The Predator

The coronavirus crisis came at the worst time for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, forcing the shutdown of football when he was in a rich vein of form and on the cusp of the England setup but the young striker is no stranger to hard work and difficult circumstances

Lyndon Lloyd 31/05/2020 98comments  |  Jump to last

Whether or not top-flight football should resume in a couple of weeks' time and whether there is any sanctity left in the spirit of the game given that it will restart without fans — and, potentially, a Merseyside derby taking place on neutral soil — is obviously open to debate. If there is a saving grace about seeing 2019-20 to completion, though, it's that the scoring exploits of Dominic Calvert-Lewin won't be lost to history.

The young striker was enjoying his breakout moment as a Premier League striker when the season was abruptly but necessarily suspended in March when the COVID-19 pandemic began its sweep across Britain and there was a possibility, however small, that the season might have to be curtailed and declared null and void… with its statistics and results potentially scrubbed with it.

Unless there is a significant coronavirus outbreak among top-flight clubs in the coming weeks, those remaining 92 matches will now be played and it offers Calvert-Lewin the chance to add to a goals tally that currently stands at 15, the most by an Everton player since Romelu Lukaku's final season, and continue his emergence as a forward of considerable talent and worth.

No one really knows what football is going to be like and feel like for the players once it resumes but the hope, of course, is that the long disruption won't have derailed Calvert-Lewin's scoring form… or that of his strike partner, Richarlison, for that matter. Certainly, he can't ever have been in better shape (as social media photos of him on his exercise bike, all sweat and chiselled six-pack, no doubt attest) but it remains to be seen how he and his team-mates emerge from three months of inaction.

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It is, perhaps, those individual goals and achievements that might matter more when football resumes as a mere formality, stripped of its lifeblood in the stands, particularly given that Everton might soon have little to play for. Calvert-Lewin, however, has been particularly unfortunate given the timing of the shutdown because he was on the cusp of breaking into the senior England setup.

Harry Kane's injury lay-off meant that Dominic, as the in-form English striker, was a standout candidate to lead Gareth Southgate's attack in Euro 2020 if the Spurs star didn't make it but with that tournament now shelved until 2021 at least and the immediate future of international matches up in the air, his England prospects are on hold.

The good thing is that “DCL” is still relatively young, has time on his side and those admirers of his, Southgate included, no doubt, won't have forgotten the impact he was having at club level before the virus hit. If that form continues, he will inevitably get his shot at international level; in the meantime, he gets to continue justifying his bold claim to the prestigious No 9 Everton jersey under Carlo Ancelotti.

“It was a statement of intent for myself. Whether the fans doubted that was I capable of scoring goals, I knew I was,” Calvert-Lewin told one half of the Men In Blazers, Roger Bennett, in a Zoom interview for NBCSports this weekend. “So, I think with me asking for the number 9 shirt, it was welcoming that responsibility challenge and welcoming that pressure. I've always thrived under pressure and I enjoy that.”

That famous number may have been besmirched to a degree by the fact that it has been handed, unjustifiably in the eyes of some, to the likes of Arouna Koné and Sandro Ramirez (who accumulated 79 appearances between them and managed just 10 goals) but its significance to Blues fans remains. It was no small demand for Calvert-Lewin to make — he was a young striker, still largely unproven with many, this writer included (but read on for the caveat), still doubting that he would ever be able to live up to its history or the demands of the fanbase as a whole.

After all, under Marco Silva, the Sheffield-born player had developed the reputation of the striker who didn't score. As Everton struggled under the Portuguese over the first few months of the season, Calvert-Lewin registered just three league goals. He had shown flashes of his predatory talents with a well-taken brace back in his home city in a League Cup victory over Sheffield Wednesday and stepped off the bench at Brighton to score what might have proved to be a priceless winner had it not been for the scandalous intervention of VAR, but overall he was struggling to find the net on a consistent basis.

His tireless work ethic and physical presence — two hallmarks of his game that really should be appreciated — were there in abundance but the feeling was that that wasn't going to be enough. With Moise Kean needing time to adjust to life in England and looking himself a long way from being the answer up top, the club was surely going to have to make signing a centre-forward capable of filling Lukaku's shoes a priority in the summer of 2020.

There was a big caveat with the lack of faith in Calvert-Lewin's ability to be that player to succeed the prolific Belgian, however, and that was Silva's stubborn insistence on deploying him as a lone striker when it had become increasingly obvious that that was not going to lend itself to him scoring regularly.

It was little surprise, then, that when Duncan Ferguson assumed temporary control following Silva's dismissal and partnered DCL with Richarlison in a 4-4-2, the goals started flowing, sparked by a stirring brace in a memorable and cathartic win over Chelsea. When Carlo Ancelotti took charge of his first game on Boxing Day last year, it was Calvert-Lewin who scored the first goal of the new manager's reign as part of a run that saw him score 10 times in 14 games. A terrific return by any measure, more than enough for the rest of the game to sit up and take notice and the new manager wisely elected not to tinker with a budding strike partnership.

“I really enjoy playing with Richy,” he explained to Bennett. “It's something that's come naturally. Our games and our styles of play have just clicked and he's worked hard like I do myself so I think we're working for each other. When he scores, he's over the moon and when I score, he's over the moon and I think that's the key to having a good strike partnership — just being happy when we succeed and we succeed together.”

It's that down-to-earth attitude combined with ceaseless drive to improve that makes Calvert-Lewin so easy to like and root for and it explains why he has come as far as he has at Everton despite the instability that has plagued the club since he arrived. Initially signed for David Unsworth's Under-23s side as “one for the future”, he has been in the Toffees' first-team setup for the vast majority of his four years at Goodison. Ancelotti is the sixth coach the forward has played under since joining the club from Sheffield United in 2016.

DCL has unquestionably improved in spite of those difficult circumstances, being played out of position and given the forlorn task of leading the line as a lone striker in what was, until recently, a largely ineffective attacking team. He is by no means the finished article, he still isn't always as clinical as he needs to be, but he is emerging as a true penalty box predator when given the support from playing in a two and with the space that affords him.

“I took it upon myself to put the time into not being a workhorse centre-forward but [work on] the finer details to get myself into positions,” he said. “I don't think there's any magic potion but I feel like the experiences I've had and the age I'm at now, the penny's dropped and it's all coming together at the right place and the right time.

“It's all about living and breathing the game and that's what I've had to do,” he continued, echoing what he told The Athletic in March: “It's all about being in the right position and that doesn't come by accident.”

Still only 23 but always mature beyond his years, Calvert-Lewin, who once scored the goal that clinched for his country the U20 World Cup, is now blossoming into a goalscorer worthy of the growing attention he has been getting from beyond Merseyside. Ancelotti has publicly expressed his belief that he has all the qualities to become one of the best in his position in Europe and his worth to Everton was reflected in the award of a second contract extension which he signed earlier this year. It ties him to the Toffees until 2025, by which time he could be leading the Everton attack in a brand new stadium on the banks of the royal blue Mersey.

