A moment of superb genius amidst the usual dross

By Michael Kenrick 20/07/2020 192comments  |  Jump to last
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Moise Kean failed to make tonight's squad

After another dreadful first half, Richarlison brilliantly headed home Sigurdsson's free-kick to briefly set the game alight.

Everton make four changes for tonight's game:

Out: Coleman, Holgate, Bernard, Iwobi

In: Sidibé, Branthwaite, Sigurdsson, Walcott

Moise Kean doesn't make the matchday squad but youngster Ellis Simms does for the first time, on the bench with Anthony Gordon. Former Blues Phil Jagielka and John Lundstram on the bench for The Blades.

In the early action, Richarlison got his foot trodden on and stayed down in pain, but no free-kick. Digne was next to suffer the same assault, this time seen by the ref, but not deemed worthy of an early yellow card for the home side.

Everton resorted to that awful slow sideways and backwards nonsense passing, Digne then launching it aimlessly out of play, while The Blades were eager to swing balls in as soon as they could.

Everton were unable to get out of their own half, playing out from the back but losing possession and then giving up the foul, gifted a corner by Pickford's needless palm. Pickford was almost caught out by a bold inswinging corner that drifted less than a foot in front of the far post.

Branthwaite was at least trying to make forward passes from the back but they weren't coming off for the lad. At least 15 mins had gone before Richarlison played probably the first Everton ball into the opposing penalty area, easily repelled, and soon back with Pickford.

Finally, a decent move from Everton, but the 'strikers' not on the same wavelength as Walcott, whose cross deserved a little more interest. Still, an excellent chance created by Gomes, dropping the ball perfectly in front of Calvert-Lewin to control off his chest... but no, the Everton No 9 tries to score with his chest, rather than cushioning the ball and shotting with power, like a true professional.

Pickford decides to launch a long goalkick to Calvert-Lewin, who watches it all the way but makes no effort to get under the flight of the ball, and it goes all the way back to the Everton keeper. Richarlison feels a gentle arm on his head and collapses in a heap. Walcott gets fouled more obviously, and Sigurdsson makes a strongish captain's protest over something (probably the lack of a yellow card for the Sheffield man.

And finally the referee shows yellow, but it's to Davies for one of his classic horrible mistimed tackles to the ankles. Everton under pressure again from a corner, Stevens lashing over. From the goal-kick, another ridiculous demonstration of "playing it out from the back", the ball going nowhere but back to Pickford.

For once, a beautiful ball from Sidibé was taken properly this time on the chest by Calvert-Lewin and crossed but Richarlison was too easily driven wide. Pickford needed to parry a shot-cross from Basham as Sheffield Utd increased the pressure on the Everton defence.

Richarlison did well to chase a long Gomes ball, earning a corner, and on the rework, Calvert-Lewin rose beautifully at the far post to meet a great cross from Walcott but decided he should aim full on for the face of the post rather than into the goal. Better technique thou!

Osbourn looked like he could score off a long Henderson punt but didn't connect properly. Richarlison was caught again in a 50/50 challenge and Norwood was shown a rather odd yellow card. Sigurdsson curled in a lazy ball that triggered nothing more than the half-time whistle after another shockingly poor half of football in which Everton incredibly hit the post.

Everton won an early free-kick after restarting and, simple as can be, Richarlison glanced it brilliantly into the far corner, superb body position, superb timing, fantastic body technique, use of neck muscles, perfect aim and direction! Incredible! Just like watching Brazil!

Another nice Everton move saw Walcott feed in a perfect cross but Calvert-Lewin had decided to go the wrong side of the defender and had no chance of getting the ball. The Blades responded with a fine strike from McGoldrick, the game an unrecognizable all-action end-to-end showpiece! Even some handbags from Baldock, standing on Digne's ankle.

The home side became noticeably more frustrated that they were behind, but Everton looked the better team suddenly, moving the ball around a little better. Calvert-Lewin this time took Pickford's long ball perfectly on his chest, turned and sprinted ahead, shooting — but his shot catching a defender and deflecting very kindly for Henderson to save in the home goal.

A fantastic vignette before the drinks break: Gomes plays an incredible ball off the outside of his boot, curling around 2 or 3 defenders and perfectly paced for Walcott to cross low and hard into the mixer? No ... behind everyone!

Everton finally had something meaningful to play for, even if the season was now devoid of meaning. Everyone seemed that but sharper, more alert, and more careful with the ball. A pity the ref had snot stepped up his game, giving a very soft free-kick to the home side, and very much bemusing the Everton players.

Wilder's men kept pressing the Blues back, harder and harder, looking for the equalizer but the Blues seemed happy to soak up the pressure. Calvert-Lewin was rather poorly punished for a gentle face massage on McGoldrick, who stayed down far too long.

Controlled play from the Blues saw Walcott pass his cross in directly to a defender's feet. His next was better but again, no-one expecting it. Gomes decided to shoot from distance, fractionally wide.

Walcott gave way to Gordon with less than 10 minutes left. But Sheffield United were getting closer after Zivkovic had come on, a header flying over Pickford's bar.

Richarlison got a soft yellow for blocking an even softer free-kick awarded against Calvert-Lewin for nothing at all. As the clock ticked past 90 minutes on Everton's last away game of this hugely blighted season, they needed to see out 4 minutes of added time.

Digne took a cross full in the face, and it was bodies thrown every which way to keep The Blades attack at bay until they could break, Gordon going on a beautiful run but crossing behind Calvert-Lewin in a move that was well worthy of a second Everton goal.

Ancelootti thought about bringing on Iwobi but changed his mind as the clock ticked on past 4 minutes to account for treatment to Digne. McGoldrick slipped and scooped the ball skyward to end the game in an amazing Everton win.

Scorer: Richarlison (46')

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Henderson; Basham (83' Zivkovic), Egan, O'Connell; Baldock, Berge, Norwood [Y:45+2'] (69' Lundstram), Osborn (60' Sharp), Stevens; McBurnie (60' Fleck), McGoldrick.
Subs not Used: Moore, Jagielka, K Freeman, Robinson, Clarke.

Everton (4-4-2): Pickford; Sidibe, Keane, Branthwaite, Digne; Walcott (84' Gordon), Davies [Y:33'], Gomes, Sigurdsson (88' Coleman); Calvert-Lewin [Y:78'], Richarlison [Y:90'].
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Virginia, Baines, Iwobi, Baningime, Bernard, Simms.

Referee: Stuart Atwell
VAR: Martin Atkinson


Reader Comments (192)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:04:18
Would be interesting if Simms got time. (Playing, not inside).
Brent Stephens
2 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:07:05
That's not the strongest defence we'll ever put out! Sidibé always suspect. And Branthwaite very new. We need the midfield to show up today to protect the defence.
Michael Long
3 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:07:40
Well this is gonna be fun
Craig Walker
4 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:14:11
How does Tom Davies continue to start? Bloody hopeless.
Kieran Kinsella
5 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:19:11
Craig 4,

Who would you start instead of Davies? I was a fan of Bernard for a while, and Iwobi at Arsenal but both were terrible in the last game. That leaves Beningame

Neil Lawson
6 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:25:24
Same old same old. Have to watch because I pay my subs for Prime but wish I could find an excuse not to bother.
Max Murphy
7 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:26:09
Watching Everton is like going to the dentist with a very bad toothache. The only trouble is, after leaving the dentist, your toothache has not been cured, and if anything, is much worse.

You repeat your visit, same thing happens. Dentist can't cure it, and the toothache worse again.

Why do we keep going back to that same dentist, prolonging and exacerbating the agony?

Probably because we're Evertonians and masochists!

Clive Rogers
8 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:33:13
That team is just not good enough.
John Graham
9 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:35:22
Kean not even on the bench.
Not looking good for him, probably won’t be here next season
Joe Corgan
10 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:36:06
No Moise Kean even among the subs. Injured or has Ancelotti lost patience?
Brent Stephens
11 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:39:02
Injured, Joe.
Bill Gienapp
12 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:50:01
Kean picked up a knock in training, according to Everton's official twitter account.
Tony Everan
13 Posted 20/07/2020 at 17:51:27
Our midfield isn’t up to it, and we will see that again.

Still, We have players who should be able to perform much better and be able to get a result if they matched Sheffield for sheer determination and desire.

Prediction ; Sheffield Utd 1 The Toffees 1

Christy Ring
14 Posted 20/07/2020 at 18:02:34
Sigurdsson wearing the armband, I always thought the captain led by example? Sheffield deserve to be team of the year, complete opposite to us, they work for each other, and put in an incredible shift, John Egan has been a revelation. I hope Calvert-Lewin is up for it, against him, he has been a shadow of his former self, since lock down.
Chris Williams
15 Posted 20/07/2020 at 18:54:54
Amazon Prime is crap. Absolutely no picture. Just an error message.

It was poor and sporadic last time, this time non existent.

Justin Doone
16 Posted 20/07/2020 at 18:56:51
Being out played which is no surprise given our form but the repeated giving up posession in our own half trying to play out should be stopped.

Give the forwards a chance and get the ball forward.

Siggy is known for one thing, shooting from range and yet has refused to take a shot when in good positions. If he's not going to shoot, get him off the field.

Captain.. terrible decision.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

17 Posted 20/07/2020 at 19:05:15
Try this link Chris on VIP.

I always use this site. You have to click and close a few things as per usual with these sites, but once up you get uninterrupted HD quality image.

Blades v Toffees


And...what a start to the 2nd half. Get in!

Eugene Ruane
18 Posted 20/07/2020 at 19:07:01
Feel a little guilty about Andre Gomez looking distracted.

The amount of time and effort he must have put into picking my card and then sending it must have been above and beyond.

He must have left himself no time to train.

Link

Simon Dalzell
19 Posted 20/07/2020 at 19:23:39
Jay @17. I wondered what the hell you were talking about. ( get in ). My Tele. was still on adverts ! Great goal.
Simon Dalzell
20 Posted 20/07/2020 at 19:59:14
Excellent three points. We could have had two or three with a decent goal scorer. For all his endeavour, DCL just hasn't anywhere near the quality.
Jamie Crowley
21 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:00:12
That was a good performance. The industry and effort returned.

We can't return to the 4-4-2. We have to control midfield. Carlo's change to 4-2-3-1 / 4-5-1 makes a world of difference for the players we have.

Branthwaite is an absolute beast and should start moving forward.


I said a few times on the Live Forum, dropping Rich back to midfield out wide and playing one up top, along with possibly playing Holgate at CDM? We'd be so much more formidable.

Great game. Very happy.

Chris Williams
22 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:00:16
Sorry Jay, missed your post. Listened on Everton radio via the app.

Great result and sounded like a much better performance. Branthwaite sounds pretty impressive so far.

Could have scored again by the sound of it.

Brian Williams
23 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:04:39
Just in from a day's fishing.
Can't believe some joker expects us to believe we won away at Sheff. Utd.
Come on get a grip!
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

24 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:06:52
Very solid all round in the second half.

Clearly the better team. Created more. Defended superbly.

Branthwaite impressing again. He can both pick and play a pass. And not just a 10 yard short pass rolled square to his fellow centre back. Passes that turn the opposition and sets us up to go forward with purpose.

Yes, one or two passes were underhit, but it's noticeable that every player in the team is happy to play the ball to him in any situation, confident he can handle it.

Michael Keane a rock alongside him. Pickford was protected all game. Long gone are the Silva days when you feared a goal from any corner, free kick or cross into the penalty area. Carlo's zonal marking (mostly) working a treat.

That was also the best 90 minutes Andre Gomes has played all season. On a standard similar to his 30 minute cameo appearance in his return game v Arsenal. When he plays like that he is an asset. We need to see more of the same, more consistently from him, across 90 minutes and game to game.

Even Sigurdsson and Walcott had their moments. There was some lovely link up play with them and DCL and Richarlison at times, only for the final ball being played behind the forwards or just a tad too far in front of them.

