Championship player at best, can’t pass, can’t tackle, gives the ball away too much, not big enough, too slow etc. Tom Davies has had a lot of criticism levelled at him in the last few years. Could he now be the missing piece we have been searching for in our quest for the top 4?
Think about it: at the start of the season with a fully fit squad, the team picked itself – that is, apart from that niggling debate as to who should be the third midfielder alongside Doucouré and Allan. Gomes started the season, but always looked like the weak link, Sigurdsson had a go but was largely anonymous. We had Allan in that defensive midfielder, Doucouré next to him and the third spot up for grabs; that third spot was commonly believed to need a bit of creativity.
"How can Davies fill this role then?" I hear you ask. After all, he isn’t exactly the creative output we need there and all his impressive displays have come in the defensive midfield role previously filled by Allan. The answer, I believe, is found in Marco Silva’s tenure and the departed Idrissa Gueye.
When we had Gueye, the theory was that Gueye could hunt for the ball in midfield and we could take advantage of turnovers higher up the pitch, thus using a higher defensive line. Whilst I don’t know how good Davies could be in this role, I believe Allan could be excellent in it, leaving Davies in the role he is currently excelling in. We wouldn’t necessarily need a creative third midfielder if we had Doucouré and Allan pressing the opposition midfield high upfield as we would already be in a position where James, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and Digne could take advantage, rather like the first goal against Liverpool. The added benefit of this against teams like Newcastle and Fulham, is that we would suffocate them in their own half and destroy their confidence, rather than allowing their defenders and midfielders to pass at will like we have done.
The danger with this, is that we would need a relatively quick centre back so we don’t get hit on the counter. Therefore, I believe we would have to play one of Holgate or Godfrey at centre-back regularly.
There we have it… Any defensive combination, a midfield 3 of Allan, Doucoure and Davies, a front 3 of Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin and James. Top 4 here we come!!!!!
Reader Comments (31)
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1 Posted 22/02/2021 at 20:14:07
We need to add pace, lots of it, and more creative drive in midfield to be a Champions League club. Tom won't give us those. He'll continue to play what you call the suffocation role, but when we reach the next level, he'll be only a supporting player in my opinion.
2 Posted 22/02/2021 at 20:22:36
I believe Tom has come on leaps and strides in linking the play and not giving the ball away with wayward passing but as Mike G says he still has some way to go before being a regular starter.
I believe and hope that Ancelotti will bring in 2 or 3 quality players in the summer one of whom will be a better quality MF player in the mould of Gomes but who can create and score goals.
That is the gap we have been lacking this season. Just look at the effect Fernandes has had at Utd.
3 Posted 23/02/2021 at 02:38:08
His superb 30 yard pass to Richarlison set up the second goal and he seems to be much better facing the play rather than chasing around midfield trying to win the ball.
I've been one of his biggest critics but he's been outstanding, recently, and it's like having a new player.
4 Posted 23/02/2021 at 06:02:03
The problem we have with players coming though our ranks is the number of fans who have no comprehension of what a potential top-flight player looks like. Unless they are Wayne Rooney, they're quite simply hammered.
Calvert-Lewin got it in spades. He was never going to be a natural goalscorer like Aguero... so they murdered him, "Championship at best" ... "Nowhere near as good as Tammy Abrahams".
Holgate got it too but, luckily for him, he was able to get out of here for a year, just as the ill-informed abuse was reaching fever pitch.
Tom has had it worse than any of them. I've been in alehouses after games and seen whole threads dominated by his name, even when he has only played a few minutes. To be frank the level of bile directed at him made me consider whether I wanted to be part of this club, I'd seen too many years of this rage directed against youngsters learning their trade.
I remember one particular match against Newcastle when he gave away a free-kick miles from our goal. We had 11 men to defend a punt into our box. We failed. The explosion of anger directed at the youngest player on the pitch filled me with revulsion. There is a regular poster on here who claims he supports the junior teams, yet I see him lie in wait for the slightest error from him and he is straight in with the poison.
The poor judges (because that's what they are) are now seeing Tom starting to realise his potential. They will hide their poor judgement by claiming it is the manager who has turned this ugly duckling into a swan, but that's bollocks. I feel Carlo has given him some very sound advice and I know Davide has made a big contribution regarding his development. But you can't put something into a player that wasn't already there. You can only help bring it out.
I said earlier that I always knew Tom Davies would prove the poor judges wrong, but he has started to exceed the expectations of even his biggest supporters. He may not be content to be just an ordinary swan. Looks to me as if he is hell-bent on becoming a very fine one indeed.
