Round pegs, square holes and a general lack of desire

Carlo Ancelotti's selection decisions continue to mystify but are his players also taking too much of a cue from the manager's laid-back air?

Lyndon Lloyd 05/12/2020 198comments  |  Jump to last
Burnley 1 - 1 Everton

With his serene and unflustered aura, Carlo Ancelotti seldom looks like a man in a hurry to get anywhere. Whether it’s purely a function of his personality or elements as well of a patient long game where Everton are concerned, the Italian doesn’t exhibit much urgency — although he did move swiftly enough to address some glaring deficiencies in his midfield during the summer transfer window.

That sanguine air is at odds, however, with a collective Evertonian impatience for the kind of significant forward progress that the team’s start to 2020-21 suggested might be possible, particularly in what has shaped up thus far to be a hugely unpredictable season offering a golden opportunity for one of the sides not usually in the mix for fourth place to claim a Champions League spot.

At the very least, after seeing their side win their first seven matches in all competitions and wanting to see a positive response to the disappointing home defeat to Leeds, Blues fans might have expected Everton to beat Burnley who came into this weekend sitting in 19th place with just one win all season.

Unfortunately, that urgency was absent from Ancelotti’s men this afternoon; in fact, there were times where few of them looked in the least bit arsed, which made for an increasingly frustrating second half until they almost grabbed all three points despite themselves at the death when Gylfi Sigurdsson was foiled by Nick Pope.

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Whether it was because they expected to eventually do enough to win, they just weren’t quite at it on a chilly northwest afternoon or simply lacked the requisite desire, the result was another two points dropped amid more bizarre selection decisions by the manager.

During his pre-match press conference yesterday, Ancelotti was pressed on the situation with Niels Nkounkou, the only fit natural left-back with first-team experience on the club’s books, and he hinted that the young Frenchman would be involved this weekend. It was an unwanted surprise, then, when his name was once again entirely absent from the matchday squad. There was a strong case to be made, especially against a side as relatively limited going forward as Burnley, that Nkounkou, with his pace and unpredictability, should have been in the starting XI; for him to be left out completely was mystifying. Given the treatment of Anthony Gordon, Ancelotti appears to have a concerning blind spot where youth is concerned.

Ben Godfrey, on the other hand, seems to have enough Premier League experience to get the nod week in, week out despite his own comparatively tender years but he, at least, vindicated his manager’s decision to play him and not Mason Holgate, who went from captain against Leeds to the bench at Turf Moor to accommodate the greater height of Yerry Mina.

Fabian Delph’s inclusion as left wing-back appeared more dubious, more evidence of Ancelotti’s frustrating deference to age and experience over players trained to play in those positions and that round-pegs-in-square-holes approach (they go in there but it doesn’t mean they’re a good fit) robbed Everton of any width at all down the left flank.

No surprise then that when Delph was forced off with yet another soft tissue injury, this time a pulled hamstring that looks like it will sideline him for a while, and the Blues were forced to change to something more resembling a back four, they immediately looked better.

Unfortunately, they were already a goal down by that stage, Jordan Pickford’s clean sheet lasting less than three minutes following an error by Allan in his own half. The Brazilian tried to play a quick pass inside to Abdoulaye Doucouré that was intercepted by Lee Westwood and when he found Robbie Brady, the Irishman took advantage of that now familiar space in front of Everton’s defence to rattle home the opening goal from 20-odd yards.

Pickford’s poor throw nine minutes later was picked off by James Lowton but Godfrey did really well to snuff out the danger from Chris Wood in front of his goal before Alex Iwobi, looking much better again restored to right wing-back combined well with Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The striker’s lay-off was returned by the Nigerian with a dangerous low cross that Calvert-Lewin met with on the stretch but Pope’s positioning allowed him to block the effort from point-blank range.

As has become customary now, James Rodriguez would flit in and out of the contest but he found Richarlison with one of his cross-field balls in the 18th minute and the Brazilian tested Pope with a strong shot from the angle that the keeper repelled. Then, Doucouré collected the ball in the centre-circle and strode forward powerfully before picking Calvert-Lewin out with a pass but Pope was again out quickly to close him down.

Everton almost fell 2-0 behind shortly before they restored parity in first-half stoppage time. Wood brought the ball down despite the attentions of Michael Keane and laid it off to Dwight McNeil who spotted the forward’s run between two shirts and picked him out with a pass but Pickford raced off his line and denied him with his foot.

The visitors did score, though, after Allan had robbed Westwood of the ball in midfield and played in Richarlison who drove the ball across goal and Calvert-Lewin’s met it on the slide to steer it over the goal line.

With Everton looking more composed going forward following André Gomes’s introduction for Delph and Burnley’s early fire seemingly extinguished, the decks looked nicely set for Everton to seize control of the game in the second half and go on to win. And the early signs were that they would do just that as Richarlison saw an early shot blocked and James tried to curl a trademark left-footer into the top corner but his effort was palmed behind by Pope at full stretch.

But their superiority didn’t translate into clear-cut chances. For most of the second 45 minutes, Everton lacked the drive and determination needed to carve out victory and, as has so often been the case down recent years, the final ball was left badly wanting and they just seemed to run out of ideas.

There were occasional moments like when Keane and Rodriguez played enterprising forward passes that eventually yielded a corner and Gomes wriggled impressively out of a tight situation to set up an attack but Everton were maddeningly inconsistent and profligate with the ball and the next decent chances actually fell to Burnley with 12 and eight minutes remaining. Thankfully, though, Josh Brownhill’s shot deflected wide off Calvert-Lewin following a free-kick and Pickford was able to push away Wood’s header off a corner.

It was a situation crying out for an injection of creativity from the bench – what was the point in bringing on Cenk Tosun rather than Bernard? – or James to assert his quality but for long stretches, the Colombian seemed content to wander out wide rather than remain centrally to dictate the flow of the game when Everton were going forward. When he did pop up on the edge of the box, his brilliance almost carved out the winner.

Delaying his pass while substitute Sigurdsson advanced into the area ahead of him, Rodriguez eventually slipped a beautifully-weighted pass between a defender’s legs where the Icelander took one touch and fired goal-wards but his shot was too close to Pope who stopped it with an out-stretched leg.

It was a moment worthy of being the match winner even if Everton scarcely deserved it and it might have injected some much-needed confidence ahead of a run of fixtures that will see the Toffees face Chelsea, Leicester, Arsenal, Manchester United (in the cup) before Christmas. As it is, this disappointing draw doesn’t inspire confidence that Everton have enough to get much out of those games and if that ends up being the case, the team will go into the Festive season very much back in the realms of mid-table mediocrity.

That’s a far cry from Everton’s electric start to the campaign and despite those absences in key positions that have affected his team selections, it continues to reflect rather poorly on Ancelotti who seems incapable of rousing his team from its torpor at times. Maybe the elevated calibre of opposition in the coming fixtures will force the players to raise their game but performances like this don’t instill you with much hope.

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John Raftery
1 Posted 05/12/2020 at 18:51:08
I would have put a substantial sum of money on Delph pulling up with a muscle strain at some point. It looked like a Grade Two or Three tear the way he limped off. That probably rules him out for at least two months if not longer. We may well not see him on the pitch before the end of the season.

At least Gomes looked fitter and sharper than a few weeks ago. He did enough to keep his place in midfield. Our manager needs to find a way of getting a supply of goals from players other than the league’s leading scorer. There needs to be more urgency when we play the ball out of defence and less sloppy passing such as that which set up Burnley for their goal.

Rick Tarleton
2 Posted 05/12/2020 at 19:19:32
All football managers have a preferred type of player or system, Bielsa loves marathon runners, Klopp want everyone to hard press, and Ancelotti wants to play three central defenders and two wing-backs. That's possibly fine if Kenny and Coleman are fit and Digne is available. It's certainly a way of getting service to Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

However, when these players are not available, it might be wise to fit the system to the strengths of the players available and not try to fit triangles into ovals. In most managerial jobs, you have to make the best use of the resources available, but not in football it seems, where the system is sacrosanct.

In addition to this fetishising of the system, Ancelotti, as Lyndon points out, always prefers older and more expensive players over younger and local lads. Delph is like Jamie Redknapp at Liverpool, Anderton at Spurs and Ferguson in his second spell at Everton, an injury waiting to happen.

Nkounkou and Gordon must have been caught, as Duncan McKenzie once was, mocking the manager in the dressing room. No other explanation tells us why they are never considered.

For the first time since the great team of the eighties, we have top class strikers who can score goals, but we have a totally unbalanced midfield and a defensive system which does not suit the players we have. The fastest of our defensive trio is Holgate, so he's captain one week and on the bench the next. Maybe he was in the group caught mocking the manager?

Until we have Digne back we have to have a back four, it'll limit the crosses to our strikers, but just might be practical. Allan needs to get back to playing as an anchor in front of the back four and give up on his more attacking role. Doucouré can play wide on the right and support the right back and Gordon can help out on the left leaving Rodriguez to play the role that suits him as a Number 10.

I hope Ancelotti doesn't spend his week putting Iwobi and whoever through drills so we can continue playing the system, but becomes pragmatic till we have our injury-ridden defenders back.

Andy Meighan
3 Posted 05/12/2020 at 19:41:57
No Rick. We've got one top class striker currently not two. The one being Calvert-Lewin.

If your inferring Richarlison is the other, you're way off the mark. He hasn't scored in the Premier League from open play this season. In my view, a very very selfish player.

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 05/12/2020 at 20:02:44
A slightly predictable battle and a result which probably surprised few.

Okay, an away draw after already winning three on the road it's not the end of the world, but against a team very limited clearly, it's disappointing that we don't use more nous when trying to play them.

What gets me is we are too slow in everything that we do, we move the ball so slowly, we are ponderous, we take free kicks, corners, throw-ins all like we are in slow motion.

Basically, we are too easy to play against, too easy to score against, and too easy to defend against. After a very good goal scoring start to the season we have looked clueless again and too reliant on one way of playing and roughly one goal scorer.

Defensive wise we are pathetic, again today we should've been 2-0 down after half an hour if Wood slots home a simple chance.

I recently watched on YouTube the Carsley derby of 2004, my god the way we defended that lead in the last 20 minutes was admirable, the hunger and the desire to win every ball from the likes of Alan Stubbs.

I don't see that look in our defenders' eyes these days, they are all too nice, too passive, dangling out a had hearted leg and turning their backs on shots, it's just shite and too easy.

Carlo needs to sort this shit out because a glance at the fixtures coming up and it's going to be a long hard winter for him otherwise.

James Stewart
5 Posted 05/12/2020 at 20:23:36
Another tactical masterclass.
Ken Williams
6 Posted 05/12/2020 at 20:33:15
Every time we have an opportunity to advance, in this instance moving up to the top four, we bottle it.

To be honest, today I thought Burnley were going to win. It's sad but that's the way Everton get you.

Barry Rathbone
7 Posted 05/12/2020 at 20:34:31
"The Italian doesn't exhibit much urgency"

This is the nub of the issue: any manager appearing unconcerned and mildly detached opens the door for players to exhibit the same. Being above it all might work at clubs overflowing with world class talent but not at a basket case club like Everton.

Fabulous article btw, Lyndon.

Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 05/12/2020 at 20:43:32
Jim (4),

Your next-to-last paragraph says it all: they don't like pain, they like it nice and easy and – like previous managers – it looks like Ancoletti let's them play that way,

Were is the anger in the manager? None of the coaches show it and most importantly hardly any of the players show it.

Young Ben Godfrey is one of the exceptions, in his first game vs Liverpool, he had a go at the Colombian playmaker for making a stray pass. He did it again today to the same player for doing the same thing.

Fans drool over the great pass the Colombian made to Sigurdsson. It was a great pass no doubt, but how many times did he put his teammates in trouble with poor passes, losing the ball too easily and attempting tackles that would make a girl blush. He's a luxury this already-weak team can't afford.

Alex Young used to get slated for not working hard enough. Alex did a lot more than this guy does and no one can tell he is better on the eye than Young.

They are not working hard enough at Finch Farm if the way they play in matches that matter is anything to go by. A massive improvement is needed by everyone at the club.

Kase Chow
9 Posted 05/12/2020 at 21:24:53
So tired of this characterless bunch of clowns. Where would we be without Calvert-Lewin's goals? Where will we be when he decides we don't match his ambitions?

How ridiculous to not get a replacement striker for Kean.

How ridiculous to not get a back-up left-back to Baines (one that the manager trusts).

How ridiculous to not get a back-up right-back to Coleman (one that the manager trusts).

How ridiculous to not get a back-up winger or forward to Richarlison (one that the manager trusts).

Our transfer policy makes no sense:

Don't buy Kean, buy a striker that can deliver. For £30M, there's options.

Buy a decent left-back if Nkounkou isn't trusted.

Get Sidibé back on loan and loan out Kenny again if you don't trust him (it's not my preferred option... but I'd prefer a specialist right-(wing)back so Iwobi can do damage further up the pitch)

Don't give a 5-year contract to Gordon if you don't rate him. Seriously. Stick it at 1-2 years. Or maybe nothing if he's not gonna get played.

Don't get James if he refuses to graft. Look at Salah, Firminho and Mane: they all graft. Look at De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero: they all graft. Look at Werner, Mount and Havertz: they all graft

Ozil doesn't – he doesn't play; Alli doesn't – he doesn't play.

I don't understand the transfer policy nor the manager's tactics. It beggars belief and it's depressing.

Man Utd can have Brands for all I care: I just want a transfer policy that makes sense and works in sync with the manger's wishes.

Jim Bennings
10 Posted 05/12/2020 at 21:40:10
Dave 8

You are right, they don't like pain, they have had it on easy street ever since they left Bellefield for this shiny new complex at Finch Farm.

As for Carlo, listen I'm not gonna criticise a guy with his CV but I do wonder if, coming to Everton, he's let himself in for something that throughout his managerial career it's something completely alien to him, a club that is not used to winning and doesn't have 19 or 20 superstars.

I think the phrase "horses for courses" springs to mind, I look at Carlo and I just see a marriage of convenience, in terms that Moshiri looks good for appointing him, Carlo gets a really good pay day (probably his last big one).

I believe he came here with good intentions but the job has clearly taken him aback by how unfit, and unprofessional most of our players are.

I don't think he has the dynamic in him now to overhaul things in the way Klopp did at Liverpool from the word go, getting them running further than everyone else etc etc.

Bielsa at Leeds is a one-off, let's be honest; he's intense during the game and you can see his personality rubs off on a bunch of modest players, they have an identity and a clear strategy.

I'm not sure I see where we will develop to be honest even six months down the line; it looks unlikely much will change.

