Europe Slipping from Everton's Grasp

Is there an opposite to ‘The School of Science’? Everton seem to be trying to answer this question with a succession of tedious displays in their waning quest for Europe

Lyndon Lloyd 13/05/2021 47comments  |  Jump to last

“Is there an opposite to ‘The School of Science’?”

If anything sums up the baffling deficiencies in the way this Everton side plays football, that tweet that crossed the timeline midway through the second half of what would end up being a second goalless draw away from home in four for the Blues more or less did. Once more, the task of reconciling what was on display from those in amber shirts at Villa Park with the decorated manager standing in the touchline was a mind-bending one: how can a side overseen by Carlo Ancelotti look so dreadful with the ball at their feet at times?

From the now-familiar inconsistency in being able to effectively move the ball through the lines — there were times in this match where Everton were pretty good with their distribution — to poor service from the flanks and a frustrating reluctance or lack of confidence to test the goalkeeper in promising areas, this was another difficult watch for Evertonians who were, no doubt, tearing their hair out as an opportunity to move into the European places slipped through the club’s fingers.

Those attacking limitations and the passivity of Everton’s play in general were unlikely to have changed in the few days since they reignited their European hopes with a hugely important win at West Ham and, once again, the Ancelotti game plan that has been deployed for the past few months away from home was employed.

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The Blues set out to contain and stifle what their hosts could muster in the absence of the suspended Ollie Watkins and, from the starting XI at least, the unfit Jack Grealish. The relatively untried Keenan Davis led the line for Villa with Bertrand Traoré roaming off the right flank and Ross Barkley charged with being the creative presence in midfield.

The former Everton midfielder was poor on the day and was hooked midway through the second half and Traoré was largely kept subdued by Everton’s dogged back line but with their hosts effectively nullified, the Toffees found the going tough when the onus was on them to be on the front foot. With the score goalless heading into the closing stages, the urgency of the situation was finally reflected to a degree in their play but in the end they didn’t trouble Emiliano Martinez enough in the Villa goal.

Nevertheless, the Argentine was probably the difference on the day thanks to a reflex save at his near post that denied Ben Godfrey his first Everton goal early in the second half after an opening 45 minutes that had been short on goalmouth incident.

Carlo Ancelotti had been able to welcome Abdoulaye Doucouré back to the starting XI following a two-month absence through injury and he came in at the expense to Tom Davies while Mason Holgate replaced the injured Yerry Mina in a three-man central defensive unit.

The visitors followed an established pattern of safety and containment for much of a first half that was short on entertainment and goalmouth incident. Seamus Coleman clipped a ball in for Calvert-Lewin but there wasn't enough pace on the delivery for him to get enough power with his header and Martinez made a comfortable save with a quarter of an hour gone.

Two minutes later, Villa should have taken the lead when Douglas Luiz evaded Godfrey in the box following a corner and centred for Tyrone Mings but the defender planted his header wide of the goal with Jordan Pickford gambling in the other direction.

Gylfi Sigurdsson had a direct free-kick easily caught, Richarlison dug out a shot 10 minutes before the break that flew off target from 18 yards out and Lucas Digne caused momentary panic in the home defence when his deep cross almost grazed the bar.

As they needed to, Everton showed more intent in the second half, particularly as the game wore on and remained goalless but they struggled to get things right in attacking areas.

Doucouré miscued as the Toffees over-elaborated on the edge of the box and the ball deflected away in the 46th minute and Calvert-Lewin forced a save from Martinez before being flagged offside by the slenderest of margins.

It was Godfrey who came closest to winning the match, however, when Coleman was shoved over by John McGinn midway inside the Villa half and Sigurdsson whipped a free-kick to the back post that Godfrey met on the volley but Martinez palmed it behind to prevent it flying inside his near post.

Pickford fisted an Anwar El Ghazi free-kick away to safety at one end before Gomes came on for Sigurdsson and almost immediately had a chance to break the deadlock but smashed a rising, 20-yard shot over the bar, although a simple pass to the wide-open Richarlison would have been a far better option.

Then, after Alex Iwobi had replaced Coleman, Gomes had an even better chance when Richarlison cut the ball back to him after charging down the channel but the Portuguese's side-foot finish was blocked. Ironically, the player Everton probably would have preferred in that situation was Sigurdsson, the man Gomes had replaced.

Calvert-Lewin almost got in as he tried to round Martinez but he couldn't stop the ball crossing the byline while the goalkeeper did well to cover his goal as the England striker rose with a trademark back-post header to meet another Digne cross which proved to be the last real chance for Everton to grab the precious points.

From a footballing perspective, Everton have been a lot worse this season, particularly at home, but there were just too many instances where Ancelotti’s players either didn’t seem capable of turning possession into chances, either because they lacked confidence or simply because they were so poor where it mattered in the final third.

