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The Pickford Indicator

I watch a lot of Everton games. Recently, I have noticed differences in Jordan Pickford’s demeanour before games. As the players line up in the tunnel, most look relaxed but focused. For most games, Pickford conforms and he looks attentive. However, in other games, normally against lesser opposition, he looks disengaged and perhaps too confident. Worst is his over-friendliness with the opposition players.

Before this week’s Carabao Cup match against Lincoln City, Pickford was cocky, pally with the opposition, and not concentrating on the game. Within 20 seconds of play, Lincoln City had scored.

Though Pickford could do little to save the shot, the goal was indirectly his fault. His body language filters through to the rest of the defence and that collective nonchalance allowed Lincoln City to score.

In future, I ask you to look at Pickford’s behaviour before the game. Is he twitching around like a naughty schoolboy or is he attentive and focused? Does he joke with the opposition or is he readying himself for the challenge ahead?

Pickford is an experienced player in a key position, the rest of the team look to him for leadership. He ought to set a more focused tone to cut out the lazy defending early on in matches.

George Wilson     Posted 31/08/2019 at 13:23:41

What just happened?

It’s been three days now since the Aston Villa debacle and I, for one, can’t get my head around what I watched. It wasn't just the performance as a whole but also the individual mistakes made by what we class as our best players, all with plenty of Premier League experience.

From Gomes constantly giving possession away and not seeing the simple pass to Sigurdsson trying 20-yard passes that end up on the back row of the stand.

Then we have Coleman either not controlling a simple pass, completely forgetting the ball, or floating crosses to the back post where the smallest man on the pitch was when everybody else in the ground could see all he had to do was put it low and hard between the keeper and the defenders. It was as if we were playing with a fly away when Villa had a casey, our touch was that bad.

Calvert-Lewin is not the answer up front. He is an option from the bench for me, his composure in front of goal needs a lot of work as was seen with his gilt-edged chance at Villa.

I think Silva will start Kean on Wednesday against Lincoln and Calvert-Lewin will be relegated to the bench for future matches.

The main issue for me is that we have not replaced Gana, we have brought in Gbamin and Delph but neither are the same type of player as Gana. I think a direct replacement would have stabilised the team and meant less tinkering with the style of play.

I hope Villa was a blip but feel we will be seeing plenty more blips as this season rolls on.

Thanks, Everton, for spoiling a Bank Holiday weekend, FFS.

Peter Rogers     Posted 26/08/2019 at 09:05:08

Our Identity is...?

This question was sparked by Klopp’s weekend statement that “our identity is intensity” – it brilliantly sums up his team, philosophy and on-field fulfilment.

It made me think about our identity? Historically it was “the School of Science” but, to be honest, that is now more a homage to the past than any real basis in any team since the 60s. It made a brief resurrection under one of its former star pupils in our mid-80s team but, since then, our stylish playing philosophy has plummeted.

I cannot even describe a style or philosophy under both Walter Smith and Mike Walker other than “kick and hope”.

The “Dogs of War” under Joe Royle is fondly remembered because we won a trophy but “Keep it tight, pinch a goal” under David Moyes just became a chore despite at times a very talented squad.

Roberto Martinez’s “tippy-tappy” football appealed to both “School of Science” and Barça aficionados but defensive frailties scuppered that ascension.

Ronald Koeman, despite a Dutch heritage of “total football”, played some of the most mind-numbing, haphazard dross I have seen.

And Sam Allardyce did exactly what it said on the tin, so don’t expect any fandangos on “Strictly…”.

When you look at managers such as Diego Simeone (high intensity, aggressive), Jurgen Klopp (as mentioned), Pep Guardiola (possession with direction) it’s clear the motion of travel. I am impressed by the philosophies of Daniel Farke at Norwich and Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves where you can see a clear identity of what is demanded, incidentally achieved with a lot less funds than we have spent, I would imagine.

