Compare and Contrast

Martin O'Connor 06/10/2021 152comments  |  Jump to last
As we hit the second international break, how has the new dawn under Rafa Benitez started? I’m not getting carried away, it's way too early for that. Mid-table is where I said we would finish, and I think that is where The Toffees will still finish the season. But with nine games played, two being Carabao Cup games, it is possible, even at this early stage of his tenure, to compare and contrast the work Benitez has done vis-à-vis the so-called Magnifico, Carlo Ancelotti.

Benitez came into Finch Farm quite late in the summer after a long protracted search by the club for a new manager. But, in just the few months he has been at the club, Benitez has done more than Ancelotti the Magnifico did in 18 months. Compare the structure of the team and the way the players now know what their roles and jobs are on the pitch. Compare and contrast this with the mess under Ancelotti. Under Mr Fantastico, the team never seemed to have any structure or plan, unless it was the now-infamous “Just go and play” instruction.

It was never in doubt that Benitez would be able to set a team up and have a plan and structure for that team. Contrast this with Ancelotti who never had any idea, at any time during his tenure as manager, on how to properly set the team up. Sit deep and play incredibly slow football seemed to be Magnifico’s raison d’etre. Yet this clueless manager was still called a genius for sipping a cup of tea in a chaotic FA Cup game against Tottenham Hotspur, when he reality he had no idea what was going on.

Pace in the team was non-existent under Mr Fantastico. This problem was only added to when he brought his teacher's pet, the “play when you want” treatment table, which was James Rodrigues. Benitez quickly identified (even before he had got the job) what most supporters had long ago identified, that pace was needed in a team that performed like slugs in most games. Pace has been added through the acquisition for £1.7 million of Demarai Gray from Bayer Leverkusen and picking up Andros Townsend for nothing.

Added to this has been the pushing further up the pitch of Abdoulaye Doucouré. Under Carlo the Magnifico, Doucouré was played far too deep, negating his real role as a box-to-box midfielder who can score and also create goals. Under Benitez, Doucouré is allowed to get forward more. He still plays a big role as a defensive midfielder, but Allen is the one who takes the bigger role as a defensive shield, allowing Doucouré to push further up the pitch, when the chance appears. We are now getting the player who played for Watford. (It would be interesting to see how our midfield would have developed if Marco Silva had actually managed to land Doucouré.)

For a so-called world-class manager, it was staggering that Ancelotti could not identify the lack of pace in the team, and could not work out how best to utilise Doucouré. Instead, Ancelotti slowed the team down even further by adding his pet footballer James into the mix. In his 23 appearances for the blues, the so-called world-class footballer, which so many blues pined for, (not world class in my eyes), scored 6 goals and made 4 assists. Doucoure, now being deployed as he should be, has already this season scored 2 goals and made as many assists as the golden boy James made in his one season at Everton.

Fitness has also been remarked on by supporters this season. The players are running more, and not fading away in the last 20 minutes of games. They seem to be able to last a full 90 minutes. Under Ancelotti, this was never the case. His lackadaisical approach to training was there for all to see, if they would have just opened their eyes. At Bayern Munich, the players actually organised extra training themselves, as Ancelotti’s training sessions were just not up to scratch and nowhere near intense enough.

The Blues players seem, so far this season, to have bought into Benitez and the way he plays. This never seemed to be the case under the so-called Fantastico, Magnifico Ancelotti. This was never more apparent than the horror show on the last day of the season at The Etihad.

Will this quite good start to the season last? (The Carabao Cup defeat at Queens Park Rangers is a major blot on the start, in my opinion.) This is open to conjecture at this stage. I am not moved to think we will finish any higher than between 12th to 8th. But at least Benitez seems to be enthused at managing the Blues. He seems to think this is his chance to show that he is not a manager on the decline. There is a long way to go, and I still think Benitez is no more than a safe pair of hands to see us through to the opening of the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock (although I hope he proves me wrong).

What is undeniable certain though is, when you compare and contrast Benitez's short time at the Blues with Ancelotti's, it is evident that he has done more in a few months than Ancelotti the Magnifico did in his horrendous 18-month reign.

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Peter Falconer
1 Posted 06/10/2021 at 11:36:56
I agree with all of this article. If Benitez's track record of success over the years had not been tinged with Red, his appointment would have been welcomed and not need constantly justifying. Still early days but this 4th generation family of Blues is a lot happier at the moment and I'm settling for that!
Robert Tressell
2 Posted 06/10/2021 at 12:42:11
Ancelotti has a better track record managing great players. Benitez has a better track record of managing more limited players.

Things started to unravel for Ancelotti when his one great footballer was rumbled as a defensive weak link, his ex-wife died, his daughter was traumatised by the burglary, and it would have become apparent that we had no money to deliver established, high-quality players.

On that last point alone, there's no point in having a manager who is a bad fit for the club's status and budget. Neil Warnock will be a much better manager of certain players and clubs than Pep Guardiola.

In Benitez, we've got a manager who seems to be a much better fit. It's still early days, the football is direct and positive, the transfer window was an against the odds success and the squad looks happier and fitter than it has for a long time.

However, we still got knocked out of the competition we had the best chance of winning and we're still highly unlikely to crack the top 4.

And league placing wise it's much the same as last season. We're certainly in the mix for Europa League places although the competition is strong and we'd need to outperform bigger, better squads to do it.

Very encouraging but still a long way to go.

Nicholas Howard
3 Posted 06/10/2021 at 12:58:55
Appreciate your thought on comparing Rafa Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti.

While the majority of your points were quite spot on... I just disagree with your rather negative view on James Rodriguez.

I won't take away his pivotal role in our first derby win in 2-plus years and instrumental goal at Man Utd, where we came from behind to draw 3-3.

Those are memorable bright spots of last season... As an Evertonian, I thank James Rodriguez for his effort in those wins.

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 06/10/2021 at 13:12:32
I personally think we have a better chance of winning the FA Cup, Robert, and not just because it's the only trophy left for us this season!

Seriously, I think the League Cup helps most of the teams who qualify for Europe (the ones with bigger squads) and it's also done and dusted by the time they play knockout football in Europe, whereas once you reach the latter stages of the FA Cup, most of them are resting players because they are still in Europe, unless you get drawn against Man City.

I was happy to get Benitez, and he's showing an appetite for the job which Carlo Ancelotti just didn't have. I wanted to believe that Ancelotti was here for the long-haul, and his negative brand of football was just about putting a few blocks in place before he recruited better players.

This wasn't the case and, once he left, you could instantly see that Everton under its present circumstances was just too big a job for the calm Italian.

ToffeeWeb's biggest manager critic, Darren Hind, often says we give Everton managers way too much praise before they've actually achieved anything (he's never been wrong so far), so hopefully our stars are going to align with the horrible, belligerent, fat little Spaniard, because this is one manager who isn't going to be praised until he really deserves it, even if there is much to be admired about the way he's started with us.

Mick O'Malley
5 Posted 06/10/2021 at 13:16:44
Nicholas @3,

I agree with you about James, he was one of the few bright spots from last season.

I never wanted Ancelotti from the get-go and I and many others (Martin included) were hammering the point home that he was unsuitable for our club. I still cringe with embarrassment at that “Carlo Fantastico” banner in the Gwladys Street End... we are that desperate for success that we were proclaiming him as the saviour when in reality we watched some of the worst football I've ever witnessed at Goodison Park.

I wasn't exactly over the moon about Rafa but he is putting his heart and soul into it; he is involved in training and on the touch-line and the players are responding. I'm a lot more positive about the team under Benitez than I was under Ancelotti.

Scott Robinson
6 Posted 06/10/2021 at 13:17:04
Ancelotti was paid allegedly £10M a year. Great player or not, Covid lockdown or a full Goodison Park, he should've done better.

I believe he did at one point 'rally the troops'. 2nd on Xmas Day was promising. His away record was formidable and he got results away at difficult places.

But, the slow defensive football was his undoing. He couldn't beat teams that parked the bus and hit Everton on the bounce, or whenever the inevitable errors happened at the back.

I'm pleased with Rafa and he has put pride back into the shirt, as well as the highest team picking up the most points coming from a behind position.

Stan Schofield
7 Posted 06/10/2021 at 13:32:33
Benitez has done well so far, and Ancelotti had also done well at this stage of last season. Early last season, just as now under Benitez, we played some very creative and exciting attacking football. But it went downhill last season. Hopefully it won't go downhill this season, but if we finish midtable again then it will very likely reflect going downhill.

So although things look good at present, let's not rewrite the early reign of Ancelotti, which had most of ToffeeWeb singing his praises just as Benitez is currently having his praises sung.

There's a long way to go, and as Evertonians we're accustomed to having our hopes raised and then dashed. So some perspective is needed with respect to Benitez's progress so far.

Kevin Prytherch
8 Posted 06/10/2021 at 14:15:47
There is also one other big factor from the previous 4 seasons compared to this one. We are no longer accommodating ‘he who can't be named' in a hiding midfield role to justify his massive transfer fee.

Many of us have identified him as being a major part wrong with the team for a long time, and I think this season is proving it.

He's obviously not the only factor, but I do think he is a big factor.

Barry Rathbone
9 Posted 06/10/2021 at 14:49:28
Bit early given Carlo had a great start but hopefully we cope better with injuries simply because most seem keen on playing rather than fannying around on social media and feeling "tired". If we get through the inevitable "they've worked us out" phase, it will deffo be an improvement.
Alan J Thompson
10 Posted 06/10/2021 at 14:50:42
I read the first paragraph and thought that there is little difference between this and last season at the same stage so didn't bother going any further.

If we are to compare this manager with the last then let's do it over an equal term. It goes without saying that I hope the incumbent does a lot better... as it is today, not yesterday, that matters.

Ian Horan
11 Posted 06/10/2021 at 14:51:18
Talking of he who can't be named, it appears to have gone very quiet!!! Anybody aware of any dates or timeliness we and the authorities are working towards?
Steve Brown
12 Posted 06/10/2021 at 15:00:05
Change the record.
Danny O’Neill
13 Posted 06/10/2021 at 15:38:06
Decent read, Martin, and as with anyone who contributes to this site, thank you.

I get it's a compare and contrast and there are opinions involved. But it would have read better if the underpinning theme hadn't been to keep defaulting back to criticising our former manager as that is what it feels like. He's gone.

