The Curious Case of Gylfi Sigurdsson

by   |   01/01/2021  30 Comments  [Jump to last]

Gylfi Sigurdsson is undoubtedly a player who can drive opinions. He can be the catalyst for excellent team performances, then he can completely anonymous the next game. A deserved captain one game, a perennial finger pointer the next. Just what is it that makes Gylfi Sigurdsson blow so hot and cold?

Firstly, let’s look at the run of games that Gylfi has performed well. I would say there have been two particular runs of games where Sigurdsson has performed well; Silva’s purple patch at the end of the 2018-19 season, and the recent run of games prior to the West Ham game.

Interestingly, the formation in both of these runs of games was a 4-2-3-1, with Sigurdsson in the coveted Number 10 role. In addition, both runs of games included games against teams that we didn’t necessarily expect to beat. Silva’s purple patch included wins against Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd, as well as draws against Liverpool and Spurs. The most recent run of games included wins against Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal. Why then, have two of Sigurdsson’s best runs of games occurred against superior opposition?

Gylfi Sigurdsson is not a creative player in the sense that he can unlock defences who have come with the intention of not conceding. He can’t beat a man, he can’t play an intricate defence-splitting pass, and he doesn’t possess that instinctive first-touch ability to make something happen. Neither is Gylfi Sigurdsson a central midfielder. He is too slow, lacks the positional awareness to close players down, and his tackling ability is questionable.

Gylfi Sigurdsson can pick a pass, however, and he is very good at it. The problem is, Gylfi is best at picking passes to runners, to those players who are making runs to stretch defences, or those players who are counter-attacking quickly. Gylfi is also very good at pressing from the front, he covers a lot of ground and works well in tandem with a forward player in pressurising the opposition defenders to force a turnover.

Here lies the problem with Gylfi Sigurdsson: The vast majority of teams who face Everton do not look to attack. They look to stay compact and restrict our chances, classic Moyes KITAP1. By playing this way and defending deeper, the opposition restrict our ability to stretch defences, meaning that we often face a wall of 8 players with no chance of runners stretching the defence. This immediately nullifies Sigurdsson, as his best two abilities are now taken away from him. The result – the anonymous, finger-pointing Sigurdsson that we all love to hate.

When we play the better teams, who look to attack us, Gylfi works well pressurising defenders and, when we have the ball, he generally has runners such as Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, as well as the full-backs, sprinting ahead of him, allowing him the options to make the passes which he is best at. The only other times we are in this position against the weaker teams, is when they are forced to play more expansive; either towards the end of games they need to win (ie – Sheffield Utd) or when we are leading and they are pressing for an equaliser.

The solution? Gylfi Sigurdsson should have two roles to play. The first as a starter against the better teams as the way they attack us plays into his hands. And second, as a sub to kill games, the way that Lukaku used to.

What we don’t need to see, however, and where Marco Silva repeatedly tried and failed, is Gylfi Sigurdsson in a Number 10 role at home to West Ham, Burnley, West Brom etc where he is likely to be completely anonymous, unless we get an early goal.

Carlo – if you are really worth your salary, please take note.

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Reader Comments (30)

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Geoff Williams
1 Posted 02/01/2021 at 09:54:02
He shouldn't divide opinion as he quite simply not up to the task. He is supposed to be a deadball expert but there has been very little evidence of that, he is supposedly a creative player but there is even less evidence of that. He can't tackle and never wins the ball or head a ball despite being 6' plus. What are his strengths? He can't be faulted for the amount of ground he covers and he is great at pointing. I genuinely believe he is Everton's major problem as he occupies a key position but he doesn't produce the goods.
Allen Rodgers
2 Posted 02/01/2021 at 12:10:25
The Echo reporting a new deal for Sigurdsson is 'under consideration'. He's contracted to the end of the 2021-22 season, when he'll be a few weeks off 33.

Despite his occasional good moments, enough is enough of this spineless creature.

Tony Everan
3 Posted 02/01/2021 at 12:32:44
Kevin, very well analysed and it sums up what his role at the club should be limited to. He can be fairly effective in certain games and late phases of play.

