With the transfer window still fresh in the mind, it might seem strange to talk about where Everton need to strengthen next, so bear with me.
There is no question that after the summer the squad is light at centre back and the failure to land Kurt Zouma or numerous other targets may yet come back to haunt Marco Silva this season, but I want to talk about the other end of the pitch.
The inability to convert chances regularly and to turn tight games from draws into wins is one reason that Everton are struggling to make the leap to become regular challengers for European football. There is a familiar pattern, particularly against teams in the lower half of the table, where the Blues control the game for long periods, fail to capitalise on their superiority and then find themselves ruing points that got away. The Crystal Palace game simply continued this longstanding narrative.
It’s widely accepted that the team has struggled to replace Romelu Lukaku’s goals since his departure, despite creditable returns from both Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson last season. The reality is that the top six sides boast a significantly more potent goal threat and, while this is not the only factor that sets them apart, it’s an area that Everton must address.
To the club’s credit, the strategy of spreading the goals around the team by recruiting players who can chip in from different areas of the pitch makes sense. Yet it masks the underlying issue: that we do not have goalscorers who spread fear into other teams and make the difference in the tightest games.
My argument is that, for many years, we have recruited strikers with a view to having a single focal point for the attack. Lukaku is the obvious example, before him Yakubu. When Lukaku moved on, the question seemed to be ‘which individual will we replace him with’? This is a flawed policy because, with a single striker, you are only ever one injury away from disaster.
So, in my mind, the addition of Moise Kean should be the start, not the end of recruitment up front. It is legitimate to have different types of strikers in the squad, so Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun could deputise for each other, although question marks remain over both. But I come back to goals.
Even if Moise Kean excels and develops over the next two to three years into a regular goalscorer who contributes 15-20 goals a season, there is a clear need to recruit from a position of strength and add another striker, albeit one who could play across the front line. The bid for Wilfried Zaha suggests that Brands and Silva are thinking along these lines, even if the numbers involved made that deal highly unlikely.
If not Zaha, then the search must continue. Greater depth up front will not transform Everton’s fortunes by itself, but nor have we solved the problem by recruiting Kean alone. Just as we are prepared to invest in two players to provide competition for other positions, goalscoring striker must follow suit. Over to you, Marcel!
Reader Comments (32)
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1 Posted 12/08/2019 at 16:45:06
It's a natural reaction from fans though because we have seen for two years now we are crying out for a goal scoring centre forward.
Lukaku scored 25 goals in a relatively average Everton team in 2016-17, I believe we are a better side now in all departments apart from up front.
People bemoaning a lack of service should watch other top strikers in the league or see how Rashford, Aubameyang, Kane all made goal scoring opportunities for themselves over the weekend by making the right movements and being clinical when positioned.
Our strikers just don't possess that knack, that ability, that killer instinct or savvy nature, nor are they aggressive enough when it matters.
Until this is addressed or Moise Kean hits the ground running, then it's going to always fall back to the same old argument over ineffective end product.
2 Posted 12/08/2019 at 18:42:50
We are only now getting shut of player's in the squad who will never in a million years become first-team regulars. But a number of them (Mirallas for one) had their contracts extended, I presume on better terms, a little while ago, whilst the likes of Bolasie, will see out his time at Everton on a permanent loan basis, simply to get him off the wage book.
You're absolutely right, we need goals from other areas, Bernard, although pleasing on the eye, will be lucky if he scores five goals a season.
It's difficult asking the fans to be patient but, as far as myself is concerned, I just want to see steady progress each year, and the talented young players we have, get better and better each season.
I keep saying it, but the 'scatter-gun' approach of Koeman and Walsh in the recent past, still haunts us even now. Fans generally seem pleased with Brands's efforts so far, but the pressure is more on Silva now I believe, to develop a team capable of finishing higher than 8th place.
We'll wait and see.
3 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:13:44
I dont think it should really have taken so long really to solve the lack of goals issue as it has.
We cant even complain about goals not coming from other areas because we had Sigurdsson and Richarlison score 13 apiece last season.
Bernard will never be a midfielder that score goals, nor will Gomes or Tom Davies, and so far theres nothing in Gbamin recent history to suggest hes a free scoring midfielder either.
My guess is if we had the same Lukaku who was at Everton scoring 20-25 goals and in spells unplayable coupled with Richarlison and Sigurdsson scoring double figures then we would be on easy street going forward.
