The Shapes of Things to Come

by   |   11/08/2019  68 Comments  [Jump to last]

I'm too long in the tooth to get too excited about first-day results. The shock of the 1-4s against Coventry and Spurs. The joy of Cottee's hat-trick debut. The shock of how awful we were on Bilic's debut defeat to Crystal Palace.

One thing the opening day always gives is an insight into the manager's thoughts and some home truths about the team.

I thought we had a good transfer window. It would have been better with another centre-back, but I'm a fan of Mina, Keane and Holgate and every Chelsea fan I know would have happily sold us Zouma.

Now it's down to Silva. Yesterday, he played last season's team, with Schneiderlin for Gana. Started brightly, missed chances. Very solid back four. Lost Gomes, midfield fell apart. Bringing on the unfit Gbamin was a poor decision that told me what Silva thinks of Davies. Missed chances again.

Up front, we were last season's mishmash. Calvert-Lewin works well, can hold it up well, but is often isolated. We all know that, if we have him as the pivot, we'll have enough good days to get us 8th, with a possible puncher's chance in a cup.

Hang on, we could do something different here. Kean was busting to play yesterday. Why not give him an hour running amok till he gets tired? You could keep the existing shape and have him behind or around Calvert-Lewin. Or possibly have them in a front three with Richarlison?

Of course, I'm assuming Iwobi was bought for the fast, strong, some goals role. I'd start him on Saturday as well. I'd be tempted by him, Kean and Richarlison up front. Pace, strength and goals.

I often read people on here telling me that Silva 'only plays one way'. That way doesn't work often enough for me. Our attack us like a jigsaw puzzle with the wrong pieces. Every so often they crowbar a good picture, without convincing me that it's going to work consistently.

I'd like Silva to be bolder at the start of games, rather than waiting till games pass us by. If that means sacrificing hard-working players like Calvert-Lewin, Bernard, Sigurdsson from time to time, so be it.

Lots more shapes with this squad. Here's what I'd try on Saturday:

Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne
Gomes, Sigurdsson
Iwobi, Kean, Richarlison

My point is that Silva has options now. It's up to him to be bold and creative. He showed last season he can (eventually) organise a defence. Now it's time for the forwards. Yesterday's last-season rehash won't cut it for me. Time for something bolder. Time for different shapes.

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Reader Comments (68)

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Tony Abrahams
1 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:02:07
Interesting team you have picked, Paul, some very good players, and loads of modern football's most vital ingredient which means a lot more pace.

We have a good squad now and it's definitely up to the manager how he starts to use it. Losing Gueye's energy was bad enough but replacing it with sideways Schniederlin is hopefully going to become a thing of the past.

Everton can have a good season but the bolder the manager is, then the bolder the crowd will be, and because our crowd is so important, I hope that Silva is getting his team ready to attack.

Steve Ferns
2 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:09:55
“Bringing on the unfit Gbamin was a poor decision” and “Kean was busting to play yesterday. Why not give him an hour running amok till he gets tired?”

Complete contradictions. Gbamin had trained more and was readier. Yet Paul and many others know better than Silva and insist he should have played. Neither was ready and neither should have started.

Why Gbamin over Davies? Because we lost our best passer and we needed to replace the guile of Gomes and Gbamin is better at that than Davies. Gbamin also needs games to get him up to speed.

You’re better than this Paul.

John Keating
3 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:18:08

I mentioned in another thread that I would like to see Silva mix up formations and tactics to suit various opponents.

Unfortunately Silva seems to prefer to keep to one system, sometimes slightly tweaked for all teams.

If we played Fleetwood in the League Cup at home, he'd play the same team, formation and tactics as yesterday.

He is definitely one who won't experiment, I'm afraid.

Steavey Buckley
4 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:24:55
Everton were poor in the last third because both Calvert-Lewin and Sigurdsson had wretched games and both should have been pulled off earlier. Both bad misses happened in the first half when Sigurdsson could not direct an easy shot on goal, while Calvert-Lewin's header lacked conviction and direction. If those 2 efforts had gone in, it's a different game than the game that ended tamely 0-0.
Paul Tran
5 Posted 11/08/2019 at 19:53:39
No contradiction for me, Steve. Gbamin stated in his presser he wouldn't have been ready for yesterday. Kean was keen (sorry!) to play. I couldn't see the point in bringing him on for 20 mins when our shape had gone. That smacked of deperation. Starting him, letting him make an impact and bringing a happy, tired player off would have been far better. In this case, I think I do know better!

Point taken regarding Davies, Gbamin and passing. You and Marco are better than me there! Though he did look woefully unfit and exposed. I'm looking forward to seeing him when he's fit, he showed some good strength and touches.

Ciarán McGlone
6 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:00:13
Gbamin's mistakes were not about fitness, they were about awareness.

The formation and personnel that started yesterday are not working. Personally I feel the problem is in the middle. Sigurdsson is far too slow and stifles any potential pacey attacks.

Take him out and I think we'll see a different Everton. Kean should start next week. Full stop.

Steve Ferns
7 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:05:15
Kean won't be starting for a good while. He's not ready. He's very young. He's very raw. He can't speak the language well. He is not up to the pace.

The plan will be for Calvert-Lewin to start and to play hard for 75 minutes and Kean will come on for 15-30 minutes. If Kean shows he's ready sooner than that, then he may start.

