Sat in my normal seat versus Spurs, my phone beeped. The line-ups had come through the Goodison Internet free zone for the upcoming match. I knew Bernard was out and that Silva liked to play 4-2-3-1.
After scoring against Brighton last time out and given Silva’s comments (misguided in my opinion) about Moise Kean being a right-winger, I fully expected Dominic Calvert-Lewin to start up-front. "Good," I thought. "He isn’t the best striker in the world but he will challenge for every ball and make life difficult for Alderweirld and Sanchez."
So I looked at the team and was utterly confused. With Gomes, Davies and Delph in the side, are we playing 4-3-3 with Richarlison or Iwobi or Walcott up-front? Walcott, of course, stated his desire to play as a striker many times. Or are we playing 4-2-3-1 with either Davies or Gomes advanced?
So I got thinking as the game went on and, despite the usual plethora of shocking officiating from Mr Atkinson and controversial decisions going against us again, we did look like a team who couldn’t finish chances. I counted three, maybe four, excellent opportunities where I felt we should have tested Gazzaniga in the Spurs goal. But apart from Cenk Tosun’s wonderful header to draw it, I didn’t think he was particularly challenged, with the notable exception of Richarlison effort from great build-up play down the left.
As I left the ground and walked back the half-mile or so to the car, I asked myself a question I have often asked: What if we had told Lukaku he had to stay and honour his contract? Alright, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t be here this season as his time would have been up, but what would the last two seasons have been like with Big Rom banging in 20+ a season?
We finished 7th the last season he was with us, and actually if you look at the table for that season, we were comfortably 7th by some distance. This was with a team that, dare I say it, was less talented than the one we have today. Bolasie, Deulofeu, Barkley, Gana, Jagielka, Lukaku were key members.
Other than Lukaku in that list of names I would say on ability alone:
Bernard > Bolasie
Richarlison > Delofeu
Sigurdsson > Barkley
Gana – Okay, no contest. Maybe got that bit wrong
Mina > Jagielka (at the age Jags was, not in his prime)
So how did that team finish comfortably 7th? Simple really. If we could defend properly, we always knew that there was a chance of scoring from one opportunity with Rom.
Let’s face it. We have never replaced him or even had a coherent strategy around how to replace him. If you look at our current list of strikers and asserted how they like to play:
Calvert-Lewin – Holds the ball up well, aerial threat.
Tosun – No speed or power but excellent finisher
Kean – Speed and power but erratic finisher
Niasse – Just totally unpredictable
Richarlison – Likes to work the channels and link up play
Lukaku might have been a one-off but he had pace, power, finishing ability and could hold the ball up.
I see that the names above have come at a cost of circa £112M but I don’t think any of them comes near to the mark of replacing Lukaku.
So what do we need to do, in my opinion, to solve this problem? I would say match these types of strikers up in pairs so that they can complement each other rather than play with this insipid 4-2-3-1 that Silva sticks to.
My preferences would be Calvert-Lewin and Tosun — Calvert-Lewin holds the ball up well and can feed it wide, while Tosun takes up clever positions in the box and is a good finisher of chances, yesterday being a case in point. One chance, one goal.
Or you could pair up Kean and Richarlison. Kean to bully their centre-back nd make them worry about the threat through the middle while Richarlison works the space and links the game up to our wide players.
Trying to play a system where only one striker plays and is successful relies on having a fantastic striker. Teams that I think can do this would be Arsenal with Aubameyang, Man City with Aguero, Spurs with Kane, and Leicester with Vardy. That’s four teams in a 20-team league, so why are we so wedded to the idea that you have to play a No 10 and you have to play two wide forwards?
I would have us playing a 4-4-2 diamond with the full-back overlapping to provide the width as both Digne and Sidibé are good crossers of the ball. Below, players in parenthesis are replacements for players currently injured:
Sidibé Mina Holgate Digne
Reader Comments (44)
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1 Posted 06/11/2019 at 18:57:24
I would say Barkley, despite the flaws in his game, was a much better player than Sigurdsson has proved to be.
2 Posted 06/11/2019 at 19:44:19
The problem is our woeful management and their inability to spot the right player.