As the country remains in the grip of the coronavirus crisis and both the short-term future of the Premier League and the longer-term outlook of football finance and transfers are so uncertain, Everton's new stadium and the bright new world it promises feel an awfully long way away.

But in the interim, given the fact that Marcel Brands's and Ancelotti's team-building plans may have to adapt, there's a certain comfort in knowing that in the likes of Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the Blues have a budding young strike force in place. Fingers crossed that recruitment team can build the team around them that is capable of realising Evertonian ambitions.

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Reader Comments (98)

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Martin Berry
1 Posted 31/05/2020 at 08:31:33
The player has potentially everything in his locker to be a great centre-forward. He is a physical specimen: tall, fast, strong, tireless, can score with head and feet; added to this, he is very articulate in dealing with the media and seems well grounded. Of course he is not the finished article yet but getting there fast now.

When I discuss football with friends who are supporters of other teams, they all speak of there being no-one like him coming through in the Premier League. They would all take him in a heartbeat; that confirms exactly what I was thinking.

We will have a much sought-after pairing of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to build a team around – but keeping hold of them both may prove difficult as they progress.

Paul Birmingham
2 Posted 31/05/2020 at 08:46:55
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has a great work ethic and positive approach to his football, which is great to see as he gets stuck in and gives as good as he gets.

Hone the finishing and he can become a very good centre-forward for Everton FC.

Kevin Prytherch
3 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:16:57
One lucky season does not constitute a striker. Championship standard at best. Him and Holgate have been the most overrated youngsters this millennium: a striker who blatantly can't finish and a centre-back with no muscle.

Heaven forbid we bring Kenny back and shoehorn Davies into the side as well. We might as well scrap the Under-23s because they don't produce anyone and just aim for tin-pot silverware with 26-year-old has-beens playing against 16-year-olds from every other club.

Unsworth and his cronies are here on sentiment and the sooner that changes, the sooner we will start being successful again.

Kim Vivian
4 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:23:35

One lucky season does not constitute a striker. Championship standard at best. Him and Holgate have been the most overrated youngsters this millennium: a striker who blatantly can't finish and a centre-back with no muscle.

I seriously think those words might come back to haunt you – assuming we ever get back to normal.

Sam Hoare
5 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:33:36
Kevin is out fishing again.
Duncan Adams
6 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:33:43
Really pleased for him this season and he has scored all types of goals which has to be a good sign. The article is right in that he was the most likely replacement for Kane but part of me is glad that can be put off for a season. Last thing we need is the tabloids getting on his back (or hyping him up).

As also mentioned in the article, he noticeably improved as part of a two upfront but it is important that this doesn’t become a limitation of his game. I think he could adapt to other formations as long as there were numbers joining him in attack with pace and energy.

Derek Thomas
7 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:33:49
I rate him. Him and Richsarlson up front will do. It's the other 9 behind them that are the problem.
Ian Bennett
8 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:36:47
I like him. Playing up front with Richarlison makes him a far more effective player for us.

He's now spending more time in the middle of the goals, and his strike rate has picked up accordingly. And there is more to come. He's quick, strong, good in the air and can score. He's got enough to suggest this isn't a flash in the pan.

Previously managers had him isolated, chasing scraps on the wings. No wonder the lad didn't score.

Mike Gaynes
9 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:42:52
Yep, Sam, and he always pulls in a catch.
Martin Nicholls
10 Posted 31/05/2020 at 09:59:16
Thanks for this article, Lyndon. I agree with much of what you say but, more importantly for me, it returns ToffeeWeb to what it should be, rather than a site dominated by two current, depressing themes.
David Thomas
11 Posted 31/05/2020 at 10:02:22
The big test for Calvert-Lewin will be to see if he continues his good form for the remainder of this season and into the next season. He needs to consistently perform, year-in & year-out, like he did before the lockdown to really become one of the top strikers. His form before the lockdown was very impressive but it can't just be a one-off spell – like Jelavic etc.
Peter Gorman
12 Posted 31/05/2020 at 10:05:05
Of one thing I'm pretty sure: DCL is an immensely affable young chap.
Ray Robinson
13 Posted 31/05/2020 at 10:25:29
I get the feeling that the lad is best scoring goals when he has less time to think. That instinctive ability to score normally makes someone what I would call a "predator" but, somehow with Calvert-Lewin, I'm not so certain that he will ever be that clinical.

However, the lad is a tremendous all-round player, is intelligent, works hard, is level-headed and articulate and deserves to succeed at the highest level – which I think he will.

Niall McIlhone
14 Posted 31/05/2020 at 10:41:28
Your concluding sentence sums it up nicely, Lyndon: "Fingers crossed that recruitment team can build the team around them that is capable of realising Evertonian ambitions."

DCL is forging his reputation the hard way, through sheer determination to improve, and he is clearly a good listener, and I really do hope he makes the grade as a senior international. Harry Kane is a good role model in many ways for Dominic, there were question marks on him as a youngster but 5 years on, he looks a complete centre-forward, and again, mentally he seems to always be focussed.

On Derek's point (#7) I tend to agree we need to worry about defence and midfield, and lockdown has had me reflecting on just how poor our transfer policy has been in the last 4 years, I would like to think Don Carlo will be given a free hand to re-model the squad as he sees fit, and this could mean some Redknapp-style wheeler-dealing, with player swaps and even free or low-yield transfers for some of the fringe players, maybe the likes of Rodriguez, Dowell and Pennington?

Robert Tressell
15 Posted 31/05/2020 at 10:44:31
It's a big test for DCL to come back after a break in his momentum and keep scoring. He'll make his own luck with hard work so that bodes well. Hopefully Carlo can find a blend in midfield that creates chances too.
Sam Hoare
16 Posted 31/05/2020 at 11:23:31
I wonder what sense there is in playing Richarlison on the right of midfield? I'm very loathe to suggest the idea as him and Calvert-Lewin are so good together but it provides us with guaranteed goals from midfield which makes such a huge difference to the team. It also relies on Kean (or another striker) doing a good job and getting 10-15 goals a season (which I weirdly think Kean is capable of despite little evidence to back it up).

Of course, the problem is solved if we can buy a goal-scoring right-midfielder but they are hard to come by. And we won't have one for the remaining 9 games.

I don't think we get the best out of Richarlison by playing him on the right but I just wonder if it might get the best out of the team? Struggling to convince even myself but does anyone see any merit in the idea? If (and it's a big ‘if') Kean comes back flying and starts looking like the £24M hotshot we hoped he'd be, is this our strongest team:

Coleman Mina Holgate Digne
Richarlison Gomes Delph Iwobi
Kean Calvert-Lewin

I just think Kean might prove a more important cog than Walcott and perhaps it would be good to get him some more starts. He was pretty good in his last start against Newcastle.

