As we hit the second international break, it is time to strip away the blue veneer at Everton and see what lies beneath. The gloss of the first few games of the season well and truly faded once Carlo Ancelotti got Manager of the Month. In reality, the start to the season in the first four games was built on rather shaky foundations.
Some Blues were shouting from the rooftops after we won the first four league games of the season, even winning away at one of the so-called top six clubs. The panacea of Rodriguez, Allan and Doucouré had for some cured all ills. In truth, the opening day win was against a very out of sorts and under cooked Tottenham, which Mourinho made clear following their defeat.
If we played that game now, it would be been a much harder game and more than likely a different outcome. The Tottenham result was a moment in time, just like under Bobby when we won at Old Trafford because Manchester United had Moyes in charge. The test of winning at a so-called big six club is really, still to come this season.
More worrying though is that the Tottenham win is the only league game in which we have kept a clean sheet in our first eight league games. The following seven games have seen us leak a totally unacceptable 14 goals, two a game. Wins at home to West Brom and Brighton must be looked at in context: we let both score two goals. Better teams who are allowed to score two goals would not be as accommodating as the Baggies and the Seagulls, as has quickly become apparent.
The stark truth is we winged it in gaining 13 points from the first 15. The defensive shambles was always going to catch up with us and Southampton, Newcastle, for god's sake, and Manchester United certainly showed that: seven goals conceded for zero points. If we take the derby were we got away with it, then it becomes nine goals conceded in four games with a return of one point. The defence Holgate and probably Digne (much better going forward than actually defending) aside, is just average.
Right-back really should have been addressed in the Summer. Coleman at 32 has good games but can be really average on others. Not his fault: age stands still for no one. He was culpable for Liverpool's first goal in the derby and is more and more becoming vulnerable to niggling injuries. His back up Jonjoe Kenny is just not up to it. I do wonder if any blues who sang his praises while out on loan in the Bundesliga actually watched him play for Schalke? Brilliant... he was not. When you add the lack of defensive cover, which Rodriguez out on the right offers, the problem becomes even more acute.
The goalkeeping situation is another position which really needs addressing. Pickford is a sometimes good to average keeper who makes to many mistakes and has regressed over the last 18 months. Robin Olsen is no answer, even if he is only a loan. Anyone who watched him perform for Roma before he was shipped out on loan to Cagliari will know what I mean. Memo to Marcel: Just go and get Mike Maignan and, while your at it, Zeki Çelik as well.
On top of this, we have two average and sometimes good centre-backs in Mina and Kean. Judgment on Godfrey needs to be held until we have seen him perform at centre-back while Branthwaite has a future; same with Nkounkou as Digne's understudy. Overall defensively 14 goals conceded in 8 games is frankly scandalous. If it was Marco Silva in charge instead of Ancelotti, he would have been hung drawn and quartered for such a record. What are Ancelotti and his backroom team doing defensively at Finch Farm? Although having an awful game, as he was as rusty as an old nail on his return from injury against Man Utd, Holgate will improve things, but it takes some actual work on the training field to improve this as well.
Midfield has improved with the recruitment of Allan and Doucouré who have added energy to the sluggish mess of last season and hopefully a bit more cover for the defence, although it has to be said, this has not been the case so far this season. Gbamin will help here (if he ever comes back) the player we thought we were getting before his injury problems. What we lack in midfield is a player who can push us forward, attack, run with the ball and find a killer pass when needed. Sigurdsson and Gomes I would think by now all Blues would agree are not that player. Who can add this magic ingredient? Calls for Bernard to play such a role have been made but he is too lightweight and a one-in-five (at best) player. Iwobi possibly can fill this role and he would also add a bit more defensively.
The answer would seem to be James Rodriguez, which would mean moving him from the wide right position Carlo has been playing him in. This to me is an obvious solution. James has the vision to make the killer pass and is a goal threat, although lack of pace would be a slight problem. If James was moved into the middle, this would give our midfield the creativity and imagination it is missing. It would also allow us to play Iwobi or Gordon out wide right, which would add some defensive cover to Coleman, as Rodriguez on this score is practically non-existent.
