Mark Ogden famously asked ‘What more do Everton want?’ Before we appointed Carlo Ancelotti. After tonight’s defeat vs West Ham, we are 4th in the league table on 29 points from 16 games. Probably above anyone’s expectations of where we would be, and truthfully probably more than what most Evertonians would consider to be where we would have wound up after a gruelling Xmas schedule that included Chelsea, Arsenal, Leicester and West Ham, all teams that would traditionally be Top 10 sides (as well as the supposed City game that was postponed)
After last couple of seasons of being a side finishing between 8th – 11th a serious Top 6 challenge and to qualify for European competition would have been seen as where the team should be under a full season with Carlo at the helm. So to be 4th at present is wonderful. Especially seen as Ancelotti has had one transfer window to change some of the key personal in our squad. All 5 of the signings brought in for the first team should be considered successful over the first 16 games with Godfrey and Doucoure being the most notable (despite being less glamorous than James and Allan)
But the transformation of our results at least does hide a deeper problem in all honesty. Our squad. And we need to talk about it objectively. If we want to share the same ambition as Carlo and Farhad Moshiri then some serious surgery is required. I will discuss in this article our squad (and rank what level each department is in terms of where we are in the league) followed by a comparison to perennial Top 4 finishers; Man Utd and also to a team in our similar orbit but over achieving in Leicester.
So to our squad then:
Goalkeepers: Pickford and Olsen – Good Enough. Not World Class but stable enough. Don’t like Pickford much personally, due to his personality and propensity to error. Lossl is surplus to requirements and Virginia unknown. Would say this department is Top 10.
Defensive: 4 Good Quality Centre Backs with Keane exceptional and both Godfrey and Holgate have wonderful potential. Digne is in the top tier of full backs in Europe. Coleman has been a hero for us, and a player I’ve loved over the years. We clearly need to replace however. Given a lack of backup in both right and left back Berths this is a Top 8 for me.
Midfield: Too Many Yet not enough! We have lots and lots of players in this department yet I don’t feel we have what we need. If we are going with a 3 in midfield then who is our best 3? Allan, Doucoure and ….. and this is the issue. Would it be Sigurdson? Or Gomes? Or Davies? Or Delph? Or Gbamin? If we went to a 4 man midfield and played with two wider players who plays right and left? Iwobi and James? Or Bernard? But then who else? See what I mean….lots of players, but none who have made themselves automatic first choice! If we go with a 3, both Allan and Doucoure are dynamic, and defensively solid, so I think the 3rd midfielder ideally would be a playmaker to link defence with attack. Ideally this would be Andre Gomes but he just hasn’t been the player we had hoped he would be. Similarly in the wide areas, neither Bernard or Iwobi have been consistent (although Alex is getting better) and James is better centrally in my view. Looking around our midfield options are not as good as someone like Wolves so I would say Top 8 at present.
Forwards: DCL aside there is not enough goals in our forward line this season. Richarlison has 2, James has 3, Bernard has 2, Iwobi none……..and as for Cenk Tosun! Enough said. One of the worst buys in the last 5yrs and given that we have seen Niasse, Martina and Bolasie that is saying something! We need another striker and another wide forward. Letting Walcott and Moise Kean go was a mistake. At present our forward line is talented but is not performing as well as it could and overall it’s worse than at least 6 other sides (Liverpool, Utd, City, Chelsea, Leicester, Spurs, Villa) so would have to say Top 8 at present.
So simply put based on this analysis we are a Top 8 side based on the sum of our parts. And this is where I think we need to acknowledge the surgery that is required. The following teams have more effective squads that we do currently: Liverpool, City, Spurs, Chelsea, Leicester, Man Utd with Wolves and Southampton also contenders to have better squads that we have. So let’s look at the comparisons:
One world class GK, an Argentinian international and a very good prospect who had a fantastic season in the PL last year. Real strength in depth here.
Wan Bissaka/Fosu-Mensah/Shaw/Telles are 4 excellent full backs. That’s two for each position plus Brandon Williams could be a top player. 4 Centre Backs of which Maguire is commanding and Bailly is looking back to his best after injury. Lindelof, Rojo and Jones as back up CB are all PL ready and experienced which is excellent strength in depth.