To counter that narrative, he gave us some good moments: we brought Doucouré and Godfrey to the club under his stewardship and Dominic Calvert-Lewin improved markedly, as did Tom Davies playing and training alongside Allan, another player he brought here.

I agree, it's been great so far bar the odd blip. But this is where we were last season so let's see how it goes. Game of 2 halves, as they say. I hope not but, with our threadbare squad, it could end up being a repeat performance once the injuries and fatigue kick in, regardless of the manager. But right now, I'm just enjoying it as much as I was this time last season.

On paper, Benitez is more of the same. Big name in football who has won things in the past. In reality, he's slightly different in how he organises his team and executes his tactics. As has been said, ironically, probably a better fit for the squad we have.

I have been impressed with his professionalism. He doesn't care who likes him or doesn't. He is focussed on the job. Big shoulders, thick skin and right now, getting results. But to repeat, we were this time last year.

Ultimately, it turned out the former manager didn't want to be in for the long haul, but good perspective, Robert Tressell (as always). There were other factors involved that could have influenced that. And no, that is not excuse making. It's quite feasible.

Mid- table? No way. 6th it is and Europe next season after we've all been to Wembley in May. My passport is in date.

Jerome Shields
14 Posted 06/10/2021 at 15:53:26
Stan #7,

My sentiments exactly. What Ancelotti did bring was adjustable tactics during a game and a tightening up organised defence and squad depth by playing players in different positions. One outstanding success was Holgate prior to his injury. He also got Calvert-Lewin scoring with his first-touch opinion.

His problem was a lack of progress at Finch Farm, which came back to haunt him in the second part of the season, resulting in the very much Italian defensive tactics, the Catenaccio counter.

Benitez has been more hands-on and less laissez-faire in his management style, which has enabled more progress at Finch Farm. His incoming players have more leadership qualities and are determined to do their job Whilst Allan may be similar, James just could not hack the demands of the Premier League and wasn't prepared to.


Dennis Stevens
16 Posted 06/10/2021 at 16:08:26
I know it's currently rather on trend to be all knives out as regards Ancelotti; however, let's not forget that, for all his perceived faults, he took us perilously close to qualifying for European football. It seems to me that much of the disappointment lies in the falling short against a hope – maybe even expectation – that he had created with our early season form.

Let's hope we don't reach next summer feeling similarly about the performance of Benitez.

Jay Harris
17 Posted 06/10/2021 at 16:23:24
Martin,

For me, this is a bit of a non-article and very premature.

How can you compare a manager that has only been with us for a matter of months to a manager that started just as successfully over the same period but ultimately switched off, as did the team, for circumstances we don't fully know or understand — but Robert has indicated a couple of possible reasons and he also only saw out a short term.

He wasn't called Magnifico for nothing as we were top of the league for much of the first half of the campaign, so he wasn't that "laissez-faire"...

I agree, the early signs are good, but we have only played one top side so far, so I believe the jury is still out.

Jay Harris
18 Posted 06/10/2021 at 16:26:09
Dennis,

I believe it was the manner of his leaving that upset quite a few and created a lot of justifiable bad will but I won't accept that he was a bad manager for us – nor that he is over the hill, as many have maintained.

John Boon
19 Posted 06/10/2021 at 16:52:20
Good points in your article, Martin. It is easy to be critical of any manager once he has left – or, in Ancelotti's case, abandoned the team. After a good start, Ancelotti lost the plot and simply didn't seem to know just what to do.

I will be very surprised if he doesn't find himself in a similar situation at Real Madrid. He will certainly be under severe scrutiny as expectations will be sky high, even with the mega money that he is likely to have.

Benitez came in under a cloud, purely due to his Liverpool connections. I think he has survived the initial suspicions and things are going well. I say that guardedly, mainly because I agree with those who think it is too early to make more definitive judgements. From a supporter's perspective, I like what I see on the field, but I also like the energy Benitez displays on the sideline.

All Evertonians want a successful team. To do that, we need a successful manager. However, it is still only October and far too early to make judgements. I sincerely hope that the positive strides we see now are still around in April.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

20 Posted 06/10/2021 at 16:52:34
Methinks somebody is missing having Carlo around to vent on.

An absurd article.

Hope it was therapeutic for you Martin.

Barry Hesketh
21 Posted 06/10/2021 at 17:00:22
The only manager(s) that Benitez should be compared to at Everton FC, are Howard Kendall, Harry Catterick and Joe Royle, if Rafa can equal any of those in bringing silverware to the club, then he'll have done an excellent job.

If he can deliver European football for consecutive seasons, he'll have done a very good job. If he only manages to get us just outside of the European spots without a trophy, he will join the lengthening list of failures that have occupied the Goodison hot-seat.

I understand the sentiments expressed in the piece, but whilst Benitez has made a pretty good start to his tenure, none of us know how things will pan out in the next weeks, months and perhaps years – I would say that the longer he remains at Goodison, the more likely it is that he is getting it right and that will do for now.

Dale Self
22 Posted 06/10/2021 at 17:03:21
As usual, I am lured into the debate about Ancelotti. This particular setup, while pleasing in its optimism about the present, does rely on some misconceptions about the solution Carlo was seeking at both ends of a short roster.

First, indeed Carlo did not dictate a rigid system in the final third but did run a fairly tight ship with the midfield and back compensating for what was available. That was by design partly from Ancelotti's history with quality players that knew their options and how to play to their advantage but also from knowing we were too slow to get players lined up for 3 v 2 or 4 v 3 move.

Certainly by the time the boys in blue tried to do it a second time for the countermove, one defender could disrupt it easily. We had no width under Ancelotti is the main counterpoint to the criticism of his tenure.

Ancelotti also was moving players around out of necessity more than trying to create some small squad, total football dynamic. Again, this was a response to a critical problem for which Ancelotti found a temporary arrangement that allowed us to steal a few points while mesmerizing opposing managers.

To play off Ancelotti's time as a humiliating failure is misplacing the dysfunction of last season on the manager's shoulders when the restricted squad choices and unreliable performances required something out of the ordinary. We got a ride, beat some fuckers we weren't ever beating pre-Carlo, and overall installed a decent foundation for a more sensible build-up with Rafa holding the reins and long may he reign.

Graham Mockford
23 Posted 06/10/2021 at 17:43:55
“I am not moved to think we will finish any higher than between 12th to 8th.”

“It is evident that he has done more in a few months than Ancelotti the Magnifico did in his horrendous 18-month reign.”

Seeing as we finished 10th, how exactly is that progress?

You could've made the article a bit shorter. Let me help:

I never liked the last guy. I'm getting carried away with the new guy.

Martin Mason
24 Posted 06/10/2021 at 18:00:35
Everton are infinitely better in results and on the eye than at any time under Ancelotti.

So far, Benitez and the coaching staff have done amazingly well making Doucouré and Allan the most devastating centre-midfield pairing in the Premier League. Add to this the purchase of maybe £60M worth of superb wide talent for £1.7M and I see nothing but churlishness in any criticism of the club at the moment.

Oh yes, we're building a new ground, do we understand what is happening at Everton? The past of Benitez is absolutely irrelevant and the colour of it nothing more than a silly joke and maybe makes our current over performance even more sweet. Liverpool fired him and if he brings us success then that is brilliant.

We may be able to finish 5th-7th this season and this would be a staggering performance given how weak the squad looked early doors. Of course, pain may be along the road... but the biggest pain can be from our own fans. Get behind the club, for fuck's sake. History now is totally irrelevant, we are where we are, the past has gone and is irrelevant, the future is ahead and as fans we can be a key part of it.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 06/10/2021 at 18:18:25
Dale, that is a very sensible and rational view.

Take the managers' names out of the equation. All coaches and managers have different approaches and philosophies, even when they broadly have the same players.

Both Ancelotti and Benitez, and those before them, were or are dealing with a threadbare squad. But a squad that came painfully close to Europe last season. I hope Mr Benitez trumps his predecessor on this one so I can check the Passport and the BA website alongside booking.com.

Ancellotti built on what he inherited with good additions such as Doucouré, Allan, Godfrey and James, who gave us glimpses of his ability. But it was just not enough and not meant to be, just like the manager. He also brought in Nkounkou; still our player and possibly one for the future.

Benitez has inherited pretty much the same paper-thin squad, but with better quality on the basis of what his predecessor brought in. He's applied a different style and added much-needed width and pace.

Building blocks. It was always going to take a season or 3 regardless of who the manager is or was and who does or doesn't like the previous or present incumbent.

Annika Herbert
26 Posted 06/10/2021 at 18:50:08
Kevin @ 8, fully agree with your comments, I have been saying similar stuff for months.

We now have a midfield that can actually move and not amble around trying to look interested.

Darren Hind
27 Posted 06/10/2021 at 19:01:56
And still they apologise...

Carlo Ancelotti's reign was the darkest period in my Everton history. I still laugh when people go on about his fast attacking football we played early last season... what utter utter bollocks.

Hammering the mighty Salford, the invincible Fleetwood, and a depleted West Ham in the cup of nightmares didn't do it for me. Getting on top of and eventually running away from relegation certainties WBA didn't convince me either.

Sure, we beat Spurs, and a damn fine win it was, but come on, they were hardly firing on all cylinders.

Those who were prepared to give it any thought at all could see the writing on the wall. Getting out of jail against Liverpool was merely a warning. Southampton, Newcastle and Leeds were all lying in wait to shine a torch on the writing on the wall. It was in vain. Some refused to even see the wall.

"Tell me is something eluding you, sunshine? Is this not what you expected to see?"

While Allan did a seriously good impression of a headless chicken and Doucouré disappeared into his shell, James went a step further and disappeared up his own arse.

A great evil visited Everton Football Club. Zombie Football was not only being played, it was being happy-clappy clapped. It was as if a sizeable majority of our fans were in the grip of some sort of demonic possession The uglier we got, the more they clapped.

The three things I admired the most: passion, pride and football to toast. They caught the last train for the coast. The season, football died.

I was never in favour of premature coronations, Martin, or new dawns. I prefer trophies, good football and success.

Right now, I will settle for what we are watching. It looks remarkably like football (remember that?) but I will need to see an awful lot more of it before I start dishing out the bouquets.

Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 06/10/2021 at 19:18:12
Big shout that, Darren, in terms of darkest period. For me, that was either side of Joe Royle in the 90s in my lifetime.

