Pointless and Costly

Lyndon Lloyd 21/11/2021 36comments  |  Jump to last
Manchester City 3 - 0 Everton

Five years ago, when Wayne Rooney was beginning his ill-advised second spell with the club and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was still a raw teenager displaying sufficient talent for Ronald Koeman to press him into early Premier League action, was the last time an Everton side took so much as a point off Manchester City.

Just a few months earlier, of course, the Dutchman’s Blues had taken the Citizens apart at Goodison Park and inflicted on Pep Guardiola what is still his heaviest Premier League defeat and it’s almost as if the exacting Spaniard has devoted his life since to meting out revenge on the Blue half of Merseyside.

Since eking out that 1-1 draw at the Etihad shortly before Koeman was given the elbow in 2017, Everton have suffered nine successive defeats to City in all competitions, conceding 26 goals and scoring just five in the process, including this utter formality of a match that ended up being little more than a training session for Guardiola’s attackers.

Rafael Benitez’s men registered just one shot on target (although it’s hard to recall whose effort it was) as they played out a game-plan ostensibly aimed at containing the hosts as much as possible and trying to grab something — anything — on the break but the Toffees were timid and largely wasteful in the final third while their general use of the ball in all areas of the pitch was embarrassingly inferior.

City, by contrast, were… well… everything you’ve come to expect from a Guardiola side — fluid, precise, incisive and lethal; that despite the absence of Kevin de Bruyne because of a positive coronavirus test and the fact that Gabriel Jesus, a man who loves scoring against Everton, watched on throughout as an unused substitute.

Benitez had some mitigating circumstances, of course. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Abdoulaye Doucouré and Yerry Mina all still missing, the Spaniard is still operating without the spine of his team. André Gomes is an ongoing injury absentee as well (although it’s hard to see how he would have made much difference on the day) and the game was only a quarter-of-an-hour gone when Demarai Gray, a key component in Everton’s counter-attacking strategy, pulled up with an adductor injury and was forced to depart the fray.

Yet, despite a foray forward at the start of each half and a couple of flurries late in the second half when the game was well beyond them, Everton displayed little of the gumption and adventure that Crystal Palace showed on this ground a few weeks ago when they turned the Champions over 2-0, with the aid of a sending-off for Aymeric Laporte. For the army of travelling Evertonians, there was almost nothing to cheer and, like those following the game from afar, they will have come away from it all with a growing sense of dread and unease about how the rest of 2021-22 is going to pan out for this Toffees team.

Everton were unchanged from the side that ground out a goalless draw against Tottenham prior to the international break. Though they started on the front foot from the first whistle, the visitors soon found themselves trapped in a familiar pattern of chasing City’s shadows as Guardiola’s men waited for their possession to bear fruit.

Phil Foden had their first genuine chance with 10 minutes gone when Sterling picked him out with a deep cross that the young midfielder couldn’t quite direct on goal with a header and the roles were reversed in the 27th minute when Sterling also headed over craning to get over the ball.

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A minute after that, Bernardo found himself in behind the defence off Cole Palmer’s neat pass but Jordan Pickford closed the Portuguese down well and, when the ball was clipped back in, Ilkay Gundogan’s header dropped onto the top of the crossbar as Guardiola’s men got closer to making the breakthrough.

On the half-hour mark, Palmer’s own shot was palmed aside by Pickford and the goalkeeper gathered Sterling’s follow-up before referee Stuart Atwell awarded a soft-looking penalty for what he adjudged to be a foul by Michael Keane on Sterling but the official was forced to reverse his decision following a check of the pitch-side monitor.

One brief and rare attacking moment appeared to open up for Gray’s replacement, Alex Iwobi, at the other end but the winger was easily caught by Kyle Walker as he tried to drive towards goal. And a minute after that, it was 1-0 to Manchester City.

Joao Cancelo delivered a brilliant pass straight through the centre of Everton’s defence with the outside of his boot and Sterling took it on the half-volley, steering the ball expertly beyond Pickford.

The half-time interval was book-ended by promising set-piece opportunities to Everton that came to nothing and City’s dominance was further underscored when they doubled their lead in the 55th minute.

Allan’s clearance dropped to Rodri 25 yards from goal and the Spaniard rifled a rising, first-time thunderbolt into the top corner well clear of Pickford’s despairing dive and it was, effectively, game well and truly over.

Substitute Riyad Mahrez could have made it three when he popped up in oceans of space on the far side of the box on the hour mark but his first-time effort was scuffed well off target.