Deliveries from the flanks missed their mark or lacked pace, risk/reward was too often eschewed in favour of safety particularly when it came to committing enough players forward and the lack of chemistry or common wavelength between Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin is a mounting concern. Finally, with so much riding on a victory, it was curious that the manager left Josh King on the bench given how close he came to opening his Blues account last week at West Ham.

So whereas the Toffees could have put themselves in the driving seat where the Europa Conference League is concerned at least, they will now need to get as many points as they can from the final three games while waiting in help from results elsewhere if they are to participate in Continental football next season.

The debate over whether European football is a help (in terms of attracting players and gaining experience) or a hindrance (in terms of the scheduling and extra load on the squad) will run but there is no question which outcome Ancelotti will prefer. His ability to finally solve the conundrum of his team’s form in an empty Goodison Park may well be the deciding factor.

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 14/05/2021 at 06:51:26
Fair enough really.

Listen we are seriously limited team, the start to the season we had scoring frequently and freely was an exception to the rule it wasn't the real Everton.

Our goalscoring most seasons is bang average with the exception of the Martinez season's.

Defensive Carlo Ancelotti is obviously much better than Martinez but we will never be a free flowing attacking side you feel even if he was to somehow get better attacking options, it just doesn't strike me that it's in Carlo's make-up as a manager.

I think we'll simply have to be content with granite type performances under Ancelotti whilst he's here and maybe be based around nicking games by the odd goal, it's worked in many games this season away from home but not at Goodison.

I'll hold my hand up, it's not really what I would love watching every week and it's a fine line between losing 1-0 or winning 1-0.

It could go either way for Carlo right now.

Andrew Ellams
2 Posted 14/05/2021 at 07:08:33
I fear we are in for a few seasons of rinse and repeat until the new stadium is built. No trophies, no Europe but no relegation battles.

At that point Moshiri will sell for a massive profit and Ancelotti will walk away with his wheelbarrow full of cash.

Tony Everan
3 Posted 14/05/2021 at 07:30:39
A mixture of disappointment and resignation this morning.

Without James there was little creativity on show. This lack of creativity means the main supply to DCL is from Digne and Coleman. The quality of the crosses in was a average at best from Digne, and the crosses from Coleman were lame and ineffective, and sometimes from very good positions with time and space .

The fact that Iwobi came on and looked a bit more dangerous down the right says it all. We need an attacking threat down the right hand side. We have to be able to put a defence on the back foot, someone with the pace and/or skill to get behind the defence and get some dangerous crosses in. Or from the byline and getting some reverse crosses into the box.

We have been missing all this creative and proactive play all season. Our goal difference tells the story. We need more threat from the right. Or should I say a threat from the right.

A right winger/forward and a right back are urgently required. It’s a chronic part of why this Everton team is failing to create or score goals.

Barry Rathbone
4 Posted 14/05/2021 at 07:44:23
Andrew 2

Relegation will come within 3 seasons of the new stadium as the financial commitment sinks it's teeth into our moribund flesh. It is written in the book of "Everton that"

Andrew Ellams
5 Posted 14/05/2021 at 07:56:25
Barry, I don't see relegation but I don't see it delivering the glory that some do either. Moshiri will have been here for almost a decade by then and brought nothing to the club.
Thomas Richards
6 Posted 14/05/2021 at 07:56:31
I hope we finish one place below the European qualifying positons.
Three or four good signings and we are in position to have a go at top six next season followed by a go at top four the season after.
Just in time for our magnificent, state of the art stadium.
The stadium in turn will generate more money.
Been an on off season, poor football at times, I am positive in my take on Carlo and his backers getting it right.
Steve Little
7 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:03:49
Shortly after Carlo arrived, he saw us throw away a 2-0 lead in the last couple of minutes of injury time at home to Newcastle.
He knows how bad / vulnerable we are if we don't get the defence right.
This season he has made us hard to beat, and we have enjoyed some exceptional results, the likes of which have not been seen for a generation..
The next stage is of course to improve the attacking play, but Carlo knows this - it is just that the priority has been to shore up the defence.
Yesterday, he was let down by some poor performances from the old guard. Coleman was inexplicably hopeless, Sigurdson’s presence barely registered and Richarlison / DCL could never seem to find each other.
IMHO Godfrey and Allan were the best performers. Not just coincidence that they are Carlo’s signings.
Carlo knows the priorities for the summer recruitment and hopefully he will get what he needs to make a difference to the attacking play.
Colin Glassar
8 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:04:06
A CL place was never really on the cards with this squad. A few injuries to key players in a very limited, skill-wise, team saw our season go off the rails after the first derby match.

Criticise the manager all you want, and I do when it comes to tactics and team selections, but if your players lack the desire and basic skills to overcome opponents then you are pretty much helpless to change things.

Defensively we have improved a lot but MF continues to be our Achilles heel. A serious lack of pace and ability (and zero goal threat) leaves our forwards having to play deeper and deeper to receive the ball.

Everyone knows which positions need to be strengthened and until they are we will continue to see pathetic games like last night or so many home games this season.