Duncan McDine
17 Posted 31/05/2020 at 13:20:48
Dom is pure class and one of the only positives to come from this season. I thought he was useless and would end up in the Championship at best, but have said on plenty of occasions that I'm delighted to be proved wrong.
Robert Tressell
18 Posted 31/05/2020 at 13:45:04
Sam I know what you mean with that formation. It includes 3 goal threats and some creativity from midfield. I do worry about the balance though – and the prospect of Gomes and Delph being completely overrun in the centre of midfield.

I could see Kean and Calvert-Lewin working well in a 5-3-2 with Sigurdsson lurking behind the strikers. Digne and Sidibé would probably enjoy it – but that leaves out Richarlison.

Personally I think, with what we've got, we're best going for Calvert-Lewin + Richarlison + Iwobi as a front three. Then Gomes, Delph and Sigurdsson as a three in midfield. That's also 3 goalscorers (if we forgive Sigurdsson his shitness so far this season) but also decently compact.

From 1 June, presumably we also have the tantalising prospect of Bolasie and Ramirez from the bench...

Paul Tran
19 Posted 31/05/2020 at 14:02:23
The significant thing for me was Ancelotti telling Calvert-Lewin to stay near the box so he can get on the end of things. Another case of the great manager stressing the simple things after the average ones tried to be clever.
Sean Kelly
20 Posted 31/05/2020 at 14:15:24
Jesus wept. Affable, articulate and level headed? I just want a nasty snidey fucker like the ex-Red Shite rat-faced biting and diving Suarez.

Fuck this nice guy image this club wishes to portray. See where that has got us for the last 30 years or more.

Jay Wood

21 Posted 31/05/2020 at 14:43:44
Yes, Paul @ 19.

Football is a fundamentally simple game and players like clarity.

DCL's response to Carlo was 'It was music to my ears'.

Sam @ 16. Sorry. Can't agree with your proposal. You don't break up your most pontent pairing up front in attempt to accommodate another player in the hope he comes good. Kean has to earn a place by right, not sympathy.

The speed, heading, hold up play and interchange between DCL and Richie transformed the team when Carlo - following Duncan's example - paired them together. Why neuter that?

How many like me were exasperated under Silva when DCL was chasing after his own knock-ons, so isolated he was up front with Richie and Walcott hugging the touchlines and Siggy not close enough (behind him) in support?

Sean @ 20.

You do realise when people describe DCL as 'affable, articulate and level headed' they are describing how he comes across in off-field interviews.

On the pitch, in case you haven't noticed, he and Holgate are our two 'nasty snidey fuckers' that you (quite reasonably) crave.

Joe McMahon
22 Posted 31/05/2020 at 15:00:16
Kevin @3, a bit harsh that. I do agree, Calvert-Lewin needs to work on his finishing, the miss at home to Palace was a shocker, and his performance at Chelsea also (the whole team were bad though). I do feel he needs more compose in front of goal. Everthing is in his favour, he has to make it all come together to be at the level we all want.

Where I do agree with you, Kevin, I want Unsworth to leave his cosy (well paid) job and manage in the lower leagues. He is not Gerrard or Frank Lampard, Rangers or Chelsea aren't gonna come calling. Joey Barton is doing fine in the lower leagues, as is Lee Bowyer, that is where "Big David" needs to prove himself.

Paul Jones
23 Posted 31/05/2020 at 15:03:08
Calvert-Lewin & Richarlison, both mobile, fast, good in the air, scoring goals... so have a front two that a good manger will use and play to their strengths.

Suarez and Diego Costa are great players when you have 3 extra men playing in black (or whatever the chosen colour is by the media's top 6). I cannot remember when we have ever had an invite.

David Thomas
24 Posted 31/05/2020 at 15:22:25
Robert 18,

That midfield 3 only shows how desperate we are to bring in some real quality in midfield.

Robert Tressell
25 Posted 31/05/2020 at 15:43:07
David - I totally agree. But just one high quality addition could be transformational. That dreary looking trio was not bad at all with Gueye in place of Delph.
Danny ONeill
26 Posted 31/05/2020 at 15:48:16
I'll be honest, I was one in the camp that didn't rate Dominic. I didn't think he had it in his locker.

But I'm also happy to be proven wrong. What a difference a good coach & mentor makes. Ancelotti comes in and gives him simple instruction. You're a striker, get in the box and stop chasing corner flags (Dominic's perspective from an interview earlier this year). The result; more goals.

How many strikers did Moyes used to have chasing corner flags because it showed effort? People used to lament Lukaku for his poor touch and lack of effort. He consistently scored 20+ goals a season. That's a striker worth his weight in gold.

Ajay Gopal
27 Posted 31/05/2020 at 16:11:24
I agree with Jay, I wouldn't break-up the Dom and Richie partnership- that is only going to get better and the rest of the league's defence are going to hate playing against them.

We need to improve the midfield with 2 key recruitments – I wouldn't mind seeing Gueye back here. Sell Schneiderlin and Delph, they need to be replaced with much better quality.

We need to write off Gbamin, sadly. Hopefully, Davies and Iwobi can step up without the pressure of the crowd and cement their places in the squad.

Steve Shave
28 Posted 31/05/2020 at 17:04:21
I love Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He has become my favourite player alongside Gomes. He is becoming more polished and has so many positive attributes to his game, his strength and hold up play came on big time this season.

Lovely day for fishing, Kevin, keep up the good work, you got a few bites.

If our budget is seriously depleted now, we will hopefully shift some dross and save money on run-down contracts. I know we need a centre-midfielder, right-midfielder and centre-back. If we had to put all resources into just one signing, then it must be a quality centre-midfielder.

Sean Kelly
29 Posted 31/05/2020 at 17:24:02
Jay #21, The problem is I see him being too affable and polite on the pitch. It's the nasty buggers that get the goals and bring success.
Sam Hoare
30 Posted 31/05/2020 at 17:31:59
Robert @18,

I was imagining him playing in right-midfield if we continue with Ancelotti's 4-4-2, which is not my preferred formation but he seems keen. None of the central midfielders we have make a good 2 in the middle but Gomes and Delph our the best shot, I reckon.

Dave Rusk
31 Posted 31/05/2020 at 17:51:19
I agree, we need to lose the "nice guys" image. Remember Reidy and Gray against Bayern and what their manager said about us?

Slightly off topic and with pessimism honed after 60 years supporting EFC, don't we just know that, whoever we play in the last 9 games, our opponents will be rested and raring to go, whilst we will look as though we've never met each other and have forgotten everything?

Oh dear, pass me another gin and tonic, nurse.