Rafael Benitez then withdrew Fabian Delph in the 63rd minute in favour of Salomon Rondon but neither the switch to 4-4-2 nor the Venezuelan himself could make much impact on proceedings.

Nevertheless, Everton did manage some of their brightest moments on an otherwise depressingly unproductive afternoon in the final 25 minutes. Iwobi’s chipped cross invited Richarlison to attempt an acrobatic above-the-shoulder volley but he couldn’t make proper contact while another laudable ball in, again from Iwobi, put Coleman in near the byline but the Irishman was quickly closed down and the chance was lost.

City were in again at the other end almost immediately but Pickford made an excellent save to deny Sterling but the almost inevitable third goal arrived in the 86th minute when another effort by Palmer took a heavy deflection and arrived at the feet of Bernardo who just had to slot home and complete Everton’s misery.

Positives for the men in black and burnt orange were few and far between. Ben Godfrey emerged with credit for as good a defensive display as you could have in a team that surrendered nearly 80% of the possession and was on the back foot for most of the contest.

Young Tyler Onyango will hopefully look back on this match as the moment where his Premier League career began after coming on for a late cameo that also marks his return from a fairly serious injury.

Pickford, of course, played his part in keeping the scoreline respectable even if his kicking was hit-and-miss, and though Allan struggled for pace with only Delph for company in the middle, he was at least committed and did his best against a vastly superior midfield.

It was in those forward areas, where Richarlison charged around in vain, Gordon showed intent but a vital lack of genuine quality, and Iwobi flattered to deceive, that Everton ultimately fell so badly short. In the final reckoning, this was a contest in name only and, in the end, it looks likely to cost the Blues in terms of personnel for their next game against Brentford, one that assumes that much more importance now given the run of poor results the team is on and the daunting run of games between now and Christmas.

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Reader Comments (36)

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Barry Hesketh
1 Posted 22/11/2021 at 21:00:48
Time flies when you're having fun. I can remember that game (August 2017) as if it was yesterday, we haven't travelled very far since then have we? The line-up for that draw against City where Rooney scored was as follows:

Jordan Pickford
Leighton Baines
Michael Keane
Ashley Williams
Phil Jagielka
Mason Holgate
Morgan Schneiderlin
Idrissa Gueye
Tom Davies
Wayne Rooney
Dominic Calvert-Lewin

Gylfi Sigurðsson
Davy Klaassen
Muhamed Bešic

Unused Subs:
Maarten Stekelenburg
Cuco Martina
Kevin Mirallas
Ademola Lookman

Derek Moore
2 Posted 22/11/2021 at 21:09:26
Townsend's catching practice free-kick at the end of the first half was the sole "shot on target", Lyndon.

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 22/11/2021 at 21:20:26
Barry (1), I watched that game in Ned Kelly's, Calvert-Lewin provided the pass for Rooney to score and we held City pretty well until Holgate headed a ball back into play when he could have let it run out and Sterling, who was having a stinker, whacked it home.
Lyndon Lloyd
4 Posted 22/11/2021 at 21:21:28
Ah, yes. Thanks, Derek. No repeat of his heroics for Palace, unfortunately.
Jerome Shields
5 Posted 23/11/2021 at 09:23:29
As you say, Lyndon, Everton were set up as against Spurs, but the midfield was overrun and the defence stayed deep. Delph looked unfit, Iowbi was poor, Allan and Townsend was overwhelmed. Godfrey came out of the game with credit, in addition to covering Coleman; Pickford played well.

All the Man City goals were due to poor defensive play:

The first the result of a tired Seamus Coleman taking a breather and failing by a yard to step up to Everton's defensive line, playing Sterling on side. Keane had turned in to keep the defensive line intact. Coleman had played two internationals in the previous week, at age 33.

The second was Keane turning his back on the ball rather than standing his ground, which would have prevented the pass for the goal.

The third was Allan committing the cardinal error of passing across his own backline.

Iowbi was poor, giving away possession. Him clear on the left was never going to score, and on the right, supposedly his best, he could not clear the first defender. His tracking back was poor and he was nowhere for the cross for the first goal.

Rondon would have been better than Richarlison, who was basically ignored as a threat by the Man City defence, getting himself a yellow.

Everton are just not up to much at the moment and an injuried player may even drag his feet in wanting to play. This is the result of underlying problems identified before Benitez arrived and the reason why he got the job.