Our play merited a second goal at least, but I'll take the win against a very thorny opponent on their own ground.

Brian Wilkinson
25 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:08:13
Keane and branthwaite are looking a good partnership in defence, with Holgate and possibly Mina, I would hold off going for a centre back and try and get Lozano and Allen in for the midfield.
Christy Ring
26 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:08:32
A defensive midfielder has to be Carlo's top target, and would allow Gomes to dictate the game.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

27 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:09:25
You missed a good half Chris.

Correct on all calls. Very solid performance. Branthwaite superb again. And we merited more than a single goal.

Tony Hill
28 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:11:42
A solid performance, with some good moments, and Branthwaite is indeed showing great promise.

But this result didn't matter. We must start to win when it does matter and not just once but in telling sequences.

Tony Hill
29 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:13:58
But yeah, that header: stunning.
Colin Glassar
30 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:14:24
I only caught the 2nd half and I thought we were excellent until the two late substitutions. If only they’d shown the same fight all season. If only...
Jamie Crowley
31 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:15:25
Tony Hill @ 28 -

The result mattered quite a bit to Sheffield United. We played a team that has been playing well, had a lot to play for, and we were the better team.

But I take your point. Everton need to win when it matters for Everton.

Chris Williams
32 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:15:41
Yes, Branthwaite looks promising, and it also shows how a left-footed centre-half can give a bit of balance.

The most biased commentary team in the business were well pleased and were particularly impressed with Gomes, although all their geese are swans!

Decent result in the cricket too.

David Connor
33 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:19:52
Great delivery and goal by Richarlison. All-round better performance today.

Seems like Ancelotti has had a word with players to tell them they could be on the transfer list. Funny how the lazy fuckers suddenly seemed to find an extra yard.

But too little too late for me. I'm done with these useless bastards. Most of em need to go. Had it to easy too long that lot. Here's hoping.

Robert Tressell
34 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:21:29
I know it's early days but Branthwaite really is excellent. Not just a footballer but a leader. This guy will get nothing out of U-23s football. He needs to be in / around the first 11.

Other than that I thought everyone looked much more at home in a 4-2-3-1. We had width on both flanks. Sigurdsson was quietly effective and Tom + André played as well as I've seen them in a while.

Derek Knox
35 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:23:54
True Colin, they were a totally different side against what turned out to be a very physical side in Sheffield United, in the second half. Like you say it beggars the question why didn't they play like that before?

The high point for me apart from the win though, is the emergence of Jarrad Branthwaite, who apart from his introduction has settled in well and looks like he could easily carry on there.

Still, not getting complacent we still need a few reinforcements, thought Sidibé and Davies were our weakest links, but didn't do the 'Walk of Shame', should have been subbed well before the end.

Put the razor blades, pills and rope to one side till next game, let's hope they can go out in style, and send the Cardboard Cut-Outs home happy.

Fran Mitchell
36 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:24:32
Looks like Brands has earned his coin with the Branthwaite find. The guy looks absolutely excellent. Him and Holgate could be a very promising future. Just 18! Unbelievable.

Decent performance (only saw second half). Richarlison is the real deal. Our passing in the final third is still poor meaning we create few chances. Gomes and Sigurdsson don't create, and Davies is just maddening, occasionally looks good, occasionally looks awful.

Hoped to see Simms on at the end, but fair enough. A good win which should lift the mood for the pre-season break.

Hopefully Calvert-Lewin can break his drought vs a doomed Bournemouth.

Derek Moore
37 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:24:55
Game of two halves. The change from 4-4-2 had us looking lost at sea in the first half but the adjustments came and we played much better the second 45.

Everybody contributed, but Davies went a bit anonymous. I'm usually a Walcott non believer but his pace and willingness to run with it gave us an outlet. I thought Calvert-Lewin was back to his pre-lockdown form and I liked the fact when they started kicking us they got a few back. Fire with fire!

Bit of a mystery where the intensity came from second half – bit of a mystery where it went as well – but was grateful for it. Please, no more 4-4-2 with this group, we just don't have the personnel.

Bring on Bournemouth, and let's pop those cherries!

ps: Welcome back Mr Ruane, please hang around, it's always great to read you!

Paul Birmingham
38 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:24:57
Great result and some desire and guts, at last. Branthwaite looks like footballer, and has eased into position.

Damn shame this level of commitment hasn't been shown since reopening from lockdown. Consistency, commitment and desire every game henceforth.

Now to do the same again on Sunday. Funny old game, a week ago Sheffield Utd smashed Chelsea 3-0, and we've made them look very ordinary.

Could have been 3-0 or 4-0, to us. The ref, was the worst this year, he isn't fit to be a referee.

Rob Halligan
39 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:28:54
Gomes was MotM for me. Can't remember him putting a foot wrong or misplacing a single pass.

Branthwaite a close second, but I think he needs to put his foot through the ball a bit more when passing out of defence. There were three, maybe four passes in the first half when he just stroked the pass along the floor straight to one of their players. Other than that he had a great game, played well alongside Keane, and protected Pickford to such an extent that Pickford had hardly anything to do.

As for Sheffield United, two disgusting tackles in the first three minutes which could have easily caused serious injury They posed no threat whatsoever, and I'm backing them to be relegated next season.

Tony Hill
40 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:31:03
Branthwaite is only just 18 too. I agree with those who advise great caution, but he looks like he was sculpted for the part.
Fraser Auld
41 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:31:13
Going for Keane as Man of Match, just ahead of Gomes.

Keane, Branthwaite and Digne were all excellent. Keane and Digne have been the best players since re-start.

There's still a player in Gomes, if we can get that out of him more often then he's got skills that are hard to find. Great player to watch when he's on form.

Colin Glassar
42 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:31:46
Branthwaite (early days I know) looks like a young Brian Labone. Cool as a cucumber! I can't criticise any of our players as I didn't see the entire game. Maybe some of them know it's last chance saloon to play for one of the greatest managers in the game.

I'll take these crumbs of comfort as Everton haven't given me anything for the last couple of seasons.

Christian Konttorp
43 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:32:44
I only hope this match was no typical "Everton gives me hope" match, where we get a good match and, in the next, it's all dead again.
Dave Evans
44 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:35:26
This was not the 'usual dross'. We dominated a difficult team. I would be happy if all the performances since the re-start had shown as much commitment as this one.
Darren Hind
45 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:39:14
You see? We don't want much.

A little bit of adventure and the spoils are ours.

Gomes and Keane excellent.

Branthwaite despite being let down by team mates unforgivably not expecting his passes in the first half. maintained his composure, kept passing and finished the match looking very accomplished. Again.

No more from me on him. Softly softly does it.

Where's she hidden that Mahatma?

John Raftery
46 Posted 20/07/2020 at 20:42:29
A clean sheet away from home is a rarity in recent times. So is an away win. This was our first this season against a team in the top half of the table. Here at long last was a match in which our team quickly got to grips with the physical aspect required.

As the first half progressed we started to show more enterprise going forward. Keane and Branthwaite stood up well to the aerial assault while Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison kept the home rearguard busy. In between the midfield trio of Gomes, Davies and Sigurdsson knitted things together very well with constructive passing and movement. All three had their best games in months.

Andrew Hight
47 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:04:03
Better performance. Dross is harsh. Gomes, Branthwaite, Digne, Keane and Richarlison played very well. Pickford, Sidibé and Sigurdsson were reasonably solid.

Walcott and Calvert-Lewin seem to both suffer from making the wrong decision virtually every time. Davies just poor; I want him to do well but he was just way off the level required.

Mike Gaynes
48 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:04:32
I didn't think it was "dross" at all, especially in the second half. A world-class header from Richarllison -- that much power from 15 yards ain't easy -- and fine efforts from Gomes, Keane, Branthwaite, Digne and Sigurdsson, along with some good physicality from Calvert-Lewin.

And an away win against what has been, this season, a much better club than us.

Gavin Johnson
49 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:06:36
A good performance in the 2nd half. I thought Gomes had a good game and so did Sigurdsson playing his favoured No 10 position. I hope tonight's performance puts him in the shop window because he still has a lot to offer. He just doesn't fit a 4-4-2.

Branthwaite also had another strong performance. What a signing! We need a few more like that.

Tony Everan
50 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:12:49
Really happy with that performance, Gomes MotM for me and shone in midfield and I thought Tom Davies played well and put himself on the line. Sigurdsson put a shift in and his graft contributed to the win. An excellent ball in for the goal too. I thought we were a class apart from Sheffield Utd. It just shows that we should be way up the table.

With Carlo Ancelotti and the expected 2 or 3 targeted signings we can, and should, mount a serious challenge on the top 6 next season. Along with a serious challenge for a cup.

There is just a faint whiff of change in the air. Things could be looking up for us now, and we could have a very big season 20-21.

Enjoyed watching our defenders too, Keane, Branthwaite, Digne all on their game tonight. An excellent clean sheet. We have got a young diamond in Branthwaite, the lad needs to keep it real and work hard. He's still very, very young for a centre-back and developing but he's got 'first team' written all over him.

With regards Richarlison, he is a match-winner and any team in the league would love to have him... enough said.

Peter Mills
51 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:16:31
There were times during the second half when I thought we actually have the basis of a team.
Brent Stephens
52 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:17:24
I can't agree that was the usual dross, as the overall performance was much better, especially second half. A solid back four, collectively and individually. Gomes dancing around midfield like Fred Astaire. Sigurdsson surprisingly effective Ginger Rogers?). And Richarlison taking stick as usual and taking his goal sublimely.
Dave Williams
53 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:19:47
Very harsh report, Michael, heavily influenced no doubt by having to write these reports on so much crap recently. More effort and determination in that performance than I have seen for a long time. Gomes looked so much fitter and sharper and was very good throughout. Maybe this helped Sigurdsson play a lot better too.

Branthwaite is a great find and Digne continued his excellent form since lockdown.

Our front two gave as good as they got against a very physical team. They didn't flinch, they didn't back off and in fact looked like they relished it and reminded me very much of Sharp and Gray in their prime.

It does beg the question as to why it has taken so long for a performance like this?

John Hughes
54 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:21:01
I agree, Colin Glassar, Branthwaite looked very ‘Labbyesk‘. Also, for what it's worth, I thought Sidibé had a decent game tonight, particularly in his defensive duties.
Joe McMahon
55 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:24:05
Peter, certainly was better and, despite much criticism Walcott receives, he brings experience. All the top 6 have goals in them and we really somehow need a central striker upfront who will get us 20+ Premier League goals a season.

Richarlison is great but he's more of an attacking midfielder. Calvert-Lewin needs to work on composure and finishing.

Martin Berry
56 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:24:14
A tale of two halves.

In the first, we were poor in a poor game; in the second, we played well and showed much more desire and had more control. Whether Carlo changed anything with the tactics, I could not tell but something worked.

I thought the defence played well as a unit and young Branthwaite looked composed and grew into the game, he could have an immense future, as could Gordon.

As for Richarlison, what a superb goal. We'd all best enjoy him while we have him as I see the Spanish vultures circling for him very soon; expect £100M fee to be put about.

Derek Knox
57 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:26:46
Brent, true with the Fred Astaire analogy, though he'd be crap at putting Oilfield Fires out! Beggars the question, not only with Gomes, but the rest of them why didn't they play like that since we reconvened?

Euro qualification could have been a possibility, but it's the Jim Bowen Bullseye scenario again 'Look what you could have won!' Be interesting to see if they can go out with a flourish in the last home game, albeit too little, too late.

Dave Abrahams
58 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:31:01
Very happy with the result and second half performance, very glad we beat that thuggish Sheffield Utd team. They could give it, and have been all season, but didn't like it when Everton and Dominic in particular gave it back.

In the first few minutes when Dominic put their defender over the touchline, he ran back onto the field shouting at the referee, letting him know he had been fouled. Dominic never got many decisions going his way after that, from another useless official. He booked Dominic for next to nothing and, where was VAR used on some of the tackles on Everton players, Norwich had two sent off when it was used on Saturday.

