The Sigurdsson Conundrum

by   |   20/02/2019  32 Comments  [Jump to last]

In the crazy summer of 2017, when we burnt money like there was no tomorrow, and continued that in the following January with the signings of Walcott and Tosun, one of the signings which only now seems to be splitting Evertonians opinion is Gylfi Sigurdsson.

To put my cards on the table, I have always considered Sigurdsson as an average premier league player who has a good shot and can take a good set piece (not that we have seen much evidence of that from him this season). At £45 million we paid a grossly inflated price for him in 2017.

Sigurdsson has had two purple patches, both at Swansea City, leading to our long chase for his signature during the 2017 pre-season. So, in the just over one and half seasons that Sigurdsson has played for us, what have we got?

Some great goals it is true, which everybody knew he had in his locker, but what else? Work rate yes he will put a shift in but is he the creative player who can feed a ball through to our forwards? If so I have not seen it.

He also, in my opinion, lacks pace to get the team moving. Admittedly last season he came to us without a pre-season and was played out of position on the left to accommodate the disaster, which was Wayne Rooney. An injury in the later part of the season did not help.

But did he produce the great set-pieces, which was his trademark at Swansea? A few... but not many, while at £45 million even if being played out of position I think we could of expected more.

Which brings us to this season. Although he is the teams 2nd highest scorer so far this season, in many games he has been non existent and creativity is lacking no matter how many stats the Liverpool Echo can put up to show the opposite: Return to Talking Points index  :  Add your Comments »

Reader Comments (32)

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John Raftery
1 Posted 20/02/2019 at 22:32:47
I agree he doesn't contribute enough. It was obvious from the outset we had paid a ridiculous amount for the wrong player in the wrong position. He only comes to life in the final third of the field and then only sporadically.

Our big problem though is that we have nobody capable of replacing his goals. Bernard and Gomes have scored two goals between them in all competitions, Walcott is no longer scoring, Lookman has yet to get going, while Calvert-Lewin and Tosun are dependent on service from a poor midfield supply. So, at present, it is hard to see how Sigurdsson can be left out despite his obvious shortcomings.

Jerome Shields
2 Posted 20/02/2019 at 22:45:46
Martin a very timely topic to bring up.

In his first season, he was played out of position to accommodate Rooney, as you highlighted, and as result looked not worth the transfer fee. In this season we have been disappointed with a play, where he is often isolated and peripheral.

It was suggested on a post on ToffeeWeb that he would be better played deeper to bring him more into play. I thought this was a good idea, but Silva will never play him there.

Sigurdsson will not be worth the transfer fee until Silva reorganises the midfield. His last attempt wasn't impressive.

Don Alexander
3 Posted 21/02/2019 at 00:54:06
Gylfi needs a genuine threat of a goal-scoring forward in order to flourish. When he has such a player in his side he delivers goals, directly and indirectly. Everyone knows that because he did it at Swansea for years with Michu and whoever else up front regularly scoring.

We, as ever, have gone two seasons since we signed him achieving no success whatsoever in not playing a reliable goal-scorer.

Go figure, Mr Moshiri.

Fran Mitchell
4 Posted 21/02/2019 at 00:55:08
A ridiculous signing that summed up the Koeman project.

Good player,a very good player in fact. But a player at his peak, and not a Champions League player.

With Koeman, he played out of position because Koeman/Kenwrights ego buy of Rooney and the need to fit both into the team.

Now he doesn't fit Silva's style (if you can describe h as having a style).

For Sigurdsson to work, he needs either a 4-4-1-1 formation,with him being the 1 behind a big centre forward (like Llorente), or 4-2-1-3 with 2 very defensive midfielders and wide men who do defensive work.

If Siggy needs to do the defensive work, which he will due to his work rate, he loses all his influence in te final third. He is a player that needs to be free to sit in the opposition half.

Robin Cannon
5 Posted 21/02/2019 at 01:23:34
Inflated price for a very good player who would have really added something to a team already on the up. But also struggling as the creative pivot in a team without decent strikers or any consistency going forward.

It was scandalous that he was bought for that price and then shifted out of position for basically an entire season to accommodate Kenwright's Rooney ego buy.

Taking the purchase price out of it, he's been among the best performer of any of our signings of the last couple of years.

Tony Rice
6 Posted 21/02/2019 at 05:40:03
Sigurdsson plus Lukaku would have been a great pairing.
Lev Vellene
7 Posted 21/02/2019 at 07:26:15
I found this article on the Echo, which makes some stat-wise comparisons with his prior seasons, as well as with with Tottenham's Eriksen. It seems he really needs a regular goal-threat in front of him to work to his full potential. You might want to have a look at it:

The curious case of Gylfi Sigurdsson's Everton career - and how Marcel Brands holds key to his future

Thomas Lennon
8 Posted 21/02/2019 at 08:57:16
Can you picture the scene in 2016 in the Everton boardroom after Moshiri buys in?