Midfield – For me, the best in the league. Holding midfielders such as Fred, McTominay, Matic are all excellent players. Throw box to box players like Pogba and Van Der Beek into the mix and then you have Bruno Fernandes with Juan Mata, Lingard and Dan James as alternates. All 9 of these players are PL experienced with Bruno and Pogba being in the world class bracket. Lots of money spent in this department and it shows as you could pick two sets of 4 players to go into the midfield and it would be strong. The first four would be Fred, McTominay, Pogba and Bruno but when your alternate 4 is Matic, Van Der Beek, Mata and James you still have a very good set of options.
Forwards – Truly world class in every single way. Martial, Rashford, Greenwood are all superb with Edison Cavani one of the great strikers of world football in the last 10yrs and is still showing his class in the PL.
So that’s 8 quality midfielders, 4 goal scoring strikers, two PL ready players for each defensive position, and 3 PL quality GK’s with at least 4 players in the squad who you could put in the world class bracket….that is better than us in every department. Utd have been building this squad however over the last 5yrs or so with big big money spent on select players and a nurturing of the academy.
Let’s now look at Leicester City. Another team with an excellent manager who have been building for a number of years through smart acquisitions.
They too have 4 GK’s but with only Schmeichel as PL quality and the others relative unknowns. However logically GK’s rarely get injured and play most of the games in the league, and given Kaspar is a better keeper than our No.1 in Pickford you could argue they were stronger.
Lots of good young players in their defensive unit coupled with some serious PL and title winning experience. Justin, Castagne, Fofana, Pereira are all excellent players with Johnny Evans and Wes Morgan experienced players. Soyuncu looks to be a fantastic centre back with more experience in the full back department with Fuchs and Amartey providing cover for the 1st choice players.
Midfield: – I love the players that they have brought to the club in the midfield. Certainly Ndidi, Tielemans, Praet and Mendy would be in my Everton midfield. Couple that with the attacking talents of Maddison (who we should have bought!) Cengiz Under and Harvey Barnes and impact players like Demarai Gray and Hamza Choudhury they have the perfect recipe to play 2 holding players and 3 attack minded attacking midfielders in a 4–2-3-1. Certainly if you offered me Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison as my midfield 3 for Everton I would be delighted.
Forwards:- Vardy, Perez and Iheanancho. Vardy is a goal machine. Ayoze Perez is a very intelligent forward who can create and score and the young Nigerian has so much potential he could become a top top striker and was very highly thought of at Man City. If you compare to what we have, Vardy is a more proven goal scorer but overall if Richarlison and James are playing to their potential we are stronger in this department for me.
When you look at Leicester’s total squad they have: 4 GK’s, 11 defenders, 13 midfielders and 4 strikers. In contrast we have 4 GK’s, 9 Defenders (although this includes JJK, and youngsters Braintwaite and Nkounkou) 10 midfielders (including permanently injured Delph and Gbamin) and 8 Forwards….. (although this includes Ellis Simms, Unregistered Bolasie, Cenk Tosun! And Anthony Gordon)
In my humble opinion we have a weaker squad than Leicester, but a couple of smart additions in defence and up front could sway that to our side. We do however need to lose players from our squad.
By the end of the 2020/21 season the following players should no longer be at Everton as 1st team squad players:
Lossl / JJK / Coleman / Delph / Sigurdson / Besic / Tosun / Bolasie / Bernard – So that’s 9 of the 31 man squad that we should lose. We don’t need to replace them with 9 players. We need to replace these 9 with just 5 players to more our squad from Top 8 towards Top 4. Based on my own view of the world these are as follows:
- A Dynamic Right Full Back – A Seamus in his prime.
- A Mobile Forward who can play off the shoulder off the last defender. A Vardy/Cavani type of striker. Experienced and can stretch teams.
- A Quality Left Sided Winger – Someone who can beat a man, cross, create goals and give us another option like Iwobi on the right. Ocampos of Sevilla is the type of player I like.
- A Creative Midfield Playmaker. Both Allan and Doucoure can keep opposition teams at bay but we want someone to take the ball of Mina/Godfrey and link with James/Richarlison or create directly for DCL. The sort of player I had hoped Andre Gomes would be, but this hasn’t happened.
- A box to box midfielder. Have to accept that Allan and Doucoure are gonna get injuries and Siguardson/Gomes/Delph/Davies just can’t do the box to box thing. A player much like KDB (clearly not him exactly, but this style) of player.