Jay Wood

32 Posted 31/05/2020 at 17:59:56
Sean @ 29.

'Yhe problem is I see him being too affable and polite on the pitch.'

Then I suggest you are not watching him closely enough.

Calvert-Lewin most definitely has an edge to his game.

Mike Gaynes
33 Posted 31/05/2020 at 18:44:43
Sean #29:

"It's the nasty buggers that get the goals and bring success."

Of the most successful goalscorers in the world right now -- Messi, Cristiano, Lewandowski, Kane, Immobile, Werner, Mbappe -- not one would fit the description of a "nasty bugger."

In fact the only really good striker I know of who has genuine "bite" these days (not a Suarez chomp, but a knack for a sharp tackle) is our own Richarlison.

I think you're stuck in a bit of a time warp, mate.

PS... our old friend Antony Evans is on the bench for Paderborn as they are losing to Dortmund. And a bit of class in that game as Sancho, after scoring, unveiled a t-shirt saying "Justice for George Floyd". Several Paderborn players gave him a fist bump for it, even though they'd just given up a goal. Another issue that's bigger than footy.

Eric Paul
34 Posted 31/05/2020 at 19:30:05

All the players you mention are all nasty but they are very clever with it. Nastiness comes in many ways.

Sean Kelly
35 Posted 31/05/2020 at 20:11:23
Mike #33, the nasty nuggets come in many guises. Some show their teeth; others with other parts of their bodies. I'm amazed you align Calvert-Lewin with the greats you mention. To me, he's several leagues below those guys.
Eric Paul
36 Posted 31/05/2020 at 20:26:17

The only player to grace the hallowed turf and wear the coveted royal blue jersey who could be mentioned with the greats Mike lists is our very own William Ralph Dean – and he is light years above them all.

Joe McMahon
37 Posted 31/05/2020 at 20:45:30
Eric, slightly more recent times: what about Jimmy Greaves? Or even more recently Thierry Henry, Gianfraco Zola, George Weah and Eric Cantona? All masters of being a goalscorer.
Eric Paul
38 Posted 31/05/2020 at 20:49:54
They didn't play for us, Joe, but Jimmy Greaves aside, the rest aren't in the same league as the players listed by Mike.
Mike Gaynes
39 Posted 31/05/2020 at 21:24:13
Sean #35: "I’m amazed you put align DCL with the greats you mention."
Say wha????

When/where/how did I do that?

Never. Didn't even mention him in that post.

Dave Abrahams
40 Posted 31/05/2020 at 21:38:54
Mike (33), how about Vardy of Leicester for a bit of bite, and a good sharp nasty tackle plus plenty of goals.
Tony Hill
41 Posted 31/05/2020 at 22:05:56
DCL is one on his own, a strange mix of instinct, talent and occasional ineptitude. His leap is remarkable.

He's developing all the time and he's clever and tough, mentally and physically. I'm very glad he's ours and that he's paired with another strange one in Richarlison. They need to get better, individually and as a partnership, and I think they will.

Joe McMahon
42 Posted 31/05/2020 at 22:08:43
Mike and Eric, it's about opinions, but i'd put Thierry Henry, Gianfraco Zola, George Weah and Eric Cantona ahead of Harry (Penalty) Kane.

Remember when Lukaku got 25 PL goals for us, only all of Kanes penalties with himself and Alli diving for fun meant Rom didn't get the golden boot. Rom was a goal machine for us, and always gets overlooked.

Brian Wilkinson
43 Posted 31/05/2020 at 23:34:28
The suspension of the league came at the wrong time for Calvert-Lewin, whereas our neighbours were on a wobble and a goalkeeper down.

When we do resume, teams will be able to field 5 subs but will take a week or so to get back up to speed, it was never likely our neighbours would slip up, but everything is in their favour now, players back from injury, players refreshed and no worries of a bear pit Goodison, for their first game back.

Should just void the league and give them the title.

Danny ONeill
44 Posted 31/05/2020 at 23:44:02
An interesting one. I never go back on myself and wasn't sure about Dominic at first but, since Ancelotti has gotten hold of him, we're seeing something different. Thing is, and this may seem controversial to Evertonians of a certain age, so I am by no means comparing like for like, but I'm starting to see something of a Grahame Sharp in him.

He'll get a fair amount of goals in his own right, but his real strength is as supporting striker. To do that, he's best played in a 4-4-2, which we have been doing, but is that just because of the players Carlo has at his disposal right now? I am not sure 4-4-2 has a place in the modern game, as you will get overrun in midfield.

it's all well and good having 2 strikers on the pitch but, if you lose control of the midfield, then they have no supply and because you are overrun, the defence is going to be under pressure.

Ultimately you concede more even though on paper and in principle you went for a more attacking approach; there are different ways to attack. Then again, look at Liverpool: they rarely use their midfield. I suppose it comes down to how you want to play the game.

Back on track, fair credit to DCL for proving me wrong and to the current management for spotting that in him.

Eric Paul
45 Posted 31/05/2020 at 23:47:31

William Ralph is light-years ahead of them all, in my opinion.

Henry, a bigger cheat than Maradona.
Cantona, not good enough for France.
Zola, not good enough for Italy.
Weah??? Had a cousin.
Kane, England's best striker by a country mile.

Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 01/06/2020 at 00:15:10
Dave #40, yes, I'd say he's an example of somebody who can slip in a goal and a tackle with equal facility.
Minik Hansen
47 Posted 01/06/2020 at 02:58:15
The only question I have about DCL is a fraction of his attitude. Against Newcastle, the opposition defender (what’s his name, we tried to buy him last summer I think) confronted him, DCL mimicked his breath was awful. Crossed my line, though I’m continuing to root for him.
Jerome Shields
48 Posted 01/06/2020 at 08:21:21
Calvert-Lewin got his place in the team because he put a lot of work in last Summer, when other players like Niasse and Tosun didn't. It was obvious in his physic and stamina at the start of the season that this was the case.

The role of centre-forward at Everton is demanding, leading the line and the high press. It was also made difficult during the Silva era, with predominant wing play, an under-performing midfield, poor pass completion in the final third, and lack of a through-ball. This to some extent can still be the case.

The one thing that Ancelotti has tried to improve on is the positional play of the forwards, particularly in Dominic's case, attacking the near-post space. Dominic has improved in this area, but is still caught short. His finishing has improved, but he still hasn't hit the standard of a consistent Premier League goalscorer. None of us think of him in those terms.

This coming season will determine whether he has the ability to progress further. I know he has the ability and motivation to put the necessary work, and hope he finally gets it all together, though in a team game he is dependent on his colleagues also progressing. The loss of Gbamin and lack of competition in midfield does not help, hopefully this situation will be remedied during the transfer window.