The failure thus far to even come remotely close to replacing Lukaku is disappointing.
Moise Kean is 19, but he has played already and scored already for both his country and a top club in Juventus.
Im hopeful Kean is going to be more in the Wayne Rooney, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen or Romelu Lukaku brigade at 19 years old than the Dominic Calvert-Lewin at 22 stage of almost incessant reliance on patience from apologetic fans.
4 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:15:24
5 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:28:57
I agree about Richarlison not being in the game enough playing out wide.
I think the opinion is still out on what his best position is going to be.
At times he looked fantastic playing as striker last autumn away at Leicester and home to Brighton really spring to my mind but then other games you could tell he was not a natural.
I dont think hes really direct or skilful enough though to be a flying wide player, its a tough one but I agree that too many games pass a player by that can offer so much for us.
The lack of goals is a worry and its ok people suggesting we need them from other areas but look at it this way, even if we somehow had 4 of our midfielders all hitting 10 goals (which wont happen anyway) that would still only give us 40 goals.
You would still require a striker getting between 12-18 goals and at least a combined 8-10 from our defence.
Goals win games, thats why the best attacking teams always finish in the highest positions and also why Leicester won the league in 2016, because they had a striker in Vardy that was simply on fire.
6 Posted 12/08/2019 at 20:20:39
7 Posted 12/08/2019 at 20:56:18
Yes, it would be nice to have more goalscorers, but our issue isn't "the inability to convert chances regularly."
It's the inability to create chances regularly.
Sure, our finishing needs improvement, but that's pretty pointless if there's nothing to finish. We actually created only two opportunities against Palace, both for Siggy. He missed one and had the other cleared off the line. Our other two best chances, for Coleman and Richarlison, pretty much fell to them from luck. So two real scoring chances off our own passes, one in each half. THAT's the problem.
So talk about "converting chances" if you want to, but to me that's an argument as empty as our opponents' penalty area.
8 Posted 12/08/2019 at 22:49:24
In the early 60s, it was described as 'After you, Claude'. The arrival of Fred Pickering put an end to that kind of nonsense. Fred would never waste an opportunity of having a go. Many of his shots would be high wide and not very handsome but his overall record of 70 goals in 115 games speaks for itself.
Fred's lethal end product made him the focus of opponents attention and helped 'create' space for his team mates to also have a go.
9 Posted 13/08/2019 at 02:02:11
And it's true that while our leading scorers, Richarlison and Sigurdsson, seem to take every shot that's available to them, guys like Calvert-Lewin and Bernard do seem very timid. And Gomes, who can obviously crack a ball hard, never even seems to look at the goal. We definitely could use a bit more hunger.
10 Posted 13/08/2019 at 02:10:24
When we have the ball, his instinct is to get into a position to be a link, not a finisher. But Silva's current tactics and/or player group feed into this.
Bernard is not an outside forward/winger in a 4-3-3. Yes, he works his butt of and allows Digne to get forward and put in dangerous balls. But isn't a goal threat, doesn't press high. He plays more like a left-sided midfielder in a 4-4-2.
Sigurdsson has a great engine, but not the dynamic pace, and he along with Calvert-Lewin are the two doing the high press while Richy and Bernard drop deeper. But then doesn't have the speed to get back to the middle and help defend, and when we counter with speed, he doesn't have the pace to get up and overlap Calvert-Lewin.
If we are going to play 4-3-3 with the current group. Sigurdsson can't play the No 10 role. Richarlison, Kean and Calvert-Lewin up front, Davies, Sigurdsson or Bernard, Gbamin (this weekend) in the middle.
I think we have the fire power, but just not playing the tactics to utilise it the best way.
11 Posted 13/08/2019 at 04:24:28
The more I read through the comments and opinions on this thread and Paul Tran's thread “Shapes of things to come”, the more I am convinced Marco Silva needs to change his approach and set up according to the strength of what is the best group of footballers I have seen at Everton for a long time.
For me, that would start with playing a two of Richarlison and Kean up front. That would take some of the pressure of Kean and between them I think they would score a lot of goals.
As far as creating goals is concerned I think Bernard is capable of that from midfield – my only doubt being has he got the physicality for the role (he is certainly courageous enough)? Plenty of players of his stature before him have had – some of them great players. Collins and Ball spring to mind immediately.
Like Jamie and Ben, I think he is worth a try there this weekend at home against Watford.
