The First Six Months: Unacceptable

Darren Hind 12/08/2020 94comments  |  Jump to last
I'm going to get straight to the point here: I'm not one who thinks a manager should not be judged for 1-2 years and anybody who does, would probably be best advised to stop reading now.

Whilst I accept that the only real true reflection of the job a manager does cannot be drawn up until he has left the job and that he has to be given time to build a team, I cannot accept we have to wait years to comment on the job Carlo Ancelotti is doing now. He is actually on the payroll now. He is the manager now. He picks the team now. He is responsible for performances now.

I don't think many Evertonians would be happy with the current playing squad. The fact is, too many players are simply not good enough to take us to where we want to be. Having said that, there is no excuse whatsoever for being where we are.

We all know what we don't have. There is not a stand-out "brain" in the team. The group as a collective appears to lack the desire to compete at a higher level. Even the lesser teams seem to have players with higher energy levels – and the Captain Fantastic we have craved for years is still nowhere to be seen...

But let's not kid ourselves that these players are total mugs. The team is largely made up of seasoned internationals. Every single one of them has something to offer. Is Carlo getting the maximum out of them?

We would all dearly love to see top-class stellar signings riding into Finch Farm tomorrow, like knights in shining armour coming to liberate us from the terrible Zombie-like state the club has descended into. But let's keep this real: that's not going to happen.

The quaint little notion that the ’arl fella who used to win things will attract today's top stars is a nice one, but the world has moved on. Carlo is highly unlikely to even be involved and, as "those who must not be mentioned" have demonstrated, it's agents you need on board these days. You have to get into bed with the devil.

The devil is only interested in one thing: raising the profile of his precious commodity. Smooth-talking Dutchmen, no matter how sharply dressed, don't cut it. Of course, the possibility of unearthing the next big thing still exists and, to a degree, it's what we are counting on.

The name of Everton FC still has some gravitas. We still pay good and for those bright young things who haven't yet attracted the attention of the top clubs, signing on the dotted line for Marcel Brands would be considered a very decent career move. It is absolutely imperative that the second Brands intake is considerably better than the first.

Back to Carlo. He will still be working primarily with the players he has now. He has barely covered himself in glory so far. If this was a half-term report and you were marking him out of 10, based on what he was getting out of his players, would you give him above 5? Would he even get 5?

Like Brands, his second bite of the cherry has to be more convincing than his first. To me, he looks bemused. I suspect working with players who "don't care" has come as something of a culture shock to him... So what could he have done differently?

The biggest surprise to me has been how such a vastly experienced manager has allowed his midfield to be over-ran. Not just once but match after match. You don't win three Champions Leagues without knowing that, if you surrender the midfield, you surrender, both possession and initiative. Why did he not address this?

I'm concerned that we are looking solely around Europe for midfield players. Yeah, that's where most of the technical skill is, but you never know if they can adapt to the crash-bang-wallop of the Premier League until they are actually here. By then... it can be too late.

In Bernard and Gomes we have two supreme technicians; unfortunately, that isn't enough. They are often closed down before they can use their skills and, once they have lost the ball, they are incapable of getting it back; too often, opponents simply run them into the ground.

Then we've got Tom Davies. Dear Tom... I have so much time for him. I don't know if he will prove to be Premier League class; he has qualities, but does he have enough? He is as brave as they come. He'll take responsibility all day long, but half the time, you wish he hadn't. He can go past people and take them out of the game... but his passing is risky. Not a problem further up the park, but it can be very costly in our half.

What I will say about Tom is: I don't think I have seen a player less equipped to play a defensive/holding midfield role. He sees danger, but always too late. His tackling is rash and, like the rest of our midfield players, he has the lateral movement of a tarmac roller...

So why have a succession of managers followed Koeman's lead and played him in this role? He's been played there so often, he is now deemed a defensive midfielder... But that's not the boy who burst onto the scene a few seasons back. I suspect it is because he puts the team first and, while senior players will carp, he just does what he's told.

The first time I saw Mason Holgate playing for our kids against Liverpool's kids, I thought, “Hello, this lad can play!” He was clearly a proper footballer. No thought at all about what he would do if he got it under control. He was thinking what he would do with it when he'd got it under control.

I was worried sick we would lose him to West Bromwich Albion. When he played left-back, you knew he could do it. When West Brom played him right-back, you knew he could do it. When Ferguson pushed him into midfield, you just knew he could do it.

The problem we have is Holgate is also our best centre back too. Moving him forward would weaken our defence. There was/is an undoubted element of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Should Carlo have done it? Fucking right he should! Here he has a player who is frightened of nobody; he has the lateral movement of a boxer, and sees danger as it develops. Carlo had to put him in there... Surely?!

Nope. He stood there like Moses as his midfield parted like the fucking Red Sea, every week. That would not have happened if Dunc... Oh no, we are not going to talk about him.

Digne is a smashing player. Lovely left foot, tenacious, doesn't mind a battle, very good going forward. But let's be fair. His defence can be a little bit David Price. So why did Ancelotti not play Baines and push Digne up?

Don't get me wrong. I am delighted with the emergence of young Gordon, but talk about thrown in at the deep end? A kid should be introduced when it's going well – not asked to do a job expensive senior pros had found beyond them.

Bernard is what the jocks used to call a tanner ball player. Great when his stars are aligned... and, to be honest, I don't quite know what Iwobi is. I do know he does not belong in a bank of four across midfield.

The days when attackers attacked and defenders defended are long gone. Both Klopp and Pep have no qualms whatsoever about shuffling the pack when the need arises. Why can't Holgate be used the way Fernandinho is used at Man City?

Look, we don't know who will be coming in. The need for a couple of top midfielders is as pressing as it ever was. But I got tired of listening to people say we had no energy in the middle of the park and that "Carlo had no options". He did have options. They were staring him in the face.

Sigurdsson is what he is. We are stuck with him for the moment and he still remains a decent option coming from the bench if we are chasing a game.

Walcott, Davies or Gomes, Holgate, Digne – not the best midfield I've seen. It would hardly send a message out that the School of Science had been reconvened... But those dreadful capitulations last season will live long in my memory.

The sight of journeymen skipping through our midfield virtually unopposed was both shameful and unacceptable. It wasn't, as people have suggested "unavoidable".

The players a manager would like to select are not always available to you. Gbamin's injury was particularly hard to take. But the basic premise remains. If something isn't working, you can't just watch it not work; you have to shuffle the pack.

The players I mention are better in their own positions, but they would offer far more resistance than a midfield relying on Davies, Gomes and Sigurdsson – ably assisted by Bernard or Iwobi. Mind you, I've gone through fishing lines which offered more resistance than that lot.

Let's hope we bring some skill and power to the middle of the park. It would be nice to have a proper midfield. It would be nicer still to find that the old Carlo Ancelotti was still in there somewhere... If you are, please stand up!

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Reader Comments (94)

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Simon Dalzell
1 Posted 15/08/2020 at 17:00:26
Excellent read. Full of salient points. It's obvious we have a lot of moderate players, but I've not been that impressed the way Carlo has handled them so far. Time for decent signings and long-overdue improvement all round. ('Hind' sight is a wonderful thing!)
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 15/08/2020 at 17:15:22
Interesting observations on Davies... but what's your conclusion, Darren? If he's not a defensive mid (which he clearly isn't), where do you play him? Wing? Goalkeeper? Bench? Newcastle?

Gotta disagree with "A kid should be introduced when it's going well..." -- a kid should be introduced whenever he's ready, and Gordon was ready, and his emergence might have been the best thing we saw after the hiatus. If we waited until things were going well, he'd have made his debut at 27.

Alan J Thompson
3 Posted 15/08/2020 at 18:11:54
The last six months have not been the best time to take on a new team (club?) which is struggling but Mr Ancelotti has had a look at his squad and even introduced a couple of younger players, which his predecessors seemed most reluctant to try.

I'm more than willing to give him more time and hope that the coming season is not similarly interrupted or that there is a failure to introduce at least some of the necessary players without having to resort to playing those showing the most promise out of their best position.

Steve Carse
4 Posted 15/08/2020 at 18:18:05
We've long been used to strings of bad results. What I can't ever recall though is such a string of disgraceful performances as those produced in the last quarter the season. Nor can I recall so many Everton supporters just shrugging their shoulders on the responsibility of the manager in overseeing these performances, and instead putting it all down to the lack of playing resources.