Stephen Brown
11 Posted 05/12/2020 at 22:10:28
I've been saying this for a while! Everyone at the club is in easy street! The players can win, lose or draw and it makes no difference, they know they'll be playing next week. The ones who don't, don't seem that bothered.

The culture does not demand success, there's no fear of losing. There's no apparent need for success. It's all too nice!

It really hits home with our captain situation! Keane today, Holgate last week, Sigurdsson captain one week... really??! Coleman, Digne! Let's give everyone a go! I know Seamus has been injured but I want my captain to be a Watson, Ratcliffe, Gough. A leader on the pitch, someone who is to be respected and sets examples!

I'm fully behind Carlo as I don't think we can go through another manager change. But he cannot be above criticism and scrutiny. Neither can James. The club has to be bigger than individuals!

This season might just rest on a cup success. Let's go all out for the League Cup!!

Sukhdev Sohal
12 Posted 05/12/2020 at 22:47:07
#9 – Iwobi can do damage up the pitch?

Did you see his crossing today? He can't dribble past a player and score goals either.

Sukhdev Sohal
13 Posted 05/12/2020 at 22:50:48
Embarrassing performance for most of the first half. Too casual in possession and no purpose to attack (opposite of us under Ancelotti when he first came in and like us under Silva last season).

From the 35th to the 60th minute, the introduction of Gomes (who I said should start in a 4-3-3 today) helped us control the game and pin them back. The rest of the game we didn't apply as much pressure as we should've on them, and we could even have lost it at the end.

Saying that, we could've also have won it if Sigurdsson hit it in one of the corners.

Jason Wilkinson
14 Posted 05/12/2020 at 23:12:53
Last season, all the moaning was about the lack of pace in the midfield. We buy Allan, Doucouré and James. Throw in Nkounkou and Godfrey to bolster the defence. Have we improved?

I would say No. It can't be the individuals. Surely even we can't buy identical players to the ones we have on the books. Can we?

When we say 'pace', I don't think it is about individual speed with or without the ball. It is speed of thought. Determination. Tenacity.

As many here have said before, there is a lack of fight, urgency, belief or desire. I want to see a few falling out with their teammates during matches. There isn't a single one of them that looks like a leader.

Si Pulford
15 Posted 05/12/2020 at 23:31:29
Great to see that from comment two we have some of the worlds finest managers picking apart the tactics of irate fans.

Hang on, sorry. It's the other way round. We're one point off Champions League football and John from Dingle or whoever had the audacity to question one of Europe's most decorated managers.

Honestly, when you read it back, it's hilarious.

Phil Wood
16 Posted 05/12/2020 at 00:20:10
I agree with those questioning the decision making of Carlo. Looking at his poor or stubborn selections in recent games, one would have to be blind not to come to a similar conclusion.

Poor tactics, players playing out of position when more logical selections available, the snubbing of our best young talents, illogical substitutions. The list goes on and is very galling to many Everton fans.

Reputations mean nothing. It is what you do in the here and now that matters. I was as excited as anyone when we pulled off the coup of signing the Don but I am now thinking he is another one of our false dawns.

Derek Thomas
17 Posted 06/12/2020 at 03:25:49
Digne is out for at least 10 games, if not more. As I said last week...and John @ 1; Delph can't do 10 games in a season, nevermind 10 games on the run. So put in Nkounkou and let him learn on the job.

But... with Godfrey doing okay in his emergency cameo role as left-back... maybe because it Is an emergency and he doesn't have time to over-think it?? Nkounkou will still be out – or, if he's lucky, on the bench, instead of getting game time.

I wonder if Che!sea will target Godfrey? Nah, never happens, does it... he'll be the new Lescott.

Ancelotti is reprising the Moyes's technique of random selection in the hope of getting lucky.

Matt Woods
18 Posted 06/12/2020 at 03:51:41
To my mind, the hardest thing to win and the easiest to lose in football is confidence.

At the start of the season, I saw a short video of training which included the new signings. To my eyes, not stats, I could see and feel an added intensity that had been missing. Sure, it's a short video... but you can recognise 'flat out'.

The manner of the performance at Spurs astounded me. Everton played slick football in possession and were both controlled and aggressive without the ball. They got a deserved and impressive result. This result built confidence up massively. Then we built on it. Win followed win. At times fortuitous but 7 victories on the bounce raised expectations to fever pitch.

The derby was a reality check and Coleman needs to have a word with himself. He was too desperate to play when, deep deep down, he needed more rest and treatment to be 100%. (Okay, that's of course an opinion). Richarlison needs a word with himself. Criminal tackle and gets a needless 3-match ban (by his own admission).

The result in the derby was dug out by a team high on confidence. Getting outplayed, they never folded and took a valuable point from the current champions.

Now. What happens next? Missing a couple of key players, we simply start to play sideways. Lack ball speed, retreat mentally. What the fuck is this??? Poor poor performance after performance. Newcastle being the worst.

Collectively, too many players just don't have the bollocks to play for Everton. When confidence ebbs away it is so difficult to restore when the manager starts playing players out of position. Ancelotti needs better players but, as a top coach, he is paid to get more out of this mob. He is paid millions to figure out a system that must bring energy and aggression. Players appear way too comfortable playing within themselves.

Results breed confidence. Ancelotti now has a run of very difficult games and a poor run up to Christmas will heap enormous pressure on the whole club.

Personally, I think Gomes has to come in and support Allan and Doucouré. Gomes had a ridiculous injury, it was always going to be a long road back to full match fitness. He is though an excellent footballer and I feel, if he gets a good run, he can return to the necessary level and give balance to the midfield.

Gbamin will I feel need a full year of playing, getting over niggles and allowing his body to return to the required level of elite sport. We are dreaming if we think he is genuinely coming back anytime soon at a level to kick us on. Good luck, JP; given time and commitment hopefully he can make it.

So. It feels like a return to the usual purgatory for us Blues. Can we grind out a result against Chelsea, find a spark and lift ourselves? Dig in and scrap? Can we? Over to you, Carlo...

Bob Parrington
19 Posted 06/12/2020 at 05:13:12
Hey guys and gals, Always look on the bright side of life!!!

From about 35 minutes on, we were completely on top. Correct the timing as it was from the moment poor old Delph limped off and we moved more to a 4-3-3 formation.

From here, we played reasonably well except for the occasional totally inept pass that gave the opposition a good chance to score again.

So, look positively at this. Carlo must now see that the current players available cannot play with just 3 at the back. I don't wish to be critical of Carlo but even a blind man must see this as obvious.

Am I for changing managers? No. Just change the thinking, Carlo!!!

Jack Convery
20 Posted 06/12/2020 at 09:05:56
Read the article which as always is on the money. Read a couple of the comments but not all of them so, if this has been said, I apologise in advance.

It appears to me that, despite Carlo saying he and Marcel get on well, that the working relationship is actually not what it says on the tin.

Carlo's refusal to play Kenny, Gordon and Nkounkou appears to me at least to be a difference of opinion in how he and Brands see the merits or not of these 3 players. Brands has come out and actually said good things about Gordon. Things that I read as I would be playing him. Meanwhile, Carlo has said "I'm not here to develop young players."

So Moshiri looks like he has employed Brands on the premise of buying and developing youngsters and Carlo on the basis of buying, to coin a phrase, "oven-ready" players.

Once again, within the club, parts of it are pulling in different directions, so is it any wonder we don't function as a professional outfit and haven't for decades.

A choir all sing from the same page. The last time Everton FC sang from the same page was when Carter and Kendall were in their pomp. We must be the most dysfunctional outfit in the Premier League and now, that we actually have money, it still doesn't work. Is it any wonder?

I personally think Brands will go at the end of his contract unless Moshiri can agree a way forward that Brands can buy into and given its Carlo's way and no other way, maybe he will look for pastures new.

If we want to buy young eager players, then let's go for Lamptey – why weren't we in for him beggars belief. Also, Ward-Prowse, who is older I know, but is the energy we need, in that pedestrian midfield.

Eddie Dunn
21 Posted 06/12/2020 at 09:42:01
Ancelotti has vast experience, the sort of knowhow that would help our club and players through a European campaign. If we somehow qualify for the Europa or Champions League and embark on the domestic season in 2021, his ability to manage the whole thing will be invaluable.

Our problem is, of course, that first of all we have to finish high in the table. Most of the previous clubs he has been to have been regular members at the top table. In slightly easier leagues, where Euro qualification is more regular for the big teams.

This is a whole new ball game for him. Every Premier League team can upset almost anyone else on their day. Villa thrashed Liverpool, Fulham beat Leicester...

It's not really his thing, beefing-up a mid-table rabble to get to do his thing. He has been used to some easy games at the weekend followed by European midweeks and usually these are quite comfortable from a central European base.

The difference is the quality. He trusts experience over youth, he favours his signings over current players and he puts systems above pragmatism. We have not a clue how or why he has made his team selections. His explanations are a garbled mix of ambiguous English and nonsense.

He seemed to imply that Niels Nkounkou would play at Burnley; he also said at the end of the game that Pickford "was back". Niels didn't play and was he referencing Jordan's mental health, as he has been back for some time?

He has not been grilled about his formations, selections or substitutions. No-one has asked as to why Gordon and Nkounkou have not been trusted. It is like having the Queen as manager.

This deference can only be justified if the guy pulls a rabbit out of the hat and we somehow become a team. We need an Oxford moment and a League Cup is about as good as it is going to get for this season.

On the pitch, Richarlison hasn't looked interested since his ban. I wonder if he has lost faith in Carlo already? His workrate has dropped off a cliff. James has fitness issues, he is only 29, about 10½ stone and should be fine playing the 90.

The nightmare scenario is that, come the end of the season, if we fail to reach Europe and don't win a Cup, we can wave goodbye to Richarlison, Digne and Calvert-Lewin.

Geoff Williams
22 Posted 06/12/2020 at 09:45:41
Having watched Chelsea v Leeds, I have to say I was impressed with the athleticism of the players on show. Their work rate was so impressive and the skill levels were pretty good too. Everton, by comparison, are a slow, ponderous team lacking stamina.

Mark Murphy
23 Posted 06/12/2020 at 10:15:03
Rick @2,

Mocking the manager? What's that about? I hadn't heard that?

Usually when one of our players gets injured and hobbles off, I worry. Sorry to say this but yesterday I was actually relieved...

Might be a tad harsh on Delph but, in fairness, he should be back-up for Allan, not for Digne.

Phil Lewis
24 Posted 06/12/2020 at 11:16:05
The tenacity and precision shown in Allan's early performances has all but evaporated. So too the magic and creativity of Rodriguez is now seen only in snatches.

As for the 'box-to-box' non-stop engine room that promised to be Doucouré? That has clearly run out of steam and direction.

Our new signings have seemingly gone in the last five games, from invincible 'Superheroes' to mere mortal footballers, apparently suffering from that highly contagious 'Everton Disease', the symptoms of which being, lethargy, confusion, apathy, shortage of breath and general malaise.

Historically, this disease has spread rapidly through consecutive Everton teams over the years. Once it takes hold, it proves extremely hard to combat. Even the most talented and strongest players have no immunity and eventually succumb to it.

Only early diagnosis, drastic surgical procedure, and radical change of attitude, overseen by a medic of the highest quality, seems to overcome this fatal deterioration.

Over to you, Dr Ancelotti.

Jim Bennings
25 Posted 06/12/2020 at 11:21:52

I think, in those early games of the season, our players had a lot more time on the ball; the first three or four games were very exhibition paced. We got Spurs at a good time, it's fair to say, but I'm pleased we won because it was at least a psychological hurdle gone.

The likes of Allan and even James have had less time on the ball in recent weeks and the league has slowly started taking a more familiar pattern again.

We need to get them up to speed fast because the league is unforgiving and we can't afford passengers.

Ken Kneale
26 Posted 06/12/2020 at 11:50:08
Sadly, the disease Phil outlines can also affect the manager and coaching staff.

Symptoms include displaying a general malaise, the tendency to talk gibberish about team selection, regularly appearing to be commenting on a different game much of the time, an inability to recognise the appropriate playing position of many players and accompanied by a habit of being outthought tactically by supposed inferior managers and players from the opposition. Sadly, it appears our current managerial team have succumbed.

I wonder how Ancelotti would have reacted to the system under one of our previous owners, where the manager was 'invited' for Sunday morning coffee to Freshfield to discuss the previous day's game – I suspect Mr John would have had much to say in recent times about those he was paying a wage.

Paul A Smith
27 Posted 06/12/2020 at 11:58:39
Same old same old.

Delph, another Brands piece of genius. I only hope the Eddie Hearn of Everton does one and Carlo is allowed to select the quality he knows better than anyone at the club.

Conor McCourt
28 Posted 06/12/2020 at 12:04:59
Good to see you posting again, Paul A Smith.
Derek Taylor
29 Posted 06/12/2020 at 12:09:32
In common with the vast majority on here, I have never kicked a ball for money nor 'managed' any team's affairs other than my lad's 'Under-10s' in Rourky's League 50 years ago.

And so it is ludicrous for me to assume any knowledge of 'the game' when seen in contrast to Carlo Ancelotti. So why do I presume to be qualified to give him advice or offer the slightest criticism of his team selection and tactics? Surely no-one earning north of £10M a year for picking and training football teams is at a different skill level to us mere keyboard critics?

Or, dear friends, is it all a myth – money for old rope? When you think of how many flops we had to endure before we got access to one of the world's greatest, it warms your heart to know Usmanov, Moshiri and Uncle Bill know how to pick 'em, don't it!

Brian Harrison
30 Posted 06/12/2020 at 12:10:09
There are problems that Ancelotti has to address, and quickly. Changing formations and personnel has had a detrimental impact on the team. To be able to change formations and personnel as often as he has, then you need top class players to be able to do that, and clearly this squad is not at that level. I think it was obvious that the team looked more comfortable and by-and-large played a lot better with the enforced change.

As the post says, round pegs and square holes, but tell me an Everton manager in the last 20 years that hasn't played round pegs in square holes? And I daresay if you asked many fans from different clubs, they would probably say their manager has done the same. Now whether it's managers trying to be smart-arse or just tinkering, I don't know.

We have been left in the position of bringing on Tosun late on in the last couple of games. Now I have never thought he gives us much. But some will ask, given the paucity of attackers at the club, then why was Kean allowed to join PSG? Ancelotti was always adamant that Kean was a big part of his plans, so I can't understand why he was allowed to go on loan and it wasn't an average run-of-the-mill club he went on loan to, it was a club that boasted Mbappe and Neymar. Yet Kean has gone there and is scoring goals for fun.

Now I know when he was here, many posters on ToffeeWevb often said he was a waste of money, but clearly the kid has ability and, with doing so well, it will be hard for us to get him back – even though there is no sell-on clause in the loan deal. So I would love someone at Everton to say who authorised this deal to go through.

