Guileless and Goalless

Brighton will feel they should have won based on the pattern of play. For Everton, just desperately disappointing overall and worryingly threadbare in terms of personnel, the European dream is fading

Lyndon Lloyd 12/04/2021 62comments  |  Jump to last

It was already underway before tonight’s game but now that it appears to have slipped inexorably from their grasp, the argument will be made in the coming days and weeks that the top four was never more than a pipe dream for Everton this season. Even Europa League qualification will be said to have been ambitious. Incremental progress was the watchword for Carlo Ancelotti in his first full season and anything better than a 12th-place finish would technically deliver it.

The fact is, though, that right up to the kick-off tonight, the Champions League was still realistically within the Blues’ grasp thanks to this unpredictable season and the historic opportunity it has presented to the one or two clubs outside the so-called “big six” who could grasp it. A win over Brighton and another three points whenever that postponed match against Aston Villa eventually takes place would have been enough to keep Everton very much in the picture for being one of those clubs, with qualification for the competition that has lured the club but agonisingly eluded it for 16 years as the prize.

In that context, regardless of recent displays and results — four games without a win and just two goals scored — this was a fixture that demanded all the stops be pulled out; that Ancelotti’s men did whatever it took to beat a willing, creative, but ultimately poor Seagulls team and draw themselves right back into the European picture. What happened instead was more of the lethargic, passionless fare that they have served up in pretty much every game since the FA Cup win over Tottenham, with the exception of the Merseyside derby and the vainly spirited quarter-final against Manchester City.

Injuries will be wheeled out as the excuse and there is no denying that Ancelotti is having to contend with a nearly unprecedented glut of the walking wounded, but it’s also inescapable that Everton have been in abysmal form for weeks now, even with the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and André Gomes in the side. They’ve been outplayed by the likes of Leeds, Burnley, Fulham and even Newcastle on their own patch, barely laid a glove on City in two attempts, and scraped past Southampton and West Brom by the slenderest of margins with varying combinations of their better players in the line-up.

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This was another performance that was illustrative of the depth — or glaring lack thereof — of Ancelotti’s squad in terms of what it underscored about: Tom Davies’s inability to be a forward-driving force in midfield when he was being supported by Mason Holgate doing a fine job in the holding role; Gylfi Sigurdsson’s consistent failure to provide the creativity and leadership both suggested by a reputation forged with Swansea and Iceland and demanded by his astronomical price tag; the wisdom of shelling out £28m on Alex Iwobi, a player who looks lost at Everton; and the unreliability as a Talisman of Richarlison.

Ultimately, even a slightly makeshift starting XI with James Rodriguez in the side should have been capable of displaying the requisite urgency, imagination and ability to simply retain the ball to a greater degree than they did against a team struggling at the wrong end of the Premier League. Ben Godfrey did exemplify the kind of fighting spirit required and James did his best to drag the team forward but, collectively, Everton didn’t do enough to ensure that the fact that Ancelotti’s bench was packed with untried youth needn’t have mattered.

They should at least have been able to muster more than a solitary shot on target all game — Iwobi could have had a potentially decisive second in stoppage time but blazed over the bar. Calvert-Lewin’s absence was the obvious mitigating factor but in their last 11 games, Everton have registered three or fewer accurate shots on seven occasions; against Southampton and Chelsea, they also hit the target just once. There’s been a pattern of limited attacking output for a long time now and last Monday’s flurry of good chances against Crystal Palace was the exception that proved the trend.

Injuries are part and part of football and the role management is to coach the entire squad so that players can move in and out seamlessly into an identifiable system and playing ethos even if those replacements aren’t quite of the same standard of the first-choice personnel. Everton under Ancelotti don’t appear to have any discernible style; going forward they are routinely inept, pedestrian, bereft of ideas and tempo; increasingly lacking in conviction in front of goal and sloppy with the final ball.

With his best players in the side, things seem to take care of themselves but Lady Luck continues to be cruel to the Toffees on the injury front and with key figures like Abdoulaye Doucouré, Allan and Calvert-Lewin out, the Italian has struggled to fashion a side capable of either consistently winning games or simply playing effective passing football.

Tonight, with Allan unavailable and Jean-Philippe Gbamin back on the treatment table, he was forced to field Holgate in defensive midfield while Sigurdsson was notionally deployed in a forward role to support Richarlison but to little practical effect. The Brazilian cut an isolated figure for long periods but on the rare occasions the ball broke for him in attacking areas, his final pass or touch wasn’t there.

The narrative — that the hosts would have the ball and Everton would sit in and try and nick one at some stage — appeared to have been written from the start and the visitors didn’t seem all that willing to change it despite having the odd spell of decent pressure. Lacking movement, they frequently had to recycle the ball backwards in a pattern that has become all-too familiar for Blues supporters.

Brighton had more of the ball throughout and started the brighter of the two sides but it was Everton who had the first sight of goal when Godfrey lashed a wild shot over and Rodriguez had an opportunity with a direct free-kick but sailed his effort well off target.

Robin Olsen was the first of the two goalkeepers to be engaged when he fisted away Danny Welbeck's mis-hit half-volley before Jakub Moder's first-time effort flashed wide.

The Blues' best chance of the half came from an excellent pass down the right flank for Seamus Coleman but when he clipped a cross back for the arriving Davies, the midfielder planted a tame header wide of goal.

For the hosts, Neil Maupay popped up in front of goal to collect Leandro Trossard's centre but his shot deflected behind off Yerry Mina while Yves Bissouma's improvised over-head kick dropped onto the roof of Olsen's net.

