The victory over Tottenham on the opening weekend was fairly comfortable, though the 1-0 scoreline didn’t quite represent our dominance. Three new high-calibre signings were unleashed at the first opportunity into a team that finished in the bottom half last of the Premier League table season, without ever realistically challenging for anything much higher than that. What would have virtually been a full-strength team last season also convincingly won 3-0 in the Carabao Cup last night, albeit against lower league opposition in Salford City.
The difference between the Everton that visited the new White Hart Lane a few months ago compared to the one that emerged victorious on Sunday was vast. In fact, in last night’s cup tie, the players that made that evening in London so dismal seemed to have a new lease of life and a desire to fight for their places in the team.
But anyone that can remove their blue-tinted glasses and see past the enthusiastic news articles will know that this is one very small step on a deceptively lengthy road. People with no association to the club have bought into the hype and believe we are destined for great things this season. On the face of it, with several of the proclaimed ‘Big Six’ slipping up in recent seasons, it’s a glaring opportunity to do just that and reach the European spots, perhaps taking a cup trophy along the way. However, the high-calibre signings only distract from what is still a considerable mountain to climb. This could still end up becoming a disaster very quickly.
Now, I want to make it clear before I go any further that I am not a pessimist. The wait for Everton to be successful again is just as agonising for me as it is anyone else. However, one must realise that the job Carlo Ancelotti has at Goodison Park is perhaps his toughest managerial challenge to date. The expectation of Everton fans is understandably high – we have seen the team spend hundreds of millions in recent years and it seems we’ve only gone backwards by doing so. We’ve bought the wrong players at the wrong times, even though they may have seemed like good buys initially.
The signings of the midfield workhorses Abdoulaye Doucouré and Allan, along with a marquee acquisition in James Rodriguez, for the modern-day equivalent of peanuts epitomises the attraction of playing for Carlo Ancelotti and the negotiating excellence of Marcel Brands. They do, however, only tape over the cracks until they prove they can improve our dynamic on a weekly basis.
We’ve had this exact same conversation after witnessing some of our other new signings put in strong performances to begin with, before disappearing completely and stealing a wage while their contracts run down. A couple of injuries or a slump into poor form and we are back to square one almost instantly. The idealists mooting us for European football need to realise that rebuilds take time and eight months is not enough for a team to reach full potential under a new manager. We can’t get too carried away, nor can we get on their backs too quickly if they start to struggle.
Initial signs suggest that our latest new signings go against that trend, though. Straight away, our midfield showed we now possess the energy, ability and ruthlessness we’ve dearly missed. Furthermore, it’s not like these are hyped-up youngsters without a track record, plus in contrast to the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott, these have proven their quality for a number of years at a good level without being a ‘big-club castoff’. True, one bad injury and they may never play at the same level, but it’s no riskier than signing a younger unknown entity for a similar price. We would know, as we’ve fallen victim of terrible deals like that in the past.
What is risky, though, is the fact that Ancelotti has had to overhaul his midfield almost entirely to reach this level. If he had his way, he’d have preferred to just bed one or two new players in and allow them time to get up to speed. The abysmal performances from our midfield for the past few seasons meant he couldn’t afford to give them this time.
The characteristics of the team had to change very quickly and he needed his new midfield to hit the ground running. They did that at the weekend, but as past signings have shown we cannot judge them on one game alone. It still has the potential to turn sour very quickly and the Everton manager will know better than anyone that he needs to be careful.
Three players stood out for me in last night’s game for the same interesting reason – Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Davies and Bernard. Three players that played a lot of football last year but never showing a great deal of consistency or quality. With new midfielders joining the club, the likelihood is that they’ll be warming the bench for most of this season. Again, this is against a lower league team so evaluations of performances must be taken with a pinch of salt, but they clearly tried that little bit harder in an attempt to prove their worth to the manager. Gary Neville summed it up fairly well in commentary — these are players that didn’t look good enough to play 38 games last season but, by keeping hold of them, you add squad depth that comes in handy as the season draws on.