So, getting back to this team, I still believe that Ancelotti will turn this club around and will win us trophies... but, if we don't get back to winning ways, the "Ancelotti Out" brigade will get bigger and louder. Changing managers as often as we have over the last 5 years has been a recipe for where we are now: a team who consist of players bought by 5 different managers; those players have never been consistent, so it's hardly surprising those same players are still inconsistent now.

Paul A Smith
31 Posted 06/12/2020 at 12:20:34
Conor, thank you, mate. I genuinely wish everyone the best of health in these strange days we have all endured. Regardless of historical arguments or difference of opinion, I wish everyone well.

Sadly, I think being Evertonians we all suffer daily anyway and feel like a bad bug had lived with us for 30 years. The nonsense we have digested has surely boosted our immune systems on a positive note.

As far as the club goes, I cannot see how a manager that has coached the very best, would work with someone looking to produce kids that are not ready?

The massive aura we have placed around the "Director of Football" role has given us nothing but problems and the hype for Brands is just beyond me. I thought we'd have learnt from the hype around Walsh.

Rob Halligan
32 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:02:12
Brian #30. Your final paragraph sums it up for me, and I agree with you 100%. I see absolutely no point whatsoever in sacking Carlo, as we have with the last three or four managers every 18 months or so.

You sack a manager and his backroom staff also go. You bring in a new manager, along with his backroom staff. New manager brings in players he wants, and it then takes new players a few months to gel with players already at the club, as well as get to know new manager's tactics, etc. After a while, results go awry, club sack manager, and the whole vicious cycle starts again.

Ancelotti inherited a lot of good players but also a lot of dross. We did quite well in the summer transfer window, but it will take at least another three or four windows to get the squad he wants. By then, all the deadwood will either be sold, or contracts expired. Fans and owners of every club need to be patient, I know we all demand success immediately, but it takes time, and we will only get it right if Carlo is given that time.

If we all are quite happy to just plod along in the Premier League, and finish around mid-table every season, then fair enough, sack Carlo and bring in the next man. But, as Brian says, I think Carlo is the man to finally bring us the success we, as fans, deserve, because there are no better fans deserving of a trophy than us. But believe me, if we sack Carlo, then that trophy will be a million miles away.

Robert Tressell
33 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:06:50
Brian @30.

Presumably Brands and Ancelotti together sanctioned the loan of Kean to PSG. Kean is an excellent young player who realised he'd been duped into signing for a club way beneath him. I think Ancelotti was hoping to turn that around but it was not to be. So, very late in the window, we reluctantly sanctioned the unexpected departure to PSG.

There wasn't time to get a replacement but, in the grand scheme of things, we couldn't turn down what might lead to a £50M (+) sale in summer. Hopefully, the gap will be addressed in January with our own move for someone with pace and goals in them.

As it happens, PSG have a striker very much like Kean called Kalimuendo – now on loan at Lens. They have a weird habit of letting their quality youth leave on the cheap. We might get him as a makeweight in the eventual sale.

Tony Marsh
34 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:17:50
Chelsea at home next week – another loss is on the cards, probably a drubbing... then what? Carlo the genius is out of his depth here.

This isn't Real Madrid or Bayern Munich were you stroll up, tweak a couple of things, and hey presto, trophies land on the desk. No, this is the real world, the mess that is Everton FC, and I don't think Carlo can do the job required here.

Fans talk about transfer windows and time but basic mistakes are being made on a weekly basis. Errors you don't see in Sunday League football, and it's getting worse. It's beyond me how anyone can accept this nonsense. A million fucking quid a month, he is paid, yet the manager can't manage to put players in their correct positions.

What the fuck is wrong with Gordon and Nkounkou? Surely these two lads have to be better options than the walking dead – Iwobi, Delph and Sigurdsson? How many sackings will it take before the managers at this club realise Sigurdsson is just not good enough? Why do all of our managers keep selecting the same shite players, week-in & week-out??

Like I have said in previous posts, Ancelloti is making the exact same mistakes that Koeman and Silva used to make and we currently don't look or play any differently with Carlo in charge. I think this current shambles is as equally bad as the dark days of Ron and Marco.

If we carry on like this, then the bottom six by the end of January is looming. Same old story with the striker situation at the club; same old story with the lack of pace in the squad; same old story of washed-up players keeping the shirt; same old story of Everton being the charity club; same old story with leeches sucking a living out of the club.

We even had that other idiot, Miss Dynamite, waffling on in the press last week about Covid-19 vaccines. What the fuck has it got to do with her? What medical qualifications does she have? Stick to what you know, giving soup and blankets to the homeless people. I don't need some blonde bimbo pal of Kenwright's telling me how to maintain my health, thank you.

I'm sick to death of this shit. People think I'm a moaning twat but it's so obvious with what is wrong at the club and the team but nobody is prepared to fix it. It has been this way for decades now and it's getting worse by the week. We still can't get the basics right on and off the pitch. Little Miss Dynamite, Bill Kenwright, that guy who looks like Max Wall... I am sick and tired of the lot of them.

Those who think Carlo is our saviour had better wake the fuck up very quickly. It's now getting to panic-button time again. From what I've seen, Ancelloti would be better off at home in Italy, feet up, red wine in hand, watching AC Milan play on the telly. Carlo doesn't look intrested or capable of this job... but what do I know? I'm just a moaning twat!!!

Paul Smith
35 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:27:19
I think Ancelotti's statements and selections are a concern. When our previous managerial incumbents were making the same mistakes, their tenure was almost up. Having said that, he has brought in quality players and I do see signs of improvement... or maybe it's the Calvert-Lewin effect?

If Carlo thinks a draw was a decent result yesterday, then can he qualify why? I'm not sure what he is trying to do at Everton but results will make or break – it's that simple.

Danny O’Neill
36 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:29:41
As always, a finely written article Lyndon, although I didn't see it how you did. I won't however repeat myself from the thread on MK's match report.

Just wanted to touch on the transfer policies and the "have we improved" comments some refer to above. Okay, so I will be repeating myself, but not specifically about yesterday's match.

The transfer priorities in the summer were to address our glaring problems in midfield. We have done that. I am sure in the next window, we will focus on other areas.

I think the first 11 (all fit) has definitely improved on last season. But to rebuild this squad is going to take more than one or even two windows due to the randomly assembled "squad" we have amassed over several years. Team has improved, the squad is still needing major surgery, hence being hurt once one or two key players are out or having an off day.

Dave Abrahams
37 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:36:17
Just being a bit nosey here, is Paul Smith @ (35) a different person to Paul A Smith @(31)? Just for future possible reference.
John Dooley
38 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:37:52

James needs to be dropped, he's not fit enough. Iwobi can't cross a ball. Allan pushes too far forward in my opinion leaving defense short. Dom needs a strike partner.

Although I hate him, I would absolutely love Jack Grealish. We need a decent playmaker willing to run with the ball and run at defenders, making something happen rather than leaving it to Iwobi, who looks like he kicks the floor everytime he tries to kick it.

Gordon needs to be given a chance also.

Rob Halligan
39 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:45:13
Nowhere else to put this, but off topic, Bob Pendleton, the scout who discovered probably one of our best ever players, Wayne Rooney, has died aged 81.
Paul Smith
40 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:45:14
Yes, hence the ‘A', Dave. I'm the fashion designer and avid Evertonian, Paul A Smith is not me.
Danny O’Neill
41 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:50:14
Sad to hear that, Rob. The man can feel proud of making a significant contribution to the beautiful game.
Derek Taylor
42 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:53:16
To all members of the 'stick with who you have' brigade, which of Martinez, Koeman, Allardyce and Silva should have been retained – regardless of results?
Danny O’Neill
43 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:54:46
No, but given enough time to be judged Derek.

Apart from Allardyce. Don't start me!

For openness, I didn't want Martinez but supported him (especially after that first season). I overly supported the appointment of Koeman - I got hoodwinked by my memories of Koeman the player, not Koeman the manager. I never wanted Silva yet tried to support him.

I try to erase the fact Allardyce was ever associated with Everton Football Club.

Paul A Smith
44 Posted 06/12/2020 at 13:58:23
Dave Abraham, I put the A in a while ago mate when I realised Paul was posting too. Too much confusion otherwise I think and I wouldn't want Paul accused of anything I had debated.
Tony Everan
45 Posted 06/12/2020 at 14:18:56
A well-rounded article, Lyndon, thanks,

Watch Man City or Chelsea yesterday the way the midfield attacks with blistering pace. It destabilises defences, their forwards are hanging on the last defender and time their run behind, time after time.

We are never, ever going to get that from Gomes, Delph, Sigurdsson. Maybe Gbamin can be the missing link?

Gomes is an enigma, such a gifted player but is always looks 10% off full fitness. I like the player, I still believe he can be better. Is it worth trying him in holding midfielder central position in a 4-3-3? In between Doucouré and Allan? Where his game could be more in tune with close control and quick passing. Giving a bit more license to Doucouré and Allan to drive forward with the ball when possible.

It's clutching at straws but it's something to consider. Gomes has got the quality in him if he can rise to the occasion.

Danny O’Neill
46 Posted 06/12/2020 at 14:25:28
Tony, you touch on what I've been calling out. Not necessarily yesterday, but in recent games we are getting hurt by the pocket of space Doucoure and Allan leave behind them and between the defence as they go and press (which is great).

I hoped Gomes could sit behind them both as an "orchestrator", pulling the strings but also plugging that hole. If not, then yes, maybe more of an enforcer such as what we hope Gbamin is / will be.

Either way, that is an area we need to address. To my points, here and elsewhere. We've improved the team but the squad is still work in progress.

John Keating
47 Posted 06/12/2020 at 14:33:25
Ancelotti now has to accept that, at present, with this team, he cannot persevere with 3 at the back and no decent wingbacks. He also has to be concerned that we continue to give goals away especially from outside the box.

The gap between midfield and defence is concerning and has to be addressed, especially with upcoming games. Even half-fit Kenny and Nkounkou have to be better than what he's been picking.

A back 4 and a player or even 2, Holgate and Davies in a truly defensive role in front of the back 4 has to help. A midfield 3 and Calvert-Lewin up front must surely make us stronger defensively and relieve James of any defensive duties.

We really have to tighten up and get fitter!

John Pierce
48 Posted 06/12/2020 at 15:27:25
Some very decent chat here, better than the ‘snooze-fest' on the other thread! 😭

I believe the system isn't been executed well, whether that's a 4-3-3 or 3-4-3. The team isn't compact enough as a unit. We are like a set of Christmas lights, strung out and several bulbs intermittently flashing!

In order for us to win that ball back or construct play, the whole side needs to be closer to Allan and Doucouré, much higher up the pitch. It needs a centre-back to step out of the three and into midfield to anchor the formation and push everyone up the field. He should be the pivot for the back three and the base of a midfield triangle. Given the lack of holding midfielder, I'd stick with the wingbacks.

There was absolutely no need to play that deep against a side who progess the ball directly down the middle, or any side frankly. If you want to maximize Pickford's strengths, then one-on-ones are that.

Mina was the wrong choice; you don't need a bean pole if you play high, you need a greyhound. I'll add he misjudged plenty of long balls and just grappled with Wood; Keane won his headers. Holgate and Godfrey have more than enough pace.

As a result, the front three become spaced out and isolated, they can't link up and quickly become surrounded with bodies.

The team is there and it's missing a leader to organize the formation and be brave.

Derek Cowell
49 Posted 06/12/2020 at 15:37:56
Sadly, Rob, Wayne Rooney was never one of our greatest players. He was one of Man Utd's greatest players!
Neil Cremin
50 Posted 06/12/2020 at 15:41:27
I must take issue with Lyndon and others on ToffeeWeb who, in my opinion, look at everything Everton through blue-tinted glasses. Lyndon's comment: “Everton's electric start to the campaign” – this must be viewed for what it is

We won 5 games against teams in 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 1st in the table. If in any given season our expectations are not higher than that, we are in big trouble.

In the past, we could blame the manager for not being ambitious, lack of experience, or being out of his depth. This is not an option with Carlo. For this, I fear that there is a bigger malaise at the club.

I see no hunger, no ambition, only complacency. It looks to me that everybody is just turning up for work, putting in the hours without effort and going home. There is an expression used in industry “keeping your nose clean”. Nobody at the club is standing up and shouting that the level of commitment is unacceptable.

In summary, despite the addition of new blood to the squad, nothing seems to have changed at Everton FC. For this reason, I fear for the future.

Dave Abrahams
51 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:03:33
A few fans said Gomes played like his old self and played well yesterday. We were a bit better when Godfrey went to left-back and the formation changed but Gomes had little to do with that. In my opinion, he was still slow, still gave fouls away, was trying to pull out of a 50:50 tackle when he accidentally, I think, hurt the Burnley player with a loose elbow.

He made a couple of good crossfield passes, made a mess of more than a couple of easy passes, and shot hopelessly at the goal from 20 yards or more. This from a man who has scored one goal since he came here.

Yes, three centre-midfield players is the answer, Gomes is not good enough or fit enough to be one of them.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:12:58
Amen, Dave. As usual, I saw absolutely nothing from Gomes to indicate to me that he is the answer to any of our problems. I have no hope remaining that he will be anything but a fringe contributor going forward, and I would very much like to see him sold next summer.
John Pierce
53 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:13:03
Dave, I'd agree with that assessment, I thought the change of formation was the reason for the improvement – not Gomes. I thought he was very poor. I see Iwobi getting stick and barely a mention for this lad who hasn't put in a decent performance since Arsenal away last year.

He in many ways is like Davies, where does he fit? He's got great feet and a superb range of passing, but he just isn't dynamic. Rarely beats a man, rarely gets in the box, doesn't bar one miracle score, hasn't dictated a game for over a year. Where do you play him? Left back – in the changing rooms, I'd say.

Kieran Kinsella
54 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:15:23
John @48,

To your point, we saw Keane stepping up earlier in the campaign. We've also seen Holgate do that well in the past. For whatever reason of late, the back three have just loitered outside the box.

With the wingback formation, I think the midfield three are key. But they don't seem to have developed an understanding. The Spurs game, they played brilliantly together but, since then, they don't seem to have any clue what's going on.

At times, Doucouré operates almost as a fourth centre-back with James drifting wide and Allan covering the middle third by himself. I think Carlo needs to work on that. If Doucouré drops back, someone from the back needs to rotate into the midfield.

If James hugs the touchline, then the wingback needs to step inside. At the minute, it looks like everyone has their own plan but their teammates are oblivious to their intentions.