While dull and uninspiring, Everton's first-half performance had at least set the stage for one of those games away from home where they were able to plunder a second-half goal and then protect the lead through to the final whistle.

Unfortunately, they lost one of the more likely options in that regard when they lost Mina to injury a little over 10 minutes after the restart. The Colombian appeared to strain a muscle stretching to hook the ball out of play by the touchline and his departure forced a reshuffle that saw Iwobi come on and Holgate drop into the left side of a central-defensive three beside Michael Keane and Godfrey.

Brighton had still been looking the more dangerous, having gone close through Maupay's shot which took a deflection and dribbled past the post and with 20 minutes left, Coleman did well to block Adam Lallana's shot from another Trossard cut-back.

For Everton, the one moment where James came alive in the box came a minute later, the former Real Madrid star collecting a pass from Coleman, jinking past the last defender and cutting a shot towards the near post that Sanchez had covered and batted the ball behind.

Brighton then seemed to temporarily find another gear as Welbeck was played into space but Godfrey accelerated back to make a saving tackle, Trossard saw an effort deflected behind for yet another Seagulls corner while Lewis Dunk prompted Olsen to palm his header over after the set-piece was lumped back into the Everton box.

Davies hammered a rising shot over when a cushioned pass through to Richarlison was the better option before he went off to be replaced by Nathan Broadhead. But the one chance Ancelotti’s side needed fell to Iwobi as things opened up in front him but just when it called for the ball to be kept on target he, too, smashed over rather than work the goalkeeper and another chance to gain precious ground on the top four sputtered away.

Ultimately, this was another match that goal-shy Brighton will feel they should have won based on the pattern of play. For Everton, just desperately disappointing overall and worryingly threadbare in terms of personnel, Ancelotti is going to have to find a way to squeeze something out of this under-performing team while dealing with a number of injury headaches over the final eight games.

The top six, just four points away with that game in hand, remains within reach but after performances like this, the maths feel less important than the lack of momentum that might ultimately hold the Blues back from attaining European football of any description for 2021-22. Friday’s clash with Tottenham and the trip to Arsenal beyond feel awfully make-or-break now…

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Reader Comments (62)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 13/04/2021 at 07:21:28
We are what we are, as much as we hate to accept it, Roy Keane was right in his assessment of us "a club that doesn't challenge for trophies".

Ok last night was a point with a decimated side, but the bigger picture tells us how far this side is away from sustaining a genuine tilt on the top four and a trophy.

From the manager to the DOF they all need to smell the coffee this summer and start making radical changes to the kind of players we pursue and also change the mentality of why we approach every game with the intention of just not losing.

So far under Ancelotti, even when he's had a fully fit side to choose from I've seen no real style of play, it's only ever been work the ball wide and cross it to Calvert-Lewin, we never play through the middle or commit men to score enough goals.

I'm rather underwhelmed at the moment with the whole thing, I doubt the club is heading where Moshiri expected this far down the line either.

We've not improved all that much since Silva first arrived three years ago next month.

I don't know what the answers are anymore but we sure as hell aren't reaping any rewards year in year out.

You'd put money safely on us finishing 10th or maybe even 11th right now.

Gareth Williams
2 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:01:06
We are just not good enough. We've been so inconsistent all season.
Neil Cremin
3 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:05:38

Roy Keane was not only right about the trophies, he was also right about injuries to Everton players. Our strength and conditioning coaching needs to be seriously reviewed.

Watching last night, I could predict where the next pass was going to go. Boring football, no flair without leadership. Badly need a Roy Keane or Peter Reid type who didn't have flair but drove their teams forward. I thought Allan might be that person but, like so many Everton players, he is also injured.

We live in hope but not in confidence.

Ken Kneale
4 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:12:57
Jim - similarly underwhelmed and of similar view to you - the manager and DoF need to get busy and the coaching and conditioning personal need to review their performance and approach. This is death by a thousand cuts for Everton supporters.
Paul Smith
5 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:14:06
Cue we need a leader, a snarler someone to abuse and berate others. Times change; you can no longer get away with a dig in the ribs in the showers for playing shit and thank god.

It's professionalism and concentration we lack – not brawlers and bullies.

We need a new type of football and a change in ethos; we shouldn't look back – we need to try something new, a reinvention. In my own role, we have to be creative: think of new ways to move forward... why can't Everton do this?

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:17:12
I’ve seen a style of play Jim, and I witnessed again last night. Not making excuses for anyone, but the next window is absolutely massive.

Injuries have played a part, a condensed season on a smallish squad has played another part, but we need another centre back, another fullback, and a couple of midfielders with energy.

We also need a pacy wideman and another forward, so that’s six players, and another fortune, although I’d settle for four, as long as they’re quick and energetic of course!

Jerome Shields
7 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:28:31
Carlo talked of a lack of quality after the match. Everton were set up to get a 0-0 draw, with the hope of nicking a goal to get all 3 points. This was the right thing to do if you are a manager who has lost confidence in most of the players that you are selecting. It was also bourne out by the technical and tactical performances of individual players, that his lack of confidence is not misplaced.

Defensively, Keane wasn't clear-cut in anything he did and Carlo was right to put him on the left, away from Everton's vulnerable left flank. Holgate in midfield is a shadow of last season's effective distribution. Davies is okay defensively but is very loose going forward, and James is lightweight under targeted marking. Richarlison has never learnt how to pass a ball, which is quite frankly unbelievable for a Brazilian.