Robert Tressell
9 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:16:00
There is zero chance of Ancelotti being replaced unless the wheels come off and we start heading for the drop

Otherwise I agree with the above posters. We need more goals. We don't score enough to trouble teams. The lack of a potent attack also makes us defensively vulnerable against mediocre sides.

We are miles off the top 4. This isn't the 80s. We're not going to buy Reid and Gray and suddenly it all clicks. There's a bigger gap between the value of our squad and the richest 4 and that of Fulham & Sheff Utd.

It might not change a great deal next season either. We'll definitely be better. But so may Villa, Arsenal and Leeds.

Until we have something better than the 7th or 8th best squad, it's very unlikely we'll finish higher than 7th or 8th.

Geoff Williams
10 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:23:53
Steve, Godfrey was not an Ancelotti signing. He has already admitted not knowing anything about Godfrey or Doucourè. Neither fit in with his criterion for a signing, experienced international with European experience, but have proved successful. The squad of players available to Ancelotti isn't great but is still better than many teams in the Premiership so I find the negative play and the lack of creativity hard to stomach. I'm one of the few who see the manager as the problem rather than the solution.
Andrew Ellams
11 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:26:51
Steve @ 7, for this season's Newcastle I give you the keystone cops defending vs Spurs and Holgate's howler vs Villa at home. Just 2 examples in the past month.

Andrew Ellams
12 Posted 14/05/2021 at 08:55:02
Geoff the fact that those two players have been the outstanding new players since Ancelotti joined says a lot.

I genuinely worry about the dads army that we are being linked with this summer. I know most of it is lazy journalism but we already have a bunch of slow, ponderous players who can pick a pass but not make a tackle.

Steve Brown
13 Posted 14/05/2021 at 09:10:28
The game clearly shows how vital James is to this team - without him we have no quality or creativity in the final third. We were more committed in the 2nd half but I never thought we’d score.

Also, all the signings that joined in the summer are Ancelotti signings. He tells Brand’s what positions he needs to strengthen and then Brands will present options. As they have both said, it is then a combined decision whether to recommend the signing to Moshiri for approval.

Kevin Prytherch
14 Posted 14/05/2021 at 09:16:38
It was a mistake yesterday to drop Davies. Davies plays the Allan role better than Allan plays the Allan role.

Against West Ham, Allan had the freedom to venture forward with the ball and break up play higher up the pitch and it worked.

Last night, Allan stayed back most of the time, but also made a couple of rash lunges that left the back line exposed. That doesn’t happen with Davies in the team.

I understand why, in theory, Sigurdsson plays for his supposed creativity, but Sigurdsson offers very little in midfield. Davies shielding the back line with Allan and Doucoure free to break up play further up the pitch will create opportunities without the need for a supposed creative player who actually creates very little from midfield.

However, true to Carlos form, we’ll probably see Delph, Allan and Doucoure before we see Davies, Allan and Doucoure.

Christopher Timmins
15 Posted 14/05/2021 at 09:21:08
Last night told us nothing new. The performance was below average but we never looked like losing and kept another clean sheet.

We are not good enough to play in the Champions League and probably not good enough to play in the Europa League.

Roll on the summer, we all deserve a break at this stage.

Next season will be a significant one for the manager. Performances must improve as a full Goodison will not put up with the current offering for long.

I still think we will achieve success under the manager but I must admit to being disappointed with the lack of improvement in the squad since his arrival. DCL is the only player who has improved since Carlo arrived in my opinion.

