A few weeks ago, when Everton had gone seven games unbeaten under Sam Allardyce, I penned an article imploring him, that having apparently righted the defensive wrongs in double quick time, to embrace fully what Everton is or should again be about… attacking, offensive, expressive football.
Since then, Everton have taken just one point from four league games and exited the FA Cup to ‘them’ across the park.
Sam Allardyce recently told the Liverpool Echo, why he couldn’t say no to the chance of managing Everton Football Club.
He said, “If you’ve worked in football all your life, you know what Everton is like, but all the lads I know who played for Everton – Peter Reid, Andy Gray, Paul Bracewell, Adrian Heath, Graeme Sharp, Joe Royle – the way they talk about the club, you’re desperate to be a part of that. I couldn’t have turned Everton down. I just couldn’t.”
In a nutshell Sam you said you get us and then you go utterly the opposite direction in the aftermath of the Wembley loss to Spurs by suggesting the performance was “too adventurous for my team and we need to be more boring.”
Quite how does being ‘more boring’ marry up with ‘you know what Everton is like’ ?
I’m pretty certain, no I know for a god-damned fact that there are a growing number of Evertonians, especially match-going Evertonians, who are becoming increasingly concerned and downright angry about the nature of our team play since the draw with Chelsea before Christmas.
We look utterly devoid of a game plan, other than long ball tactics that our squad is patently not suited to, not one iota. Furthermore Evertonians don’t want to watch long ball football, it’s not what we’ve grown up watching and appreciating and it sure as hell isn’t the type of football that has made Everton into the fourth most successful club in England.
I struggled to believe what I saw throughout most of the West Brom game and particularly during that turgid first half. Long balls played up field to Cenk Tosun up against Dawson and Hegazy – quite frankly, mindless and ludicrous tactics.
Tosun is brand new to the league, making his home debut after the shellacking by Spurs, desperate to impress his new home fans and saddled with competing in the air against big, physical defenders.
Seeing Ashley Williams fire a 40-50 yard ball in the air towards Theo Walcott – the smallest player on the pitch – midway through that terrible first half beggared belief.
I wonder what Theo was thinking throughout that first half?
As an Arsenal player, whenever he received the ball he would have looked up and had at least two options available to him in terms of team mates to pass to as well as the willingness to go on his own, take on a defender, beat him and cross or shoot.
Against West Brom first half, he inevitably found his only outlet to be a backward pass to Jonjoe Kenny – welcome to 2018 Everton Theo.
West Brom could hardly believe their luck. A team of smaller players humping the ball up in the air was meat and drink to them. They looked cool, calm and composed. We, quite frankly, looked ridiculous.
Didn’t one of Sam Allardyce, Sammy Lee, Craig Shakespeare, Duncan Ferguson or our Director of Football have the nous to consider playing on the green stuff beneath the layers feet – the carpet, the deck, the floor, the grass for heavens sake… the place where football should be played, not the bloody stratosphere.
Right now Sam, you’re going to continue to get flak if we continue to play as aimlessly and poorly as that and you cannot deny said flak won’t be warranted.
But the major issue facing Everton on the playing field is the chaotic transfer dealings of last summer and this January window so far that still sees the squad with one, just one left back – the ageing, slowing, nothing like as effective since Steven Pienaar left and currently injured, Leighton Baines.
How on God’s green earth can a club of the size of Everton knowingly start a season of four competitions with only one left back?
And that ridiculous state of affairs, this almost criminal dereliction of duty, abdication of responsibility presided over by Ronald Koeman and Steve Walsh and continuing under you Sam, has been compounded by the need to play Cuco Martina at left back since Baines went down with injury.
Martina was clearly signed last summer as a stop-gap right back and has been somewhat unfairly thrust into the opposite side where he’s patently badly out of his comfort zone.
I give Cuco every credit for giving it his best shot week in, week out while the club doesn’t have another left back available. He could have cried off with a fictitious injury and taken the money – he hasn’t and he’s getting pilloried by some fans for the failure of the summer transfer window to address a situation he’s far from being suited to be the resolution.
Everton Football Club knowingly started this season with just one left back, one!!!
Maybe Ronald Koeman was prepared to take that chance, but how the hell can Steve Walsh, a man labelled as a Director of Football, have agreed or permitted such a pathetic situation to exist and continue to exist?
But let’s return to right now and the rubbish we’ve watched since Christmas Day.
Precious few shots either on target on not… four straight losses… an FA Cup exit… highly questionable team selections with no continuity other Jordan Pickford in goal and Cuco Martina out of position at left back… why the hell are we still deploying two defensive midfielders at Goodison?
Sam, we’ve got fourteen games to get the thirteen points to attain the magical forty points for Premier League status assured for next season point. If you’re going to persist with chopping and changing the side, long ball tactics and so many players appearing at a total loss as to what the game plan is – and this assumes there genuinely is one – then get yourself some armour plating as the flak coming your way is only going to intensify.
What’s worrying for me and thousands of Blues is you/we have got all this attacking talent, millions of pounds worth, and it looks with every passing game as though you and the coaching team haven’t got any idea of how to play them.
None of them are bad players, but it’s your jobs to get the very best out of every single one of them and right now, you’re failing yourselves, the club, the supporters and the players themselves.
In the FA Cup tie, you gave Ademola Lookman 38 minutes to try and worry Liverpool and he did exactly that, just what the doctor ordered. He got at them, at pace, with width, with tenacity and we looked – all too fleetingly – a completely different proposition.
So, having proved he can trouble the opposition on a big stage why on earth haven’t we seen him since?
Fans want to be excited and Ademola Lookman is arguably the single most exciting player on our books right now – play him for heavens sake and give us something to excite and invigorate us.
And while we’re talking about individual players, let’s bring up Davy Klaassen.
A goalscoring captain of Ajax as shown above Klaassen was signed, ostensibly, to be a box-to-box, ball carrying midfielder; exactly the type of player we haven’t had since Ross Barkley got injured and we’ve now sold him. Klaassen has played just 604 minutes this season and his last two full games were a September Carabao Cup tie against Sunderland and the final Europa League game away in Cyprus.
When are we going to find out if Davy Klaassen has any kind of genuine future with Everton Football Club?
These are just a few of the hundreds of questions welling up within every Evertonian Sam, and you’re tasked with providing answers. You can choose to answer verbally if you wish, but we’d far rather you answer by selecting a side to play with some desire, playing attacking, offensive football starting a week on Wednesday.
We don’t want to see the ball humped upfield more in hope than any genuine anticipation but neither do we want to see fifteen sideways and backwards passes taking five minutes before we reach the halfway line.
We’ve got players with a massive array of skills and talents – sort it out for heaven’s sake, and we want more than thirteen points from the remaining fourteen games!!