You need to be patient with him. What if he did start and was as out of his depth as Gbamin was? That's very dangerous for a 19 year old.

Use your head here lads. Think it through.

Paul Tran
8 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:19:29
Oh he'll definitely do that, Steve. Best bet of the week

I'm all for managing and looking after young players. Bringing him on late in a game is fine when we're a couple of goals in front, with the opponents chasing the game and leaving space. Not when it's 0-0 and we've gone shapeless. That won't help a young player.

He's not a kid from the academy, he's played for a demanding crowd and in from of very hostile crowds in Italy.

For me, playing him from the start gives him a fairer chance to show what he can do. And it sends him an encouraging signal that Silva believes in him. Young people need that every bit as much as protection. The time to protect him is when he's looking tired and low in confidence.

Raymond Fox
9 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:45:59
Silva knows how precarious an Everton managers job is, he's going to take as few risks as possible. His first priority is probably not to get beat, now whether that's the best way to proceed is a matter for debate, it's probably not especially at home.

With regard to the new signings, he will know a lot better than us when they're ready to play. I think Iwobi would be worth a place on Saturday though, he's got plenty of Premier League experience.

Jerome Shields
10 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:52:32
I think that both Gbamin and Kean were given a run out to see how they would do and give them some idea of what it's like to play in the Premier League. It will be of value to them in training during the week.

Next match, I expect they will be given a run-out with more of a specific role in the team. Gomes and Davies are likely to play midfield. I would like to see Gbamin play alongside Gomes and Kean alongside Calvert-Lewin. The introduction of Iowbi would be interesting in Sigurdsson's position.

Ciarán McGlone
11 Posted 11/08/2019 at 20:56:45

Perhaps in your infinite wisdom you can explain the difference between being out of his depth in the 20/30 mins you suggest bringing him on for – and being out of his depth starting?

His age is bloody irrelevant.

John Pierce
12 Posted 11/08/2019 at 21:01:32
Paul, some considered and sage words. Although a hot take wouldn't go a miss sometimes! Live a little!

I always expect Everton to do well within reason, opening day or not. No away win on opening day since 2001, Charlton, is wretched and cannot be excused.

Silva has had plenty of time to get his ideas and methods into the the side. You can see it permeating but you can also see his flaws filtering through too.

This will be a hard season for him, the squad he has assembled to date doesn't fit the 4-3-3 I think he wants to play. I cannot see many variations beyond 4-2-3-1 that will win us games, it generally produces less goals per game so we'll need ‘Lady Luck' to help us out. Since we are goal shy too, I sense more frustration.

Primarily we need to commit more players to attack. Both Gomes and his partner will need to threaten the box more regularly. When do any of our midfielders threaten the box!?

Yesterday we created far more than people thought we did, in particular, both full-backs got in and behind a produced several telling crosses, even Seamus did, for god's sake!

Every time I lamented the lack of bodies in the box and in particular the movement of the centre forward, a cross a piece from either side in the first 20 minutes left me scowling.

Moreover, he really needs to change the course of a game earlier and with decisive changes. He strikes me a thoughtful figure on the touchline, but easily that can be seen as passive and rudderless. I did wonder what Kean under Calvert-Lewin would be like at Sigurdsson's expense. I'm really struggling with his inclusion, when he isn't scoring it's hard not to think WTF does he do?!

Those who ignore the lessons even from one opening game, will find they're generous nature sees the team drift and before you know it a poor return after six benign fixtures will make further results much harder to correct.

Everton should have been far better prepared yesterday, all teams have the same issues in pre-season there is little by way of mitigation. This was the first game since Millwall we were expected to win and failed under a modicum of pressure. The wins we came by at the back end of last season were under no expectation or duress.

I see lots of good things in Silva despite reservations so he needs to grasp the nettle and be ruthless were his methods fail and players under-perform.

The time is now, that window is closing but teams can be caught. I hope there is a sense of urgency for the club to do something about it.

Watford after their own poor start will drop deep and we are dreadful at breaking a side like that down.

Already there's a pressure about the game that needn't be there.

Come on, Marco, time to kick on!!!

Paul Tran
13 Posted 11/08/2019 at 21:06:09
Too early for a hot take, John. Not my style these days. If I want excitement I'll I get off the sofa quickly.
Andy Crooks
14 Posted 11/08/2019 at 21:44:24
Ciaran @6, absolutely spot on, Sigurdsson is the problem. He works hard, scores the odd blinder but is utterly undynamic. He starts because he cost so much. I challenge anyone to pick our best team, not on paper, not based on stats but a TEAM, with him in it.

He is our luxury player and he does not provide enough luxury.

Mike Gaynes
15 Posted 12/08/2019 at 01:13:58
PT, I don't think Gbamin's mistakes were about fitness. Or about awareness, as Ciaran puts it. I think they were about his first time out in the fastest, hardest league in the world with no time to prepare, and in a more advanced position than he had previously played. But I'm confident you're correct that both he and Kean will start next weekend.

Iwobi, however, will not start IMO.

Mike Gaynes
16 Posted 12/08/2019 at 01:18:55
Andy #14, come on, mate, Sigurdsson does NOT start "because he cost so much"... Silva & Brands didn't buy him and certainly don't make lineup decisions based on what somebody else spent on him before they arrived.

