bad decisions from the officials keep coming. We’ve had them from the opening day to Spurs at home. Someone needs to look at that because, when goals are given like the one against Arsenal, or Delph doesn’t see red for his ludicrous challenge – it looks decidedly dodgy.

Marco Silva cannot control that aspect of the game. But the one thing he can control is having a plan and sticking to it. And that is what I am pleading for him to do.

After a mixed start to the season, by early November, I thought we were making steady progress with an intelligent and modern brand of football. But all the time, one thing was bugging me. Why was Silva changing our line up so often? I’ll throw out some of my quibbles. He names Tom Davies as captain one week but then he is benched afterwards for two months.


re we a back four or a back three with wing backs? I’m damned if I know.

Do we play with a target man (because when Calvert-Lewin starts, we sort of are) or a set of decoys in the shape of Bernard, Sigurdsson, Walcott and Richarlison?

It filters down. Before his three goals, I was saying we should drop Digne for Baines. Why? Because his delivery was shocking. I now realise he and Coleman have had the same problem. They don’t hit the early cross as they don’t have a natural striker to aim for. Instead, they go to the line where they can be cut off. Marco seems though to feel obliged to play those he and Brands brought in so Gomes and Mina are getting crowbarred in even if they have a shocker.

As for why we’ve had these frustrating drop-offs in matches, it’s because so many of our players are still learning each other. Look at an average line-up of ours and half have had four different coaches in the last season and a half. The rest were parachuted in during last summer. Can any of our centre-halves say they’ve had a regular partner in the last 18 months? Or can Gueye say the same?

I wasn’t sure of what the fuss over Silva was during our pursuit him at Watford and the insistence to bring him once we’d let go of our previous coach. A certain Steve Ferns, who I suspect I am of a similar age to, was clearly in the Pro-Silva camp. He provides wonderful analysis and went out on a limb about Silva. I remained lukewarm but hoped Steve had a point.

The one thing that I remain comfortable about with Silva is that he sets us up to attack and lines us up accordingly. My problem with Koeman was that he didn’t seem to have a plan past the half-way line. It looked like Barkley and Lukaku were just there to work it out between themselves. Allardyce was similar. I like that Silva coaches our players to get the ball forward quickly and through the channels, to have centre-halves rampaging through into midfield and to have full backs overlap. But there’s been too much chopping and changing.

So, Marco, over to you. Changing formations mid-match or game to game is natural in the modern game but for the time being, when all these strangers are assimilating, just have a plan and stick to it. You arguably have a free pass this season and Evertonians will forgive you if they can see what the plan is.

At the moment, you are starting to look like a latter-day Ronald Koeman and we know how that went. The tinkering can begin later when this set of players know each other better. Currently, it is losing us a lot of points.

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Reader Comments (7)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 05/01/2019 at 09:07:20
I don’t think Silva has a plan he sticks to because he doesn’t fully rate the players he has at his disposal, which is one of the reasons he doesn’t do using more than about 14 players.

First of all I thought the initial decision to make Tom Davies captain was a very very bizarre one.

No matter what I think of Davies as a player, even if I thought he was a major asset at this moment (which I don’t) he is NOT captain material.

Second of all, I don’t think Silva knows his best defence, he’s chopping and changing from Mina to Zouma and Keane and you can’t get a settled team with that.

He can’t be happy with Coleman’s poor form but likewise does he completely trust Jonjoe Kenny to play 20 games and get a run?

It’s not happening on the wing for Walcott so why not mix it up and play Walcott as a forward down the middle in certain games, it might actually take a bit of pressure off Walcott himself and I think he’s far more capable than Tosun and DCL of making telling forward runs.

Tosun and DCL themselves are just not up to it and I don’t think regardless of how much time you give them they are going to make much difference to what we have already seen.

Calvert-Lewin just doesn’t make defences work hard enough, doesn’t stretch games, and although it’s a thankless task (ask Andy Johnson or Marcus Bent) playing as lone striker, you need to be willing to make many runs that may lead to nothing.

DCL doesn’t get dirty enough for me, defences have too easy a time against the lad.

Tosun is even less mobile and seeing him come on resembles throwing a chicken amongst wild lions, defences just gobble him up.

I’d like to see Silva mix it up at some point when Lookman is back, start him right, Richarlison left, Walcott in the forward position.

Or Bernard right and Richarlison left with Lookman on the bench etc.

I also thought Baines could have maybe played against Brighton or Leicester to give Digne a breather.

This is what we talk about with having a Plan B.

It’s apparent that we probably won’t be signing many key players this month so rather than sticking with certain areas of the pitch which is like flogging a dead horse, Silva needs to start mixing it up with the players he has at his disposal.

Otherwise we are becoming predictable to the point where the football is actually quite boring at times with aimless passes.

Stan Schofield
2 Posted 05/01/2019 at 14:58:28
I'm no tactician, but up to and including the derby, it was clear to me that Silva's tactics were good. The performance in the derby was particularly good IMO.

