Time to Experiment?

Martin O'Connor 10/06/2020 12comments  |  Jump to last

As we prepare for the final nine games of the season, what should be the objective for the Toffees? Beating the Spawn of Satan is a given but, apart from that, what else is there to play for?

Yes, we want to win all our games but objectively, we are 12th in the league, in no danger of getting dragged into any perilous situation, while European qualification has become a pipe dream. So now is the perfect time for Carlo Ancelotti to enter the laboratory and experiment: it's time to shake things up.

This issue essentially for me surrounds seven players. The first three are Moise Kean, Anthony Gordon and Alex Iwobi. With the final nine games, it seems a perfect time to give Kean more playing minutes, getting him more used to the Premier League and priming him for what will be his big chance next season.


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For Anthony Gordon, the playing time he has been given this season is a scandal. He is a player of real talent and, while everyone at the club talks him up, he has hardly had a look-in this season. These final nine games are the perfect time to unleash Gordon and give him real game time, gaining first-team experience for what hopefully will be his big break-out season next term.

As for Alex Iwobi, to say his season has been stop-start would be an understatement. He actually started well early on before injuries and loss of form disrupted his first season at the club. Is he good enough? I think the jury for all Blues is still out on that but, with him now fully fit, it is time for Carlo to give him some game time so we can all make our minds up on him.

Which brings me to the next batch of four players: Dennis Adeniran, Beni Baningime, Nathangelo Markelo and Lewis Gibson, names associated with the Under-23s it seems for an eternity. As I have wrote before about the Under-23s, Everton as a club hold on to young players who are never going to make the first team for far too long, either loaning them out or keeping them at Finch Farm — such as Markelo and Adeniran, who are wasting their time playing for the Under-23s, as they have clearly moved on from that level of football.

First up is midfielder Dennis Adeniran. Signed in Summer 2017, Adeniran has been – along with Anthony Gordon and Lewis Gibson – the stand-out talent for the Under-23s. In my opinion, he was the best player in the 2018-19 double-winning season and again has been the stand-out player in the curtailed 2019-20 season. He has even added a new string to his bow by being played out wide for a large part of the season, scoring goals to boot.

Adeniran is now 21-years-old and moving into his final year under contract at the club. He has been training with the first team this season and, along with Anthony Gordon, is the one player who I think has a real chance. I would put him in midfield over Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin, Davies and Delph. It is time for him to be given his chance and the next nine games are the perfect opportunity. If I was Adeniran and I did not get a chance in the final games, then I really would start to look somewhere else for my career.

Beni Baningime seemed to be destined to become a first-team player following his impressive debut for the Blues in the Carabao Cup game at Chelsea during the short period when David Unsworth took charge of the first team. Baningimme has actually made 12 first-team apperances, but injuries, including an injury-wrecked loan spell at Wigan Athletic, scuppered what seemed to be an upward trajectory. Back playing for the Under-23s, David Unsworth was quoted as saying:

“I think he’s getting back to the levels he was at. I don’t think he’s at the level just yet, it’s a work in progress. He had a disappointing season last year which happens sometimes. We have to rebuild him and we’re certainly rebuilding him.”

As the final games of the curtailed Under-23s campaign played out, Baningimme was showing signs he was getting back to the level he first showed when he got his fleeting first-team chances. Baningimme, like Adeniran, is now 21 and is contracted to the club until June 2022 but, like Adeniran, really has to question the Blues if he is not given a chance in the final games of the season.

With the departure of Gana and the unprecedented injuries to Gbamin, Baningimme is by far the best player to be given a defensive midfield berth for the Blues and should be given his chance. It is time for both him and Adeniran to be given their first-team opportunities instead of the dross we continually have to endure watching.

The third player I am pinpointing is Nathangelo Markelo. But I am taking a different approach here. Markelo joined Everton from Dutch side FC Volendam in the summer of 2017 and has been more or less ever-present for the Under-23s since his arrival. But, unlike Adeniran and Baningime, I have not been as impressed by Markelo whenever I have seen him and, to be frank, I don’t think he will make it at the Blues.

His contract is up in June but I have seen a couple of reports saying that the club are looking to hand him another 1-year contract. I think this is a mistake and he should be let go. But, if the Club are willing to give him a 1-year extension, then he needs to be given a chance in the final first-team games of the season to try and prove himself. I don’t think he will make it myself, but he is clearly too good for the Under23s.

Markelo is now 21; if he is given another contract and then just sent out on loan, it will be a waste of time for both the Blues and Markelo himself. The Premier League agreed to allow players whose contracts are up in June to sign short-term extension contracts to the end of the season; this would seem more appropriate for Markelo, and allow him to get some game time in the final games.