He starts – every game – because Silva sees a much, much higher value in him than you do. And that's not going to change anytime soon.

Dan Murphy
17 Posted 12/08/2019 at 03:00:06
Why is Silva allergic to playing 2 upfront?

With Sigurdsson at 10 we don't have someone who gets involved in triangles round the box/is going to unpick or step through defences.

We mostly get the ball in the box through crosses. We also have one of the best knockdown-hold up centre forwards in the league. Palace are sitting deep on the edge of their box so why not drag Sigurdsson and tell Kean to run off Calvert-Lewin and start putting in some high balls?

It's like for Silva and a lot of continental managers that is completely verboten, even though it works a lot of the time. It is Klopp's go to when the RS are banging their head against a door. But I won't hold my breath.
James Flynn
18 Posted 12/08/2019 at 03:05:49
Kean isn't 19 like Davies or Lookman were. He's 19 like Lukaku was.
David Currie
21 Posted 12/08/2019 at 03:07:41
Andy @14,

Silva in my opinion does not see Sigurdsson as the future and wants his own players. He wants to go 4-3-3 and wanted to have the midfield 3 of Gbamin, Gomes and Doucoure. I think this will be Sigurdsson's last season.

Laurie Hartley
22 Posted 12/08/2019 at 04:45:00
Tactics and formations are not my strong suit as many of you will be aware. I was once clobbered for suggesting starting three defensive midfielders during Moyes reign!

So it is with great trepidation that I put in my twopence worth.

We are third only to Liverpool and Man City on last seasons clean-sheet table. I believe that is in no small measure due to the work Bernard and Richarlison do in supporting the full-backs.

We want clean sheets and goals so the only practical solution I see is giving Kean the centre forwards spot and letting Iwobi challenge Sigurddson for his spot.

Unfortunately that means it's back to the bench for Calvert-Lewin.

So my preferred starting 11 if it is to be 4-3-3 would be

Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne
Gomes, Gbamin, Iwobi
Richarlison, Kean, Bernard

That is nearly all Silva's men.

Mike Gaynes
23 Posted 12/08/2019 at 05:43:23
Dan #17, we don't know that he is "allergic"... playing two up front requires having two good forwards. We certainly didn't last season, unless you consider Calvert-Lewin and Tosun an irresistible attack force.

Let's see how quickly Kean develops and then we'll know whether Silva thinks 2 strikers up top is worth a try.

Darren Hind
24 Posted 12/08/2019 at 06:09:28
Some truly bizarre statements about Calvert-Lewin on here during and after the match.

We don't have pace to break at speed carrying the ball to the opposition in a way you would see others do. In order to counter quickly the ball is played to Calvert-Lewin and the cavalry get there (in our case) when they can.

The problem we have is only one person at the club is capable of receiving the ball and holding it until the others either catch up or go beyond him. It's no coincidence that the ball keeps coming back to us when Calvert-Lewin has been substituted. Nor is it coincidence that once he got a starting place our team started to lodge sustained attacks after years of zombie-paced zero attempts football.

I'm happy with our new signings but, unless we inject some power and dynamism throughout the team they will not trouble the opposition often enough.

For me, we have to go two up top and in the current set up, one of those two always has to be Calvert-Lewin. We simply get more chances when he plays.

I don't get this club sometimes we simply have to have a player to blame. Calvert-Lewin took more stick than the rest of the team put together after Saturday's game, but he was nowhere near the worst player. Nor did he miss the chances.

We have spent 100s of millions of pounds on dud forwards, but they get nowhere near the same criticism the fella we got for £1.5m gets.

The guy has a monumental task. He not only has to control the ball in order to build an attack. He more often than not has to engaged two centre-halves in what are lung-bursting tussles in order to earn the right... then people wonder why he isn't driving into the box to get on the end of crosses.

The current Everton team is far better when Calvert-Lewin plays. If results and performances since January don't tell you that, I'm afraid nothing will.

Laurie Hartley
25 Posted 12/08/2019 at 07:20:18
So, Darren, do you think Silva needs to go to 4-4-2? And, if so, who is the second player up top?
David Pearl
26 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:10:20
Great post, Darren.

I think a diamond midfield would fix things. 2 up to also. Same players with a tweak to our shape. Currently we don't move as a team. Funny enough, we do have plenty of pace in the team. Defensively we are quite sound but it comes back to the manager for me. He sorted that out last season so let's see if he can sort this out and not take as long doing it.

Tony Abrahams
27 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:22:13
Personally think 4-4-2 will get you over-run, but still think Silva, must be able to find a way to play more offensively when you look at his present squad?

By more offensively I mean getting more players closer to our centre-forward, but I don't think this will come about without someone in midfield, getting in amongst us and ordering our players about.

Early days, but room for optimism depends on keeping key players fit, and looking at the transfer window, then I think it's imperative that Fabian Delph, gets and stays fit.

Ciarán McGlone
28 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:43:26
I thought a 4-4-2 with Calvert-Lewin and Kean would've been the best option at half -time on Saturday... however, I can't see Silva going 4-4-2 at all.
Trevor Peers
29 Posted 12/08/2019 at 08:46:37
The thought of having to play Calvert-Lewin in every game to ensure a result is truly terrifying, if that's what's being suggested. I, like many others, remain baffled as to why we did not sign a quality striker in the summer to give us a chance of progressing into the top six.