Games like last night's rubber stamp what we already know. This horse has been flogged so much it's a bucket of mince. With Allan back in the team alongside Doucouré, James Rodriguez could do a job for us in that No 10 position. He can't tackle or press very well (Sigurdsson may be better, but not much) but James has the ability to unlock defences that Sigurdsson will never have.

It's possible the 'contract renewal' stuff is rubbish being bandied about trying to generate a move for him from a position of strength to FC Miami or somewhere like that.

Brian Murray
4 Posted 02/01/2021 at 12:45:25
Get rid, albeit 3 years too late. Don't make yourself look an idiot Carlo. Leave that domain to us when the shite start sniggering at us. Again.
Steve Hogan
5 Posted 02/01/2021 at 12:55:07
Sorry but I don't see the whole team having to somehow 'adapt' to Gylfi's strengths being the solution to this issue.

The fact is, once his goal contribution dries up (which it most certainly has), he becomes the ultimate passenger in the team.

I have to say, I'm somewhat amazed at the amount of playing time he has received under Carlo. He literally goes missing for large portions of the game, and when he does receive the ball, it normally results in a 10-yard pass, backwards or sideways to a team mate.

As another poster has said, he can't tackle, he cannot head the ball, has no pace; I really do wonder why the manager persists with him so much.

I've never met the guy, and I'm sure he is a nice fellow, but he is never captain material, never mind being a regular starter in the team.

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 02/01/2021 at 12:58:44
For God's sake — don't give him another contract!
Gordon Crawford
7 Posted 02/01/2021 at 13:04:44
He has been working harder and can score some important goals, but sadly he just isn't good enough. The problem we have is who replaces him at the minute?

James has the ability to pull off the sublime, but can he stay fit and play every game? If not, then Sigurdsson sadly is our second-best option. We need to be proactive in the transfer window, asap.

Geoff Williams
8 Posted 02/01/2021 at 14:28:27
To offer him another contract would be a huge error on Everton's part.
Steve Brown
9 Posted 02/01/2021 at 14:42:07
He has had over 100 games to earn a second contract and failed.
Stephen Brown
10 Posted 02/01/2021 at 15:27:56
Football seems to have moved on from a few years ago when Sigurdsson was effective. You have to be a pretty special player these days to be effective without any pace.

Unfortunately Sigurdson simply does not have the pace to be in a team trying to be at the top of the league nor is he good enough to have a team adapt to allow him to play in a role built for him.

I really wanted him to do well here as he was very good for Swansea (I'm from Swansea so watched him a lot) but I remember thinking, at the time of signing him, he wasn't a good fit! I would have kept Barkley over him! His ridiculous fee hasn't helped him either!

I'm sure he has a bit part role to play but let's face it any team aspiring to be in the top 6 or above wouldn't have him anywhere near the first 11.

The best for all concerned would be a move to a slower league! Although I can't see any sort of fee coming our way!

We need guile and pace and at the moment he's not supplying any!

Sam Hoare
11 Posted 02/01/2021 at 16:06:26
I find it hard to slag him off as, unlike some others, he always works extremely hard and rarely leaves the pitch not covered in sweat. But he's limited and our vast overpaying for him was symptomatic of the wasted opportunity at the start of Moshiri's tenure.

At this point, I'd agree it makes sense to play Sigurdsson as No 10 against the better teams where we expect to have less of the ball and need his work rate but play Rodriguez as No 10 against the lesser teams when you need a little more inspiration to break a deep defense.

Steavey Buckley
12 Posted 02/01/2021 at 16:24:10
Modern footballers are not just regarded as footballers, but have to be athletes as well, and conform to a lifestyle that maintains high levels of physical fitness, so they have to watch what they eat and drink.

Up until the likes of Arsene Wenger came along, and changed the fitness regime to be more suited to the ways continental clubs in Europe had already adopted, Premier League players could get away with having nights out on the ale and the odd packet of fags. Those days are long gone.