I can't believe anyone would express satisfaction at what Ancelotti has shown for the £6m already trousered, anymore than we did Allerdyce over a similar period of time at the helm. At least we all knew what we were going to get from Allardyce; Ancelotti's lack so far of innovation, tactical brilliance or motivational powers has certainly come as a surprise and a massive disappointment to me.

Tony Hill
5 Posted 15/08/2020 at 18:34:41
A fair, balanced piece. I would give Ancelotti a 5 so far. Nevertheless, I think we have some promising signs, if you squint hard enough.

There's a photo doing the rounds of Brands, Ancelotti and Ferguson together, looking mean and cool and formidable. All the things we currently are not. Time to make reality match the pictures.

Alan McGuffog
6 Posted 15/08/2020 at 18:59:01
I'm no apologist for Carlo but can someone please tell me what he is to do with a bunch of players, who, compared to most in the Premier League are physically lacking, unathletic, frequently found to lack the most basic of footballing skills (trapping a ball, passing accurately, finding space etc) and are basically apathetic?

And would be most fortunate to be employed by most other Premier League sides. I'll reserve judgement about the manager after he has had time to work with a squad of players who want to play, and run themselves ragged, for EFC.

Steve Carse
7 Posted 15/08/2020 at 19:24:24
Hi Alan, I don't disagree with your general assessment of the players, but given that that's what we've got and possibly won't have much more added to it, are you saying CA was the wrong appointment then? After all, history is full of examples of managers who have inherited squads equally as poor as ours and yet massively improved them.

I'm not of course calling for managerial change so soon. I too will be reserving judgement. My observations were purely with reference to the garbage served up so far - upon CA's appointment, I doubt think many of us expected a dead cat bounce.

Let's finally get that planned drink arranged.

Jay Harris
8 Posted 15/08/2020 at 19:25:39

I thought you said you would park the anti-Ancelotti bus until 12 games into the new season.

Do us all a favour, mate, go out and have a few beers and switch off for a bit.

Rick Tarleton
9 Posted 15/08/2020 at 19:48:35
Basically, you have said what I feel, you're kinder about Sigurdsson than I am and you don't mention Delph, but that's fair enough. Pickford too is inadequate.

I feel Ancelotti is shrewd, knowledgeable, but also possibly yesterday's man.

Sam Hoare
10 Posted 15/08/2020 at 20:24:18
Nice piece, Darren. I'd agree in general that Ancelotti's start has been unimpressive. I think a 5 implies it has been really bad (which it was after restart) but his overall points tally is just very mediocre. A 6 is pretty bang on for me.

Some of your points seem a little unfair though. You say he's not attracted any top talent but we've not bought anyone yet! It's not inconceivable that we may end the window with some of the likes of Thiago Silva, Rodriguez, Allan, Lozano etc; if any of these players join, you'd have to think his presence plays a big part in it. Let's see who we get before writing off his pulling power.

Also I'm not sure it's fair to say he had ‘options' in midfield when the only options you name involve playing players out of position (something previous managers have been lambasted for). Holgate has, I think, only ever played one match in midfield and also was injured for the last three matches if my memory serves me right.

Not sure advancing Digne would have helped hugely as the problem was very much through the middle where none of Gomes, Davies or Sigurdsson has the mobility or ability to be useful when needing the ball back.

Certainly work to be done for the Italian. The thought of starting the season with the same central midfield is quite depressing. Even a fit Delph would be a notable upgrade.

Paul Birmingham
11 Posted 15/08/2020 at 20:24:41
All fair points but Carlo Ancellotti inherited a squad lacking in belief and resilience, and the gutless demise at our old ground, would have provided evidence of the weak mental and physical belief of the squad.

Up to lockdown, the team was grinding results.

The return after lockdown saw rank form, witnessed by some of the most lacklustre football for decades.

I say like in any job, give the person time and opportunity to make their mark. Let's face it, bar a handful of this squad wouldn't get in any other Premier League team.

Now for Marcel and the management team to conjure up some mental strength, belief, desire and some proper players, whom can regenerate this squad.

Time waits for no-one, but even in football terms, let's judge on a rational performance and results basis.

Ken Kneale
12 Posted 15/08/2020 at 20:46:08
Ancelotti clearly has to be given more time before a judgement but it is hard to stomach that his appointment has produced some of the most mediocre performances ever from an Everton team and certainly some of the most embarassing and inept; he has to shoulder responsibility for that in the same way that if he had shown that he was capable of lifting levels of performance and desire amonst the players, he would have taken the plaudits.

It is fair to say my jury is very much out on him at present and I look forward to significant improvement; otherwise, like Brands, he is taking money on false pretences.

Trevor Peers
13 Posted 15/08/2020 at 21:18:16
It's Impossible to judge Ancelotti properly until he has made his first few signings, but I'm afraid he's got to pull some real gems out of the hat this summer, if he's to convince us that he still has the Midas touch of his heyday. He started off well and had a positive effect but since then has been badly let down mostly by Silva's inept midfield signings; apart from Richarlison, the rest are highly paid injury-prone wasters.

Some excuse can be given for Gomes and Gbamin after their horrific injuries, but Mina, Bernard, Delph and Iwobi, some of our top earners, amount to a colossal waste of money and it's hard to imagine any manager getting a regular tune out of that quartet.

Now we hear Davies may have to be sacrificed to raise some funds for our next midfield signing, a sure sign the money has ran out and we are skint.

Ancelotti is a great manager of great players, perhaps we would of been better off with Burnley manager Sean Dyche with the quality of players we have, or even remained with Duncan Ferguson.

Paul Swan
14 Posted 15/08/2020 at 22:15:18
I just find the whole Ancelotti performances dull boring and completely lacking any passion or spirit. The playing staff and management just lack any fighting spirit or pride in their performance. It looks like it means nothing to them which is unacceptable.

I have seen nothing yet to suggest we are not one last pay day for this guy. A big few weeks coming up which will tell us a lot about whether the names being bandied about buy into the Ancelotti hype or they don't want to join the sinking ship.

I also need to comment on Tom Davies: for me, he epitomises everything which is wrong at the club at this time. He is so far below premier league standard it is unbelievable. Can't pass, can't track, can't tackle, no engine, no vision, no contribution.

We came top of the league for being the dirtiest team in the league recently mainly due to players like Davies who are so far off the pace they end up resorting to last gasp lunges to try to win the ball.

Paul Tran
15 Posted 15/08/2020 at 22:23:10
There are three stages on which I judge a manager:

1. His immediate impact
2. His first choice of signings
3. How he integrates his signings to make an effective team.

I've been disappointed with Stage 1. At times the team has looked better defensively and that's about it. We've been dreadful to watch and too many players have been going through the motions. You can't say he's got the best out of the players, whatever your view of them.

So that takes us to Stage 2. I don't watch much non-Everton football, so I don't comment on the journalistic guesswork on social media. I would argue that Carlo knows the type of player you need in the Premier League – a big weakness of Brands' in my view. He won't get them all right, no manager does, but that's an area where I trust him. I'm not expecting superstars, just efficient, effective players in the positions we need.

When we get to Stage 3, we'll know whether his tactics are 'outdated'.

Pickford, Keane, Mina, Delph, Bernard, Iwobi, Gomes, Tosun, Kean would all bring significant fees, plus the chance to get effective players on similar wages. Brands has to be cleverer than he has been and I hope it's Carlo in the box seat for suggesting players, at least initially.

Of course you can judge Carlo on his performance so far. He's been poor. I'll judge him on Stage 2 when players come and go in the next few weeks.

Dick Fearon
16 Posted 15/08/2020 at 22:25:10
What I don't get is all this 'He needs time to get to know his players' guff.

With his vast experience, I would expect it to take no more than a week or two for him to sum up everything there is to know about each player's fitness, abilities, attitude and the best system in which to use them.

What gets my goat is the number of times the ball gets passed back. We constantly see that kind of pointless boring aimless stuff and Ancelotti or nobody else does anything about it.

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 15/08/2020 at 22:39:06
Paul Swan #14, we are nowhere near coming "top of the league for dirtiest team" -- we were 6th in fouls, 6th in yellow cards with 70 (Arsenal had 86), we had three red cards (Arsenal had 5), so I don't know what the hell you're talking about with that.