We also got shut of pacy Barkley and spent £40 mill on a slow dud!
3 Posted 06/11/2019 at 19:46:55
4 Posted 06/11/2019 at 20:56:55
Don't you recall his blather, almost every time he was abroad playing with Belgium? Always looking for the next move to a 'big' club. Coz 'plucky little Everton' were only ever always just a stepping stone to bigger better things for the Big Man who was simply far too big (in his and his dad's minds) to stay with us.
Yes, he scored goals for us. His overall goal stats even improved with every passing season. But his ultimate departure, with time still to run on his contract, was more than inevitable, and was simply very good business for Everton in terms of money (a long-term modus operandi at Everton... The Everton Way perhaps?).
There was no way Lukaku was staying for a 5th or 6th season. No way at all. So your premise is simply false.
5 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:12:33
Lukaku was never a marriage – only a fleeting affair.
6 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:16:14
It is a disgraceful reflection on the management of the club that we bought Niasse, Sandro, Kean and Tosun for about the fee we got for Lukaku and not one of them is capable of 10 goals a season.
Personally I was glad to see the back of Lukaku although we did let him go too easily with 2 years of his contract left. Any big club with ambition would not have let him go until a suitable replacement was brought in.
7 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:18:23
Man Utd now seem to be in agreement and Belgium's De Bruyne publicly bollocked him in the recent World Cup for such inadequacies. He plays for himself, not the team.
8 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:38:05
He was a good player, with the right service and I think what if, that day when we last let Liverpool off the hook in the 3-3 draw at Goodison Park.
Always though with back to goal especially, his first touch was always poor and still is. First touch in football is everything.
Some good goals scored but sitters missed. That was a day, when we should have seen them off 5-3, but we didn't and that's history.
9 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:39:49
I agree with the formation because it gives us two up front and whoever is at the tip of the diamond can push into the box if the strikers split the defence.
If we played that formation against Saints... and with current injuries, l would go with the obvious back 4.
Schneiderlin at the base of the diamond. However, he needs speed around him. So l would have both Davies and lwobi as the other midfielders, providing energy and some thrust going forward. I was impressed with Davies in the last game and with his range of passing improving.
Tip of the diamond would be Sigurdsson. This formation suits our better players. Isn't that what we are looking for?
Up to now, that's solid to me and Silva now has to choose the right duo to play together. That's where it's not as clear. One player can be used to stretch the opposition defenders... this could be Walcott or Richarlison. Or would Tosun work well with a partner like Calvert-Lewin?
Much more likely that we return to 4-2-3-1 with Iwobi left and Siggy returning. Otherwise, Richarlison left and Tosun or Calvert-Lewin up top. Perhaps Silva will give Tosun a go as l think he's waited long enough for his chance now.
Anyway, Dylan, thanks for changing the subject (he's scored two so far).
10 Posted 06/11/2019 at 21:59:11
He may not be Usain Bolt over a sprint, but he's plenty quick enough over short spring in the box and he also has a bit of strength about him.
Had Silva not managed his team/squad so poorly instead of putting Tosun in a system that played to his strengths, I feel he would have scored a few.
He's definitely our best forward (in my opinion) and I like his attitude, he's been out the team doesn't sulk, a real pro.
11 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:01:18
It's well documented that we will only buy a player if the DOF and the manager agree. The DOF represents the club's long term strategy, the manager picks the team so he represents the here and now. If there's any doubt over a player, we don't proceed.
If you look at the strikers we have bought in the last 5 years, we seem to have been going for value. They have either been gambles or young talent:
Niasse - gamble after scoring goals in an obscure league (Russia)
Rooney - free (and past his best)
Calvert-Lewin - young talent
Ramirez - young talent
Tosun - gamble after scoring goals in an obscure league (Turkey)
Kean - young talent
You can't tell me that Koeman, Allardyce and now Silva have not wanted to sign an established striker between them in the last 5 years! The only one that I can remember us even showing an interest in was Giroud, and we seemed to drag our feet a bit with that one.
It all suggests to me that the club's transfer strategy is somewhat lacking. Having sold Lukaku for around £90 million, we could have conservatively spent £50 million on a top striker in his prime and still had some money left over.