Darren Hind
49 Posted 01/06/2020 at 08:37:09
An excellent assessment of Calvert-Lewin's progress. Lyndon.

I would often shake my head in total disbelief when I heard the comments and abuse directed at this boy. Here was clearly a player. Despite being used as a pack mule by cowardly managers who were too afraid to give him support, he always gave a good account of himself, even chasing back down the wings.

Big Dunc is rightly credited with giving him a partner to shoulder the burden, but a lot of the credit must go to David Unsworth too. It was Rhino who spotted his potential, it was Rhino who persuaded the club to sign him and it was Rhino who repeatedly told the doubters that the goals would come.

I guess Calvert-Lewin would be worth around £80M and rising in today's market. We paid what? £1.5M?... I so wish Brands could show that sort of judgement instead of squandering vast fortunes on players who simply are not good enough.

Mark Dunford
50 Posted 01/06/2020 at 09:14:31
DCL has always reminded me of the young Graeme Sharp. He was another player who took some time to find his feet after he arrived in a relatively low-profile transfer, but was clearly talented and determined. DCL doesn't score so many spectacular goals but he now scores regularly and was clearly thriving when the coronavirus pause button was hit.

A curious poacher. As everyone says, he is clearly at his best in a striking partnership and doesn't achieve as much in terms of a goal threat if he is isolated – as he was under Silva – or ridiculously miscast – as he was under Koeman when he had that one game at right-back.

Dave Abrahams
51 Posted 01/06/2020 at 09:23:05
I think if every player put the effort and work rate, not to mention his ability, that Dominic puts into every game, we would be in a far better position than we are.

Graeme Sharp could score goals and play for the team, as he proved when playing with Lineker. He provided the graft and the guile to enable Gary to score a lot of those goals in that one season Lineker was here. He took a back seat and let Gary take the glory, but he was very much part of that combination.

Calvert-Lewin, I think, will continue to be a big part of Everton's future, either scoring or providing assists to many goals.

Fran Mitchell
52 Posted 01/06/2020 at 09:56:02
DCL and Richarlison provide a platform to build this team around. Both are quality, and also great, well grounded people who really seem to have an affinity with the club. And both players could play at the highest level.

This is interesting as it means that the 'front 2' looks to be the best way forward, which is a break from the now standards front 3 or 1.

4-4-2, is the way forward it would seem.

And Sam #16, can't agree. When Richarlison was out wide, he was much less effective. And he's our best player.

Kean as a reserve striker is the best way forward.

We have Gordon and Adeniran also who can offer something for the wide right position.

Bernard and Iwobi for now on the left. Hopefully we can upgrade on those.

Central midfield is the weakest part, 4-4-2 will call for 2 solid box-to-boxers.

Tony Everan
53 Posted 01/06/2020 at 09:58:01
It is a wonderful thing when a young player has a breakthrough year. One of the best things in football. There’s a special pride that is attached it when a player has forced his way up from the u23s and proves himself one of the best in the league.

Before the lockdown that is what DCL was becoming, one of the best in the league as a centre forward. Tough and athletic, learning from Duncan how to physically legally fight and shape his body against defenders , achieving it better than the big man did is a credit to them both.

He has worked on and recently added the predator reputation to his repertoire. It was the missing link.
Because his predatory instincts are not completely natural he will need to continually work on it to get better.

There’s only one way DCL will not get to the very top and that is if he take his foot off the gas and starts to wallow in the adulation and hype. His whole game is built on hard work, supreme physicality and an indefatigable attitude which is second to none at the club. If he concentrates on nurturing those attributes as a sacrosanct requirement and keeps working on his finishing he will continue to improve.

It is fair to say Richarlison is massively influential in his upturn in goal scoring form. The two of them working as a team are as a dynamic unit offering physicality, skill, youth and pace is just too much for most defences to handle. They are a pairing that is proving to be more than the sum of their parts. All of the best strike partnerships were. The result is single game since they were paired as a combination I believe, and 100% expect, one of them to score.

Terence Leong
54 Posted 01/06/2020 at 10:02:02
I think, in the immediate, what a player can do, is to improve on what's possible for him.
E.g. he won't be bulking up, his ball control and power in his shot won't change too much.
He's actually very fast, and given his physique, it's likely that this can stay.

I think Graeme Sharp became a player on another level, when he learnt how to jumped early, making him dominate the air against defenders, who had to guess more often how to time their jumps etc.

I think DCL can improve in the way he kills the ball when it first comes to him e.g. swivel and connect, stab at the ball, rather than having to control it before shooting etc.

Dave Evans
55 Posted 01/06/2020 at 10:17:33
It looks more and more that Kane and DCL are chiselled from the same granite.
Some posters know little of human nature. They think being articulate and intelligent off the pitch precludes a player from having the 'nastyness' to do what it takes on it.
Martin Berry @1 sheds light on the player we have. Most other teams would bite our hands off to have DCL in their squads.
Paul Richards
56 Posted 01/06/2020 at 10:18:10
A lovely profile of our biggest hope for future success. The thought that we might not be able to keep a hold on him or Richie is just sickening, let's hope the past pattern of selling on our best players really has now stopped with Carlo being here.

Watching him, though, it still bugs me. He often seems to scuff the ball instead of hitting it cleanly, That little bit of unconventional play in a striker now seems to work in his favour as goalies can be unsure just where the ball is going. Or it can work against as so many shots sail wide.

Still a work in progress.

Dave Evans
57 Posted 01/06/2020 at 10:20:37
Terence @54 good point on how DCL can improve further.
Joe McMahon
58 Posted 01/06/2020 at 11:25:20
Like I said, Eric, it's about opinions. Using your argument, Harvey and Kendall were not good enough for England. But many knew they were good enough.
James Flynn
59 Posted 01/06/2020 at 13:05:44
Wonderful player.

Funny reading here that he has to be tougher and meaner, when what was first obvious about him was his relentless physicality and toughness.

And Harry Kane's a nasty bastard just like any number of his Spurs teammates.

Sam Hoare
60 Posted 01/06/2020 at 13:32:30
Fran@52 the statistics would suggest that actually he was not much less effective on the right. From the right he has 2 goals and 1 assist in 7 appearances which is pretty similar if not better from assist point of view than the 5 goals and 1 assist he has from 14 games playing up front.

Don't get me wrong, I like Richarlison up front. I think its his best position. But he's very good on the right as well; he works hard and makes alot of recoveries plus he still manages to get alot of goals. I can't shake the feeling that with our current squad we may get more goals in the team by playing him on the right; given that Gordon and Adeniran are not yet at the standard required.

Mike Berry
61 Posted 01/06/2020 at 19:00:21
DCL reminds me of a young Sharpie.
Eric Paul
62 Posted 01/06/2020 at 20:42:23
Agreed Joe,

I'm not saying I'm right but using your argument it's my opinion. Just because you are a club legend, it doesn't make you a legend.