And if there's one thing you cannot possibly criticize Davies for, it's "no engine"... that kid's engine never stops. Whatever his other failings may be, nobody in this club works harder.

Jack Convery
18 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:04:46
Klopp and Pep can shuffle the pack – too right they can. Have you seen their squads. Man City's 2nd team is better than any 11 we can put out.

Other managers would have seen us relegated. Until Holgate got injured, the defence was soundish – no defence is sound with Pickford behind it.

The midfield is a joke. None of them have excelled this season and the likes of Gomes has had to play out of position because of it. Davies, Iwobi, Delph, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Walcott have been missing in action most of the season. Schneiderlin was our only defensive midfielder and we all know how good he was!!

Gordon has been a breath of fresh air, thanks to Carlo putting him in. Before the break, he was getting the best out of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlson. After the break, Calvert-Lewin was, to be fair, rubbish. Kean is still very raw.

Our bench after the break had 2 goalkeepers on it.

My only criticism of Ancelotti was not knowing who Luke Garbutt was. A manager should know who all players on the books are, whether they are on loan or not.

Everton FC is, in my opinion, the most dysfunctional club in the Premier League. We have a manager who is a class act. Let's not waste this opportunity and all get behind him – he will need it.

Paul Hewitt
19 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:15:15
Anyone who thinks Ancelotti isn't good enough to manager Everton, really shouldn't be watching football.
Patrick McFarlane
20 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:20:07
Mike #17

Perhaps the confusion arises with several outlets reporting this last week that Everton were the dirtiest away team in the Premier League last season according to new research. Another 'honour' to add to our dirtiest Premier League team of all-time which we 'won' in 2017.

Paul Swan
21 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:38:27
Mike#17 a 1980 Lada Riva also had an engine. It was a very poor engine but an engine nonetheless
Jay Harris
22 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:45:03
Jack, Well said.

One of the big problems with our club is fans' impatience after 20 years of mediocrity under Kenwright. Anyone who thinks any manager can come in and wave a magic wand over this stinking carcass is seriously deluded.

These players don't do tactics, nor do they put themselves out for the cause. The young lads must be frustrated that they are putting all the energy in while experienced pros earning 4 times as much don't care.

There is far more than players' ability or motivation wrong at the club; there appears to be a real problem with the culture. To blame Ancelotti for not getting a tune out of this bunch of misfits in the middle of a pandemic shows a distinct lack of knowledge and respect.

And for someone to suggest Sean Dyche as manager is equally laughable. If you want Sam Allardyce type of football Sean's your man.

I almost didn't post on this thread but as the lynch mob were out in full force, it made my blood boil. If you want Everton to be successful, get behind the best manager we are likely to get and aim you anger at the Board who have fucked up so much we are now shopping at the pawn shop instead of Harrods.

Mike Gaynes
23 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:45:56
Patrick #20, details please re 2017?

I've checked the Premier League stats and Everton were nowhere near the top of the yellows or reds in 2016-17 or 2017-18. In fact, we were well below average in the league. I can't find anything on total fouls for those seasons.

Patrick McFarlane
24 Posted 15/08/2020 at 23:50:53
Mike #25

It was the all-time award, from the start of the Premier League in 1992 upto 2017.

We were still ahead during this season but I think either Arsenal or Chelsea hold this claim to fame currently.

Barry McNally
25 Posted 16/08/2020 at 00:57:52
Patrick 20, I would be very surprised if we weren't in the top 6 of all time as there have only been 6 cubs ever-present since its inception – football didn't exist before the Premier League was formed!
Don Alexander
26 Posted 16/08/2020 at 01:17:04
To me, after10 managers – all of whom increasingly failed to generate results and good football from the squad they each inherited – it seems to me that our problem lies at the door of the one man who's been at the top of our club throughout all those managers.

Maybe it'll take the increasingly real threat of relegation to force Moshiri to see the wazzock hiding in plain sight from him before he deigns to save our club and his investment by finally getting rid, entirely, of the bugger, and all of his Finch Farm acolytes?

Patrick McFarlane
27 Posted 16/08/2020 at 01:37:07
Don #26,
My opinion of Bill is similar to yours in many ways, however, your mistrust and dislike of the guy and those employed at Finch Farm would indicate some bad personal experience involving him and your good self.

If this isn't the case and you have never met or been involved with the people at the club or Finch Farm, what do you base your ill-feelings upon? And what purpose does it serve to constantly inform the TW members of your view on the subject at every opportunity?

I'm not having a go at your right to offer your view on anything relating to Everton FC but I reckon very few of the TW members will be ignorant of your views having read them so often on so many threads over so many years.

Derek Thomas
28 Posted 16/08/2020 at 02:21:44
The overall way the Club is set up has to have some of the blame. Moshiri hasn't changed this, all he has done is pasted on another sheet of incompetence – his own – on top of all the other papered-over cracks that were in existence 1, 2, 5,10,15, 20, 30 years ago.

Re Ancelotti: Moshiri; in full piper-tune mode, yet again, 3rd time lucky, got what he thought(?) he wanted. But Darren's point is (ish): Is it what we need?

Blame Game Handicap;
1st - Deadheat: Moshiri & Existing Club Set Up.
3rd - by half a length: The Players Overall lack of Mental and Physical Fitness and Attitude.
4th - by a length: The manager

Until Paul Tran's 2nd stage happens - IF it ever does, you're just pissing in the wind.

Get Stage 2 right and the Stage 3 won't matter, because Bayern / Barca & City / Lyons show - better Star Teams trump a team of stars and / or clever tactics.

Mike Gaynes
29 Posted 16/08/2020 at 02:31:56
Patrick #24, thanks for that info.

Gotta figure that was mostly Carsley, Gravesen and Fellaini. And a bit of Cahill.

Don Alexander
30 Posted 16/08/2020 at 02:48:41
Patrick (#27), we have had Kenwright "leading" our club for decades in various guises. All the while, the club has palpably diminished itself despite the huge love of us fans. For the life of me, I cannot understand how any fan can fail to identify the man at the top as being the one consistent presence during our diminution, for decades.

He's chosen to be in cahoots with very very dubious individuals, none of which is fully disclosed, as ever, but all the while huge numbers of fans take sole aim at managers.

Managers ain't our problem; Kenwright is. To me, it's as obvious as Thatcher (when Prime Minister) instigating the "managed decline" of our city whilst hiding behind her delegated minions who were chosen by her to do it.

Even government papers are only protected from disclosure for 30 years, hence we now know the truth about the malignant Thatcher. Kenwright, on the other hand, is utterly unaccountable for the horrible state of affairs he's supervised for decades. Indeed he's made £70 mill personal profit from his "enterprise".


Terry White
31 Posted 16/08/2020 at 03:57:32
Thank you, Patrick (#27). I have asked this question before without any credible response or been shown any credible evidence to support Mr. Alexander's bigoted claims. Now he has many acolytes paying lip-service to Mr Alexander's rants, a la Trump.

Show us the evidence of the "£70 mill personal profit". Got any tax returns to support your claim, Mr Alexander? Any personal financial statements that you have got your hands on?

You did not answer Patrick's question. Why do you personally feel obliged in every post to turn it into an anti-Kenwright rave? Have you nothing better to do with your life? Like Patrick, I respect your right to express your views. But... why?

Alan J Thompson
32 Posted 16/08/2020 at 06:30:05
Terry(#31); Sorry, Terry, but are you of the opinion that Everton is a well run club?

Even Big Nev praised Wally Smith for running the club on less than the smell of an oily rag. We sold possibly the biggest thing in English football for the last 15 years while crying to Mum down the phone.

Did he make money out of selling to Moshiri? Well, he paid more than a fiver of which nearly all would have gone to one man or those directors from Hollywood he introduced.

Do I have any of his personal financial statements? You don't need to go to every match to know Everton play in blue.

Do you know why somebody with less than 5% shareholding is the Chairman or if it has cost the club being sold to other interested parties and which clubs may have benefited from that? And it doesn't stop there.

May be Don does work it into every thread but it is still a valid point.

Alan McGuffog
33 Posted 16/08/2020 at 08:32:36
Steve to misquote our old chemistry teacher..." Carse ! Mr Ancelotti doesn't need your help to pick the side for Saturday "
Will e mail to sort out a 🍺
David Cash
34 Posted 16/08/2020 at 08:40:14
Interesting point about Holgate.