I'm really not sure we have had the right structure to replace Lukaku. With the DOF and the various managers seemingly having a veto, it's even more difficult to replace Lukaku if trying to marry up the here and now (manager) with the club's long-term interests (DOF).
12 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:04:51
13 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:07:31
Your combinations of players are all reasonable and might work under different circumstances, but I believe this team is psychologically on the floor and only a change of manager and some new players will bring a true energy and confidence back to the team.
14 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:12:14
Agreed. Barkley would walk into this team and be a huge improvement on what we have.
Sigurdsson rarely effects a game in a meaningful way unless he is putting a worldly in the top corner.
Ross, much to his own detriment, would always try and get involved in the game. He wasn't always great but he never shied away from trying to find the ball and was always available for a pass.
But anyway, he and Lukaku were regularly booed by a lot of the fans around me for some bizarre reason.
The tension and groans every time Ross tried something and it did not quite work... frequent.
The slagging off of Rom for his lack of ‘effort' when he was absolutely deadly in a one-on-one scenario and was putting double figures away for us.
Everton aren't we...
15 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:19:57
16 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:21:13
Brands? Not all of the players in the current 1st team are his and for this reason it might be wrong to sack him, but I worried when he didn't bring in a genuine scoring forward in the summer.
I suspect that was meant to be Kean dispite all the clubs talk of potential and the future, they were secretly hoping he'd help us out with a few goals, it didn't happen.
There's one of these: ? floating above Brands head at the moment as far as I'm concerned.
17 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:29:35
I think that any negative reaction to Lukaku from the crowd was probably fuelled by the crap he spouted while away with Belgium about how he'd outgrown us and wanted a proper big club.
Yes, I'll agree that Goodison Park was far too impatient with Barkley, it makes it worse when you consider he wasn't bought for telephone numbers or paid them, he was trying, but they just wouldn't give him any slack.
18 Posted 06/11/2019 at 22:39:16
My perception of Romelu was that he needed several chances to score, scored very few headers for a big man, and had a terrible first touch. I also think he scored many of his goals when the pressure was off.
He could be deadly however and, Chelsea in the Cup, when he was able to break free and charge, it was a sight to behold.
For me, he scored the goals he did because everything was going through him. Mirallas and Barkley were tasked with getting the ball to him along with others. Unfortunately, while he was in the side, the tactics were served to get him on the end of everything, not hold up and bring in others as with say Calvert-Lewin or Ferguson. The goals weren't shared around as much so, once he left, we had a big gap to fill.
He never got injured so we never really had to cope without him until he left.
That said, while we really struggled to plug the gap in the 20171-8 season, I think we did last season. Didn't Richarlison and Sigurdsson rack up 28 goals in total?
He seemed perfect for Hull at home but at tough away grounds, his sulky gesticulating and wanting perfectly weighted balls to feet and not running much would still drive us mad. As would his constant array of Champions League ambitions quotes.
Would I want him back? Yes. Would I want his goals back? Yes
Caveat this with him developing as a striker and not dominating team tactics for what he offers.
19 Posted 06/11/2019 at 23:13:43
Think about the mess Brands inherited. Like, really, the MESS. It's really easy for us to toss Monopoly money around but it's not ours. Moshiri isn't a bottomless pit of cash, and thus Brands needed to get a ton of dead wages off the books. He did a pretty good job this past window, and yet still has a massive amount left.
I think - only think, since I haven't personally spoken to the man - that step 1 (besides the clearing out part) was designed to build a young nucleus of 'like' talent that could be built around. He's done a halfway decent job of that, and quite frankly with better performance and/or a better manager to help them reach their potential, we'd be seeing that.
But he isn't responsible for Schneiderlin (£100k/wk), or Walcott (£100k/wk, despite his nice run of 2 1/2 games), or most glaringly, Sigurdsson (£100k/wk). To a lesser degree he's not responsible for Pickford (£100k/wk) or Keane (£60k/wk) either. Coleman was acquired for a song, and the Sidibe loan PLUS the loan out of Kenny show that he has plans for RB too. Baines is an afterthought, despite being paid £65k/wk. If you want you can add Tosun (£60k/wk), Niasse (£55k/wk), and Martina (£35k/wk) to that list. We don't need to add it all up to realize that we have a ton of money tied up in players that by June at the latest will have no place on this team (IMO, of course).