They were dark times where we flirted close to relegation to the point of the last game on 2 occasions and played some awful football.

I remember my Dad muttering about the Gordon Lee years but I'm a bit young to comment with qualification.

And the winter of 83. Probably my lowest point beyond the 90s.

I too like what I'm watching right now. Just as I always this time this year before the squad was exposed by its thinness and the football went stale. Let's hope we don't have a repeat.

Barry Hesketh
30 Posted 06/10/2021 at 19:23:41
Martin @ 24,

I was nodding in approval to most of your post and then I read your final paragraph.

"Of course pain may be along the road but the biggest pain can be from our own fans. Get behind the club, for fuck's sake, history now is totally irrelevant, we are where we are, the past has gone and is irrelevant, the future is ahead and as fans we can be a key part of it."

Would those fans be the same fans who have helped Everton to get over the line in many a tight match over the years? History is totally irrelevent? Try telling that to Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool et al as they constantly remind us all how successful they have been over the years.

The past may well be irrelevant to some, but not to me. I see the past successes as a way of comparing the current team with what I've seen before, else they would all be considered absolutely fantastic or absolute rubbish without having anything to compare them with.

The fans at Everton have played a major part of everything this club has achieved for as long as the club has been in existence.

Dale Self
31 Posted 06/10/2021 at 19:42:38
Very tempting but no.
Chris Leyland
32 Posted 06/10/2021 at 19:58:34
Darren, if Ancelloti was the darkest period in your Everton history, you must have been asleep or not watching when Mike Walker was in charge or under Howard Kendall Mk 3.

Under Ancelloti, we won at Anfield for the first time this century and that result alone for me is a brightness that can't be extinguished – no matter what any sad booer (I think that's the opposite of being a happy clapper?) might say.

Also, for all the fawning and praise for Rafa for masterminding a 1-1 all draw at Man Utd (and I'm guilty of doing it myself) – let's not forget that Ancelloti was 2-0 there at half-time and 3-2 down going into the final seconds of the game and came away with a 3-3 draw. And the 5-4 against Spurs in the cup will also live long in the memory. So, Anfield away, Old Trafford away and a 9 goal thriller are not bad results for a team of zombies.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually enjoying being an Evertonian far more this season but that may well be because I can actually go to the match.

We will never know what might have happened if the roles were reversed and Rafa was having to play at home in empty stadiums having gone behind twice in games already, whilst I doubt Ancelloti would have pulled off as many away points if there had been fans in the stadiums at those games either.

However, Ancelloti is history and Rafa is the here and now so let's enjoy it whilst it lasts, assuming that doesn't just make us ‘happy clappers' for doing so?

David Currie
33 Posted 06/10/2021 at 20:01:45
Barry 39,

Well said, the best thing about EFC is the fantastic support from the fans. My Dad always use to say wait till after Christmas before judging the season so that is what I have always done. Too early yet but the new manager has addressed the lack of speed in the team and also stopped the needless back-passing.

Paul Hewitt
34 Posted 06/10/2021 at 20:53:20
Surely the darkest time to be an Evertonian was going 2-0 down against Wimbledon in that game.
Brian Williams
35 Posted 06/10/2021 at 20:55:47
Flirting with relegation... relying on other results to stay up — not as dark as last season?

Utter bollocks!

Derek Thomas
36 Posted 06/10/2021 at 21:00:13
I was an early believer in Ancelotti, but by the last 2 or 3 months, I was saying it's a good job there are no crowds to get on his back because we're playing shite.

I was really against Benitez but, these last 2 or 3 months, he's turned me around; "Judge as ye find," I think is the term.

If I turn again, it will because I think he's not doing it right, not because He's an ex RS – I'm over that... mostly.

And if Martin, by the end of November or so, I can expand your final comment – I will be even happier.

'Benetiz has done more in 18 weeks than Ancelotti has done in 18 months' – I'm sure we'll all be very happy.

Chris Leyland
37 Posted 06/10/2021 at 21:01:06
I've just watched Howard's Way again and I'm crying. I was 14 and in the Enclosure with my Dad (God rest his soul) and it was undoubtedly the best game I've ever been to. I yearn for my 16-year-old son to experience a night like that. If Rafa can somehow give us some memories like that will do me.
Graham Mockford
38 Posted 06/10/2021 at 21:18:53
A great evil visited Everton Football Club

Never one for understatement, Dazzler. It did make me chuckle though.

Brendan McLaughlin
39 Posted 06/10/2021 at 21:39:19
Dark days?

Checking when the fixtures were released for the forthcoming season who we were playing in the final match just in case we needed a point or three to avoid relegation. Haven't felt the need to do that for a good few years now... thankfully.

Bill Gall
40 Posted 06/10/2021 at 22:19:27
You have to appreciate what Rafa has done in the short period of time he has been here, to try to get a bunch of players to become organized after 5 previous managers with different styles, tactics and training methods.

It is early days yet but I believe the players are appreciative of finally having someone who is organized with them, and explaining how to improve their positions in a team environment.

I had my doubts about the hiring of Benitez, not because of his association with the Reds, but with what supporters said his style of play was. The thing that is slowly changing my mind about him is, yes, he has organized the defense better, but he is improving the transition from defense into attack without leaving huge gaps in defense. And his comments that he understands what type of football Evertonians want, shows that he was taking notice of the criticism.

It will be interesting to see, if he is given any finance, what positions he spends it on to improve the team, and not just an individual.

I agree some with the article, but I think we will finish somewhere between 6th and 8th – this should be helped with better results from our home games compared to last season.

The difference I have seen this season, and other managers may have done the same but I've never seen it, Benitez seems more hands-on during the training sessions and relies more on the coaches for the fitness of the players during the sessions and what they see for improvements.

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
41 Posted 06/10/2021 at 22:24:44
What a lousy article. Said a few times here but this is just an "I didn't like Carlo" article and everything else is just blah blah to justify Martin's prejudice.

It starts off with the claim that we will not do any better than last season. We are already 5 points better off than last season for the same 7 fixtures so that would put us on 64 points and in the mix for Europe. Carlo got us through last season to finish on 59 points and just 3 shy of Spurs who are in the European Mickey Mouse competition.

So, if we are better but we are still going to finish 8th to 12th, then we will be no better. Probably because Carlo managed to extract wins away from Goodison Park that we have never been able to do for many a year:

Arsenal first time in 26 years
Liverpool, first time in 22 years
Spurs, first time in 13 years.

So presumably Martin thinks that Rafa will do better than Carlo but not be able to match his performances away from Goodison Park, so he won't be better.

If he was only as good, then we will finish higher but seems that, if we are going to finish 8th to 12th, then for the next 8 months he is going to have to be worse than Carlo to be able to achieve that and at that point Martin is going to have to have a very very large helping of humble pie.

Darryl Ritchie
42 Posted 06/10/2021 at 22:48:35
So far, so good.

Early days… time will tell.

John Raftery
43 Posted 06/10/2021 at 23:03:18
In the modern game, too much noise is made about managers when we should be talking more about the impact of players. I was very pleased when Benitez was appointed but we would not have improved without the pace and goals of Gray and Townsend and the return to full fitness of Allan and Doucouré.
Chris Corn
44 Posted 06/10/2021 at 23:21:59
My darkest day as an Evertonian was Everton 0 - Tranmere Rovers 3. A truly horrible day.
Drew O’Neall
45 Posted 06/10/2021 at 23:27:35
I remember people going on Toffee TV about Ancelotti's book when we appointed him and I thought at the time that I'd either missed something or that they were mesmerised by the name rather than impressed by anything he wrote.

I read the first half of the book years prior to his appointment at Everton and it occurred to me then that this guy was sensible but had nothing unique or original about his management philosophy. In fact, the book's title; ‘Quiet Leadership' summarises the man well. Keep your head down, don't say anything stupid, don't upset anyone and, if you have a talented squad of galacticos, you shouldn't prevent them from winning titles and taking you along for the ride.

That's a little unfair because man-management is an art which plenty of managers fail to master and, in that regard at least, Ancelotti certainly is an excellent diplomat. But Ancelotti's name and track record (read momentum and sensible career navigation) gave him a near untouchable aura among Evertonians. He couldn't be criticised and any fan who did would be shouted down, any player who did not conform would be ousted.

You want your manager to have absolute support (something his predecessors had not enjoyed) but what happens when he doesn't have pure motives or has lost his motivation?

Football management is littered with deluded ignorami and, if you're lucky enough to stumble on the right formula early on and possess even a modicum of self-preserving political instinct, you can ride that momentum on the managerial merry-go-round for a career because your peers are generally mediocre.

Benitez is a completely different kettle of fish to Ancelotti. If anything, his skills for self-preservation and politics are his weakness because he can become emotional... but he is a proper manager.

He understands how to setup a defence, get the right balance in a side, analyse and correct tactics in-game, and coach players... and he's passionate. He's a football man.

If he wasn't managing Everton, he'd be managing the U15s down the park and he'd be just the same: telling little Johnny that he needs to show his man out onto his left foot, demonstrating the body shape with his notepad and pen in one hand. He can't help himself, that's who he is.

I believe we are extremely lucky to have a proper football man at the helm at last and I was delighted when he was appointed.

Dave Abrahams
46 Posted 06/10/2021 at 23:36:47
Bill (40),

I agree with most of your post except the next-to-last paragraph, I think if Benitez gets us to 6th to 8th spot at the end of the season without adding to the threadbare squad in January, then he will have a very good job indeed.

I was more than happy when he was appointed and I realise we have played some of the teams at the lower end of the table but I think he is fostering a spirit at Finch Farm that hasn't been there for quite a while. This in a very short spell and spending next to nothing.

Benitez will continue to improve the playing quality of the squad as long as he is allowed to continue without interference from above. He is just getting his feet under the table and getting to know how the club is run and by whom. He will gradually make some changes here and there as the season progresses and Everton will progress as well.

Barry Jones
47 Posted 07/10/2021 at 00:44:34
As far as Ancelotti is concerned, I have always been a big Darren Hind, Ian Edwards supporter. The guy is a total fraud, living on a reputation. He said virtually nothing from the sideline, all but ignoring big Dunc, and he was not hands-on with the day-to-day, which his son oversaw. How can you possibly get the best from players and know their qualities like this?

