If you don’t shoot, you can’t score. And if you don’t score, you can’t win matches. It really is that blindingly obvious and simple. As such, that would usually go without saying, but, having failed to register a single shot in the second half at Tottenham on Saturday, Everton somehow contrived to go another 90 minutes managing just one effort towards goal in this demoralising defeat at Newcastle.

In amongst the quest for success and silverware, football is supposed to be about entertainment. For those poor souls who made the trip to either the Capital or the North East in the last few days, Frank Lampard’s Blues offered almost nothing to make the journey worthwhile. For those who made both trips, may you be rewarded somehow in the afterlife for your unrequited devotion!

There was precious little to entertain in this match for the travelling Blues and Everton’s dearth of attacking threat is becoming extremely worrying, in the sense that it could become one of those psychological millstones around the team’s collective neck.

Apart from James Garner's late, curling cross-cum-shot, Lampard’s men haven’t managed an effort on target since Alex Iwobi’s 5th-minute goal against Manchester United three games and almost four and a half hours of action ago. It beggars belief that is even possible and yet Everton have managed it and it’s going to require urgent attention from the manager and his coaching staff.

Some of it is to do with confidence but there also seems to be a concerning lack of a plan or organisation about Everton in the final third. To their credit, they took whatever Lampard said at half-time to heart and improved markedly on what was a dire first half for much of the second… at least until Iwobi was mystifyingly substituted and Dominic Calvert-Lewin made way as expected with 20 minutes left.

The Blues controlled the possession for spells in the first 25 minutes after the interval, at times dominantly so, and yet they failed to create anything. A couple of through-balls almost put Calvert-Lewin in and there was a close offside decision that robbed the visitors of a rare shot on target but, in general, Lampard’s side were painfully poor around the Newcastle box.

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While Calvert-Lewin was the target of just one cross from open play, the striker did manage to get his head to a corner in the 26th minute but he couldn’t keep it down and, in the final reckoning, it was the only time Everton remotely threatened Nick Pope in the Newcastle goal.

Instead, it was the home side who carried all the threat in the first half as the visitors were overrun in midfield and both Bruno Guimaraes and Jacob Murphy tried their luck from outside the box in the early stages.

The Magpies were playing the better football and when Amadou Onana lost the ball in weak fashion near the touchline, Eddie Howe’s team worked the ball into the opposition box where Guimaraes laid it off to Almiron and he finessed it over Jordan Pickford and into the top corner from 18 yards out.

Fabian Schär forced Pickford to bat the ball behind from close range 10 minutes before the break either side of two close efforts from Guimaraes, the Brazilian setting himself before dragging a shot wide and then trying to place a side-foot effort inside the post but missed by inches as Everton’s defence backed off.

Dan Burn flashed a header wide as Newcastle continued to threaten at the end of the half before Anthony Gordon tumbled in the box under the big defender’s challenge at the other end, sparking a melée that ended with the winger being booked along with Schär.

Lampard’s half-time team talk seemed to have a positive effect on his players who came out of the interval with much better stewardship of the ball and the possession metrics to match but it didn’t produce anything in the final third.

A few openings presented themselves early in the second half, not least when Demarai Gray drove to the byline for the first time but Iwobi couldn’t deal with his centre while other moves ended up going down blind alleys.

Meanwhile, Almiron tried to repeat his goal-scoring exploits from the first period but swept over the bar before Idrissa Gueye was forced to cover for another personal error by pulling Callum Wilson back to prevent the striker from racing away at Pickford’s goal, picking up a booking in the process.

Lampard withdrew Calvert-Lewin and Iwobi in favour of Maupay and James Garner with 20 minutes to go and then replaced Gray with Dwight McNeil but that only served to further blunt a completely ineffective forward line and the Blues would fail to land a glove on their hosts for the remainder of the contest.

With the likes of Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin missing, man for man, Newcastle weren’t that much better than Everton but they were better organised, played the better football and exhibited far superior movement and purpose.

In Guimaraes, they have a match-winner — a gifted player with the self-belief to go with it — and in Almiron, Howe has a player playing with confidence at the top of his game. Lampard has players at his disposal who could provide the same but the challenge will be how to knit it all together into a coherent attacking unit.

For now, he’s almost as far away from that as he could possibly be and, while the January transfer window may provide an opportunity to inject some potency, in the meantime, there are vital points to be won before the season pauses for the World Cup.

This article incorrectly stated that Everton hadn't had a shot on target since the 5th minute against Manchester United and has been amended accordingly.