How much did he cost again?
5 Posted 23/02/2021 at 07:15:22
Wow, Darren. Brilliant comments which deserve a thread of their own. Totally agree with everything you say.
6 Posted 23/02/2021 at 07:29:25
Up a goal with just seconds to go, not even enough time for the Barcodes to get the ball down to our end of the pitch, he committed an idiotic, pointless foul that gave them 30 extra seconds and a free punt into our box -- which he misjudged, missed completely and allowed to reach the guy he was marking. One nightmarish scramble later, a win had become a draw.
Certainly there was blame to go around, but Tom was the most culpable. And he was no callow, persecuted child -- young, yes, but a veteran of 100 first-team appearances who should have known better. Carlo obviously felt the same, because, as I recall, Tom didn't even make the bench next game and barely got on on the pitch for the two after that.
I give him full credit for the remarkable progress he has made this season, and I take great pleasure in seeing that he's not doing dumb stuff like that anymore. But I don't regret a word I wrote on the Live Forum that day.
7 Posted 23/02/2021 at 08:09:24
The thing that makes me laugh is the amount of people who suggest that a guy with loads of Premier Leagues appearances could be labelled a "Championship" player. If you have more than 50 appearances in the Premier League (never mind Tom's got 150 or so) then surely you are most definitely a Premier League player.
Does anyone recall one of Gana Gueye's last performances for us when he broke out of defence, nutmegged someone, and went on a long run upfield nearly scoring? It was fabulous, and I wondered whether labelling him as a defensive player and giving him a huge workload had lost us a creative weapon?
When we lambast players like Tom and Gylfi in particular, criticising backwards and sideways passes, we often overlook, in our ignorance, what their coach has told them to do. Gylfi is known for accurate set-piece delivery and astute through-balls but he has had to fit-in in various roles over the last couple of years. We don't hear him complaining, and he tries to do the job he has been tasked with. Tom is the same and, with James in the side, the coach might have instructed Davies to do A, B and not C, "Just give it to James"... We really don't know.
We have though struggled when too many square pegs have been squeezed into round holes. Now that only Gbamin seems unavailable, it is more than coincidental that we look a better side. The squad is thin on quality and, once Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison or Digne get crocked, we look more ordinary.
Sigurdsson looks poor playing midfield, box-to-box, but pop him up, off Calvert-Lewin and he might find a little dink to put him in. It's more quality players that we need and Tom Davies is showing that he can stay here and fight for his place.
8 Posted 23/02/2021 at 08:09:30
It's not a role which comes naturally to Allan who seems more a hunter and gatherer, or Doucouré who is more box-to-box. Davies has grasped his chance and by all accounts, been given some sound coaching under the current regime.
For anyone who is a subscriber to The Athletic, there is an excellent article on Tom recently which touches on how introspective, self-aware and hard working he is as a footballer. Tellingly, it also quotes people close to him and his family who maintain that the burden of captaincy placed on him by Silva impacted his development.
There will be times when he gets caught in possession or looks off the pace of the game. But, if we are to get to where we want to be, then the ready-made signings (James, Allan etc) have to be supplemented by home rown, inexpensive players like Davies.
9 Posted 23/02/2021 at 08:22:15
10 Posted 23/02/2021 at 08:58:46
Always said it, Tom Davies will play for England. The lad was singled out since his mid-teens. Everton cleared players out of his path to give him the chance to progress into the first team (John Lundstram and Ryan Ledson). England was getting him into first team training at 17. Scouts from around Europe were watching him. Every manager from Koeman onwards kept playing him. But nah, some on here knew better.
Ive always said it, central midfield is a very difficult position to play. Its not like a winger where your natural talent of beating a man can shine, or a forward who can rely on electric pace. Central midfielders need to link up play. They need to read the game. They need to have eyes in the back of their heads. They need resilience. But most of all they need experience.
Look at his England competition. First off, Declan Rice. Theyve both played the same amount of PL games (124 for DR and 121 for TD). Ive seen plenty of games where Rice struggled. But West Ham were a poor side and the managers kept faith.
Harry Winks was Toms age now when he first made a breakthrough and hes still trying to get regular football. Despite being 3 years older, hes played 20 less PL games.
Mason Mount is another who might be mentioned, but hes an attacking midfielder. Chelsea have world class players like Kante to clean up behind him. His mistakes go unpunished.
Tom Davies is, as Darren says, still learning his trade. There was always a player there and we needed to be patient. Hes fulfilling that early promise now, but he will get even better and Kevin is damn right, he is top 4 quality by the time hes the same age as Harry Winks.