'Look lads we have a great job staying in the premier league for years with hard working, spoiling footy while many have tried to overtake us with fantasy footy (they all get relegated in the end). Now we have got billions to spend what are we going to do?'

'Er boss we need someone on the board to advise us, someone who has massive experience of top level footy.'

' Well that's me and Mosh has mates at the Arse too.'

'Mosh wants a director of footy and a top, top manager,'

'Okay, so obviously we need to look at who just won the league and sign someone from there. Who signed their striker and winger for buttons? It'll be just like Thomas and Latch all over again'

'So sign Ranieri?'

'Nooo we have to be gentlemen, sign their chief scout whatsisname?'

'Okay, but he wants to be Chief Scout not DofF.'

'Tell him he's Chief Scout and he's got £200 million to spend, then make him DofF when he gets here. Send him to Italy at regular intervals, makes it look like he is signing someone.'

'So manager? Ranieri?'

'No Mosh wants a big name, someone who will put Everton's names on the lips of everyone in the game worldwide. That amazing Dutch defender feller from the 1980s, used to love watching him. Scores goals from miles out. Everyone knows him. Cowman.'

'Has he managed at this level?'

'Dunno but Mosh wants him or some other Dutch feller we have no chance of signing.'

'Okay, as long as we can have Siggy (reminds me of Cowman in his heyday) and I will see if Wayne will come back'

'They play in the same position and we need a keeper, left back, centre back (2), commanding centre midfield (3), Striker to back up Luk, left wing, right wing I could go on.'

'Wayne can play anywhere.'

******** 2½ years later, Summer 2018 *******

'Shit! Mosh wants a real DofF or we are out...'

'But a real DofF will realise we have no plan, how is your pension plan looking?...'

'Very nice, thanks; how about yours?'


**** all characters are fictional and any resemblance is purely coincidental etc. etc.

Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 21/02/2019 at 09:32:28
Thomas (8) I wish one of those characters was really and truly fictional and had never been anywhere near Everton in his life.
Clive Rogers
10 Posted 21/02/2019 at 15:19:31
Swansea definitely had the best of Sigurdsson. He looks a spent force to me. How Kenwright was allowed to negotiate the fee up to £45M from an opening offer of £27M is a mystery. What would we get for him now? No wonder Kenwright was subsequently taken off transfer negotiations.
Danny Broderick
11 Posted 21/02/2019 at 19:49:13
Sigurdsson is the biggest problem we have got at the moment, in my opinion. We are playing a 4-2-3-1 formation to accommodate him, yet the 2 in midfield are being overrun, and the striker is often isolated.

He does work hard, and he does have some quality, but the game often passes him by, even though he pops up with the odd goal. We are not getting enough from him currently.

I would like to see us play him as an orthodox midfielder in a 4-3-3, playing deeper so we don’t get so exposed in midfield.

Don Alexander
12 Posted 21/02/2019 at 19:58:58
Lev (#7), thanks for the Echo link. To me the stats quoted serve to illustrate what my eyes tell me; Siggy is a very talented player who makes plenty of bullets for others to fire. Unfortunately our forwards are only good enough to carry a knife though, as someone once said in another context.
Jay Harris
13 Posted 21/02/2019 at 20:25:28
The price is irrelevant although we all know we paid double what we should have. The real question is have we bought a quality player.

Many on TW would say no but if you look at his goals contribution, his workrate and ability to play quality passes behind defenders I would say here is a player we should build around.

As others have said the 4-2-3-1 that Silva plays is not working but either he or the new manager should adopt to a 4-4-1-1 which IMO would make us much tighter and still give us as many goals.

Denis Richardson
14 Posted 21/02/2019 at 20:26:18
I think Gylfi gets very unfair criticism here. He's got 9 league goals this season, just one behind Richarlison and is our second top scorer. That's 9 league goals 2/3 way through the season so will likely end up around 15 – not bad for a midfielder and a shit load more than any of our strikers will score.

Personally I think to see the best of him he needs quick attacking midfielders or forwards making runs ahead of him to feed passes onto – you're never in a million years going to get that from Tosun or Calvert-Lewin. Sigurdsson has linked up well with Richarlison at times.

Some people say it's the formation that's wrong but don't forget Swansea also played 4-2-3-1 a lot of the time when Sigurdsson was playing well. The key was he was in the middle 3 with 2 quick hard working wingers or attacking midfielders on either side of him making runs ahead of him, eg, Dyer, Routledge, Ayew etc if I can remember correctly. They also had a decent forward in Bony (when he could be arsed). He also played as part of a front three when they went 4-3-3.