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Reader Comments (28)

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Tony Everan
1 Posted 20/10/2022 at 07:28:41
We've now got four Premier League games and one cup game before the World Cup break. Every one of these games is winnable.

We need to press a reset button and get back to how we were a couple of weeks ago, optimistic and confident, faith in our progress.

These last three matches have been tough games but it has been the manner of defeat that is worrying. We have offered nothing offensively for hours on end. This is how crises start.

Zero threat gives the opposition confidence to attack with more numbers, you are always under pressure and chances are – no matter how good the defence is –you leak a goal.

We are missing Patterson's dynamism and energy, we look a better team with him in it. For now, we need to change things in how we play, we are getting snuffed out too easily before we can even start to think about creating anything.

Any attacks are shot at birth. That is a sure sign of dysfunction in the set up, Frank has to find solutions and fast.

Our wingers are playing like firefighting midfielders, so I'd seriously consider dropping both and going for a hybrid 4-4-2 system with Maupay playing off Calvert-Lewin, bringing Garner into midfield and using Iwobi as an attacking midfielder.

I think this set-up will have far more potential to get us some hard-fought wins. It also gives some options to change the game from the bench during the last 30 minutes, when there will be more space for our currently ineffective wingers to ply their trade. Until we have Patterson back and more attacking quality, something has to give.

Jim Bennings
2 Posted 20/10/2022 at 07:30:04
Absolutely dross, that was.

Year-in & year-out, it feels like Everton trying to find an exciting attacking team is akin to finding the whereabouts of Lord Lucan.

Each year it's the same dysfunctional broken rubbish with more millions spent on players that either can't pass a football, can't attack, and can't shoot.

More millions spent on McNeil, Maupay and Onana, not one looks like offering the solution to what we really needed going forward.

Apart from the centre-backs, and Nathan Patterson when he's back fit, we could do with marked improvement – signings in all other areas.

The left-back, Mykolenko, is bang average, not a modern-day full-back; he's a semi-competent defender but crossing the halfway line, his limitations are grossly exposed.

Gordon in front of him is the most overrated player I think I've seen in 30 years.

Apart from running about a lot last season, pretending that he was making more things happen than he actually did, I just can't subscribe to the hype.
What does he do?

Does he put loads of great crosses in?
Has he got a particularly hard shot?

Then you have Gray on the opposite flank, another one that gets the ball and is fast becoming so predictable and a one-trick pony, it's easy to see why his career has been what is has been at the age of 25.

Middle of the park, you have no kind of cohesion. Gana is doing the work of two men because Onana is basically so undisciplined at what he's supposed to be doing, and at 33, Gana can't do that.

Another thing with Onana, why does he keep hitting the deck? You are a big man, lad… if you want to hurt the opposition, then get on the ball and start making your physical stature count!

People think it will improve when Calvert-Lewin is fit; it won't. All we'll do is hit high balls at him with nobody anywhere near in support.

I really think Frank has his work cut out here. Hopefully he can turn the tide of rank mediocrity; however, we've been driven down the same road too many times, haven't we?

It usually always ends the same way.

Rick Tarleton
3 Posted 20/10/2022 at 07:41:51
The first two sentences say all that is needed to be said.

Everton are playing to draw nil-nil. If we are really lucky, we might sneak a breakaway or setpiece goal.

We often have possession, but rarely is it the kind of possession which threatens to break down the opposition's defence, it is simply possession for its own sake.

Our wingers constantly are attempting to move inside, so that rarely does anyone go down the outside and centre the ball. So Calvert-Lewin's strengths, when he plays, are totally negated – not by the opposition, but by our setup and style of play.

We need a player who can control the midfield rather than players who are there mainly to restrict the opposition's midfield. Who that player might be, I have no idea!

Watching Everton is depressing. On Saturday, I shall make one of my rare trips to Liverpool and watching Everton live is, of course, part of my agenda. I'd love to see them score, but am not totally convinced that that is possible unless something changes.

Incidentally, it will be my 350th game since my first one in 1953-54. COYB

Jim Bennings
4 Posted 20/10/2022 at 07:44:16
As I said in summer, when we sold Richarlison, we were selling 10 goals out of a team that couldn't score many goals even then.

We signed Maupay but he was used to a totally different brand of football, all intricate and on the ground at Brighton and based mostly on attacking.

At Everton, someone clearly didn't tell him that 'attack' is a forbidden word these days.

Not only didn't we replace Richarlison's goals and work ethic, we haven't even replaced the fella that was suspended for a year (he who cannot be named).

We didn't replace his goals or James Rodriguez's creativity.