Kevin Prytherch
63 Posted 01/06/2020 at 23:39:24
Darren @49,

I so wish Brands could show that sort of judgement instead of squandering vast fortunes on players who simply are not good enough.

That summarises why I don't believe Brands can be called a success yet. Did he not have a shortlist at PSV that was based around young, reasonably priced talent with the potential to massively improve? I thought that is what he had made his name from.

At Everton, he looks like a kid in a sweet shop. I hope the signing of Branthwaite marks a turn in his spending philosophies.

David Currie
64 Posted 02/06/2020 at 04:37:48
Agree regarding Brands. Regarding Dominic, it took time for him because he was stuck out wide so we did not see the best of him.

If he played as a lone striker, he would score goals if he had quality midfield players supplying him. Since he became a regular he has never played with one top central midfield player because we don't have any.

If Carlo can get us some quality in the middle of the park, then our £1.5 million striker will get even better.

Michael O'Malley
65 Posted 02/06/2020 at 07:14:22
He reminds me of Mike Newell but can also see the comparison with Sharp,Newell used to put himself about a bit was decent in the air and grabbed his share of goals
Jim Harrison
66 Posted 02/06/2020 at 07:24:03
He seems to be a good lad with the right attitude. Works his socks off And has been rewarded for his hard work this season.

To my mind, he needs to have a supporting player up there with him to get his best. He's not like Kane, the current best of his generation in his position. Kane makes things happen. He makes his own goals fairly often. That can change, but that is his limitation at present. And he is young enough to change that.

There are not enough players across the squad that have that characteristic. Richarlison is the only one really.

Our midfield is dire on goal contribution. Koeman recognised this early on and spoke a lot about signing players to increase productivity. His signings were not good enough but the idea was right.

Robert Tressell
67 Posted 02/06/2020 at 08:51:11
Kevin, it's peculiar how Brands has approached recruitment. Like you, I thought he was here to pick up quality young players for development.

I guess he initially concluded (probably rightly) that we needed some first-team-ready players as an interim step (eg, Gomes, Digne and Mina from Barca). However, having done this, I can't see the point of padding the squad out with more uninspiring (but expensive) players like Iwobi. I'd rather put up with Walcott knowing that we have someone with absolute star potential coming through – players like Ihattaren, Hlozek and Szoboszlai (and players that you can't find just from a quick hunt around the advanced search function of

From the decent(-ish) base we now have, we will only improve with the odd absolute top signing – with the rest of our pennies being spent on star potential.

Darren Hind
68 Posted 02/06/2020 at 12:33:00
"I don't believe Brands can be called a success yet."

I think he needs to improve dramatically just to be classed as a failure.

Sam Hoare
69 Posted 02/06/2020 at 12:49:21
Robert @67; my guess would be that, because the squad that Brands inherited was so woefully lopsided, he has been focussed on trying to get it back to neutral before he can make those types of signings.

For a start, the squad has been so bloated by the constant overspending with no seeming plan. I think he's been desperate to shift players and that has not proved easy to do. There is no point buying young players like that if they do not have the pathways to playing time; someone like Kean, for example, has barely played.

Brands even said this with Ihatteren: “Frankly, I'd like to have him with Everton tomorrow, he's so good,” he said. “But I do not think that's the path he should take. He will need an intermediate step later. In that respect, Mo is good at PSV."

The wage bill and squad size is too big. The overhaul is only halfway through and will not be finished till the likes of Besic, Sandro, Bolasie etc have gone. In the meantime, he still has to try and give the managers what they wanted; someone like Iwobi I'm guessing was brought in because Silva wanted someone creative to get the ball into the box more. Iwobi does this very well even though he's not shined yet at Everton.

It's a tough balancing act but I think once we have trimmed the squad and the wage bill we will hopefully see more of the younger talent that Brands has a reputation for finding.

Conor McCourt
70 Posted 02/06/2020 at 13:27:59
"I so wish Brands could show that type of judgement instead of squandering vast sums on players who are simply not good enough."

How can you tell, Darren? If you look at Gomes, Gbamin, Delph and Mina, they all love the treatment table and it really was incomprehensible in bringing in so many players with chequered injury records, especially as the first three are in the one area which is the most crucial for providing the nucleus and continuity of performance from your team.

"I think he needs to improve dramatically just to be classified as a failure."

At first, it appears overly derogatory and harsh... but we thought Walsh was the lowest ebb because he was totally incompetent and brought so much shit to the club. With Brands, we are assuming these players are shit because very few are at their peak to perform and his only real shining light was a Marco Silva purchase.

I worry that, after another summer of Brands signings, we might need to invest in a stonking new treatment facility to accommodate the walking wounded.

Steve Brown
71 Posted 02/06/2020 at 14:09:44
Yerry Mina has played 27 games this season. Before Gomes had his leg shattered by a disgraceful tackle, he averaged 37 games a season over the last 5 years with Valencia, Barcelona and Everton.

Gbamin averaged 31 games per season over the last 6 years in the Bundesliga and French Ligue 1 and 2. None of these three players 'have chequered injury records' and you can't blame Brands for what has happened to them.

Fair point on Delph though! My guess is that Brands thought he was buying experience and leadership like Milner, when in reality he was buying a gobby sick note.

Paul Tran
72 Posted 02/06/2020 at 14:18:11
Brands has brought in nice, expensive men who play one good game every three or four. There's been little semblance of reason regarding who we buy, very few where I can definitively say 'Great, I know exactly what we're going to do with him'.

Brands buys peripheral players. We need solid ones.

Conor McCourt
73 Posted 02/06/2020 at 18:09:20
Steve 71- I disagree with you about André. He had a bad muscle injury playing for Portugal and was out for three months which reoccurred last season on loan with us. He has been riddled with niggling injuries since signing for Barca and claimed that his preseason with us last year was his first full one in years.

It's only at Valencia he managed over 30 league appearances and was consistently at peak fitness. Since then, he has been chasing fitness at Barca and with us and has never looked in top condition.

In Yerry's short career, he has been missing averaging 10 games a season with minor injuries and Delph speaks for himself. I do agree that Gbamin could be viewed as unlucky and perhaps I was harsh in attributing that to Brands but it is frustrating at how most of the team we put out are from the Walsh era and before.

Mark Andersson
74 Posted 03/06/2020 at 01:13:42
It will be interesting to see who we bring in and ship out.

One thing is for sure... we don't have enough quality on the pitch or in-depth to challenge for silverware next season, our last game against Chelsea proved that.

I would not be surprised to see Carlo walk away.

Lester Yip
75 Posted 03/06/2020 at 11:18:57
I was amazed how many first balls he won when the long ball was played under Big Sam. I was hoping someone could pick up that second ball.