The way we play is devoid of entertainment; goal-scoring chances are limited to 3 per game, which is just not good enough. If Calvert-Lewinis our vital kingpin, then god help us and all those who actually go and watch the games at Goodison Park.

Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:09:19
Andy (14), I'm with you on Sigurdsson, to a certain extent. To me, he is ‘the nearly man' – a good player who tries always to be involved, but the times he nearly gets hold of the ball, nearly gets it under control, nearly keeps possession, nearly makes a good pass often quite a lot during the game, too often to be honest. He does slow Everton's attacking movement quite a lot as well, as I say he's nearly a very good player but not often enough.

Silva has got to sort his substitutions out as well, too many times last season he waited and waited before making the swops and a lot of times he got them wrong when he did, I think he did on Saturday as well.

Very interesting thread this Paul.

Sam Hoare
31 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:17:14
Sigurdsson is an interesting one. I've never been a huge fan and was against the signing of him for that colossal fee. But he is one of our few players with genuine vision and last season was one of the 2 attacking players to offer goals and/or assists on a consistent basis.

I can't work out whether the lack of creativity is to do with him or the system. Is it that he is not showing for the ball enough in central areas? Or is it that Silva's system is over-reliant on getting the ball down the wings so that the full-backs (Digne especially) can get crosses in? Or could it be that the deeper midfielders (Gomes and Gueye) last season are just not finding him enough and playing enough balls through the middle?

Something is certainly not right about our attacking balance and we definitely need to find more ways to break down sitting teams than just feeding the full-backs on the overlap to whip in balls with only Calvert-Lewin marshalled by 2 centre-backs. A tactic, by the way, which I think is guaranteed to not get the best out of Kean who did not register a single header on goal last season for Juventus and Italy.

Laurie Hartley
32 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:21:40
Trevor # 29 - Surely Kean is that quality striker.

Roberto Mancini in March :-

"I think Kean is destined for greatness. He is a player with a lot of quality, is improving all the time and I believe can become a very important player.”

Sam # 31 - he can definitely head a ball - take a look 1:10 into his reel of 14 goals 2018-19

Laurie Hartley
33 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:35:56
Dean Barton
34 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:54:06
Our main attacking problem is putting the ball in the net. We created at least 2 great chances yesterday. I'm still wondering how Seamus didn't score. We created chances but, as usual, we aren't clinical enough. Doesn't matter what system we play if the players don't put the chances away.

On top of this, a lot of our good play falls down with Bernard. He's a good player but he needs to learn to keep it simple. Too often, he takes a touch too many and he doesn't really offer a goal threat. Another problem is Sigurdsson, he's pushed so high up the pitch we play with 2 up front most of the time and because of this he isn't in the game enough. Needs to drop deeper or play someone with a bit more pace and dynamism there.

Trevor Peers
35 Posted 12/08/2019 at 09:56:48
Laurie @32, it will take Kean at least a season to adapt fully to the Premier League. When he was at Juventus, he was learning off/ playing alongside Ronaldo, which understandably would bring the best out of the lad. His role at Everton will be totally alien to that.

We needed an experienced striker who could run the line and score goals. Playing alongside Calvert-Lewin or using him as a lone striker won't bring the best out of the lad.

Danny Broderick
36 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:05:06
It wouldn't work if we just threw all of our new players straight into the first team. They have to earn their place – how would the existing players react if they were bombed out at the start of the season?

It's only right that the existing players are given a chance to see if they can improve their performances with the new lads breathing down their necks. If they can't, the new lads will start getting game time, and the existing players will have to fight for their places. If we'd bombed them out at the start of the season, this wouldn't happen...

Clive Rogers
37 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:17:51
Sigurdsson's form is a worry. He is 30 next month and looked sluggish yesterday. In truth, he didn't finish last season too well and looked a little burnt out to me.

He came to us as a dead ball specialist, but that part of his game has been disappointing for us, even from the penalty spot. Perhaps judging him on the first game of the season is harsh, but the worry is that he may be past his best and we have no obvious replacement.

Steve Ferns
38 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:19:05
I see the talk about 4-4-2 and I agree with Tony that you would get overrun.

So I expect many would be thinking, well play the second striker behind the first, and get him to drop into midfield.

Well, your 4-4-2 just became a 4-2-3-1. Which is what most of you miss. 4-4-2 is dead, and 4-2-3-1 is its natural progression. There is minimal difference between 4-4-1-1 and 4-2-3-1, we are just talking about how deep the AMC is. At times last season it looked like Sigurdsson was right up top, beyond Calvert-Lewin, and it was as if it was a 4-4-2.

The issue was Sigurdsson. IF he's on it, we win; if he has a bad game, we struggle. The formation relies on him, the team relies on him. Nearly everything is built around him. Sure, I don't believe he only plays because of his price tag, and we need to remember that he is not Silva's buy. I am certain though, that faced with the £45m transfer of Sigurdsson, Silva and Brands would each say no. Brands as it was not good value, and Silva as he would want to spend the money elsewhere.

I believe Silva is happy to have Sigurdsson and happy to pick him. The issue is that he causes Silva a headache and he prevents Silva from playing how he wants to.