Kieran Kinsella
55 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:22:20
Dave, Mike and John,

Gomes has become the new Morgan. There are legends about his prowess as witnessed on foreign shores but we see nothing. Immobile, pensive, nervous, petulant. He's a bit like a shell-shocked character from Dad's Army. He wears a few medals and talks of heroics on the Sudan campaign but he's not for the frontlines any longer.

Stephen Brown
56 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:26:42
Just watched that vile Vardy score a last-minute winner for Leicester!

I honestly can't remember the last time we scored a last-minute winner or 2 late goals to seal a win! I can't remember the last time I was overtaken by emotion by the result!

That really is depressing! As much as I don't like Vardy, we need that kind of never-say-die type of player!

Kieran Kinsella
57 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:34:25

We haven't had that since Cahill unfortunately. Doucouré has the stamina and the attributes but he doesn't seem to have the character

Andy Meighan
58 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:34:30
Great post from Rob @32. To even think of sacking Ancelotti now or at the end of the season would be madness. He's got to be given at least 5 years.

This is not some final payday for him, he could have got that in China or somewhere. This is a long-term project for him and that means getting rid of the dross he was left, and by god – wasn't he left some? If he's backed, he will deliver, full stop.

As Rob says, sack him and the cycle starts all over again. Where does that leave us? Yes, he's made some baffling moves at times (don't they all?) but I'd rather watch what I'm seeing now than under Allardyce, Koeman or Silva.

Joe McMahon
59 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:43:24
Stephen, it was Walcott v Watford just before lockdown. We don't do it very often, admittedly. To be honest, we don't do winning very often.
Stephen Brown
60 Posted 06/12/2020 at 16:52:11
Yes Watford away! That seems a lifetime ago.

Sigurdsson should have provided with that yesterday, Dacoure should have given us the draw v United.

A few people have said Iwobi played well yesterday, he tried but twice in the last 5 minutes he had a chance to knock in a good cross under no pressure and he fluffed it!

It just all goes to demonstrate a complete lack of bottle I’m afraid to say!

I’m sick of seeing other teams celebrating their last minute winners and comprehensive wins!

Every game I watch for us is pretty much torture! As even when we win we never seem in control?! We never seem to steam roller anyone and as I’ve said we very very rarely win a game in the last few minutes!

Sorry to be so negative!

Mike Keating
61 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:01:34
Brian @ 30 and Robert @ 33 - just to rub it in, I see Moise Kean scored again yesterday and we rely on Tosun as an impact sub!
Rennie Smith
62 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:04:31
In the last 2 games we have:
- conceded 2 goals from shots outside of the box
- had 28 attempts on goal
- 14 of those on target
- scored 1 goal
...and people are still obsessed with the defence and the wing/full-backs????
John Pierce
63 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:05:42
Stephen, sure he Iwobi fluffed some crosses but was a constant threat on the right. He also provide a couple of excellent crosses on the first half, he also interchanged well. Pretty sure it was his cross which Calvert-Lewin connected with and Pope somehow kept out?

Balance his performance out when James, Doucouré and Allan arguably all had worse games than him.

Why is he such a scapegoat? He's comfortably been one of better players in the last three games. And yet he gets the name checked, across many threads.

I really am at a loss.

David Cooper
64 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:06:57
Having just watched Leicester score in injury time to take 3 points and stay in the top 4, I had to reflect on Sigurdsson not scoring, which would have kept us with that ever-growing group of teams that are now above us. That's twice in the last 2 games where we have had the chance to jump up but have failed.

Apart from our now unbelievable start where we stayed at the top by winning games, we have gone back to what we have been doing for oh so long – missing opportunities to stay in the top 6 or 8. It's sad to see this trait return.

There have been many posts in the last 2 weeks about how Carlo goes about selecting his final 11 or his 18. I can't believe that Carlo would use what I am about to suggest but maybe it matches his explanation that his team is based on performances at Finch Farm. I think Carlo sits down with or without his coaches and lists, in order of importance to the team, players numbers 1-18.

So who is his first name on the team sheet? Calvert-Lewin or Richarlison or? That would explain how Iwobi makes it and how Gordon and Nkounkou do not? Then he fits players 1 to 11 on his teamsheet regardless of playing them out of position?

Must say it seems unlikely but it's as good as any other way that has been suggested. I must admit to doing this with my U12 football team when I was in charge of our school team back in the 70s and it worked!

Another thing that struck me yesterday was Richarlison's sulk in the 2nd half and why does this happen too often? I think he is happiest when he scores and he hasn't been doing this for quite a few games.

Yesterday, in the first half, he played much closer to Calvert-Lewin and was involved. After Delph's injury, he moved wider and began to play more as a left-winger where he is provider rather than scorer. He does provide the cross for Calvert-Lewin to score but his own opportunities to score diminish rapidly.

In the 2nd half, he rarely gets anywhere near to Burnley's goal and loses interest. When we had Digne, he didn't have to play so wide but, without Digne for 2-3 months, is Carlo going to ask him to play wide unless Nkounkou can get up and down if, if he is ever selected.

Certainly Godfrey does a good job defensively but looks lost once he gets over the half-way line. With no goals or chances for this length of time, are we going to see an increasingly unhappy Richarlison where his thoughts might drift elsewhere?

With no solutions to our full-back problems with square pegs shoehorned into round holes, at least for 10 games and maybe until Coleman returns (when?) and Digne returns (March), we and Richarlison are in for a frustrating time.

Stephen Brown
65 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:09:13

I'm just using it as an example to late in the game when a lot of our players fluff their lines when the pressure is on!

Contrast that with Vardy today! Did you ever think he was not going to score that? He can handle the pressure; lots of ours cannot, including Iwobi yesterday!

Generally I don't mind Iwobi and think he's another victim of a ridiculous fee hanging round his neck!

Bill Rodgers
66 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:17:08
There is a deep sickness at Everton Football Club. It doesn't matter what players we sign, what manager takes the money, we are doomed to watch teams who don't care play mid-table football without ever breaking sweat.

The only way is to build from the ground up. That's what Bielsa had to do at Leeds – and they played us off the park last week. But I'm afraid the Everton way is the quick fix, the magic manager, the transformational superstar, the multi-million transfer fix. It never works.

Klopp ended 20 years of Liverpool mediocrity by imposing his plan with ruthless intent from the training pitch and beyond. Our training is a retirement home for super-annuated dinosaurs.

If we start from the ground up, it will take us years to grow a system and players with attitude and commitment. If we don't, it will be decade after decade of false hope and mercenary signings.

John Pierce
67 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:22:21
Stephen, I'd reckon it's Sigurdsson's chance – that's the most appropriate comparison to the point you were making?

Moise Kean scores again eh? Troyes, Nantes, Guineacamp or whoever they are playing are just cannon-fodder. Perhaps a better comparison is the game against Man Utd in the Champions League. He was completely lost, offered zilch and did as much as he did on the pitch for us.

He may come good and his goals may even get a decent fee for us but it will take a lot of convincing me after his efforts here.

Rob Halligan
68 Posted 06/12/2020 at 17:30:35
Derek # 49, yeah, guess I worded that incorrectly. Wayne was probably the best player we brought through the academy, but I guess not one of our greatest players as he wasn't with us long enough, but you know what I mean!!
Kevin Molloy
69 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:00:21
I don't think we need Mick Lyons style rousing from the sidelines, it doesn't worry me one bit the cool aura which Carlo has.

What concerns me much more is how poorly drilled we are. Nobody seems to be pressing or working as a team, and in the modern game you have to work as a team with no let up. That for me is what happens on the training ground.

I must confess myself disappointed with the rather slow reactive style we have. He's had a year now, I expected more.

Paul A Smith
70 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:09:50
Dave Abraham, I fully agree with on Gomes. And furthermore, it was a bad signing to pin hopes on. He barely plays 25 games a season anywhere (I repeat, from when we signed him).

A clever club would've used the loan and moved on. He'd be a sound squad player for the future but we need much better in midfield dictating the game.

His biggest standout moment was that needless scream he belched out trying to win a cheap foul.

Pat Kelly
71 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:20:44
I can't see Everton getting a win in the Premier League before Christmas. We all knew the squad was threadbare. Now the holes have appeared and there's nothing to patch them up. Bar a few exceptions, Ancelotti is stuck with a bunch of primadonnas who have no place in the Premier League.

The sad reality is the few decent players in the squad will leave in a year or two at most. They, understandably, want to leave the purgatory that is Everton these days. The Club will win nothing during Ancelotti's tenure. It is too far behind the game in every sense.

Kieran Kinsella
72 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:34:56
Pat Kelly

I think it will get worse before it gets better with the fixtures in our Winter of Discontent. But I just watched top-placed Spurs win.

MotM was Højbjerg, who we laughed at versus Allan on opening day. Also good was Sissoko, who we all viewed as a bullet dodged by Koeman. The manager of course being Mourinho who faced the same accusations of being a yesterday's man with a shapeless team just months ago.

I believe we will likewise turn the corner but the night is darkest before the dawn.

Mike Gaynes
73 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:47:33
Kieran #55,

I wouldn't slur him to that extent. Morgan was about lack of effort. There's no lack of effort in Gomes, his commitment is always there. It's just an existential lack of confidence and aggression, which is what led to his failure at Barcelona.

He simply cannot play up to the level of his natural talent. Beautiful touches and dribbles, but always in the middle of the park, never at the edge of the box. Beautiful passes, but always distributional or cross-field switches, never anything cutting through the defense at the 18.

And never, ever a vital goal or assist, never a true impact moment that changes a game. He just doesn't have it in him.

He does compare to Schneiderlin in one area only – the knack for fouling unnecessarily in bad locations.

Gomes is, by all accounts, a lovely guy, one of the nicest and shyest you'd ever want to meet. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the problem.

Ray Robinson
74 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:47:39
I too just watched the Spurs v Arsenal game. The "busted flush" Mourinho beat the "new messiah" Arteta. One team played dour defensive football for 70% of the game, the other tried to attack, but lost. What is a good manager? I'm more confused than ever.

I'm dead against changing Ancelotti for any number of reasons but he really does need to step up – team selections and tactics-wise.

How do you judge a manager? – Over one season? Over a career? What he does at one club or many? And can a "good" manager suddenly become a bad one? How long do you give a manager to redeem himself if things aren't going well?

It's never black and white, is it?

Kieran Kinsella
75 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:52:57
Mike Gaynes,

Sorry my frustration got the better of me and the Morgan slur was out of line. Nobody deserves that kind of abuse, lol.

Mike Gaynes
76 Posted 06/12/2020 at 18:55:36
I just enjoyed an unusual treat on NBC -- the women's super league match between Everton and Man City at Walton Hall Park. Everton were clearly outgunned talent-wise and lost 0-3, but the passion and competitive commitment were a pleasure to watch.
David Hallwood
77 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:09:06
Great article, as ever, Lyndon. The majority of managers, even managers with the vast experience of Carlo, are sometimes guilty of overthinking especially in a situation like we find ourselves in with first-choice full-backs out.

When in doubt, go back to basics; start with 4-3-3, get a settled back 4, or as settled as he can given the injuries, but I'd plump for Holgate and Nkounkou as right-back and left-back.

Allan, Doucouré and Gomes in midfield (even though he doesn't look the same player since Son did him).

And of course James, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison up top. And instruct the midfield, win the ball and give it to any of the front 3, a la Liverpool.

It seems like years, but it was only a couple of months ago we were top of the league with that line-up.

We haven't gone bad overnight (it just looks that way) but we need a way of playing; watch just about any team and you know how they're going to set up, how they're going to play – every team except us, and if we, and presumably the players, don't know what the fuck is going on, it's hardly surprising why we're struggling.

Danny O’Neill
78 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:17:48
Interesting points above and all thoughtful.

I've used Klopp as an example before and got shouted at. He is a good example. Someone who's last season at Dortmund was far from a great exit. And someone who was given time at you know who. He took 3 seasons to get them where he wanted them, not 6 months.

And other good examples; Tottenham and Arsenal. I admittedly contradict myself in having said Mourinho has lost his mojo; that "busted flush" so many accuse Ancelotti of being and who would rather have gone with the untested Arteta because he is young and trendy.

Just maybe experience can count. Ancelotti isn't going to be around for 11 years like Moyes, but he could be the first in a stepping stone approach to genuinely putting us back on the map.

I revert back to my previous liking of how Man City did it. Brought in names to attract names and get them eventually where they wanted to be. Stepping stones.

Barry Rathbone
79 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:18:51
Ray @74,

Mourinho was the man we should have got; his best work has been taking on a challenge and "building", as at Porto and Chelsea. Not going for him says much about the lack of understanding of what we need by the club hierarchy.

The worry about Carlo was he had no real experience in "building" and it's beginning to show.

Eddie Dunn
80 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:24:16
Wolves play with the 5 at the back that Carlo prefers and, with speedy wingbacks, it does give the chance to overload the opposition. You just have to have the players and a manager of his nous should see that Delph, Davies, etc are not the men for the job.
Tony Abrahams
81 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:26:33
Fair point, Barry, and then you realise that one took over a club, who was in the Champions League Final just a few months before, whilst the other has taken over an average squad, with a few good players, and became the club's fifth manager in just over 3½ years.

Danny O’Neill
82 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:30:37
Building on something that was already in place, Barry? Porto will always be at the top of the Portuguese league.

The Chelsea project was in full flight and almost there when Mourinho stepped in. You felt for Ranieiri who was just about to achieve with them, but they opted to bring in Mourinho who arguably had everything set up on a plate for him (not build it). That Chelsea team and project had been in progress since the late 90s.

Barry Rathbone
83 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:36:34

The proof is in the pud.

Mourinho looks to be taking Spurs to another level whereas Carlo looks mired in the morass of mediocrity as per previous incumbents.

Chris Williams
84 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:36:56
Mourinho was being written off last season, in large part because he didn't have the players he wanted and needed, although he had some very good ones.

He got the players he needed in the summer window.

He doesn't seem a busted flush any more, and the good players are also looking better.

Danny O’Neill
85 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:49:19
But Mourinho was a flop a Manchester United.

Providing a manager gets the players they need and, like all of us, a lucky break, they can achieve.

The one thing Mourinho and Carlo have in common is that, given the right backing, conditions and inevitable luck that comes with football, they have delivered success and trophies.

Joe McMahon
86 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:54:02
Danny, he won the League Cup and Europa League. Not a complete flop.
Danny Broderick
87 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:55:41
I hate us playing with a back 3. I can't ever remember it working for us. To my mind, you need ball-playing defenders to make it work, one of them often has to bring the ball out of defence. I don't think our defenders can do that.