Marco Silva — what is his philosophy? The players you have is a factor but actually the demands, the coaching and the sheer personality of the manager or coach is the key.

You see this with Klopp, Farke and Santo, their players know the expectations placed on them and you can see they don’t want to face the manager post-match if they have been lacking in what was required. For sure I don’t get the feeling Walcott and Schneiderlin give a toss once about ‘facing the manager”.

I don’t see us playing a pressing game, I don’t see us playing 4-3-3 (supposedly Silva’s preferred format), I don’t see us playing total football, and I don’t see us as ‘dogs of war’.

Football is a ruthless business and, for me, the issue is, when a manager tries to accommodate players into his style and thus compromises his philosophy, then the taxi (or Uber nowadays) is warming up its engine.

Remember Howard Kendall brought in players far inferior in talent to the guys they replaced in most cases but they were successful because they did the job he demanded without question.

Three games in, what is our identity?

Dave McDowell     Posted 26/08/2019 at 07:46:24

A numbers game we can never win?

This FourFourTwo article: Every Premier League club by squad value – how much is your side worth? lists the possible estimated values of all the Premier League squads at sale.

We are ranked 7th at £471 million, with Man City coming in first at £1.1 billion, not too far behind them come our neighbours and then follow the usual offenders who deny us our chances of booking our cheap Easyjet flights to Europe.

With those across the park and Man City so far out in front, that leaves 3rd to 7th within reach, for argument's sake. Let's be optimistic and dismiss the chances of our two fellow 'best of the rest, also-rans' from the Midlands. That leaves, in no particular order, Arsenal, Spurs, Man Utd and Chelsea (and Everton?).

The inclusion of us in that list will raise a chuckle or two should any fans from those teams I've mentioned read this article, and there will be a few ToffeeWebbers joining in, no doubt! Showing my confidence in our chances, I've taken the coward’s option and placed us in parenthesis with a question mark...

It seems all a bit too impossible to defy gravity and climb into 3rd or 4th; 5th or 6th might be in play, but we will have to climb over two of that lot mentioned above to do it. I personally don't want to qualify for the Europa League in 7th because someone else won the FA Cup.

And so back to the FourFourTwo article, has our fate this season been shown to us after just two games played? There's an unmistakably symmetrical relationship that defines our league: the more your squad is worth, the higher you finish.

Just maybe though I was a bit too quick in dismissing one of those two Midlands rivals. I seem to remember one of them being capable of miracles recently? There might be some solace to be taken from this.

With an almost apathetic feel to some of those TV glamour teams above us last season and low spending this window, should we really be too fearful of Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea or should they be looking at the extra dinner plate that has suddenly appeared at the high table and be wondering who's going to lose some of their portion? Then again maybe it's just a numbers game?

Rob Marsh     Posted 22/08/2019 at 22:12:00

Friday 23 August — For One Night Only!

Do you know the song “Do you believe in signs?” sung to the same tune that Cher sings “Do you believe in love?”

Probably not... but on Friday, 23 August “For One Night Only” Everton could be sitting proudly at the top of the English Premier League! Above all the Sky Six, above the current BBC darling teams! Yes, we could be waking up Saturday morning basking in glory!

So I return my original question: “Do you believe in signs?” I have noticed and made a mental note of the number of times our beloved Blues have been one win away from breaking into the top 3, top 4, Sky 6 – only to screw it up! Why has this been so!
Unlucky, frozen at the thought of joining the big time, or just plain poor performance, or a curse, or a combination of all four?

Subsequently we have gone on to fall out of the race and drop down the positions. Do I believe any of this! Of course not! “You are only as good as your last game” and all those other soundbytes! But, if we do win on Friday night against the Villains and when I wake up Saturday morning and listen to Jeff Snelling and his cronies or the intellectually challenged Saturday Football AM and they whisper “Everton are top of the Premier League” I might just believe in Cher!
David Cooper     Posted 20/08/2019 at 22:24:51

Happy Holidays!