Poor recruitment, poor training effort and work (especially during the International break), poor processes of recovery, allowing aged players to dictate, and no money due to poor expenditure.

Niall McIlhone
6 Posted 23/11/2021 at 09:33:43
A very fair summation, Lyndon, albeit I only caught the highlights on MotD red button upon returning from London.

I pondered what the two BBC "expert analysts" had to say about the match: they were Jermaine Jenas and Conor Coady. Both followed the narrative as to the excellence of Man City, and the near impossibility of a defence coping with City's quality and variation of play, and, of course, the sheer quality of the individuals City have.

There was barely, if any, mention of the performance of the Everton team. We were rendered cipher-like status in this encounter, mere playthings for the home team, and sadly, the match stats back it up.

Barry (#1) – that line-up from 2017 looks vastly superior to the team we put out against City in 2021, if we assume the likes of Rooney and Schneiderlin play to their capacity. Proof positive that, in real terms, we are actually regressing, as things stand.

John Boswell
7 Posted 23/11/2021 at 12:31:56
Our current problem is the boardroom. We desperately need a major shake up of the board and that must start with the Chairman. COYB
Bill Hawker
8 Posted 23/11/2021 at 16:08:29
Injuries and FFP, a terrible combination at this moment. Add to that a player we're paying wages even though he's not going to feature this season (and possibly never again) and not a lot coming through from the Academy.

It seems to me 12th to 16th is a likely finish this season. It's possible we could get into a relegation dogfight but my hope is we can at least get a player or two in January that are genuine first-teamers to stop the rot.

I do not blame Benitez for this. He's got absolute dog shite to work with.

Steve Carse
9 Posted 23/11/2021 at 18:18:01
Bill (8),

I'd bite your hand off to finish 16th. This is the worst squad of players since Howard Kendall Mk 3; and however bad that squad was, at least they put their all into it, just enough to keep us in the Premier League. In similar circumstances, I couldn't see this lot doing the same.

Lee Howard
10 Posted 23/11/2021 at 20:03:20
As always, Lyndon, great write-up. I am really concerned that, as the excitement of watching Everton has gone, we are already resigned to relegation.

Even ToffeeWeb has gone quiet with its normal angry posts... Has everyone given up?

John Raftery
11 Posted 23/11/2021 at 20:41:41
It is academic as far as the next game is concerned but I would stop playing Richarlison as a lone front man. His only output is fairly pointless chasing around, trying to make a nuisance of himself. It is a waste.

He would be far more useful involved in the game in one of the wide positions. We might as well use Rondon to run around up front so long as the role remains one of providing nothing more than nuisance value.

Neil Copeland
12 Posted 23/11/2021 at 20:46:37
Lee #10, pissed off and feeling cheated but I will never give up on the Blues. More than ever, the team and manager needs our support, so come on, bring it fucking on!

John#11, sounds about right to me.

Tony Everan
13 Posted 23/11/2021 at 21:01:07

Watching the game against Man City has had an effect on me. There was no respite and no redeeming factors to latch on to. It's hard to get motivated after that to even come up with a post. So well done, Lyndon, for this, another accurate and well written one.

John, I much prefer Richarlison playing as a roaming left forward. He stiffens the midfield with his defensive work, can find more space, have a run cutting inside, draw fouls and pop up with a goal too. A super player to have for us in that position. I feel, when he is not playing there, we are weaker both offensively and defensively. The sooner he is back on the left, the better.

The problem is then who temporarily plays through the middle to get on the end of crosses? Rondon? Simms? The Brillo Pad would probably be a marginally better bet if he was fit enough.

Leave the right side to Gordon or Townsend but the latter may be required to make up a midfield three because of injuries.

Mike Doyle
14 Posted 23/11/2021 at 21:05:35
John #7,

While I agree with you, the problem is (as the Esk and others have pointed out) that the board all report to Moshiri – and he seems to have no interest in shaking them up. He holds over 90% of the shares, so it's his decision (unless any resign and create an opportunity).

However even shaking up the board doesn't change the fact that our squad is stuffed with highly paid players with little or no sell-on potential – many of whom have contracts which run to summer 2024.

I believe that FFP is under review, but if it continues in its current form, it seems that the only way we can change the squad over the next 2 years is:

1. Replace out-of-contract players with very cheap or free transfers (more deals like Andros, Demarai and the ancient goalies for the next 2 years).