Back to 4-4-2, Silva played a very interesting variation of the formation at Estoril. I would like to see him try it here against Man City or Liverpool. It's very counter-attacking and relies on a solid defence and pace on the break. It would look something like this:

Iwobi Richarlison
Delph Gomes Davies
Digne Mina Keane Coleman

The two forwards are wingers. Their brief is not to hit the box but to run the channels and split, pulling the defence apart. They need pace. Walcott or Calvert-Lewin could easily play there. Kean probably could too, but not quite sure how fast he is until I see him with my own eyes.

Gomes is in the middle to play-make. If he has the ball and can't break at pace then he tries to move it around. Davies and Deplh are selected on the basis of mobility and work rate. Perhaps Gbamin could play instead of one them.

Schneiderlin plays as the formation is made for someone like him to just sit and shield the defence and not get forwards whatsoever. He needs to move the ball quickly though.

The Defence is a bit more defensive that usual and the fullbacks do not get forwards as much. However, this is a Silva side, so it's all about speed on the break, so if there's an opportunity for Digne or Coleman to get forwards fast, they take it and then Delph or Davies drops back. The fullbacks on getting the ball are looking for long diagonal balls into the channels for the forwards to run on to. The forwards pull the centre backs wide and create space for runners to exploit, and so the midfield three would need to be busting a gut to get into the box.

The team is very deep though, with only the 2 forwards in attacking positions and even the line of 3 midfielders sitting relatively deep. It's all about the counter attack. Other sides don't play like this, and I think it could cause surprise and confusion against a top side and could be used to pull off a shock result.

Laurie Hartley
39 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:33:40
This could get interesting. ;)
Paul Tran
40 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:43:20
Interesting shape, Steve. If the forwards/wingers pull the defence apart, who's going to burst through and score? Or is this a sophisticated keep it tight and nick one with us relying on set pieces for goals?

Good point re Siggy. We're too reliant on a player than can be peripheral, then does something special/scores. If he's not producing, surely that gives Silva the signal to change things?

Kevin Prytherch
41 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:44:36
I believe that we are too focussed on a formation, when it should be tweaked for different teams.

For instance, against the better teams last season, we were very successful with a higher press, largely originating from Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin. They did a lot of the donkey work and Richarlison and Bernard dropped into the midfield to press as a midfield unit. When we managed to gain possession, Calvert-Lewin would cause the centre backs so much trouble that there was instant space between the midfield and defence for the likes of Sigurdsson, Bernard and Richarlison to exploit. This was because a lot of the opposition defence would be 5 yards back due to the constant pressure from Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin and the caution applied due to Calvert-Lewin's physicality and pace. There is no need to change this formation as it works.

However, when we play teams like Palace, or poorer teams at home, the space between their midfield and defence is tighter, this means that, if we gain possession high up the pitch, there isn't the space to exploit and we end up passing sideways. Calvert-Lewin does not have the striker's instinct in these games to make a telling run and Sigurdsson does not have the creativity to carve open a defence.

We could have a couple of options for these games:

1. Play a deep-lying midfield playmaker (unfortunately, I think the player most suited for this has been sent on loan) to try and pick out passes from deep that can carve open a midfield and defence in one. This relies on clever runs, which I believe Richarlison and Bernard are capable of, and vision. Unfortunately, Calvert-Lewin isn't as good at this.

2. Play Kean instead of Sigurdsson. This would require Kean to do a lot of donkey work off the ball that Sigurdsson currently does. (I don't know enough about him to tell whether he does.) This would mean that, when we gain possession, there is a striker making clever runs to occupy defenders, either allowing more space for others or goal-scoring opportunities for Kean.

Or we could try both, but this could leave us seriously exposed in midfield.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 12/08/2019 at 10:46:43
Interesting Steve, I would hate to have played in such a system myself, but definitely think it could bamboozle a team in the short term. Looking at such a system, then I think the main problem would be a lack of possession, and I hate centre-forwards playing in wide roles because they have a tendency to switch off defensively.

I also hate “horses for courses” which tends to concentrate more on the opposition, rather than building a system that suits your own squad.

Let's face it, Sigurdsson could well be MotM next Saturday, and everything in the garden might become rosy and, although he his undoubtedly one of our best players, I think we lack a bit of flexibility at times, and understand why people think it might because of Sigurdsson, who is much better when the play is in front of him, rather than playing on the half-turn.

Steve Ferns
43 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:03:35
Kevin, the 4-2-3-1 is very flexible. That's why so many sides use it. You can play the side, lining up in what would appear the same way, but being very different in the game.

Trust me, Silva does mix it up. For example, the first few games of last season, the 2 DMs sat deep on top of the CBs and had a box type formation. Then we went hard on the full press against the likes of Chelsea, then there was games where it looked like Sigurdsson was up top.

There were times when it looked like we had 3 central AMCs and no width, there were times when it seemed like Gueye was advanced. There is flexibility, and it is tweaked mid-match.

I don't think we could play Kean instead of Sigurdsson like you suggest, simply because Kean is not ready yet. He needs a load more experience, certainly before you ask him to dominate the ball.

Others had suggested Bernard and if you want to switch out Sigurdsson but keep the same formation then that's the way to go. I'd rather see no AMC at all and rely on the guile of Gomes from deeper in a 4-3-3.

Steve Ferns
44 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:15:56

"Looking at such a system then I think the main problem would be a lack of possession" – most definitely. This is a surrender all possession formation. Which is why I said RS and City. You sit deep and hit them hard on the counter with pace.