Not criticising anyone after that away victory and clean sheet. As John Rafferty says, they are very rare commodities where Everton are concerned. Let's hope we finish the season with another win and hope the team is bolstered with some good signings in the close season and we say goodbye to as many of deadwood and dross as we can.

Brent Stephens
59 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:32:29
John #54, yes, I don't think Sidibé is getting the praise he also deserves tonight.
Fran Mitchell
60 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:37:41
In regards to Walcott: I agree that we are better with him in the team, mainly because he is the only player we have who gives us genuine width.

He is not up to the job, mind. And a high-quality winger is a must this transfer window.

Soren Moyer
61 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:37:58
Good win but look at Tom's stats from today. Per SofaScore, he lost possession 17 times, was dribbled past twice and recorded a dire 65% passing accuracy!!!
Bill Gall
62 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:40:27
For once, this was a solid team effort with players maintaining their positions. Some players played better than others but you expect that. The change from previous weeks was the commitment of the Everton players, and the support for each other.

What should be noticed is that with all the praise that Sheffield Utd have been given this season, with a manager who is being tipped as manager of the year, they only have 5 more points than Everton.

Praise is rightly given to Branthwaite as I think it was only 6 months ago he was playing for Carlisle and this is a large step up from that division, and you can see why Ancelotti and his staff think so highly of him.

The positive from this game is that it gives hope for next season, if Ancelotti brings in the type of player he wants and gets the team playing in a system that the players feel comfortable in.

Darren Hind
63 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:42:29
Dave A.

Not sure where you get your info from, but that was another excellent pre-match shout. Ancelotti did ask his troops to attack more.

Not perfect by a long way, but still a massive step in the right direction

Danny O’Neill
64 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:51:04
I didn't see it, but sounds like a bit of improvement, not that it was difficult to improve on recent performances.

Let's get over the line and reset for next season. Hey, if Darren's positive, then I'm feeling optimistic!! Tongue-in-cheek, Darren – and take that as a compliment!!

Danny Broderick
65 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:52:59
I will celebrate any win from this squad as we are all too aware of their inadequacies. I thought it was a disgrace that Sigurdsson was captain. He put in a shift today and played fairly well, but therein lies the problem. We know there's a player in there, but he has been missing all season.

Credit where it's due, the midfield played the ball forward a lot more today, and the tempo with the passing was better. Still not great, but better.

The defence was rock solid, and Calvert-Lewin really put himself about up front and unsettled their back 4. But we still need better midfielders, can't rely on Sigurdsson and Walcott etc when the going gets tough.

I like Tom Davies as he never hides, but I feel we need better than him. We played some good football at times second half, but we are still too easy to play against in midfield.

Derek Knox
66 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:55:07
Soren @61, "Per SofaScore"? Does that include Tom having a head like a burst couch? :-)
Andrew Clare
67 Posted 20/07/2020 at 21:55:44
Very pleased with the win and the performance which was much better than recent excursions. If only we could be more clinical upfront – it would make things much more comfortable.

To be honest, I didn't think we would win another game after recent performances. We made Sheffield United look very limited and ordinary.

Paul Burns
68 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:01:47
Sheffield Utd are very limited and ordinary. Most of the Premier League is.
Bill Watson
69 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:08:27
A good all round performance in a tricky fixture. I agree with Colin and John's comparison of Branthwaite with the18-year-old Labone. When Labby made his debut, it was obvious to all, he was a class act. Branthwaite gives me the same feeling. He may have just saved us having to splash out on another centre-back.

Gomes had his best game since his injury and was my MotM. No really poor performances but Davies continues to put the side under pressure by his irritating habit of conceding possession in the middle of the field.

Midfield obviously needs strengthening and, if there's any spare cash, left we could do with a proven goalscorer.

Dave Abrahams
70 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:11:20
Darren (63), Carlo Ancelotti said it on the Everton FC official website on Saturday. I thought it was today's. I didn't think much of the first half but they still had a couple of chances; in the second half, they were much better than they have been since the season restarted.

By the way, I agree with you about not going overboard about young Branthwaite. I was made up with him, how he reads the game and uses his body weight getting his tackles in and heading battles. But let him progress nice and slowly, he's only played three times. He will get plenty of chances in the future, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that he could save us a lot of money in the future.

Martin Reppion
71 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:21:55
Hand up, I missed the first 25 minutes watching the cricket and trying to log on. (Well, I am 57!)

But it was good to see the usual whipping boys putting in a shift. If a player is out of form or simply not good enough, the least he has to do is put 100% effort in.

Today, Sigurdsson came off the field knackered after chasing everything. Walcott made a few strange decisions but was consistently a threat and did his defensive work well. Gomes was back to his pre-injury mastery.

Last but by no means least, I think we must have finally seen the last of the slagging off of Michael Keane. Since the resumption, he has been as good as any defender in the league.

That said, we still lack some creativity and a natural striker. Calvert-Lewin puts in great work, but his judgement and finishing still need to improve. I'd like to see Richarlison playing wide and a real finisher alongside the centre-forward.

But if we can play from the start like that on Sunday, it should send us off to the back garden for the summer break with smiles on our faces.

Jamie Crowley
72 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:22:22
I know the false hope gets me every time, but how about this line-up, ages in brackets:

Pickford
Kenny [23] Keane [27] Branthwaite [18] Digne [27]
**new signing Holgate [23]
Gordon [18] Gomes [26] Richarlison [23]
Calvert-Lewin [23]

Bench / Secondary players - Pick from: Davies, Bernard, Iwobi, Mina, Walcott, Sigurdsson, Kean, Simms, Coleman, Baines

Basically, the suspect "disappearing" players on the bench forced to continually compete for their spot. A young, energetic, full-of-effort starting 11 in the correct formation to succeed.

I've seen it 1000 times on TW – it really, really is the hope that kills you.

We need a central midfielder. Either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-4-1 will work just fine. I can't ever remember needing a position player that could change our fortunes so drastically, as where we are right now needing a central midfielder of real quality.

The Lukaku signing was the closest thing for me – we needed a striker so badly at that point in time. We're in the same situation with a centre-midfielder right now in my opinion. We get that right, and we'll be okay moving forward.

Dean Frank
73 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:23:59
What to do with André Gomes? He has skill on the ball for sure. But his pace without the ball and weak defense is such a liability. I get so nervous with him in the middle of the field and the opposing midfield streaking into the gaps. He just can't keep up.
Jerome Shields
74 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:27:34
Ancelotti said before the game he wanted a more attack-orientated Everton. They kept pushing up the pitch throughout the game. Was a better all-round team performance.

Defence solid and dependable, midfielders got on the ball more which compensated for their well-known frailties. Gomes a lot better in this formation, Sigurdsson still weak on forward passing and Davies in possession. Team did try to play in the final third for a change, link play hot and cold. Calvert Lewin did lead the line well, but weak as a finisher, missed two great chances. Though Gordon played well when come on. Great set piece play by Everton. Walcott kept the team shape well, as he always does, have a 70 percent performance. Pitchfork no mistakes, but not really challenged.

A lot more confident that Ancelotti knows what he is doing. Well done Everton, looking forward to next season.

Justin Doone
75 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:31:45
It's funny how some people see the game so differently with a win. We were outplayed and despite defending well in numbers we were mostly out muscled in midfield.

Our best player scores a great header to win the game but it doesn't change the fact that we were really poor in the first half.

The early second half goal really helped the players put a bit more effort into defending the lead and credit to our wide men who helped massively in a defensive capacity.

Sheffield Utd like to attack the wide areas and out-number the full-back / defence. Walcott and Richarlison both defended well and, although Sheffield Utd put a lot of good balls into the box, Keane (main strength) and Branthwaite defended them well.

Branthwaite, who's a big lad too, showed he's no pushover and was excellent. Against better or faster forwards (Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Leicester) the pair would be murdered but most defenders are.

Keep a deep line, defend the long balls and crosses we can do. Play a high line or don't have all of our midfield coming back leaves us wide open. Obvious and simple but this hadn't dawned on previous managers.

David Pearl
76 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:33:40
Should l say "Excellent" or "It's about time"? And l'm talking as much about the performance as Ancelotti allowing us to play a much more fluid and natural shape!

Playing Sigurdsson in the middle made all the difference. Game was better: Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin & Walcott all involved.

At least something for our manager to build on and he can see more clearly where we need to strengthen the most. He needed that, and so did we.

Annika Herbert
77 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:40:03
Justin @75, no idea how you have come to that conclusion regarding our young centre-back? He looks pretty quick to me, plus he has yet to play against the teams you mention.

Maybe you are right but I believe you have jumped the gun by making such an early assumption.

John Pierce
78 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:48:00
Everyone a 6 today bar Richarlison who gets a 7 for the header.

Everyone did their job, and stayed away from any critical errors. Based on the chances should have won the game 2-0 or 3-0.

Sadly winning games that don't matter counts for nothing unless we build from it. Will it be different this time?

Christy Ring
79 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:57:32
I thought Keane and Branthwaite were excellent together, don't want to jump the gun, but to have a left-sided centre-back with speed and height is a huge plus.
John Boon
80 Posted 20/07/2020 at 22:57:40
I always try to take positives from any game. As bad as recent games have been, today we have to give credit when it is due, and I thought we played well in the second half. Most posters seem to agree.

Not spectacular but able to demonstrate that we are a far better team than Sheff Utd. Branthwaite was excellent, particularly when you consider that he is only 18.

Justin (75)... To be an Evertonian requires positivity, patience and the ability to realise that sometimes football is not always what we want and accept the bad with the good.

Generally, we did okay today and we were definitely not "outplayed" as you suggested. Far too often, you appear to be "Doone in the dumps". Yes, I have read your previous posts.

Justin Doone
81 Posted 20/07/2020 at 23:11:12
Generally having watched a player a few times I can sum up their main strengths and weakness. I'm always hopeful younger players, U23, can adapt and step up.

I'm not being critical in terms of Branthwaite, he looks far more comfortable on the ball than Keane and Mina which is great for us if the manager insists on 'trying' to play out from the back.

Most central defenders would be outpaced and done like a kipper against better, faster forwards. I was simply pointing out Carlo is more confident in our defenders playing deep, leaving less space in behind our slow defence.

At 18, I can only hope the next 4 years are injury-free for the lad and he can keep learning and gaining experience quickly to help us to really push on to challenge the top 4.

I would still bring in a quality centre-back with pace, same for centre-midfield, winger and striker. Our weaknesses have remained the same for several seasons. A promising young player, especially a centre-back, does not change that.

Brian Wilkinson
82 Posted 20/07/2020 at 23:20:22
For an 18-year-old, Branthwaite reads the game very well and always seems to sense the next move and moves into the hole, closing down any danger. So similar to Lewis Gibson on the ball but, from what I have seen, Branthwaite has a great future and will certainly now be up the pecking order.

We all build players up after a couple of games, but Branthwaite is looking very promising and one hell of a signing.

Special mention to Michael Keane as well today who seemed to win nearly every header coming into our area.

Looks a good partnership; it's going to be interesting when Mina and Holgate are fit again.

Justin Doone
83 Posted 20/07/2020 at 23:23:15
But yes, every win is always a great win!

I just don't think a few positive results means players are now great and a defeat doesn't mean they are rubbish.

A good example is Davies who I'm a fan of. He may lack pace but his work rate and reading of the game are very good. He puts in challenges, closes down and passes forward at most opportunities.

That's right, he tries to pass forward, play through balls and spread the ball. But in doing so his passing stats may not be as high as others but I like the positive forward effort.

He's not a great player, but at 22 he's learning and improving. IMO always better than Schneiderlin and more consistent than Sigurdsson.

Andrew Dempsey
84 Posted 20/07/2020 at 00:21:23
If we're going to play this system, which we look a lot more comfortable in, we could do with a brilliant, fast and skilful left-footed winger to play on the right instead of Walcott, who's also got an eye for goal, like Richarlison from the left.