Rafa is the total opposite, and totally professional. I see that Darren is withholding his judgement on Rafa as yet; possibly a wise choice, but I feel that he is the real deal, at last.

Bill Fairfield
48 Posted 07/10/2021 at 07:44:52
Alls I know is that the football is a lot better to watch than the garbage served up in the last three seasons. At long last, we're seeing the signs of a proper team playing attacking football.
Danny O’Neill
49 Posted 07/10/2021 at 08:25:00
Barry @39.

Well said. The fans are Everton. The fans who, no matter who the manager is or their disdain for him, made Goodison feel like a European night in what would be perceived as a relatively low-key fixture against Burnley.

The same fans that roared the team on and had a half-time party at Brighton.

The same fans who were still singing down South Africa Road on the way back to their coaches after going out on penalties against QPR.

The same fans who, despite Mexican dance-offs and much throwing of handbags on here about opinions on the current and previous manager(s), unite on matchday in wanting Everton to win. Or at the very least, put in a performance and couldn't care who the manager is for 90 minutes.

David Currie @33; I'm exactly the same. Despite Sky-driven over-excitement about league positions at half time during the 2nd game of the season these days, I never take much notice until Christmas, when it settles down.

Chris Leyland @37. It's the initial Colin Harvey scene on the Gwladys Street that gets me every time.

John Raftery; said that during and at the end of last season. We need better players regardless of who the manager is. We added better players last season. We added width this season but it was always going to take a few windows to fix the dreadful transfer non-strategy of the years prior to that. Still work in progress.

We're doing well and I'm enjoying it so far. So much so that I'm even more frustrated than I usually am when there's an international break.

Brian Harrison
50 Posted 07/10/2021 at 09:25:14
Having read all the posts about the differing qualities of various managers so I thought I would check out the percentage win rates of all the managers Everton have had since I started watching them. I accept it doesn't measure the enjoyment levels.

Buchan 32.76%
Carey 41.80%
Catterick 46.46%
Bingham 37.21%
Lee 39.32%
Kendall 54.14%
Harvey 42.35%
Kendall 38.89%
Walker 17.14%
Royle 39.02%
Kendall 26.19%
Smith 32.37%
Moyes 42.05%
Martinez 42.86%
Koeman 41.38%
Allardyce 38.46%
Silva 40.00%
Ancelotti 46.27%

I haven't included any part-time managers' figures.

Martin Mason
51 Posted 07/10/2021 at 09:53:31
Barry@30 Sorry, no insult meant to our fans in general who are magnificent only a very small minority. That's why I said "can be", not "is".
Stan Schofield
52 Posted 07/10/2021 at 10:02:05
Brian:50: Based on win rate then, our 6 most successful managers are, in decreasing order:

Kendall
Catterick
Ancelotti
Martinez
Harvey
Moyes

Brian Harrison
53 Posted 07/10/2021 at 10:50:13
Stan 52

That's what the figures suggest Stan, mind although Joe Royle's win rate was only 39.02%, he did win the FA Cup. To think all those managers and in all that time only 3 ever won trophies.

Stan Schofield
54 Posted 07/10/2021 at 10:55:09
True Brian, and on trophies the order is dead simple:

Kendall (4)
Catterick (3)
Royle (1)

Should have been a few more under both Kendall and Catterick, but never mind!

Michael Kenrick
55 Posted 07/10/2021 at 12:00:39
I'm seeing some very forthright statements from Benitez finally coming clean on just exactly what he thought about James Rodriguez:

“James prefers money and a comfortable life. This is more important to him than competition and success in football,” said Benitez at a press conference. The 2005 Champions League winner also criticized the 30-year-old's work ethic: “He never made an effort in training, but always made demands on a starting eleven. That was unfair to everyone else. Players who gave their maximum in training, but still sat on the bench.“

But which press conference was that? These quotes only seem to appear on social media and minor foreign news websites and none cite any reputable sources that I can find.

One webpage said it was from the Man Utd pre-game presser, which I listened to again: no mention, at least not in the 'open section'. After which they then switch to a closed section where mostly newspaper hacks quiz Rafa behind closed doors, presumably for 'exclusive' content to spice up their coverage.

I just think, if Rafa had said anything like this, it would be all over the place. Methinks someone on Twitter has made this up. Probably wouldn't be the first time...


Bill Gienapp
56 Posted 07/10/2021 at 12:43:07
The circumstances surrounding Ancelotti's departure left him with very little sympathy or credit in the bank, but I'm not sure why there's this desperate need to discredit his tenure as some unmitigated disaster, when, by any objective standard, it was a mixed bag with some significant high points.

There's already been a retconning that the "coffee blowing" is indisputable proof that he didn't give a shit, and now it's being retconned further as evidence that he was some sort of senile buffoon? I give it another month before people start claiming the Anfield victory doesn't actually count for anything because there weren't fans in the stands.

Stan Schofield
57 Posted 07/10/2021 at 12:53:53
Bill@56: Yes, and it’s just traditional talking shite from people who are basically uninformed. Some people don’t realise that when you know nothing it’s best to say nothing.
Danny O’Neill
58 Posted 07/10/2021 at 13:07:33
I would say so, Michael. Even if he was he was going to indicate that, he's surely too wise and media savvy to name the player as he'd be putting himself in the frame for a potential libel claim or false accusation in this day and age??
Danny O’Neill
59 Posted 07/10/2021 at 13:48:08
Stan, Bill. The mixed bag / high points assessment sums it up for me as well as narrowly missing out on Europe.

Coffeegate to me was just a different style of leadership. Stay calm when there is mayhem going on around you. "Calma" as they say in Italian! Others are different and openly express their emotion.

In my view I don't think Benirltez is too dissimilar. He doesn't tend to race down the touchline and slide to his knees like Mourinho or jump around overly fist pumping with a Jack Nicholson "The Shining" face on like Klopp. Nor does he pick up ball boys and swing them around. He stays measured and focussed. Organising the team for the next phase of play and making sure they don't lose their heads in the adrenalin of having just scored.

We all handle management situations in our own way and style.

Michael Kenrick
60 Posted 07/10/2021 at 14:31:12
But Danny,

Would he be liable for libel? Or just eschewing the phat as a manager?

Danny O’Neill
61 Posted 07/10/2021 at 14:36:39
Michael, you've got your grammar / spooling police hat on again and have well and truly nabbed me!

The case for the defence; I was on my phone and I'm in denial that at 50, the eyes aren't what they were even though I am starting to do that hold it further away thing to read off the screen!!!

Stephen Vincent
62 Posted 07/10/2021 at 16:23:30
Those who know me will understand how hard it is for me to write this. I came within an inch of returning my season ticket following the appointment of Benitez, it was only my son pointing out that we probably wouldn't see an awful lot of each other if I did that prevented me from doing so.

I still can't stand the sight of Benitez in the home dugout. However there is no denying that as a coach he has improved us no end. The scatter gun transfers have ceased and the incomings have been targeted.

Why we let Nkounkou and Virginia leave is still a mystery to me and the performance at QPR, well, words fail me.

I think the West Ham home game will tell us a lot, and frankly is far more relevant than Man Utd away.

For now the FSW, even though I despise him as a person, would seem to be doing a good job as a coach.

Alan McGuffog
63 Posted 07/10/2021 at 16:42:04
Stephen, I respect your opinion, you are obviously a passionate blue, as we all are on this site. I dislike your use of the "FSW" label however and, I ask as a genuine question, why do you despise him as a person?
Stephen Vincent
64 Posted 07/10/2021 at 16:57:37
Alan, great question. All I can say is that his obvious historical distain for our club still rankles and the fact that we have a manager whose face was passed across the slopes of Mount Doom on a 20 ft banner for the best part of a decade, I can never forget or forgive.

But, to date, as a coach, there is little to fault him. Didn't we say the same about Carlo this time last season?

Alan McGuffog
65 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:08:55
Thanks, Stephen. Once again, I respect your point of view and would never seek to attempt to sway you from it.

My view on comments that he made in the past is that it is all rock n' roll, it's all theatre. A little like the bullshit that goes on at the weigh-in before a title fight.

I always find comfort in the fact that the Blessed William de Shankly made much more disparaging comments about us and was to find a warmer welcome at Everton FC than he did by that lot, in his later years.

All the best.

Steve Brown
66 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:14:26
Brian @ 46.27% win percentage for Ancelotti? That is very impressive.
Bill Watson
67 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:15:28
The club is bigger, to me, than any player or manager who are here today and gone tomorrow.

Michael; #55
I think Benitez's comments were on the official Everton site but I've just looked and it's gone.

Dennis Stevens
68 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:29:22
Re win percentages – Benitez is on 55.6%, so he's got a long way to fall...
Ken Kneale
69 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:30:03
Stan 54 - yes indeed - a few more were both deserved and warranted by both managers - Harry edges it for me whatever the statistics by the sheer quality of the football played but that is not to disparage Howard Kendall in any way - who knows where we would be now if the disaster of the Heysel wall and tragedy of the deaths (which is conveniently airbrushed out of all newscasts these days) had not occurred.
David Pearl
70 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:36:27
I prefer the term STH (Sir Topham Hatt). You can't argue that he hasn't re-shaped us well, released Doucoure and Allan, given Mina and Keane confidence and then we have Gray and Townsend reborn.

The longer we keep it going, the better... but the wheels could come off pretty quickly. Obviously l hope they don't. I try not to look at him. Especially that little grin before each interview. Can he keep it up and stick around for more than the usual 18 months?

Ancelotti. You can't take away the away record. You can point to the fact he had all season to fix the home form and failed miserably. After his transfer meeting with Brands, he must have been told "No, you can't" so he said "See ya!"

The End.

Daniel A Johnson
71 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:41:37
During the tenure of the great Don "World Class" Ancelotti, we had the misfortune to witness some of the most gutless frustrating toe-curling football I've witnessed as an EFC supporter.

Cowardly, gutless, half-arsed and lacking in any form of passion or self-belief.

We walked onto the pitch with a terrible attitude nearly every match. You can look for excuses: the ex-wife dying (seriously), and the burglary, but Ancelotti checked out as soon as he checked in. Even Big Dunc's sycophantic praise of him and his son wore thin towards the end.