Mick Roberts
5 Posted 20/10/2022 at 07:57:24
For all those who said Lampard's tactics were spot on against Spurs and should do so again against Newcastle. Well, he did with ultimately a loss again with one attempt on goal in 90 minutes for fuck's sake!

So I shall repeat what I said: you win very few matches by sitting back. Unfortunately, it looks like Lampard. doesn't understand that.

Ian Hollingworth
6 Posted 20/10/2022 at 08:21:05
There has to be changes for Palace.

Gray and Gordon just run blindly with the ball and 99% of the time they lose it or nothing comes from it.

The left-back needs resting as he has been poor.

Coleman also needs to be replaced and until Patterson is fit, maybe try Holgate there?

Surely Frank will not persevere with the same players and tactics?

David Bromwell
7 Posted 20/10/2022 at 08:46:21
Well, yet another very poor team display which is so difficult to watch.

One of the basics of any football team is the ability to pass the ball, and this Everton team are unable to do this. As a consequence, I find it difficult to recall when we last played three or four successful passes in sequence.

Our current game plan seems to be long passes out of defence, a scramble for the ball further upfield, followed by a misplaced pass or a booking for one of our players.

I am with those who argue for a change in formation, and for the moment at least, forget about using wingers.

Bolstering the midfield would perhaps offer some much-needed protection for Onana, who clearly has some talent but we are really asking too much of him in the present system; hence his mistakes.

Also, on last night's showing, young Gordon is a very lucky young man, whose record this season is I think 2 goals and 6 bookings. He needs to forget the hair dye and get back to basics – and quickly.

Michael Connelly
8 Posted 20/10/2022 at 09:30:04
I would strongly recommend Everton fans getting into Fantasy Premier League.

Last night, Trippier and Pope got me 15 points, which helped me deal with such an impotent performance.

Newcastle are strong to give them credit.

Michael Lynch
9 Posted 20/10/2022 at 09:32:05
I see us as a bit like how UK politics is going.

We've had utter chaos and incompetence over the past few years, culminating in Rafa as our Liz Truss.

Now we've got Keir Starmer in charge – steady, reliable, less toxic, but no big ideas to move us forward and no money available, leading to a slower, kinder, but no less inevitable decline.

Mark Palmer
10 Posted 20/10/2022 at 09:47:46
Ever watched those YouTube Everton training videos? We look amazing!

Dazzling thoroughbreds in action. Fast intricate passing... and the goals? Amazing. It's like they never miss.

They're smashing them in from all angles leaving the ‘keeper with no chance.

Then Saturday comes… (or Wednesday, in this case).

Note to Frank: can we play in hi-viz bibs against Palace?

Charles Brewer
11 Posted 20/10/2022 at 10:18:49
Mark, you can do wonderful things on film with modern green screen techniques. Tiny women can beat up huge blokes, ordinary people (well, women) can jump 30 feet into the air and defeat large numbers of armed men, they can also jump off high buildings and land on the ground completely unharmed.

With modern techniques, you could easily put Maupay's head on Maradona's body, or map Calvert-Lewin's body onto Haaland's.

Unfortunately, we don't have a Tom Cruise who actually does his own stunts - or even real stunt men (in wigs) who can fall off high buildings onto large piles of cardboard boxes. We've just got a collection of Amazon Galadriels.

Barry Rathbone
12 Posted 20/10/2022 at 10:40:50
The trouble is, when you buy one-dimensional players, their flaws get exposed very quickly in this league. The reality, resultant of BMD and previous crazy moves by Moshori, is the pot is again empty – ergo, that's all we can afford.

The saving grace is there appears enough improvement to stay out of the Bottom 3 but we shouldn't be surprised by defeats against Man Utd, Spurs and Newcastle Utd – all have better squads than ours.

Kevin Prytherch
13 Posted 20/10/2022 at 11:07:53
Despite the last 2 performances, let's still take some positives…

Our defence has improved beyond compare

We are far more difficult to beat, or less likely to get battered

Out of our 5 defeats - 4 are somewhat expected.

The acid test is the next 4 games. If we get through these unbeaten and pick up 2 or 3 wins, we'll be okay.

Spencer Lynch
14 Posted 20/10/2022 at 11:31:15
As an 82-year veteran of supporting this wonderful club through thick and thin, I'm now at a loss to witness, after the club spending many millions, such an inept performance by so-called professional footballers.

We had last season's mostly farcical football, the highlight of which was avoiding relegation. Why can no-one pass a ball correctly?

Why does a certain winger dodge any tackle and always fail to intercept an opponent's obvious pass whilst waving his arms?

Why has the back-pass become Everton's first-choice move?