The good news for Ancelotti is that, essentially, the worst-case scenario is losing his new signings to injury and playing with last season’s first eleven. That team finished 12th by consistently putting in average performances, so theoretically we can only improve on that. If the team keeps growing and dominating opponents, the Evertonians will repay them like we always do – when we can attend the games again, that is.
In the meantime, it’s our duty to get behind the team, support them in victory and in defeat and keep our expectations realistic until we’re a bit deeper into the season.
Reader Comments (56)
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1 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:12:41
Of course everything could be derailed by injuries, isn't it and hasn't it always been the case? Can't we just enjoy each game as it happens and stop this endless search for 'guessing' outcomes and possible scenarios?
If the players put in the effort and commitment that they have shown so far, then we'll be fine, if they slacken off they'll put themselves under pressure and undermine our chances of achieving anything.
It's a long hard season condensed into a shorter period of time than is normal, therefore, those clubs which avoid injury and suspension or who have deeper depth to their squads will likely triumph come the end of the season – can Everton be in the mix in the latter stages? I don't know but I do hope that we enjoy the whole campaign as much as many have enjoyed the opening couple of games.
2 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:26:07
Well said Patrick MacFarlane. Agreed with everything you said, but especially the passage I quoted.
If everything goes right this team will go a long way. And if everything goes wrong then this team...well err won't go anywhere. Thankfully, Everton only play one game at a time - which is handy, because that's exactly how everybody needs to take it. One game at a time.
3 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:28:11
4 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:34:10
5 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:48:44
Enjoy the moment, indeed, but I think this extraordinary 19-year-old is going to light up our future too.
6 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:56:50
Happened to Martinez during the latter part of his first season and as injuries exposed his squad in subsequent seasons his bollocks evaporated in the heat of blue fury.
This squad is better but not by much without further reinforcements Carlo needs to keep a box of ice cubes close to his bollocks.
7 Posted 17/09/2020 at 20:59:30
We will then be in a strong position to challenge for trophies.
8 Posted 17/09/2020 at 21:32:54
Every season in the Premier League is a tough one. For everyone.
Man City, a legit European powerhouse, lost 9 games last season. The RS was hanging on for dear life in games PRIOR to the pause for the pandemic.
There is no question but that we now have a dramatically improved mid-field in our starting 11. Everyone sees it. Everyone knows it. Everyone's excited.
What no-one is is fooled. This isn't France or Germany. It's the top professional football league in England. Every season is tough.
9 Posted 17/09/2020 at 21:42:57
One thing I think we can be sure of, is the quality of Allan. I think this guy alone boosts us about five places. And so even with a cautious eye on lady luck, I think this season is bound to be much better than last, with our youngsters all improving, and Gylfi no longer having to be Peter Reid in midfield.
10 Posted 17/09/2020 at 22:01:29
If Rodriquez stays fit, we should be a threat to most teams this season.
11 Posted 17/09/2020 at 22:36:59
12 Posted 17/09/2020 at 22:38:17
Youve got a Peterboro fan who talks utter nonsense to try get people to phone in and a cricketer talking about football as if he is a blooming expert in his field. Turned it off after 10 minutes.
13 Posted 17/09/2020 at 22:46:02
However, I am also fully aware that, given this is Everton, there is still a distinct possibility that we now go and get beat 0-1 by West Brom despite having 28 shots on to goal to their 1 or we go on and win our next 3 in the league, only to lose to the RS in the 98th minute to a Divock Origi strike which bounces in off his left testicle when he was standing 2 yards offside, which VAR didn't bother to check... and then the wheels come off our entire season and we finish one place behind Burnley in 13th.
14 Posted 17/09/2020 at 23:16:41
Chelsea appears to be building a potential juggernaut. Man Utd and Arsenal seem to be headed in the right direction.