As time marches forward, and I inevitably age, one thing that strikes me as brutally apparent: time moves fast. At 40 years of age, it seems God shifts it into 5th gear, and off we all go.

By the time we blink, it'll be Christmas. And that got me thinking...

From November 30th, just on the cusp of the happy part of the year, and just after our American Thanksgiving, through the New Year, our schedule is absolute hell. Leicester, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal, and Man City are 6 of our 8 league games in that time. I think it might be more fun sticking your face in a fan, than circumnavigating that set of fixtures!

I'm very, very fearful of a repeat of last season. A Holiday malaise must be avoided. Somehow, we need to grab points during this spell of horror games, and I pray the team is up for it.

We also simply must maximize points NOW. I was very critical of the draw at Palace. I'm not a negative fellow, I just realize the start of the season is relatively easy for us, and with the Holiday Season fixture list, I'd argue we have to be Top 4 going into it. We will, inevitably, slide back a bit. We need to make hay while the sun is shining. It's critical, in my opinion, that we grab maximum points now.

I realize you need to take it one game at a time. That cliche has its merits. But taking it one game at a time should be thought as, winning 3 points at a time. At least for Everton at this snapshot in time. Or else we may be in for a really rough season, and a sub-par 8th to 9th place finish.

Negativity be damned, but caution for the future, and a reality check for what we must accomplish in the here and now.
Jamie Crowley     Posted 20/08/2019 at 16:25:28

From Tony's Seat 2

Thanks to the kindness of Tony Abrahams, I got another chance to see the Blues live again. It was another wonderful experience. I heard a lot of lads at the ground complaining that we were shite. To me, it was magnificent: the siren, Z-Cars... all of it. When I watch Everton on TV, I can see when we are shite. On the rare occasion that I get to a game, we are never shite. It is just special.

Dave Abrahams and his lovely wife June picked me up and we went to Dave's house for breakfast. We sat in (June's) beautiful garden in the sun and talked about the new stadium, about what the team might be, and other Everton stuff. These are just wonderful people and the welcome the family gave me to the home was beyond words.

June gave us a lift to "The Stuart" in Bedford Road where we met up with Pete Mills and his pals for a few pints. Thanks, Pete.

A stroll to the ground, nervous but walking on air. I was sat behind Dave's grandson, Cameron, a top, top lad. There was a flag provided and, frankly, I would have waved it like a mad excited bastard had not Cameron not quite coolly desparaged it as a kind of Red thing (quite right, Cameron).

After the game, I was suffering a bit from the prolapsed disc so Dave and I got on the bus. Due to road works, the bus inched along and after an hour we were short of the city centre. The bus was driven by a probationary driver so there was an inspector on board. Dave asked that we be let off but it was more than his job was worth and way too dangerous.

Anyway, a girl was going to vomit due to the heat in the bus so they opened the door. Dave seized the opportunity and leapt off with her. I was too slow and the doors shut. I had no clue where I was going so Dave tried to get back on, but the inspector was having none of it. So, the bus edged into the town with Dave walking along side and me seated, exchanging the odd wave.

The night in the Excelsior was pretty special. Derek, John MacFarlane, John Rafferty, Keith and Sam and Neil, Ray and a few lads who joined us. Irish music and too much drink. The fact that Neil and Derek missed their trains kind of shows how it went. Really top guys and great company.

I enjoyed the match, live really does give a different perspective. I think Mina has a real presence. I think we look solid. Richarlison was poor, Calvert-Lewin works so hard. I thought it was a team with loads of potential.

Finally, Kean is going to be a star. I have been lucky enough to see his home debut. He will be magnificent.

Thanks to Dave, June and their family for a great time. Thanks to Michael and Lyndon, without this brilliant site I would never have met these good people.