Dear, oh dear... will I ever see again “The School of Science” from latter years?

Woe is me.


Jim Bennings
15 Posted 20/10/2022 at 12:04:03
Conor Coady and James Tarkowski are the only two players at the moment that are stopping us from getting the same shellings we had last season, conceding threes and fours in one half.

That's about how fine the line is.

We just have to hope they stay injury free.

John Hammond
16 Posted 20/10/2022 at 12:38:00
Once Newcastle scored, it was like the players had given up in that first half. Poor pass after poor pass, hit and hope.

Gordon seems to have lost all his confidence. I lost count how many times in the first half he got the ball on the wing and then stopped and passed back.

Onana is far too casual at times and, for their goal, he got tackled having a lovely jog in the middle of the park when he should've been busting a gut carrying it forward.

The only positive was the defence. Using passing triangles to play out from the back really worked.

Jim Bennings
17 Posted 20/10/2022 at 13:01:22
John @16,

I think Frank needs to be smart regarding Onana and take him out for a few games and give Garner a go.

We need some controlled possession in that midfield area and right now it's just bouncing around with nobody showing the slightest bit of composure or responsibility.

I said a few weeks ago, I see similarities with Onana and when Fellaini first arrived here (although Fellaini looked a far greater technical footballer to be fair).

Moyes had the nous to move him out of the battlefield where he was getting destroyed for a while and pushed him up behind the striker, and it seemed to ease his transition stage.

It may or may not work with Onana but at least show you are trying.

I haven't really seen any savvy moves from Lampard yet and in some ways that concerns me because, in this league, when you have little to play with, you need to be clever.

Sam Allardyce did the exact same in 2017 when he first arrived, simplified the game and starting putting regular points on the board.

Frank needs to learn this fast because I really don't want to see him getting thrown under the bus, and that seems the way we are heading at present.

Brian Murray
18 Posted 20/10/2022 at 13:08:49
Frank getting slightly a bit Martinez, saying we played through the lines. Watching a different game from me.

Please tell them to stay on their feet, it shows weakness and away crowds jump on that. Onana holding his head and Gray and Gordon going down is embarrassing.

Grow a pair, lads.

Ian Bennett
19 Posted 20/10/2022 at 13:11:54
Jim, with respect, Fellaini was pretty poor in his opening games. We all thought he was a dud at first – slow, poor touch, undisciplined. Moyes moved him around the pitch, and that unlocked his potential. MK will confirm I am sure.

I would play Onana further forward. We are coughing up possession far too easily across the team, so if he's in the team – let him win it in the final third.

Everyone seems desperate to get Garner in the team. For me, it's Gordon or Gray that come out. Neither are scoring or assisting and that's their job. When they have an opportunity to shoot or put a cross in, they either chicken out or it's terrible fare.

Jim Bennings
20 Posted 20/10/2022 at 13:44:32

I agree, mate, that's what I've said about Onana.

I don't think he's good enough at the minute for midfield, there are too many teams in this league that won't give you a second on the ball and he is getting caught like a rabbit in the headlights.

If he must remain on the pitch, then push him behind Calvert-Lewin or Maupay whoever, and tell him to simply make a nuisance of himself.

As we say, it worked with Fellaini, first season was too much in midfield but he walked away with 9 goals to his name and after that he adapted to his preferred role.

Michael Kenrick
21 Posted 20/10/2022 at 15:12:48

While proof-reading your report (sorry, lifetime obsession), I agreed that Newcastle weren't really that much better than Everton but I had to look twice at the claim made in reference to Guimares and Almiron, that "Lampard has pieces at his disposal who could provide the same." (I changed pieces to players!)

Does he, though?

Yes, each of Maupay, Gray and McNeil have put their laces through the ball to score, but each only once so far this season in 11 Premier League games, and we're approaching one-third of the season gone already.

I haven't checked to see how many goals Guimares and Almiron have scored but I just don't think we have that calibre of firepower.

Trevor Peers
22 Posted 20/10/2022 at 15:49:05
It can be cruel at times, being manager of Everton, especially if your hands are tied financially. Lampard has been far from perfect with his tactics and there's question marks over his game management, but the lack of finances provided to him has been one of his biggest downfalls.

The fact is, no manager in the world could have come in after Benitez and be expected to have sorted the club out by this stage given our financial state of affairs. One thing he could do is sort out the best way of scoring goals and that can't be by playing Gordon and Gray with Calvert-Lewin up the front.

That just doesn't work on any level, neither Gordon or Gray can cross the ball to provide quality service to Calvert-Lewin or score enough goals themselves, so playing this trio will inevitably leave us goalless in most games they play together.