As for the other midfielders, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Davies and Delph are not up to standard. This is not Carlo's fault: he inherited them... but one would think such a stellar manager could at least get a better tune out of them than he has.
Up front, Calvert-Lewin has come on leaps and bounds this season, but beneath him we don't have a lot. Cenk has never been good enough while the calls for Ellis Simms are premature in my opinion, I don't think he has the necessary quality to make it at the highest level, from what I have seen of him. Unfortunately, the player we need up front if Calvert Lewin has a drop in form or is injured is scoring goals out in Paris.
Which brings us to by far our best player and talisman. Yes we can move Richarlison centre sometimes but he is best out wide left. The drop in form following is 3-game suspension has been startling. When you have a statistic of us never having won a game when he has not been in the team (except for the 2018 Boxing Day win at Burnley, were he did come on as a sub and scored) says it all. The club really need to be planning now for the Summer when he will inevitably move to a Champions League team.
In reality, when you scratch away the veneer of blue gloss, there is not much below. We are still a team even in this topsy turvy season, which will finish probably around 8th to 10th. Top six, I can think of three London Clubs, two Manchester clubs, an East Midlands club, a Black Country club, a South Coast club, plus a bit of shite who all have better claims on that than us. Top four? Anybody who thinks this does not inhabit any planet I live on.
Which finally brings us to the Manager. Cards on the table I wrote a piece as soon as Ancelotti was appointed saying why I thought he was not the manager to take us forward, and have written a couple of more pieces on the same subject since that time. But the last 3 games have shown a lack of team set up and tactics from Carlo, which has been frightening. Added to this, his comments on James Rodriguez over the last couple of weeks have been frankly ridiculous, it seems he is so besotted with James he would play him on one leg if he told him he was fit.
The game at Southampton was a case in point in which he played Rodrigues although clearly unfit as well as a half fit Allan. This led to no cover for the out-of-position Godfrey who was hung out to dry. The Newcastle game was a complete and utter shambles with the lack of width clear even to my son's cat. Against a team that under Steve Bruce packs its defence and hopes to score on the break we came out with team full of snail-paced midfielders leaving Calvert-Lewin isolated, with supposedly Gomes and Sigurdsson pushing up to support him. The width was to come from Nkonkou and Kenny... shambolic.
Against Manchester United, a team which got back from a Champions League defeat in Turkey, in the early hours of Thursday morning, then travelled to Goodison for a 12:30 kick-off we sat back seemingly afraid of their pace, when one would think they would be a tad tired. The space we offered up in midfield was staggering. Just maybe when you take away the gloss of Ancelotti's experience and titles, there is nowadays nothing there but a Manager who is behind the times of modern football.
We are now closing in on a year of Ancelotti, and we are, in my opinion, a slightly better team, than when he first took over. He has three players he wanted, but yes he will need a couple more transfer windows before any full judgment can be made on him, but it will only end, in my opinion, one way. Just as, beneath the veneer of the first eleven, nothing much exists, as with Ancelotti: once you strip away the veneer of his past successes, nothing much exists anymore.
Reader Comments (37)
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1 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:04:53
A win against 10 man West Brom
A win with dodgy penalty against Palace
A draw thanks to VAR
Concession of 4 goals against lower tier teams.
On the current crop of players, I agree that we need a midfield engine who works box to box, has vision to open up play with accurate passing and will not accept his teammates underperforming. Thought that Dacoure would fit that role but jury is out.
Certainly not convinced that Iwobi is the answer.
Finally not just Carlo but on Everton as a club, why do the likes of Kane or Walcott shine when on loan at other clubs while with us seem to be disinterested.
Could it be that we are too nice and friendly, We need a Ferguson type of manager who accepts nothing but the best. NSNO
2 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:24:33
Surely we need a couple more windows to get the squad to reasemble what he wants.
The cracking start was unexpected but we did win all of those games and of course we had a bit of luck here and there, just like if Siggy's shot that hit the bar at St Mary's had gone in, we might have got a result. Small margins, but we finished 12th last season, so if we can finish eigth then surely that has to be classed as progress.