11 Posted 23/02/2021 at 09:02:06
High hopes for Branthwaite and Gordon, plus the 3 stars of the U23s in Small, Isaacs and Onyango. But like Davies they'll all need some patience as they mature into the first team.
12 Posted 23/02/2021 at 09:17:44
13 Posted 23/02/2021 at 09:31:23
People focused on the fact he lost the ball a bit. So did our managers. They moved him into different positions, and seemingly got him to play safer.
As a result we saw a player who wasn't doing the things that got him into a premier league team in the first place. Let's not forget that he was previously a standout at international level, being asked to train with the senior side and captaining the U17s.
There's a saying that if you focus your time on your weaknesses then the best you can hope to be is average. Focus on your strengths and you can be great.
I think that's what Carlo is doing with Tom. Have him doing the things he's good at. Same goes for Doucoure and James. The team is the sum of its parts - not everyone has to be good at everything.
All may get replaced eventually for players who bring a better balance. But at 22, Tom has more improvement in him.
As a quick PS - I'm not convinced Allan, Davies and Doucoure are the perfect midfield 3. There'll be a time and a place for them to all play but I wouldn't want to be breaking down a Burnley type with that midfield.
14 Posted 23/02/2021 at 10:29:26
Will he go on Improving, moving up the gears from success to success in the manner of a latter day John McGovan, culminating with the European Cup...will Everton for that matter.
We set a level at the weekend, Tom was there setting his level too.
I hope both he and Everton drag each other along, up through the gears for the next, 7, 8, 9 years...will it happen though? Could do. Who will get left behind?...the next12mths will tell.
15 Posted 23/02/2021 at 10:44:56
You may wish to revisit the replays of the Newcastle goal. Tom did indeed give the free-kick away but was hardly most culpable for the Sunday league defending that followed.
You're right that Tom sat out the next couple of fixtures as he was replaced by either Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson or Delph.
But who did Carlo turn to for the fixtures against United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham?
Perhaps Carlo was demonstrating his excellent man-management skills or perhaps he realised that it was the young Tom Davies that would match up better than the 3 players named above?
I posted on another Davies thread earlier this month that
he's been up against some of the latest 'great young things' recently in Winks, McTominay and Rice and has acquitted himself very well. We can add Liverpool's Alcantara to that list now (although he's hardly young!).
As I also said a couple of weeks ago like any young player at Everton he is going to have good and not-so-good games. It's those that write him off before a ball has been kicked that frustrate the most. Chances are though they are the same people who wrote off Godfrey and Calvert-Lewin and are now piling into Holgate.
Never fails to make me laugh when people post with no sense of irony that they are happy to have been proven wrong about their earlier 'predictions' about Davies, Holgate, Godfrey, Calvert-Lewin etc. but will then quickly revert to type when one of them has a difficult game. Some on here twist and turn so much they must go to bed dizzy.
16 Posted 23/02/2021 at 10:49:34
Central midfield is arguably the only place on the pitch where you don't need blistering pace. The ability to read the game, break up and link play are more important. Tom is still improving and under Ancelotti is beginning to understand his game. Does he move the ball quick enough? We are still weak in midfield and to take the next step we need to buy players.
In our squad his only real competition is Allan for the holding role and truth be told Allan isn't suited to that position similar when we have tried Sigurdsson or Gomes there. All full internationals that our local boy is proving to be better than in the holding role.
Tom has an important role to play for us. I would love him to be integral to a push for top 4 though I see him as a squad player if we are to seriously challenge top 4.
17 Posted 23/02/2021 at 11:00:16
Toms progress cannot be seen as anything but a positive. I read his interview a couple of weeks ago on the club website and I think his upturn in consistent form is down to a few things coming together.
To have played the amount of PL games he has at 22 is one hell of an apprenticeship. It has given him a greater maturity and an understanding of the game. The club sticking with him is bearing fruit.
He mentioned about doing extra time in the gym and extra training sessions. He is looking physically stronger now, there is more muscle on the bones. He is more than holding his own in that tough central midfield berth. This strength conditioning has been big plus for him, I think that gives him a bit more confidence and stamina.
Finally the biggest factor is the lads desire. I see a similar mental fortitude as DCL and Holgate. Tom Davies has had his ups and downs and been in and out of the team. He gets criticised more than most, sometimes fairly, mostly not. The lads determination and desire is unaffected by it, he dusts himself down works at improving his game and goes again. DCL and Mason have been through that too and respond the same way.