It's still early doors with Benitez but after, Koeman, Ancelotti and even Big Sam, we have a capable hungry manager who gives a shit and wants to do better and demands the same of his squad. What a difference that makes!

Dale Self
72 Posted 07/10/2021 at 17:58:03
Nevermind, have your rant.
Daniel A Johnson
73 Posted 07/10/2021 at 18:01:52
True, Dale.

But then again I guess I was thinking of my ex-wife when I posted it.

Darren Hind
74 Posted 07/10/2021 at 18:37:45
I think there is a lot of embarrassment felt among those who repeatedly told us we were very lucky and should be grateful that we have Ancelotti.

Their poor judgement has been laid bare. Their attempts to hide behind stats about as convincing as his attempts to play football from behind the couch.

We have had negative managers before. We have had one who created a glass ceiling. Several who expertly managed expectation. We've had the naive and we have had the downright clueless. Let's face it. We`ve had them all...

But Never have we had a manager who persistently sent his team out not to lose against inferior opposition. Never have we had a manager who inspired his troops to new highs by telling the world press he would have to be a magician to get them to play football.

I clearly remember the trauma and the sleepless nights as we battled to beat the drop. I still bear the mental scars of some of the batterings we have taken down the years. The inferiority complex. The endless disappointments... but not until Carlo Fantastico arrived had I ever experienced waking up on matchday with the certain knowledge that, no matter who we were playing, we were going to try to spoil the game.

I was ashamed of my team and, as somebody whose love for Everton is only matched by his love for football, it doesn't get any darker than that.

Carlo can shove his non-achieving win percentage right up his arse...

Stephen Vincent
75 Posted 07/10/2021 at 18:59:37
Outrageous post, Darren. This time last season, we were top 3 and very few, if any, were doubting Carlo's credentials. An away win at Spurs, a 5-2 win vs WBA and a 4-1 drubbing of West Ham in the League Cup had most if not all purring.

The same may be said this time next year about those who thought Benitez was the Messiah. I personally don't. But what do I know? I've only followed EFC for 60 years...

Stan Schofield
76 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:20:07
Darren @74: Facts beat rhetorical flourishes any day.
Christine Foster
77 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:27:03
Jeez Darren, l think I get the gist of what your trying to say...

For me, the days of Walker, Lee... 70s in general were much more painful.

Graham Mockford
78 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:29:05
The trauma, the sleepless nights

The drama darling…..
Brent Stephens
79 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:33:46
Our Bill would love it - the back of the hand on forehead, in theatrical pose of feigned anguish.
Jay Harris
80 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:45:14
Darren,

I make no apologies for supporting Ancelotti. I think he initially brought great improvements and some quality players and we were definitely euphoric at the time with some optimists saying we had a chance of winning the Premier League. That's the sort of aura he generated.

With no home support and a loss of key players at pivotal moments, combined with his disillusionment of finding he was sold a pup, then results started to decline and he traitorlessly jumped ship having proclaimed his wish to stay beyond his contract.

I compare him to Moyes who gave us some moments and undoubtedly lifted the club from where it was but ultimately did a Judas on us.

Dave Abrahams
81 Posted 07/10/2021 at 19:56:54
I remember the Arsenal away game when we stole the win and the points. I accepted the points gratefully but the performance stunk and was a disgrace, with the only shot on target coming from a mis-hit shot from Richarlison hitting the goalkeeper and going in for the goal.

I also remember the derby win and the draw at Man Utd and the good away win at Spurs to go along the two Newcastle results home and away. And the non-attacking game at Southampton, the Fulham, Leeds and West Ham home games.

There was the hope in the first five league games, including the game at Crystal Palace with the penalty no-one expected giving us, along with WBA game at home with the 5-2 win not reflecting how the match went against 10-man Albion for the whole of the second half. This was matched again with good wins at Wolves and Leeds matched again by daylight robbery wins at relegated Sheffield Utd and WBA.

We could have got into Europe with two or three wins in those last 10 games but floundered with Carlo's mind seemingly somewhere else, who knows?

Graham Mockford
82 Posted 07/10/2021 at 20:13:21
Dave 81

Agree completely with that assessment. Not sure such a balanced take is going to catch on.

John Keating
83 Posted 07/10/2021 at 20:24:44
Well, if the world's greatest Evertonian is ever needing a drama queen for his next London extravaganza, he'll know where to look!
John Boon
84 Posted 07/10/2021 at 20:42:43
Come on, you lilly-livered ignorant Evertonians. You have to support Darren due to his vast knowledge of all things about everything regarding, not just Everton, but the human mind, ethics and even mind reading.

It took me far too long to realize that he is far more than an Evertonian. He is in many ways an Everton Saviour who is able to guide naive, credulous football supporters to far greater levels of Evertonianism than they would ever have believed possible. Indeed Everton's own Donald Trump, but even wiser.

Apologies for taking so long to fully accept your undoubted talents. Perhaps I should have listened more carefully when you basically suggested I was just too old to really see the light or have an opinion. I bow down to the Greatest Evertonian ever from a humble old contrite Fart.

Kevin Molloy
85 Posted 07/10/2021 at 21:54:42
Carlo is obviously a chap of considerable personal charm, and for the somewhat neglected Evertonian fanbase, it was quite the feather in the cap to have a genuine A-lister knocking about the place.

My god though, that last six months... I mean, Jesus Christ. By the end, he really did not give a flying one.

And he treated said fanbase, who had never done anything than offer him the warmest support, with contempt. All we got at the end was 'I enjoyed my time at Everton but'. I think I'd have preferred 'So long, and thanks for all the fish'.

Having said all that, we got dead dead lucky. Those daft arse Madridistas whisked him away for nowt. No £30 million sting in the tail. So no hard feelings, and let's hope he's out on his arse by Chrimbo.

David Midgley
86 Posted 07/10/2021 at 21:56:39
Well, that was a surprise. Interesting read. The reaction, no watery eyes through sitting on the wall here.

I am quite pleased that Rafa is our manager. I see him as a practical professional football man. It's impossible to compare Benitez and Ancelotti at the present time; at the end of the season yes. However, even Nelson could see Everton for seasons have lacked pace and fitness that seems as though it is being addressed now. I can well imagine, given our financial situation, that in the next transfer window he might bring in some other 'unknowns and has-beens' to help improve the team.

I personally don't like comments about people of a personal nature and wish they were kept to a professional one. Would you not have a doctor treat you or your family because he was Liverpool supporter?

Enjoyed the article and the comments – I could just picture everyone getting hot under the collar. Let's see where we are in January.

Martin, by the way if this article had been on 'Just A Minute' you would have been buzzed constantly for 'Repetition': Fantastico.

David Midgley
87 Posted 07/10/2021 at 23:02:13
Carlo coming here along with Jamez coming here blew the cobwebs off Everton and raised our profile on the world stage for a short while, especially in South America. Now people will have been made aware of us again and hopefully like what they see.

Carlo often reminded me of Ken Hom, big reputation but didn't come up with the goods. Going back often isn't very successful. Can't think of any managers for whom it has worked. Like going on holiday to the same place as last year.

Not quite the same.

Danny Broderick
88 Posted 07/10/2021 at 23:32:12
It’s way too early for this article really. After 9 games last season, we were all hailing Carlo, he was our new saviour and we were probably still top of the Premier League at that point. I was unashamedly behind Carlo all season, even in the last 10/15 games when our form dipped massively.

I was against Benitez initially but I have to say that he has impressed me with the job he has done. I fear a similar season to last season though. We just don’t have the strength in depth. Our back up players are either not good enough, or injury prone. And I hate to say it but we have idiot fans nowadays who are ready to turn on Benitez the minute things get tricky. I was at QPR away, queuing for a drink at half time when one group of fans started singing “he’s just a fat Spanish waiter”.

I’d hold back on any comparisons at least until the end of the season. But admittedly, we do seem to be doing better now that we are less dependent on fair weather players like Sigurdsson, Bernard etc.

I hope the fans don’t turn on Benitez. I fear there is an under current that will turn on him if we don’t win for 4/5 games, regardless of the reasons behind it. I hope I’m wrong, I would love nothing more than a top 8 finish and a good FA Cup run. But in successful clubs, everyone has to do their bit - the players, the management and the fans as well. Ever since Roberto’s first season, I’m not sure the fan base has always been behind the team as much as it could have been. I fear there’ll be calls for the manager’s head between now and the end of the season. Hopefully I’m wrong…

Dale Self
89 Posted 07/10/2021 at 23:44:22
Daniel 73, not sure if you read the original post but you're response suggests you did. I apologize, I did go back and write over it but if you caught the first then I just want to say that I regret getting reactive on that. Understood that you think that was a weak excuse, I just thought that maybe it was a bit close to being off limits to comment upon.

Let me know if more is needed there.

Rob Dolby
90 Posted 07/10/2021 at 00:03:51
An emotive article Martin.

Our best away record for 30 years. Winning at the shite, best record against the top sides for 20 years.

Not backing one of the most decorated managers in football history rests on the shoulders of the owner. Why buy a Ferrari and not drive it? In January we needed quality to push on. Instead he got Josh king. What was he supposed to do with an over weight championship player when we wanted to seriously challenge for Europe?

Comparing 2 managers after 7 games is a bit of a nonsense.

An Italian manager that defends deep and grabs a goal to win a match...isn't that standard behaviour. What did people expect from the players at his disposal? Total football?

A new manager comes in and gets the new manager bounce.

It will be interesting to see how much backing Benitez gets in January. I can see him moaning about Moshiri as soon as the transfer window shuts.

Did anyone notice the strength of United's bench last week and they haven't won the league for 10 years. We have a long way to go before even challenging the top 4 Nevermind the league.

Regardless of who is managing us we will not be seeing silverware unless some serious money is spent.

As for dire football the late Gordon Lee period, early Kendall MK1,MK2 & MK3 late Walter Smith, Mike Walker and 6 out of 11 years of Moyes where a lot worse than Ancelotti's reign.

Kieran Kinsella
91 Posted 08/10/2021 at 00:12:28
I for one and glad that Martin and Darren are here to provide further analysis of the under-discussed lengthy, and memorable Carlo Ancelotti era. All that time in charge, all those trophies, cup finals, relegation battles, last day of the season survival, smashing the transfer record, huge changes in squad personnel, feuds with the owner, etc etc.