George McKane
16 Posted 14/05/2021 at 09:21:31
I am not sure why I am even writing this - - like all of us who write/comment on Tw and Live forum - - I imagine it is just to vent our feelings - - we all know that whatever we say makes no difference whatsoever to anything on the pitch. Nothing. But still, I/we write.
I am an Evertonian, have been since watching my first game in 1959. I rarely miss a game. So what. Nothing really. Just saying it.
The worst time for me was the end of Gordon Lee's days, Mike walker and Walter Smith, and most of Moyes reign - - dreadful dour dull football. I couldn't stand Koemanor Allardyce - - but still, I kept going to the game. Maybe this is the problem - - possibly - - like Labour in Liverpool - - they know that no matter what we will support them and they really don't have to deliver anything. Maybe - - I am not in the know - - I am just musing.
Being an Evertonian is like being in Love. It blinds you to reality. I am a father and grandfather and husband - - sometimes my family and friends have - - in my eyes - - let me down but still it never stops me loving them.
I will be renewing my Season Ticket next Season I will 73 years old in that Season and 65 years a match going Blue.
Ancelotti and many of the players are not blameless for our current malaise - - they are the latest in line trying (possibly) to find the cure for a 35 years old Blue illness - - I can complain and moan like the best of us but I am just unsure of what is "next" best for Everton. A new Owner (got one) - - a new Manager with a pedigree (got one) - - some really class players and excellent young players (got them) - - so what do we want. I don't know. I am not a football writer/consultant - - but my basic is I demand a bit of pride, courage, passion, desire and commitment - - with those I will forgive other things and be patient - - but sadly I do not see those and my patience is running low - - will this stop me going to the game - - No - - as I said - - it's Love - - not just Love of The Club but of my EFC Friends and you TWebbers - - even the Live Forum nutcases - - but this Club seems to take this for granted - - Ancelotti - - who is very likeable (so was Martinez) - - seems to get some simple decisions/choices/tactics wrong - - our decision making throughout the Club from Moshiri through Ancelotti to the players is dreadful - - Ancelotti mentioned frustration - - Wowww Man - - can you grasp our frustration - -I find this feeling more difficult than any - - I am a man of decisions - - I do my own thing in life and work - - I am creative - - an artist - I live by my OWN skills and energy - - if I don't put it in - -I get nothing out - - my choice - - I cannot grasp anybody who get an opportunity to achieve what ever they wish and simply let's it slip through their hands as we seem to be doing - - nobody at the Club I am pretty sure reads our comments - - so maybe all of this is a waste of time - - maybe TW is better than a Pyschiatrist - - and is simply cathartic - - all I know is that right now - - this morning - - after watching absolutely poor play all over the pitch - - poor decisions on and off the pitch by Manager and Players - -
that I am totally and absolutely underwhelmed and frustrated - -maybe -- Ancelotti ahs a plan for next season - - I would give him at least another Season but then will not put up with another 12 months of this garbage - - I am not sure what I would do about that just now - - but for now I will support him and the players and the Club as I always have - - if I could still cheer under Uncle Walter's dreadful time - - Mike Walker - - Allardyce - - I can at least give Ancelotti some more time - - for now - - Come On Everton - - give us some pride - - show us you care as much as we do - - for goodness sake - - time for serious thoughts and actions at Goodison by everyone - - including me. Sending my best cosmic wishes to all Blues.
Robert Tressell
17 Posted 14/05/2021 at 09:33:35
As I see it, we're pretending to be a big league club without proper investment. Ancelotti and Rodriguez are a bit of misdirection from Moshiri to keep us happy (or hopeful) while he builds the stadium and redevelops the docks.

For our stage of development, there probably are more fit-for-purpose managers – dare I say it, Moyes... or even Dyche. However, they both come with a glass ceiling.

If we get better players, there's no glass ceiling with Ancelotti. However, he's probably a worse manager of crap than Moyes and Dyche! So it really depends on how much Moshiri is willing to spend.

Brian Harrison
18 Posted 14/05/2021 at 10:06:03
When Carlo joined us, I was delighted; at long last, Everton appointing a manager who had won everything from 3 Champions Leagues, the Premier League, to leagues in Spain and Italy, and as a player, he had won leagues as well as the Champions League. So a CV that few if any other manager in world football could match.

He was unfortunate that, within a few months of joining Everton, the pandemic struck, but we started this season in good expectation. We started the season scoring goals for fun and even managed to get to the top of the league, albeit briefly.

We have recorded more away wins this season than any season other than when we have won the league. We have had away victories at Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal – a rare occurrence for an Everton manager to do that.

So, given all this, why am I as frustrated as I have ever been with our club? This season, we have had numerous chances to cement a Champions League place only to fall on every occasion. This may turn out to be the best chance we will get of reaching the Champions League as I can't see Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal being as collectively bad as they have been this season.

So why is one of the most decorated managers struggling to decide a formation that suits or a regular side that he can trust? They used to call his fellow Italian Ranieri "the tinker man" – I think Carlo has well and truly taken over that mantle.

When he took over from Silva he had to stop us conceding goals from dead-ball situations; he has done that, but putting together any attacking intent seems to have been an afterthought.

Seems our only plan is to get the ball wide and deliver it into the 6-yard box for Calvert-Lewin or Richarlison to head or tap in. But this is a manager whose teams in the past has played quick attacking football... so what has happened that we have become so one-dimensional?

I hope he knows exactly who he wants to bring to the club to help us play a more attacking game, and I think the signing of King just underlines the problem when you have a manager and a Director of Football buying players.

So my plea this morning is: Carlo, take full control of our transfers or threaten to walk. Then, when you have full control, make sure we have a more exciting side to watch when we are all allowed back next season. Otherwise, I can see it all ending in tears.

I haven't mentioned any players, only to highlight our only attacking option; they must collectively take responsibility, alongside the manager, but do they really care? I fear not.

Chad Schofield
19 Posted 14/05/2021 at 10:08:28
A completely wasted opportunity. Yes, we have played worse, but that first half especially was dire.

Perhaps Richarlison was singled out at half-time, because directly after he actually managed to pass. Sigurdsson after the occasional reasonable performance, was poor again. There was an air of being desperate, but incompetent.

Yet again, Iwobi wasn't the answer unless the question was "shall we waste a sub, wages, time?"

Gomes didn't manage to turn water into wine, and – even though in a warm up he can hit the ball – was playing with Toblerone boots after crafting a shooting chance.