If I was pushed and asked who my 5 would be (being realistic rather than fanciful) would be;
So let’s dream for a moment that over the next two windows we attract all 5 of these players and let the 9 go that I mentioned earlier. Our 25 man squad would look like this:
We could based on this, play 2 sets of XI’s that would be competitive as hell in the PL such as how Man Utd can….suggestions based on this surgery as to how we could set up
Arrons Keane Godfrey Digne
Iwobi Eriksen Doucoure Insigne
Holgate Mina Keane Digne
Allan Moutinho Gomes
King DCL James Rodriguez
So, yes, to get into that Champions League and ultimately title contention, surgery is required. We need another couple of windows like the one we had in the summer and ship out plenty of the deadwood that is a hangover from a more naive and carefree time! Surgery can be painful and it can be intrusive but very often it is essential. I believe that for Everton to get to the top, it is more imperative than ever.
Reader Comments (21)
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1 Posted 02/01/2021 at 19:15:38
Who is Mark Ogden?
I remember Rio Ferdinand asking what Everton fans want after we got Sam Allardyce in.
Mostly agree with the first half of your post but not with your praisr of Man Utd. Martial is not consistant enough for a start.
You are right though we need some pace and guile to create and score. Other than that we are on the right track. I just hope we bring in a couple players january because there is a possiblilty of Europe if we can get a more goals into the team.
2 Posted 02/01/2021 at 20:48:45
I read somewhere yesterday that no team in the Premiership has won more than 4 straight games this season and that there have been considerably more away wins than usual, no doubt due largely to the lack of crowds. Nobody is consistent enough to run away with the title this year so maybe we'll get away with being as light as we are for another year but yes, far better recruitment than we've seen over the last few years is certainly required. You have to agree that we're heading in the right direction, just not fast enough for us die hard fans who've seen it all before.
3 Posted 03/01/2021 at 08:27:57
Where we have the core of a better team than in recent seasons under other managers, for me there are players who don't give us the back-up to the core players. Maybe four of our bench are Championship players at best. Replace them and we may have a realistic chance of reaching Ancelotti's goal of a place in Europe.
The Owner and the Manager should know what is needed to tweak the squad but, more importantly, our team selection and tactics, that I believe have cost us points recently.
4 Posted 03/01/2021 at 10:59:29
But the killer blow was West Hams ability going forward with a far superior shots on target stat which was always likely to pay dividends in the end. They where just competent in the final third with unmarked runners on the wings receiving passes from their teammates who just released the ball having sucked in defenders. Most of West Hams shots on target where from players running into the box and shooting. Other players where there for rebounds which they eventually got. .
Evertons performance was dictated by West Ham. Ancelotti set up the team that had got Everton to number two, but West Ham tactically and technically outplayed them. Ancelotti needed a different formation and tactics from the outset and was hampered by a blunt attack with very few if at all shots on target. It wasn't a day for Mina and Colman in defence. Richarlison should have been a sub, he wasn't match fit. I did think that Tosun would have been better, since this was the first time he played with a player like James, but Everton where well and truly curtailed at that stage.
As for what we need as this article suggests. I can't see any transfers in Jan other than those leaving. Tonsun will probably stay to the Summer. It has occurred to me that the resurrected Soggy is looking a new contract.
What we need more is actually players who stick to the task as they have been coached by Ancelotti. This was the biggest failing against West Ham as it has been in previous poor Everton performances. This has been a on going problem at Everton, which Ancelotti has been the first Manager to try to address.
5 Posted 03/01/2021 at 12:07:23
Up front Everton have 2 good strikers who if they played together as team mates instead of distant allies could cause havoc upfront. Instead, Richarlison is left on his own on the left sometimes sitting on his backside waiting for the attention of the referee, while Calvert-Lewin gets plenty of attention but usually from the opposing defenders, who crowd him out as the only attacking threat.
6 Posted 03/01/2021 at 12:23:57
Steavey, I have to agree with you about Coleman. A brilliant servant but now well past his best. Holgate has been brilliant as cover but we now need a long term replacement (Aarons for me) to replace the back passing, finger pointing, Capt. Seamus. Great player, great captain, great man!
7 Posted 03/01/2021 at 12:42:50
The back 4 of Holgate, Mina, Keane and Godfrey is the best part of EFC, but Ancelotti doesn't recognise it, yet.
Left and right of midfield should be Iwobi and Digne because they provide proper width - Digne has the magic left foot with his crossing - but Iwobi provides plenty of direct pace and power down the right.