I think Tottenham and Leicester City will slip a bit, but they're still strong sides. Wolves remain solid, and Leeds already look like they might make some waves. Add us and I think that's your top half of the table, in some order.
I think we just need to take things week by week, and match by match, and not look ahead too much.
15 Posted 17/09/2020 at 23:25:16
This season will be especially challenging for all clubs with a tight fixture schedule, the absence of crowd support and of course the possibility of Covid-19 disruption to squad availability. Managers of all clubs will be compelled to dig deeper into their squads which in turn opens up the possibility of fewer predictable results.
Moreover the season ahead may be one in which the clubs competing in Europe find it even more difficult than usual to maintain form across four competitions. We should therefore view this season as an opportunity to close the gap on the top clubs while pursuing a long awaited trophy. To do that we will need a large squad capable of plugging gaps as and when they inevitably arise. Hence most of the players on show last night will be retained rather than moved on.
16 Posted 17/09/2020 at 23:40:04
Or just me?
17 Posted 17/09/2020 at 00:03:35
There were a couple of observations from the game and after it. The game itself was a different approach from last season as the three new signings brought in a different attitude, with hard work, skill and a winning mentality that seemed to spread to the rest of the team.
After the game I switched to different channels to catch the pundits observations. As most of them mainly commented on how badly Spurs played and not how poor Everton made them look, it was nice to hear T Huchinson say the difference in the game was Everton's new signings. One of his statements was about the 3 but mainly Rodriquez and he said that when you get players with this reputation walk into your dressing room you sit up and think to yourself, "Hello, I am going to have to raise my game or I will be out of the team."
This is what is going to make the team better and if we make any more new signings, and if they have the same winning attitude, this is what will continue to improve us from last season.
We still have skillful players from last season but they needed, as they say "a kick up the arse", they may have got it from the manager and the signings he made, and now they will realize they are not an automatic choice and have to play for their position.
Our position in the league is hard to predict, but this season lower than 8th will be a poor result. It will be nice to get into one of the cup finals but we would still have to win it to get into Europe. All teams that finished above us, have, or are trying to strengthen their teams so it is not going to be easy.
We have the manager and a board and owner who want to back him, so let's enjoy the rest of the season.
18 Posted 18/09/2020 at 00:20:35
Agree Bill. We have improved but so have others and considering some teams were and still are well ahead of us this season wont be easy.
I think as long as we see a more long term plan coupled with good football and players giving everything on the pitch, most will be satisfied
Of course not everyone will be happy to some if we dont finish top four it will be a disaster and Ancelotti out!
19 Posted 17/09/2020 at 00:24:27
20 Posted 18/09/2020 at 01:20:36
I've enjoyed and sometimes endured supporting Everton for well over 5 decades, starting with the glory team of the late '60s. Nothing felt better than the stellar team of the mid '80s, the period I suspect most of us would like to see re-incarnated.
Much as I personally have respect for Moyes's ability to get good outcomes on a shoestring, the last couple of decades have been mostly one of disenchantment. It seemed we had the poorest owner in the Premier League and that is never going to take you very far.
The most depressing aspect of recent years has been, for the very first time in a long time, we have had proper cash to spend, not teary Bill's 5 bob note from under the sofa. This has been an experience both novel and cruelly underwhelming. No wonder we feed on the scraps of one vaguely promising game. I hope this time it's different but I also know it's the hope that kills you, not the despair.
21 Posted 18/09/2020 at 01:24:37
But it has to be said - As false dawns go, last weeks was better than most.
Also, I think we may see one loan to buy and even a second pure loan before the 5th October
One game at a time for team and fans is the way to go.
22 Posted 18/09/2020 at 02:05:54
At our current stage, we are not chasing the top four teams but we are chasing Leeds, Wolves, Spurs – they are the teams that have the players and backing to overtake Everton unless we are very smart in who we recruit from now on. So far, so good... I still think we need another quality striker.
23 Posted 18/09/2020 at 02:54:18
24 Posted 18/09/2020 at 02:57:27
Still, I think this manager, this team, have a better than even chance of getting it right.