The result of it all is that Tom has been fantastically consistent. Its starting to look like he can play well week in week out.
With regards to top 4, we are now in with a shout. Weve got the players to do it if they can stay fit. We have to address inconsistency as a priority. No more Fulham type performances! Starting with Southampton next Monday.
However, there is still some strengthening to do to progress further and be a regular top 4 challenger. I am confident Brands and Ancelloti will be signing one or two quality players in June.
18 Posted 23/02/2021 at 11:01:50
I agree with Mike more often than not but not with his post above. Regardless of how many games a young lad plays, he is still young and raw at times and needs understanding not vitriolic abuse which I think is what Darren is manfully trying to get across. Would any of us direct that sort of abuse at our own son if he made an error in a school game which he had made in the past? Hopefully not, we would talk him through where he went wrong and put it down to the fact that youngsters make mistakes.
I see no reason why Tom cant be our deep lying midfield general and he reminds me more of Peter Reid every game.
The boo boys really need to take a good look at themselves. They have targeted Stones( who is now coming good again at City),Holgate,DCL and Tom. Some wrote off Godfrey after a couple of games as not good enough( what a joke that was). Why dont they pack it in and give these lads a chance. Next up will be Small and it would be nice to think his own supporters will be behind him and encourage rather than rip into him. These players get into the first team as young lads doing battle with hardened fully grown men who know all of the dirty tricks and dont hesitate to use them. Wouldnt it be nice if they knew their own fans were trying to help them rather than do damage by eroding what confidence they have?
Picking on young players is pathetic and cowardly.
19 Posted 23/02/2021 at 11:03:20
We don't get many glimpses into the dressing room, and probably gonna be less of that if the Athletic is true about the club not being happy with Nkounkou posting a video of the Derby celebrations, so we can just dismiss that as fans. But, in reality, games are won in the dressing room. Good sides to go on dismal runs when there is a bad atmosphere in the dressing room. Everton sides under Moyes performed well because they had a strong dressing room. There is no doubt in my mind that we have not had such a dressing room since he left. There's been too many cliques (such as the French speakers and the Portuguese speakers).
No, I don't have a great insight into the dressing room. I'm not in the know or any of that. But there's enough snippets from players and ex-players (who don't have to toe the party line) and videos floating around to know that Tom Davies is one of the biggest personalities in that dressing room and so a very important player for the team as a whole.
A further point, did anyone see how he spent his Sunday? Him and Baines were out in Liverpool City centre feeding the homeless. No big deal made of it, they did it because that's what they do, not for the cameras. It's only known about because fans posted it on social media.
20 Posted 23/02/2021 at 15:07:20
Steve #10 and #19, good to see you post, and an excellent point at #19.
David #15, I did review that video before posting, and it was exactly as I remember -- the ground-level replay angle made the blunder look even worse -- so I stand by my opinion, then and now. (I would point out that I wasn't yelling at him from a seat in the stands, I was venting on a chat board he'd never see, so I don't think it qualified as "vitriolic abuse" as Dave says or was comparable to shouting at my son.) Also I recall that after his subsequent 3-game exile, Carlo brought Tom back against United and he played the full 90 in a draw, and then in that March disaster at Chelsea he was culpable for the first goal, made several errors and was pulled before 60 minutes. And then the season was stopped.
I think Tony at #17 is on to something. I'd be willing to bet that Tom spent the spring lockdown not only working out to gain strength but watching video and talking to Carlo and the staff. And I think the penny dropped, as you folks would put it. He was still up-and-down in the summer games -- wasn't he pulled at halftime against Norwich? -- but gradually I began seeing a more confident, composed player.
He has come a hell of a long way in one year.
21 Posted 23/02/2021 at 17:08:46
When Rooney came through, he was already 90% the finished article. He was 16 and he was the best player at the club. He offered a brightened future and it was a sucker-punch when he left.
Ever since, we've expected our young lads to come through and immediately be the best player, immediately be faultless.
When Tom came on the scene, there was a little bit of that expectation. This teenager who's been called up to train with the England national team (still no idea what that was about). His emergence coincided with a period of hope and expectation that a new golden period was ahead. New Billionaire owner, world renowned football royalty as manager, and now this kid comes from the academy and scores a worldie against Man City in a 4-0 thrashing of the billionaire Champions. It was exciting. And it was a lie.
Koeman was a conman, our owner's millions got wasted on premier League journeymen, and our new found hope was actually still a young player in development.
So Davies took the brunt of this frustration. The complaint: not being Lionel Messi.