"I hate centre-forwards playing in wide roles because they have a tendency to switch off defensively." – they don't play wide roles, Tony. The central two stay central when not in possession. Otherwise you're playing a 4-1-5-0 formation and the full backs pick up the strikers and the CB stay centrally and await a runner.

The strikers are central but make runs into the channels and drag the CBs with them. It's all about clever movement, not telegraphed pre-set runs. Iwobi would be perfect because he has real pace. He would be on the left-hand side of the two. Let's say he is deep in our half and we have got the ball after winning it in our penalty area. He would make a run diagonal from the left to the right channel, going through the middle of the pitch and breaking at speed, this causes hesitation and confusion in the opposition who are out of position already.

"I also hate “horses for courses” which tends to concentrate more on the opposition, rather than building a system that suits your own squad" – I'm afraid Silva is definitely someone who pays more attention to the opposition than you would like. He's part of the Portuguese set who follow the Mourinho way. But let's remember hat Mourinho didn't actually come up with this, he's taken pre-existing Portuguese ideas, many of which go back to Bobby Robson, a big influence on Portuguese football.

Raymond Fox
45 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:19:57
Darren, 24, good post, mate; I agree entirely.

As I said in an earlier post (#9), for me, Silva's mindset is "Let's not get beat first; if we can win, all well and good".

When the pressure was off in matches that most expected us to lose, we had a go and came away with some outstanding results.

He's a little too cautious and inflexible for me; I can understand why though.

Steve Ferns
46 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:22:36
Just looked for some quotes on Silva about not playing his preferred 4-3-3 and found this from Silva as reported by the Echo in June this year:

"My ideas and approaches have stayed largely the same," he told Sport TV in Portugal. You look at the role of the Number 10 in my 4-2-3-1 at Estoril [Evandro Goebel], then Joao Mario at Sporting, then [Kostas] Fortounis at Olympiakos who had his best ever season and now the same thing happens with Sigurdsson, having his best goal-scoring Premier League season. Players start scoring at a rate like they never did in their careers."

On 3-4-3:

"To play this system you need someone with a very specific skill-set in that 10 role, but the system isn't set. I've approached games in three-defender formations in the past and I enjoy it as long as I have wing-backs with the right profile and good enough centre-backs for it. It's a system that requires a lot of preparation but I like the offensive freedom it offers and how many players it allows you to have between the lines."

Back to 4-2-3-1, he talks about that box I go on about:

"With the 4-2-3-1 I like to have two different winger profiles. A more vertical player that likes to move closer to the box and someone on the other side who can occupy more central areas, closer to the ten, and spaces between lines more often. The full-backs can then provide width. During build-up I often like to create a square with the centre-backs and central midfielders. Then you can alter certain things based on the strategy for each specific game."

On playing defensive football:

"You obviously can't play away to City and not approach it realistically from a tactical perspective but you can't every betray your identity as a manager and what you idealise in the training ground."

interesting interview


Iain Latchford
47 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:31:38
Personally, I'd play Kean and Iwobi in place of Calvert-Lewin and Bernard. Watford should be there for the taking. Both players have had a full pre-season, and we have a whole week of training before the game.

Based on injuries and suspensions, it looks like Gbamin and Davies in place of Gomes and Schneiderlin.

Kevin Molloy
48 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:36:48
That interview with Silva... he's a bit full of himself, isn't he?
Trevor Peers
49 Posted 12/08/2019 at 11:39:42
On an optimistic note, I'm hoping Iwobi will give Silva the extra option that can spark our midfield into action, who he will replace is open to debate.

From what I've seen of him, he does seem able to beat people with his trickery and pace and feed the forwards with intelligent through balls.

James Marshall
50 Posted 12/08/2019 at 12:01:35

Good, I want arrogant bastards at my club. We need a fuck-you-I-don't-give-a-damn attitude players and managers. A siege mentality would do us good, ala Mourinho.

I also agree with Trevor, I think Iwobi will give us some spark in midfield, and Kean up front will come good.

Sam Hoare
51 Posted 12/08/2019 at 12:25:10
Steve, some interesting ideas, though I'd say we already seem to do well (in the last third of the season at least) against teams who let us counter. I'm more interested in how to better create against teams who are looking to counter us (like Wolves at home last season and to a degree Palace last weekend).

When we have space behind we seem to do well with Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison running onto balls or pressuring defenders. Against a lower block however we really seem to struggle; the full-back push up and we become vulnerable to opposition counters.

Against such teams I'd be tempted to try Iwobi in the Sigurdsson role as his ability to beat a man centrally might just open up a bit more space to then slot in either a striker, winger or maybe even Siggy himself playing a late-arriving box to box role?

Clive Rogers
52 Posted 12/08/2019 at 12:46:14
Iain, 48, Iwobi had no pre-season with Arsenal, he was on holiday after the Africa Cup. He starts training today.
Tony Abrahams
53 Posted 12/08/2019 at 12:48:32
Understood Steve, hit the channels it is mate!

With the players in our squad I’d play 4-3-1-2, with flexibility being the key, and the fullbacks working that hard, that they would have to be rotated quite often.

I like Silva, I think he’s been a bit underwhelmed because he never got the players he wanted in earlier, but the window is closed now, he’s got a good squad of players, so let’s see if he’s as good as his ex-players say he his now?