Maybe if the previous couple of regimes hadn't done such a horrible, horrible job at recruiting, we'd have the £120m+ that's needed to acquire a top level striker, and midfielder. The mandate has been to at worst focus on under-25's. Those types of strikers are not in the least bit cheap without taking a shot on someone.
It took more than 4 years to turn PSV around, and they're perennially a top 3 team in a substantially less quality league. Even a world class team like City took 2+ years after the influx of oil money to climb from 10th to top 4.
He's only had 1 1/2 years so far, 3 transfer windows, and has yet to have a say in our manager. I think some patience is simply going to be required.
20 Posted 06/11/2019 at 23:45:29
21 Posted 06/11/2019 at 23:50:37
Andrew, it was Koeman that stated we didn't need to bring in a like-for-like player and we needed to spread the goals around.
We veered off course the last few years after managerial changes meant style changes. I hope that, if we do change Silva, we think about the style of football we want to see using the squad to its best. Just for once!
22 Posted 07/11/2019 at 00:30:08
Lukaku and Stones, yes.
Barkley, barely maybe, although he never looked like a foundational piece for us and has hardly set the world on fire at Chelsea.
But Deulofeu?? No. Just no. That is not a piece you build around. That's not a girder. That's a decorational fresco on top.
The fourth name you're looking for isn't Deulofeu. It's Gueye.
23 Posted 07/11/2019 at 02:14:10
Gana, yes perhaps. (He's doing well and enjoying himself). Does that make 4 1/2? I think there is still a lot more to come from Del Boy, maybe that's the problem. Barkley has improved a lot at Chelsea l think. Out injured at the moment but he has stopped giving the ball away every other minute.
We have bought in a lot of players over the last 4 years. Just interesting to think how it could've been to add to what we had other than to tear it all up and start again each season
This season should've been much better because we only had to make two changes to how we finished last season when we were flying. 17th... Honestly!
24 Posted 07/11/2019 at 02:36:39
I was a big Deulofeu fan, but that's a hilariously spot-on description.
25 Posted 07/11/2019 at 09:48:05
We don't know for sure who's the organ grinder and who's the monkey... but somehow I don't see Mineer Director Brands with a tin cup in his paw. So just how much input does the junior partner have?
Or is it a case of I pick them, you coach them... If they're no good it's your fault as a coach... oh don't forget to pick up your P45 on the way out.
I'd hate to get the sack because the guy passing me the spanners doesn't know his metric from his Imperial.
26 Posted 07/11/2019 at 09:55:14
Suggesting pairs of strikers ain't a bad idea, personally I'd like to see Tosun paired up as he looks like our most natural finisher.
27 Posted 07/11/2019 at 10:05:29
28 Posted 07/11/2019 at 11:03:50
This is because:
A) The player will want to join the Sky luvvies.
B) The player wants to learn from better players.
C) The agent has told him he's far better than Everton. Agent speak for "I want my cut of the pie."
D) Everton are a selling club and will cash in.
Forget about top-drawer, established players coming to Everton FC, there's more chance of finding rocking-horse shite. I don't get down about this, as it's the modern game. Even the Sky darlings lose their top players to Real, Barca and PSG.
29 Posted 07/11/2019 at 11:07:33
Remember the "get me out of here" press releases every time he was away with Belgium?
Remember how he would score a hattrick against Bournemouth, proclaim to be god and needing a move away, and then go 100% missing in the derby next match?
Remember his sulky demeanor on the pitch and lack of goal celebrations?
Remember how the players would often celebrate with the guy who set up Lukaku's goals rather than with Lukaku himself?
He was a problematic character even at Man Utd, he always had one eye on the door. My Man Utd fan mate said that Rom was frustrating as he would be a slayer against the lesser teams and then go missing in any big match at Old Trafford against any big team. Pretty much sums up what he was like for us.