Mings should have been off, both after the knee-high lunge on Calvert-Lewin and then was allowed to remain after his prolonged treatment, without having to go off... Treatment of Injuries Guidance - The FA. Let's face it, the ref was pretty poor, even though he did punish Traore's dive.

But anyway, at home to the bottom team who are relegated next... what could possibly go wrong?

Barry Hesketh
20 Posted 14/05/2021 at 10:09:54
Robert @17,

There is a glass ceiling and it's getting more difficult to break with each passing season. Look at the final tables for the last few seasons and it's made up of more or less the same clubs every year. There are occasional infiltrators such as Sheffield United, Wolves, et al but, generally speaking, it's Man Utd and Tottenham who hog the Top 7, with only Leicester bucking the trend, but even they are in and out of the Top 6.

This season has been a wildly fluctuating one for many clubs, but the bottom line is that, when push comes to shove, Everton have been unable to make inroads into the Top 6 and, worse still, have failed to produce many performances worthy of note.

I'm not sure that Everton can buy their way into the big league; I think that window of opportunity that Moshiri mentioned has well and truly closed. In fact, I'm losing faith that any method employed by the club will catapult them into a regular place in Europe.

That being the case, is it too much to ask of the team to at least provide us with some memorable moments, some entertainment, that will keep us all interested, even with the knowledge that any given season will see us finish outside of the Top 6 with the occasional flirt with a relegation battle.

I don't blame any individual for the demise of Everton; indeed, we have a lot to thank Moshiri for in regards to investing his money. However, he has wasted his money and we have wasted our time on the project.

We haven't been able to buy the best, we haven't been able to keep the best, that's why we'll never be able to claim to be the best. "Best of the rest" is the only claim we'll be able to make for the rest of our football-watching lives.

Jim Bennings
21 Posted 14/05/2021 at 10:14:54

I'm not so sure it's all about the money for Everton now anymore though.

Since Moshiri arrived 5 years ago now (yes it really is five years!) we have spent more than enough money to be at say where Leicester are.

When Manchester City got their millions, they invested straight away in game-changing brilliance like David Silva, Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and similar quality, even players like Craig Bellamy – really decent stocking fillers if you wish.

We spunked away millions and millions on bang-average players that we didn't even need at the time, massive money wasted on Schneiderlin, Tosun, Walcott, Klaassen, Iwobi, Moise Kean.

Combine all the cash we spent on those and think that, over that time, we could have signed James Maddison, Youri Tielemans... Jamie Vardy should have replaced Lukaku 4 years ago if we'd offered the money we could have.

We could have signed some really good players if our scouting had beaten Liverpool to Mo Salah even, or Spurs to Son, or we had poached a couple of squad players that offer far more than the likes of Iwobi.

So, for me, and I reiterate, I don't think it's all about the money now. We need better scouting, to start training players to be better footballers on the training ground, find out why none of our players can pass and move, why none can shoot straight.

We can sign better players but, unless you start setting them up as a cohesive unit and know what you want to do, then nothing will change.

The way I see it, Ancelotti is close to finishing 8th with Marco Silva's players and four of his own signings. But Silva also finished 8th in 2019. I'm hard-pressed to see much has changed after 18 months down the line.

Robert Tressell
22 Posted 14/05/2021 at 10:27:49
Jim & Barry - we've spent quite a lot under Moshiri and we're no financial basket case anymore. However, we can't pretend the squad investment is anything other than modest by comparison with the richest 4 in particular.

We are simply not in that league financially - and neither are Spurs and Arsenal despite relatively recent highs and look where they are.

Leicester buck the trend with very astute strategic recruitment and excellent management. We should copy them - and also a lot of what Leipzig do also. Our own best signings follow this model too unsurprisingly.

That is the only way to give yourself a chance to compete without coughing up £500m to bridge the gap and muscle in.

Joe McMahon
23 Posted 14/05/2021 at 11:12:20
Jim B.

Unfortunately, the players you mention didn't happen, as a combined £90-odd million was spent on Pickford, Keane and Sigurdsson. Add god knows how much for Klaassen.

Wayne Rooney also brought back to the club for £160k per week. Wayne gave us 10 goals in that season, and Salah had just arrived, on £60k per week less than Wayne, and got over 30 Premier League goals.

I cannot excuse Carlo for the awful football, but he was not on board when any of the above happened. We are still paying the price now.

Rick Tarleton
24 Posted 14/05/2021 at 12:09:45
Without Rodriguez, there isn't much creativity... and, when he does play, which isn't exactly regularly, we need to play without Sigurdsson or Gomes because we cannot afford their lack of stamina and energy alongside Rodriguez, who is talented, but a luxury player. Allan, Davies and Doucouré make a tight if uninspiring midfield.

Up at the front, Richarlison is hard-working and runs his socks off. Every so often, he scores a memorable goal, but a clinical finisher he is not – and never will be. Which means that, unless Calvert-Lewin gets good service, we find scoring very difficult.