Andy Crooks     Posted 19/08/2019 at 21:30:02

'Everton' loco nameplate up for auction

I'm sure many of you who have been lucky enough to take the stadium tour or to have used the main stand at some point will have seen the 'Everton' locomotive nameplate that adorns the wall which came from the former steam engine that bore its name till it was scrapped.

Well, these locos had two nameplates, one for either side of the boiler.

The club has one in its ownership, with the second about to go to auction, so if you have a spare £20 -£25,000 you might consider buying a very special piece of sporting history — if the club doesn't decide to out-bid you all to have a matching pair!

Great Central Railwayana Auctions: 7 September 2019

Simon Smith     Posted 18/08/2019 at 15:10:01

Franck Ribéry

Just browsing the Sunday gossip column and we have been linked with a move for 36-year old Franck Ribéry who is a free agent after leaving Bayern.

Personally I can’t see it happening but if it were to happen what do people think of this?

Peter Roberts     Posted 18/08/2019 at 12:42:01

The Shapes of Things to Come

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.

Paul Tran     Posted 11/08/2019 at 17:29:43

Now versus then at Everton...

Some Evertonians were feeling a little bit deflated the moment the Transfer Window closed. Seemingly close to signing some big names, the window closed with only one new addition to the squad.

On a personal level, I think we should have gotten a centre-half or two. Not because I’m an ex-professional footballer or a mathematic genius, it was just simple maths: two centre-halves left and we needed to replace them. But, seeing as none of us know what’s in store this season, and all realise that Moshiri, Brands and Silva want the same success as the rest of us, let’s look at it another way…

Marcel Brand picks up his phone and starts to call the number of a football agent he knows well. He knows this agent, as well as most other football agents, because he has invested time with them, and built up a relationship and friendship of honesty and straight-talking business. He has always treated them with courtesy and professionalism as businessmen. Over a number of years of doing business this way, Marcel is very well respected.

Marcel rings the number of the agent.

“Ah, Marcel, great to hear from you. How is everything?”

“We need to talk,” Marcel says.

A meeting is then arranged at a venue where professional men meet to talk in private about big business matters.

Roughly, this is how I see Marcel operating. The agent and venue will change, but the meeting is all done in a professional no-fuss manner. Sometimes, some players he wants he just doesn’t get, but these things happen in life.

Now, let’s turn the clock back only a couple of years ago to Steve Walsh... Steve is eating a bacon butty in his house. He shouts to his wife, “Love, have you seen my phone?”

Eventually he finds it on the coffee table under an empty pizza box next to a bottle of wine.

“Found it. Eh, Love, you can’t remember the number of that agent I was talking to six months ago at Finch Farm, can you? His name was Miguel something.”

Eventually, Steve finds the contact name and rings the number.

“Hello Miguel, lad. Stevie Walsh here, how’s it going?”

The agent, whose name isn’t Miguel, doesn’t recognise the voice or name.

“Who did you say you were again?”

“Stevie Walsh. Ronnie Koeman’s right-hand man. Have you got any players to sell? The thing is, there’s cheap flights from EasyJet available this weekend over to your place, and I was wondering if you fancy meeting up and having a chat about anyone you’ve got to sell. We could meet in that café on the corner of that street, you know the one where they do that great tapas? It would be nice if you’ve got a player like Vardy for me. Oh, you might have… his name’s Sandro? Got any more like him because we’ve got money to burn at Everton?”

Now, I’m not suggesting any of this is factually true, it just seems to me, that the football club is moving in the right direction. It will take more time, but things are getting better every day. And it’s worth remembering that.

Everton are moving forward; stay positive, even when we get knocked out of the League Cup at an early stage and that dread covers you when we try to break the gypsy’s curse at our old football ground. Stop moaning: you chose Everton, for better or for worse.

Think of what Bon Jovi sung, “Keep the faith”; life’s too short. Your bad vibes are getting the club, fans and everyone else connected with the club nowhere.

Mark Cuddy     Posted 08/08/2019 at 19:09:51

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