I want to see pace, I want to see movement, and I want to see players that can be used flexibly, and if I do, then I’m sure we can make great progress this season. But if I don’t then I know the fan-base will get restless, because Evertonians are absolutely desperate for a bit of success, and god knows they deserve it.

Jerome Shields
54 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:15:29
There is something not right about the attacking tactics or the way that players are implementing them.

Whilst I think that the midfield trio should be interconnecting and supporting more, with faster movement, and the attacking midfie!der should not be slowing play down, providing telling passes through the centre, tactics appear to be a problem. In particular, the prefered use of wings and channels. In my opinion, this leads to spreading the attack and playing across the opposition defence.

Ciarán McGlone
55 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:15:32
Talk about over complicating a simple game...
Raymond Fox
56 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:22:38
An interesting and informative thread.

While formations and tactics are vital without a doubt, in the end it hinges on quality/class of the players involved in the system. We are still a little behind the top 6 and most certainly 4 of them. While we have definitely improved our squad since Moshiri took control of the club but we still need to sign those elite players that are game changers.

The prices of top players has now reached crazy proportions but to compete for a top 4 place we are going to have to do a Man City and pay those crazy prices and plus more to attract them to Goodison.

Jerome Shields
57 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:27:47
I agree Raymond this thread is long overdue. This is the crux of the Everton attacking and finishing. Credit to Sam for starting it off on different threads.
Jer Kiernan
58 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:50:00
Good article, Paul, some good points. I definitely agree Silva seems to let games pass us by instead of going out to get ahead from the off (being bolder). We played a possible relegation side on Saturday.

I thought Sigurdsson had one of his worst games for us, not just the chance he missed: there was one episode late in the 2nd half were nobody around he just panicked and fell over his own feet.

Scheiderlin was once again a joke yesterday, you can argue about the ref's decisions but his attitude just stinks, waving his arms about the place, lazy in the tackle, it's like he expects now to be left alone to just collect his wages and being picked is somewhat of a nuisance, to think some of the stick Lookman got for his "attitude"? By comparison, I've never saw a player like him (Schneiderlin) in all my years of watching the Blues... sooner he fucks off, the better. (Any offer, by the way, get him gone.)

Zaha came on for 30 mins and split open our defence twice, once creating a 1-on-1 for Palace that they squandered. Just sayin...

Dave Abrahams
59 Posted 12/08/2019 at 13:52:52
Tony (54), Amen to your last paragraph, fast play, pass and move it is, with all the players staying focussed and interested, with subs eager and ready to get on.
Kieran Kinsella
60 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:00:54
We are crying out for a finishing coach and have been since Moyes. Fergie knows how to head and hold up the ball. He was said to have worked with Rom a lot with limited results. But he was never a prolific scorer. We need some who was. Shearer credits Dalglish with turning him into a great finisher. Various Arsenal players credit Wrighty with helping them. This is what we lack.
Stephen Davies
61 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:20:11
Ray #57... You're right, of course. But it also depends on state of mind.
The ones who end up in the top 4 at the end of the season will go out there in every game believing they can win that game and if they arent winning it that they won't be defeated and fight everytime for an equaliser at least. That is their mindset... they collectively believe without thinking.

Motivation is incredibly powerful, the influences of Clough, Shankly, Kendall Ferguson wasn't because they were great coaches or because they always had the best players... they all believed they would win (or wouldn't be defeated) and instilled that belief in their players.

Alan J Thompson
62 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:36:40
Without going into the qualities of all the players involved, I dislike this defensive midfielder who rarely ventures upfield. We have seen it with McCarthy and Schneiderlin who offered little going forward or much positively with the ball and we are now seeing it with Davies. On Saturday there were times when he barely strayed from that 10 metre stretch either side of the halfway line when we were attacking, something that both Koeman and Silva seem to have instructed him in. Compare that to how he was getting forward when he first came into the side.

If Silva is to continue with his preferred pattern of play then he has to get more people in to the box. The number of times on Saturday when Coleman and Digne had to look up to see who, if anybody, was where before crossing and delayed as there appeared to be nobody or at least difficult to pick anyone out. They should be crossing first time a lot more often but we just don't get numbers forward.

Whatever system number you want to put on it, to score more we need to get more players forward which doesn't seem to be a problem with those sides who are having more success than we are.

Jamie Crowley
63 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:47:53
Sam Hoare @52 -

I've said this on another thread, and said it often.

If you need to break down stubborn defenses, put Bernard at the 10.

His vision, skill, trickery, etc., would create havoc against teams who park two banks of 4 in and around the 18.

I'm convinced Bernard at the 10 needs to be tried by Marco. Keep Iwobe out wide. He seems a decent player from what I could see online, but the jury's still out on him, and putting him at the 10 is too risky. Bernard knows the system now, and frankly he has bags of skill - he's our best player on a ball by a country mile.

John Pierce
64 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:51:52
Our problems are scoring goals and breaking down poor sides. That’s the issue. Steve your variation is fine against better sides and we do fine under Silva in that scenario. Our best performances last season came against the top sides imo.

However that system is typically low scoring and ineffective against poor teams.

4-4-2 dead as a dodo, move on.

As for the criticism of Calvert-Lewin, the weight of comments suggest there is a problem. He is after all our centre forward, the biggest focus of the team, the club, the icons we’ve had. Of course he will get scrutinized.

