Here because we’re here?

by   |   21/02/2019  8 Comments  [Jump to last]

If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then statistics are the last refuge of the mediocre.

For some time now, the TV screens have been informing us of how many top-flight games Everton have played. The game against Wolves apparently was our 4,505th. Is this a record to be proud of or a sign of the club’s stagnation? Are we actually progressing or is it a case us being, in the words of a song popular in the trenches in the First Wold War: “Here because we’re here, because we’re here, because we’re here.”

On the evidence of the Wolves match, the latter would appear to be true. Once again our midfield is shown to be purposeless, pedestrian and predictable; once again we appear to have a manager who has only one way of playing and has no Plan B for when things go wrong; and once again we are undone by a simple free-kick routine.

As a club, we do give our youngsters a chance – something the Premier League as a whole is accused of failing to do — but how many flourish, and how many appear to be suffocated by our style of play. Tom Davies, when he broke into the team, was highlighted by Match of the Day pundits as a player who was always striving to get forward and take the game to the opposition. The coaches at Finch Farm soon put a stop to that!

Dominic Calvert Lewin is a promising young striker in only his second season in the Premier League who is still learning his role. He is, however, left isolated and without any support up front, and, as a result, has become an easy target for a section of the Boo Boys.

Even our experienced players seem to struggle. Sigurdsson and Gomes started the season really well, but have faded in recent weeks. Richarlison, a talented player who undoubtedly gets kicked more than most, goes to ground too easily — so much so that even the fans have stopped appealing for anything when he tumbles to the floor clutching his head.

The Board make ambitious noises, they talk of challenging for trophies, and how the new stadium is critical for this. But is a new stadium going to solve Everton’s problems? With the exception of the Etihad – gifted to Manchester City by a grateful nation — new grounds have to be paid for.

Both Tottenham and Arsenal have cited the cost of their stadiums as reasons for their perceived shortcomings in the transfer market. Even West Ham, another beneficiary of the nation’s largesse, have hardly set the world on fire since moving to the London Stadium.

When the summer transfer window arrives, it will be almost two years since Everton sold Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United. In that that time, there appears to have been no serious attempt to replace him. Is this the action of an ambitious club, a club who see themselves as challenging for major honours?

And what of Marco Silva and the coaching staff? Are they the right people to turn things around? Even before Silva arrived, Everton’s sideways and backwards passing game had been exposed as plodding and ineffectual; and Everton’s zonal marking system leaked goals with monotonous regularity.

History would suggest otherwise. Silva’s record at his previous clubs shows an inability to defend set-pieces, and the team seems as bereft of ideas as it was towards the end of Martinez’s reign and in the second half of Koeman’s brief tenure.But it is not too late. Most fans seem to think that Everton have a good squad.

What is needed is for the manager and coaching staff to take a long hard look at themselves. They need to rethink the way we play and how we defend. They have from now until the end of the season to find a system that brings the best out of our established players and allows the younger players to flourish.

In the meantime, it will be 4,506 games in the top flight and counting...

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Reader Comments (8)

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Michael Kenrick
1 Posted 21/02/2019 at 14:45:29
It is at least a record to be proud of. But, as many have said on these pages, our number one priority each season is survival in the Premier League.

I think achieving that is a lot more than 'stagnation' because the nature of the game and the business of football are changing all the time, and stagnation means we would drop like a stone...

Oh, wait, a bit like this season since early December! Yet we remain, stagnating midtable in the "Best league in the World"!

As for your other observations, no disagreement there. It seems we've been talking about them here in the trenches for weeks and weeks...

Raymond Fox
2 Posted 21/02/2019 at 16:09:50
The 4,506 games in the top flight is a remarkable achievement, we have consistently had good teams managed in the main by good managers. Unfortunately, we can't make that final step up to where we have great players managed by a great manager.

I still live in hope, but I'm struggling to be optimistic of late. Still, there's very many clubs that wish they were in our shoes!

John Keating
3 Posted 21/02/2019 at 21:44:11

I agree Silva and Co need to have a rethink, however, they will have had 17 long days to think and work on something different from the dross they have produced so far.

I would expect, though doubt, to see a vast improvement against Cardiff. If not, I suspect Silva will be looking for a taxi at season's end.

Peter Laing
4 Posted 21/02/2019 at 22:48:11
It may be sarcasm, tongue in cheek, or gallows humour but the amount of Evertonians who were pleased with the prospect of the relief of a 17-day break is a resounding indication of our current plight.

Others remark that we haven't truly played well in seasons and the Club is seemingly suffering from an existential crisis that has permeated into apathy amongst the fan base. Life without Everton is unthinkable but, at the same time, the rest has been welcome!

Jim Bennings
5 Posted 22/02/2019 at 21:14:41
I expect more garbage against Cardiff on Tuesday night, a pat on the back for playing well about the limit.

Cardiff in the meantime are being thrashed by Watford, a team over the hill and far away from us now thanks to a hat trick from our old Delboy.

I’d suggest in terms of Premier League safety the next week is monumental for this club, fail to win at Cardiff and lose the derby them Spring is going to be extremely uncomfortable at this club.

Alan J Thompson
6 Posted 23/02/2019 at 14:39:56
A period of stagnation? It is not just Everton but we seem to be in the age of "modern" football where you have to play a certain way or formation and emphasis put on statistics, yet one thing remains constant: better coaches find ways of not just beating it but out-scoring it.

It is not new as the Italians were successful in all competitions, basing their game on being ultra-defensive, and eventually they had to change.

I see our problem at the moment as having a Coach/Manager who is playing the modern game but has no idea what is wrong with it, how to change it, or how to beat it.

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 23/02/2019 at 23:10:51
John #3,

Going by other Everton mini breaks, what you expect is not guaranteed.

Paul Birmingham
8 Posted 24/02/2019 at 00:52:59
Hand on the heart, I don't see where the next win will come from..

Unless and I sincerely hope I'm wrong, the team has galvanised over the 17 day break, and got a sense of being a team., and will fight out for 97 minutes of the game.

The goal-difference stats and today's results tell a tale, that's in a summary of the level of expectancy this season.

The next two weeks is massive, let's hope we can stop the rot and RS.

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