I watched the game on French TV, and they made a point about our players looking tired, and also that the front 3 seemed to be playing detached from the rest of the team. From what I could see, the front 3 were playing high, the defence was too deep, our wingbacks were being pushed back to make it a back 5, and Allan and Doucouré were being overran in the giant gap between our defence and our attack.

This was put right by our change in formation when Delph went off injured. I have to say, I have found the manager's team and bench selection for the last 2 games to be baffling. He's chosen a formation that doesn't suit us, played round pegs in square holes, and not included the young fullbacks on the bench to give him options to change if it's not working.

I would have hoped to have established a pattern of play by now, like Spurs or Liverpool have. Instead, we are more like Man Utd. A different formation every week, different line-ups every week.

I sincerely hope Carlo can revert to the 4-3-3 system he was picking at the start of the season. And playing full-backs in the full-back positions.

Barry Rathbone
88 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:57:23

Porto were 5th when he took over and, after sorting them out in his first season, made them Champions, won a domestic and Uefa Cup in his second season, repeating the process in the following year but replacing the Uefa Cup with the Champions League trophy.

Your Ranieri comment is casting the runes... no-one knows what he would have done but one thing is sure: he did not build Chelsea into the dominant force in England that Mourinho did.

Mourinho is unquestionably a successful builder of teams.

Danny O’Neill
89 Posted 06/12/2020 at 19:59:20
Exactly, Joe. All in context as to where Man Utd where and where Tottenham are, but ultimately Mourinho tends to spend about 3 or 4 years and 3 seasons at clubs. Seems we are judging Carlo on less than 12 months. Seems some just don't want him because Big Dunc should have got the job.
Darren Hind
90 Posted 06/12/2020 at 20:27:07
Good posting, Barry.

The idea of Ancelotti suddenly becoming a builder at his time of life is for the birds. It won't happen.

It's not difficult to see why Højbjerg found it so easy to resist Carlo's pulling power to join Jose.

David Hallwood
91 Posted 06/12/2020 at 20:41:57
Watching the RS. Under the cosh ball breaks, chip a ball into the channel and Wijnaldum scores a breakaway goal.

The difference is when we win the ball after being under the cosh, we normally give a nothing ball straight back to the opposition.

Baffling when it's such an easy out ball and we've got the players to exploit it.

Brian Murray
92 Posted 06/12/2020 at 20:42:10
Blues on here seemed to be boiled down or distracted by the idea Carlo could be a quick fix winner or can he build a team and encourage youngsters to break through?

So far, he's definitely not the latter but, at the moment, all we want is a style or pattern we and the players can relate to, and for them to be as fit as they can. Plus inspire and have an innovative bench.

Why is this all so far beyond someone as soon as they step foot into Finch Farm? These are basic requirements, regardless if he's a Jose type or not. Plus this lowering of the bar attitude after drawing at Burnley... well, we might as well have kept Moyes or one of the other never has-beens. 'Nothing but the best' seems to be just an ageing motto, sadly.

Bill Gall
93 Posted 06/12/2020 at 20:42:13

I could not see Everton offering Mourinho the salary he would have asked for. He is listed as earning €23M, alongside Klopp at €24M, Gaurdiola at €27M and the top manager, Simione at €40.5M. We manged to get a world class manager in Ancelotti who is listed at €12M with €6M of that owed from Napoli from bonuses in his contract.

As far as we aware, we don't now if Ancelotti is capable of building a team, but looking for someone else with him only being in charge for a curtailed end of last season, the summer break, and the start of this season, it seems strange that some of the supporters are starting to doubt him. The strange thing is, I did not hear many of these complaints for the first 6-7 games at the start of the season.

The problem Everton have in recruiting players is we have to wait in line if any of the top 6 want them, as Everton have nothing to offer ambitious top-class players. They can only offer promises and a history. History to me, unless you are a supporter, is something that just collects dust and players these days want the exposure of playing in European tournaments and in teams that have a chance to win the league.

Ancelotti is the first manager for a long time who some players want to come to Everton because they want to play for Ancelotti. This is a change from having to compete with the top 6.

Jim Bennings
94 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:09:30
If as expected we do lose to Chelsea next Saturday night, it will be three successive home defeats.

Can anyone remember the last time that happened at Everton?

Another unenviable record on the horizon?

Neil Cremin
95 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:09:54
Bill Rogers,

You probably expressed my concerns better than I tried to do in my post at #50.

My fear at the moment is we are making very slow progress and, at the current evidence, anything better than top 10 will be progress.

Robert Tressell
96 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:17:45
Ancelotti is a very good manager. He is working with a very average squad. Mourinho looked a bad fit for Spurs at times. Pochettino looked a bad fit for Spurs (early on) too. It takes a bit of time to sort out a mess. It takes longer if the mess doesn't contain many quality players.

Whether Ancelotti is a great fit for us you can debate. But I didn't see any outstanding candidates knocking around except Pochettino and I'd confidently expect he wasn't remotely interested. Ancelotti will do fine overall (meaning knocking on the door of 6th with the 7th or 8th best team). But to do much more, he needs much better players.

Jim Bennings
97 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:24:17
We keep hearing about this "average" squad but this is a team made up of internationals from England, Brazil, Colombia, France and Portugal, then there's all these players the fans are raving about like Holgate, Gordon etc, etc.

But we are constantly told Ancelotti can't get a tune out of them... So who is actually right here and what's going on??

Alex Gray
98 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:27:36
I look at our team that finished 5th with Martinez and why we were so effective in that first season going forwards. Forgetting tactics for a second, we had a young energetic Barkley who could drive forward with pace through the middle, a young Lukaku who could run with the ball at pace, and even the likes of Deulofeu on the bench, who had pace in abundance.

I genuinely believe we're not athletic enough still. Richarlison has it but all our best attacks go through him. Calvert-Lewin is fast but not with the ball and James isn't that kind of player.

A dynamic central attacking midfielder and a fast right-winger would transform this team for me. Who those players are that have that quality and we can afford is another question but, at the minute, we're simply too slow. Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea are prime examples and even Man Utd, though they're inconsistent. They have electric pace.

Phil Wood
99 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:29:15
Danny @8,9

I have always been one to give managers time but what we are seeing with Carlo is pure bloody mindedness. His unwillingness to give the younger players a go is beyond belief.

Gordon and Nkounkou have shown enough to merit at least a place on the bench but are left out. I wouldn't have a problem with this if the players included had a proven track record of late but many have been dragging weed for ages.

A very disheartening trait as these young players will want to move on to prove themselves and I think they are exceptional talents.

Ask me if I would take Duncan tomorrow and I would say Yes, as Carlo I imagine is not one for turning and I cannot see the positives for this Club. This is another expensive mistake for us as we cannot afford to release him if things fall apart. They probably won't but all I can see is mid-table with this mindset.

Don Alexander
100 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:31:09
Barry (#88), whatever one's opinion of Mourinho, I think the mega-spending allowed by Abramovic for dozens of players was more significant.
Barry Rathbone
101 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:46:37
Bill @93,

People may not have been complaining at early results but I would suggest most understood the potential for another false dawn which inevitably it has turned into.

Don @100,

Abramovich wasn't at Porto!!

Danny O’Neill
102 Posted 06/12/2020 at 21:59:23
Or Jim, we unexpectedly beat Chelsea just as we did last season.

Only this time if we do we are only 2 points behind them. We are better placed going into this fixture than we were last season.

Mike Gaynes
103 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:15:46
Alex #98, I said virtually the same thing in a post yesterday. There is simply no substitute for speed, and we are among the slowest teams in the Premier League. Even Wolves, Palace and Hammers are quicker than we are. When your paciest players are defenders (Holgate, Godfrey) and a defensive midfielder (Doucouré), and the players they match up with are even faster, you've got a problem.

I expect pace to be at the top of Carlo's shopping list, if not in January, then definitely in the summer.

Danny O’Neill
104 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:20:30
I'd argue that ability and quality can counter speed alone Mike. It's all about balance across the team.

Our very own Kevin Sheedy wasn't blessed with pace but my word he was talented. Andrea Pirlo is one of the best players I have witnessed. He wasn't renowned for his pace, just his ability to dictate play.

I get what you're saying, but it is not just about pace and speed. That's English disease and why we end up with players like Iowbi.

Steve Carse
105 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:20:51
Beating Chelsea at Goodison Park with a new, temporary manager and a 40,000 full house of pumped up, vitriolic Evertonians is one thing. Getting something out of a flying Chelsea side on steroids (not literally) in front of 2,000 Blues is another.
Danny O’Neill
106 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:31:29
In the current circumstances, we've beaten the current league leaders and taken a point from the champions who have just mauled the "speedy" Wolves.

Let's see what happens as always.

Patrick McFarlane
107 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:38:18
If we are to defeat Chelsea on Saturday night, we'll need the same amount of good fortune that we had last season in the same fixture. I'm obviously hoping the team can pull out a major performance but I'm afraid if they play as they did against Man Utd this season, they'll get a good hiding. I don't see the necessary drive and energy in this team, regardless of personnel, and that worries me greatly.
Danny O’Neill
108 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:42:53
Good fortune, Patrick? I thought it was because of Saint Duncan.

That is tongue-in-cheek and absolutely not aimed at you, by the way!!!

Andrew Dempsey
109 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:44:46
Phil #99

You're bang on. We've seen the best of what Ancelotti can offer. This is it, sadly. It's not going to magically get better under him, only worse.

He's showing us exactly that he's about, and yet a lot of people on here are convinced he's going to bring these 6 or 7 World Class players in, with pace and skill up the wazoo, and then everything will be fine.

God bless these believers, they're absolute sweethearts, I want to get on board with their faith. All I'm seeing is mediocre to shite level management that won't see us getting anywhere near the top six after the 4½ years have elapsed.

Kieran Kinsella
110 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:49:18
Mike 103,

“There is no substitute for speed” – you're hanging around the wrong shady nightclubs!

Tom Bowers
111 Posted 06/12/2020 at 22:53:39
I think now, on reflection that the good results we have had this season have been rather fortunate apart from that game at Spurs.

Carlo is playing a system which is very vulnerable to teams that show a determination and press Everton's back four early as shown even by teams like Burnley.

Everton are much too sloppy at farting around at the back trying to work it forward too slowly.

Yes, it may be that these players are still not good enough and changes have to be made in January but at the moment we have to go with what we have.

Funny how nothing has really gone right since that awful game against RS even though VAR helped us get a point.

We had to hang on against Fulham and struggled again yesterday and just look where both teams are in the table.

Everton's new signings have become very disappointing and dropping them wouldn't be such a bad idea and although they have done some decent things they just don't perform at a high standard for 90 minutes.

On current form it's hard to see us beating anyone for a while.

Andrew Dempsey
112 Posted 06/12/2020 at 23:05:50
Here's another thing,

I think the more this passive sluggishness goes on, the more galling and obvious Ancelotti's body language and demeanour will become.

He doesn't seem arsed when we don't win, and maybe the reason for that is, he isn't.

Trevor Peers
113 Posted 06/12/2020 at 23:25:19
The next transfer window is crucial for Carlo, having loaned out Kean and Walcott and not replacing either was an elementary mistake bordering on stupidity. The unlucky injuries in defense have seen him change tactics, using three centre-backs, which has made him look equally as foolish. With both our wingbacks out injured he's mysteriously used totally the wrong players to fill the gaps.

Carlo's only salvation is to buy some firepower and pace in the next windows if there's any cash available and return to a 4-4-2 formation. That might buy him some time if results improve; at the moment, we will struggle to beat anyone.

Derek Thomas
114 Posted 06/12/2020 at 23:59:28
Jim @ 97; whats going on?...a leading question and no mistake.

WTactual F IS going on?

Lets start with Koeman and his 1st League game Vs Spurs. He'd told us...when he got back from his extra weeks holiday and he was back from Birkdale or Hoylake, that the intensity and fitness had to improve...but it wouldn't happen overnight.

We started off with a hiss and a roar to lead Spurs but dropped off as he said we might, until everyone was, literally - up to speed. 1-1
The future looked promising.

This season we started, again Vs a somewhat lethargic? Spurs and we did a 0-1 job on them...all the media went on about - as always - was how bad Spurs were...but we were quite good ourselves and the future looked promising.

Well we know the rest. Stuff happened, well yeah thats what stuff does.

For the !ast 3 or 4 years this team / starting11, in its various incarnations and under various Coaches has turned out some of those 'Good' 1-1s and 0-1s...and some right awful performances, more of the latter...these seem to be the only constant.

The Coaches and the starting 11s have flicked around like a demented airport departures boards.

Were now 'stuck', if thats the right word, with Mr Ancelotti for a minimum of another season and a half.

I hope the airport board settles down and our flight gets called soon.

Jim Harrison
115 Posted 07/12/2020 at 07:06:22
“ offering a golden opportunity for one of the sides not usually in the mix for fourth place to claim a Champions League spot.”

Interesting assertion this given that the top 6 looks pretty familiar after 10 games bar maybe that Leicester seem to have replaced Arsenal. To get into the top 4 will take more than one season realistically.

I think it’s still pretty obvious that even having had 5 managers and 2 DOF the squad still isn’t good enough. With the best 11 players available we have a very good team, but we are hugely reliant on Digne, Richarlison and DCL. For me James is at his best for us when he has Digne as an option to switch to, and whilst he is brilliant to watch his effectiveness is diminished without guys to do the running on his behalf

Need a long term right back. Hopefully Gbambin can step into the defensive mid role to allow Allan and Dacoure to move further up the pitch. If not him then that role needs filling.
We have been split for left backs with Baines, Digne and even Oviedo before his injury, and if the young lad isn’t ready for the first team an alternative needs to be brought in. Can’t have players on the books that are positional specific and not being in the match day squad even when there is a gap in the team

And what a shame we didn’t get Giroud when he left Arsenal. How we could do with someone else to help out DCL. He has done an excellent job this season, but his goals pretty much all come from similar moves. He doesn’t create anything for himself. We don’t seem to get through the middle very often

Robert Tressell
116 Posted 07/12/2020 at 07:20:12
Trevor, the next window is important. And the next couple after that. Our squad is hundreds of millions behind those above us. It's going to take time, luck and strategy to catch up without out spending those above us. Carlo is adopting a weird formation / personnel - but the big issue is that we still have an upper mid-table squad. Ergo, we looking at an upper mid-table finish.
Mike Gaynes
117 Posted 07/12/2020 at 07:36:29
Danny #104, Sheedy and Pirlo didn't have much pace, but they had people around them who did. No, of course, speed isn't the be-all-and-end-all, but a team without it is definitely handicapped, particularly in attack. Opponents are able to pressure our midfield because we don't have anybody up front or out wide who can really stretch the defense (Vardy, Aubameyang) or terrorize defenders off the dribble (Traore, Salah). Richarlison will challenge but lacks the scorching pace and can be readily double-teamed anyway because there's no other threat to balance him.