Its not the formation that's the issue is the way we play. We're too slow and have been for years. We need to get the ball forward a lot faster and cut out the sideways backward stuff and the incessant aim to play it out of the back. Walcott on the right also doesn't help although I don't lay all the blame there.
Sigurdsson would be a much better fit if we had a more dynamic direct a approach imo.

At the end of the day, you can't knock 9 league goals up to Feb. To put it in perspective, that's the same number as each of Rashford, Martial and Firminho and one more than the likes of Sane, Vardy and Lukaku have scored so far.

£45m was way too much but the biggest fuck-up was signing Rooney which meant our record signing was played out of position with an old overweight Rooney next to him on the pitch.

Bill Gienapp
15 Posted 21/02/2019 at 20:45:41
Gylfi definitely has a killer forward pass in his locker – I've seen more than a few sublime through balls from him this season. It's more an issue of consistency - whether the fault lies with him, or the forward line not making the right runs, or a combination of the two, is difficult to say.

Playing Bernard as the No 10 is an intriguing proposition, but I suspect you'd have to be patient and give him at least a 4-5 match sustained run in the role before drawing any useful conclusions. However, you just know the live forum crowd would be howling for him to be subbed the moment he misplaces his first pass.

Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 21/02/2019 at 21:41:06
Denis #14 and Bill #15, I'm with you on Gylfi. I think he's quality and does the best he can with what's around him, and while Danny #11 is right that the game often passes him by, I don't think that's his fault. This club spends a whole lot of time booming long balls up the touchlines.

Bill, also be aware that Bernard has never played #10 in his entire career. Shakhtar allowed its three midfielders great flexibility and he rotated through the middle in the flow of the game, but he has no experience as the primary fulcrum of an attack. He'd need a hell of a lot more than five games to make such a major adjustment.

Rob Dolby
17 Posted 21/02/2019 at 21:55:51
I think Sigurdsson is a good player and the stats probably back that up. I would have loved to have seen him with Lukaku as someone else has mentioned already.

He frustrates me when not on the ball as you can almost guarantee that he gets on the wrong side of the man in possession constantly.

He can pick a pass though unfortunately we don't have midfield runners who go beyond the striker leaving him with limited options.

We also don't have enough versatility in the squad to play him in any other position than a 10. Playing him out wide is wasting his quality similarly to playing Richarleson up top.

I don't buy into Bernard at number 10, He hasn't got the vision or composure for the role and proves it most weeks.

Brian Wilkinson
18 Posted 22/02/2019 at 00:39:16
Toughie this one, if he had a decent centre forward he could play quality balls to them, still undecided until we land that striker to see if his quality shines through.

On the other hand, Tom Davies looks a much better player when Sigurdsson is not playing, was having a good game against Man City. Davies, when Sigurdsson came on he seemed to not have the space and was less effective.

Like others have said, played out of position until Rooney left, not had a top class centre forward around him so jury still out for me.

John Pierce
19 Posted 22/02/2019 at 01:01:47
Sigurdsson gives too much of himself to others on the team who shirk the responsibility of keeping the ball. He goes looking for the damn ball in the right back spot.

As a result he looks clunky, only seems to be in the game in ‘moments' often way too deep to be able to affect the game.

His goal return is pretty good and he clearly can do it. Look he's not a world beater but the failure of the team to stay up the park and give him the ball in the last third is criminal.

Ironically if he was a selfish bastard and hung up the pitch then it might be different.

But as it stands good player exposed by others inability, to be fair any No 10. would wither in this team.

Tony Everan
20 Posted 22/02/2019 at 08:25:58
I think most on here said that anything over £20m was taking the piss for a 29 yr old in a relegation threatened team. They have been proved right. He is a good player to have around and can grab an important goal.

But for 45 million we need a best actor, not another supporting role.

Jim Burke
21 Posted 23/02/2019 at 01:57:34
I think this lad is a quality footballer. That we've not got the best out of him is more to do with what's essentially been a toxic or teetering-on-toxic football club since Martinez's second season (barring a few months in Koeman's first season and a few weeks earlier this season).

There are very, very few footballers that would thrive coming into this. Post-glory years, I'd have him up there with Kanchelskis, Arteta and Pienaar, the very obvious difference being we saw the best of these fellas. Sadly, it's difficult to see any overlap between Sigurdsson's peak years – of which he has perhaps one or two left – and a royal blue reawakening.

On the fee, a record transfer for a player not too far away from 30 is difficult to justify unless it's the final piece of the jigsaw... which we all know it was the very opposite of.