The reason Sigurdsson does not fit into modern football concept, he is not seen as a footballer who can do all the clever things but runaround with lots of physical energy and stamina as well.

Ciarán McGlone
13 Posted 02/01/2021 at 18:26:20
Top 4 prices... middle table ability.

Playing him at number 10 has been one of our biggest problems.

John Mallo
14 Posted 03/01/2021 at 15:08:31
If they give Sigurdsson a new contract, that will sum up Everton's ambition: also-ran.
Trevor Peers
15 Posted 04/01/2021 at 08:20:01
After years of abuse from some posters on TW, lo and behold — Sigurdsson is to be offered a new contract. Somebody likes him and thinks he has ability, maybe this thread should be renamed 'the curious case of the Sigurdsson haters'.
Gavin Johnson
16 Posted 04/01/2021 at 08:29:19
I've been counting down the days until the current contract runs down. He's gonna be 33 then, for Christ's sake?! If he gets any slower in the next few seasons he'll need a Zimmer frame.

I thought this story was Daily Mail fake news and laughed when I first read it but it seems to be gaining traction. It would show absolutely no ambition and I'd be appalled if he's still here after the 2021-22 season.

John Davies
17 Posted 05/01/2021 at 12:46:23
Trevor #15. It's not a case of hating Sigurdsson for me. He just isn't good enough consistently and is now well past his sell by date.
IMO an offer of a new contract would be complete folly. I agree with Gavin #16 when he says it would show no club ambition if he gets a new offer. I hope he doesn't.
Brian Murray
18 Posted 05/01/2021 at 12:57:47
Siggy is the beacon of the modern Everton. Nice and easy and great once a month but don’t you dare expect them to turn up when it matters ie ma Utd cup game etc. Stop embarrassing yourself Marcel and do your job for once.
Will Mabon
19 Posted 05/01/2021 at 13:47:36
Ironic that so many commentators and outsiders to the club call Sigurdsson "Class". It happened again in commentary of the West Ham match.

Many of these people do not see so much of Everton's play. This perception of Sigurdsson came for many, from his performances for the Iceland national team, where he did indeed play very well for several years.

Of course, he's older now. Winding back several years to a younger Gylfi as when he joined our club, and still not once have I seen a full match performance to rival the effort he put into those Iceland games.

Ignoring all technical aspects and abilities, this has been an uncommitted player in my opinion. A hider and a stroller. Some excellent moments, and so there should be - but the whole total of it adds to nowhere near value for what we paid and still do pay in salary.

A very unsuccessful signing.

Peter Gorman
20 Posted 05/01/2021 at 14:04:42
Will - whilst he infuriates the skite out of me with his inconsistency (and shirking) it wouldn't be quite true to say he has never shown his class for us.

As well as being joint top scorer in his first season with us, I think he was utterly 'unplayable' when we thrashed Man Utd 4-0 in April 2019.

It is his constant unwillingness to put in the same level of effort as he did that day which makes his selection so galling.

Kevin P hits on all the mitigating circumstances of fomations and opposition but we've all seen him fanny out of challenges which is unforgiveable.

Sam Hoare
21 Posted 05/01/2021 at 14:16:29
I don't like Sigurddson in our first team very much but the new contract thing doesn't bother me so much. It depends hugely on what he gets offered. Currently now he is on 100k per week; which is way too much for someone who is a second choice squad player.

But if he were to sign a contract for say 2-3 more years on around 40-50k then I could understand. He always works hard, by all accounts he trains very well and is a good role model, he's never injured and his game is unlikely to deteriorate much due to his qualities being intellectual and technical rather than athletic.

He's actually been pretty decent as a 10 against teams where we have less of the ball and the 10 has to work extremely hard pressing people.

Not a first team player for me but a reliable, hard working squad member with (apparently) a great attitude. If he were to sign a new contract that reflects that status then fine. But if any madcap American or Chinese team would offer us £10m for him then i'd bite their arm off!

Steavey Buckley
22 Posted 05/01/2021 at 14:31:13
At the time when Everton bought Bolasie and Sigurdsson I questioned the wisdom on spending awful amounts of money on players in the later 20's. I suggested at the time, it is always best to spend large amounts on top players in their early 20's because they can better and increase in value.