When James has people who can space defenders ahead of him, his passing will be twice as effective.

I'd like to say more, but I'm too busy laughing hysterically at another poster's outrage over Carlo's "body language."

Robert Tressell
118 Posted 07/12/2020 at 08:39:13
Mike, totally agree. It is possible that having pace & quality might even bring a bit more out of Sigurdsson and Gomes, since both are currently starved of space and passing options at the moment. The trouble is that fast wide players with end product are a very highly prized commodity - since they are essential to a successful 433 (probably the most popular current formation). Hopefully one arrives in Jan as not convinced the departure of Kean was really part of the plan.
Tony Everan
120 Posted 07/12/2020 at 09:04:10
Alex @98

We need both of those players, the dynamic mobile central midfielder with pace and energy and aggressive too.

We do need the pace up front it is essential to have that asset as part of our attack. Useful too as a game changing player from the bench. At the moment we are using Tosun to add the threat! ) I think a player who fits that description will come in on loan in January.

Maybe equally as important is signing a right back. Kenny is not being consider all, and Seamus will be in and out more and more. We may have to wait until summer for these signings, but one or two shrewd loan signings in January could buy us time.

Christopher Timmins
121 Posted 07/12/2020 at 09:17:38
We need much improved performances between now and the new year. We are in a far better place than this time last year but unfortunately the results have not been good over the past few weeks against teams we would have expected to do better against.

We need to revert back to the system in place at the start of the season. Hopefully, Seamus will be back sooner rather than later and Nkounkou will be given his chance. I don't see what he has done in his starts to date not to be considered.

Jim Harrison
122 Posted 07/12/2020 at 09:23:36
Robert 118

The problem with Kean is that he didn’t actually do that much in Everton colours. Fair play to the lad, he’s got a few at PSG. Had he showed his form in training and on the pitch he would still be at Everton.

Mike 117

With you on body language stuff. What do you want guys? A you Gordon Ramsey going beno in the line? The look and comments he gave Dom when he passed the ball straight out left no doubts how he felt.

Clive Rogers
123 Posted 07/12/2020 at 10:08:09
Our midfield is indeed ponderous leading to extra pressure on our back line. Fortunately the three centre backs played well against Burnley and Godfrey continued to perform when moved to LB. The other big problem is that there is only one player scoring goals at present. The midfield has contributed just one goal this season. With Richie’s touch in front of goal being off it is just not good enough.
Robert Tressell
124 Posted 07/12/2020 at 10:13:13
Unfortunately, the general thrust is that we need:

- a new goalie
- a first choice RB
- a new reserve LB
- a quality holding midfielder unless Gbamin breaks quarantine rules with a trip to Lourdes
- a central midfielder with some pace, bite and goals
- a quality winger (or two) with pace and end product
- a quality striker to compete with DCL

This is not going to be quick, cheap or easy to assemble. For ready made players that's about £200m worth of players - more if you set your sights on established prem players like Zaha.

On an unrelated note, Mourinho is going all out in his praise of Hojbjerg. Passing stats, simplicity and leadership etc. I strongly suspect we'd be looking at a different player had he arrived at Everton. The sideways and backward passing curse might not the fault of the midfield - but more an indictment of the crap movement, lack of pace and options in the attacking third (unless we have a fit & fresh trio of DCL, Richarlison and Rodriguez in together in the same team).

And I guess I'll beg to differ with some of the opinions of Kean but it doesn't really matter - he's gone and almost certainly won't be back.

Clive Rogers
125 Posted 07/12/2020 at 10:29:06
I am not sure that Allan was what we needed. He struggled against Burnley defensively and has only scored 11 goals in his entire career. He looks a player past his best to me.
Sam Hoare
126 Posted 07/12/2020 at 10:30:57
Not fit enough. Not quick enough. Not caring enough.

Allan and Doucore were both upgrades on what we had. But neither are that quick, and both like to roam. Rodriguez is a great playmaker for a team that expects to have lots of the ball. But in a team that struggles to plug holes he is a problematic luxury.

It's all very well saying play a 433 but that system was being found out by the likes of Southampton and United, overloading our right hand side where no right back can cope with Rodriguez being given a free remit and Doucore is no defensive midfielder.

Our best bet may be a 4231 with James in the 10 but it risks DCL getting very isolated.

Another season of 8th-12th beckons and I fear its looking more like 12th at the moment. Poor organisation, recruitment of decent players who don't quite fix the problems and a lack of sharpness and hunger. Not expecting a very merry Xmas for the toffees.

Chris Williams
127 Posted 07/12/2020 at 11:13:28
Doucoure looked pretty quick against Newcastle, when he matched St. Maximin stride for stride up the left wing and then won the tackle.

St. Maximin is no slouch.

Sam Hoare
128 Posted 07/12/2020 at 11:29:58
Chris, I'd say Doucore has a decent top speed but not good acceleration. And he's also not the quickest to react to things.

It could be the system, with too many holes; or it could be the fitness, but we just look slow to react to problems and the (constant) loss of posession.

Ken Kneale
129 Posted 07/12/2020 at 12:08:34
Robert - you are correct - the sideways and backward passing curse is a long standing problem across any number of our managers - that is something Carlo and Brands can and should sort out - some of us would say should have sorted out by now.

Dealing with that alone and playing some front foot football would create a much better feeling towards the current (limited ) crop of players and also provide the opposition with food for thought - at the moment every team seems to be able to work us out and nullify what threat we have.

Darren Hind
130 Posted 07/12/2020 at 12:29:40
Sheedy was surrounded by pace ?...No he wasnt.

What Sheedy was surrounded by was good footballers and fierce competitors. Sharp was slow, Gray was slower and if you have any doubts as to how slow Reidy was just watch Maradona's goal. The likes of Richarlison, DCL and Doucoure would leave those three for dead in a race.
Brace was no slouch, but he was no Greyhound either. Neither were Richardson or Harper. Inchy was more a scamperer than a sprinter. beside the one season when we had Lineker, the only player who came close to being fast was Tricky Trev. Most of our pace was across the back line

Pace and speed of movement can get you so far, but it will always always, play second fiddle to guile and intelligent movement.

We don't lack pace we lack Guile. Intelligence.

DCL and Richarlison are much faster than Sharp and Gray, but they don't know how to make it count. They simply don't have the streets Smarts. They're too nice. When the dark arts were being taught, they were at the back of the class.

I don't buy we don't have pace in the middle of the park either. Doucoure is as powerful a runner as I've seen in our midfield. Iwobi is fast, Allan is no slouch either. James is every bit as fast as Sheedy.

I cringed when people celebrated Carlo's "pulling power" after he'd landed three players nobody else was in for. When people on here were asking me to "eat crow" After Carlo had landed his "world class players". I simply sent it back down the table.
I'd seen the class of 85 and I knew none of these "superstars" belonged in the same post code.

Danny O’Neill
131 Posted 07/12/2020 at 12:40:55
Personally cannot argue with any of that Darren.

Good footballers but time and space with their brain and decision making as much as by running fast.

A long standing problem with English football has been overly focissing on pace and power.

Dennis Stevens
132 Posted 07/12/2020 at 12:52:53
Good points Darren, & the lack of commitment, aggression, determination & teamwork also puts contemporary players way behind those of previous eras - even some of our previous teams that were less than stellar still had those attributes.
Chris Williams
133 Posted 07/12/2020 at 12:53:12

That’s fair enough. I think we’re not getting the best out of Doucoure because of the system we’ve played from time to time, with him sitting and covering for James. We got a hint with his goal. He also missed a decent chance when he got on the end of one in the box.

If we only play 2 in central midfield though we won’t see so much of that.

Lack of pace throughout is also an issue as you say, and won’t be addressed unless it’s brought in in January.

Loss of possession is down to habitual sloppy passing, a basic skill really. It used to be called looking after the ball.

Paul Niklas
134 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:01:11
Why don't you post my comments?
Robert Tressell
135 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:12:08
Darren, the game has moved on since 1985. We really do need pace (and athleticism). Together I'd tend to call those qualities dynamism. It is essential in the premier league. That's because everyone else has plenty of it and as a minimum we need to keep up. That's especially the case in games where we don't have absolute dominance of the ball (which is most of them).

It's even more the case because Rodriguez is a passenger without the ball. So we need dynamic players to compensate.

A new dynamic midfielder would help enormously (because Gomes and Sigurdsson are fairly lifeless). And a dynamic right back too.

Imagine us but with a Wijnaldum and a Lamptey. Whole different proposition. Yes they both have quality but they also have the pace & engine we need.

Len Hawkins
136 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:14:15
I get updates on Everton off Google most of it is rubbish but one thing I read is Carlton Palmer that all knowing all seeing sage of everything Everton FC.

He reckons Mr Mosh will not permit any business to be done in January, so there we have it the Oracle has spoken.

We're doomed I tell ye doomed.

Neil Cremin
137 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:14:40
It is not pace we are lacking but speed of thought. We do not move the ball at pace through the pitch to get at the opposition. We have the players capable of exploiting opportunities but we are way too slow in the buildup that the opposition have plenty of time to organise defensively so we regularly end up backtracking even back as far as Jordan. Frustrating.
James Marshall
138 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:44:10
The knock-on effect of losing both your full backs, then not playing recognised full backs is glaringly obvious to me.

Carlo is trying to play about 3 systems at once, which clearly doesn't work. It's not a secret that our form has dropped off a cliff since losing Coleman, Digne and Richarlison (I know he's back).

Our full backs are integral to the way we play, and without them we're screwed.

In my view, he should be using Kenny and Nkounkou - they may be inexperienced (esp Nkounkou) but at least they're both specialists in playing that position - instead he's using Delph (WTF) and Godfrey, or weirdly, Iwobi. Madness.

We lack balance, penetration, movement, you name it and why? Because the first 11 is a team full of players playing out of position all the time. Just use Kenny and Nkounkou and at the very least you get our shape back.

Barry Rathbone
139 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:46:37
I imagine most of these players would look 25% faster if motivated to play at full tilt the problem is they are not. The entire club is a wistful bubble with a motto of "oh! hard cheese better luck next time".

No wonder that ludicrous song "Grand old team" gets an airing the entire organisation is a cabal of lard arsed, effete dandies hanging on to past glories.

Mick O'Malley
140 Posted 07/12/2020 at 13:59:40
Darren @130 And the player Ancellotti wanted signed for Spurs instead to go and play for Jose, so much for pulling power!
Sam Hoare
141 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:09:29
Chris@133, yes exactly. The lack of acceleration from the likes of Allan, Doucore and Rodriguez of course, plus the endless gaps is made worse by the fact that we seem to give the ball away endlessly.

This is turn may be because the sytem is not right or the players are not showing for the ball enough. Though often I see us misplace very simple passes.

We are not in the 80's sadly and teams are fitter and faster which means any such mistakes are pounced upon easily by men pouring forwards. This is why poor passes followed by an undermanned midfield is resulting in us giving up so many chances and struggling to keep a clean sheet.

Darren Hind
142 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:13:53
The game has moved on since 85, but day when speed trumps intelligence will never dawn. Nor will the day when speed of foot trumps speed of thought.
I'll tell you something else that wont change; Winners will always be winners and losers... Actually, theres no need to come on an Evertonian website and try to tell anybody what a loser looks like

People come on here with all sorts of theories. The blame lack of pace. They blame lack of fitness. They blame lack of desire. They blame lack of talent. They blame lack of heart I don't see any of that. What I see is lack of cohesion, lack of direction. Lack of belief, Lack of any sort of system. Put simply. We are not a team.

When people argue about the tactics employed by Ancelotti. I waonder what they are talking about...whatever formation we play, even when we have most of the possession. it always feels like the opposition have more players than us...Why is that ?

Everytime I see Everton play I always feel we are strung out like a fucking washing line. Our full backs don't tuck in. Our forwards are often isolated and easily marked.
Our defenders don't like too much grass behind them so they are allowed to defend as deep as they want. DCL must feel he need binoculars to see Michael keane. Pickford always stretches us still further trying to hoof the ball into the opponents area...And its not just back to front. Its right across the park.
It often looks like Allan and Doucoure are overrun and out numbered. Thats because they are. Instead of moving as a cohesive, compact unit, we are spread all over the fucking park.

Our players are not unfit. They are not especially slow. but the workload and responsibility simply isn't shared evenly across the team.
When you make allowances for players who want to avoid traffic/battle and stay out on the flanks, or allow a defender to sit deep because he is more comfortable sitting deep. You`re creating holes in the unit. Gaps appear all over the pitch. players trying to close the gaps often fall between 2-3 stools

Our tactics don't matter a fuck, because too much is asked of some players and not enough is expected of others.

Ask not what your team can do for you...

Derek Taylor
143 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:17:43
I ask again, 'how can a manager of such experience and success possibly make as many mistakes as Ancellotti ?'Or is it his many critics, most whom have never kicked a ball for money, who have got it all wrong ?
Robert Tressell
144 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:27:29
Darren, the real problem is a lack of quality to the tune of about half a billion pounds. That's how far adrift we are of Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea. More dynamic players will help bridge the gap because it at least gives us a platform to compete physically (which we're currently not doing even with the likes of Leeds). Rodriguez is a good example of someone with brains and quick feet, but the fact he's playing for a mid-table premier league side tells you all you need to know about the importance of physical attributes in the modern game.
Sam Hoare
145 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:46:24
Darren@142, but all those things are inter-related.

You're right. We don't look like a team, we don't look like we have belief. But all those other things that you dismiss play into that. Lack of heart, lack of desire, lack of fitness etc

How are you going to have belief if you lack all those things? How are you going to play as a team if you don't have any clear system or organisation or identity? If you have no real leadership?

I agree that there are players not doing enough, defenders sitting too deep etc but that is all part of tactics and the system.

All these things matter and the margins are often small. If Gylfi puts that ball in from 6 yards out then we win and are in the top 5, but these small margins seem to keep going against us, and there is a myriad of reason why.

Belief comes in large part from winning. It's a habit that you need to get into. You can buy winners galore (Lord knows Carlo has won enough) but untill this team starts winning more regularly it doesn't matter who we buy or who manages us. They need to do it at Everton. And that only happens when those margins start going our way. And those margins are determined by alot of things; pace (or body and mind), tactics, teamwork, desire, quality, fitness etc. They all contribute.

Rob Dolby
146 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:47:38
Doomed doomed we're all doomed.

What a total shit show we are. From top to bottom we are shit.

We have players who according to this thread suffer from just about every weakness.

We have a manager who can't manage, not shouty enough, not good at making subs, not good at picking a team, generally shit.