I was at Old Trafford when we were forced to play him in the middle of the park. Having worked in New York for 4 years, it was the first time I saw him "in the flesh". I was taken with how confident and imposing he looked.

He didn't look quite so dominant a few days later as the talented Leicester players fizzed it around. That said, by the time the final whistle went, he had fought his way back and it was Mason who was imposing his game on them.

I'm fully supportive of Carlo, but our feeble midfield was so easily dominated in too many of his 20 games. I wonder why he didn't, as you say, borrow from Peter to pay Paul? We didn't defend too badly at Sheffield or at home to Villa. The defence didn't fall apart without him.

Carlo did try to experiment with Baines and Digne, but both men seemed to want to play in their usual position and the experiment was ditched (perhaps prematurely) after 45 minutes.

You already know that I believe Carlo will leave you with egg on your face, Dazza, but I fully support your right to criticise from day one. He has been in his job for roughly the same length of time as Boris Johnson has been in his and I would not take kindly to being told that it's too early to criticise him.

I'm happy for you to keep digging. The more you dig, the more you will have to back-track.

"Yesterday's man" could have declined Moshiri's offer, but he clearly thinks he has plenty of tomorrow's left in the tank.

Ken Kneale
35 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:06:15
Hi Terry, my agenda is only to restore Everton to their rightful place. I neither know Mr Kenwright nor have any personal malice against him but, by any form of judgement, his tinckering with Everton over three decades has seen the club go its longest ever period without a trophy, loose footballing status, and generally look like a very poorly run business.

Add on top of that his lack of judgement in personal friends, of whom it is suggested were aligned to our club in some distant form without any denial, and his regular promulgations of investment, his failure with Kings Dock and the fiasco wth Tesco – history will judge him as a failed leader.

His narrative with Moyes about plucky underdogs is galling to me but it suited both their purposes in a ridiculously cosy relationship where Moyes was never challenged to do better and was given a free ticket out of the door when he should have been driven out with a stick for his disloyalty.

Is the last 30 years really what you expected?

Andy Crooks
36 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:06:43
Interesting article, Darren. I have always started from the point that the coach sees the players every day and knows best. However, even going back to Moyes, my instincts told me that playing Jagielka in midfield and Lescott at left-back was ill-judged.

When we appointed Carlo, I was totally confident that, despite the fact this squad represented challenges he had never before faced, he had enough about him to make it work. Two things have made me uneasy...

First. the continuing tactic of having the hapless Pickford play a demented high-stakes "pass the parcel" with his cumbersome defenders. This is madness.

Then, the growing realisation that we were playing in the same way that Northern Ireland have played for many years. This was not an Italian defensive master class but sheer desperation in the absence of energy and imagination. Keep it tight and see what happens.

I cling though to the hope that a couple of signings will make a difference. What other hope is there?

Has Ancelotti got the best from this squad? The kindest thing to say is not yet.

Danny Broderick
37 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:37:42

I would give Ancelotti a 7 based on what I have seen so far. I feel we had an initial turn up in form when he arrived. After lockdown the defence in particular looked really well drilled – I think we were unlucky to concede only 2 deflected goals in the 4 games after lockdown.

A promising partnership between Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison has been given game time to flourish. And he has also seen fit to introduce good young kids (Gordon and Branthwaite) when the deadwood wasn't performing.

I think you make good points about Holgate and Digne being tried in midfield. I thought that myself during the season. I just wonder if Mina's injury problems meant that Holgate had to play centre-half? He seemed to be nursing an injury all season...

Ancelotti seemed to stick with 4-4-2 when we obviously didn't have the midfield to play that system. The trouble is, when we play 5 midfielders, we don't have enough goals in the team. I don't know if you have seen the stats on Twitter, but take all of our midfielders and add their stats together, they have collectively played over 400 games, scored 39 goals and created 26 assists.

So basically, between any 4 or 5 of them, you will get one goal every 10 games, and one assist every 16 games! Pathetic numbers. I personally think that's why he persisted with the rigid 4-4-2 we were playing, as well as the direct style – our midfield just wasn't up to the task and he knew it.

At the end of the day, you can't polish a turd, and our midfield is one of the biggest turds we have ever had – and we have had lots of shit!

We'll only truly be able to judge Ancelotti once he has been able to bring in some midfielders. He's had one arm tied behind his back whatever he did with our current squad.

We don't need superstars, we need hard-working midfielders. I think there's lots of players out there that would improve us in that respect. Recruitment shouldn't be too difficult to improve this team. Brands has to improve his performance also and get some decent midfielders in, and then we'll have a much clearer view of Ancelotti's tactics. I expect it will still be a 4-4-2 of sorts, but much more fluid and better football...

Derek Thomas
38 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:56:05
Andy @36; The whole point is, whoever is asking... one-off Chelsea games notwithstanding – does the squad have anything to actually give? Sadly for most of them, my answer is No!

The better the squad is, the better, more often than not, the coach looks – and, up to a point, the team, like the Barca team of 8(?)yrs ago, could manage themselves.

Paul Birmingham
39 Posted 16/08/2020 at 10:59:09
Andy@36, a good analogy.

Let’s hope theirs hope on the horizon for better football at EFC.

Conor McCourt
40 Posted 16/08/2020 at 16:47:56
Darren, a lovely piece and I much preferred this article as it showed your analytical side very well and was a typically forthwright and passionate synopsis but free of cliches and nark. Great stuff!!

As much as this season has us all livid and fearful of the future, if there is a positive to be gleaned, it's that Carlo has so far done very little lasting damage to the club unlike some of his predecessors.

Essentially, had we been brilliant or had we been awful, I think the season was defined primarily before he got here with in my opinion Brands, Silva and Lady Luck (VAR, Gomes and Gbamin) already deciding our fate.

I do feel Carlo has missed a trick in jettisoning some of those who won't be here next season and I have to agree with Mike that Gordon and Branthwaite were shining lights and I wouldn't have minded seeing the likes of Iwobi, Kean and even a few of the younger lads get a few more chances to establish themselves.

Personally, I like yourself, don't have great faith in Carlo turning it around but what I really fear is the likes of Allan and Thiago Silva rocking up at Goodison Park and a Smith/Koeman approach coming to the fore, as we know from experience that Moshiri is daft enough to sanction it.

I will link in Jacque's super piece at this point and state that I hope Brands will still be the key man and his vision is the one that must be adhered to. I personally think it's too soon to write off the Dutchman based on last summer's nightmare.

In his first campaign Digne and Richarlison were excellent signings even if Silva got the latter while Gomes and Zouma were successful loans. We know last summers work was disastrous for that season but I won't be surprised if Gbamin and Kean turn out to be excellent signings long-term and we can only hope Gomes is injury free to discover his best form.

As Jacques has pointed out, I too wouldn't mind a more patient approach and would rather see us sign the 'right player' rather than the 'right position' approach like Man Utd have seem to have adopted under Solsjaer. I think quality players like Sarr and Brooks should be our first port of call as they are available even if not a so-called priority. Otherwise, if we confine ourselves to the 'we need a central midfielder' mentality, we end up stockpiling more deadwood. Of course the ideal is to do both.

Joe McMahon
41 Posted 16/08/2020 at 17:10:59
A well reasoned write-up Darren, and I'm also with you that having Carlo isn't some kind of magic wand. The players we crave want Champions League football, the exits of Lescott, Rooney, Arteta Lukaku and even Barkley underlines this.

The frustrating thing I've found about Carlo since lockdown restart (Chelsea away was a warning). Carlo didn't bench Calvert-Lewin and give Kean a proper run even though Calvert-Lewin's form was awful since the Chelsea game, and not one goal in 10 matches. He needed a break.

Moise Keen in limited minutes has shown he has pace, can pass, run directly at goal and can shoot. What was Carlo thinking sticking with a striker so out of form! I just hope Everton aren't another 2nd half in Istanbul on Carlos CV.

Kevin Prytherch
43 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:04:00
The irony of this is that if we substitute Tom Davies for Ancelotti in the second paragraph Darren would tell people to be patient... (I also advocate patience with young players – simply pointing out the hypocrisy in my opinion – and the below does not represent what I think of Davies, and I fully accept that the scenarios of a young player vs and experienced manager are different)

Have a read...