Movement of the ball was virtually non-existent, resulting in slow ponderous sideways football. Seamus Coleman and Digne were the exception in their play and Coleman looked the most likely to score on initiative alone. Gone is the set-piece threat of pre-Xmas, Mina being tidy at the back only. Sigurdsson's corners and crosses are now hit and miss. Olsen was safe and solid and I would be nervous of the return of one-mistake-a-game Pickford, so tight are the margins. Iowbi at his best has movement and postioning, but will never be clinical.

With all Ancelotti's experience his tactics are those of a relegation midtable battle with 9th being bottom and 6th safety, with European qualification. 7th or 8th would be a improvement on last season.

So it's down to this: Is Ancelotti a better manager than Big Sam? That is the question. Most of the Everton players have a low retention rate of what Ancelotti coached them, which appears to be a Finch Farm norm.

I expect defensive mode till the end of the season aimed at 0-0 draws, and attempts at nicking all 3 points. Low risk, with a high-risk squad, as Everton limp to the end of the season. No pre-holiday mode, please, which is usual at end-of-season Everton.

Barry Rathbone
8 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:28:41
Exactly the same scenario playing out as per Koeman and Silva with moderate players signed and no discernible "team" evolving.

Carlo is well on his way to Shit Street if he thinks this sorta stuff is acceptable for the rest of the season. The emperor's new clothes are being revealed as no more than big hairy bollocks!

Jerome Shields
10 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:46:46
One thing that really irritated me was Sigurdsson wheeling away as if he had missed a goal, impossibly saved, when in fact the opposition defender had well and truly blocked his shot. Playing to the gallery, with viewers in mind.
John Keating
11 Posted 13/04/2021 at 08:49:41
Shocking to say the least. No Calvert-Lewin, no out ball. So many Brighton attacks initiated by piss poor passing by us. Every week is the same, how is it so many players give the ball away under no pressure??? I find that shocking.

The season is coming to a spluttering halt unfortunately. In a way, it might be best not getting involved in Europe: with this squad playing 2 games a week, it would be embarrassing!

Robert Tressell
12 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:06:17
On the few occasions we've had a fit first XI we've been very consistent and very good. Someone posted that it's something like 5 wins and 1 draw. This season has exposed the fact that we have a really second rate squad beyond a core of about 9 or 10 or 11 players (of whom maybe only 4 are top quality). Until we can get that core of quality closer to 15, 16, 17 players we'll always be second rate. If you want a manager to get a tune out of shite then hire Dyche (or Moyes now he's recovered from PTSD). We've hired a top class manager (who could certainly be doing better) but given him a mid-table squad to work with.
Jim Bennings
13 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:07:36
I don't know what they'll do I the summer but every year we seem to need about six players that will walk straight into the lineup.

We can't build a team around the likes of Allan or James (as world class as he is) because they don't play enough games.

We can't build around the likes of Davies, Sigurdsson, Iwobi and Gomes because they are not good enough and we can't build around the likes of Coleman because his career is coming to the twilight year's.

We need a domineering energetic central midfielder similar to Doucoure but can pay a bit more than the Duke.

We need two genuine pacy wide players than contribute also to goals.

We need a creative midfielder that can play more regularly than James.

In my opinion (and this is not me having a pop at Calvert-Lewin) but we need a better striker if we are to challenge the top sides too.

I don't know if it's possible, I don't see Ancelotti as being a guy that can work well with limited players, he's needed world class talent at his disposal at the clubs he's been at.

Will it work long term him being at Everton, who knows but we need to sign some of those player that I've just mentioned and then let's see what he can do.

Failure to address these problems in summer will see the club become perennial mid-table inhabitants which is basically what we have become now.

Christopher Timmins
14 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:11:37
With the notable exception of the Anfield win what we saw last night has been the norm for a long period of time. Our points tally and position in the table have exceeded our performance levels. We were down to the bare bones last night and when Mina was replaced we were down to the kids on the bench to try and turn things around.

In fairness, Olsen, Godfrey, Coleman and Holgate were fine. James did well the last the 90 minutes and showed some nice touches but Siggy and Charlie offered little and DCL's value to the team was obvious in his absence.

We need to accept where we are and hope to improve with some quality additions in the summer.

Robert Tressell
15 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:16:41
We also can't build a team around James because he leaves at the end of next season.

Leon Bailey and David Neres will most likely be available in summer. They will help. Olise at Reading could slot into the place of James Rodriguez.

Jerome Shields
16 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:22:03
I don't think Calvert Lewin would have made a difference, had he played. I find myself in agreement with Jim#13. Though I think change will be slow and painful over years, rather than a Summer.
Andy Crooks
17 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:28:09
Most of the time we play turgid, dull football. There has been plenty of debate about why this is so. Are the teams lower than us who play nicer football, in that position for that reason?
Do we go for pragmatic 7th or exciting 14th? What we have seen too often this season is really not what I expected. I have seen very little this season that suggests that a cunning plan is nearing fruition. Just really frightened, dull, negative rubbish.
At least this time next year we will know.. won't we?
Clive Rogers
18 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:39:10
We need to go for young talented and hungry young players on the way up. We keep catching a cold with older players. Allan already looks as if he needs replacing. Not available or only half fit most of the time and distinctly average when he does play. Siggy is way past his best and the goals and assists have dried up. We need six good signings in the summer.
Andrew Ellams
19 Posted 13/04/2021 at 09:53:37
The issue with somebody like Neres or Bailey is will they really be up for it?