As others have said, look at Liverpool's recruitment; goal scorers are out there. Liverpool lost Coutinho and Suarez but, with the right recruitment, they have flourished.
30 Posted 07/11/2019 at 12:20:22
Also, I feel for Calvert-Lewin playing on his own there, he is trying, working his socks off, and has no support and two defenders to shake off all the time. For a young lad, he is doing very well in these circumstances.
I fully agree with trying Calvert-Lewin and Tosun as a partnership in a hybrid 4-4-2. They could contemplate each other, Calvert-Lewin still has his midfielder instincts and drops deeper anyway so at times it would be 4-5-1.
Replacing Tosun with Kean when necessary during a game could also be a positive substitute strategy. Kean's pace and directness would be a threat for the last 20-30 mins of any game.
I can't understand the rigidity and stubbornness of thinking. There is a logic here that needs trying out.
31 Posted 07/11/2019 at 12:48:00
The many variations of, "It's criminal the Club hasn't replaced him"? With whom? What player anywhere in Europe who can score goals as Lukaku has and does, AND entering his prime, is going to come to Everton? No player.
Take Lukaku himself. Say he stayed at WBA after his loan instead of coming to Everton (God help us). 5 years at WBA, scored the same number of goals. At the end of the 2016 season, when he was looking for the next thing, he never would have considered Everton as a viable choice. Never.
Proven goal scorers in or entering their prime years are no more going to choose Everton as they would Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, or Sheffield United.
As to Lukaku "disrespecting the Club" with his yearly talk of playing regularly in the big tournaments? After his loans at WBA and us, does anyone really believe only Everton wanted to sign him?
He basically forced Chelsea into making a deal because he wanted to COME to Everton and, in the end, gave it 4 full seasons with us before moving on.
And at the end of that fourth season, after we'd just finished surging back up the Table to 8th place, of course he left. I wish he hadn't and would love to have him back.
The only way we're going to get a "Lukaku" is the same way we got him in the first place or by signing talented kids who develop. Which is part and parcel with Brands's brief.
32 Posted 07/11/2019 at 13:22:03
33 Posted 07/11/2019 at 17:20:11
I said it at the time when all four players were with us and getting stick, and I'll say it again now:
In Stones, Barkley, Deulofeu and Lukaku we had a quarter, the spine of a side, with exactly the profile we needed and on which to build and embellish.
Young, talented, ambitious, full of potential.
Timing is everything in football. Under the right manager we had the basis in that quartet to build something special by ADDING to them, not selling them on.
That very much appeared to be the case in Martinez's first season in which he was rewarded for playing all four and we produced some scintillating football.
Surely not even the most prejudiced of Blues that has expressed a dislike of all or any of that quartet can deny that? Stones was a Rolls Royce defender. The interplay of Del Boy, Barkley and Lukaku left us purring with pleasure.
We seldom if ever see any more some of the surgical perfectly weighted passes that Deulofeu regularly produced.
The more senior players were also at the peak of their powers, so the balance was exquisite.
Of course, Del Boy wasn't with us in Roberto's 2nd season and for whatever reason, the manager moved away from the brash game we played in his 1st season and everything was akin to how it appears now: a preponderance on possession football without rapid transition.
By Roberto's 3rd season Deulofeu was back with us permanently and although results were poor, he was playing well, Stones and Barkley were growing as players and selected for England. Lukaku kept banging them in.
We fell at the last hurdle in both domestic cup semis, when Martinez bizarrely stopped selecting Del Boy on a regular basis when we were crying out for guile, speed and creativity.
Don't forget, in the LC semi we were 2-0 to the good away to City with a little more than an hour to play. It was a rare game by then when Deulofeu started. He was playing well. We still had the aggregate lead and Del Boy was keeping City honest. Then Roberto took him off. Anyone else recall the look between Baines and Jags when that happened? They knew what was coming.
Koeman replaced Roberto. He fought to keep Stones but lost that struggle. He repeatedly criticized Barkley publicly (at a time his contract was running down). He didn't care for Deulofeu. Lukaku was his one saving grace who was then allowed to leave in Koeman's curtailed 2nd season. Similarly, given all the abuse he had endured by his own manager, Barkley refused to sign a new contract and we lost him for a knock down price.