Whilst I accept that the only real true reflection of the job a player does cannot be drawn up until he has left the job and that he has to be given time to integrate into a team, I cannot accept we have to wait years to comment on the job Tom Davies is doing now. He is actually on the payroll now. He is the player now. He is picked for the team now. He is responsible for performances now.

I've said it on other threads – that I often agree with a lot of what Darren says, but just wish he affords some of the patience advocated with youngsters to our manager.

Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:20:50
Off-topic, but if you haven't seen this before, it'll melt you into a puddle. It did me, and I'm not ashamed of it.

Meet Everton Fan of the Year Lewis Docherty.

Brent Stephens
45 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:41:24
Mike, that's a cracker, isn't it.
Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:52:13
It is, Brent. Makes me proud to be wearing the colors today. What a club.
Dave Abrahams
47 Posted 16/08/2020 at 21:58:40
With the upmost respect to Alan (32) and Ken (35), Terry (31) has been told these facts about Kenwright time after time but chooses to turn a deaf ear, he will ask you to provide evidence of these facts despite knowing that:

1) when Kenwright “bought” Everton, we were £20M in the black and owned Goodison Park and Bellefield our training ground;

2) 2 years later or less, that £20M had gone, down on paper as other expenditure on the accounts;

3) Bit by bit, Goodison was mortgaged, Bellefield was sold, and Finch Farm sold off then leased back.

4) Mr Moshiri paid off all the debts, bought most of Kenwright's shares for around £49M, with still more to come if he sells his other shares. 5) Kings Dock and Kirkby fiascos etc etc...

But still Terry offers his support to Kenwright and I presume he thinks the chairman has done a good job.

Joe McMahon
48 Posted 16/08/2020 at 22:07:38
Mike – "Not a Dry Eye in the House".
Jerome Shields
49 Posted 16/08/2020 at 22:24:43
It's going to be a big job to turn around Everton after over 20 years of under-performance. Given the deep-rooted problems that caused this under-performance and the failed legacy of those that thought they could.

What other Manager can do what is needed, realistically? To expect an immediate turnaround at Everton, is a small town outside Wishful Thinking. All you can hope for is that Ancelotti, who has proven experience, can gradually change what is necessary.

To select p!ayers to shore up existing players in positions might have an immediate effect, but would end up as the road to no town long-term, and achieve nothing.

Paul Birmingham
51 Posted 16/08/2020 at 22:55:19
Mike, hope, eternal, as you will know, as it can only get better, in context.

No team lasts for years, some teams don't last a half, nor a game(🙏🏼), as we know, but as supporters, DieHards, we must make it happen. It will happen, as by the cause, it will happen!

It's, Biblical, at the moment, but times change. “What's Our Name?”

On a marketing note, an idea only, we get some TW logos nailed ASAP.

Like previous EFC fanzines, etc and equivalents, simple and effective marketing can do wonders, and in advance view of what may be and hopefully will be in BMD!

Jerome Shields
53 Posted 16/08/2020 at 00:07:55
Dave #47

Agree with you regarding Kenwright but, in the immediate future, he is still going to be Chairman, for some underlying reason that only Moshiri knows. So the action going forward is what Brands and Ancelotti can do to turn Everton around in spite of Kenwright.

Moshiri seems to be counting on what they can do as a priority. This will hopefully get Everton further on than previously. Further changes will come at a later date.

Eric Myles
54 Posted 17/08/2020 at 01:35:17
Andy #36, I remember that Lescott played left back because Baines was injured, and that it worked out fairly well.

Jags in midfield was a disaster I agree, but again, wasn't it more a 'needs must' situation than Moyes thinking it was tactically astute?

David Woodworth
55 Posted 17/08/2020 at 02:12:10
No manager in the world could turn our dross midfield into anything resembling decent players.

We've paid over the odds for crud players, have a local lad who plays like a headless chicken, but some on here think he has potential or is a good squad player – get real. Like the rest of the can't tackle, can't shoot, cant head, can't score, can't be arsed bunch of losers... get rid.

It's another season of rebuilding – spend wisely or don't spend. No dross is better than more dross.

Mike Gaynes
56 Posted 17/08/2020 at 04:16:16
This Arsenal fan site says Lille has accepted offers from both Arsenal and Napoli for Gabriel, and he gets to choose. We are not mentioned.

Arsenal have Gabriel Magalhães bid accepted by Lille

Jerome Shields
57 Posted 17/08/2020 at 05:06:06
Mike #56,

Sounds like Everton pulled out after the initial offer for some reason.

Jim Harrison
58 Posted 17/08/2020 at 05:11:48
Six months of Carlo.

First 3 were passable, results were decent in terms of points secured even if the quality of the football wasn't electric, to say the least.

Then there was a big break.

The resumption started okay but then there was a real deterioration in terms of both performance and results where very few of the players came out with any credit aside from perhaps Digne and Holgate.

Given the performances up until Silva got sacked, both the periods under Dunc and Carlo's spell before lockdown were successful. Results and performances improved. Points were secured. The job that needed doing was being done.

After lockdown, it's gone to shit.

Jerome Shields
59 Posted 17/08/2020 at 05:36:34
The problem Ancelotti has is because the weaknesses are structural, aged players on excessive contracts and a parental bureaucracy he can just tinker around the edges. We all would even accept two midfielders and maybe a back. Like Brands, Ancelotti it is basically sorting out someone else's shit and trying to turn around what exists.

Julen Lopetegui was sacked by Real Madrid, took over Sevilla on 19 June 2019. He was able to change most of the squad, which can't be done at Everton. No player was bought in for over €25 million and the top price was paid for players under €22 million. Players over 24 were bought for less than €20 million. They are 3rd in La Liga and just outplayed Man Utd.

Playing players out of position is applying sticking plaster and we all know the problem is who is involved in negotiating the contracts, which still have a similar pattern to pre Brands.

What the hell was Delph's contract about?

Darren Hind
60 Posted 17/08/2020 at 06:38:57

Ancelotti is over 60 years old. He has been in the game both playing and managing for 45 years. He has played with and managed some of the game's greatest players. He has worked in several different countries. When he was offered a £60 million contract to manage Everton, every Evertonian was entitled to believe we were bringing in the finished article.

Tom Davies is barely into his twenties. He has never played anywhere other than here. He was born with nowhere near the ability of Carlo Ancelotti. One was destined to play for his country. The other has spent his career trying to justify a place in a very poor side.

As the seasoned professional, Carlo Ancelotti gives the instructions. As the eager young player trying to better himself, Tom Davies, takes them. Ancelotti decides not only whether Davies plays or not, but where he plays and for how long.

One of these men takes brutal abuse at match days which often goes way beyond criticism. The other is getting away with murder. The hypocrisy you speak of most definitely exists.

Carlo Ancelotti is not blamed for the position the club is in. He is not blamed for the poor quality of the squad. He is only ever criticised for that which he is responsible for – the cowardly soulless performances we have had to endure on his watch.

Only by attempting to put a stop to the primitive Zombie football we have witnessed can Ancelotti stop the criticism. Attempts to shout it down will never succeed.

Kevin Prytherch
61 Posted 17/08/2020 at 08:00:58

I do appreciate the differences and I applaud your stance on young players. I also agree that performances since the restart were not good enough and couldn't believe that the likes of Baningime were not given any minutes over Sigurdsson. We learnt nothing for the future by playing the same washed-up players.

However - although Ancelotti has overseen some dire embarrassing performances, he's not the only manager to struggle at a club following a brief initial honeymoon period. Klopp did at Liverpool, Guardiola did at Man City, Solksjaer did at Man Utd.

I just believe that he should at least be given next season. Although I will be hugely disappointed if we spend £30million on a 30-year-old on his request.

Steve Shave
62 Posted 17/08/2020 at 08:16:45
Good post, Darren. I understand your stance and you are asking the right questions. I think we need to give him the chance to sign some players and have a pre-season (albeit not much of one!).

It almost seemed to me that Carlo was trying to make some sort of point churning that shite out every week, like he was trying to show Moshiri and Brands what was glaringly obvious. Otherwise I, like you, felt bemused by some of the selections and tactics week after week with seemingly little learning.

I'm choosing to believe this is what was going on; I am choosing to believe he knows what he is doing.