Both have been linked with big name champions league clubs previously so will struggling for 8th not playing in Europe Everton really motivate either of them?

Andrew Clare
20 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:00:31
Going back many years to the time of Harry Catterick it was clear to see the impact he was having on the team especially the second team of champions that he built with Ball Kendall and Harvey in midfield. From the signing of Ball in the summer of '66 until 1970 the team just got better and better. Kendall did the same in the eighties. I haven't seen anything like it since.
Moyes 11 years without a trophy and since then various failed appointments has led us to this- a manager with a mountain to climb and a patchwork transfer policy.
I don't know how much Brighton's team cost but I bet we have spent a considerable amount more than them on players.
Disappointing-very disappointing.
Andrew Ellams
21 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:00:53
There actually was one highlight from last night though.

Seamus' post match interview when he claimed we don't want to us injuries as an excuse, unlike other some other clubs. Really touched a nerve with Carragher.

Gerry Quinn
22 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:22:40
Expanding on last post comment by Andrew...And when being interviewed by Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher after the game, Coleman wasted no time in having a go at the red half of Merseyside.

He said: "We don't want to be harping on about injuries. There's plenty other teams doing that.

"Unfortunately for us, we’ve missed quite a few lads through injury but, as the manager touched on beforehand, he never complains about the players who are out. It’s about the players who are playing.

"Saying that, we’re six points off fifth with a game in hand. We’ve got Tottenham at home coming up and we’ve got something to play for between now and the end of the season."

Carragher replied by saying: "You're not talking about Liverpool there are you, Seamus?", which Coleman simply laughed off and said: "That might be in your head, Jamie..."

Brian Harrison
23 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:24:22
I didnt get to watch any of the game as my usual reliable stream was unable to show any of it. I used my Sky sports app and twitter to keep me updated, and whether it was independent journalists saying it was an awful game or Evertonians on twitter saying much worse, I guess I didnt miss much.

All the optimism that we had a few months back has evaporated and we seem to be back in the same position that Koeman, Silva and Allardyce had us in both positionally and in style. Seems a long way from the team that started the season playing good attacking football and scoring goals for fun. Yes of late we have had injuries to key players, and that will of course effect the way the team plays, but can we just put the regression solely on the injuries. I think top 4 is completely out of the question and I doubt whether we will qualify for the Europa league, Carlos target at the beginning of the season. Should we not qualify for Europe then that will be a big blow and instead of this season being one of progression, failure to qualify will be seen as a massive failure.

I am a fan of Ancelotti, you don't win what he has without being very good at your job. But this close season will I think be a defining time for Carlo and his coaches, they have to make the right purchases that allow us to play a more attacking attractive game. As I think although he is greatly admired by Evertonians at the end of the day results and style matter. if we fail to make Europe this year, then next season that will be the minimum the fans will expect. So Ancelotti will be under pressure to deliver and so he should be, but most of his teams have played good winning attractive football, and next season we need to see more of that approach than the pragmatic defensive approach we have seen used in the last few months.

Andrew Ellams
24 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:28:37
The scary part about Europe next season is that the team that finishes 7th goes into the new Europa Conference League which has one team from each of the top listed nations and is then mainly made up of teams who weren't good enough to get through the early qualifying rounds.
Len Hawkins
25 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:42:17
Brian #23

The one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is any new player brought in may give a boost to the team initially but they also appear then to be dragged down to the level of crap we have all become accustomed to it is beyond belief.
If we bought Messi Aguero Mbappe and any other Galactico they'd be playing like a pissed up pub team before long What the Hell is it about This Club.

How Can the likes of Walcott who up to coming here has had a great career we drag him down to our level let him go to Southampton and he started where he left off at Arsenal. I hope the defence, who are playing something like decent especially Godfrey aren't dragged down to typical Everton level.

And Iwobi my head is bleeding with me scratching it over him he was absolute garbage then bucked up the beginning of this season now you may as well play with 10 men he is an even more expensive Niasse but without scoring the odd goal. For Christ's sake somebody empty his locker and give him a bin bag hopefully he will get into it on bin day.

Kevin Prytherch
26 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:50:35
We do have a first 11 that can give anyone in the Premier League a game but, as Robert 12 says, no squad to back it up.

I find it ludicrous that, at the start of the season, no conversations were had about the squad...

Brands - “So Carlo, if Digne or Coleman are out, we play Nkounkou or Kenny right?”

Carlo - “No, don't trust them two. Let's just hope that Digne and Coleman play every game. If not, I'll shove someone out of position.”

Brands - “Not the best plan. What if Calvert-Lewis is injured, are we using Tosun?”

Carlo - “We'll probably just play without strikers, it'll be fine. Calvert-Lewis never gets injured.”

Brands - “What about Iwobi? Will he be coverinh by h nbbj g the attacking players?”

Carlo - “Not exactly. I can use him at right back, but if the attacking players are out, I'd rather just pack the team with defenders.”

Brands - “That's sorted then.”

Brian Harrison
27 Posted 13/04/2021 at 10:53:29
Len @25,

I can understand your frustration about new players coming in and making an impression and then drifting into mediocrity like many of their teammates.

The very top players and in particular the ones you mention are far to good to let slip their performances, but therein lies a lot of the problems we have. We haven’t been a top team for decades and top players only play for top teams, so the level at which we can buy often determines the type of quality player we can buy, which is quite a few levels below Champions League quality.