Like any young player, he needs guidance and coaching and under Koeman, then Allardyce and Silva, this was all clearly lacking.
He looked lost on the pitch, he looked as if he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing. One minute he's trying to mimic Gana Gueye, the next he asked to play box-to-box, then He's shifted to wing-back, then he's on the left of a 4, and more and more.
But the lad was a blue and would work hard, he'd try to do things he thought would help, but no guidance for him, and it resulted in poor passing, giving the ball away. In the Silva years, the biggest problem of all was a complete lack of any clear strategy, any gameplan.
He either made it too confusing, or he didn't have one. And Tom, like the whole team suffered.
I saw an interview with Godfrey and Holgate on Rio Ferdinand's YouTube channel, well worth the watch. On it they talk of how Ancelotti simplifies things, how some managers try to complicate football when in reality it isn't that complicated. How Ancelotti is calm, and talks really simply about what you should do to improve.
Tom Davies has clearly benefitted from this council. His game has been simplified and he knows exactly what his role is. And now he can focus on that and let himself excel in what he's good at.
The Derby was his best performing yet, but I'm sure he'll get better and better.
Him as a deep-lying ball player, he could well become the Scouse Pirlo.
Well done to the lad, he's a mad blue, and it must have hurt when his own fans were calling for his head, it would have been easier for him to ask for a move. But he's shown character by staying and fighting.
Also, his friendship with Calvert-Lewin is great to see. Shows that a great morale must be developing between the players that two (much maligned in the past) players can become best mates rather than just teammates.
22 Posted 23/02/2021 at 17:13:10
23 Posted 23/02/2021 at 17:48:53
24 Posted 23/02/2021 at 17:51:45
25 Posted 24/02/2021 at 15:43:26
Henderson, Fabino, and Wijnaldum basically press, win the ball back, and then pass to the full-backs or their front three.
26 Posted 24/02/2021 at 16:20:16
He seems slightly more challenged when we play the offensive variant of 4-2-3-1 and the two holding midfielders have to cover a lot of ground.
I also think Tom is challenged when we play the 4-central-defenders version of 4-2-3-1. Here I think that the combination of Holgate, Godfrey and Tom is challenged on the ball. Holgate and Godfrey are not very good on the ball as full-backs and that limits Tom's options and I don't see Tom thrive in that setup.
Don Carlo is a master tactician and quite flexible in his tactical setup and I think he is a good manager for Tom. And I agree with the posts on his off-the-field influence.
27 Posted 24/02/2021 at 16:58:12
He will receive the ball in a deep midfield position and instead of just trapping it he has been controlling the ball on the move rolling it around whilst he turns. This has been working great guns. he has been leaving the forward-pressing player behind him.
Credit to him for having the intelligence to improve his game. It shows he is no Billy Big Bollocks and is ready to learn and work for the good of himself and Everton.
28 Posted 24/02/2021 at 17:20:39
But, if he's played with the wrong combination in midfield, he'll look ordinary again. Looking forward to seeing him, Allan and Doucouré together.
29 Posted 24/02/2021 at 17:41:21
31 Posted 24/02/2021 at 17:52:20
32 Posted 25/02/2021 at 15:17:46
In the past, all of the different managers wanted something different from him. This hindered his development. Is it any wonder he had some ups and downs? He was breaking through in the most topsy turvy period that I can recall in Evertons history. I think Ancelloti is his 6th manager already and hes only 22! (Unsworth, Koeman, Unsworth again, Allardyce, Silva, Ferguson, Ancelloti?). And I have to say, some of his midfield partners in that time were absolute dross. Imagine being a young lad lining up next to Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson in midfield, aka the invisible men! Even with Gueye in there, Tom had the responsibility to create, which is not his best game.
I have to say that the fans do not do the young lads any favours. There is no patience shown. Even in this team, DCL was getting it. He came good, they then focus on Tom. Tom comes good, they criticise Holgate. Why cant we just support the young lads especially? This is not a new thing, its not even since Rooney. The young lads have always got it at Everton, Barkley, Hibbert and Osman, John Ebbrell, Davey Unsworth got it, even some of the 80s team got it before that team came good.
Any problems we have at Everton are not caused by young lads coming through who would die for the badge. Weve got mercenaries and players who dont try half as hard as the young lads who get a pass, while the young lads kop all the flak. We should all learn from the examples of DCL and Tom Davies. Not every player breaks through as a star. Even Harry Kane couldnt do that at Spurs, and he may well go on to break all the records for the Premier League and England. Lets support the young lads and give them time...
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