If we're now thinking about two or three quality signings that could transform the team for next season, that position is essential.

A World-Class central midfielder with pace and an engine would be nice as well. Maybe two of them, one more creative and one more destructive.

A right-back is probably needed, unless Kenny is the man to push Coleman for a place?

Don't buy too many players, four maximum, wait and see who steps up or down next season and then fill the gaps with three or four more quality additions next Summer.

John Pierce
85 Posted 21/07/2020 at 00:38:20
The main difference from today is simple; we played higher up the pitch. Pretty sure that was no accident, but the opposition helped too. They are not quick, their forwards are Championship standard, if that, and they build down the sides. It definitely allowed us to play higher up, that got our ball-players in the game. In general, we swamped the flanks, funneled it inside and hit them behind the full-back.

The team was much closer together, even Sigurdsson tried, and Gomes had a shot! In our previous four games, we've defended so deep that, even if a player beats a man or two, he's still on the halfway line; Carlo had nullified us as an attacking force.

It simply outlines the need to move Keane on. He has been a model of consistency since the restart, a deep structured defensive set-up suits him perfectly and, let's be fair, he has been pretty good, especially in the air.

However, it must evolve and cannot do so with him on the team. Perhaps he stays for games like this as a squad player? If we buy defenders who are not quick, then we need to be able to keep the ball and build play up. Let's hope Carlo gets it right.

Dan Murphy
86 Posted 21/07/2020 at 01:10:13
The headlines on match reports on here always say more about the editor's moods than the football on offer.

Dross this was not. Wasn't world-beating but a well organised, fighting away win, clean sheet against well-coached overachieving big strong lads (and dirty bastards) is most welcome.

It is against teams like these with no world beaters/match winners where Carlo can make the difference. He set up to counter their overloading in the inside channels and defend their hopeful balls. Still requires everyone to put in a shift which happened today.

We might have conceded off a set piece as we've conceded a few due to being camped around our box too much.

Since the restart, we haven't been as bad as some of you drama queens make out. Beat 2 teams above us. Unlucky vs Spurs, abject against Wolves. Que sera. Over to Don Carlo for the off-season.

Kieran Kinsella
87 Posted 21/07/2020 at 01:49:22
Soren,

Funny you mention Davies. He had mixed reviews on here. I only saw the highlights and his only highlighted involvement was giving the ball away twice.

But weirdly, given the general consensus that the first half was dire, the highlights had 7 minutes of first half action and only four minutes of second half. Not sure who does the NBC highlights but they but they often include minutes of nothing moves that peter out then quickly stick in the goals.

Bill Gall
88 Posted 21/07/2020 at 02:37:50
This was a lot better organized than previous games, every player new what his position, and where to cover when Sheffield Utd had the ball. Some players who have been mentioned on here, played better than others but, overall it was a solid team performance.

There is no need to mention where we need strengthening but I am sure Ancelotti already knows. Today's game to me showed what good coaching with some poor players can be achieved.

We as supporters are fully aware what a challenge Ancelotti has, and hope he is able to strengthen the squad in the transfer window. Something I noticed today was, all the praise that Sheffield has had from pundits, with a manager that the media consider a candidate as manager of the year; we only trail them by 5pts.

Derek Thomas
89 Posted 21/07/2020 at 02:59:30
About time. The co-commentator said "Not many have come to Bramall Lane and done well, where have Everton been hiding all this football?"

The cynic in me might say that, once the pressure was off, the bottlers could come out of their shells.

On calmer reflection, it would appear that Ancelotti did a rock, paper, scissors on Wilder, by putting round pegs in roundish holes... played with a No 10 which fitted Sigurdsson... maximised the little he had and while simultaneously both blunting the Blades and wrapping them up.

I don't think Pickford had a serious save to make, while, with better finishing and some better final balls into the box, three or four might have gone in at the other end.

I still can't rule out the bottlers came out of their shell though for part of it.

Steve Ferns
90 Posted 21/07/2020 at 03:32:33
I thought Davies did quite well. The difference today was the formation. We matched 3 with 3.

Davies was given defensive duties, and Sigurdsson got back behind Gomes when the Portuguese struggled to get back. Gomes always looks much better in a 3 man midfield, as does Sigurdsson.

The team was bought for a 4-5-1 and it's no surprise they played better in a formation that suited them more. Carlo should have been using this since the restart. He could have switched to a 4-4-2 in the summer when he had a chance to buy players to fit the system.

Mike Gaynes
91 Posted 21/07/2020 at 03:41:41
Jamie #72, love your ambitions, but if you think really think Gomes can play in the #10 slot, you are so far out in dreamland that you're orbiting a neighboring planet. No. No. Not ever.

Christy #79, we don't know yet if Branthwaite has speed, because we haven't yet seen him in the open field or playing a high line. Carlo has his centre-backs playing deep right now.

Dave #70, yes, I've commented on the same thing several times on the Forum. Sure he's a strong kid, but what impresses me most is his fundamental positioning. He puts himself in the right spot and uses his physicality well.

Albert Perkins
92 Posted 21/07/2020 at 05:49:22
We keep talking about Branthwaite as an 18-year-old but his birthday was in June so he is just over 17. Remarkable.
Derek Knox
93 Posted 21/07/2020 at 06:11:23
Kieran @87, pity you only saw the 'highlights' but it sounds like NBC got that one totally 'arse about face', there was little worth watching in the first half.

Second half transformation was almost incredulous, but I suppose you would have to see a bit of the first half, to recognise the vast difference and contrast between the two. Hope for the future has been temporarily restored!

Danny Broderick
94 Posted 21/07/2020 at 06:18:44
John (85),

Move Keane on?

I can only think you mean Moise Kean. Michael Keane has been one of our best players since lockdown. He showed in his partnership with Zouma a few years ago that he is a capable defender.

The last thing we need to do right now is move on one of our better performing players! Let's concentrate on shifting the deadwood shall we?!

Brian Porter
95 Posted 21/07/2020 at 06:34:28
After a visit to the vet (she pronounced me as fit as any old duffer of my age), I managed to get home in time to watch from around the 30-minute mark, so can't comment on what went before.

I love the regular mixed bag of comments on TW. Sometimes, reading all the comments, an outsider could be forgiven for thinking we were discussing two or even three different games, and such is the beauty of the game that we all see and take something different from a simple game of football.

We can agree and disagree on individual performances and on the team as a whole, but underneath we are all Evertonians and want the best from our team.

As for last night and my view of the last hour of the game, it was obvious to me that Carlo had managed his resources well for this one. Sheffield Utd have had a remarkable season and had they won last night would still have had a chance of European qualification, so a win on their turf was no mean feat, however it was achieved.

We seemed set up to match them man to man and completely stifled their offensive capabilities. Our much-maligned midfield for once had the measure of the opposition and Gomes had his best game since the restart.

Despite some criticism from some quarters, I thought Tom Davies did okay. Yes, he misplaced a few passes but they were at least forward passes, trying to get the attack moving. Remember a certain French midfielder, recently departed, who, in Tom's position would have been playing all those passes square or back towards our own goal? Statistics don't always tell the whole story, as I learned many years ago, while serving in the RAF.

Richarlison as usual came up with a moment of Brazilian brilliance to score the winner, and Sidibé had a good game.

Branthwaite looks a natural and with more game time could prove to be a real asset.

The referee had a poor game, twice awarding free kicks to Sheffield Utd that I was convinced should have gone in our favour. VAR could and should have stepped in to recommend a red card to one of their defenders, but was obviously taking a tea break and missed that one. Enough said!

Tony Everan
96 Posted 21/07/2020 at 08:00:37
Agree about Tom, Brian. With regards to Tom Davies, I think there has to be an acceptance if he is being told to attack with the ball and drive at defences, that he will lose the ball a lot more. The same goes for trying splitting forward passes; many more will be intercepted.

That goes with the territory of trying to attack and trying to put the opposition defence and midfield on the back foot. Playing ultra conservatively and sideways all night may yield fantastic pass completion stats, but to what end?

A boring boring game with no attacking intent, and we may still lose from a set-piece or an intercepted sideways or defensive pass.

This slightly more attacking game suits us better, but its success relies on big responsibilities from the whole team when we inevitably lose possession throughout the match. That is tireless workrate out of possession and a rabid desire to harry, close down and tackle to win the ball back.

I thought we did well last night because this all, to a large extent, worked. We attacked more, committed them more and bent them out of their uncompromising defensive shape that their season has been built on.

I want to see more of this attacking verve from us through the midfield; we will be getting reinforcements in the midfield to augment that. But yesterday the work that all of our current midfielders put in will have really pleased Carlo and will give him some food for thought.

Brands is right when he talks about 2 or 3 quality, targeted signings could really be enough to see us make a significant advance and challenge the top 6 under Ancelotti.

Tony Abrahams
97 Posted 21/07/2020 at 08:17:51
I think John Pierce is just thinking ahead, Danny, because he hasn't criticised Michael Keane, who you quite rightly said has been one of our better performers since the restart; I'd personally say he's been our best.

Read John again, he says sell or keep him as a squad player if we want to evolve – something Silva wasn't allowed to do when the pace of Zouma wasn't replaced last summer.

I also wonder why Ancellotti hasn't played to this squad's strengths by playing five across the middle, Steve F, because it's obvious we haven't been strong enough in the middle of the park.

It changed yesterday: less gaps, less distance between each player, and we looked more solid because of this tactical switch, so the biggest question in my mind is why has the manager continued to play 4-4-2?

It's not because he's a fool – everyone in football talks about the astuteness of Carlo Ancelotti – so hopefully he's just been looking into each players character?

It's easy to win with the best players they say and Ancelotti, being the type of man he his, would probably agree!

Robert Tressell
98 Posted 21/07/2020 at 08:23:39
Steve @ 90. I've found the 4-4-2 infuriating too. It worked initially in the sense that:

- It got Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison working as a partnership; and

- The two banks of 4 gave a simple but effective defensive shape to a team in a mess.

However, after the novelty wore off, you're right, it exposed the midfield numerically and particular individuals in midfield having to do unfamiliar jobs.

4-2-3-1 or 4-5-1 last night was much better for the personnel.

Personally, I prefer a three-man midfield these days because otherwise we're outnumbered. I also think it's the easiest way to fix the squad.

But I suspect the recruitment will be for a 4-4-2 double 6.

Max Murphy
99 Posted 21/07/2020 at 08:38:52
Derek #37. What game were you watching? Calvert-Lewin was bloody awful.
James Lauwervine
100 Posted 21/07/2020 at 08:45:29
Ridiculous headline. A much improved performance against a decent side.
Eddie Dunn
101 Posted 21/07/2020 at 09:13:27
Steve, yes the formation helped a lot, we really have struggled with the 4-4-2 and Sigurdsson in particular has been like a fish out of water.

I have to agree with James @100, the title of the article is misleading. I was very impressed with our application and endeavour. I can forgive the mundanity of the first half as we stood toe-to-toe with a top-six team in their back yard, matched them for aggression and showed our quality in the second half.

The formation will be interesting against (nearly-gone) Bournemouth.

Darren Hind
102 Posted 21/07/2020 at 09:46:44
Steve Ferns.

Get paid. I thought nobody would mention the fact that we finally went 3 v 3 in midfield.

Sigurdsson, Gomes or Davies don't have a defensive bone in their collective bodies. None of them sense danger, none of them can tackle and none of them have the lateral movement required to protect the back four.

The "experts" have murdered our midfield players, but they have been hung out to dry by a manager who has let them be outnumbered on a regular basis.

We still need to add some genuine quality and aggression to our midfield, but hopefully "the wily old fox" has realised that getting seriously immobile players outnumbered is not conducive to getting possession and playing a little bit of footy ourselves.

BTW; "Branthwaite will be murdered" by the top strikers??? That's about as daft as saying he is the new Bobby Moore. This kid's performances have lifted the spirit, but FFS – can we let him enjoy this opportunity and learn his trade???