All four continue to be better players than some give them credit for.
I'll say it again, all four had exactly the profile a club like Everton should look to be recruiting and retaining: young, ambitious, talented and lots of potential.
For various reasons including mismanagement at both boardroom level and different footy managers, the loss of that quartet represents a huge missed opportunity by Everton FC, IMO.
34 Posted 07/11/2019 at 19:07:27
The capacity to buy quality after that first season and replace the ageing deadwood of Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Coleman, Pienaar et al rather than bottom of the barrel jobbies like McCready might have changed things. Perhaps winning a cup, progressing to europe may have made Rom stay longer but the fact is top players are mercenary until they finally arrive at Real Madrid.
Top clubs are in perpetual readiness for such transfers but we haven't proactively bought top quality since Kanchelskis. Rom was a once in a generation acquisition at this moribund club, it's no mystery why we haven't replaced him
35 Posted 07/11/2019 at 20:31:36
Doesn't matter if he don't bleed blue (and all that crap), he scored 68 premier league goals from 141 appearances. We won't get that again anytime soon.
36 Posted 07/11/2019 at 22:13:35
Look at him in Italy now, scoring goals again for fun. Looks fitter, looks like hes lost some weight. Lukaku needs to feel loved and thats why he did so well for us. I miss him. I think people who disregard Lukaku and what he did for us are completely mad.
Im 34 and Ive had to watch Brett Angel, Madar, Amokachi, Jelavic, Radzinski, Bakayoko, even our heroes such as Ferguson and to some Rooney hardly put the ball in the net for us.
Lukaku was the best striker we have had in 20 years. Anyone who disagrees is crazy.
37 Posted 07/11/2019 at 22:39:51
Jay, thats why l really didn't want us to rip it up and start again this time but might not have the option. We had those 4 to build around. Now we have too many in my opinion. Both Silva and Allardyce took over messes... even more so Sam. Whoever takes over from Silva has it so much better. We have some great kids coming up and a young squad capable of being anything.
38 Posted 08/11/2019 at 13:09:39
40 Posted 08/11/2019 at 15:32:10
Agents take advantage of the noises made by the media and before you know it, everyone is talking about our star (whoever that maybe) moving on to bigger things.
Ask any 21 year old that is touted as a future star and he will tell you if he signs for Everton its because its good for raising his profile and Everton are a good stepping stone.
Its true until the psyche changes from within the club and we send out the messages that make a 21 year old think we can be that Champions league side.
Moshiri's first decision wasn't to tell us we were looking to win the league, it was to sell Stones then tell us Koulibaly was too expensive.
What were Lukaku and Barkley's agent going to do then?
41 Posted 08/11/2019 at 15:45:51
As for the main premise concerning Rom, Michael at #4 is absolutely right. He was never going to stay permanently, for love or money, and we were lucky to keep him as long as we did.
42 Posted 08/11/2019 at 15:50:18
43 Posted 09/11/2019 at 00:36:47
44 Posted 09/11/2019 at 10:57:40
Ill see your Brett Angel and raise you a Stewart Barlow, or jigsaw as he was perfectly labelled.
Lukaku was always on his way as we couldnt offer him the opportunity to play at the level his ability deserved: I didnt like the way he handled it and think he was ill advised but thats life. With the benefit of hindsight we would have been better off getting Troy Deeney, an idea that I remember suggesting in a post and appalling many purists. The recruitment has been beyond appalling, Niasse, Sandro, etc and I expect the next one will be a huge gamble, a player from a foreign league beneath the level of champions league but carrying a champions league price tag.
Im many would agree the likes of Callum Wilson would probably bag us around 20 a season and then it would Romulu who?
Our recruitment went off by a couple of degrees in 1988 and has never recovered, barring joe Royles signing of kanchelskis and the the odd gem like Cahill and Arteta.
45 Posted 09/11/2019 at 13:56:11
"Look at the players that came from here and went on to a big club - Rodwell, Fellaini, Rooney. Good players have stayed here a year, maybe two or three and gone on to a big team. Hopefully it will be the same for me."
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