You could write volumes on the history of Carlo's reign at Everton and it would rightfully occupy most of any book on the history of Everton FC. We should probably think about doing a ToffeeWeb spin-off called "Remembering what's important: Continuing analysis of the Carlo Ancelotti and James McFadden eras." Much more interesting than any other past era of the club.

Darren Hind
92 Posted 08/10/2021 at 04:41:12
Mockers (38+78),

I do believe I heard a penny drop. Keep it to yourself lad.

Back to Rafa. It is refreshing to see so many people showing a little more restraint in their assessment. I can't think of anything which would curb the enthusiasm of the fashionista more than the sight of a bare naked emperor.

This in itself is progress.

Mike Gaynes
93 Posted 08/10/2021 at 05:10:17
Unfortunately nothing can curb the enthusiasm of the smarmy-nista for decorating every post with creatively snarky remarks about equally passionate, devoted Blues with views that happen to differ from his. The condescension is chronic and, apparently, incurable.
Danny O’Neill
94 Posted 08/10/2021 at 07:25:14
Kevin Molloy @90, now that scenario would be a repeat of the Stevie G to Chelsea moment to behold! One minute the pitch forks are out and they're burning an effigy and shirt on the railings outside the Kop. Next they're declaring even more undying love for him and each other!

I'm not so sure the majority will turn. Yes, there's been the odd chant already and the bloke in the Gwladys Street who just thinks everyone is shite, but by and large, there seems to be acceptance and acknowledgement that the last thing we need is managerial upheaval again. I see the only threat being Newcastle in January and that is low risk in my opinion.

Wise words Danny B. The season ends in May. Judge the season at the end of the season. Don't get excited either way about league positions until Christmas. Unless the wheels truly come off obviously.

Rob Dolby; the comparison of benches was the first collective observation by me, my brother and son.

Peter Neilson
95 Posted 08/10/2021 at 08:13:09
Nearly £300M on the United bench last week. Mind you, Ole was saving Pogba, Sancho and Ronaldo for the inevitable second-half glory run out. Oh dear, not as planned.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
96 Posted 08/10/2021 at 08:31:23
Strewth - someone here saying only 6 of 11 of the Moyes years were dire. I thought we had to agree it was all 11½ otherwise you got a mountain of abuse.

I wonder which were the 6?
03-04, when they went on holiday when safe
05-06 when they could not get over the CL scandal
So which were the other 4 when our lowest points total was 54?

Danny O’Neill
97 Posted 08/10/2021 at 08:49:41
I'll give that a go Phil in a constructive sense, not a critical one. For me it was more the last few seasons. I understood what he had to do in the earlier phase. Even though I didn't always like the football, I understood what he needed to do and was supportive. I used to be on tender hooks with the keep it tight and nick one approach though. We were not an easy watch most of the time.

I won't include the Chelsea Cup Final as we were just beaten by a superior team on the day ultimately. That was probably Moyes' best team in my opinion.

I think the frustration came from not breaking the glass ceiling after he'd built a pretty decent team. Now, we can blame money, and that's valid. But he did actually assemble some good teams made up of good players.

But there was a mentality thing. Whenever there was expectation, we bottled it. The Wigan quarter final when we froze. The semi final against Liverpool when they were there for taking if we'd have just kept doing what we'd done first half instead of sitting back on a 1 - 0 lead.

Moyes does some good, but it was his inability to push forward when the expectation was on. That's characteristic of him. Watch this space at West Ham. Even last season when they were in a fantastic position to grab a Champions League spot, rather than be positive, his default is to play it down and dampen expectation. That surely and inevitably rubs off on the players?

Robert Tressell
98 Posted 08/10/2021 at 08:56:42
Phil, I agree. As a supporter since circa turn of the 1990s, I'm all too familiar with dire. The Moyes era, dreary though some of it was, has been the consistent best apart from the cup win in 95 and Martinez's first season. For me, everything else before and after has generally been much worse.
Martin Nicholls
99 Posted 08/10/2021 at 10:00:50
Danny #100,

I agree that the team of 2008-09 was probably Moyes's best and also that, on the day, we were beaten by a better side in 2009 FA Cup Final. If memory serves however, we were missing our three best players (Jags, Mikel and Yak) and spine of our team in that Final. I think Moyes might have laid his hands on a trophy but for that cruel luck. Always happens to us, eh?

Martin Nicholls
100 Posted 08/10/2021 at 10:17:42
John Boon #84

I am one of that select group of "lily-livered" Evertonians! It was one of a number of personal insults Darren levelled at me for not wholly agreeing with a critical article he had penned about Carlo even before he was appointed. If memory serves, Darren's friend David(?) Cash was a little more supportive of me than he was of Darren!

I find Darren's posts to be compulsive reading but rarely comment on them these days, particularly as despite the frequent personal attacks he launches on fellow Evertonians, he bizarrely sees himself as being the victim of such attacks. As I say though, his posts are compulsive reading and I hope he keeps them up.

Danny O’Neill
101 Posted 08/10/2021 at 10:30:00
Cruel indeed, Martin. And for Jagielka in particular. All of us, as players at any level, can sympathise with him missing out on that final, not knowing if he'd ever get the opportunity again.
John Boon
102 Posted 08/10/2021 at 13:57:22
Martin (103) I was smiling when I wrote my post. It was TOTALLY meant to be "tongue in cheek".
Steve Brown
103 Posted 08/10/2021 at 14:23:52
How can a win percentage be non-achieving? Baffling.
Ed Fitzgerald
104 Posted 08/10/2021 at 14:46:44
It wouldn’t surprise me if Benitez ended up at Newcastle in light of their takeover. He is revered by the Geordies and I imagine a big transfer fund and a huge salary would influence him. If he does leave those on here who have been hailing him as some kind of messiah will no doubt do a full 180 as they did over Ancelotti and condemn him as a pariah. I think we were top after 6 or 7 games last season? So Benitez has made a comparable start with some encouraging performance and some mediocre ones too. I’d be pleasantly surprised if we finish in the top half of the table by the end of the season as the squad lacks depth.

For those who may guffaw at the prospect of Benitez fucking us off for the toon, then just consider our forthcoming home game. People’s club Moyes will be in the West Ham dug out trying to outwit Small club Benitez in our dug out. Let’s be blunt managers just care about their cash rather than their cache - as we have found to our cost in the last 10 years

Barry Hesketh
105 Posted 08/10/2021 at 14:58:20
Ed @107
I wonder if the rumour is correct that there is a clause in our managers contract that states:

"if a club that predominatly wears black and white stripes asks to take our manager, he can leave for free as soon as he is asked."

Everton's owner and board agreed to this strange clause, thinking there's no way Juventus will want him at any point and if it was to be Notts County, he shouldn't be in the Goodison hot-seat, somebody forgot about Newcastle Doh!.

Just read on twitter that Newcastle are thinking of putting Mike Ashley in place as their new Chairman as it worked so well for Everton FC.

Ed Fitzgerald
106 Posted 08/10/2021 at 15:14:21
Barry

I’m not suggesting he will leave for free but let’s be honest money is going to be no object for them is it? A large compensation payment wouldn’t deter them either. Did you genuinely believe Ancelotti was going to go two weeks after the end of last season?

He talked (as Benitez has already) of leading the club at BMD and probably meant it until RM came along with lots of money. I wouldn’t argue that Benitez has made an excellent start but if you believe he has some special affinity for us then I think you are being delusional.

Barry Hesketh
107 Posted 08/10/2021 at 17:47:27
Ed @106,

I imagine that you are talking about 'you' in general terms rather than 'you' in specific terms. I'm sorry if my admittedly lame attempt at humour failed to hit the spot, it wasn't meant as a riposte to your post – just an imagininary scenario created by me.

I don't imagine there are any footy fans anywhere out there who follow professional football who are under any illusions about the motivations and loyalty of the people who manage and play for any professional club.


Phil Wood
108 Posted 08/10/2021 at 19:02:36
I'm happy with what I am seeing.

A team that competes for 90 minutes. Has some pace when attacking. Midfielders who are showing improvement on last season. New signings who have blended in fast. A winning mentality. Organised and showing more discipline in keeping their shape. Much better to watch.

A manager who looks and behaves like he is involved in and loving the game. His interaction with the players for the whole game. Responding to the flow of the game and making the correct substitutions at the right time.

I feel Rafa is earning his money. I am not saying he loves the club or the fans or anything else about the club but he appears to put his heart and soul into the players and the game. This man doesn't hide and I have to admire that fact.

More than happy that he is here. I think a lot of other managers would be doing very much worse than he has done with what he has inherited. And I do think he can take us forward.

Rob Dolby
109 Posted 08/10/2021 at 19:34:16
Phil 96. That was my bad. I was trying to give a balanced view of previous managers and just said 6 out of 11 from Moyes were dire.

On reflection, Moyes had a set formula, sold our star man, bought youngish talent and sweat the rest of the squad. Lower expectations, negotiate a better deal for himself, rinse and repeat for 11 years!

We got to January a couple of times when I genuinely thought just a couple of signings would help us kick on but it never happened.

Finishing 4th, a cup final, cup semi-final. Releasing the “Magnificent 7th” DVD. All high points of his reign or low points depending on your point of view.

Darren Hind
110 Posted 08/10/2021 at 19:42:32
Martin Nicholls,

I just looked back at the article you refer to.

You did indeed have a little dig, but there was no insults hurled at you, in fact there was absolutely no response to you whatsoever.

It's still up there. Mind you, even I didn't realise how unerringly accurate that article would prove to be.

Martin Nicholls
111 Posted 08/10/2021 at 20:46:48
Darren - I don't know how to research historical articles but you most certainly did respond to me and hurled your usual insults, "lily-livered" being one of them. Maybe the exchange was on another thread but referred back to the article to which I refer.

Your friend Casho commented on our exchange, as did Brian Williams. The final post was mine offering to buy you a pint – you did not respond to that one but the offer was and is open-ended.

Darren Hind
112 Posted 08/10/2021 at 20:56:34
Martin,

I spent some time looking for the article. I eventually found it. It's called "Any dream will do" – I have no idea why. But it is in the archives and so are the comments.

Penned as you rightly say, on the eve of Carlo`s appointment.