However "Just as, beneath the veneer of the first eleven, nothing much exists, as with Ancelotti: once you strip away the veneer of his past successes, nothing much exists anymore."
Wiping away a career of success and there is nothing there! Well we could say that about everybody.
3 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:36:02
4 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:39:49
I would leave him there unless something happens to DCL. Our biggest problem is our total reliability on Richie to bring out the best in the team. We need more players of his mentality and ability.
5 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:51:42
6 Posted 11/11/2020 at 08:57:12
No, I dont think KEan will come back - I dont think we treated him right.
Im sure well get someone in in January but on the whole the premise of the article is right - we have a very good team (and manager) but no depth. We may have drawn the Derby battle but we lost the momentum due to the fall out and our dependence on Richy and a fit James, Doucoure and Alan is frightening. 2 more windows for Carlo before I judge.
IF we had 13 points at this stage after a slow start wed be ok with it - the great start just upped the expectation.
We will be better when Richys back tho.
7 Posted 11/11/2020 at 09:24:38
8 Posted 11/11/2020 at 10:35:44
9 Posted 11/11/2020 at 10:56:53
10 Posted 11/11/2020 at 11:27:47
11 Posted 11/11/2020 at 11:42:49
Right back is a definite issue. Coleman has stepped it up this season at times but cannot be relied upon consistently. Kenny, as suspected, lacks the dynamism needed to replicate Digne's influence.
The defense has been probably the biggest issue. Some of the gaps between Keane and Holgate against United were alarming. I wonder if we will see a back three of Holgate and Godfrey flanking Keane. That would seem to make sense and would allow us to play a higher line potentially whilst having Keane to win the headers.
Overall the spotlight falls on Carlo. I wanted Arteta over him when we and Arsenal were both searching, though the Spaniard is having a rocky time of it. Carlo has been backed by the club and has bought in two of his old faves. We have a lot of expensive and well paid players here and really Carlo should be able to cope with the loss of Richarlison better than he has. I let myself get excited after the first few games because we were creating so much but the organisation and defending is a real issue and clubs have cottoned on to Rodriguez and his cross field balls quickly.
Carlo is one of the best paid managers in the league now. Hope he proves worth it. If not there are quite a few intriguing managers out there currently with the likes of Hassenhuttl, De Zerbi, Marco Rose, Gallardo, Potter, Nagelsmann, Hutter, Stephan, Galtier etc
12 Posted 11/11/2020 at 12:11:48
For the moment I think we have to stem the goals against. We are shipping too many. Hindsight makes it easy but Holgate returned a bit too soon and was rusty. He may be fully up to speed on his return.
I am on board with the calls for James Rodriguez to be moved to a central role in a 4-2-3-1.
Coleman Keane Holgate Digne
Iwobi* Hames Richarlison
*who fills he right midfield/attacking slot is open for debate . Iwobi has given some promising signs and has started to get some great crosses in, DCL was very close to scoring from one and Doucoure should have buried his great chance and equalised from another. Can he produce the good stuff as a starter? , Im not so sure but I think he has shown enough lately to be given a chance before most of the others.
13 Posted 11/11/2020 at 14:15:02
As for Moise Kean, I think his ego fits right in with the likes of Juventus and PSG. If we stay in the top 5-7, trying to push further up and can show we're better than many other teams in PL, and he could forget the Big Dunc incident, get his motivation and confidence back, of which Kean is doing right now, he would cover ground and score goals for us. So maybe we'll just have to wait for him on that aspect, unless PSG decides to buy him for the amount of money we're asking for, that they're not willing to spend at the moment.
14 Posted 11/11/2020 at 14:25:01
On Olson, what I say against Newcastle was a GK who looked assured and did his job well, commanded the 6 yard box. Jordan hasnt done 90 minutes like that for years so Olson should get the nod until he makes an unacceptable mistake.