Come On You Blues!!
25 Posted 18/09/2020 at 04:09:14
I also don't buy that other teams have strengthened. Truth is they buy new players but transfers often don't work out (more than 50% – Everton has no monopoly on making bad signings) and existing players decline.
There are at least 8 very good teams – the usual 6 media darlings, us and Wolves, plus maybe Leicester and Leeds. I think we may outperform Tottenham and Wolves, so 6th is a realistic target.
26 Posted 18/09/2020 at 04:28:25
I am allowing myself to get carried away a little because of the manner in which we beat Spurs not the result. I haven't seen passing and movement like that from an Everton team in over 30 years.
My only concern is that, while we have added a little more goal threat from midfield, we still don't have enough firepower. If we could only get Zaha or Lozano I would be much more confident.
27 Posted 18/09/2020 at 06:57:38
Having said that, we need to consider 3 factors which are different this year compared to last season:
1. Carlo Ancelotti! This guy is our biggest asset at this point of time. His winning experience in many different leagues and competitions will provide a steadying hand when things get rough, as they will. And will ensure that players stay focused.
2. Last year's recruitments were especially unlucky/poor, especially given whom we had lost - Gueye and Zouma. Gbamin - the Gueye replacement - was unavailable almost the entire season. Iwobi and Kean failed to make any impact - I would say ZERO impact. Schneiderlin and Siggy regressed alarmingly. Delph and Gomes were injured and unavailable for large parts of last season. Davies' development slowed down amongst the mayhem. The bright spots, of course, was the emergence of DCL, Holgate, Branthwaite, Gordon.
3. The 3 additions we have brought in this season - Allan, James and Doucoure, will improve the overall level of this squad tremendously and they will bring out the best in players like Gomes, Pickford, Keane, Mina, Richarlison, DCL, maybe Kean, Davies and Iwobi also.
So, yes, very very early days, but surely Evertonians are entitled to a 'wee bit' of optimism.
At least, Don Carlo is not getting carried away - “We started the season well with these two games [Tottenham and Salford] but we have to focus only on the next game [against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday]. Nothing more.” (bows head reverentially)
28 Posted 18/09/2020 at 08:16:28
29 Posted 18/09/2020 at 08:26:07
Now I know teams will always have opportunities to score in most games but the point I make is that, as garbage as Spurs were, they still had some good chances to win that game.
It pisses me off that, due to what's happened over the years, I'm actually worried about being too optimistic for fear of a greater fall!
30 Posted 18/09/2020 at 09:16:57
I think Steve Hogan @3 put it so succinctly. "Just enjoy the moment. I like that.
We've seen so many false dawns that we are drawn in to having that twinge towards the negative, no matter how well things are going.
Good article by you to get us in to 'thinking mode' but I'm happy to take the positives from Carlo's appointment and the 'not so common' common sense he has shown in recognising how shit our midfield was and actually targeting replacements, not only with football skills but also with charisma and marketing opportunities.
Now, we are becoming one of the big guys in the EPL!
31 Posted 18/09/2020 at 09:24:24
You are clearly determined to keep your feet on the ground and after some of the stuff I have read on here lately this piece is a breath of fresh air.
My blood has boiled over recently listening to the "lucky ole us" shite that is sweeping this fan base. I think people have lost sight of who and what we are.
This giant will not stay asleep forever. whether its this year, next year, or in ten years time. Our day will come. We will be kings again.
To say its been a while since our stars were aligned would be the mother of all understatements. We all have our own reasons and people to hang the blame on for that, but I think something could be brewing here.
Doucoure is entering the stage of his career where most players find That elusive consistency.
Allan is the kind of player who doesnt do bad games. His passing will sometimes go astray, so will his decision making, but there is a belligerence to his game which will ensure the opposition always know he is around...Then there is James.