Calvert-Lewin is a complete package. He and Richarlison run so much to press and defend. Kean, in terms of physique is probably even stronger, but is nowhere in terms of work rate. He may not be a prolific striker who scores 20+ goals but he offers more.

Steve Ferns
76 Posted 03/06/2020 at 11:42:26
Calvert-Lewin was always a good finisher. The numbers always backed that up and he was prolific at youth level, even when he played midfield at a younger age.

The numbers also showed where he had his flaw, and he speaks about it himself in the article above. He didn't get enough goalscoring opportunities. He wasn't often in the right place at the right time. That's something he has clearly worked on and as a result the goals have come. I don't think that ability is quite the “natural” ability some make it out to be and it can be learnt and comes with experience. Sure, you get some like Robbie Fowler or Tony Cottee who make it look effortless.

The game has changed in recent years, and whilst Dom wouldn't have been a powerhouse in the days of Big Dunc's prime, he is now. Defenders tend to be a bit leaner to be able to keep up with the speed of the modern striker, so Calvert-Lewin has the power to challenge the modern centre-back and few (eg Troy Deeney) have more physical prowess.

But Calvert-Lewin also has speed to burn. That always set him aside for me. The rare combination of pace and power, coupled with his heading ability, always made him a very useful squad player. Once the goals inevitably came, he turned into the striker many on here predicted he would be.

I just hope he can quickly recover his form. One thing for sure, as his Instagram followers will know, it won't be for a lack of effort.

Steve Ferns
77 Posted 03/06/2020 at 12:03:44
Can I also add some perspective on Calvert-Lewin's goalscoring record?

Since Kanchelskis smashed in 16 league goals in 1996 only the following have scored more than Dominic's current 13 league goals:

Lukaku in 2017 with 25
Lukaku in 2016 with 18
Lukaku in 2014 with 15
Yakubu in 2008 with 15

Now Dom is on 13 from 27 games. If he carries on his 1 in 2 ratio, that's 17 goals which very few Everton players have ever managed in the last 40 years, just Lukaku (twice), Lineker, Sharp (just once), Latchford (a few times) and all the way back to Royle's best season.

The reality is our top scorer rarely beats 15 (even in a good season) and Dom is almost there. If he does and he repeats it next season, then he's joining esteemed company.

David Thomas
78 Posted 03/06/2020 at 12:38:08

I think that shows up how we have had very few top goal scorers at Everton over the years.

Dave Abrahams
79 Posted 03/06/2020 at 13:00:17
Steve (#77),

I think you might be surprised if you think Bob scored 17 a few times in one season for the Toffees.

He scored the 30 and 17 or maybe 19 in another season but those two season were the best he had for scoring in seven seasons with Everton.

Patrick McFarlane
80 Posted 03/06/2020 at 13:27:45
Dave #79
According to the link Bob's league goalscoring record reads as follows:


1984/1985 Coventry 12 2
1982/1983 Swansea 38 20
1981/1982 Swansea 31 12
1980/1981 Everton FC 19 6
1979/1980 Everton FC 26 6
1978/1979 Everton FC 36 11
1977/1978 Everton FC 39 30
1976/1977 Everton FC 36 17
1975/1976 Everton FC 32 12
1974/1975 Everton FC 36 17
1973/1974 Everton FC 13 7
1973/1974 Birm City 24 10
1972/1973 Birm City 42 19

John McFarlane Snr
81 Posted 03/06/2020 at 14:54:29
Hi Steve [76] I have to disagree with your claim that the 'natural ability' is not what some make it out to be. I believe that you can improve the fitness of players but, if the natural ability isn't there, I don't believe you can instil it.

There are different types of goal scorers:

The Bold Buccaneers, I'll mention some you're probably unfamiliar with... Dave Hickson, Trevor Ford, Bobby Smith.

The Penalty Area Predators: Jimmy Greaves, Denis Law, and Johnny Byrne.

All of them had one thing in common, the natural ability to be in the right place at the right time.

I must admit that I had reservations regarding Dominic Calvert-Lewin because he spent too much time out of the danger zone but, on reflection, it would appear that he was acting under instructions, and it didn't do him any favours by making him the lone striker. I still stand by my belief that without natural ability you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Darren Hind
82 Posted 03/06/2020 at 19:44:07
Good post, Johnny Mac.

I would imagine Gerd Muller would slot straight in with your penalty area predators, Greaves, Law and Byrne. For me he was the deadliest of them all.

I'd be interested to know where you would rank the German in an all-time list of penalty area predators ?

John McFarlane Snr
83 Posted 03/06/2020 at 23:22:02
Hi Darren [82] It's difficult to rank Gerd Muller on the few occasions that I saw him on TV in World Cup action but, from what I did see, I would imagine he would be high on the list.
Steve Ferns
84 Posted 04/06/2020 at 01:42:47
Dave A, as Patrick McFarlane kindly points out, the few seasons he did it were ‘75, ‘77 and ‘78. Which were all before I was born!

John McFarlane, I was on about the “natural goalscoring ability”, the right place, right time thing. As I pointed out one of the best I have seen was Robbie Fowler, who made it seem effortless. I believe you can gain this with experience.

Now I’m not talking any old amateur, I’m talking about a player who was clearly an elite youth player (scoring the World Cup winning goal, no less). And I always thought that he would get better at it as he got experience.

13 goals is a decent haul. I expect him to pass 15 league goals and that is not something Everton strikers do often. If Dom is able to pass the 15 mark repeatedly for us, then he will be doing just fine.

Steve Brown
85 Posted 04/06/2020 at 01:57:37
Conor @ 73, you were definitely right about Mina! I said he wasn't injury-prone and the next day he's crocked. Should have kept my mouth shut.
Paul Tran
86 Posted 04/06/2020 at 08:04:32
The thing about Gerd Muller was that you just knew he'd score. Imagine how that made defenders feel? Imagine how that made his team-mates feel?

I only wish I'd seen him in the flesh, he's the best finisher I've seen.

Dave Abrahams
87 Posted 04/06/2020 at 10:15:00
Steve (84), I’d substitute three for few, have a look at the other four seasons.

Gerd Muller was a great goalscorer/ poacher worth his weight in gold for Germany but I’d swop the brilliance of Ferenc Puskas of Hungary, his all round game and 83 goals in 84 games for his country plus many more for his adopted country Spain.

Again Jimmy Greaves was a marvellous goalscorer for every team he played for including England and the best goalscorer I ever saw, but I’d swop Dennis Law’s around game in preference to Jimmy, Dennis was no mean scorer himself not including the six he scored for Man. City v Luton in a cup game which were wiped off the record after the game was abandoned with City 6-2 up, he also scored when the game was replayed but was on the losing side as City lost 3-1.