As for holding it up most of our build up play goes from the back, to the centre to the flank, wide and in. Not into him. A ‘Red herring’ for me this.

We do boot it to him on the break, Pickford, but we hardly bombard the lad with balls to fight for. So as neat as he is at doing this, most of the time he knows were the ball will be delivered, it’s into the box. So that is we’re he needs to improve his anticipation and movement.

He is let down that midfield and the opposite winger don’t flood the box often enough to rebalance the numbers, other wise the ball in has to be pin point. Won’t argue there.

Sigurdsson, well again a victim of our play, we don’t often enough try and play into the centre forward and him around the box, this is were he functions, last third, balls which can be flicked around the corner, one twos etc.

Palace, did we even try to the play him in around this area? Just down the side, and combinations in the channel of the 18 yard box, kinda Citeh light. Without the goals. Sigurdsson does inhabit those area as much, no coincidence he becomes removed from the play.

Bottom line the formation is one dimensional and tactic ignores our best provider. It lowers our chances of scoring and beating sides we should breeze beyond.

Deffo needs a revamp.

Paul Tran
65 Posted 12/08/2019 at 14:58:59
John, when the team presses effectively, Calvert-Lewin has someone to lay it off to, when it doesn't there's a chasm between him and the midfield. That means he gets dispossessed and he gets stick on here.

Now this might change, Gbamin looks like he moves the ball forward quickly and Iwobi & Kean will give us pace and strength.

For me, Calvert-Lewin needs consistent support from midfield, or we change the system completely, starting with my suggested line-up in the article.

Jay Harris
66 Posted 12/08/2019 at 15:31:31
I don't have a problem with our play. The simple truth of the matter is we don't score enough goals. We can go on all day about formations and tactics but if you don't have players capable of scoring goals you wont win enough games. You may dominate them but you wont win enough.

To do that we need goalscorers and it is no coincidence that the only people that got into goalscoring position and had chances on Saturday were Siggy and Richy (except for one by Seamus). To advocate dropping Siggy at this moment in time is pure folly and to advocate Bernard taking his position is even more foolish IMO. Bernard is part of the problem not the solution, We should have brought another goalscoring front player in but we didn't and I think that will be our achilles heel this season.

I really appreciate Calvert-Lewin who is a good footballer but a centre forward he isn't. He does not make the determined runs that clinical goalscorers make. He does not hit or head the ball with conviction or on target.

It will be interesting seeing Moise Kean once he is up to speed because he seems to have all the tools that Calvert-Lewin doesn't.

Sam Hoare
67 Posted 12/08/2019 at 19:00:55
Jamie @63 I'm not against trying Bernard at 10 but unlike Iwobi he has almost no experience of playing at 10. Iwobi is the better dribbler and though not much of a goal threat is probably a greater one than Bernard.

Either could be an option and I think their skillset could be quite similar.

Jay Wood

68 Posted 13/08/2019 at 15:45:52
There has been such a flurry of similar analytical articles since Saturday's draw at CP it's difficult to know where to post. But my opinion is that some have been overly negative and prematurely pessimistic about the team, tactics and individual players.

It was ubquesionably a disappointing result and performance, albeit with mitigating circumstances. Pre-season was bitty due to the absence of players at summer international tournaments and late recruitment for similar reasons. In game the windy conditions didn't help, nor did the injury to Gomes or Schneiderlin's red card.

I feel the exagerated despondency is another example of the law of immediacy: people basing opinions on one single and most recent game, discounting much of which was previously evident.

We suffered a miserable mid-season slump from early December last season. Leaking goals, not scoring, ponderous and wide open in our play.

In our last 11 games - nearly a third of the season - from away to Cardiff onwards, we were a team transformed. We kept 8 clean sheets, our transition from back to front was much more rapid and incisive, scoring 19 goals over the 11 games. We embarrased and overran some of the very best teams in the league.

It could have been even better but for the well-documented and absurd 2nd half collapse at Newcastle after leading 2-0 at halftime and Silva's error of sticking nostagically with Jags away to Fulham rather than reinstate Keane a week after our departed skip scored the winner home to Arsenal. We should also have won away to Spurs.

In that run Silva settled on a front 3 of Bernard and Richarlison on the flanks with DCL down the middle, supported by Sigurdsson. The partnership of Digne and Bernard down the left was a joy to behold. The rapid interplay and movement of the other 3 had teams chasing shadows, unsure who to go with.

The only player radically missing from the starting XI of that 11 game run this season is Gana Gueye.

To now claim as some are doing that Sigurdsson is 'a problem' to the team and how Silva wants to play ignores a larger body of evidence than (admittedly) his dreadful performance on Saturday.

With Gana gone team tactics will need to be tweaked, not radically overhauled as some are advocating.

I wouldn't be so quick or radical in changing the personal or the tactics that worked so well in the closing months of last season as many are lobbying for.

Evolution for me, not revolution. And judging by his selection on Saturday Silva thinks the same way.

Stan Schofield
69 Posted 13/08/2019 at 21:40:27
Jay @68: Good post. We finished strongly last season, we've only just started this season, and asserting that particular players are a problem at this stage is incredibly premature.
Laurie Hartley
70 Posted 14/08/2019 at 00:36:45
Jay # 68 - that is a good post.

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