That’s why, when a club like Leicester win the Premier League, it’s such an eye-opener, but the reality is that these occasions happen very rarely. The top clubs get the best players and that has always been a fact, our problem is how do you get to be a top team again, so you can attract top players?

Money helps but even the money Moshiri has pumped in still hasn't seen us breach the gap to the best teams.

Shane Corcoran
28 Posted 13/04/2021 at 11:11:27
Andrew #20, I don't think it touched a nerve.

Carragher himself gave out about Liverpool giving out about injuries. Nice dig by Seamy all the same.

Rennie Smith
29 Posted 13/04/2021 at 11:37:38
The usual apocalyptic responses. It's an away point, a clean sheet with 1 recognised midfielder available. Beat Spurs on Friday (granted, not looking an easy task) and we're 7th, 4 points off 4th place.

Same again, just need to calm the f-down.

Of course our squad doesn't have the quality in depth, but all the people on here screaming why wasn't something done about it? Are the same people screaming at the end of last season that Carlo's first job is to sort the midfield out. He does that, but apparently it's not enough. What do they do, sign 11 new players? Get real.

Bob Skelton
30 Posted 13/04/2021 at 11:37:50
Have to agree with a lot of the comments on here. We have no discernable style of play and we seem to have bought footballers whose touch, passing and basic skill are really poor. Allied to the lack of pace in the team we are the worse team in the Premier League to watch.

I watched our game after watching the Baggies win by 3, a relegation bound team, and they created chances, had pace and tried. Who are they managed by I wonder?

Moshiri must be wondering how he can have spent so much on so little.

Rennie Smith
31 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:07:04
Sorry Bob a few points "bought footballers whose touch, passing and basic skill are really poor", are you talking the summer buys or further back? Please don't tell me you're including James in that group?

"we are the worse team in the Premier League to watch", really? Ok last night was a snoozefest but are the 12, that's TWELVE, teams below us better?

Andrew Ellams
32 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:21:48
Rennie, firstly we hear the if we win this we move closer to fourth every week so why are we in 8th?

Secondly, being above other teams does not make us better to watch. For starters at least 3 of the teams below us have scored more goals. We are a horrible team to watch, probably the most boring team in the league.

Kim Vivian
33 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:27:44
Rennie - based on last night I woud say we are the most horrible team to watch. (haha - Beat me to it Andrew! Although I did say last night on the LF)

Because we were last match of the weekend to be played I show more interest in the other games (When we play first I barely take any notice of the other matches) is anyone else the same?

However it meant I watched most of the games this weekend and that was by a country mile the horriblest game I watched. Entertainment wise I thought Man U were brilliant. There is a team more than any other wanting to play fast and forward.

I honestly thought my pulse had stopped last night such was the excitement.

Howard Sykes
34 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:29:26
The team goes out looking scared to death. Players of their standard should be capable of doing so much more. It is the mentality of defeat, that is where the problem is. I think we need a couple of really good sports psychologists on the staff to try and deal with that issue.
Tom Bowers
35 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:42:28
It is sad to see yet another season is slipping by with the same lethargy as in the past.

After some decent results early on we were cruelly lulled into a feeling that this may just be the season of turnaround but as usual we end up a boring mid-table team.

There is always some bright new talent coming through every year but the experienced stars just don't cut it often enough and Injuries are no real excuse as all the other clubs have had their setbacks too.

Carlo has to take some blame as he has not been able to motivate these players to the high level of intensity needed to compete and dominate especially early in games.

The defense is way too slow in moving the ball out and getting in the opponents faces. Everton's game is far too deliberate and laborious to put the opponents on the back foot.

It's sad to say that the season has only had one or two real highlights, those being the first game at Spurs and the RS win. Even the two cup ties against Championship relegation fodder were a struggle.

Cannot for the life of me see a win on Friday.

Rennie Smith
36 Posted 13/04/2021 at 12:43:06
I agree Kim that it was terrible to watch, undoutbably the worst of the weekend, but does one game make up your mind? Despite the disappointment of the draw v Palace, I thought we played pretty well and setup a barrel of chances, just failed to put them away.

My whole point is one bad performance and people love to say how shit we are. I'm not saying everything is fine, I'm just looking for a bit of context.

Robert Tressell
37 Posted 13/04/2021 at 13:30:38
Andrew @ 19. We can definitely get the likes of Neres and Bailey. We are behind top Champions League clubs in the queue but ahead of non-UK Europa League teams because we pay higher wages. There are about half-a-dozen wingers / forwards of that calibre around Europe – pace and end product.

Yesterday reinforced my view that we can't spend a limited budget on Koulibaly, cracking player though he is. He won't help us win the games we're not winning. We need goal threat and pace to do that.

Mal van Schaick
38 Posted 13/04/2021 at 13:40:51
The game against Brighton was a reflection of where this squad is with the injuries that we have and shows that the depth of our squad in terms of quality is woeful. Albeit, I can't fault some players' efforts, whilst some were not up to it.

Had we had a fully fit first team, I think that we would've beaten Brighton, but even a fully fit first team wouldn't take us to the next level of Champions League football.

The owner and manager have to have a summer of reflection, and then cull this squad (with the exception of maybe seven decent players). We definitely need a quality striker and a bunch of quality midfield players.

Clive Rogers
39 Posted 13/04/2021 at 13:55:27
We also have to bring our own young players through. We keep reading how good some of them are. Last night was perfect for Broadhead to come on for half an hour. He has apparently been outstanding for the U23's and will be fighting for a new contract in the summer.

Instead, we got the usual from Iwobi and Broadhead got about 5 minutes.