Clive Rogers
22 Posted 23/02/2019 at 09:54:35
The fact is, he is 30 in September and his best years are behind him. His recent form has been poor. He came as a dead-ball specialist but he seems to have lost that ability. Not a single goal from a free kick. We bought him too late, his legs have gone.
Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 23/02/2019 at 10:20:45
Someone said yesterday that he hasn't been the same player since he got that kick against Chelsea, and it was only a couple of weeks later when the team's form went off the cliff.

I think, when a player has never had pace, then the last thing that goes on him is his legs, Clive. I personally think Sigurdsson, is one of the few really honest players at the club, and struggles to be a Number 10 when the team hasn't got a proper centre-forward.

Eddie Dunn
24 Posted 23/02/2019 at 10:27:57
Sigurdsson has suffered from the lack of movement, intelligent runs. You simply can't play the killer pass if the striker or midfielder isn't making the right run.

He has demonstrated his passing ability when the runs have been made. Even at free kicks, our lads have failed miserably at winning headers in the opposition area.

Clive Rogers
25 Posted 23/02/2019 at 10:38:26
The fact is that he is not playing well since the turn of the year and it is not all down to the players around him. He was dropped for the Man City game because of his poor form.
Tony Abrahams
26 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:19:03
And if we had a few better players in the squad, then we might have been able to drop or rotate them just a little bit better, Clive, although the fact that Silva has very rarely used Baines does make me wonder?

Same with Jagielka, who offers more stability, more pace, better positioning, but is not as good as Michael Keane at passing the ball.

Silva doesn't seem to trust many of the squad that he inherited but, after such a long break, the players along with the manager should be both fresh and refreshed, which will hopefully work in our favour because, if it doesn't, the screams will only intensify and it wouldn't surprise me that pictures of the new ground were leaked, because everyone is waiting till April to decide whether to renew their season tickets.

Tom Bowers
27 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:35:42
I think Gylfi has the same malaise as a few other signings and the problem is that that it just goes on.

As a unit Everton do not have the smarts to cause much offensively and then have been guilty of awful defensive marking.

Gylfi along with Walcott seem to have gone past their best and Tosun is short of Premier League standard.

Cardiff have just taken a hiding but I'm cautious about Everton playing them after that as they are still in a desperate position.

Come to think of it so will Everton if they continue this dreadful form.

Rotation is the key but, when your bench has little to offer, things are always going to be tough.

Winston Williamson
28 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:35:53
I'd be interested to see the following team in a 4-3-2-1:

Kenny, Jagielka, Zouma, Digne
Davies, Gana, Bernard
Gomes, Sigurdsson

Clive Rogers
29 Posted 23/02/2019 at 11:50:00
Winston, Bernard would have to be in the 2 rather than the 3 and Richarlison has been tried as a lone striker but he was not suitable.
Rotation is the key, but our squad is just not good enough and it has not helped imo loaning out Holgate and Dowell who could have been useful in the short term.
Trevor Peers
30 Posted 23/02/2019 at 12:34:10
A quality player who we can't get the best out of, Sigurdsson did better under Koeman and Allardyce.

Under Silva, he looks a bit lost at times, although he did score that wonder goal at Leicester, the way we play at the moment, we could have Messi in the team and he'd be looking useless after a month.

Tony Abrahams
31 Posted 23/02/2019 at 13:14:28
The only time I saw him play better under Koeman or Allardyce was when Rooney came off at Liverpool in the cup, and Sigurdsson went and played inside.

I'm not sure why Koeman signed him when you consider how he used him and, after that great little cameo at Anfield, Allardyce had Sigurdsson back on the wing, for the very next game.

Sigurdsson, started this season playing much better than he ever played last season but that's just my opinion, Trevor.

Rick Tarleton
32 Posted 23/02/2019 at 20:38:22
In our three-man midfield we want him to be a creative dynamo. He wants to be a modern Number 10 playing behind a strong central striker. He hasn't the engine or the passing skills for the role we want him to play and Silva doesn't want to play the system to accommodate his specific skills.

There's been a lot of talk about Sarri being inflexible, but Sarri is a typical modern manager, he has a system in mind and he wants the players to adapt their skills to his system, so Kante is played in the wrong role because Sarri wants the player to do a job to which he is unsuited.

Silva equally has hundreds of wingers, no central striker and midfielders who need to be in a four, but persists in his 4-3-3 system. Sigurdsson is very difficult to accommodate, Spurs moved him on because of that. Swansea at times gave him players around him that suited his style and strengths, but they bit our hand off when we offered the best part of £50 million for him.

By the way, anyone else who'd like to swap Richarlison for that lad at Watford... Deulofeu – he looks quite promising?

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