When we look back at world cups, we always associate them with individuals. There is always one or two players who will illuminate the tournament. Rodriguez falls into tat category. His performances have captured the imagination of schoolboys (and their dads) all over the world...but South American wizards don't normally come here. The Spanish Giants always seem to land them. For one reason or another it stopped working out for him in Spain. He had hoped for an upturn in Germany, but that didnt work out either.
Could our stars finally be aligning ? will their loss be our gain.
Liverpool will find defending a title harder than winning it. City have had to let the little genius go. Chelsea have spent big, but sometimes that will only buy you a patchwork quilt...They may all be there to be shot at. All to play for.
Our aim has to be to win it. If we cant achieve that we have to chase CL qualification. If we cant achieve that. Top six.
We need to remember who we are. Our stars can never be realigned until our ambitions are.
32 Posted 18/09/2020 at 09:40:53
33 Posted 18/09/2020 at 10:05:39
I think most Evertonians aren't getting carried away, the reason we finished in the bottom half of the league last year was because the majority of our players only performed to that level. So it will take more than 3 signings as good as they are to suddenly make this team compete at the top end of the league. We should also take into account that Spurs look like a club in transition, so certainly not the team who reached the Champions league 2 seasons back under Pochettino, even though 90% of that team played last week.
Having said that there is nothing wrong with some optimism, after all we haven't had much to be optimistic about for a long while. I do believe that getting Ancelotti here is a big step forward in us being able to compete for trophies. Ancelotti has said himself that qualifying for Europe must be a starting goal, so none of this I need 3 years to turn round the club. But if we can give him the same financial backing that Koeman got I am sure we will be competing for a European spot. But it wont be easy, we are a long way behind last years Champions and City and Chelsea, also Man Utd will again be contending for a top 4 slot, so I think it would be a massive expectation to get a top 4 spot given where we finished last year.
Arteta seems to have rejuvenated Arsenal and seems to have improved them defensively, I am sure with Bale going back to Spurs they will improve on last weeks showing. I think Wolves will again be competing for a European slot.
34 Posted 18/09/2020 at 10:41:05
Of course, this being Everton, we're only ever two defeats away from a crisis but if we can't be optimistic during the first few games then when can we be?
I'd like to see us offload more of the deadwood (Iwobi, Walcott, Bolasie, Besic, Gylfi, Tosun etc.) I also think we need a quicker centre-half, competition for Pickford and a reliable goal threat. Hopefully we can achieve some of these things in the remainder of the window.
35 Posted 18/09/2020 at 10:53:31
36 Posted 18/09/2020 at 11:15:42
There are still too many players who perform inconsistently, who could drag the team down. I am hopeful that existing players will improve, but notice that the characteristic stereotype of some players is hard to change. Better to buy in and replace.
38 Posted 18/09/2020 at 12:52:13
39 Posted 18/09/2020 at 14:22:49
Us realists (the majority), understand one game is not enough to start banking anything on. However, the quality displayed by a recently assembled side was startling.
If (and it is a big if) luck is on our side with injuries then you would expect the new players to have a continued positive impact and that could translate into a much better season than we have become accustomed to of late, and the possibility of some silverware.
40 Posted 18/09/2020 at 14:28:26
41 Posted 18/09/2020 at 20:52:35
Plus there is China and the US squaring up to each other over the Taiwan issue, Greece and Turkey nose-to-nose in anger, India and China building troop numbers up in the disputed border zone, Belarus (across the border from me here in Latvia) unstable and requesting Russian forces to come in to"help" while NATO exercises have been going on right on the border with NATO reportedly claiming it reserves the right to invade non-NATO countries not complying with the scamdemic... And the UK has agreed to send one of our new carriers to the South China Sea early in 2021 to join with the US and other allies as show of strength to China. Before all that, of course, we have the Presidential election in the US in November... it feels not so much a question of what could possibly go wrong, more a question of how on earth can anything go right.
That all said, I'm happy to pretend this will be a normal season until world events say otherwise.