Andrew Ellams
40 Posted 13/04/2021 at 14:42:30
Robert @ 38, I hope you're right, especially Bailey. He is exactly the sort of player the fans deserve after nights like last night.

Totally agree on Koulibaly too. If we can the defensive side of the midfield right I think the 4 CBs we have are more than good enough to take us to the next step.

Gary Willock
41 Posted 13/04/2021 at 14:44:31
We've obviously been hammered with injuries, by 'fault of fluke'. However, there were still plenty of well paid players on that pitch, and it is worrying how poor we looked with (particularly) and without the ball.

For me there is no point singling out just 1-2 players (the usual characters no doubt). the simple fact is that only a small number of our players are good enough for a "top 4" team. Only Pickford, Godfrey, Digne, James, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison would command decent fees, and only Allan and Doucoure would join them in my personal "don't sell even if offers come in" bracket.

Everyone else we should consider letting go if a reasonable offer comes in.

Assuming that Kean will dig his heels in and demand that Raiola is given his payday (poor man must be in the poor house after Covid window), that means we are at least another 3-4 players from having a good first choice 11. let alone decent backup for a cup run and competition.

Scary stuff. Only hope outside of that is that the loans make the likes of Gordon, Simms, Branthwaite etc good enough to push out Sigurdsson, Delph, Holgate, Mina, Bernard etc. At least enough to get rid of their wages and hope Brands can find more like Nkounkou and Godfrey anyway.

Another massive summer ahead.

Luke Welch
42 Posted 13/04/2021 at 15:49:08
I thought when Carlo first joined, we would sign a better calibre of player and we did; even if James struggles with the physical aspect.

But I also thought with his experience he would be able to get a tune out of the misfit bunch, we have collated from the previous bunch of muppet managers!

But no. Carlo has been outsmarted by a fair few who most would deem not worthy to be his assistant.

As for the football on offer, I have to say it's pretty dire, no style, no plan; never taking the game to anyone - most managers could do what he is doing with the squad available.

Carlo has sprinkled a bit of glitter with the signing of James.. But that's about it.

Thomas Lennon
43 Posted 13/04/2021 at 16:00:47
Three or four more quality players and go again next year. 15th most valuable club in the world.

Our players always looked stretched, trying passes with little prospect of successful completion, receiving passes that bounced off them. We need to be a bit calmer, work for each other a little more, find an extra yard of space and things will improve.

Tony Everan
44 Posted 13/04/2021 at 16:22:23
Any team that hasn't got quality in central midfield, will struggle. The central midfield is what makes a team tick, controls games, dictates tempo and distribution. The identity of a team primarily comes from its central midfielders.

It is both the heart and the brain of any team. It is the provider that puts the food on the table for the other players.

Without Allan and Doucoure the team doesn't function. It can't get a grip on a game, we have no shape. Any plan that Carlo had just flies out the window from the first minute. Without them two, we are a mid-table team, 8th to 14th, take your pick.

It's blindingly obvious then we need a young quality midfielder with resilience, mobility, goals and the ability to drive forward with the ball in the summer to compliment / rotate with these two and another young potential midfielder as back up. Keep Tom in the squad as he is on a relatively low wage and move on Sigurdsson, Gomes and Delph (if we can!). Gbamin should not enter calculations for one second. If he recovers and comes good it will be a near miracle.

Then a forward/wide man with spring, pace and skill to get past a full back. Someone who can counter-attack like a coiled spring and put opponents on the back foot as soon as they lose possession.

Just imagine next season, Everton attacking with pace and crosses coming from the byline for Calvert-Lewin to nod or poke home. I'm daydreaming about it as I type.

Dale Self
45 Posted 13/04/2021 at 16:59:50
It now looks like Carlo is to pay a price for what was the best use of the squad though he made a good run of it. We were hearing 'Why don't we have a go?' constantly when we were nicking points and now we know why.

One can criticize the training or short preseason but to some extent players are probably physically exhausted on top of the mental stress of being a player in a COVID environment. Not making the excuse there since other teams are not getting hit like we are but the lack of any inherited system of play/acquisitions and less than convincing locker room vibe has us paying for that lack of support that can prevent a tailspin.

Tempting to ask if we missed Gomes yesterday but now isn't really time for jokes. How a club like Everton has worked itself into this position is a legitimate and critical question but I think Carlo could acquit himself if he weren't a gentleman knowing it would damage the club's reputation.

If you think one of the other clowns in the Premier League rotation have a better skill set for what we face in a frozen transfer market, list them; I'm interested in that discussion.

Christy Ring
46 Posted 13/04/2021 at 18:04:49
Tony @45,

You hit the nail on the head. The reason Carlo bought Allan and Doucoure was because our midfield was non-existent last season; with both players missing, we're back to where we were last season.

Sigurdsson and Delph have to be shipped out and two pacy wide men brought in but, with the money they're on, they will sit and see out their contracts... no-one would even offer them half of it.

Kieran Kinsella
47 Posted 13/04/2021 at 18:27:17
Christy 47

The only way we will offload these fat cat wasters like Delph is if we set up some kind of Adrian Mutu honey trap and ply them with coke. Then we can terminate their contracts and sue them. That apart, they'll stick around until they have bled us dry.

Thomas Richards
48 Posted 13/04/2021 at 18:31:47
You can get them moved on with a bit of creativity, Kieran. Only problem is you are rewarding mediocrity.

Give them a portion of the transfer fee to make up the shortfall in wages.