A shit billionaire owner who won't get rid of BK who ruined us single handedly, A chief exec that is shit. Brands who is also shit.

A naive forward line who aren't as good as yester years favourites. A motto that needs changing to "only the shitest is shit enough"

Shit songs that the fans sing.

Can't wait until we sack Carlo and bring someone else in equally shit. It will give the wise old sages more chance to be proven correct that we are shit.

Other than that we are doing alright or maybe shit depending on how empty your glass is.

Tony Abrahams
147 Posted 07/12/2020 at 14:56:30
One great paragraph there Darren, and until we play like one whole unit, or as a team, the debate isn’t going to change mate
Patrick McFarlane
148 Posted 07/12/2020 at 15:03:38
What was the old maxim 'Let the ball do the work' but that can only happen when each and every member of the team is prepared to run their socks off and move on to the ball and then are able to pass it properly to another Everton team-mate.

Everton's team plays like nervous kittens, never fully comfortable with the ball, often afraid of losing the ball in key areas, and rarely risking playing a forward ball until it's too late and they run out of time and space and are forced to go backward and start all over again

It's not down to speed alone, that allows the likes of City et al to get the ball forwards and launch attacks on goal, it's about understanding when and how to move and how to keep hold of the ball until you get a shot away or put in a dangerous cross.

The amount of time and space that Everton afford to even the most limited of teams often leads to the ball arriving at our defence practically every time the opponents have possession and that inevitably leads to panic stations at the back.

But Darren is spot-on that lack of pace in defence is what hurts us the most, so we can never really push up the field and squeeze the opposition back in their own half for any significant periods of time.

McCarthy in Martinez's team did all of the work on his own, as did Gueye more recently, we have two in there now and yet they are unable to quell opposition attacks as often as we'd like or need, and too often they rely on finding James in order to get the ball up the field.

On Saturday, Burnley did spend a bit of the second-half deep in their own half, but Everton didn't work the ball cleverly enough to create anything of note, save that late chance for Siggy.

As good as our front players are, they aren't able to keep the opposition guessing, Dominic's role is difficult but simple and he's doing his job admirably, Richarlison used to be our main goal-getter but now he's playing more like a winger and his desperation for a goal is beginning to make him look ordinary, which he isn't.

Neither of the forwards should have to come back midway into Everton's half to make tackles and harry people that should be left to the midfielders and defenders, the forwards should work to get the ball back of course but only in limited areas, else they are wasting their energy.

Robert Tressell
149 Posted 07/12/2020 at 15:06:24
Rob, it depends a bit on your expectations. I don't think we're shit - I think we'll finish between 6th and 10th even with no additional recruitment this season.

That might be considered a bit shit for those who can remember the 1980s. I can't.

It's frustrating - because it always feels like something better is almost within reach but then you get the injuries, suspensions and PTSD associated with Derbies.

I don't want it to be like that but it is (without massive spending and / or a marvellous new recruitment strategy). The silver(ish) lining is that with everyone fit we at least play good stuff and score goals. So let's just hope we can get the first 11 back ASAP and try and sneak 6th.

John Pierce
150 Posted 07/12/2020 at 15:15:32
Rob 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

Yet more naval gazing back at ‘85. Slaughtering our current crop against that side is pointless, serves no purpose and frankly lazy to compare. It’s not the same game at all. Is anyone going to say ‘ah no way Calvert-Lewin is clearly better on the air than Sharp’ or Sheedy couldn’t lace James’ boots’?

Just a load of emotional misty eyed rubbish which no-one on the right mind would rail against the team of that era. Shooting fish in a barrel.
Not a iota of balance either, just a picture of disaster, everything is going to ‘pot’. Frankly using the ‘85 team to troll this current team is just mechanism, nothing constructive in it all.

Perhaps it’s used because that’s all that’s in the locker, a default script for the soapbox, to shout the loudest for longest.

It changes no-ones mind, it only emboldens those who think the same way to clamour for those days, it advances no argument to why the team is struggling, offers no persuasive tone to a solution, no collaboration, just division.

I’m right, you are wrong, the team is shit, the unmistakable stench of the nostalgia post.

John Hall
151 Posted 07/12/2020 at 16:33:27
How intense are the training sessions ? How fit are our players ?

Delph makes one full out sprint and his hamstring is gone !!

Obviously very easy training sessions are the norm.

Ray Robinson
152 Posted 07/12/2020 at 16:43:52
John #150, I tend to agree. Nobody can deny that players of that era were just as good if not better than some of those playing today, but, for all that we are relatively "poor" by comparison with some other contemporary teams, I'd hazard a guess that the current team would beat the team of 84/85. There I've said it. That team was the best I've ever seen in Blue relative to the football and other teams that played at that time, but the football that is played today is light years away from that played in the eighties. I'm afraid pace and athleticism does matter. It doesn't trump speed of thought, it goes with it.

Making constant comparisons with the distant past is great from a nostalgic point of view but it doesn't solve any of the current problems.

Brian Harrison
153 Posted 07/12/2020 at 16:53:13
Just to have a break from the comments on Saturdays game against Burnley, how sad yesterday to hear that Peter Aliss had died. I was just thinking of all the great commentators that are no longer with us. Peter O,Sullivan the doyen of horse racing, Ritcie Benaud, Bill McClaren the voice of Rugby Union. Harry Carpenter the boxing commentator, Dan Maskell tennis, Eddie Waring rugby league, Murray Walker, Sid Waddel. We just don't seem to produce the same quality as these guys had. I always remember Peter O,Sullivan commentating on the Vernons sprint handicap at Haydock, and his own horse Be Friendly won it, but you wouldnt have known he owned the horse from his commentary, completely unbiased.

Peter Alliss was not only a very good golfer but he understood the game and at times wasn't slow to criticize, especially slow play that was his and most fans biggest bugbear. He often commented how can it take these players 5 hours plus to play a round of golf when most hit it 300 yards plus off the tee. Next years Masters wont be the same without Alliss. But all the commentators I have mentioned were absolutely brilliant and a joy to listen to. Todays commentators I would be hard pushed to name many, as most are more interested in their opinions being aired than actually doing what they are paid for, which is to increase the enjoyment for the people watching.

Mike Gaynes
154 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:00:09
Brian, sad to hear that. Mr. Alliss was beloved over here, as was Henry Longhurst long ago.

Did you know Alliss taught Sean Connery to play golf for Goldfinger?

Darren Hind
155 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:06:12
The claim was made that Sheedy was surrounded by speed. The claim was utter bollocks.
Now it would be easy to just say it was utter bollocks. but that would be as idle as the original claim.
Those with knowledge of the players Sheedy played with will already know it is utter bollocks. Those who don't (the people who make the claim) wont.

Calls for speed of movement were countered by the point that intelligent movement and guile is more effective. Debatable ? not for me, but others are more than welcome to debate it.

What I do know, is that the 85 team was not brought up, fueled by dewey eyed nostalgia. They were already brought into it by the claim one of the players was surrounded by pace.

Dribbling skills, heading skills, passing skills. first touch etc were not discussed. What was suggested (and the 85 team were a perfect example) was that intelligent movement and guile are and always will be, more desirable and more effective than raw speed.

Those who don't understand those points may dismiss them as emotional misty eyed nostalgia.
Those who REALLY don't understand will think the game as moved so far, speed of thought and intelligent movement is no longer the primary requirement for playing top level football....They'll be the ones who are looking at our position now and scratching their heads.

It seems I offended the senses of the TW police. But I don't think I've ever compared this team to any of the great Everton sides before.
Perhaps I should take a walk down memory lane more often. It wasnt just the team I loved. I loved the fact that the fans KNEW we had top players. These days we seem to be surrounded by people who only think we have

Tony Abrahams
156 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:08:55
John@151, there is definitely something up with Fabian Delph the footballer imo mate. He never played after the restart, Ancellotti kept him away from the team for the whole duration, so the player could sort out his body, and stop getting those little niggly injuries, but even after six months without a game, he still keeps constantly breaking down.

I’m glad he broke down on Saturday, we looked better when he went off. Godfrey was a little bit awkward with the football, because he kept having to come inside, but he definitely looks like a player who is going to relish getting stuck in and defending.

Ancellotti has got to make us pragmatic, and not by picking the most experienced players, but by picking the players who want to go and play on the front foot. Only then will things begin to change for the better imo!

Mike Gaynes
157 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:17:34
Sam #145, spot on.

Ray #152, a daring sentiment but it's true that the athleticism of players in all sports, not just football, is well beyond what it was 30-40 years ago.

In 1985, the world record at 100 meters was 9.93. Today it's 9.58. Different world.

Bill Rodgers
158 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:19:00
There are no shortcuts, but EFC fans fall for them every time. We need to build a culture that strives constantly, then a system that we believe in. Then we can build a team.

But parachuting expensive managers and expensive players in will never work. At best, they will flatter to deceive, but finish mid-table if we're lucky. There is no commitment - not even to training. CA is hoping to get lucky - but is not particularly bothered either way.

You can see the complete lack of intensity in every moment of the games. Even our throwins lack conviction.

John Pierce
159 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:26:08
Tony/John, Delph is an odd fella. I mused on the live forum he’d last 30minutes, proffered in a lazy, a bullish trope. To my amusement he lasted 26mins.

It’s clear Ancelloti values time on the pitch, experience over youth, unless he has absolutely no alternative, Branthwaite springs to mind.

What I cannot get over is to use a player in the most dynamic position on the pitch in modern football, when they are not quick, injury prone and not even left footed. Let’s say he was 100% fit he can still probably only play at 70% of his ability given his lack of attributes in that role. Ancelloti deserves both barrels for that alone!

He wandered inside, because naturally his touch and right-footedness took him there, slowing our tempo to a crawl. At one point he was almost at right back! He stands on the ball like some conquering general, then cowardly turns back. The instant burst of relief when he crunched the gears and tried to get out of first only to find there was nothing there, was a blessing in disguise.

I go back to the to-do he had with Holgate, his body language is often strident, and he never seems part of the team. One of the weirdest signings in many a year. Maybe he’ll spontaneously retire to g run a country pub.

Mike Gaynes
160 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:28:32
Darren #155, what's bollocks is your reading ability. Or maybe your... um... okay, let's be polite and call it your lack of adherence to accuracy.

I didn't say "surrounded by speed"... I said "Sheedy and Pirlo didn't have much pace, but they had people around them who did."

You got a little creative there by inserting the word "surrounded" and repeating it multiple times, but that doesn't make it any less of an... exaggeration.

If you can't make a point without playing games with other people's words, maybe your point isn't worth making.

John #159, Delph is left-footed.

Andrew Keatley
161 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:29:08
We're still a way short of being a club that regularly shows consistent cohesion on the pitch, but I still feel like we are heading in a more promising direction than at any point since Roberto Martinez revealed himself to be a busted flush.

I've been a critic of Gomes of late, but I thought he helped to settle our play and showed some very nice control and interplay - although his propensity to take too many touches and labour in possession needs to be addressed.

I would like to have seen Nkounkou given a run-out on Saturday - either as a starter or as a sub for Delph - but experience has generally taught me to trust the management when it comes to young players. Koeman, Unsworth, Allardyce, Silva, Ferguson, and Ancelotti all persevered with Calvert-Lewin - even when it seemed like the majority of voices on here doubted his ability and potential, and we can all appreciate how that turned out. Holgate has gradually grown from a squad player into (before his injury in pre-season) a regular starter. Kenny and Davies - despite various chances - have never really been fully backed by any of those managers with a consistent run of starts, despite calls from many people on here for them to be given their chance, and now they seem further from carving out first team starts than ever before. Other promising youngsters who starred for our youth sides or out on loan - Antonee Robinson, Kieran Dowell, Callum Connolly, Ryan Ledson, Liam Walsh, Joe Williams, Conor McAleny, Anthony Evans (to name a few*) have all been moved on and seem at this stage to be no great loss to the football club. I like what I have seen of Anthony Gordon and Niels Nkounkou but there is a huge canyon of a leap to the Premier League, and hopefully they will both make it - but now is clearly not considered to be the right time (for whatever reason) and I'll bow to Carlo and his team on that.

*The only exception that I regret losing is Lookman; with the right treatment and backing I still think he has the potential to be an extremely good footballer.

John Pierce
162 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:41:07
Mike really? Well he ‘effing doesn’t play like it!! Well I never, thanks for the correction. Why the fook does he always come inside. lack of pace I guess. I’ve never looked at him and thought left footed. Time for new specs
Mike Gaynes
163 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:52:11
John, it's easy to tell. His left-foot passes sail farther beyond their intended targets than the right-foot ones.
Mike Gaynes
164 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:52:12
John, it's easy to tell. His left-foot passes sail farther beyond their intended targets than the right-foot ones.
Tony Abrahams
165 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:57:19
Because he doesn’t want to run I’d say John P
Paul A Smith
166 Posted 07/12/2020 at 17:59:56
What do you want to see more.

2 quality signings in January or 2 kids that are not ready for Ancelotti to come through?

Bill is spot on about throw ins too. We have been the worst side from throw ins for years.

Ray Robinson
167 Posted 07/12/2020 at 18:06:06
Mike #157, are you agreeing with me or disagreeing? Genuinely, can't work it out!

I only had to look at my son who had a 6 months trial as a goalie at the Academy to see first hand how everything has changed in the meantime. The coaching he received went far beyond anything that existed when I played.

John Pierce
168 Posted 07/12/2020 at 18:07:59
Mike. 😭😭😭 Bravo. Tony I think I agree, maybe if he surrounded himself with pace, we’d have a ‘baller on our hands. 😜
Mike Gaynes
169 Posted 07/12/2020 at 18:18:55
Ray #167, I was agreeing with your point about athleticism.

I'm not expert enough to agree or disagree that the current squad would beat the '85 team, but I thought it was a daring thing to say in this company.

Patrick McFarlane
170 Posted 07/12/2020 at 18:26:41
Neville in his pomp would keep out our current mob and the current defence wouldn't be able to cope with Tricky Trevor or Sharpy. It's impossible to say how it would turn out but I'd back the 1985 team to give today's team a run for their money. Don't forget that 44 games were a minimum amount of fixtures, with little rest in between games and the pitches weren't as pristine as they are today. The downside for the 85 team is that their natural tendency for full-blooded tackles would see them down to nine players by half-time.
Joe McMahon
171 Posted 07/12/2020 at 18:29:49
Paul@166 and corners to, including Baines corners a few years back.

I do think in general it's time to move on from the 1985 team, as has already been stated it was years ago and things are different now, PL era is global and Everton are not. We somehow need to get in the CL league, Newcastle and Leeds have and I can see Leeds doing in again maybe next season.