The middle is where it gets confusing because neither Doucoure or Allan have done enough to control that part of the field.
Upfront is intriguing of 2 good players of Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison but spend most of their time on pitch away from each other - are they wearing the wrong after shave lotion by any chance?
8 Posted 03/01/2021 at 13:59:57
I agree with regarding creative players, but Calvin-Lewin continually running between two defenders, Richarlison being easily channelled with the defender waiting for him to come inside, Bernard pushed deep never getting beyond his marker. . . they were coached how to deal with this. They simply did not adapt and adjust as coached.
Neither Godfrey nor Coleman got Moyes, who knows Colman inside out, that was Colman's main problem. As for Mina, he is hopeless when stretched, with runners coming off him. Moyes's coaching did both Coleman and Mina in. To say Coleman is finished given his previous performance and the attention that Moyes give him is incorrect.
With Coleman and Mina selected and a returning Richarlison, Moyes was well prepared. Ancelotti played right into Moyes's strengths. He will not underestimate Moyes again. All of Moyes's players delivered.
9 Posted 03/01/2021 at 14:58:42
10 Posted 03/01/2021 at 15:49:28
There is no "but" coming here. Seamus is slowly getting back to fitness and when he does, he will continue to be, to me, the first name on the team sheet. Too many of our players aren't hurt by defeat; Seamus Coleman is.
11 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:11:55
12 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:17:39
13 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:19:04
I'd rather have Coleman's and Godfrey's all day.
14 Posted 03/01/2021 at 16:33:48
Carlo Ancelotti once the greatest manager in the world but now a shadow of Carlo the 2010 version. If bringing on Tosun for Calvert-Lewin with 10 minutes remaining when we are trailing at home to an awful West Ham side is the mark of a genius, then I am Elon Musk. Please don't say we are in 4th spot as there's not a chance we will finish there.
Davies, Sigurdsson, Gomes, DoucourÃ©, Tosun, James, all played on Friday night â€“ not an ounce of pace between the lot of them. Now we are being linked with a 50-year-old German midfield plodder Khadiria. Why? Surely we must start signing players that can actually run for once?
15 Posted 03/01/2021 at 17:42:18
Have another read at that and take a fucking red neck.
16 Posted 03/01/2021 at 18:51:14
Against Sheffield Utd, Coleman coming on made all the difference. The sign of a good player. If we only had more like him. Against West Ham, he was that good that West Ham specifically targeted him.
17 Posted 03/01/2021 at 19:00:07
18 Posted 03/01/2021 at 19:13:54
Thats a cunt's statement.
Apologies for the language.
19 Posted 04/01/2021 at 13:28:57
Man Utd have a great attack and not much else. There's some quality on paper, personified by Pogba, that does not translate onto the pitch on a consistent basis. Leicester have some serious holes in their squad. Chelsea are as inconsistent as us, and I would not necessarily swap our squad (as a whole) for theirs. Wolves look done, and sorry, Dylan, but Moutinho is definitely past it now (34 years old) and a big reason Wolves are not the same side as last season.
Max Aarons is an intriguing signing and one I would like us to make. He's got a long way to go though. Why do we have to get rid of Coleman? Why can't Coleman be eased out the way that Baines was? He can still do a job, but he is not one of our best players and really needs to drop out of our best XI.
Khedira was never a plodder, that's a lazy comment. The question on Khedira is simply can he get back to anywhere near his best, and at 33 years old, can he play every week and not break down again? None of us can answer that, that's where we rely on the medics, and trust Carlo Ancelotti's judgement.
This season is mad. Chelsea were going to win the league a few weeks ago, now they are going to sack Lampard. Arsenal were going down, now they are going to make the top 4. Everyone is wildly inconsistent. Everyone is beatable at home, and the top sides seem to be better away. It's crazy. Let's just enjoy the ride, anything can happen.
20 Posted 04/01/2021 at 13:33:34
Man City are playing a totally different way, and the smart money is on them having a lot more in the tank in the second half of the season compared to anyone else. They are certainly running a lot less and have switched to complete possession-based system as Guardiola looks to adapt to Covid and the condensed season.
21 Posted 04/01/2021 at 20:40:24
As for Man Utd, they are calling in Keane, Scholes and Giggs for management advice, which is great as they will slide down the table.
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