12 Posted 13/08/2019 at 10:07:02
We need to find more ways of attacking, rather than just using Coleman and Digne to swing in crosses. And we need to find more ways of passing and moving with accuracy in the final third. Having midfielders who run beyond the striker would be a helpful start.
Richarlison is part of the issue because, although he's a decent finisher, he creates very little. Last season, he made only 0.6 key passes per match which is half the amount of Bernard.
13 Posted 13/08/2019 at 12:51:51
14 Posted 13/08/2019 at 13:29:19
Our strikers DCL, Niasse, Tosen are bottom end Prem / Championship players.
Judge strikers on goals and our 3 probably didn't score the same amount as a Vardy nevermind a Kane last year.
I just hope Kean hits the ground running.
15 Posted 13/08/2019 at 13:44:48
16 Posted 13/08/2019 at 14:15:33
I attach this, https://twitter.com/stattosuper/status/1156529331012808704 in the hope that anyone interested can see the crying need we have had in all Siggi's time with us for a forward with a killer instinct/ability.
17 Posted 13/08/2019 at 14:28:34
I agree the problem is the ' the inability to create chances '. I have always felt that the tactic in the final third was to shoot on sight, with a pass to a player in a better position or interplay, was a secondary consideration. This is bore out by stats that show that Everton have one of the lowest rates of through balls and completed passes in the final third in the Premier. In the Palace game only 15 percent of the attacking play was through the centre. Attacking play was dominated by wing play, with few shots on target.
18 Posted 13/08/2019 at 14:39:59
Even Zidane would look hopeless in our set up and his confidence would of soon dried up.
19 Posted 13/08/2019 at 15:04:43
The wing play issue is obvious to the eye... crosses from the fullbacks are prayers at best, particularly since we don't have a dominant header/finisher to attack them. Whether the crosses are well-placed (Digne) or not (Coleman) doesn't really matter, since opponents know that's all they need to play us for. When you can't attack through the middle very well, your goal output will be largely reliant on work, hustle and sheer luck, like Richarlison's chance on Saturday.
20 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:15:36
At Sporting, Slimani was the big striker, and he did joint top score with 11, but Freddy Montero (the Colombian winger with pace to burn) also got 11 and the midfield and other forwards all weighed in with goals.
Go back a year and again the AMC, Evandro smashed in 11 for Silva's Estoril, whilst Joao Pedro scored as many from midfield as the main striker Luis Leal. There was lots of goals in that side but they were shared about.
Go to Watford and Doucouré scored 7 and Richarlison 5, but only 4 for the main striker André Gray.
Hull? Well Niasse was top scorer with 5, but Silva's tactics were a bit different there.
Point is history shows that Silva is not one to rely on a striker. His tactics have seen his sides be proficient in front of goal, but those goals more often come from the wide positions or an attacking midfielder than the traditional centre-forward.
We need goals, but as long as we score it doesn't matter who gets them. And we need to forget the days of Lukaku scoring 25 and not doing much else. Sigurdsson gets more opportunity than Calvert-Lewin, and that is by design, and history shows this is not unique to Everton.
21 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:26:27
We had seasons under Smith and periods under Moyes where we could not create chances.
Under Silva we do create chances whether they are from crosses, worked plays or % balls, we do create them. The issue is we don't take as many of them since Lukaku left.
We aren't as good at creating chances as the top 2 but probably create as many as Arsenal who generally score as they have top strikers who create their own chances out of nothing.
With this current team it's obvious our weakness is up top.
Don't get me wrong we haven't got a team of world-beaters and just need a striker. We have quite a lot of players who are decent but only 2 match winners in Sigurdsson and Richarleson.
22 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:39:30
Like Sam I am in two minds how this can be changed.
Steve's #20 correctly points out the conundrum of Silvas tactics.
Whilst it looks like the weakness is in passing in the final third and the ability of players to do this, what if this is not part of Silvas coaching and tactics ?
Two striker, one holding and another feeding off may work, but would the high press be maintained. Finishing is often cited as a stats Weakness, with a lot of shots off target, but the inability to create proper chances could explain this. Shoot on sight in the final third seems to be the preference. Link play is rather in the opposition penalty area.
The present tactics play into the hands of teams who set up shop and if the high press is not maintain midfield is over run.
Ironically Everton play better against the top team that come at them. but Arsenal reverted to shutting up shop against us and where successful , last season.