Tony Everan
172 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:15:39
Sam @ 128 Hits on something with his comment. In midfield a massive issue is reaction time. The ability to react to a situation and close down faster because of it.

I think the top clubs focus on this alertness and reaction time in training. The training is geared to not just pressing, but pressing almost upon instinct. It’s this that is more likely to make the opponents spill possession and us to get a control on a game or to counter at pace. Our training needs to be focused on this big time.

Fractions of seconds can make massive differences, at the moment we only have Allan across the whole of our midfield who can lay claim to do this. A big part of the RS success is that they ALL do it and it leads to a goal or more for one of their front three, week in week out.

We need to better train our lads to do it, or buy quality players who can. Until then we will struggle to make any inroads on the top 6, especially a permanent basis.

Paul A Smith
173 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:25:23
Joe 171. Yes we do take an ordinary corner too.
Baines was superb from free kicks around the box but from corners we never seem to do anything different, regardless of the coaches.

I do think we are better off now than recent times and we also need to improve but players have to take some responsibilty and do something different.

Richarlison is 22 and if he has an off game we have no spark at all. That about sums our squad up.

We can't expect too much from the 2 of the 3 new signings in terms of fitness because they are not used to these demands and travelling for internationals hasn't helped.

There are players from premiership stock and players we expect more from just going through the motions and doing nothing different.

I think the manager has shown he'll give youth a go when the side is on form. Why damage them and teach them bad habits?

Sam Hoare
174 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:29:54
Of course speed of thought is important. Very possibly more important. But if you don't think pace and athleticism is important then you haven't been watching.

Check out the top few teams and their speed merchants:

Liverpool – Mane, Salah, Robertson, Jota, Minamino

Man City – Sterling, Mendy, Walker, Cancelo, Mahrez

Chelsea – Zouma, James, Werner, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi

Spurs – Son, Moura, Bergwijn, Reguillon, Bale

Mainly these players are wide players who can stretch teams but also return to shape quickly.

By comparison, we have Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and possibly Godfrey. It's why we struggle so much in Richarlison's absence. We struggle to stretch teams wide and behind and we struggle to recover shape quickly after losing possession.

Of course, this is just one of many problems but it is definitely a problem.

Tony Abrahams
175 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:41:59
Tony@172, “ALL” doing the same thing, is exactly what's missing with our team. It's virtually impossible to press from the front whilst our defence is so deep, and I'm sure if Ancellotti puts his mind to it, then he's got the players to solve this problem very quickly.

Rodriguez is absolute quality, but I'd swap his skill for work rate and a player to plug the gaps against Chelsea; otherwise they will destroy us imo.

Paul Smith
176 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:42:40
Have to agree on throw-ins. Shockingly bad for years. No-one shows for the ball, they don't want it, it's like a hot potato on Bonny night. Doucouré against Leeds, with 5 mins to go when we were chasing the game, gave away a foul throw – so frustrating and needless. Why has it not been addressed for years? It typifies a lack of care and planning and really needs to change or nothing will.
Tony Abrahams
177 Posted 07/12/2020 at 19:49:56
It’s lazy Paul, same with corners, especially nowadays with both the play, and the players, seemingly a lot more strung out than it has been for years?
Tony Everan
178 Posted 07/12/2020 at 20:25:40
Tony 175, Re Rodriguez, it is heresy to say it, but me too. It becomes a question of balance in the team. A mercurial player like him needs balancing with real aggressive midfielders and full-backs to mitigate his defensive deficiency. Without those midfielders, it is legitimate to ask whether the benefit he brings is greater than the weaknesses he causes.
Brian Harrison
179 Posted 07/12/2020 at 21:02:19
Mike @154,

I didn't know Peter Alliss taught Sean Connery to play golf. I know he was loved over in the States as much as he was here.

John Pierce
180 Posted 07/12/2020 at 21:22:45
Tony & Tony,

James might seem like a luxury, but he's not. For all people looking at his work rate etc, he put the 3 points on a plate for us on Saturday. Sigurdsson fluffing his lines to deliver the coup de grace. He forced Pope into a very good save with the curler. Last time we scored from outside the box?? Probably his goal v West Brom the only one I can recall.

Take him out against Chelsea and we lose the one player who can turn the game on his own. We might match Chelsea for work rate but will inevitably lose once we tire.

He's created stacks of chances in the last three games, Richarlison in particular has been woeful in front of goal, despite being well serviced by James. Given his stupidity started this unraveling, he owes us big time. I'm in a bad place with Richarlison atm, his performance Saturday was terrible.

For me, we simply have to find a right-back that will compensate for him. Allan and Doucouré are already playing 1½ positions to cover for the lack of a holding midfielder, which is compromising their ability to win the ball high up the field – something you both and Sam Hoare have eluded too. If one of the three centre-backs can't step into that space, then I guess you just have to play one there.

I might offer 4-3-3:

Davies Godfrey Keane Nkounkou
Allan Doucouré
James Calvert-Lewin Richarlison

I'd ask Tom to play like Hibbert and use Godfrey to cover in behind. Push the mids right on Kante and Jorginho. If you let those lads free, like Philips in the Leeds games, we'll get ruined.

Got to go, Carlo's on the blower! 😂

Paul Smith
181 Posted 07/12/2020 at 21:23:45
Right, Tony. Maybe it feeds into the point that Darren alludes to “that there's no cohesion”. We need a hive mind, a murmuration effect – just like those starlings I used to see when I was a kid.
Tony Abrahams
182 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:02:00
Absolute quality is how I describe James, John P, but he doesn’t plug the gaps, and even average midfielders, like Burnley had on Saturday, have got to much space, in the middle of the park, against Everton right now?

Danny O’Neill
183 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:08:55
I think the debate is that it is a balance, Sam. Those players you list are quick, but it is not just all about pace. It is about pace of thought. Salah is a great example. He finds himself in positions because of his thought-process and decision-making. Pace aides him but his footballing intelligence makes him the player he is.

If you just run fast and try hard... you run fast and try hard.

Andy Crooks
184 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:18:01
Paul and Tony, I agree with you on corners. I have long wondered what the significance is of the taker raising both arms. Observation over a period has cleared it up.

It is a signal that the corner will be a hit and hope piece of shit and that those in the box should prepare immediately for a counter-attack.

Has anyone seen an Everton corner in recent times that suggests that they have ever been practised in training? Same with throw-ins. They are like a free-kick against us.

Robert Tressell
185 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:25:55
Based on the approach so far, it's probably a back 4 of Holgate, Keane, Mina and Godfrey. Midfield of Gomes, Allan and Doucouré. Front 3 of Rodriguez, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison.

Won't be pretty.

Sam Hoare
186 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:38:23
Danny@183; yes, that’s pretty much what I said in my first two lines!
Tom Bowers
187 Posted 07/12/2020 at 22:39:15
The quicker we get back to having two proper full-backs, the better. I have never been a fan of three centre-backs in the back line.

Carlo obviously feels that is what he wants whilst keeping Nkounkou out, so that will be his downfall, as the ''wingbacks'' he has are just not helping. The lackadaisical way they gave away the Burnley goal so early was criminal. It gave Burnley the belief they could win and had Everton behind the eight ball until the equalizer. After that, the chances were limited and poorly taken. An all too familiar pattern that we saw last season and again over the last month or so.

It's clear that in the modern game the teams that can ''high press'', so to speak, and do it well, are the ones that will succeed. Of course, it helps to have the right players who have speed and ability which is not really a quality of this Everton squad.

The cream is rising to the top again and Everton are where they deserve to be on current form. Carlo has his work cut out now to get these players motivated again.

Jim Harrison
188 Posted 08/12/2020 at 01:56:59
Pace or intelligence? Surely it's a blend that works best? Or even better players who have pace and intelligence right?

Anyhow, the recent results have been a pisser. The most frustrating part of the performances for me have been the wasted possession and loose passing. It's falling to watch the slow, methodical, ponderous build-up play result in a cheap give-away. It's even more galling to see how quickly opponents have been able to take those concessions and move the ball quickly and efficiently through the middle of the pitch.

I think if we had a Gana or Kante (dream) in the team mopping up, then there would be greater balance. Allan doing the harrying further up the pitch. I thought Calvert-Lewin's goal on Saturday was a good example of how Allan is effective in winning the ball in our opponents half and retaining possession.

Darren Hind
189 Posted 08/12/2020 at 05:18:34
So... there's a significant difference between being Sheedy, being surrounded with speed and having speed around him? Okay, I don't see it; maybe I do have reading problems... no matter, I won't contest it.

With the exception of one rapid striker (for one season only) and a couple of very quick defenders, most of the players he played with in that all-conquering team would never be described as fast.

The claim is still ill-informed and it's still false.

Tony Abrahams
190 Posted 08/12/2020 at 09:11:43
Pace or intelligence? Barcelona, might have been past there best, but when they surrendered at Anfield, a couple of seasons ago, my red mate still keeps going onto me about a stat, that says Liverpool won the ball back, after giving it away within 4 seconds, something like 12 times in 5 minutes?

Barcelona, were obviously not calm, but calmness looks to be one of Ancellotti’s greatest traits, and he’s going to need it if results don’t improve quickly!

“Quality is great, but sometimes it’s pragmatism that wins football matches, and helps the team to regain a bit of lost confidence” especially when playing against a team like Chelsea?

Zideych? Give him space and he will destroy you, Werner? Give him space to run into, and he will run you ragged, Chelsea? Deny them space and frustrate them, otherwise pay the consequences! Football is such an easy game on paper!!

Ajay Gopal
191 Posted 08/12/2020 at 12:06:26
John (180), that is a good team. Although I suspect that Coleman will play this weekend - Carlo hinted as much in his post-match interview. We as fans do not want Coleman to be rushed back, but he looked pretty sharp in the team training video last week, so he must be ready to play.
Kase Chow
192 Posted 08/12/2020 at 12:31:01
Until our players decide that they are desperate to win - I mean DESPERATE then nothing will change significantly

Liverpool players look like they would die for each other, would break a bone if they had to. Some of our lot don’t look like they would break sweat for Everton

Liverpool come to Goodison like they own it and expect to win. We turn up and hope to do okay and ease out a victory if possible

Our players have such little character. I can’t stand Robertson or Henderson but I’d love their mentality in our dressing room

Salah has been amongst the leagues top scorers last 3 seasons and still sprint around desperate to win the ball back. James think sprinting is a dirty word

Mane has a strop and responds with goals. Richie’s current strop is bizarre. This guy is more talented than Son but we never see goals from him like Son scored vs Arsenal

Why don’t we shoot from outside the area? Why aren’t we absolutely desperate to win matches?

Because there’s something rotten in the club. And please don’t say it’s Bill. There’s a real issue with our mentality

We should only be signing proper characters with strong mentality going forwards or we’ll continue to see the inconsistent and rubbish dross we have currently

Danny O’Neill
193 Posted 08/12/2020 at 22:45:43
Seems we are mostly in broad agreement. Intelligence, decision making and speed of thought are equally as important as speed (pace) alone. I just don't like the "run fast" point of view. It breeds headless chickens, But I think we've all agreed it's a balance of the above.

What Tony says is what is one of, if not the, most important aspects of football in my view; space. Create space when in possession (on and off the ball), deny space when you lose it (on and off the ball). And yes, that's obvious and simplistic to say and I doubt anyone here disagrees. But easier said than done on paper or an Internet forum.

Creating or denying space can be done by aggressive pressing through pace and speed or by intelligent reading of the game to be in the right space at the right time by a slower player. Most teams in my experience have a combination of both. Yes, you get the odd freak collection of Duracell bunnies like the current Liverpool team, but most have to make do with both.

Brian Murray
195 Posted 08/12/2020 at 23:27:09
Andy Crooks, post 184. Indeed the shiesters did or still do have a throw-in specialist coach to maximise all their horsehide pact with the devil. Different club, different ruthless mentality sadly.
Danny O’Neill
196 Posted 08/12/2020 at 23:36:48
And yes Andy & Brian. Mentality.

Mentality, attitude, ability, desire and intelligence (which includes speed of thought / decision making) are what I've always considered the most important aspects of a good footballer. If they are fast runners, that's a bonus but I've seen too many fast runners who are shit footballers because they have none of the above.

Brian Murray
197 Posted 08/12/2020 at 00:20:50
Meant to say horseshoe pact they have with the devil, but that's always been their 12th man. Not including a good few refs. Anyway, keep the faith blue boys.
Paul A Smith
198 Posted 09/12/2020 at 19:16:36
Danny O'Neil some good points. I think James Rodriguez is the most gifted player I have seen at Everton since Rooney came through.

His pass to Sigurdsson said it all to me, Vision, precision and skill under pressure in the late stages of the game.

I do think his lack of pace is the oddest case of slow I have ever seen and we do suffer because of it.

I think we can, or anyone can for that matter, afford a slow gifted player.
However, I don't think you can be a slow side in this day and age if you want to progress.

I feel that this is our problem. I was speaking with friends before half time v Burnley and everyone was frustrated how long we take to find James.

How often its played behind him. How often we hold it too long before releasing it to him.

Players need to be more direct and stop admiring what James is doing or letting Richarlison - Beagrie his way through defences.

Dacoure and Gomes we need more from but I think Allan has shown enough to suggest he is a responsible player.

Its really up to certain players to get their heads up quicker and use the ball better.

Digne and Coleman are also 2 losses most teams couldn't cope without.

Danny O’Neill
199 Posted 09/12/2020 at 22:08:51
I agree Paul; you've never been able to be a slow side to succeed in football throughout the decades or throughout time.

Speed of thought and decision making has always been equally as important as sheer pace to avoid being a slow side. It's not solely about running fast.

I revert back to my Everton point on Sheedy. He wasn't blessed with pace and didn't have necessarily pacey players in front of or around him. Our pace then was at the back (I'll come to that next). But what Sheedy had was players in front of him who could read the game and read what he was going to do or deliver.

To your point, don't stand admiring James, just anticipate what he is going to do. That doesn't require Usain Bolt pace from the deliverer or the recipient, just speed of thought and anticipation from both.

To my defensive point. If we talk pace alone, Michael Keane is a lost cause. I am a massive critic but, if he learns to read the game, anticipate and be in the right place because of speed of thought, his lack of pace is compensated for.

Paul A Smith
200 Posted 09/12/2020 at 23:00:45
I agree, Danny, and slightly on Keane too because I think he is a lost cause also. He and all of our other centre-halves consistently make the same mistakes.

It remains to be seen if Godfrey can step up but, other than that hope, I don't think we have a good central defender? Not a reliable one definitely.

I am trying to remain positive in all the debated flaws because I think what we are seeing in terms of chances and attacks will be better with quality signings.

That has often been the case, to be honest.

Don't sign 5 decent players, sign 2 quality players.

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