Friday, December 15, 2017

Why reality is biting at Everton

David Nugent in Editorial, English Premier League 10 Sep 2017

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Looking at Everton’s summer transfer business it seemed the Toffees had done some excellent work. The likes of Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson looked to be solid if overpriced signings.

However, there was always this nagging doubt in Evertonian’s minds about boss Ronald Koeman not signing a striker, full-back cover and wingers. A 3-0 trouncing by an excellent Spurs team on Saturday at Goodison Park magnified those nagging doubts.

Why sign so many number tens?

The fact that Koeman brought in three players whose preferred role is the space behind the striker in Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen this summer was frankly bemusing. I thought to myself that Koeman must have some master plan here.

Some sort of out of the box thinking that would bring the best out of the trio. Unfortunately, the Dutchman had no master plan. His idea was to sign three attacking midfielders who could score goals and shoehorn them into the team.

The result is absolutely no width from the team, as the Tottenham game illustrated perfectly. The trio playing behind a striker makes the team look very impotent.

Play Sigurdsson as a number ten. It is that simple for me. Play two actual wide men either side of him, say Ademola Lookman, Kevin Mirallas, Aaron Lennon or even Sandro out wide.

The club-record signing is a proven Premier League number ten, who can score and create goals if utilised in the correct manner. He looks the best option of the three to play the role.

Rooney made a decent start to his second coming on Merseyside. However, recent events off the pitch will only affect the team negatively on it. Surely, Koeman should drop him, substitute him or jettisoned into space for the good of the team.

I am sure Klaassen will improve once he is accustomed to the Premier League. He is never going to have an effect on the game out wide. He is simply not that sort of player. Koeman playing his compatriot out of position is not doing him any favours at all.

One quality that all three number tens in the Everton squad lack is pace. The whole of the Toffees team lacks it. Maybe Koeman needs to make up with Mirallas, give Lennon a chance or play the England under-21 World Cup winner Lookman.

Where is our striker?

Why did Everton not find a replacement for Romelu Lukaku long before he left for Manchester United? It was obvious to most observers that the striker was leaving, so why did the Toffees not replace him?

Only Koeman and director of football Steve Walsh can answer those questions. Everton brought in young Spanish striker Sandro for less than £6million in the summer. The Toffees also brought in ageing Wayne Rooney on a free transfer.

Evertonian’s were hoping that neither of these was a replacement for Lukaku. However, in true Everton bumbling style, it seems they were the replacement for the big Belgian international.

Rooney has not been capable of playing up front since his mid-twenties and even then, his best position was arguably as a number ten. Despite his bright start to his second stint at Goodison Park, he should not be a first-team regular.

Sandro, on the other hand, is a highly rated young striker, who was prolific in Spain last season for an average Malaga team. At 22, he will take time to adapt to the Premier League. It would also be helpful if he got some service, as it seems that Everton have forgotten how to create actual chances on goal.

The Toffees best option up front now is young Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The 20-year-old has shown the most promise out of the current crop of Everton strikers. Last season the youngster came in for some stick, but that was because Koeman insisted on playing him out wide.

As he has proven at junior level for England, his best position is as a central striker. The youngster has the ability to hold the ball up and has pace. Calvert-Lewin also seems full of confidence after winning the under-20 World Cup with his country during the summer.

For me, play the lad up front until the January transfer window. Then sign an established striker to take the burden of responsibility off his shoulders.

Everton are not top six contenders on that performance

Everton were handed the most unkind fixture list possible at the start of the Premier League. The only thing worse would have been if the Toffees had had to play Liverpool as well. It is very early in the season and they do have a host of new players.

However, Everton fans have rightful concerns at the moment. The Merseysiders considered by many as top six contenders this season (something they are odds of 9/2 to achieve)are performing more like a team likely to be fighting against the drop this season.

The Toffees are unlikely to be in the relegation battle this season. However, the Merseysiders need their team to gel quickly or there will be many more questions about Koeman’s ability to get the best out of his expensively assembled squad.

This season was never going to be an easy one for Everton after all the changes in playing personnel. However, the Tottenham defeat was a touch of reality for the previously optimistic Evertonian’s.

Are Everton genuine contenders for the top-six this season?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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