As you say, quite of few of the refereeing decisions have looked very dodgy. That, coupled with quite a number of individual errors, and failing to capitalise on many chances created by high-pressing and entertaining football, could well have been major factors in our drop in form since the beginning of December. The particular major error in the derby might well have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

It's really a case of getting back on track, showing some mental resilience. The latter has been lacking at Everton for a long time, but it's obviously something that Silva has to deal with.

Mick Roberts
3 Posted 05/01/2019 at 16:11:50
I was lucky to have seen Everton under Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall. To watch this side now is depressing beyond belief...

Let's not hear any more of giving this joke of a manager time – a good manager changes a system when it does not work. Zonal marking has never worked yet Silva refuses to change it, therefore we are consistently vulnerable.

I did not like how Moyes lied about Man Utd or how he played us against the top four but he improved players and would be a giant step up from this clown.

Karen Mason
4 Posted 06/01/2019 at 10:48:51
Some good points made, Andre, and I wholeheartedly, with the bad calls we have had from officials. The crux of your argument is that Silva is chopping and changing. Then a post by Mick at (3) to say, if it doesn't work – change it!! So, Silva can't win, no matter what he does!!

I too was around to watch Catterick and the legend that is Howard Kendall manage our club; I have great memories of those times but prefer to try to look forward rather than hankering back to our glory days.

Before the derby game, I do believe there was much to be positive about. There was certainly evidence of what Silva was trying to achieve in terms of style of play. At times, passages of play were indeed very entertaining – for me, anyway. Inconsistency was the downfall of Spurs and the RS in the early days of their current Managers. It took time and some squad shuffling and 6 transfer windows in the case of the RS, to get where they are today. I choose those clubs as the benchmark, as their managers – at the time of their appointments – did not have a proven track record of winning trophies here or in their previous clubs.

To play Devil's Advocate – isn't it reasonable to suppose, in today's game, with the physical demands, number of games etc, that we should use a full squad and work towards being able to interchange players without it being a risk to bring on a player? I know you can argue with whether we have the quality to do that right now, but it is a consideration.

And is it not a decent manager's job to try to do the best with the players he does currently have, rather than moaning about what he needs. For example, Gomes, who has been a ray of sunshine – was clearly very tired during the Christmas & New Year period. The games he had played before, he covered every blade of grass and was involved in everything we did. It was clear he needed to be rested.

I personally think Silva tinkers with things because he is still finding his best partnerships across the park and is perhaps trying to work with a squad, rather than 11 players. He has had a run of games naming an unchanged side but, when it was not bringing what he was looking for, he changed it.

He will not please all of the people, all of the time... but, if we see a return to the form and performance we showed earlier this season, nobody can argue that he has not improved and progressed things at our club.

Andrew Clare
5 Posted 06/01/2019 at 11:27:52
Patience is the key. I too was lucky enough to see the Catterick and Kendall teams but football is completely different today. It is a squad game and if a club has a weak squad then it will not compete.

We have a weak squad. I am confident that, when 3 or 4 more windows have passed, things will be much better. Give Silva time and we will reap the rewards.

Jim Bennings
8 Posted 06/01/2019 at 22:31:48
Moyes was a good fit for where Everton were as a club between 2002 and 2009 but the final four years, when the bar had been raised again, it was apparent the glass ceiling would never be broken.

I don't think Moyes with loads of money would have been as good as the David Moyes that required thriftiness so there's no certainty that he'd be better than Silva anyway.

It's about time players started earning their stripes on the pitch.

David Pearl
9 Posted 10/01/2019 at 12:53:56
Patience is a hard thing to have when you watch a game and can plainly see what isn't working... then you wait and wait and realise that the manager doesn't have a clue how to change things mid-game. If Plan A doesn't work, his only Plan B is to throw on all his attackers regardless of the balance.

I know it's early days but he has a lot of work to do. People are calling for a cull in the summer, a huge clear out. How are we going to do that when we needed to do that last year but managed really to hide that we couldn't by sending them away on loans. We still have Sandro, Mirallas, Besic, and Bolasie all to come back. A few younger players too that probably won't make it. Another lot to get rid of this summer... Moshiri needs to hire a director of giving players the boot (the cleaner) – it's a specialist job.

Lots to do off the pitch. Lots to do on it. First things first Silva has had time now to assess things. I think, and I've said this all season, he needs to play 3 at the back, get our forwards to play narrow so they don't have to chase the length of the pitch covering for Coleman. Make us more compact.

If he doesn't play that formation then it has to be 4-3-3 with Sigurdson dropping deeper. And keep it narrow and compact, using our full backs as wing backs. I think Siggy gets caught in no-man's land, I prefer him deeper. We have good players all over the pitch. It's about time Silva got the best out of them. Walcott also should not be defending. Play him in the middle.

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