Martin Nicholls
113 Posted 08/10/2021 at 21:19:59
Cheers, Darren – as I say, the "exchange" to which I refer is probably on a later, related article maybe in late January or early February 2020. Anyway, no need to research further – my internet research skills are poor but despite my age, my memory isn't too bad!
Darren Hind
114 Posted 08/10/2021 at 21:54:55
Have a good weekend, Martin.
Nicolas Piñon
115 Posted 09/10/2021 at 07:38:31
Too early for this article, Martin.

Get a tan mate!

Tony Abrahams
116 Posted 09/10/2021 at 10:39:35
Just read that thread, Darren, and the thing you got right more than anything you said about the appointment of Ancellotti, was the title, Any dream will do.

One thing that's very, very apparent now, is that the only plan that Moshiri had was to come in and throw some money at it, and the appointment of Ancelotti now seems strange (I know a lot of things do, with hindsight). It's obvious that the powers that be never had FFP in mind when they made this appointment. If they did, then I'm sure they would never have appointed Carlo Ancelotti in the first place.

I'm certain Benitez could have waited to become the manager of Newcastle Utd but he wanted the Everton job. So hopefully he will be backed in the longer term, especially if he can keep giving us a style of play that is very identifiable to us Evertonians… even though I'm aware it's very early days.

Si Cooper
117 Posted 10/10/2021 at 14:38:34
Rafa's doing well but how spawny was it that Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend ended up available at the opportune time for a measly £1.7 million? Without those 2 falling into his grateful hands, is it likely that Rafa would be enjoying such a good start?
Jim Lloyd
118 Posted 10/10/2021 at 14:54:28
Si. Spawny? They didn't just fall into his hands, he'd noted them as good players and kept contact with them both, for years. I don't think Brands even knew of them, let alone bring them into the club.

Time (and money) will tell, of course, but I think Rafa's transfers in will be planned to the nth degree.

I don't know who was in charge with our previous transfers, whether it was Brands, or a joint effort between Brands and each manager, but to me, it seems to have been a very scattergun and haphazard transfer policy until Rafa got involved.

Let's see who we bring in during the next couple of years... if Rafa stays, of course.

Stan Schofield
119 Posted 10/10/2021 at 16:07:59
Jim, not quite. Under Koeman we signed Gana. Under Silva we signed Digne and Richarlison. Under Ancelotti we signed Allan and Doucoure (I won't mention Rodriguez too much, but he caused a lot of excitement at the time). All 5 were great buys. Plus Pickford. Plus Zouma on loan.

Of the others, some are moderately successful barring injuries, and it's the remainder that are less good.

Let's not get too excited about Benitez's signings just yet compared with previous buys, even though they've been great so far.

Michael Williams
120 Posted 10/10/2021 at 17:52:20
Si 117 - Sorry but Benitez signed Demarai Gray. Townsend played under Rafa at Newcastle - I believe that was a Rafa signing. To elaborate on Jim's comment (118):

From the Echo - "Rafa Benitez has revealed he had been keeping tabs on Demarai Gray for four years before signing the attacker for Everton this summer.

And the extent of Benitez's interest in the 25-year-old is highlighted by the fact Benitez even exchanged messages with Gray when the Spanish coach was without a club.

Gray joined the Blues in July in a £1.7m deal from Bayer Leverkusen and has made a flying start to life at Goodison, with three goals in his opening four league matches.

Benitez was convinced that with the right players around him, and making sure he felt confident, Gray would deliver at Everton."

"Spawny" my a**.

Stan Schofield
121 Posted 10/10/2021 at 18:02:58
To add @119, there’s also Godfrey while Ancelotti was here.
Dave Abrahams
122 Posted 10/10/2021 at 18:36:54
Stan (119), yes under Ancelotti we signed Allan and Doucoure, Allan obviously came to Everton because of Ancelotti, in Doucoure’s case Ancelotti said he had never heard of him so I don’t think Mr. Ancelotti had anything to do with his signing.
Jim Lloyd
123 Posted 10/10/2021 at 18:42:36
Sorry, Stan, you're spot on. I was thinking more along the lines of the Ajax captain Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez, Morgan Schneiderlin, Cuco Martina, Cenk Tosun, Bernard, André Gomes, Josh King, Mohamed Besic, Fabian Delph, Alex Iwobi.

I liked Wayne Rooney but, along with the other players we signed in midfield, it seemed a bit congested, Yannick Bolasie, Ashley Williams, Theo Walcott. maybe others as well.

I seem to remember Luke Garbutt being on our books for what seemd like 20 years! Same with Besic. It was a real pity about Zouma, I think he liked the place.

I'm not saying they were all bad buys ansd we've made some real good buys, but |I still think it's been a scattergun approach to me. That's how we ended up buggered under that other insolvency rule, and maybe the FFP thing.

As for Rodriguez, I loved the idea of seeing him produce some magic but it it seems his best trick was disappearing off to the Copa America and saying he was fit. I've heard that quite a number of the first team were royally pissed off with him.

Anyway, he could have been a star, or a millstone round our neck. He's gone and I'm chuffed with the two outfield players we brought in this season.

Mike Doyle
124 Posted 10/10/2021 at 19:21:26
Phil #108] I don’t think it matters whether Rafa (or any other manger) loves the club they are managing and/or fans.
After a series of managerial disappointments, if Rafa can turn us into a competitive outfit - playing a better style of football, that will do for me.
If he can produce a trophy - even better.
Michael Kenrick
125 Posted 10/10/2021 at 20:49:39
Gosh, Jim, you're not far off regarding Garbutt!

We tracked him for an incredible eleven seasons as a potential Everton first-teamer.

We can add up who has the most seasons on record at Everton. For Garbutt, it looks like this:

Senior: 11
On Loan: 6
B Team: 11
Academy: 2

That's an incredible total of 30 seasons (with overlaps)!

Pennington: 25
Connolly: 24
McAleny: 24
Dowell: 20

Any other high scorers?

Kieran Kinsella
126 Posted 10/10/2021 at 20:57:11
Michael

Shouldn’t Garbutt be due for a testimonial then?

Michael Kenrick
127 Posted 10/10/2021 at 21:18:36
Do they do testimonials anymore, Kieran?

Good quiz question: Who was the last Everton player to have a testimonial, when was it, opponents and score?

Alan McGuffog
128 Posted 10/10/2021 at 21:20:49
Hibbert ?
Robert Tressell
129 Posted 10/10/2021 at 21:28:51
Tony # 118. Looking back, I think the powers at be at Everton would have been acutely aware of FFP. Appointing Ancelotti was the last roll of the dice to sneak a place in the top 4 and make the financials work through qualifying for the champions league.

Maybe if Ancelotti had got Rabiot and Koulibaly, the two he obviously wanted, we might just have done it.

But as ever we fall short.

Benitez is a better fit for the club. I don't think he will go to Newcastle. He's rich and getting on in years. He just wants to be our manager now. He might only last 10 minutes if he joined the circus that's about to unfold under Saudi ownership.

Tony Abrahams
130 Posted 10/10/2021 at 21:42:01
If Ancelloti had got those two players on top of Rodriguez, then that would have probably put another £300,000 per week on an already unmanageable wage bill, Robert. It just highlights how badly we have been mismanaged either way imo mate.
Jim Lloyd
131 Posted 10/10/2021 at 22:55:28
Thanks, Michael, for doing that research. I know it doesn't apply to them all; but still, there's a load of funds gone on paying players who didn't make the grade at Everton and stayed (and some still staying) on the books for season after season.

If Ancellotti had got those players, I think he'd have still dunnarunna but a good point Tony.

Knowing our luck, the Magpies will come quietly asking, on a big blanket outside his house "Will yer cum an be our manager, Boss!"

Kieran Kinsella
132 Posted 11/10/2021 at 03:44:44
Michael Kenrick & Alan McCuffog,

I think the last was Osman's in 2014, two years after Hibberts. It appears they are a thing of the past. The most recent ones raised money for charity.

Back in the day, it was a golden handshake for a moderately paid man reaching retirement age at 30-odd. In truth, it would be nauseating to give one to someone like Garbutt on £30k a week who never even made the grade. I guess now the players make so much they don't need to pass around the cap in their last game. That being said, I'd love to give Seamus a good send-off.

Danny O’Neill
133 Posted 11/10/2021 at 06:30:07
It's never the last roll, Robert!! We rolled recklessly and now are having to take our medicine.

Once the shackles are off, we can roll again, but this time do it in a more calculated way. I kept the dice thing because ultimately, like every managerial appointment, every transfer is a gamble.

In the main, with the benefit of hindsight, we spent badly – mostly before Ancelotti. But, as mentioned above, they weren't all bad, depending on individual views on players. Pickford (eventually), Digne, Richarlison and I would say Mina (others may not). That's a good percentage of what is currently our best starting 11, all fit.

If you consider Ancelloti added Doucouré, Allan and Godfrey, with Benitez bringing in Gray and Townsend, we've actually built the makings of a decent team.

But prior to both of the managers, who are the subject of this article, we built a pretty poor squad to back it up. And spent a lot of money doing so. That's what has hurt us. Both on, and now off, the pitch. But just for the time being.

Robert Tressell
134 Posted 11/10/2021 at 07:16:38
Danny, indeed, still plenty to hope for. What I meant was it was the last roll to avoid the financial constraints biting us on the arse.

Ancelotti and the management alike were probably quietly confident that a highly experienced manager and Rodriguez would be able to get an expensively assembled squad in the top 4.

Had it worked, the extra revenue might have helped gloss over the financial constraints.

It didn't work so we are where we are. As I've said before in many ways a good wake up call for a club that was going about things the wrong way.

Si Cooper
135 Posted 11/10/2021 at 09:35:55
Jim and Michael (118 and 120), so there weren't a great number of separate things that had to happen at pretty much the same time for our two best performing attackers to join us this summer for the ridiculously low fee of £1.7 million combined??? Or don't you two do context?

I wasn't saying Rafa was spawny in picking those two players, just that it was well beyond normal expectations that they'd be available for so little money considering how brassic we are.

Demarai Gray was offloaded by Leicester for £2.5 million and then Leverkusen were happy to sell him for even less, half-a-year later!!! That's effing amazing (or spawny) on its own considering how good he has been for us. Those two clubs must be shocked.

Stan Schofield
136 Posted 11/10/2021 at 09:39:13
Danny @133:

I'm not convinced that we were reckless. For most of our signings, people on this site were enthusiastic, and indeed some signings that ultimately disappointed started off well. It's just that we didn't progress in the way intended, we've stayed midtable.