Dale Rose
103 Posted 21/07/2020 at 09:50:57
I missed last night's game. However, I've been very impressed the last few games with Gordon and Branthwaite. Both have lovely touches.

Despite all the doom and gloom, Ancelloti has made a huge difference. I'm actually looking forward to next season.

Michael Kenrick
104 Posted 21/07/2020 at 09:51:35
I'll admit what I really like to see is Everton scoring really good goals. Not something we do very often but, as noted above, Richarlison's finish was a huge stand-out moment in what had been (up until that point) a pretty awful game of football... clearly rapidly forgotten by most.

I think, after that went in, I was looking for us to build on it, and we did in terms of both solid defence and forward play, but the quality of the final ball, the set-up and the finishing for the rest of the match was just as poor as ever. Hence 'dross'.

I try not to mention him too much because he drives me seriously mental, but Calvert-Lewin is the biggest culprit. His poor play has the biggest impact on my mood – yes I admit it. The missed opportunities scream out at me every game. Hence more 'dross'.

The poor body position, the seeming inability to judge the flight and pace of the ball, the dreadful control, the complete failure to direct his headers properly using his whole body – but especially his neck muscles – he literally just lets the ball bounce off the top of his head. And (not demonstrated yesterday) his inability to the strike the ball cleanly, accurately and with force.

But I'm supposed to ignore all this and purr quietly, admiring his 'fantastic work rate' and 'putting himself about'? Pffttt!

"We haven't been as bad as some of you drama queens make out." – We have. We have been abysmal. But one half of better football wipes that right off the slate?

"Richarlison as usual came up with a moment of Brazilian brilliance to score the winner"as usual??? Err... no. Not very usual at all. Pretty rare... although that's two since restart. But great when he does.

But we won. That's all that matters really...

Derek Knox
105 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:12:16
One thing that stuck out for me in yesterday's game, and is basically not only unbelievable, but also unacceptable, is the inability to control a ball passed with pace.

These are Professional Footballers in what is generally regarded as the top League in the World, and they can't control a ball?

While on the subject of annoying faults, the passing of some of our players (not all) is deplorable! I'm talking of simple 3 yard passes being either over or under hit, which are both bad enough, but when it's not even getting to the same colour shirt is inexcusable.

Not naming and shaming but Tom Davies is one of the worst culprits. Oops!

Tony Abrahams
106 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:17:23
Nothing to disagree with there Michael, and one thing reading ToffeeWeb has taught me over the years is your very last sentence mate, that's the be and all for most people, who find it easy to paper over some very large cracks if Everton win.

Peter Mills said he even had thoughts of a team developing, which is quite natural because we have got some good players, “if they are used correctly”.

John Pierce@78, called it right for me, everyone did their job and stayed away from critical errors, which always makes a performance more professional.

Everton won, I'm happy, but Justin is correct, in my opinion, because Branthwaite would get murdered by better faster players, at least whilst partnering Michael Keane!

If that's viewed as a criticism, then I'm pleading not guilty, because I'm just wanting better for Everton. I also think that's why I think the wily old fox has had us playing so deep, because Keane turns like the Royal Iris.

Brian Harrison
107 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:18:28
There is no doubt the change in formation helped; again, Ancelotti demonstrates why we can have faith in him. Our previous 4 managers had one way of playing and that was it. I think under Ancelotti we have had several different systems. I think the reason he has changed the system so often is to see who in this squad is adaptable to be able to play in different systems and who isn't.

We were a lot better going forward than we have been in our previous games; he has also given game time to Gordon and Branthwaite, so he is quite prepared to give youngsters a try, something his previous managers failed to do.

Branthwaite and Gordon look excellent prospects but the time to judge is after they have both had a full season in the team. I have seen far too many bright 18- or 19-year-olds start off brilliantly but fail to make the grade as they got older.

Apart from the Wolves game, our defence has looked pretty solid, something I am sure Ancelotti will have worked on.

Since the return, Calvert-Lewin hasn't looked the same player, he has had chances to score since the return but just hasn't put the chances away. I think we need to go and get a top quality striker – that's not to say Calvert-Lewin won't come back better and stronger next season, but when strikers aren't scoring, it affects their whole game.

Let's not forget, he has started a lot of games this season. I think what Lampard has done at Chelsea is a good example: Abrahams was scoring goals for fun then they dried up, as happens to all strikers, but Lampard had the luxury of bringing in a seasoned striker in Giroud, which we don't have.

I thought Walcott made a difference last night; he was good going forward and defensively, and added energy to our attack – something that is sadly lacking from Iwobi and Bernard.

I thought Digne had another very good game, seemed to get into more forward positions last night which is one of his strengths.

Richarlison always a threat and I have always criticised him for going down to easily but he has taken some stick in the last few games. Superb headed goal and good delivery from Sigurdsson.

I thought Gomes looked more like his old self and hopefully has been able to put that horrific injury behind him.

John Keating
108 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:29:28
Good post, Brian.

Unlike some, who thought Ancelotti would be a failure if we didn't get to Europe this season with this lot, I thought he would try systems and players just to see what he actually had available to him.

He has tried things; some working, some not.

Hopefully next season will see a vast improvement.

Kevin Prytherch
109 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:50:39
Here lies the many conundrums...

When we played with one striker, Calvert-Lewin was starved of service and it was hailed a genius move to play 2 up front. The result: we scored more and both strikers were scoring regularly.

When we played 2 up front, the strikers were starved of service because of the midfield. So we played 1 up front and controlled the midfield better.

When we play a high line, our slow defenders get exposed; when we play a deep line, there is too much of a gap between defence and attack.

Maybe we should accept that we should use different tactics and formations depending on the opposition instead of clamouring for a particular system because it's the current flavour of the month?

Joe McMahon
110 Posted 21/07/2020 at 10:57:16
Kevin, I 100% agree with you there. Last night worked a treat, but somehow Calvert-Lewin needs to start putting chances away. All top 6 teams have goals in them, and Everton (once again) are negative in goal difference.
Darren Hind
111 Posted 21/07/2020 at 11:14:36
Oh, I seeee...

So when Ancelotti was getting his midfield two outnumbered every week, he wasn't getting outwitted by younger progressive managers. He was merely experimenting?

Here's me thinking he only changed things because he realised playing ugly football will only be accepted when you are winning.

Can we please stop apologising for the football this guy has served up and dispel the ridiculous notion that these players can't play football.

Steve Ferns
112 Posted 21/07/2020 at 11:21:24
Kevin, maybe we should play 4-5-2 and hope no one notices?
Jerome Shields
113 Posted 21/07/2020 at 11:21:55
Prior to this game, Ancelotti concentrated on a defensive formation. It worked well against Liverpool and Leicester, started to get undone in midfield after that as the opposition copped on they could capitalise on the midfield frailties of poor possession, poor pass completion, lack of pace, resulting in limited options going forward and lack of challenge. Midfield were easily pushed deep.

In this game, a 4-5-1 enabled the midfield to get more on the ball, because there was more support and options. Sheffield Utd were still able to cut out defensive distribution, particularly in the first half.

The frailities of midfield players, particularly Sigurdsson and Davies, Gordon improved the situation, still prevented Everton engineering a goal from play, though the formation did improve play in the final third.

Gomes improved a lot in the second half in this formation. But it did expose Calvert-Lewin who helped a lot in link play in the final third, as not being a natural finisher in positioning, never once got to the near post in front of the defender, technique (controlling the ball) and shooting. Richardson got more into the game in this system and was more effective.

It is now more obvious how Everton need to improve, either by developing existing players or bringing in new ones. There are no hiding places in an Ancelotti team.

Even before the transfer window, Ancelotti is pushing competition for places, by the introduction of young players. Something that Silva often talked about, but was never able to do. He will want to give Simms a run out in the last game to give Kean something to think about other than partying over the Summer.

Mina will have to put more effort into recovery now, with the emergence of Branthwaite. Holgate is still secure given his all round ablity. Keane is confident at last and Sidebé has improved positionally.

Walcott is good positionally, but could do proverbially better as always. Even the commentators commented on the lost promise of Walcott.

To be in and Ancelotti team next season, players will have to work hard at their fitness, tactical awareness and technique over the Summer and they will find that pre-season will not be a holiday camp as it was before.

Hugh Jenkins
114 Posted 21/07/2020 at 11:37:21
Darren (111). A new manager, takes over a team in mid-season. If I were in that situation, I too would try different formations to see what sort of talent was available to me.

Bear in mind that Ancelotti only needed to look at our position in the table to know that he would need to recruit in the summer to seriously improve the squad, so I would think it was pretty obvious that, before deciding what precisely he would need in terms of new recruits, he would look to see how his current personnel performed in the various roles that they might be asked to play in different formations.

For example, it didn't take him long to decide that Schneiderlin had no future at EFC and, depending on how the summer recruitment goes, who knows who else out of the present first-team squad will either leave or become nothing more than a bench warmer next season?

If his preferred formation is 4-4-2, then presumably he will recruit accordingly – but at least he now knows who, in the current squad, can, or cannot, comfortably fit into that system.

Steve Brown
115 Posted 21/07/2020 at 11:38:31
I seem to remember it was Duncan who switched us back to a 4-4-2 when he took charge. I agree that it took too long for Ancelotti to recognise we did not have the players for his favoured formation, although he has tried three in midfield before the Sheffield Utd game – Spurs for example – and it was terrible.

Bottom line is we need better players and neither Ancelotti nor Duncan would have changed that without a transfer window. Duncan did a great job in instilling some pride in a demotivated team but it was already clearly wearing off. The performance again Chelsea was good, against Man Utd it was okay, and against Arsenal it was crap. Not his fault given the players, but that's the reality.

Colin Malone
116 Posted 21/07/2020 at 12:09:28
Calvert-Lewin put 110% shift in but couldn't hit a barn door.
Brent Stephens
117 Posted 21/07/2020 at 12:25:17
Hugh #114, I agree totally with that.

And Derek, #105:

"One thing that stuck out for me in yesterday's game, and is basically not only unbelievable, but also unacceptable, is the inability to control a ball passed with pace."

YES! Contrast that with the way Man City, for example, ping the ball about and still manage to both pass and receive with control.

Danny O’Neill
118 Posted 21/07/2020 at 12:34:10
Again, speaking from a position of having not watched last night, so really just commenting on some of the posts above. No names, just some general observations on the insights provided.

Ancelloti has been an advocate of 4-4-2 in previous roles but being Italian, he's probably going to be a tinkerer based on opposition or players available - the latter being his problem right now. I'm comfortable with that as I've always maintained you set the formation based on the players you have available rather than making the players available fit the formation you want to play (within reason, injuries dependent etc). We've had our fair share in recent years who simply wouldn't change formation regardless of the players available. Even Moyes rarely strayed from his trusted 4-5-1.

Personally I'm not a fan of 4-4-2 in the modern game. I get the attraction of having an additional striker, however more often than not, you get overrun in midfield. If you can't control the game in midfield, your defence gets put under pressure and your 2 strikers do not get any service. Personally (again), I've said for some about 18 months now, that with the squad we have, I'd probably opt for 4-3-3 most of the time, but that's just me.

I think the defensive / deep set up worked well against Liverpool and Leicester. Those 2 teams tend to hit you in the space behind, so sitting deep denies them that. Always risky, particularly against this Liverpool team, but less risky than a high line, especially with the likes of Keane, who is much more comfortable in a deep lying, compact formation.

Finally, to echo our discussion on your own thread Darren (I know, I said no names!!), I agree, this team does have ability. I think we both agreed, what they lack, as a collective and amongst too many individuals, is the mentality & desire. Passion alone doesn't win consistently, neither does ability alone. Both are required. Apologies for stating the obvious.

Darren Hind
119 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:11:55
I'm not quite sure what Duncan has to do with Ancelotti playing anti-football, but he played with a narrow four in midfield. Nobody strolled through his teams.