Kieran Kinsella
49 Posted 13/04/2021 at 18:38:27

Who would pay any kind of a fee for Delph? Worse still was his transfer deal

"Delph signed for City's Premier League rivals Everton on 15 July 2019 on a 3-year contract for an initial fee of £8.5 million, rising to £10 million in add-ons."

Not sure of the add-ons but, hazarding a guess, I'd say they might be appearance-based? In which case, we're probably not due to pay out yet – after 20 games in 2 years. But, depending on the figure, we may be at the point soon where we let this muppet play a few games and it ends up costing us £1½ million extra.

Robert Tressell
50 Posted 13/04/2021 at 18:50:16
Thomas, you really can't get these players off the payroll creatively. Unless by 'creative', you mean paying up the rest of their contract at a modest discount and letting them go for free or a nominal amount. I mean, who in their right mind would buy Delph?

Apart from Kean, the only money will be raised from players like Mina or Holgate who we'd have mixed feelings about releasing.

Thomas Richards
51 Posted 13/04/2021 at 19:00:55
Robert, Kieran.
Take your point, Delph not really the player I had in mind, but if you put him on the market, even for a £5 mill fee, would give room for manoeuvre.
If hes on 80k(don't know what he gets) and a club offers him a two year contract at half of that, make up the shortfall by giving him £4 mil of the fee.
Sees the club losing out financially of course but gets him out of the club, saving the 80 k per week.

Doing the same with players who would command a bigger fee would see us wim finacially as well as removing the unwanted player

Michael Kenrick
52 Posted 13/04/2021 at 19:16:59
I don't think your (hypothetical) example makes any sense, Thomas. And it hardly ever happens anyway.

You give him £4M – that tops up his wages to £80k over 2 years – with zero net saving to Everton. In fact, given the opportunity cost of money, paying him that up front is a loss leader. No need to pay him for more than 1 year anyway as his contract is up in June 2022.

Yea, okay, it might get him out of the club... but when has that ever happened? As I recall (Van der Meyde, Niasse), they prefer to hang around like bad pennies stinking the place out on their fat Everton wages until the last day of the contract.

The only one to buck the trend recently has been that goalie from Huddersfield we never played... Jonas Lössl. No hints as to what the settlement of that contract involved... but yes, it can be done.


Mike Doyle
53 Posted 13/04/2021 at 19:28:35
Len #25 ] Agree with your observations ref Iwobi. A couple of times last night the ball bounced off him in a display of poor pub team control that was straight out of the Oumar Niasse handbook.
Even more worrying was the realisation that Niasse would (probably) have hit the target with the final chance Iwobi put over the bar.
Oumar had that in his locker (at least for the couple of months they gave him a locker).

Thomas Richards
54 Posted 13/04/2021 at 20:20:54
I used Delph as an example, Michael. Mistakenly thought he had 2 years left.

What would your thoughts be for a similar situation with a player on say £80k with 2 years left on his contract?

Michael Kenrick
55 Posted 13/04/2021 at 20:47:10
It's a brilliant idea, Thomas. A masterstroke. You are a genius. The Football Manager software will be over this like a hot rash...

Meanwhile, in the Real World... like I said, it just rarely ever happens. Can you cite one case for a player on a decent wedge?

Actually maybe Real Madrid and James Rodriguez coming to us on a relatively reduced salary – how long was left on his contract? But then again there was no transfer fee... unless we paid him a massive signing on fee???

Thomas Richards
56 Posted 13/04/2021 at 20:53:24
A tad of an over reaction Michael.
Not unusual to be fair
Ian Riley
57 Posted 13/04/2021 at 21:00:56
Last night's result was not to bad. We showed no interest up front. Midfield had no imagination and our passing would shame an under 6 boys league game. Overall, I can only take the positives!

Please tell me I'm wrong but we have the look of "not a clue"? I watch our matches with very little expectation! Why? Its what we have become. Never have I been so disappointed with the lack of hunger, desire, and effort to win a game. Our attitude playing lower league teams has been of poor attitude or not up for the battle? If we had an half decent home record, top 5 in the league would be in the bag.

Carlo has to clear the decks before recruitment can happen. You cannot bring new players into a squad with this lack of hunger in it. New players may fall into the same attitude. Changing the manager again is not the answer. These players are not showing their worth to wear the shirt. Pay them off or sell them. We have had less talented players in the past with more hunger. I'm bored with the absolute dross we are showing. Something must change!!!

Robert Tressell
58 Posted 13/04/2021 at 21:01:16
It's sad. There probably are a few isolated examples of players giving up a bit of contractual pay in order to access a good new contract. But by and large we're stuck with our rubbish.
Phil Malone Jnr
59 Posted 13/04/2021 at 22:21:52
Top and bottom, we’ve seen the potential this season...but top and bottom, you can’t lose points against lower positioned teams AT HOME, that we’ve done.
We can all talk squad-depth, completely agreed, we can all talk about coaching, ok, we can’t talk shite about anything. But the games we’ve lost this season at home came through a mostly full squad. I can count at least 17 points lost at home to teams we should be beating. That’s inc west ham. And don’t just focus on the west ham one nob Ed’s, even take 14.
Andrew McLean
60 Posted 14/04/2021 at 11:34:52
Comments were made on the day about the inexperience of the players on the bench.

Today it's been suggested on Twitter that EFC has the highest list of players current injured.

One absentee from both the bench and the team's official list of players injured was Besic.