Finally, we have Lewis Gibson, who may or may not come back to Finch Farm from his loan spell at Fleetwood Town. With the injury to Mina, this would seem a perfect time to blood the young centre-back but, with Fleetwood being one of the teams in a play-off spot following the curtailment of League One, it is yet to be decided if Gibson stays with them for their play-off campaign. From all reports, he has been a success at Fleetwood so he may stay with them; but, if he does come back, he certainly should also be given a chance in some of the first-team games.

It's definitely time for Ancelotti to experiment in these final games of the season.

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Reader Comments (12)

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Alan J Thompson
1 Posted 11/06/2020 at 09:27:00
While I also would like to see time given to some juniors I think we will be lucky to see more than one start a game and maybe another two at most come on as substitutes.

There just isn't enough games of the season left for a fairly new Manager to see all squad players, and their combinations, never mind juniors. Perhaps joining first team training may be as much as can be expected.

Martin Nicholls
2 Posted 11/06/2020 at 12:44:25
As the charade that is about to unfold will involve little more than half-hearted training games, I doubt that any player would pick up genuine "Premier League experience" in them, particularly so as they are to be played in empty stadiums.

I can't see them providing even as much "experience" as the U23 games that most of the players mentioned have become used to.

Kevin Prytherch
3 Posted 11/06/2020 at 12:58:21
Personally I am with the original post. There is no better time to blood these youngsters. They won’t have the whole of Goodison groaning if they misplace a pass and there is minimal pressure for results (we won’t get into Europe, we won’t go down).

We might as well give all of the mentioned a decent amount of games and see what they can do. If they fail, we know they aren’t good enough. If they succeed, they could save us millions and, in these times, those millions could be priceless.

My only concern is that we have 3 young central midfielders, so they can’t realistically all be given all 9 games. However, 2 or 3 each alongside Gomes or Delph should at least give them an opportunity and will give everyone a chance to decide if they are worth persevering with.

Jerome Shields
4 Posted 11/06/2020 at 13:20:08
There is a danger with this lot that, after an extended break, they could lose most of the games. The increasing injury list could reflect poor training commitment during the lockdown.

Ancelotti, after some of the performances he has witnessed, will be well aware of what they are capable of, with all he had coached forgotten before his eyes.

I don't expect him to experiment too much. He will want to get to the end of this season with the league position intact, and patch up as best he can.

Patrick McFarlane
5 Posted 11/06/2020 at 15:39:22
It's looking like Carlo will have no alternative than to 'experiment' as the injury list grows by the day, nine games in six weeks will likely add to the injury list too. Carlo's priority is to ensure that Everton FC remain in the Premier League for 2020-21 – anything else achieved will be a massive bonus.

I wasn't at all concerned about Everton being relegated prior to the lockdown, but this return of football in empty stadiums is going to be surreal and it would be so Everton to struggle to put points on the board without the passion of the supporters to urge them on.

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 12/06/2020 at 09:08:22
The way they're dropping like flies, there could be no choice.
Eric Paul
7 Posted 12/06/2020 at 09:33:27
It could be a pre season of 8 games for Carlo to experiment and have a good look at what he's got, and what he needs but in reality we need to finish as high as possible For the prize money.
Jamie Abbott
8 Posted 13/06/2020 at 10:26:42
They should all get some game time, not forgetting that the rules now allow for five changes from a bench of nine. We may be struggling to fill the bench at this rate.
Robert Tressell
9 Posted 13/06/2020 at 10:54:38
Certainly agree Kean, Iwobi and Gordon need games. The latter two might solve the right-wing issue – or provide a more mobile alternative to Sigurdsson. Who knows... Gibson might spare us the need to buy Maghaeles. He's only a few years younger, after all. Doubt the three midfielders are up to it but worth a shot.
Mark Andersson
10 Posted 15/06/2020 at 02:22:53
I didn't realize that we still need two wins to secure our status in the Premier Leauge.

I'm not confident in either the players or the manager. The Chelsea game was the real Everton and Carlo had to take his share of the blame for the toothless performance that day.

Martin Mason
11 Posted 15/06/2020 at 20:29:45
I believe that the break could have been a great improver for the team with the pressure released for a while and a time for reflection from coaches and players alike. I believe that we could see a big improvement and one based on forced replacement of underperforming stars.

Buying now is a lottery and I think now is the time for Everton not to rush out and buy the standard of player that they have done in recent times (generally poor). Nobody sells good players and we do develop some good ones; now is the time to make the transition. Stop buying stars and start giving a chance to youth.

Tom Bowers
12 Posted 15/06/2020 at 22:51:06
I think the rest of the season can be a yardstick for Carlo to use but only to give some youngsters a run out. He probably knows by now the players he really doesn't rate for his future plans, apart from one or two he may still be musing over.

Getting players injured just before the RS game doesn't help our chances, especially if RS are in a position to wrap it up.

The biggest embarrassment for years was that loss to RS ''second eleven'' so just maybe a miracle can happen for the Blues but we haven't seen many in derby matches since I've been a fan.

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