23 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:42:09
We now have Kean, Iwobi and Richarlison so I think we are slowly getting there. Zaha would have made a big difference.
24 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:50:28
For us, undersold Gana, seriously good value-for-money purchases at the prices paid for Gomes, Keane and Iwobi.
Arsenal skinned both ways, Wolves did good business.
25 Posted 13/08/2019 at 16:51:50
26 Posted 14/08/2019 at 00:26:41
From what I saw a lot of those chances fell to Walcott who made good runs coming in from the right in most cases but failed to finish.
27 Posted 14/08/2019 at 02:42:29
It might be gung-ho against the better teams but against teams thay sit back we desperately need a Plan B. We are good enough to make this work in my opinion and Silva needs to start earning his money. Would be great to see him adopt an old-fashioned English formation and batter teams with it.
28 Posted 14/08/2019 at 02:47:07
29 Posted 14/08/2019 at 02:53:26
I may be wrong but I thought the RS (own goal, ricochet falling to Salah, Van Dijk just having to stand up to convert) and United (poor challenge for penalty, sloppy defending for 2/3 others) both benefitted greatly from the latter category in their opening games.
Citeh may be the epitome of a creative team but the rest of us are all (basically) hoping for things to fall our way more often than they do for the opponents. Best way to do it is to control the ball as much as we can, cranking up pressure on the opposition defence and limiting the times we are exposed.
I think using our naturally creative flanks is a better bet than artificially trying to promote the generation of openings through the congested centre. What we have often lacked is a player anticipating where the crosses will end up and that is what we have to hope Moise Kean has the natural ability to do, or that his creative play in the final third helps to pull defenders out of position.
It is one of those things where success breeds success, so that players get into the habit of pinging the ball into the danger area because they know that often enough someone will be there to get on the end of it.
Another factor that should be considered is whether VAR will increase the opportunities from dead-ball situations. Hopefully both Keane and Mina will have more chances to create havoc in the opposition box.
30 Posted 14/08/2019 at 11:14:05
I take issue with Rashford being the model of a great striker who can create chances for himself. In approximately 100 games over the last 3 full seasons he scored 22 goals in total – ie, just over 7 a season. for Man Utd. Martial goes one better with 23 goals in 3 seasons. Okay, that's more than Calvert-Lewin (averaging 5 a season the last two years) – but his role is a little different and we're only talking a couple of goals difference per regular season.
I agree that Calvert-Lewin is not currently the answer but there aren't many that are operating in a quantumly higher level – certainly not those at Man Utd.
31 Posted 14/08/2019 at 12:00:20
Shots per game - 13.4 - 7th
Shots on target per game - 4.4 - 8th
Goals from open play - 33 - 8th
Goals on the counter-attack - 2 - 12th
Set piece goals - 16 - 2nd
Penalties - 2 - 15th
There was talk about how the favoured the flanks against Palace so this may interest you:
Left side - 39% - 11th
Middle - 22% - 17th
Right Side - 40% - 3rd
The top for middle was only 31% (Watford) and most sides were no higher than 26%. This is not quite an Everton only trait, although we are 17th for using the middle of the pitch. It clearly shows that in an era of 5 man midfields and usually narrow tactics, that there is more space wide and so teams gravitate towards that.
A stat that will compound a lot of beliefs is shooting:
in the 6 yard box - 7% (14th)
In the 18 yard box - 61% (1st)
Outside the area - 33% (18th)
What this tells us is that we are overplaying it. We are not scoring tap ins, we are not letting rip from distance, instead we are passing into good positions and shooting from just inside the penalty area. Arsenal do this and have very similar stats to our own, but are slightly higher for inside the box. Whilst this is where Burnley lead the league (16%) and shows them scoring in scrambles, Arsenal's overplaying leads them to tap it home in the 6 yard box.
The stats for action zones - ie where the ball is most is interesting:
our own third - 27% (5th lowest in league)
middle third - 44% (joint lowest in league)
attacking third - 30% (4th highest in the league)
So this clearly shows we have the ball in the danger areas more than most and we just need to improve the quality of our finishing.
32 Posted 15/08/2019 at 06:21:27
Maybe Bernard and Richarlison (to a lesser extent) have to be more proactive when an attack is forming on the opposite flank to attack the box more and get themselves into a danger area around Calvert-Lewin, distracting defenders and waiting for the knock-down or ricochet opportunity.
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