Hugh,

If Ancelotti has taken all this time to realise that its not a good idea to get two immobile midfield players outnumbered he is worryingly slow on the uptake.

Around about Easter last season, we were having the same argument. People were saying these players couldn't play open attacking football. Others claimed Silva was our "worst manager ever". Some experts were stating with absolute certainty that we would not get another point... with 11 games to go !

From there on in, We were unlucky not to beat Liverpool and Spurs. we beat Arsenal. Twatted Chelsea and Man United, accumulated 21 points scoring 18 goals in the process.

I don't want to hear daft arsed claims that these players cannot play football. It's like keeping a greyhound in its kennel and saying it can't run.

Tony,

Leicester were scoring goals like they were going out of fashion. They scored two and bossed the game in the first half. By the time the whistle went, it was their highly talented midfield players who were desperately trying to control ours.

Tony Abrahams
120 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:14:09
Leicester City shook up the league playing 4-4-2, so outdated might be the wrong shout. You need good players with loads of energy, especially the wide players who have got to run marathons every game, which is just fundamental for every good player really.

We have mostly looked very poor playing in this system but, if we could get the right players in, who knows?

I'm sure Simeone looked at the wealth and talent, of his major opponents, before deciding to play the way he does? If not, it was obviously a system he knew inside out, so let's give Ancelloti a bit of time; maybe he wasn't getting out-witted, maybe he had another plan? Only time will tell us the answer, let's just wait and see.

Leicester strolled through Ferguson's midfield, Darren, it was blood, guts, a screamer from Baines, and the Everton crowd, which got us back in the game that night.

Sam Hoare
121 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:17:04
If that was dross, I dread to think what the rest of the season constitutes?!

I actually thought it was one of our best performances of the season. Away from home and restricting the home side to no shots on target for the first time in 4 years. We seemed to have control of the match to a degree and added some better use of the ball in the second half creating a decent number of openings that we should have done better with.

I actually enjoyed watching it! Though maybe that was because it counted for so little.

Clearly 3 in the middle suits our current squad a little better and Gomes especially looks better when there are two other central midfielders helping him with the pressing and defensive work.

The remit remains the same. Cull the deadwood. Buy a midfielder. And find a system in which we can remain organised and hard to score against but also manage to hold onto the ball for more than 3 seconds and actually create chances.

It seems every year there are more and more teams capable of competing with us for those 7th-ish spots. Next year, I expect Sheffield Utd may fall down a bit but Southampton will surely move up and maybe Leeds Utd will fancy their chances of top ten with a little investment and Bielsa at the reins. Having said that, Spurs don't look all that and Leicester seem average when Maddison is not on form.

It will be an interesting if truncated summer.

Steve Ferns
122 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:21:24
Well said, Sam. Did you see enough of Gomes last night, that if he had quality behind him, and perhaps an upgrade on Sigurdsson and a better option to pass to wide than Walcott, and of course more consistency, that he might just be good enough for your preferred Everton XI (in a 4-3-3)?
Steve Ferns
123 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:30:29
I think if we added Nigel Martyn, Sylvain Distin, Idrissa Gueye, Tim Cahill, and Kevin Mirallas to the current first XI, that there would be enough to challenge the top 4.

None of those players were big signings. Martyn and Distin were considered finished. Cahill came from the second tier, Gueye had just been relegated and Mirallas was playing in Greece. So, it's not as if I've gone for the more lavish transfers of our recent past like Lukaku and Kanchelskis.

Steve Brown
124 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:30:31
Agree Steve @ 123, let's see how we do next season with players around Gomes who support the system the manager wants to play. He's our best midfielder by country mile.
Jamie Crowley
125 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:46:18
This isn't ground-breaking analysis, but rather food for thought (clearly).

Two things I noticed yesterday:

1. We block a hell of a lot of shots. This has to be coached. It's like U5s playing and they get a lollipop every time they block a shot.

2. We finally were back to counter-attacking yesterday. When we gained possession, it was so clear we would try to immediately hit them on the counter. I hadn't seen that in the last 2-3 games. It's like it disappeared from our repertoire.

The one thing I had enjoyed about Carlo was we attacked quickly and with intent. When things were going well, we had a ton of shots, and we defended well. The shots and the attacking intent almost disappeared the last 2-3 games.

Let's hope #2 continues ad infinitum. Break with pace and purpose.

Derek Moore
126 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:46:41
"I think if we added Nigel Martyn, Sylvain Distin, Idrissa Gueye, Tim Cahill, and Kevin Mirallas to the current first XI, that there would be enough to challenge the top 4."

And if I added William Ralph Dean, Southall, Labby, Harvey, Ratcliffe, Reid and Sheedy we'd be challenging for the champions league title. And if my dad's brother was a woman she'd be my aunty. And if I was better at picking winners I'd be wealthier. And if today was Saturday it would be the weekend.

What an odd and asinine statement to make.

Derek Moore
127 Posted 21/07/2020 at 13:52:13
Jamie (#125), I'd love us to play with more pace, but as they say – we don't have the cattle. Keane runs like he is wearing diving boots, and I've seen cruise liners turn around more quickly than Sigurdsson.

Maybe Brands's much-vaunted joined-up approach to recruitment could bear some fruit in the upcoming window. For all his fuckwittery, even Martinez realized the value of a speed merchant like Deulofeu. It gives the team an outlet and a threat that other teams have to account for.

Over to Brands. again.

Jamie Crowley
128 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:04:15
Derek,

Those players you mention don't need to run.

Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Walcott, Gordon, etc – the wide men, the striker(s), and the No 10 need to run. We can counter – Keane is a centre-back, he's not germane to the conversation.

But I do agree with you – we need a few more pacy players. Speed scares opposition defenses.

Robert Tressell
129 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:06:08
As an aside, do we know why Kean didn't make the bench? Nice to see Simms in around the first team squad but a worry about Kean, unless injured.

Calvert-Lewin has hardly been on fire since the restart and was expecting Kean to get minutes in the last few games at least.

Jamie Crowley
130 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:15:51
Robert -

I'm fearing Kean's days are numbered. There's something wrong there.

Robert Tressell
131 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:21:08
Jamie, if he's not injured then it looks bad.

We're very light up front if Kean left. Simms isn't yet ready, is he? And Tosun will only stay the summer because he's injured...

Derek Moore
132 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:23:38
Apparently there was a tweet alleging Kean had a knock. I feel as if he's being cotton wooled for an inevitable move somewhere. He reminds me of Lookman. He just has never looked happy to be here, a lot like Ademola when he was here.

We definitely need more speed Jamie. I grew up watching Ratcliffe who was phenomenally quick. Having a centre-back with jets enables you to play in different ways – like with a higher line – and gives you a chance to erase mistakes in the backline. As it stands, we all know if they get behind Keane it's somebody else's problem at that stage.

But Ancelloti will know how we wants to set us out, and thus who will be required to do so. My big fear is Brands won't be able to get the job done adequately and the Italian walks. We really need this time to be the beginning of a brave new era, I don't think we have another false dawn left. It's sink or swim time.

Dave Abrahams
133 Posted 21/07/2020 at 14:54:58
Michael (104), not trying to be pedantic (a word I learned on ToffeeWeb) but Richarlison has scored three since football resumed which brings him level with your best mate Dominic.

And your paragraph describing Richarlison's goal was erotic, what were you doing when you wrote that!!!

Sam Hoare
134 Posted 21/07/2020 at 15:43:12
Steve @122; when Gomes plays like that then of course he get into my strongest XI. He gets in anyway at the moment given the lack of options!

My issues with the Portuguese as you know are one of consistency and suitability. Clearly he has not been consistent enough this season, though injury may well have a large part to do with that. Also, I still don't think he's suitable for a midfield 2. He's not mobile enough and does not do enough defensive work.

As part of a 3 though, as you say, he can be brilliant when on his game at protecting and distributing the ball; which is enough if others are making the tackles and scoring the goals.

It was a much better performance from him. Though we've still not seen peak Gomes, the Benfica & Valencia Gomes that contributes goals and assists to the team.

As for Moise Kean, he got a knock. Carlo's already come out and said he will be a bigger player for us next season and is not leaving. I think he may well start the last game if fit.

Jay Harris
135 Posted 21/07/2020 at 16:16:23
Ancelotti from his own mouth has stated that he does not prefer one system over another, he prefers tactical flexibility within the game so we can switch from a 4-5-1 to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 or even a 4-4-2.

All he needs now are decent midfielders that can win a ball, not give it away, and score goals.

Then we will see this manager's true worth.

Jamie Crowley
136 Posted 21/07/2020 at 16:26:11
Robert @ 131 -

Yes, to me it looks unpromising and bad. As Derek says at 132, reminds me a lot of Lookman. Something isn't right with Kean.

Derek @ 132 -

I have to bow to your knowledge about Ratcliffe. Alas, before my time.

I was thinking of how Leicester won the league with very pacy, counter-attacking players, but two centre-backs slow as tar. Morgan and Huth. Two hulking, fantastic players who just sat home and did their flipping job.

Couple of ways to skin a cat, but your point about being able to play differently with centre-backs that are quick and move is taken.

Brian Harrison
137 Posted 21/07/2020 at 16:49:14
I see last night's goal from Richarlison means he has scored more in his first 2 seasons with Everton than Lukaku.
Danny O’Neill
138 Posted 21/07/2020 at 17:15:04
Ratcliffe was unbelievably quick. As Derek says, when you have a defender that's quick, you can play higher up the pitch as you have recovery in your armoury.

Ratcliffe was probably the only defender in the league at the time that could recover against Ian Rush, which says something. With the defenders we have now we can't, hence sitting deep. It's a safety mechanism.

If I recall, and please do call out my ageing memory, wasn't Ratcliffe converted from left-back to centre-back??

Joe McMahon
139 Posted 21/07/2020 at 17:49:31
Robert @131,

If we put Tosun upfront, the laughing coming across Stanley Park would shatter glass.

As I've said on this thread earlier, the top 6 teams score goals, we absolutely don't and I'm assuming an astute man such a Carlo also knows this.

Bill Watson
140 Posted 21/07/2020 at 17:54:15
Danny #138,

Yes, Ratcliffe's early games were as a (very average) left-back.

Danny O’Neill
141 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:00:28
Thanks, Bill. I'm only 48, which I consider relatively youthful (!!), but even for me, some of the memories are becoming blurred!!!
Ian Horan
142 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:08:12
I know it's not thread-oriented but the warning signs were there... Just come up on Sky:

Marco Silva, win rate was 29% in 24 games... why did we chase him? Unbelievable!

Danny O’Neill
143 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:10:12
No idea, Ian. Alarm bells when we were first linked. I was reaching for the life belts when we went back for him.
Robert Tressell
144 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:11:32
Joe @ 139. You are dead right about goals.

I did some analysis for a fan article a couple of months ago. By my crude reckoning we need:

1. To get back to our defensive meanness of a couple of seasons ago; and

2. Add at least another 20 goals

Only then will we be competing for top 6 places.

It sounds obvious but it has implications.

1. The two strikers need to equal and better this season'stotal. No mean feat esp for Calvert-Lewin

2. A supersub striker needs to chip in with about 5

3. A midfielder needs to contribute about 10 (or it needs to be shared out – noting that Gomes and Davies almost never score). This means recruiting someone who scores

4. We keep Sigurdsson but use him as a tactical option and only play him in his correct position. This might generate about 5 goals. Which may be more valuable than selling him.

5. The set pieces need to ve better, with Mina and Keane getting about 8 goals between them

6. Playing 4-3-3, because it's easier to find a goalscorer to play wide right than in a 4-4-2. Eg lozano, BNneres or Malcom.

So sort of obvious but quite interesting too.

Paul Tran
145 Posted 21/07/2020 at 18:49:11
Darren #119, no doubt these players can play – the issue is how many of them can play well consistently?

On that basis, I've got doubts about a few of them. If we're truly ambitious, we need to be buying players who have more than one good game in four.