2. Sell the more saleable ones, eg, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Pickford & Doucouré. Seems inevitable that those with options will go if we cannot give them a good reason to stay.

3. Hope the Academy can produce a couple that can function on the Premier League stage.

Andrew Bentley
15 Posted 23/11/2021 at 22:15:34
Against Brentford, with the injuries we've got, we either need to play 4-4-2 with someone off Rondon to do the running he doesn't! But I fear if we do that, then we will be even more powder-puff in the middle.

So we go 4-3-2-1, with a midfield of Allan, Delph and Onyango (Gbamin is just never going to make it – as much as we all wish he would so give youth a chance!). Leaving us to play Gordon and Townsend off Rondon probably. Sack Iwobi off!

We need to go back to being difficult to beat and snatching the odd win here or there but at least getting points on the board with draws. If we don't get the points tally moving up (even with draws) we will get sucked in closer and closer to that Bottom 3.

Jerome Shields
16 Posted 23/11/2021 at 22:21:30
Man City win the Premier League. What? Beaten by Crystal Palace last week, gifted three goals by Everton due to defensive errors this week. . . The only thing they done was train during the International break, which Everton didn't, and it showed in the fitness levels of the two teams.

Last season, it was the same wonderful team, who can stop them? The best team in the Premier League. I remember saying they would not win the Premier League. It will be the same this season.

Everton were just very poor and made them look better than they really are.

Ricky Oak
17 Posted 23/11/2021 at 22:30:27
Can anyone please explain:

How is it that Spurs are £700 million in debt, yet they're not crippled by FFP?

Brendan McLaughlin
18 Posted 23/11/2021 at 22:31:13
Jerome #16,

What are you talking about? Man City won the Premier League last season.

David Pearl
19 Posted 23/11/2021 at 22:40:36
Well, Jerome, l don't think Man City will win the league this season. I used to have a strong dislike for all things Chelsea but, at the moment, l can't stop admiring them. The academy, buying young, cracking manager. They look like a machine at the moment.

How do Everton copy that model? Impossible, l reckon till the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock is built and we also possibly need another owner soon after. Till then, we have to buy or loan some players that actually improve us.

Branthwaite and Simms need a go. I also want a new manager but that won't happen. We also need forward players that know how to keep the ball. Embarrassed by our possession stats. You need the ball to score a goal.

Pete Clarke
20 Posted 23/11/2021 at 23:39:55
The way we played against Man City, it was gut-wrenching to see how far behind we really are and you wonder if it's actually the worst you have seen. Well, it has been worse, a lot worse.

I put the highlights on of Man City vs Everton 2000-01, with the great Shawn Goater leading their line. Joe Royle was their manager too. We had the likes of Pembridge, Naismith, Gemmil and Nyarko. They slaughtered us 5-0 and we were pathetic. City actually got relegated that year to show how bad we were.

It just brings home how shit we are and have been for so long.

Danny O’Neill
21 Posted 23/11/2021 at 23:59:53
Still very numb. The formality & inevitability was difficult to take, even though it was, well, inevitable and deep down, expected.

Even though I have no idea who or what sort of team we will cobble together at the weekend, the optimist in me can only go along to a corner off west London with hope.

I'm still not talking to you Everton, but I will be on Sunday. I can't help myself. Addict / fool / lost cause*

*Delete as appropriate or all of the above.

Pete Clarke
22 Posted 24/11/2021 at 03:48:20
Take it easy on yourself, Danny. Go and have a beer in the Packhorse and Talbot or along the river in the Bell and Crown. Just a short walk to the game from there this weekend.

I feel your pain but you're getting to see it close up which is harder than TV.

Best wishes this weekend and hopefully the Blues can finally give you a bit of pain relief.

Jerome Shields
23 Posted 24/11/2021 at 08:31:18
Brendan #18

Okay, I was wrong. Don't follow Man City.

Just pointing out that Everton were very poor.

Brent Stephens
24 Posted 24/11/2021 at 08:57:56

"Addict / fool / lost cause* – *Delete as appropriate or all of the above."

Okay – I'll leave you with fool!

Have a good flight back. Be in touch.

Jerome Shields
25 Posted 24/11/2021 at 12:42:57
David #19,

I don't think they will win it either, but I could be wrong, as I was last year. I judge them on displays against Everton and quite frankly I see more poor football from Everton than good play from Man City. Chelsea are the main competition and look a lot better than them. By winning the Champions League, Chelsea trumped them with Premier League victory so much so I thought they hadn't won it.