I just hope Calvert-Lewin doesn't get too fed up and starts looking for a move. He seems to be our one attacking asset, but he must get fed up with the service and support on offer.

We can close games down, but creatively we don't deserve to be in Europe at any level, I'm afraid.

Steve Carse
25 Posted 14/05/2021 at 12:18:47
Steve (7),

I'm not too sure that Ancelotti just 'saw us throw away a 2-0 lead' in that bizarre finish to the game at home to Newcastle last season. My recollection is that he was fundamental in causing its happening.

You will recall that Moise Kean was having the game of his time at Everton, scoring his first goal for us and generally running the opposition ragged. With just over 10 minutes left, cue one of Carlo's strange substitutions (something we are now all too familiar with), with Kean departing -- and Niasse taking his place. Cue a revitalisation of the opposition. Cue 2 points dropped.

I think most of us thought after that game that we were at last about to see the true capabilities of Kean. Unfortunately, cue another strange Carlo decision, he was left out of the next game, and only sparingly used subsequently.

Ian Horan
26 Posted 14/05/2021 at 12:40:57
Lyndon, in response to your article lead is there an alternative to to "the school of science"? I respectfully offer you "shovelling shite".

It's tough being a Toffee at the moment...

Laurie Hartley
27 Posted 14/05/2021 at 13:03:59
Tony # 3 - I know who this is - “We need an attacking threat down the right hand side. We have to be able to put a defence on the back foot, someone with the pace and/or skill to get behind the defence and get some dangerous crosses in.” - Adama Traore.
Craig Walker
28 Posted 14/05/2021 at 13:52:13
We need to use Ben Godfrey as the profile of the calibre of player we should be signing. Someone who is young, fast and hungry and will see playing for Everton as a privilege. Players who will give their all. I hope we don't revert to the cast-offs and has-beens from other clubs.

I love James Rodriguez as a player and he's produced some great moments during this season. I've started to get frustrated though with the amount of niggles he carries. He's a great player to have in the squad but he cannot be our main focal point for creativity.

I also like Allan as a combative midfield player who does try to drive us forward, when he can. Again, though, he's missed a fair chunk of the season through injury.

We need to stop signing midfielders who have no idea where the goal is. Gomes, Doucouré (who I like), Allan, Bernard, Iwobi, Davies just do not contribute anything going forward. Any sight at goal always ends up in the stands. If you look at the really successful teams, they have goals, pace and creativity in their midfield.

The encouragement I take is that some of the better performers this season have been the most recent signings. We need to offload the deadwood and change the emphasis on who we bring in. I'm fed up of watching pedestrian football with no options on the bench to change things.

I'd just like the season to finish now.

Jerome Shields
29 Posted 14/05/2021 at 14:22:35
Ancelotti seemed to decide, after the Crystal Palace game, that it was best to set up the team in a defensive formation, due to a lack of technical ability, aiming for a draw and hoping to nick a goal and all three points. In the first two games after that, defensive errors in the space behind the right back exposed a weakness.

Even against West Ham, a weakness was still there. The other weakness was a inconsistency in spirit and motivation. omIt is these two weakness that have scuppered Ancelotti plan. Nicking a goal was always going to be a lucky break with this squad, but was achievable if the other two weaknesses had not raised their ugly head.

There will have to be change in the squad this Summer, because there are players that not going to progress and may even get worse next season. Ancelotti says there may be only be a few players bought in, so he is going to have to get change somewhere else.

I wish him luck, along with Chelsea, because that may be the only way to get into the European Conference League, which would at least change the scenario that Everton has to deal with, hopefully forcing change.

Jay Wood

30 Posted 14/05/2021 at 15:04:13
Steve Carse @ 25.

A popular myth that still gets an occasional airing now and again from posters on TW.

Your poor recall is not an accurate reflection of that night's events.

Jay Harris
31 Posted 14/05/2021 at 16:25:47
I think we need a sense of balance here.

Everton are not the only team struggling to impose themselves in certain games. A multitude of games this season has seen highly unpredictable results and boring games.

My main concern is that for years, no matter who the players or manager are, we bottle it. It suggests to me it is more to do with the club than the personnel. If we are to ever get anywhere, we have to restore a sense of belief that we are a big club and belong in the Top 4 consistently.

I think for far too long Kenwright in self serving has played the "plucky little Everton card" and I belief that mantre has to change to ever get anywhere.

My American girlfriend thinks "soccer" players are a bunch of fairies and doesnt understand why they don't regularly get the hairdryer treatment.

When I see some performances and antics I agree with her but in general I am all for the balance of carrot and stick and, in these days of overpampered players, it is hard to apply the "Ferguson" method. so it is easier for players to coast and not risk injury than to really put their bodies on the line in an "Andy Gray/Peter Reid" way.

But that is just general thinking. Specifically, you must have good players and after years of embarrassing recruitment we do not have good players in a number of key positions.

For years, we have cried out for tough energetic goalscoring midfield players and after watching Gomes's pathetic attempts for a professional footballer we certainly have not addressed that problem. We have cried out for pace, energy and creativity but that is inconsistent to say the least.