42 Posted 18/09/2020 at 21:08:46
43 Posted 18/09/2020 at 21:23:08
For most of the game it was déjà vu, in a match against such inferior opposition these players should be running the game and giving the manager some food for thought but there was no such effort or skill on display. I'll admit Sigurdsson put a couple of good crosses in and scored a tap in but along with the other two was constantly hiding when we needed someone to take the ball off the centre backs.
If we get an injury to one of our new midfielders we may get away with Sigurdsson dropping in as a replacement but if we have to bring the enigma that is Tom Davies into our midfield, it'll be back to the dross of last season as he has nothing to offer and would struggle to get into Salford's team, hopefully we can unload some of the dross we have in the squad and bring in some better quality cover.
44 Posted 18/09/2020 at 21:47:50
I think we can likely forget getting any large scale crowds back as a minimum, but the game itself may be at risk too, depending on how they want to play it. Sadly, there are huge amounts of people that are going to suffer very badly economically, which will put sport into perspective.
More mind game measures being put into place here in the North West from Tuesday. For now, at least we have tomorrow's match to enjoy. Globalist nightmare.
45 Posted 18/09/2020 at 22:02:55
How's the Kool Aid, Jay?
I cannot believe anybody is still toeing that line. Depressing really.
46 Posted 18/09/2020 at 22:04:45
Sorry for the hazy theology; but, in summary, Good will conquer evil and the Truth will set us free. Bad Guys 0 Everton 3.
47 Posted 18/09/2020 at 22:24:18
- to go with the Kool Aid swipe.
Equally, some cannot believe that many will unthinkingly dance to a tune played by the very same people they routinely call corrupt liars. That's depressing.
Tony, a nice thought but I think it may take more than Everton...
48 Posted 18/09/2020 at 22:41:26
So, based not on logic but just the need for some joy in life, I am officially being optimistic until proven otherwise.
49 Posted 18/09/2020 at 23:03:50
50 Posted 18/09/2020 at 23:23:44
51 Posted 19/09/2020 at 02:16:04
Exactly. The older I get, the more I realize how many unhappy experiences I've suffered twice: once in reality, once in anticipation. My own worst enemy.
52 Posted 19/09/2020 at 07:51:50
53 Posted 19/09/2020 at 08:31:11
54 Posted 19/09/2020 at 08:41:23
This has led to us all, with no little justification, believing that "nothing will ever go right for us again".
I think the appointment of Carlo Ancelotti as Everton manager is a fantastic Godsend and we can already see his hand and reputation at work in the three new midfield signings we have acquired in this transfer window.
I don't doubt that he will bring us success and will continue to build an Everton team that we can all be proud of and that will bring us the glory we have been craving since 1995.
The hardest job he is going to have is to change the mindset of us - the supporters.
55 Posted 19/09/2020 at 10:37:55
My worry is that with one Premiership match on the board, we have lost two superb young centre backs, both in what looked like the most innocuous circumstances. Holgate with a catchup tackle where someone fell on him, Branthwaite to apparently nothing at all.
We seem to have the most ineffective medical crew in existence, with virtually any injury taking 3 months+ for any recovery, and players almost never coming back without permanently impaired performance (Coleman, Gomes, McCarthy, Barkley) and usually with severe loss of confidence.
I hope Ancelotti knows how to address this side of the business as well as he clearly does in buying players to fix problems.
56 Posted 19/09/2020 at 11:00:39
I enjoyed last week because two of the new sigbings did the basics very, very well and the other showed me that Everton can make me smile again.
The best sides do the basics well most games. Supporters of other teams often ask 'What's so special about him?' because they don't appreciate the impact such players have on a team.
A solid, functional 1-0 was treated by some as a second coming beause lately we've had far too many managers trying to be clever, while neglecting to get the basics right first.
That's why I think we've chosen well and he's chosen well. No luck, just better decision-making.
So far, so realistically obvious.
57 Posted 19/09/2020 at 18:53:27
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