Unless you can splash mega amounts of cash consistently, as Man Utd have done in the past, and Man City and Chelsea have done, it's very hard to really progress, and very easy to tread water with all the ups and downs of a midtable team.

Stan Schofield
137 Posted 11/10/2021 at 09:53:56
Just to add @136, when we were signing Gray and Townsend, a lot of posts on here were quite negative and implying that we were reduced to bringing in bargain basement mediocrity. But look how they've turned out, so far.

I remember John Mc Snr commenting when we signed these players, in response to the negativity on here, that anything can happen in football and those signings could prove more successful than Man Utd's then signing of Sancho at £65M. Wise words, we never really know how signings will turn out, it's all a risk.

Kevin Molloy
138 Posted 11/10/2021 at 10:21:35
Si,

Nobody was saying when we signed those players 'My, what a bargain they are, aren't we lucky!' It only feels lucky now that we can see how effectively they have been played by the manager.

Danny O’Neill
139 Posted 11/10/2021 at 10:45:42
I think we're broadly saying similar things Robert and I do get what you mean about last roll in the context you explain.

Stan, that's why I made sure I put hindsight in my post! It's always easy to judge looking back but, like you say, at the time, a lot of those signings were welcomed by me and many other Evertonians. And Gray and Townsend were viewed as underwhelming in the summer. I give you Tim Cahill as a similarity when he came in for £1.5M with a questionable injury record just as the next best thing to come out of our academy since Colin Harvey was riding into the sunset for bigger and better things.

Unfortunately we (collective we – not everyone) are more and more having our heads turned by price tags rather than looking at the goods we're actually buying.

But, Stan, your point about spending consistently to achieve is correct and proven. And ultimately, the majority of the time, you get what you pay for. We ourselves done it in the 60s.

We tried it the past few years, but went shopping at Tesco's instead of Waitrose. And overpaying for sub-standard products on too many occasions. But to shop at Waitrose these days, you have to be challenging and in Europe. A vicious circle. For now, we have to focus on how we spend, not what we spend. Spend wisely.

Derek Thomas
140 Posted 11/10/2021 at 11:09:59
It's all about having (spare) cash to take a punt... and not worry if one bombs.

Man Utd had £90,000 a week to throw at Michael Owen, for half-a-dozen games in a season. Even back then, if we had spunked £90,000 a week on a forward, at that price, we'd have been worried if he missed half-a-dozen games in a season.

It's still more or less the same. You have to spend a lot of silver to get gold. Given you get the playing side right (not like us), 7th isn't too hard cash-wise, but you look at wages, turnover etc, to 6th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. The graph goes near vertical the higher you go.

Derek Taylor
141 Posted 11/10/2021 at 11:26:16
Some comments over the weekend that this season's start is not unlike 20/21. Just as now, we got off to 'a flier - but only to fade into obscurity as the 'home' failures mounted up.

Benitez is a very different animal to his predecessor but he has many of the same players and their tendency towards extended injury is still very much in evidence !

With only a restricted budget as it becomes more and more convenient to hide behind FFP, the Spaniard's much vaunted ability to 'make silk purses' will be put to the test - although he has to improve by only a half dozen `wins` on Angelotti to see us 'top six'.

James Newcombe
142 Posted 11/10/2021 at 12:02:35
I do hope that, whenever we have significant money to spend on transfers again, we don't go back to the old days of hosing it up the wall! Rafa himself was a bit hit and miss at Liverpool with relatively big signings. We seem to be building a team again, with players who, for the most part, want to be here. Long may that continue!
Si Cooper
143 Posted 11/10/2021 at 13:59:51
Kevin (138),

I think many were saying “Well that's not much money for two potentially decent squad players.” And I presume that many, like me, were thinking Gray must be a physical or mental liability, or years older than we'd thought.

I reckon Rafa himself couldn't believe the deals and had to check everything 3 times cause he was worried he'd missed some obvious caveat he'd missed.

John McFarlane Snr
144 Posted 11/10/2021 at 14:48:26
Hi Stan [137],

I learned early in my football love-in that anything is possible in the game of football. It's being repeated on a regular basis but because it doesn't feature the team we favour, it goes relatively under the radar.

As I have stated, it's not unusual, and the classic case is the victory of Wigan Athletic over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final, a feat repeated the following season, Wigan recording a 2-1 win at the Etihad. I find it surprising that any fan with at the least two seasons of watching football can't grasp this, and I think I'm being generous by giving a two-season learning curve. Football is littered with 'surprises' and that's what makes it enjoyable and heart-breaking.

John Pendleton
145 Posted 11/10/2021 at 15:17:16
Alan and Stephen #63 to 65

To cover all future outcomes, Perhaps FSW could instead stand for..?

Fairly Sound Wirraller - 55pts and FA Cup Semis
Four Season Wonder - Gets us safely to BMD and then bombs
Focused Serial Winner - Champions League 21/22, 22/23, 23/24

Etc, etc

Martin Nicholls
146 Posted 11/10/2021 at 18:57:44
John #144,

Ocourse I agree with you; however, shocks do not happen as regularly across the full spectrum of clubs since the rise of the wealthy clubs. Due to the massive inequality that has allowed them to create their enormous squads, the times they are beaten by lesser and certainly lower league clubs is sadly diminishing and will soon almost disappear.

John McFarlane Snr
147 Posted 11/10/2021 at 19:21:54
Hi Martin [146],

I think that you are right in saying that the shock results are in the main, lessening at the top level of what used to be a 92-club Football League. However, experience has taught me to go to the match with an open mind. How many times have you heard, "It'll be at least 4-0, it's only so and so" and the fans that envisaged that result are left with egg on their faces?

I believe that surprises will still be the norm in the future, because football is played and officiated by humans, and off days and mistakes will continue to occur, as long as the human element remains.

Danny O’Neill
148 Posted 11/10/2021 at 19:30:16
Very good points, John Senior and Martin Nicholls.

The game of football will always be unpredictable. It's what keeps us interested, enthused and emotional to the point of both jubilation and heartbreak. As players and as supporters.

But sadly, yes, as Martin says, it's becoming a bit more predictable than it was. I guess it really started with the Anfield dynasty of the 70s into the 80s and when they then handed the domination baton to United in the 90s. Since then, Chelsea and Man City have taken hold.

Without looking, but at a glance, prior to that (and before my time), it was a bit more open to shocks, different teams winning things and no "world domination" as such?

But, to John Senior's point. Anything is possible in football. If you believe, you can win. We will be parading a trophy at Bramley-Moore Dock. We will win our 10th league title. I'm not going anywhere until we do and the good Lord can note that one because, despite him ignoring us in recent years, I know deep down he is the great Evertonian in the sky looking down on us. West Ham next.

David Currie
149 Posted 11/10/2021 at 19:56:35
Danny 148, Jesus Christ was an Evertonian. I remember the fans used to sing that in the '70s.
Jim Lloyd
150 Posted 11/10/2021 at 21:00:09
I think that there has been a scattergun approach by Everton in it's recruitment over the last 5 years or so; and I put it down mainly to the number of managers we've had and maybe having two DoF's as well...

The number of players we've either still got with us on variously golden wages, or we have flogged cheap or tried to send on loan several times, shows quite a large number of acquisitions have not worked out.

We have ended up in a financial straight-jacket because we need players and we can't afford to buy them. I said earlier, that we have a number of very good players; but we are hoping that we have no injuries. We've got four out, for whom we have no specialised cover. Hopefully, they'll return after the international break.

In the meantime, two players who received a lot of negative responses when they were brought in, have played really well. Whether they keep their places or not when Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin are back tough, remains to be seen. But I think we all can see they will make able subs, who have skill, can shoot, and who will pull their tripes out every time they're called on.

If we already had all the players we needed to make a top class squad, we wouldn't be arsed about the financial constraints we're having to cope with now. We'd be watching our players consistently in and around the top four each season.

My view is that we've spent a fortune; but we haven't got anything like the full value of money spent. It's happened and we have to get on with it; and we're doing well.

Si (135),

I'm not too sure what you mean by "don't you two do context?" All I intended and still think, is that Benitez knew we were skint (I assume Moshiri and Usmanov made the situation clear to him) and he knew who he could get hold of in this situation.

The thing is, many managers knew of these players and Benitez certainly kept in touch with both, so he must have decided these two could do a job for him. The difference in words can make a difference in meaning. I think he had an opportunity, and he took it.

Whether he'll prove to even be with us as the season progresses, we'll have to wait and see. I certainly hope he stays with us. Once we are able to purchase players, then we can see what he does then in the transfer market and criticise him, or praise him on his choices.

Si Cooper
151 Posted 12/10/2021 at 02:49:42
Jim (@150), it's the fact that you think I was criticising Rafa that makes me think you didn't understand the thrust of what I posted. I was just musing on the vagaries of ‘opportunity' which any manager has to contend with.

The transfer market isn't like picking which pair of socks you are going to wear that day from your own drawer. Rafa's list wouldn't have helped him if those players weren't actually unwanted by their previous clubs when he took the job.

I still think it was amazingly lucky that those two players were available at the price we paid; one we could easily afford even under our current FFP constraints. If those two players had been priced at £17 million for the pair, they would still be brilliant value (based on their performances so far and the current market) but would Rafa have been allowed to recruit both of them? Definitely a case of "right place, right time" (and opportunity well and truly seized).

Stephen Vincent
152 Posted 12/10/2021 at 17:27:18
A reminder, there is just about 6 hours left on the auction for the signed Pat Nevin autobiography the only bid to date is £30. All proceeds to the TW Golf Day charity appeal. Given that the price of the book is £20 I would have thought that the auction would have raised more.

Come on blues be generous.

Michael Williams
153 Posted 14/10/2021 at 00:47:22
Si - 135,

I'll accept your explanation of spawny as referring to the availability of the players at such a low price. Fair enough.

David Hayes
154 Posted 14/10/2021 at 08:24:37
Anyone reading the first paragraph, the numerous "so-called" and sneering "Magnifico" attachments to Anchelotti's name, completely underscored the malice and aforethought that drove this "so-called" Compare and Contrast...

Like a many others, I didn't read on. What was the point when you could easily see what was coming? To me, the tone is like a victim of a jilted affair biting back, not football analysis at all.


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