Jamie Crowley
146 Posted 21/07/2020 at 19:03:37
Bt the way, I've no idea where to say this on TW, but -

Fuck Watford. I seriously want Villa to stay up and Watford to go down. The goal differential is closing. Villa win on the final day and keep it close this afternoon, they have a serious chance.

I'd so prefer to see Villa stay up. Watford, firing Pearson, just lost it for me. Nasty, shitty, club run by idiots.

If Everton do the business against Bournemouth, I think Villa have a real shot at avoiding the drop.

Danny O’Neill
147 Posted 21/07/2020 at 19:37:50
Family ties aside, Jamie (the wife is from the West Midlands and the in-laws are a smattering of Villa and Wolves), after what Watford done to Pearson, I too share your sentiment.

I've been vocal on here about the inadequacies of that generation of British Manager; the Mike Basset brigade, so I'm no fan of Pearson, but what a ridiculous decision at such a precarious point in the season.

Joe McMahon
148 Posted 21/07/2020 at 19:38:00
Jamie, I agree – the sacking of Nigel Pearson is insane. They were bottom of the table when he arrived, and his win ratio was higher than their last 5 managers. Decisions like this by crazy owners just keep on coming.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

149 Posted 21/07/2020 at 19:53:40
It strikes me as if there is very poor recall by some if they think Carlo has stuck rigidly to 4-4-2, or that he ever isolated two players in midfield that were overwhelmed and strolled through.

Whilst 4-4-2 has been a default formation, it isn't rigidly so. There are numerous examples on the Italian's watch that with substitutions and tactical tweaks - even starting XIs - that has morphed in to 3-5-2 and/or 5-3-2 depending on who is in possession of the ball and whether we are attacking or defending, and other combinations in between.

On arrival he picked up where Duncan Ferguson left off, playing a basic 4-4-2 which was a radical change from Marco Silva's rigid set up which only served to isolate DCL.

He played Richarlison alongside Dominic and both players and the team benefited from their close interchanges.

There have been two distinct Everton's under Carlo Ancelotti. Pre-lockdown and post-lockdown. The numbers show pre-lockdown we were scoring more and getting more shots per game.

Post-lockdown, possibly as a result of the trauma of the 4-0 hammering away to Chelsea in the last game before the season was paused, Carlo put greater emphasis on defence as the numbers again clearly show.

Less shots on goals, 3 clean sheets, 4 games with a single goal against (and two of those fortunate deflections in the Spurs and Leicester games) and only the non-performance at Wolves where we were deservedly taken to the cleaners.

This came at a cost to our attacking prowess as DCL once again became too isolated alone up front.

Yesterday for the first time since the restart there was a greater emphasis on closing that space between the midfield and our forwards. Yes, defensive discipline was maintained - the one and only time this season the Blades have failed to register a shot on goal in a home game. DCL continued to largely plough a lone furrow, with both Walcott and Richarlison tracking back to make it 5 across the midfield.

That forced United to play it wide and get behind us down the flanks as their passing lines through the middle were choked off. When they did get in behind us and got the cross in, Keane, Branthwaite and Pickford between them mopped up everything.

This morphed into a 4-2-1-3 on the offensive with Gomes and Davies playing the deeper midfield roles, Sigurdsson more advanced and Richarlison and Walcott more advanced in the wide positions to better support DCL.

At times on the offensive, whilst Sidibe largely stayed at home on the right, Digne on the left got forward more with Davies playing the full-back covering role.

The win should have been more comfortable given some excellent positions we found ourselves in only for the final ball to be passed behind the players, or just too far in front of them.

As I said at the final whistle yesterday, when he plays like he did last night Andre Gomes is an asset. But I have to agree with Sam Hoare that the problem is his consistency over 90 minutes and over a string of games.

I can't follow the logic of Steve Ferns @ 122 when he says if Gomes had quality behind him, an upgrade on Sigurdsson and a better option to pass to wide than Walcott, then he would look better and the team would benefit.

Surely, for the investment made in him, HE should be making the difference to the team HIMSELF and IMMEDIATELY. Not ONLY when we sign 3-4 new players. That he clearly hasn't made that great an impact in two years might just suggest he was a signing we didn't need.

Danny O’Neill
151 Posted 21/07/2020 at 20:06:21
With respect to your views on formation Jay, I said earlier, Ancelloti will change and tinker. What you say is common in the modern game; formations morph during the match. Not quite NFL, but teams change their set up depending on whether they are in possession or defending.

Back to my preference with this Everton squad of a 4-3-3. That wouldn't be a "Subbuteo" of "Fifa" 4-3-3, more a solid 3 midfield with an "arrow head" in front of them. A point man (the striker), with wider playing forwards to the flanks. When play breaks down, that would likely morph into something more akin to a 4-5-1. Rigid formations are not what most teams do now.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

152 Posted 21/07/2020 at 20:12:11
'What you say is common in the modern game; formations morph during the match.'

Exactly Danny.

Peter Mills
153 Posted 21/07/2020 at 21:21:41
Bill #140 is correct, Kevin Ratcliffe converted from a left-back to a centre back.

He also converted from a “bad” player to one who became a fabulous defender and a captain amongst some very strong characters. It's worth remembering when young lads get criticised.

Darren Hind
154 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:11:34
Paul T,

This argument keeps shifting. Many posters have excused Ancelotti's ultra-negative approach by claiming he has no option. We were told these players can't play.
When the argument was put up that Ferguson got them playing, his stint was denigrated. It was just a short burst which had petered out, they said. So I've used the last third of last season to demonstrate that, with the shackles off, these players can play. We are talking about a dozen games here. Is that not consistent enough?

If the "worst manager we've ever had" could get them doing it over a dozen games, surely the best manager who ever lived can?

I'm not saying they should be challenging for the league because they are simply not that good. What I am saying is the excuse for abdicating responsibility to entertain by surrendering possession in the middle of the park in order to pack the defence is just plain wrong.

By not playing 5 across the back, we were able to match numbers in the middle of the park last night. This meant possession and initiative was not surrendered from the off.

The players look like they are finally enjoying their game and the crackpot excuse for cowardly football was once again knocked out of the park.

Kieran Kinsella
155 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:23:07
Jamie

It's tight, goal diff -26, -27, -27. If Bournemouth beat us, and the others lose Bournemouth survive. I hope Villa win just cause I've no time for Watford's owners and Bournemouth have had their fun, time to go back down the ladder.

Hugh Jenkins
156 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:32:40
I too am pleased that Watford got "hammered" tonight because of what they did with Pearson and, whilst I have nothing against Villa per se, I would prefer to see Bournemouth survive because Eddie Howe is an Evertonian and the size of the club bucks the Premier League trend.
Danny O’Neill
157 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:42:35
How about we give the manager the opportunity to show his worth, Darren? He's had 4 months in the chair with an inherited squad that he didn't choose. I don't think anyone is excusing anything, but maybe we just have to be realistic to the situation he's inherited.

I'll judge him when he's had time to put his stamp on things, just like I would have done had Duncan Ferguson been appointed manager with an inherited squad that he didn't choose.

Kieran Kinsella
158 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:48:39
Hugh,

Don't forget “Evertonian” Eddie Howe is also a Watford fan, however that works. He will be a conflicted soul this Saturday... lol!

John Boon
159 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:51:51
Without a doubt, the results since the Covid break have been baffling. Today Arsenal played like us at our worst. Before that, they managed to beat Liverpool and Man City.

Everton are probably no more inconsistent than any other team in the Premier League. How on earth did Watford deservedly beat Liverpool 3-0? Chelsea battered invincible Man Utd after losing to Southhampton. Nothing seems to make sense.

Forecast: Everton 12 Bournemouth 0.

Kieran Kinsella
160 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:52:11
Danny,

Four months is long enough unless you're talking about a player, of course.

Tom Davies, for example — for whom 100 starts is no indication he should be judged or criticized in any way.

Danny O’Neill
161 Posted 21/07/2020 at 22:57:21
I think I'm (hopefully) seeing your sarcasm there Kieran! 4 months is way too short to be judging Carlo Ancellotti as Everton manager! Tom Davies has had 2 years. I like Tom but is he where we want Everton to be?
Danny O’Neill
162 Posted 21/07/2020 at 23:00:12
Eddie Howe, the English Martinez!!! To think some wanted him as our manager.
Bill Watson
163 Posted 21/07/2020 at 23:32:45
I'd prefer Villa to stay up and Bournemouth and Watford to join Norwich in the Championship – purely on the basis it will help keep away match travel costs down.

I'm pretty sure that, if we'd have kept Silva, then we'd be firmly in Sunday's relegation mix – if not already down.

Mike Gaynes
164 Posted 21/07/2020 at 23:36:00
I'll be sad to see Bournemouth drop. I like the red & black strip, the manager and the passionate way they have always played.
Steve Ferns
165 Posted 21/07/2020 at 23:39:45
I doubt many Merseysiders will want a southern side like Watford to stay up at the expense of a non-Southern side. Everton and Villa have a lot of history (understatement) and I think it's better having them in the top flight.

I'm glad Leeds utd are back, I hope West Brom make it too, and I'd like Nottm Forest to make it up through the play-offs. Let's really reduce the numbers of southern sides, it's a northern game after all.

Rob Halligan
166 Posted 21/07/2020 at 23:55:11
Bill, 163. Totally agree with that. Bournemouth and Norwich are absolute nightmares to get too. Just a pity Brighton can't go down as well.

Mike @164, you wouldn't like Bournemouth if you had to sit on a coach for five hours each way!

Mike Gaynes
167 Posted 22/07/2020 at 00:35:31
I'm sure that's true, Rob!

I'll also be rooting for Brentford. I know there are too many London sides already, but a close mate of mine is a Brentford supporter.

Kieran Kinsella
168 Posted 22/07/2020 at 00:39:38
Steve,

I've no love for Northeasterners either. Keep West Ham and Arsenal and get rid of the rest south of Birmingham. Keep a couple of Midlands teams and fill it out with Lancastrians.

Darren Hind
169 Posted 22/07/2020 at 07:37:21
Danny,

"I don't have an option about whether Carlo gets more time or not." — If you think he should be given a free reign and not be held accountable in any way for what we have seen, that's your prerogative. I believe the Everton manager should be accountable from the very minute he signs on the dotted line and starts drawing an enormous salary.

The season is all but over now. So I'll take your advice. I'll wait to see if this guy really can attract top players, as so many have claimed. If he does and he ditches the anti-football, I will be first on here to hold up my hands.

In the meantime, perhaps I can offer a little advice in return: Disagree with criticism of the manager by all means, but Ignore foolish attempts to divert it. Especially when it comes from somebody who hasn't quite worked out the difference between verbally abusing a young academy player and legitimate criticism of the tactics used by a man who has been in the game for nearly half a century.

No more from me about Ancelotti until next season, when he will be given the opportunity to showcase the sort of quality a man of his standing in the world game was able to attract...

Kim Vivian
170 Posted 22/07/2020 at 07:48:20
Having moved down to Kent some years ago, it is nice to have some teams relatively local – within a couple of hours or so – which are easier (for me) to get to so I can get to watch us. So, for that reason, I'd like Bournemouth to stay up.

Trips to Goodison are a nightmare these days (post-Covid) – never mind the search for the Holy Grail (a ticket!).

Danny O’Neill
171 Posted 22/07/2020 at 08:12:07
With you, Kim. I've been London based for many years now, so a trip to Bournemouth is convenient!

I enjoy my trips to Goodison too; it's only 2 hours on the train out of Euston these days.

Hugh Jenkins
172 Posted 22/07/2020 at 09:18:12
Steve (165),

I assume your post was very much "tongue in cheek"?

If you haven't yet seen the Netflix series "The English Game", which appears to be historically well researched and for which Sam Hoare (134) was a scriptwriter for one episode, I suggest you watch it.