Rob Dolby
63 Posted 16/08/2020 at 08:35:17
Given our position when we sacked Silva, coupled with the players at his disposal, I think Ancelotti has done a fantastic job.

Did anyone expect us to get a European spot from a relegation position with these players?

We have a decent keeper who is erratic, we have a decent defence for this level, we have the worst midfield in the Premier League and a top player in Richarlison.

We aren't going to be challenging for anything other than mid-table mediocrity with the current squad. Ancelotti is a football manager – he isn't a miracle worker.

Tony Everan
64 Posted 17/08/2020 at 08:46:51
Thanks for the article, Darren; it boils down to the midfield deficiencies, and you tell it as it is.

Ancelotti seems to be single-minded when it comes to playing players in their natural position. I wanted Mason moved to be the holding centre-midfielder but it was never going to happen. I think he wants him to develop solely as a high class centre-back and not confuse any of that development. I can see the logic in that.

Also, I think he wanted to see what his midfield had over a number of games, to fully ascertain the extent of rebuilding and reinforcement.

He will have seen the job goes beyond that regarding the midfield. It is everything you don't want in a midfield at the moment:

Slow and lethargic
No fight
No midfielders with a winning mentality
No energy or dynamism (No 1 priority)
Poor passing (forward and sideways)
Slow of thought
Slow closing down, not the required aggression in this task
Physically weak
Poor tackling
Poor at regaining possession
Even our best midfielder, Gomes, is inconsistent
Not a unit but a collection of strangers with no mutual understanding
No leadership
No camaraderie
Injury prone
Uncommitted to the club
No forward running with the ball, committing the opposition and changing their defensive shape

And last but not least:

No assists and No goals.

So Darren, in a nutshell, your article condenses down to what is our plight. No midfield. A relegation midfield. Carlo Ancelotti will know it; he's seen it all and he will be appalled at the state of it. He will know it will take more than Allan to change things. We need more than one player. Two at the very least

Allan is coming, then we need youth, quality, and energy, forward-thinking, and goals, assisting and scoring.

If we signed Allan, David Brooks, and Sangare or Emi Buendia for strength in depth, I think we could solve a lot of our midfield problems as listed.

Carlo needs a little bit of patience and support from all of us while he sorts the midfield out.

Brands's success on bringing the necessary midfielders in will determine his and the club's immediate future.

Christy Ring
65 Posted 17/08/2020 at 10:23:17
A good and honest article, Darren. I agree with you about Davies, he's an attacking midfielder, but sadly we have no-one else to play defensive midfielder.

Gbamin's injuries were a huge setback, but bringing in Delph was a disaster. We can't judge Carlo until he gets the chance to bring the players he wants.

Allan is 29, but a defensive midfielder is a must, and Gomes can play in his proper position beside him.

Sadly there's too much deadwood on big salaries, who won't be going anywhere, for obvious reasons, that's our biggest problem.

Jim Harrison
66 Posted 17/08/2020 at 10:42:36
Kevin @61,

If we spend £30 million on a 30-year-old and finish 4th, I couldn't care less about the transfer fee!

Rob Dolby
67 Posted 17/08/2020 at 11:03:04
Jim 66,

Unless that 30-year-old is Clark Kent, one player isn't going to make much difference to the team. We need at least 3 midfielders to just progress.

Dave Abrahams
68 Posted 17/08/2020 at 12:07:37
As Darren has said and Tony (64) has enlarged on, fix the midfield and that starts the ball rolling to getting us moving up the table and on to better things.

At the moment Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams and Lionel Blair would make a stronger midfield than we’ve got at present, with Bernard Bresslaw standing for Michael Keane at centre back!!

Rob Dolby
69 Posted 17/08/2020 at 12:11:36
Dave 64 Very good.
Christine Foster
70 Posted 17/08/2020 at 12:24:14
Dave *68, with Syd James as manager and Hattie Jaques as centre-back.. (no one would get past her) Norman Wisdom on the wing (wait didn't we sign him last year?) and Winsor Davies as center-forward.. then again Captain Mainwaring as Chairman we obviously need to use his entertainment credentials when signing players.

You have to laugh, but I am fed up of the tears of frustration and shame I felt last year. What we need is a statement of intent and actions to back it up. Frankly, I don't care if we make the top six this season, I just want my faith in the team repaid with attitude, flair and desire. I don't care who we sign or not, but I want every player to excel. It's the bare minimum of acceptance as a fan.

I want to believe in my team again.

Tom Bowers
71 Posted 17/08/2020 at 12:30:37
I have to 100% agree that, until the midfield is improved, we have no chance of matching strides with the top teams.

It would be hard to accept that Gomes, Davies, Delph, Sigurdsson, Iwobi and anyone else can suddenly make this team competitive after what we witnessed from this season gone by, even allowing for injuries.

They didn't have the smarts to create much for the strikers and certainly the tackling and ball control was woeful.

Sure there may be a youngster or two chomping at the bit to get in but the aforementioned bunch are highly paid regulars who disappointed most weeks, individually and collectively.

Without addressing this, Carlo has a tough job on his hands.

Dave Abrahams
72 Posted 17/08/2020 at 13:22:55
Christine (70), yes laughing helps, otherwise you'd crack up. Like you, we all want a team that has a go and gives us some of our pride back. We really are a shambles and an embarrassment at the moment.
David Woodworth
73 Posted 17/08/2020 at 13:57:01
Tom 71, you are right, they are all dross to a certain extent.
Not forgetting Theo and Bernard. I would expect what money we have or engineer thru sales will surely be spent on the midfield.

We need reinforcements up front and at the back, so maybe some loans to help us out if the cash will stretch.

Without wholesale midfield changes we'll struggle. All fun to think what will happen.

Pat Waine
74 Posted 17/08/2020 at 14:16:14
I agree with most of your article but I believe Everton are in a bind now. We wasted a huge chunk of money and, let's be fair, most of the damage was done by koeman. We now need a steady season.

Start wit the keeper too up and down for me. Get a steady one in. get rid of some dross. easier said that done.

Sandro, Mina, Coleman, sigurdsson, Bolaise, Pickford, Davies should all be moved out.Buy a centre half that we can rely on to attack the ball. A central midfielder that can break up play up and restart play. A peter Reid for want of a description.

I don't think we will do half of that this window. but making us harder to beat is a start for me. I don't think we will be in Europe for a few years. I don't blame Carlo on that or even Silva. It goes back to Koeman. one of the biggest mistakes we made since Alan Ball was sold.

Jim Harrison
75 Posted 17/08/2020 at 16:45:43
Rob 67,

I wasn't seriously suggesting that one player would make that difference.

Jay Wood

76 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:14:25
‘Dazza' acknowledges what any Evertonian with any football nous already knows. There is little or no fight or guile in the current squad, especially in midfield. More specifically, we have no enforcer, no speed and limited creativity in the engine room of the team.

He also wonders what Carlo could have done differently and suggests three solutions:

1) Moving Holgate into a defensive midfield role which would
2) Liberate and get the best out of Tom Davies
3) Play Digne in front of Baines down the left.

On the first point, when should Carlo have tried Holgate as a defensive midfielder? The only time he did that was out of necessity away to Watford after Delph's sending off, bringing on Keane to partner two-goal Mina at the back and pushing Mason into midfield.

Other than that, in Carlo's first 11 fixtures up to the Covid-19-interrupted season we picked up 18 points from 11 games and sat 4th in the Premier League form table.

Holgate was one of Carlo's 1st picks in his default centre back position. Mina and Keane were switched, but not Mason. Zero need then to make ‘Dazza's' suggested switch.

What about post-restart? Again, when and why make the switch? All the more so that Mina was not fit to play and we were down to just Holgate and Kean as first-team centre backs.

Everton won 2 and drew 1 of their first 3 fixtures with Mason cemented at centre back. Why change what continued to work? In the 4th fixture at Spurs, after 36 minutes, Mason limped off having injured himself in a tackle. He would miss the remaining five games of the season, other than starting v Villa and having to come off after just 15 minutes.

Ergo, the team was in good form with Holgate at centre-back. When performances and results suffered after the restart, Mason wasn't fit to play. So, Carlo playing him in midfield was either not necessary (given the team's good form) or not an option (he was unfit to play).

The big bonus from Mason's absence was, of course, young Branthwaite stepping up and performing as he did. But back to ‘Dazza's' 2nd suggestion re: Tom Davies.