Everton don't have the structure or personnel to have a model anything like Chelsea.

Tony Everan
26 Posted 25/11/2021 at 12:15:38
More concerning news this morning.

Allan injured, slight musclular injury that is disrupting his training this week. Not yet been ruled out for Brentford.

Jon Wit
27 Posted 26/11/2021 at 13:38:10
Ignoring the money spent, this is about what you'd expect from the team we can put on the pitch right now.

Perhaps with Doucouré, Calvert-Lewin, Mina and Gray (for the whole match) we'd have done a bit better – but it seems we need our best team fit to compete in the top half.

Sadly I'm looking down the table for points again rather than up – I wonder we can scrape something against Brentford.

Danny O’Neill
28 Posted 26/11/2021 at 14:07:02

It's been a problem for a few seasons now. Even when we had numbers, we struggled once you got past our first 14. Sadly that is now down to literally the first 11 or 12, depending on individual views on the centre-backs I would say.

Scratch the surface and we're bang average at best.

I appreciate that a combination of necessity to reduce costs and wages due to FFP because of the self-inflicted wound caused by reckless spending and lack of strategy plus unfortunate circumstances. But to have a part-time James Rodriguez, a hit-and-miss Bernard and yes, Sigurdsson available and in the squad right now.

Clive Rogers
29 Posted 26/11/2021 at 14:56:14
Ricky, #17, FFP is based on a club’s turnover, not debt. That is what has hit us so hard as we made a record loss of £128M. That might not be the end of it either as Simon Jordon and Jim White discussing Everton on talksport speculated that our next turnover could well be a loss of £170M. That would plunge us deeper still into FFP sanctions.
Kevin Prytherch
30 Posted 26/11/2021 at 15:21:54
Andrew 15.

I don't think 4-4-2 necessarily leaves us short in the middle, it depends on who the wide midfielders are. If the wide players play as midfielders instead of wingers then we get a compact midfield 4 which can work.

Personally I think that this can work with Townsend and Richarlison as the midfielders, they are both disciplined defensively and have the stamina to break forward.

Danny O’Neill
31 Posted 26/11/2021 at 15:46:00
But then you sacrifice width Kevin.

4-4-2 had its place at a period of time. Maybe it will again. But in my opinion, in the modern / current game, you are exposed and overrun (overloaded) by playing 2 in the middle. Either that, or like you say, sacrifice width, which is what stretches the opposition and creates space.

In honesty, the reality is that formations are fluid nowadays. We're not quite NFL, but you see formations switch as play progresses between being in possession / attacking and then getting behind the ball / defending.

Brian Hennessy
32 Posted 26/11/2021 at 15:46:47
Would there be anything to be said for saying a Mass?
Kieran Kinsella
33 Posted 26/11/2021 at 16:48:08

When I was a kid, our local parish priest (mad Everton fan) started saying weekly prayers for Everton to arrest the decline, starting in the Colin Harvey era.

As a bit of a wind-up, this priest from Oldham who'd come to town to cover his annual holiday started making us pray for Oldham who were useless at the time. On about his third visit, Oldham won promotion to the top flight that weekend.

Our lad and his Everton prayers never had such luck. He even died right before May 1995

Brian Hennessy
34 Posted 26/11/2021 at 21:11:31
Great story Kieran.

Whatever about Everton, no prayers on earth are going to help my local Waterford FC. 2-1 down in tonight's relegation playoff as we speak. Not surprising really after sacking their manager a few days before their biggest game in a decade.

This season alone would make a great book. From the appointment of Kevin Sheedy and Mike Newell at the start of the season (which turned out to be a disaster), to then going a great run and looked like avoiding the relegation playoff before fading towards the end of the season.

They make Everton look like a well run club.

Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 26/11/2021 at 21:28:43
Kieran (33), A lad I grew up with had an older brother who became a priest, he was from The Four Squares in Soho Street, a rough and ready area.

The priest's first parish was in Swansea and after a few weeks he got up in the pulpit and told his new parishioners. “Let's get one thing straight, you all think I'm from Liverpool, I'm not from Liverpool, I'm from Everton” – which was the truth as The Four Squares was in Everton.

A very nice family but Evertonians right down to their roots and couldn't stand Liverpool.

Kieran Kinsella
36 Posted 26/11/2021 at 21:35:30

It's good that he got his priorities right to get the parish on the same page. lol

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