Until we address the elephants in the room we will not return to the top table anytime soon but I have every confidence that Carlo is the man to lead that revolution. Whether Moshiri, Kenwright and/or Brands are on board that train remains to be seen.

Michael Connelly
32 Posted 14/05/2021 at 17:12:19
''There were just too many instances where Ancelotti's players either didn't seem capable of turning possession into chances, either because they lacked confidence, or simply because they were so poor where it mattered in the final third.''

It should not be a surprise that 'they were so poor' because, let's face it, a significant portion of the team is poor relative to the standard at the top of the league, particularly when it comes to creating chances. If James is not fit, we are nowhere near the required level.

I think we really need to stop being surprised here and start by expecting a bit less considering the pool of creative players available.

Gomes in particular is just stealing a living off the club. Those 2 efforts on goal yesterday were pathetic.

Jay Wood

33 Posted 14/05/2021 at 17:44:06
A snapshot of our squad – based on the collective wisdom of ToffeeWeb posters – reads something like this:

Pickford: a mistake waiting to happen. Serious Attention Deficit Disorder issues. Cocky, gurning idiot.

Coleman: now a liability. Can't defend. Can't cross. No speed or energy any more.

Digne: poor defender, prone to losing his man. Very hit and miss with his crossing.

Keane: a static lighthouse with the speed and turning circle of an oil tanker.

Mina: see Keane above but injury-prone as well.

Godfrey: our saviour. More like him please.

Holgate: cocky gum-chewing Championship-at-best player.

Davies: skateboarding bizzarely dressed 'What-does-he-do? Another Championship-at-best player.

Gomes: lovely hair, 'one game in ten' player, if we're lucky.

Allan: a poor man's Gana, a gambolling puppy who mindlessly chases the ball, leaving defensive gaps all over the park.

Doucouré: traps the ball further than most players can shoot, second touch a mistimed tackle.

James: a luxury we can't afford. Permanent hospital case.

Sigurdsson: Why? No pace, no guile, no goals from free kicks.

Richarlison: the Incredible Sulk. The worst Brazilian International in the history of football. No peripheral vision, and little end product.

Calvert-Lewin: still only Championship-at-best. Will never be a top striker.

Iwobi: worst signing and worst footballer in Everton's history.

Bernard: flatters to deceive, not up to the physical side of the Premier League.

Carlo Ancelotti: ill-suited to Everton. Just here to boost his pension fund.

Quite miraculous then, given the poverty of our squad and the incompetence of our manager, that we have been in and around the Top 4, 6, 8 all season and still are with 3 games to go, with our best every Premier League away record and record-breaking clean sheets away from home over a season.

Pity about the home form, eh?

Thomas Richards
34 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:02:41
"Doucouré, traps the ball further than most players can shoot."

An obvious falsehood.

Dale Self
35 Posted 14/05/2021 at 18:19:11
Robert @17, thanks for that last point. I think this gets past more than a few here. That is why the comparisons to the Ginger One touch a nerve I guess. Carlo doesn't trust this squad or his setups would reflect that. He sees the lack of dynamic play between his best forwards and deals with it by setting up for the counterattack.

One bright spot is his ability to get over on his counterparts that he has a book on. We've managed some decent point returns against better teams even though we've slipped up against the minnows. I suspect we will avoid much of that disappointment next season with a more stable squad. This team looks exhausted now so I am not bothered to miss out on Europe this round.

Mike Connolly
43 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:27:01
Jay, I agree with most of your assessment of the team, apart from Richarlison. Yes, he is a sulk, but he does more chasing back than any other player.

If he was playing for any of the top six sides he would have had a hat full of goals playing with quality players. The system we are playing is horrendous; it relies on a clinical finisher and that is where it ends for us.

Jay Wood

44 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:29:06
Comedy Gold.

The man who mocks where others find the time to do meaningful research to post maybe 3-4 times a week can be found on TW all hours every day posting...well, nothing really, other than sniping at others and asking vacuous questions.

If this was a boxing forum, Thomas, you might have something interesting to share.

It isn't. You don't.

Andy Crooks
45 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:30:32
Mike, I don't think that was Jay's assessment of the team.
Jay Wood

46 Posted 14/05/2021 at 19:33:34
Nice to know someone is switched on and alert, Andy.
Mike Connolly
53 Posted 14/05/2021 at 20:08:09
Andy, Apologies.

I agree with the ToffeeWebbers' collective wisdom.

Michael Connelly
58 Posted 15/05/2021 at 07:19:01
At lot of the snap shot of the TW comments are fair, Jay (33), I would say, apart from some, such as on Calvert-Lewin, who is not a Championship striker, but not Champions League either.

I think any reference to our away record (or home) needs to take into account the empty stadiums, and the fact that the home and away records would have been evened out had crowds been present.