‘Dazza' believes he has never seen ‘a player less equipped to play a defensive/holding midfield role' than Tom. He further suggests that Tom has suffered because ‘a succession of managers followed Koeman's lead and played him in this role. If only it was that simple.

Like ‘Dazza', I wouldn't describe Tom as an out-and-out defensive/holding midfielder, but nor would I say that that is primarily where Tom has played his Everton career. Like a few others in the Everton squad, he is a central midfielder. And we haven't had a fit one in the squad since Gueye walked out the door to Paris. Everton has ‘made do' in central midfield this past season without having a genuine defensive/holding midfielder, other than when Delph has been fit to play.

Less we forget, Tom forced his way into Koeman's 1st team aged just 18 in the Dutchman's one and only full season at Everton. A lot of people on TW have extremely poor memories of just how well Tom performed. He made the most of Idrissa Gueye's absence (playing in the African Confederations Cup), but even on his return, Koeman often preferred Tom as 1st choice over not just Gueye, but also Schneiderlin.

That season, Tom picked up the Young Player of the Year trophy and Goal of the Season (you know which goal for).

At 18 then, he was performing to a very high standard. He was in the team on merit, even keeping out more senior pros.

Now Tom's development, like other players at Everton, has not been helped by the managerial musical chairs played out at the club. But he has still been clearly appreciated by every manager, even promoted to skipper several times by Silva.

However, like him as I do, I personally don't think Tom has developed exponentially from his impressive breakthrough season. There are a number of mitigating circumstances as to why that may be the case. I don't think he has been anywhere near as bad as some wish to portray him. It's the young ‘uns like Tom that have shown greater application in adversity than their more senior pros.

But Tom is very much part of Everton's central problem: our very pedestrian and limited midfield. For a central midfield player, Tom at 22 needs to do better or we need to recruit better.

Finally, ‘Dazza' suggests playing Baines and Digne together down the left. Carlo did that. For one game. Away to Wolves. It was a disaster. They virtually stood on each other's toes and heels in the opening half so unaccustomed were they to the role.

Having already switched in Coleman for the injured Mina after 30 minutes, at half-time Carlo had seen enough and bloodied young Branthwaite for Baines to revert to a more familiar flat back four.

I am also puzzled with ‘Dazza' questioning playing Gordon (given his trumpeting of young players) because ‘a kid should only be introduced when it's going well.'

Well… it was ‘going well' and it continued to go well in the first 3 games he featured in after start-up – 2 wins and a draw. How much of a fillip to Scouse Gordon's confidence would it have been to be picked ahead of Sigurdsson, Bernard and Kean to play in the Mersey Derby? And to hear a manager like Carlo saying he is selected on merit as the best player for the role, not out of sentiment because he is an academy player.

As for my personal overall assessment of Carlo, I give him 6.5.

There was some good football played.

There were some good results.

He improved and settled the defence.

He is giving youth a chance.

We once again made Goodison a fortress.

He got four away wins in 9 away games (half a season. Silva managed 1 in 8 before being sacked.) That's encouraging when you consider that since Martinez's 1st season when we won 8 games on the road, our season tally of away wins reads:

2014-15 – 5
2015-16 – 5
2016-17 – 4
2017-18 – 3
2018-19 – 5

All achieved using existing players (he kept his powder dry in January), every one of which has at sometime been condemned by TWers and beyond.

All achieved in an unprecedented climate as provoked by the pandemic.

This transfer window will not be easy. It is a far different one to what Ancelotti and Brands may have been working towards in March.

I'm fully anticipating that, by and large, Carlo will have to ‘go again' with what he already has. But I'll wait and see how the squad looks in October before predicting doom and despair as some are.

Paul Jones
77 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:16:33
Jay 76,

Don't confuse nonce with nous – you'll end up in prison.

Jay Wood

78 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:20:50
Duly corrected, Paul! Cheers!
James Stewart
79 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:30:00
The bottom line is this squad has got a succession of managers the sack and is completely unfit for purpose.

If we go into another season without major changes, I only see the inevitable happening to Carlo, which would be the mother of all missed opportunities.

We need to back the manager in the market – while we actually have a decent one for a change, and gut this pathetic excuse of a team, even if it means paying them to leave.

Mike Gaynes
80 Posted 17/08/2020 at 17:59:14
James #79, and have you noticed how many of the managers we've sacked have done better since leaving?

Martinez is running the world's #1 ranked national team (34 wins in 43 games) and having the time of his life as a commentator on the side.

Koeman is gonna be the new manager at Barca (God help 'em).

Silva is still unemployed, but only because he turned down massive pay packages from Flamengo and one of the Chinese clubs.

And Allardyce is the Postmaster General of the United States. (Just kidding on that last one.) We've become a feeder club for managers.

Rob #63 and #67, agree.

John Keating
81 Posted 17/08/2020 at 18:01:43
I was going to read the post but decided to take the advice given in the first paragraph. I have no doubt I can recite what was said as knowing the feelings towards Ancelotti even prior to joining it's fairly obvious.

Enjoy the slagging if you don't agree with the post. I'm off to watch Howard's Way again.

Peter Mills
82 Posted 17/08/2020 at 18:08:26
Dave #68, I remember many moons ago, around the time Harry Catterick made his fabled move for Colin Stein, Michael Charters used to refer in the Echo to Everton's “powder puff” attack.

After all this time, your midfield would complement it perfectly.

Tony Everan
83 Posted 17/08/2020 at 18:23:51
Dave A #68, I enjoyed that ! the unholy trinity, starring

Charles Hawtry, Kenneth Williams and Lionel Blair In

Carry On Up Your Midfield, oooh 😮 Matron

Bill Gall
84 Posted 17/08/2020 at 18:45:18
All this criticism of Ancelotti seems to be on the games that were played after the pandemic in empty stadiums. As has been stated before the pandemic, he had played 11 games and we sat in 4th place.

What happened with the players level of fitness during the interval between the end and restart of the season is a mystery, and only the players now how much they kept up their training routines scheduled by the club.

My problem in this transfer window, and I have stated it often, we have a major problem in attracting the type of player in any position that is going to improve the club to finish in the top 8, and that is, when faced with other clubs who are reported to be after the same player.

We will have a hard time attracting players when, as a team in 12th place, we cant offer more than other clubs, as most clubs above us have richer owners. We can only offer an outstanding training facility and the promise (if planning permission is agreed) a new state of the art stadium in 3 or 4 years.
This only leaves a world-class manager who supporters believe may be able to convince a player how better off he will be at Everton.

I only believe in Everton signing a player when he is pictured in an Everton shirt and holding an Everton scarf over his head. But in saying that, it is depressing to read that players we may have been very interested in, preferring to go to other clubs.

As far as managers go, after the previous 4 we can only hope that after another kick at the can, Ancelotti with Brands, and full backing from the owner and board, will be more successful in player recruiting.

People say Rome wasn't built in a day, we aren't Rome we are Everton FC who's motto, Nil Satis Nisi Optimum seems to be only followed by the supporters, and it is about time the Owner, The Board and playing staff recognized what standards are demanded when reading this motto.

Brent Stephens
85 Posted 17/08/2020 at 18:58:19
Mike #80,

I'd say the current manager is staying for a while yet. Can't say the same about the bloody midfield.

“And Allardyce is the Postmaster General of the United States. (Just kidding on that last one.)”

Mike, I bet Sam would just love eating all those postal votes.

Darren Hind
86 Posted 17/08/2020 at 19:23:53
Holgate should have been in midfield from the off. We all saw him perform there at Old Trafford and at home to Leicester and he was better than anyone else we had.

We had spent £60 million on two centre-backs and they should have been playing every time they were available and If Branthwaite was deemed ready to play after Holgate's injury, he should have been deemed good enough a short while before.

The two central defenders bought are miles from being top class but, as every man and his dog knew, our problems were in the middle of the park.

A few decent results when we went primarily route one in Carlo's early days did not mask our problem. Yes, they were important, but they were largely unconvincing wins.

People putting up form tables at the time fooled nobody. Goodison was like a morgue long before the pandemic even got to these shores. Our performances were desperately disjointed.

With the exception of those few who allowed themselves to be fooled into thinking our form was good, just about everyone watching us knew we would be beaten as soon as we played a semi-decent team. They also knew we would be hammered when we played a good one... So it transpired.