I also think Mina is being more maligned than warranted. Yes he has his failings but I could not see Fernandez scoring that header with Mina at CH
What is most worrying, and I do feel that this is the core of the problem, is Walcotts comments. You can buy in all the players you like but unless there is a strong team work ethic and no acceptance of any less than absolute commitment then we are programmed for failure. I have always felt there is no real leader amongst the squad the modern day equivalent of Peter Reid or a Roy Keane.
Once again Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.
15 Posted 11/11/2020 at 14:53:27
16 Posted 11/11/2020 at 15:03:34
First eleven get a win first day out, breeds confidence which coincided with a nice fun of fixtures.
Then Richarlison gets a three game ban (for which I've noticed he gets very little stick for) along with Coleman, Digne and James and all of a sudden we're the Father Ted Over 70s teams with Delph to the fore. There goes the confidence and the results.
We've got nearly everyone back. Hopefully Seamus gets a game on Thursday and Holgate gets a bit of training under his belt and we'll be ok.
But we need James for 90% of games and by next summer we need to replace Sigurdsson/Gomes in that playmaking role.
17 Posted 11/11/2020 at 16:19:51
We lack goalscorers in MF and the contribution from Digne and Coleman has deteriorated to zero. Baines, Coleman and Digne were always good for a few goals a season. One of MIna's strengths was supposed to be scoring from corners. Doucoure was bought (allegedly) as a box to box player who can score goals but if he has chances like he did against Utd and cant convert them What chance has he got of contributing a few.
If we can go a few goals up in a game it deflates the opposition and the wont be as adventurous going forward.
Also we need to stop being so nice and friendly. We allow the opposition to be too comfortable in possession.
II believe with Richy back we can make top 6 and with some useful additions to the squad in January maybe crack top 4 but we have got to stand up for ourselves. One example is Kirkland coming out yesterday about the Pickford VVD incident. They wont let it drop. We should be going on about the Maguire incident and highlighting some of VVD and the RS indiscretions but we don't because we are too nice a club and too nice as supporters.
18 Posted 11/11/2020 at 16:37:24
19 Posted 11/11/2020 at 16:39:53
Holgate Keane Mina/Godfrey
Coleman and Digne as wing backs.
Allan, Doucoure and James in the middle.
DCL and Richy up front.
Seamus is clearly getting on but he's still put in some good performances this season and is far better than anyone else we currently have to fill that position.
And with James Central we suddenly have that bit of creativity in the middle.
20 Posted 11/11/2020 at 16:53:01
Before a ball was kicked this season where did people think that we would finish in the league? Top 8 pushing top 6 for me.
Ancelotti has years of successful experience at top clubs, there is no veneer to him. He won most things as a player and as a manager, he is the real deal. He isn't a miracle worker he is a top class football manager.
Every player in world football has a weakness. It's easy to point out the failings of our players but in my time of watching the blues I don't recall us having so many top class players, I have obviously seen better teams but individually we have a squad full of international players.
The premier league is arguably the toughest league in world football.
City took years of buying expensive failures before winning the league. Klopp took the best part of 5 years to win it breaking world transfer records in the process.
Most teams in the prem have the equivalent of a Sigurdsson, Tosun, Iwobi or Bernard. We aren't unique in paying over the odds for players that don't cut it.
With a fully fit starting 11 we are good to watch, ok we ship goals but we offer a threat at the other end. Outside of the starting 11 we then have to start carrying players who for whatever reason don't contribute.
The nature of the loses to Southampton and Newcastle where not expected but that just highlights the need for Ancelotti to bring in his own men for the job.
21 Posted 11/11/2020 at 19:53:02
What Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle and Man Utd have done is concentrated on the tactics they have used successfully against Everton over this past 5 years. In the main, the Everton players are reduced to the lowest common denominator of collective performance-level weaknesses. We all know these low performance factors for most of the squad:
Pickford – mistake a game
Mina – loss of concentration and poor at defending on the turn.
Keane – poor at defending on the turn; fragile.
Coleman – can be out run and passed. The joys of ageing.
Digne – can be pinned back
Gomes – pressurised out of possession, poor late tackles.