Steve was right to mention Robbie Fowler an excellent goalscorer and he nearly always hit the goal target even when he didn’t score, he was one of four Liverpool players who frequently hit the net, the energetic team player and scorer Roger Hunt, add the Welshman who always scored against us and every other team Ian Rush plus, when he was young and before he was plagued by injury Michael Owen.

Going way back Jack Rowley, who scored against us for Man. Unt. in the famous cup tie when Dave Hickson scored his famous winner, was a great goalscorer but was over shadowed by his less famous brother Arthur Rowley of Leicester City who I believe is, or was, the highest English league goalscorer of all time.

John McFarlane Snr
88 Posted 04/06/2020 at 10:23:56
Hi Steve [81],

You will notice that I mentioned players being in the 'right place at the right time'. It's my opinion that this applies to every player from goalkeeper to, what used to be, outside left. It's also my opinion that these characteristics are instinctive, and sometimes players from goalkeeper to outside left make mistakes of judgement which lead to a goal being scored or conceded.

It's not like Chess, a game I've never attempted to play, where you appear to get an eternity to make your move. At the risk of boring you, I believe that football, like life in general, is instinctive: you're sometimes right and oft-times wrong.

Robert Tressell
89 Posted 04/06/2020 at 10:31:02
Dave and Steve, I think those stats show up:

1. How few quality strikers weve had in the last 25 years

2. How average we've been in the last 25 years

3. How far away we really are from challenging

By some very crude research I think we need at least an extra 20 goals per season to get into top 6 (or with luck top 4) at the same time as returning to our recent defensive best.

DCL and Richarlison will have to keep up and possibly beat their current good form we also need AN other to chip in with a decent goal haul. That might mean rehabilitated Sigurdsson, a breakthrough for Kean, a season of headers from Mina and / or a right winger who scores goals (eg, Neres, Malcom or Lozano).

Kevin Prytherch
90 Posted 04/06/2020 at 11:14:18
Robert 89 - I'd extend that to the last 33 years!!

Do you know how many times we've had strikers hit 15 league goals since Lineker? 7 times in 33 seasons!!!

If you take Lukaku out of the equation, it's 4 times in 29 seasons.

We've only had Lukaku (3), Yakubu (1), Kanchelskis (1), Cottee (1) and Beardsley (1) do it during this time.

I'd say if Calvert-Lewin can consistently hit 15 league goals a season, he'd be one of our most lethal strikers ever.

Robert Tressell
91 Posted 04/06/2020 at 14:59:57
Funny with Lukaku. Best goalscorer since Lineker, rarely injured - yet little affinity with the fans. So many (sort of including myself, being sentimental) hold Big Dunc in much higher regard. Perhaps a shining (albeit flawed) light in a really dismal era. End product is what it's all about, though. It's a game of goals after all.
Jay Harris
92 Posted 04/06/2020 at 15:55:07
Sir John,

I have to side with you. If goalscoring could be coached, there wouldn't be a litany of players that couldn't hit a barn door with a banjo.

All the top goalscorers down the years have an instinctive knack of being in the right place at the right time.

Ray Robinson
93 Posted 04/06/2020 at 16:38:06
Have also to agree with John. Top, top strikers seem to be born with a goalscoring instinct. Undoubtedly, you can learn goal scoring techniques such as better positioning, ability to strike the ball more cleanly but you can't teach instinct.

Müller, Greaves, Lineker, Agüero, Latchford, Owen spring to mind. These are the guys who seem to know one step in advance what was going to happen, know when to time their run, take the chance first touch, where necessary etc. Strangely, in their own way, all quite limited all round footballers, but deadly in front of goal. Occasionally, there are players who have instinct and are truly great footballers as well such as Pele, Rush, Messi, Ronaldo, Law.

Calvert-Lewin falls into the great footballer, decent striker in my opinion, as was that other player he reminds me of – Sharpe. I'd never describe him as a "predator" but, in a strange way, he can be instinctive with his head – but certainly not with his feet.

Until he starts putting away some routine chances, learns how to strike the ball crisply and powerfully, and more often than not beats the keeper in one-on-ones, he'll not resemble a striker of the highest order, in my eyes.

Can he learn? Yes, he's certainly intelligent enough but I'm not certain he's got that inner ability. I really hope that he proves me wrong! That said, he's a top player, top bloke and worth his weight in gold.

Mike Gaynes
94 Posted 04/06/2020 at 17:34:36
Darren #82, you didn't ask me but I'd rank Der Bomber #1 in the predator category. He wasn't the most physically imposing or talented, but his instincts and anticipation were incredible, and when he got a chance he never seemed to miss. But unlike Dave #87, I never saw Puskas play, so I'm not fully qualified.

Ray #93, I'd say Calvert-Lewin has already made significant progress in that area. He anticipates, and moves early, a lot better now than he did a year ago, and it has shown up in his goal totals. He may never be a top-level goalscorer, but he is certainly learning his trade skills well.

Darren Hind
95 Posted 06/06/2020 at 12:56:06
I didn't see Puskas either, Mike. I only caught glimpses of the grainy old black & white clips seen around the cinemas. He was hailed as an all-time great by those who did see him though.

I did see a lot of Muller though and, while I'm more than happy to take Dave A's word that Puskas was the better all-round player, I think "Der Bomber" was an all-time great in his own right. He just didn't seem to miss.

I watched "The Big Match" this morning on ITV3. It was a re-run of Spurs vs Everton 1976 at WHL. What a treat. I was actually at the game. I remember we were two down and I knew that "The Latch" made it 3-3 with a few seconds to go, but I had absolutely no recollection of the goal. I must have missed it for some reason. I was delighted to finally see it – it was a beauty. Fabulous run and finish by Latchford.

Paul Tran
96 Posted 06/06/2020 at 13:29:48
I caught that too, Darren. I'm loving these old ITV games from long ago.
Alan McGuffog
97 Posted 06/06/2020 at 13:43:14
Mike Bernard making two howlers to set up their first. Hoddle's first season. Dai Davies. Jumpers for goalposts.


Charles Brewer
101 Posted 12/06/2020 at 18:39:02
I always felt that Calvert-Lewin wasn't hefty enough to withstand the battering that a traditional centre-forward will inevitably get. But this season he has filled out and, while no Bob Latchford, looks as though he's now sufficiently hefty to make his presence count.

But any forward without the right service / partner is going to struggle. He is at the end of a long delivery mechanism. You could have had Pele and Cruyff in front of Koeman's Everton team and they wouldn't have scored a single goal.

The Calvert-Lewin Richarlison combination looks as though it might be just that, since they play very effectively together.

If we imagine the pair of them running about in front of an intelligent reasonably quick midfield, and one which itself poses a threat and so takes even more attention off the front two, then we could finally start to see a decent Everton team, the likes of which has not existed in getting on for 40 years.

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