Pete Williams
59 Posted 15/05/2021 at 14:15:50
Well we've still got the problems we knew we had but, unlike all the post Moyes managers, this one is keeping us clear of relegation, improving our aging squad, getting better performances out of some and could do better if we get him better players. Godfrey, Doucouré, Allan and James have improved us and both Calvert-Lewin and Pickford have got better under him. If we get a good right-back and younger replacement for Gomes, then we'll improve again.

I see this as a journey of improvement and Rome wasn't built in a day, so I'll wait and see what the summer brings and start next season with some hope. My hope may be dashed by Christmas, but that's the life of a Blue.

Paul Niklas
60 Posted 15/05/2021 at 19:31:57
Another day watching Leicester win the FA Cup and another day it gets more embarrassing to support this club. Please for me get rid of the lot of them and get that Doucouré first out the door.
Danny O’Neill
61 Posted 15/05/2021 at 00:26:26
Apologies as I've been quiet for a few days. To some that may be a blessing. A bit of personal stuff going on

Jay (BRZ), you triggered me! Great post!

Before I respond to that, can I just say to Paul that supporting Everton is never embarrassing. To me, it is a birthright and something my father passed on. Don't get me wrong: my father and I never saw eye to eye but we shared a passion for Everton Football Club.

Jay (BRZ). As we approach the end of what still could end up being a relatively successful season, in response (and I get the context of your post!!):

Pickford: Much improved. Just having Olsen snapping at his heels has made him realise he needs to learn. Much more commanding of his defence in recent games and most importantly what you want from a goalkeeper, he is maturing.

Coleman: Much talk of right-back replacements and rightly so. But, with a fit Seamus, can we deflect that for another year and prioritise elsewhere? You know my thoughts... but I won't go there!

Digne: One of the best left-backs in Europe. Why are we questioning him?

Keane: I'm sadly with your point above. He's good in a deep-lying KITAN1 set-up but, the moment we go higher up the pitch, his concentration and anticipation elude him as the ball drifts over his head on too many occasions.

Mina: Big fan. Love the guy and want him to stay. I fear we will sell him as he has sell-on value because he is good. In the right team or squad, a great central-defensive asset. I'd keep him; if we want to play football from the back, with the right squad, we need football-playing centre-backs – and he is one.

Holgate: Not convinced but I would keep him in the squad as back-up.

Gomes: I so want him to be the player that is within. Again, maybe in the right squad or used as part of a better squad with more depth?

James: Pure quality. He won't play every game but then Aguero doesn't for Man City.

Sigurdsson: Quality. As with many of our players, in a better squad and used better in the context of the modern game, an asset. Tottenham FA Cup game this season, I think it was 4 assists.

Richarlison: He can sulk all he wants. He gives a shit and always has goals in him. Again, surround him with even better players in a squad with more depth.

Calvert-Lewin: The boy has come good. He's on course for 20 league goals; something we haven't had regularly and something successful teams have.

One I didn't see called out is Tom Davies: Vastly improved from having Allan and Doucouré around him. I'd like to see those 3 play together tomorrow night. Tom behind them, Allan and Doucouré in front.

Carlo: He's possibly going to get us into Europe with the squad he has available. A squad he improved last year and one I expect he will improve in the summer. Many of the current squad will remain but they will increasingly become back-up.

Derek Thomas
62 Posted 16/05/2021 at 01:12:52
Paul @ 60; it all depends which way you look at it. When you see Leicester – Leicester, for fuck's sake... I mean really, no offence and all that, but fuckin' Leicester! It boils my piss on both a seasonal note and on a generational note when I look and see... well not 'see' but 'hear' the old Bull's Eye quote ringing in my ears: "And here's what you could've won!"'

I suspect too, that more than a few others also see this season – a season where on multiple occasions the football gods have dangled the carrot of 90% of the results falling in our favour, while we contrive to let an endless stream of seemingly simple opportunities pass us by – as a season of missed opportunities.

Full credit again (twice now) to Leicester: they did it, we didn't... Just think, there are half-a-dozen players I could barely put a name to walking around with a League and Cup medal jangling in their pockets.

A sad indictment of those in charge since 1995 – which is the real point of my moan.

Shame; but, in the manner of the old Jewish lament, "if we're the chosen people, how come the Arabs got all the oil?"

If Job was a football club, he would be us.

No doubt one of my old occasional haunts, The Oadby Owl, will be bouncing. Again, well done, Leicester.

And just to cheer us up some more – what about Chelsea? Things sometimes run in 3s. It would be just their (and our bad luck) for them to get beat yesterday, lose to Man City, and have Liverpool pinch their 4th place.

Ian Horan
63 Posted 16/05/2021 at 01:42:46
Derek, a truish happy ending, Chelsea drop to 5th, Liverpool get 4th but Chelsea win the Champions League. Liverpool would then have to drop into the Europa League. Now that would be a sight to behold!!!
Steve Brown
64 Posted 16/05/2021 at 05:29:40
Ian @ 63, that would be a great outcome! The squeals of anguish would be hilarious.

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