You will then see that football is not a "Northern Game", but was controlled and first codified by the "Football Association", that had its roots and membership dominated by the "old boys" of Eton college. Very much a "southern based" institution.

Northern sides (of which "Blackburn" were the focus in the series), had to fight and struggle for a number of years in order to gain admittance to the then elitist FA.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

David Cash
173 Posted 22/07/2020 at 09:22:43
So Dazza,

You won't be criticising the evil non-Evertonian who is out to fleece our club until he has had the benefit of a transfer window. Next season at the earliest?

I've got 25 quid (to a charity of your choice) which says you won't be able to do it.

David Hayes
174 Posted 22/07/2020 at 09:35:39
"Usual dross"? yes, in many other recent games I understand, but to limit Sheffield Utd to no shots on target, overcome their blatant Stoke-style thug tactics, and give it back when required, combined with intervals of brilliant link-up play and total commitment from all – this is exactly what we all said has been woefully missing before.

Add in a one-way ref and I cannot understand why you think that adds up to the usual dross, Michael. I know you went on latter to expand your view but, if we played like that consistently, with the same stand out individual performances, we would have a real base to build on with new quality additions.

I for one would be really excited for the future; consistency though is not our style, that's the problem we can't solve ever, sadly.

Joe McMahon
175 Posted 22/07/2020 at 09:40:09
Kieran, I will always support teams in the North-East, and area of the country that was killed in the 80s, and Cash Rich Londoners won't care a jot. Besides the North-East has a wonderful coastline and all them castles. Not to mention some great food.

Just adding my preference: I want West Brom to come up (always loved them since days of 3 degrees) and Bournemouth (damn that means Everton losing). I used to live there, and it's a great place for long coastal walks, and had some great Rock pubs, back in the day.

Kim Vivian
176 Posted 22/07/2020 at 09:44:37
Danny – Are you a season ticket holder? If not what's your secret for obtaining tickets?

If I travel up there, it's usually 2 or 3 of us so hugely cheaper to drive but 5½ hours each way (without traffic) from where I am, and a 600-mile round trip. A long day.

Michael Kenrick
177 Posted 22/07/2020 at 10:42:02
Yes, good points, David (#174). My focus was almost entirely on us scoring goals but, in this game, with our new "anti-football" manager, I probably need to retrain my critical faculties in the old Arsenal mould of defending the well-earned lead, and seeing the game out.

We did put a decent amount of attacking play together in the second half, as well as mounting a very effective defense, and perhaps my one-liner summary should have reflected that... something along the lines of:

A moment of superb genius amidst the usual dross was all that was worthy of note in a dreadful first half; then Everton mounted a solid defense to protect their lead, dull those nasty Blades, and strung together a few promising forward moves to suggest they can do better than in recent dreadful games (but without actually scoring).

Steve Ferns
178 Posted 22/07/2020 at 10:53:07
I have seen Sam’s Netflix series. But I have also read loads of football history books and every single Everton one as a kid.

Football is a northern game. Over half of the league titles have been won by (old) Lancastrian clubs. The league was started by a coming together of Lancashire and the midlands elite:

Accrington
Aston Villa
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Burnley
Derby County
Everton
Notts County
Preston North End
Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Tony Abrahams
179 Posted 22/07/2020 at 10:53:58
Hugh@172, do your homework mate, the football league was formed during a meeting in Manchester, and it’s founder members were all midlands or northern based!

I think google is remarkable giving out such information, and I’ve often wondered why the founder members have never had any little emblems, emblazoned onto their shirts, maybe wondering if the pompous FA, have got anything to do with this?

Tony Abrahams
180 Posted 22/07/2020 at 11:13:10
Skirting over your match report Michael, I felt your headline came about because of the way we played in the first half. That’s how I felt when I first read your report, and skirting over it again, I don’t think you criticised anything much when going over the second half performance.

It’s a thankless task reporting on a game of football, especially without time to reflect, and although Everton looked more compact, and more in control, I could understand where you was coming from, especially with the previous few performances obviously fresh in the mind?

I also agree with David, because the professionalism shown at times was encouraging, but football is all about consistency, because it’s the only key to success

Steve Ferns
181 Posted 22/07/2020 at 11:17:41
Tony, they should have a special badge for the five that founded both of the premier league and the football league.
Steve Ferns
182 Posted 22/07/2020 at 11:26:52
I’m sure Sam will confirm, but the Netflix series was also not historically accurate and included a lot of artistic licence. The biggest example of this was “Blackburn” who the series made into one club, when in fact there was two: Blackburn Rovers and Blackburn Olympic.

Rovers made the first final, and lost as depicted. Then Olympic won the final the year later. Then Rovers did. The series pretended the Olympic final never happened or that it was the Rovers side that did.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

184 Posted 22/07/2020 at 13:15:00
I've got to hand it to you 'Dazza' @ 154.

You are tremendous (unintentional) comic value.

Darren Hind
185 Posted 22/07/2020 at 13:38:48
Not nearly as funny as you Jaybo

Your incredibly long winded attack on all those imaginary people who think Carlo has stuck "rigidly" to 4-4-2 had me in stitches.. Another classic Wood own goal. You didnt even get beyond the first sentence this time.

I wonder how many people scratched their heads and wondered who the hell you were talking about ?

Richard Dunn must be willing you to keep posting so his unwanted record goes.

Mind you. he took an entire career to score ten OG`s. You look like your going to do it in a fortnight

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

186 Posted 22/07/2020 at 15:07:46
You do have a febrile and troubled mind, 'Dazza'.

You love to create an imaginary enemy. A photo-fit, an avatar, a profile of 'all' those who waiver just slightly from your own absolutism on all subjects.

'This argument keeps shifting' you claim. What is this 'argument' of which you speak?

Different posters post different opinions on all things Everton. And some how you weave disparate opinions, on multiple issues, from multiple posters, and try to pass it off as something singular rather than what it is - diverse.

'Many posters have excused Ancelotti's ultra-negative approach by claiming he has no option.'

Not true on various levels. This implies all our games under Carlo have displayed an ultra-negative approach. They haven't. You just choose to ignore and filter out the games in which we played very well.

It further implies that 'many posters' were forgiving of the team's poor performances in the 4 games v Spurs, Saints, Wolves and Villa. They weren't. I didn't see anyone sugar-coating those performances.

'We were told these players can't play.' Yeah, by some doom-mongerers - including yourself. But there were plenty more who said the players are not performing to their full potential. That on occassions they HAD shown what they are capable of, but too sporadically. And that has been the case under all recent managers since Moshiri came on board, not just under Carlo Ancelotti.

As for this, 'When the argument was put up that Ferguson got them playing, his stint was denigrated. It was just a short burst which had petered out, they said.'

This is the total inverse of what the overwhelmingly majority view was of Duncan's short stint. TW overflowed with admiration, gratitude and respect for the Big Man, even from his self-confessed detractors.

You choose to filter out Duncan's own words that he wasn't ready for the full-time job and that the club should appoint a world class manager. They did.

You also contrive to filter out that in 1 1/2 of Duncan's 4 games Everton were poor. Very poor. Didn't get started in the 1st half v Leicester in the League Cup quarter-final and found themselves 2-0 at half-time, followed by a great recovery in the 2nd half (but still eliminated).

Duncan's final game v Arsenal you have previously tried to dress it up as something heroic, two ex-Everton players slogging it out. It wasn't. It was a dreadful 0-0 borefest of little quality, low on energy. If that performance had been under Carlo Ancelotti, I have no doubts how it would have been described by you. And 'generous' it wouldn't have been.

You say you used the last third of last season under Silva to demonstrate that, with the shackles off, these players can play.

Why refer to last season when you could have demonstrated the same by taking the FOURTEEN league games this season (more than a third of a season) following Silva's dismisal, up to the final game before the lockdown away to Chelsea? 3 under Duncan, 11 under Carlo. The last 14 games of last season under Silva yielded 21 points. The 14 games pre-lockdown this season yielded 23 points.

So these players can play well under any manager. But they don't always.

What's your point on this one, 'Dazza'..?

Nor are you alone in stating since the restart we have set up too defensively. What you won't acknowledge is others putting up perfectly legitimate reasons why this has possibly been the case.

One being that the memory of our last game before lockdown - being totally overrun by Chelsea - made Carlo think 'I'm not having that!' It is very apparent to me and others how much more solid we look when defending these days. Zonal marking is extremely effective under Carlo whereas under Silva there was trepedation whenever teams attacked us, both from open play and set plays.

I and others acknowledge the pendulum in some games since the restart has swung too far in favour of defensive rigidity to the cost of our forward play. DCL has suffered in particular as a result of this and has once again become too isolated.

Then there is the first opposition we played on re-start. 'Them'.

My recall of the game and the reaction on TW is that it lacked the usual pace and intensity of a typical Mersey Derby, but the free-scoring runaway leaders didn't really threaten our goal, whereas we most certainly threatened theres and had good opportunities to win it.

You can further factor in the unique and extreme mitigating circumstances of restarting the league after a 3 month hiatus, playing games in the summer months, travelling to and playing away games on the same day and the intensity of completing so many games in a compacted time span.

You can throw in team selection too. With injuries, with who is available, there are not many variations to radically shake things up.

But again, you filter all this out, determined as you are to argue against the photo-fit 'enemy within' you need to create.

'Crackpot excuses for cowardly football?'

Hyperbole. A total misrepresentation of what multiple posters are saying in a measured, balanced, legitimate way rather than the hysterical doom-filled manner others choose to react with.

Martin Mason
187 Posted 22/07/2020 at 15:22:55
I disagree that the first half was dross. What I saw was Everton settling into a revised system and then establishing a grip on the game. It would have been praised if it were Liverpool doing the same? We were away on the ground of a club who are several places above us and who had beaten us at home and dominated them so much that they effectively had no chances. We had no players who had a bad game even by the demanding standards of some TW's and we are blending in young players. For me nothing but positives from that game. Hopefully the coaches learn from it.
Martin Mason
188 Posted 22/07/2020 at 15:30:20
Jay, look up confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance.

Darren shouldn't really be a football supporter, especially on the Everton site as he doesn't have the psychological make-up to be able to see a big picture. Like you, I really don't understand what his point is as he never actually makes one – just a series of whinges.

John Keating
190 Posted 22/07/2020 at 15:40:21
Derek, might be the other way around
Derek Moore
191 Posted 22/07/2020 at 16:05:58
Anything is possible JK (#190)

It was my elder brother who first tipped me off about this site many many moons ago. He told me there was a site with an enormous and diverse range of opinion, some really smart analysis, outspoken opinion and most importantly lashings of scouse humour that make it special. At that time there was a fellow named Eugene Ruane writing some very funny stuff at the fag end of the Moyes era.

Our Ashley no longer bothers to come here sadly. Minus the Eugene Ruanes, Tony Marsh, Ken Buckley and even Richard Dodd it had just become an iteration of Everton Reddit he reckoned.

In my view, this place is still special. We should all seek to keep it that way.

Brian Williams
197 Posted 22/07/2020 at 17:35:01
Jerome Shields
198 Posted 22/07/2020 at 17:39:54
Had a look at Sigurdsson stats for the Sheffield game. I watched the game and thought he was passing sideways and back most of the game but the stats show that he was one of the best in passing forward, particularly in the final third with a good pass completion rate.

So Ancelotti's tactics suited him, as well as Gomes. I was wrong in my observations. Credit where credit is due.

I wouldn't analyse Darren and Jay's handbag spates too much, just all part of Toffeeweb.


Martin Mason
199 Posted 22/07/2020 at 17:52:15
Jerome, I didn't want to say. He had a great game.
John Keating
205 Posted 22/07/2020 at 19:01:23
Derek 191
Derek your brother was spot on.
When Eugene, John Daly and others posted invariably it was cutting but with no malice and also funny at the same time.
Unfortunately now certain people get personal and there's a nastiness to it.
A lot of people either leave, like your brother, or just give up on the thread which usually ruins some good conversation.
A shame really, ruins it for many

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