Lampard needs to get someone down the flanks who can create chances, or buy someone in the next window who can. If that means selling a few players like Gordon and Gray, then so be it. It may be our only chance of climbing out of the Bottom 6 and avoiding the spectre of relegation.

Tony Everan
23 Posted 20/10/2022 at 16:31:55

Almiron 4 goals in 10 games

Guinnessmares 2 goals 1 assist in 7 games

Danny O’Neill
24 Posted 20/10/2022 at 17:37:52
Concerning statistics those, Michael.

I see even Lyndon can't escape the MK spooling and grammar police!!!!

Keep up the good work.

Anthony Hawkins
25 Posted 20/10/2022 at 19:35:57
A behaviour I noticed increasingly happening in the last few games is the passing backwards. I don't get it.

Previous games, there's been the odd backwards pass, resulting in Pickford receiving the ball, but the last few games, it's become almost a ritual. If you pass backwards, you're going the wrong way.

Also seen in the game against Newcastle was 4 passes back and forth between two defenders to end up playing the ball out. Why? Get rid of it!

The players are trying too hard and they were far more comfortable with the simple stuff. Why not keep it that way?

I always get nervous when defenders start scoring in games where forwards don't. I'm all for the rest of the team pitching in on the goals – it's a team game after all! In recent games, the strikers just haven't had the service so it takes a marauding defender to take up the baton.

In our case, the backwards passing results in nothing in the final third and stealing a goal where we can. When did that become our number one tactic?

Ben King
26 Posted 20/10/2022 at 22:21:53
Being an Everton fan really is a labour of love. It's mostly boring, turgid football. Generally at least an annual shoeing from our loveable neighbours and most recently, the boring 6th to 16th finishes have been replaced by relegation drama and fears.

At least Leeds play fast and energetic football. Fulham seem to attack with numbers. Leicester (who are also down there) had the temerity to win the bloody thing (and the FA Cup to boot).

West Ham have wild seasons but generally have flair players. Southampton are turd but never seen in real danger and they seem to regularly produce youth gems.

Now don't get me wrong: we've also produced Hibbert and Osman. We've thrown in a few semi-finals. We've even had superstars that loved the club and had to be prised away (Big Rom, Ross Barkley, Carlo Magnifico) but generally it's year-in & year-out of dross.

Not many clubs have a £50M player they a) couldn't use and b) couldn't sell. Not many clubs have a wonderful benefactor that happens to be an Oligarch of sanctioned state. Even fewer clubs manage to sail the tightrope of FFP – simultaneously being threatened with court action whilst procuring luminary greats for £30M (McNeil, Maupay) in areas of the field we needed less than a bona fide goalscorer.

Just as we never replaced Big Rom, we've not replaced Richarlison nor Sigurdsson.

Just as we have no ‘brain' in the team (a playmaker, a Mikel Arteta type player to direct the attacks and dictate the tempo), we seemingly have a lack of a brain upstairs. Sure, the recruitment was good but did we need each of Onana, Gana and Garner (to add to Davies, Doucoure, Iwobi) more than we needed a striker or midfielder? As we saw from Maupay's goal vs West Ham, a goal changes a game. (I like Maupay but play him in his best position in a style that suits him so he can get 10 goals a season.)

Yes, this is a rant because we change the managers, we change the players, but nothing actually changes: the football is (across the season) crap. The finish is crap, and the direction of travel is uninspiring.

Why is the football always so one-paced? Why do we never beat Liverpool? Why do we always lack energy? Why don't we flood the box with players? Why don't we play front-foot football knowing we'll lose some but win some too? Why don't we ever twat any teams? Not even lower-division teams? We're just as likely to lose to them than win 4-0.

Why don't our midfielders ever drive towards the goal or run ahead of the strikers?

Why are we so shit?

Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 20/10/2022 at 22:50:23
It's not a labour Ben. It's a privilege.

Leeds spent about 15 years outside the top flight and came closer to the drop last year than we did; last day survival.

Manchester City dropped to the 3rd tier and only a very late injury time winner recovered their longer term fortunes otherwise they could easily have stayed there.

Fulham and Leicester are traditionally yo-yo clubs. I believe Everton are only one of 3 current top flight clubs who haven't been relegated in my life time (born 1971), despite flying close to the wind on 3 occasions.

I get the sentiment, but to suddenly suspect they are better because of a couple of results and performances doesn't resonate with me. It's what you do over time that counts.

Ben King
28 Posted 20/10/2022 at 23:45:22
Danny #27

I get that but it's all rather drab, isn't it, mate? Dross… every damn season.

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