Both Bolasie and Sigurdsson will eventually leave Everton for nothing, while Bolasie played his last game for Everton in 2018, when bought in 2017. Both players, combined, cost 73 million pounds.

Will Mabon
23 Posted 05/01/2021 at 14:33:19
Peter, I can't deny there have been some great moments, for sure - and that's mostly it. It's that we've seen what could be, but the guy is simply a cruiser and a bottler for most of the time. "Infuriating" is the word.

Sam, I can see what you're saying. However I'd like to think the team would have no use or role for what Sigurdsson would be able to offer, in other words much better back up players. I think your last line is a most likely outcome when his days end here.

Will Mabon
24 Posted 05/01/2021 at 14:34:36
Steavey - shocking money.
Rob Dolby
25 Posted 07/01/2021 at 12:00:48
The Number 10 position is becoming unfashionable in the Premier League with top teams playing without strikers or playing 4-3-3. I think Fernandes at Man Utd is the exception.

Sigurdsson came to us as a Number 10. It wasn't his fault we paid £45M or £100k per week. He has got game time under Ancelotti due to Gomes's lack of form, Allan's injury, and Tom Davies's lack of mobility.

Sigurdsson infuriates me with his positional sense. He is always on the wrong side of the player in possession.

I have noticed this season, and the end of last, he has largely been played as a centre-mid linking play rather than as a Number 10. His effort and all-round team play has improved as a result.

Whilst I don't particularly want him to get a new contract, we have to find a replacement before letting him go. Like it or not, he is probably our 3rd or 4th greatest goal threat behind Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Rodriguez.

Sam Hoare
26 Posted 07/01/2021 at 13:28:11
Will @23,

I think the club will always want to have smart and professional senior players around who set a good example and can be relied upon to bring something to the team either off or on the pitch when called upon.

Perhaps Carlo sees Sigurdsson as that sort of player, i'm not against it if the contract reflects the status but he certainly ain't worth the £100k per week he's currently on!

Eddie Dunn
27 Posted 07/01/2021 at 18:48:54
Well Kevin, you make some fair points but I would disagree with you on "he can't play an intricate defence-splitting pass"... Oh yea he can!

"And he doesn't possess that instinctive first-touch ability to make something happen"... Oh yes he does!

"He lacks the positional awareness to close players down"... oh no he doesn't.

He is slow, he doesn't tackle and he is coming to the end of his Premier League days, purely because it is too quick.

He gives his all, he is totally professional and that is why the gaffer often gives him not only a starting berth, but the Captain's armband. I notice his frustration when he tries to intercept but the player beats him to it, then he jumps up in exasperation, his old limbs not doing what his mind wants. Us old farts have all been there.

Would I extend his contract? No! he is too slow and too old. Simple... but I like the guy and appreciate his talents.

Jerome Shields
28 Posted 09/01/2021 at 19:33:23
The problem is that Sigurdsson's uplift in play seems to coincide with the fact that he is looking for a new contract. He has often appeared to go through the motions when playing for Everton, content with his overpriced contract.
Annika Herbert
29 Posted 11/01/2021 at 04:55:33
Eddie @ 27, if he does have all the qualities you claim he possesses, then he is doing a damn fine job of disguising them!
Steve Shave
30 Posted 11/01/2021 at 06:52:42
Annika, you and I have been some of the harsher critics of Sigurdsson on here; once again I cannot disagree with you. I am pleased he is playing a little better, offering a little more... but, if there is any chance of us getting a little money for him this window (MLS anyone?) then we should take it.

My views on his signing are well documented on here, I won't go into it again other than to say my view of him has also been coloured by the vast and unnecessary sum we paid, which isn't his fault.

We mismanaged our best No 10 (Barkley) and let him go for buttons and we brought 3 duds to replace him, all for a king's ransom. If we can get any money for him, Tosun and Bernard, despite their huge contracts, then we should cut our losses and take a couple of loans on until the season ends.

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