I'm curious as to why a squad player, with 45 international caps, who wasn't injured didn't make the bench. Yes his contract is running out and he may be off to Reading but football is a team sport and if it meant him coming on for 10 minutes to replace some tired legs it would be a contribution.

Phillip White
61 Posted 14/04/2021 at 12:00:50
⦁ Everton Football Club First Team Spending Spree!

⦁ Richarlison £35 million (rising to) £50 Million (Been on and off this season,
was great last season has lots of talent but needs to start showing it more
often on the pitch) Confidence player thrives off the fans.

⦁ Gilfy Siggurson (Been average, can score some cracking goals the odd assist,
but he doesn't do it enough) £40 million (with £5 million in potential add-ons)
Average! Need to see more.

⦁ Alex Iwobi (Garbage) £28 million! Enough said.

⦁ Jordan PIckford (Garbage, Joel was better and I don't care if he's England's
No.1 either, we should never of signed him under koeman) £28 million!

⦁ Cenk Tuson (On Loan) (Garbage) £27 million!

⦁ Theo Walcott (On Loan) (Garbage) £20 million!

⦁ Moise kean (On Loan) (Attitude problem) £24 million

⦁ Yannick Bolasie (On Loan) (Done nothing, Garbage) £25 million

⦁ Andre Gomes (injured again) £20 million (Been average at best)!

⦁ Allan (injured again) £21.7 million. (How many games has he missed now?
Average, needs to do 10x more than he is! Another midfield who doesn't
know how to get forwards and shoot)!

⦁ Abdoulaye Doucoure (injured) £25m million (been alright nothing special,
yeah he runs about a lot has a good engine, but he can't pass a football to
save his life)!

⦁ Yerry Mina (injured) £21.4 million (Good solid defender, decent buy)!

⦁ Luca Digne £18 million (Decent buy, lost his form of late, needs to do more
than he is! He's coasting along)!

⦁ Michael keane £25 million (rising to) £30 million. (Been decent, good
defender on his day, he's on and off too! But is he really worth that much, I'm
not so sure)!

⦁ Ben Godfrey £20 million (rising) (Looks like a good signing, very solid, can
play anywhere along the back four, has potential to get even better, Decent

⦁ James Rodríguez free transfer! (Wages only)! (He's been okay, could do a lot
more)! Good coup for free though. Coasting.

⦁ Jean-Philippe Gbamin (injured again, done absolutely nothing for 2 seasons
now on a 5 year contract) £25 million (Waste of money)!

⦁ Bernard £9 million (decent footballer, has bags of talent, but he never plays)!

⦁ Holgate £2 million (been solid since he joined the club, nearly always fit, good
defender, good attitude, always trying to improve, great buy)!

⦁ Fabian Delph £8.5 million (waste of money done absolutely nothing since he
joined the club)! Pathetic.

⦁ Séamus Coleman 60k EFC Captain (What a signing by David Moyes)!

⦁ Joao Virginia undisclosed fee. (has potential that's it)!

⦁ Calvert-Lewin £1.5 million (Brilliant signing from the football club, he should
be the blueprint for us signing players going forwards)! Very Impressed with
DCL even though he's gone missing since his England call up funny that! Top
Signing from Everton! Well done!

⦁ Joshua King (On Loan hasn't even kicked a ball yet, so why is he even here)?

⦁ Robin Olsen (On Loan not a bad Keeper, does his job without being erratic)!
for 2/3mill he might be worth to keep at the club for next season! Disgusting
what happened to him!

⦁ Muhamed Besic £4 million (what's he even done for the club nothing)!

⦁ Tom Davies (came through the academy wages only)! Never get's forwards
enough or has a shot on target all he does it pass the ball, average at best
needs to start bucking up or he'll be gone. Coasting along.

⦁ Kenny (On Loan) Came through the academy, Doing okay at Celtic not sure
he'll be here next season, he's top lad JJK with a grounded attitude
wish him all the best if he does move on.

⦁ Anthony Gordan, Ellis Sims and Jarrard Branthwaite are on Loan also!

⦁ And people wonder what the problem is at this football club!

⦁ We need to stop all this mindless spending as a football club! For £30 million
you should be able to buy 3 or 4 solid players who will do a job for you all
season! it's needs to stop right now! I honestly do not have a bloody clue
what our scouts actually do at the club!

⦁ This is exactly why I want to sign players like Kevin Nisbet! He scored again
against Rangers on the weekend, He's just been called up for Scotland also!
5mill/8mill we could get him off Hibs for and for the life of me I do not
understand why we aren't looking at these type of players as a football club!!
I don't think he's been injured all season either! He got left out the squad
because he handed in a transfer request in January by now Jack Ross has got
him back into the side and he's playing well & Don't tell me he's not good
enough for Everton either because he is!! (Look at the list) I'd rather have 3 or
4 solid players like him all day of the week over some of the crap on that list.
This needs to be addressed by the football club, it's a disgrace.

⦁ Conclusion! Stop all this mindless spending as a football club Everton! I'm Off
for a beer after that.

Nicholas Ryan
62 Posted 14/04/2021 at 18:24:26
West Ham, taking the league by storm, playing [mostly] attacking, watchable football. Aren't they managed by that bloke... errm... wotsizname?

Everton last 2 games: one goal, 2 points.
West Brom last 2 games: 8 goals, 6 points Aren't they managed by that other bloke... erm... wotsizname?

Bill Fairfield
63 Posted 15/04/2021 at 08:41:58
Without the signings Carlo made we are left with the same garbage players as when he first came,mentally weak and not premier league standard.Surely we are not going to start a new season with these players.

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