Doucouré – not available for a pass
Delph – aimless
Iowbi – not good on back foot, losses control.
Sigurdsson – block on attacking progress, will go missing, tackles when he feels like it, more often not.
Davies – loses possession.
Bernard – lightweight, poor final-third passer.
Richarlison – can be pushed deep and easily channelled running from deep; poor pass-completion rate.
Calvert-Lewin – poor attacking near-post rate, does not turn defenders.
Tosun – cannot beat his marker and hasn't got a shot in his locker.
Kenny – limited.
So an opposition team who can pressurise these players for 30% of a game can expose these easily recognisable weaknesses (a stuck record of CD at this stage), contributing to a recognisable overall poor team performance that we all know and love. Same old faces, same mistakes.
New additional players are contaminated by the technical performances from the above team members. Allan, Doucouré and Rodriguez will come under increased opposition scrutiny.
Kean and Walcott will be exposed for the one-dimensional players they are, as opposition teams get tactically up to speed on how to counter them. Just like Lookman and Vlasic.
Ancelotti has tried to counter this tactical exposure of weaknesses by individual coaching and varying tactics during a game, but is limited by the players available and coaching uptake. There is not the individual motivation in the squad to overcome these weaknesses by aggression or effort. This has always been a problem at Everton.
Ancelotti needs to bring in more replacements and be ruthless with player selection, where weaknesses are consistently exposed.
22 Posted 11/11/2020 at 20:05:49
23 Posted 11/11/2020 at 21:19:02
I don't think we should be misled by the manager's show of support for certain individuals he inherited. I am guessing he knows who the weakest links are but in the meantime given the lack of viable options he is trying to get the best he can out of them. If I am wrong in that regard we are in trouble.
As regards team spirit Everton teams of the past have usually found it when a core of ambitious, high quality young players in their early twenties has come together. In the mid to late sixties the likes of Harvey, Wright, Hurst, Husband, Royle, Kendall and Ball, all under the age of 23, formed a common bond on and off the field to provide flair, energy, entertainment and results. That team had a smattering of experience in the form of West, Labone and Morrissey. Likewise in the mid-eighties we had Ratcliffe, Mountfield, Sharp, Bracewell Steven and Stevens, augmented by old hands in Reid and Gray.
The current first-choice team is weighted heavily towards old hands including two 29-year-old players signed in September. This situation has been driven more by the need to deliver an immediate improvement in league form than by any sense of building for the future. In the longer term, the likes of Branthwaite, Godfrey, Nkounkou, Holgate, Davies, Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison may form part of a younger team but plainly they need time to develop. That development must include a unity of purpose, a hunger to succeed and a sense of togetherness on and off the field.
24 Posted 11/11/2020 at 22:22:35
Phil Neville was a shadow of what we need, Tim Cahill was very fine but never commanded the whole.
We are hollow and fragile and we still have no sustaining soul, so that when things go against us we evaporate.
Find that person/persons who will pick us up by our bootstraps or we will continue to flop every time it matters.
25 Posted 11/11/2020 at 22:38:25
In the week or two before the windows, and definitely in the last months of a contract, you can guarantee a marked improvement in the relevant players' performance.
Football is sick, self-serving and full of individuals with no desire or experience of serving in "a team" in the way I expect a team to behave.
26 Posted 11/11/2020 at 00:07:51
What you say is right regarding selection, but it has to be different if Everton are to challenge. Ancelotti will just join previous managers if things stay the same. That is the reality of the situation.
You can talk about the need for players that are not available, a different formation, or the introduction of promising players, but it has made little change to the present squad up to now.
Some really hard decisions have to be made regarding selection and replacement to break the Everton merry-go-round of up to now.
27 Posted 12/11/2020 at 00:49:39
This is me now not just an answer to you both... To be winners, you need winners and you need more than one.
One person will only drag so many with him, there will almost always be an 'anti-winner' not quite a loser, just not a winner, a trier, usually a management brown nose too... we've all been in places of work and know the type, a bit of minor seniority, but no real power, except the bosses ear.