The hammering we took at Chelsea was so predictable, as was the shell-shocked reaction of the players. A win against a Leicester team, who were by now hell bent on throwing their season away, didn't mask anything either. Our performances in the latter part of last season were about as dire as many an Evertonian can remember.

The experiment of Baines and Digne reflected very very badly on Ancelotti too. Neither player knew who was playing where. Why wasn't he screaming at them?

When you are talking about two senior pros like Baines and Digne, you have to question how the plan was communicated to them. And what must Seamus have been thinking? He is sitting in the stands while a guy who has made a career as a chinless attacking player looks all at sea playing in his right-back position. Ancelotti had no clue how to stem the Wolves tide. Another younger manager was taking him to school.

I still shake my head in disbelief that he can watch his malfunctioning midfield capitulate in game after game, month after month, without trying anything new, but decides to ditch the Digne - Baines experiment after barely half an hour.

Derek Moore
87 Posted 17/08/2020 at 19:43:19
I don't come here often in the off-season, hence the late reply. The virus arriving here in New Zealand and the fall-out surrounding it have absorbed much of my spare time recently; otherwise, I should have replied earlier.

I like Carlo and was excited when he arrived. A truly miserable defeat in the FA Cup knocked most of the stuffing out of me. Some dreadful performances during the run-in have done for the rest. I no longer think the new boss is the "answer".

We've seen enough to know that he is no more going to get a tune out of this lot than anyone else. The case for the defense then starts to shift the goalposts – "Let him buy the instruments and we'll start to hear some music".

I have a couple of issues with that. There's no doubt during the recruitment process that Ancelotti was asked if he thought the group he had was under-performing. I'm not sure if he'd said "No" he would have gotten the job... so my assumption is he said he'd get more out of them. And... he hasn't.

My other issue is Brands. It's his job to buy the right players that fit the style of football we aim to play and to offload the guys who don't. And... he hasn't. Brands has moved none of the deadwood and indeed bought overpriced shite of his own.

Ancelloti might be part of the answer. Brands might be part of the answer. But might is the operative word. It's hope at this stage really. For the best part of half a billion quid, our owner might be entitled to expect more than hope at this stage.

Which brings me to my conclusion. I've stated this here before and I have no reason to change my view. I think Moshiri is being soaked for his money. Football is full of chancers and I believe our nominal owner has met the very worst of them.

The Tosun and Walcott buys were my first hint. Allardyce has been repeatedly accused of being a crook, and of taking kickbacks on transfers. To allow him to spend £50 million on players when he was clearly a lame duck manager is not merely folly.

When Fat Sam departed in May 2018 along with Walsh, I had hoped our owner had come to his senses and cleared the decks. But how much has changed? When Ancelotti arrived, we were immediately linked with Zlatan and now we are being linked with the likes of Allan. To my mind, there is more than the potential for corruption here.

I'm very concerned about this club and its immediate future. I'm looking at recent events to draw a comparison. Ambramovich and Mansour have spent serious money but they have also achieved serious results. But they are ruthless guys from ruthless parts of the world.

Our owner seems more in the Tony Fernandes, Randy Lerner and Ellis Short mold. These are the guys who've arrived, figured a rising tide lifts all boats... only to see the ship capsize. Well boys, I'm here to tell you the boat didn't sink itself. My thinking is that the skipper holed the side of the ship so, after it sank, he could buy it back off the owner for buttons.

Prove I'm wrong.

Tony Abrahams
88 Posted 17/08/2020 at 21:31:25
The last time I left Goodison, it was an angry fuming bear pit, well it was to me anyway, because Everton had just been cheated by VAR once again, and Ancelotti was sent off at the end of the game for questioning these cheating officials.
David Cash
89 Posted 18/08/2020 at 07:03:53
Interesting little subplot developing here – When is the time right to introduce a youngster to the first team?

Most managers will tell you the ideal time to blood an apprentice is when the rest of the team is purring. Stands to reason. A youngster will obviously learn more from confident teammates than he will from players who are hiding.

Managers prefer experience too. That's for sure. Your average youngster is generally only given his chance, either due to consistently poor form of senior players, or injury.

There are of course exceptions, players like Rooney, Giggs, TAA force the manager's hand because they are, or were, clearly the best players.

Fate nearly always takes a part. Branthwaite was given his chance because of a central defensive injury crisis and, to be fair, every single available attacking player was utilised in the game against Liverpool when Gordon was given his chance – three defenders and two goalkeepers among the unused subs.

There is a clearly difference between being "ready" and being the best available option. IMO. A manager only deems a player "ready" when he has all his options available to him and still selects him. It would be nice to believe all of our teenagers have bright futures in front of them, but there are no guarantees in this game.

Carlo knows a player when he sees one and it will be interesting to see which direction he takes with Gordon, Kean and Branthwaite. They all did well but are they going to be part of his future plans?

Fingers crossed for all of them.

Tony Abrahams
90 Posted 18/08/2020 at 07:28:22
Good post David, I look at Chelsea, they blooded quite a few young players last season, and all of them played their part.

Chelsea were as good as anyone on their day, but young players are not always consistent, and it’s probably why they had some very inconsistent results.

You know Ancellotti will play a kid if he’s good enough, I just hope we have a good enough squad that allows him to do this, but also pull them out when they have their little dips in form.

I look at Digne, I think he could quite possibly be our best player, but he’s suffered dips in form usually from fatigue, but Silva kept him in the team instead of using Baines at times, which was doing no favours to either player imo.

Paul Tran
91 Posted 18/08/2020 at 08:05:43
Mike #80, interesting re Martinez and Koeman. They will no doubt be wondering what might have happened if they had respectively got their 'seven players' and the centre-midfielder and top-class striker they wanted.

I'd love to have an honest chat with both of them. And Trevor Birch.

One common denominator here. A badly-run club, pretending to be ambitious, without wanting to do the necessary to fulfil that 'ambition'.

Nothing will change till the club does.

Dave Abrahams
92 Posted 18/08/2020 at 10:13:44
Derek (87), you say you think Moshiri is being soaked for his money? Bang on there, Derek, he should have been given better advice and most definitely should have been protected by the man who brought him here.

Instead, that man helped to empty Moshiri's bank account. It was his responsibility and moral duty to look after his interests; he did neither.

With friends like Kenwright, Mr Moshiri doesn't need enemies.

Dave Abrahams
93 Posted 18/08/2020 at 10:28:21
Peter (82), I remember that Colin Stein episode. I was working nights on the housing heights being built in Cantrell Farm. Going to work that night, we had Stein “In the bag”.

Coming off the site, I bought four papers to read about our latest signing. Overnight, Stein had become a greedy bastard and asked for more wages than Catterick was prepared to offer, so the deal was off and I was left to read all about it, four different versions of a sad tale.

Brian Harrison
94 Posted 18/08/2020 at 10:38:09
Dave @93,

The other thing about the Colin Stein transfer was that a few days after he went back to Scotland, realising he had made a huge mistake in not signing for Everton, he was in the press telling all and sundry he now wanted to sign for Everton.

Catterick's comment was "You only get one chance to sign for this club and, if you don't sign, then we move on."

Obviously these days with agents and the like very few transfers are ever kept under wraps. I can't remember the last big-money transfer that hadn't been splashed over the papers for weeks.

Dave Abrahams
95 Posted 18/08/2020 at 12:47:51
Brian (94), If I'm not mistaken he moved to Coventry after Harry “sent him to Coventry” but don't think he set the house on fire there.
Brian Harrison
96 Posted 18/08/2020 at 13:17:27
Dave, yes he went to Coventry and, as you say, he didn't set the house on fire.
Mark Andersson
97 Posted 19/08/2020 at 01:57:56
Another healthy debate to muse over...

I hope Darren is wrong and Jay [Brz] is right not – just for the sake of Everton but also we need to have a bit of hope that, in Carlo, we have a manager who can take Everton forward over the next few years..

Only time will tell... maybe that should be our new motto!

My gut feeling is we will be fighting for mid-table or worse next season... No hope of top 6 if Carlo can't get a tune out of most of the players available to him now because we can't buy enough quality new players to challenge for top 6.

Everton is a badly run club from the top down and that's the real problem. Klopp or Pep could not do any better managing this once great club. So we will have many more debates to muse over, no matter what happens.

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