The last time we had winners – Southall, Ratcliffe, Reid, Gray – we were winners. We got lucky, we maybe bought the one winner Bolton had in Reid, same with Gray.
So where did Southall and Ratcliffe come from? There weren't many winners when they were young players to learn from? It has to come from within; the only true discipline is self-discipline.
If you can't get lucky and buy one, we just have to hope somebody – more than one somebody – has it in them to grow into the leader's job.
Ancelotti is too laid back to be the obsessive inspirational borderline nut jobs Beilsa and Klopp are. But I think he does know how to channel them 'IF' he had them.
If? It's a big 'if', as always, with the County Road Casuals.
28 Posted 12/11/2020 at 09:37:18
In the'Moshiri Merry-go-round' years, the tough edge, strong defence that Moyes fashioned has been allowed to fade away and any joy that we were allowed to sample has been limited by poor defending and a general malaise of non-commitment on the part of ridiculously expensive 'star 'signings. Questionable team selection and tactics ( including that by Ancelotti !) has not helped !
In short, our 'moneybags' saviour has been unlucky with his string of managers in the same way that Randy Lerner was at Villa. As we return to 'the same old, same old,' it makes you wonder what Moyes would have achieved with money. Seventhish, probably !
29 Posted 12/11/2020 at 11:49:42
30 Posted 12/11/2020 at 12:43:21
Just about the most stupid and brainless thing I've ever seen posted on an Everton fansite. No further comment required.
31 Posted 12/11/2020 at 13:58:46
3 or 4 like James to weave magic and bemuse the foe backed up by 6 or 7 with the passion and endeavour of the lion-hearted Stracqualursi and we are in business.
That's your recipe, Carlo, get cooking.
32 Posted 12/11/2020 at 18:13:51
Look, we've all (at least I hope) been on the pitch and seen someone try something out of their skillset and not track back. Could have made the pass but instead tried for glory and caused us all a good run back to the box. Everton's second eleven suffer from that kind of distrust and Ancelotti isn't able to fix that with those eleven players.
We suffer an injury and a 'blood rush to the head' red card and we're working with those eleven again, roughly. I can feel the frustration myself but damn, Lerner at Villa? And those bemoaning Kean in France, listen to what André Villas-Boas says about that league and thus the respect for Kean's 5 in 7 games:
"In order to be shit in the Champions League, you have to at least qualify for the Champions League,” said Marseille coach André Villas-Boas. “We did it and we are being shit.”
34 Posted 12/11/2020 at 21:48:19
I have been surprised with Ancelotti's laid-back approach that you describe. It is obvious that some players are not playing as he would like and that individual coaching has been out the window, with some players falling back to their old ways.
Ancelotti is now too dependent on Allan, Doucoré and James, which is asking for trouble once the opposition workout how to play them. He needs to set a standard of play for the rest of the squad, and insist any less than that is unacceptable, to counter the attention his three Summer transfers will now be gettings.
I don't think that the introduction of Richarlison will sort all the problems.
35 Posted 12/11/2020 at 21:57:17
I'm surprised that you're surprised that Carlo is a laid-back type of person and manager. I can't find the exact quote from him which he gave recently to an Italian outlet but it went along the lines of "If I'm expected to shout and bawl at or bully players, then I'm in the wrong location." I'll try and find the exact quote and context asap.
37 Posted 12/11/2020 at 23:44:37
I am sure you are right.
But I do think he can't allow standards to slip amongst squad players, since more attention and time can be given to his three Summer signings, to make them less effective.
38 Posted 13/11/2020 at 00:16:44
We hardly ever qualify for it and, when we do, if we get past the Round Robin we get bounced back out at stage 1 of the knockout phase.
Shit is all relative.
40 Posted 14/11/2020 at 12:44:36
The only obvious criticism I have is not giving Gordon a go in place of Sigurdsson because he is nothing more than a useless extravagance. I doubt my own judgement though, as I thought Bolasie would be good and I would have been happy to loan out Calvert-Lewin to anyone in the Championship.
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