Everton’s Attitude Problem

Bare. Bear with me. I’m not a writer. I’ve wrote written about 5 opinion articles since setting up GrandOldTeam way back in 2007, with the last coming 17 months ago. I leave the words to Evertonians significantly more articulate and informed than myself so thank you for humouring me with a read here.

This Everton team have an attitude problem.

That’s not just the opinion of this disgruntled Evertonian – it’s the opinion of clubs manager and captain.

Let’s go back to last year.

Everton are comfortably beaten 3-0 by Wolves.

The level of performance prompted Seamus Coleman and Carlo Ancelotti to deliver a scathing assessment on the players attitude.

Seamus Coleman: “I think it was down to [the fact] they wanted it more, which I think is the biggest embarrassment for players, that’s it’s possible the other team wanted it more than you. As individuals in the dressing room and as a Club, we need to be expecting better. We need to have a look at ourselves. Every time we go out and play for this Football Club, it’s got to mean something and – at Tottenham [a 1-0 defeat on Monday] and here today – it didn’t look that way. Sometimes you can look at the ins and outs of tactics or why we didn’t get the ball to the attacking players but sometimes it comes down to commitment and desire and wanting it more than the opposition.  The lads really need to dig in, myself included, get our heads down or that won’t be good enough for this manager. There are no hiding places. Around the place we need more commitment on a daily basis. We can’t keep hiding behind managers. We’ve hid behind managers long enough”

Let’s just dissect those comments.

This is an Everton captain telling the world…

  • … his team lost because of the ‘fact’ the other team wanted to win more.
  • … his team have hid behind managers for a long time.
  • … his team don’t have commitment or desire.
  • … his teammates don’t show enough commitment on a daily basis.
  • … his teammates are unprofessional.

Following up Seamus Coleman’s words that day, was Carlo Ancelotti: “We didn’t show good spirit. More than the technical and tactical aspect, which was not good enough, the spirit of the team was unacceptable. We have to prepare for the game [against Villa] and work differently and have a different attitude. I said to the players, ‘This attitude is not acceptable to me”

Pretty condemning.

That word. ‘Attitude’

Who started with such an unacceptable attitude that day?

Pickford. Keane. Mina. Digne. Walcott. Davies. Sigurdsson. Gordon. Baines. Richarlison. Calvert-Lewin.

How many remain at the club? How many start week in, week out? How many of them know they can be dire for 10 games on the bounce but still start?

Just a few weeks after that performance, Everton put in another shocker. Last game of the season. ‘Nothing to play for’. Even with stinging criticism ringing in their ears – the players evidently didn’t fancy it and went ahead and lost 3-1 to relegated Bournemouth. Ancelotti, again criticised the players’ lacklustre attitude and later revealed he told his players to come back with better attitude next season.

Unfortunately, the attitude of these Everton players has continued to stink for large parts of this season. Tremendous away form when the players have raised their game has added to the frustration of such gutless performances at home.

Everton 0-1 Leeds United
Everton 0-1 West Ham United
Everton 0-2 Newcastle United
Everton 0-2 Fulham
Everton 1-2 Burnley
Everton 1-2 Aston Villa
Everton 0-1 Sheffield United

After a fair few of those games, post match comment has remained focussed around attitude. Take Newcastle;

Carlo Ancelotti: “Disappointed. Frustrated. We lost an opportunity. The reason was quite clear – Newcastle showed more spirit than us. They won a lot of duals, they won a lot of second balls – we gave them presents with a lot of corners. We have quality but without spirit, you are unable to show your quality. It’s not difficult, just switch on your mental attitude. We are not happy. The key point was that we didn’t have the same spirit as Newcastle. Today, we forgot our spirit. We left it at home. We tried to play with quality but in this game, in all games to just try to play with quality isn’t enough. You have to sacrifice, concentration, motivation, ambition – we forgot this today”

It’s that word again that really strikes a chord. Attitude.

It was used yet again by Ancelotti, repeatedly to various media outlets following yesterday’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United;

Jordan Pickford also condemned his own team’s attitude;

It’s often a lazy comment, made in anger from fans to accuse footballers of lacking attitude.

“Bottlers, frauds, Everton, that!” has long been directed at this core of Everton players, before frustration turns to the easiest quick fix option – the manager.

This time, the manager is Carlo Ancelotti. One of the most successful managers in world football, having won 20 trophies including league titles in four different countries and the Champions League three times.

Unlike previous Everton managers, who the club’s captain without prompt, declared his teammates all hid behind – it’s harder to hide behind a manager with such credentials in the game.

Carlo Ancelotti isn’t infallible. No Everton manager gets a free pass. He’s been here 17 months now and there’s no style of play. I do accept his pragmatism explanation – he’s repeatedly said the style of play will come when he brings in better players but I’d be lying if I said I look forward to watching this Everton team. The player’s attitude problem also inevitably reflects on him – hence his public acknowledgement of being embarrassed. Why are they downing tools on him at regular intervals? Why aren’t they wanting to show commitment on the pitch? He takes the plaudits after wins at Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham and so he can take criticism for the nine home league defeats.

But before fans begin to think about pilling on the manager – I suggest we consider that frequent word from manager, captain and senior players – attitude.

Evidently, Carlo Ancelotti has a winning attitude. He’s won more than every player we have combined. And then some.

For a very long time now, ‘Everton fume’ has been directed at player mentality. Or… attitude.

It’s going to take longer than 17 months, and 4 transfers in Allan, Doucoure, Godfrey and Rodriguz to banish ‘Everton, that’… isn’t it?

There’s been talk of Real Madrid wanting Carlo Ancelotti to return. Personally, I’d be gutted if he left. I wouldn’t miss most of these Everton players. Those players who lack decorum and share their private jet lifestyles in the midst of a crippling pandemic. Players who cherry pick and share their personal stats to prove they were the best Everton player on the pitch with a WhoScore of 6/10 after a woeful defeat. Players who laugh and pull tongues after making a mistake when we’re 2-0 down. Players who square up and front other Everton players preparing to take a penalty. Players who put themselves first. Players with attitude problems.

An Everton manager, captain and senior players explaining defeats as the other team wanting to win more has become standard.

We have a manager who embodies the clubs motto, we don’t have the players. He’s brought four in, and his first full season has been the oddest in living memory. Give him time to resolve Everton’s attitude problem.

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‘give him time to resolve Everton’s problems’. This really, all day long. If not him then who? Because these problems do not go away upon a change in manager, that’s been proven multiple times now

Reply 31 Likes

Would happily see some of them dropped for youth players on Wednesday. Just not arsed.

Reply 16 Likes

My worry is 4 of the starting 11 last night were Carlo's signings. Some of the others players like Pickford, Digne, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin you'd think will probably be in Carlo's first XI next season too. So is it really down to 3 players (Coleman, Keane and Holgate)?

The attitude is definitely missing but there's way more issues than that here. We went from playing attractive attacking football at the start of the season to this utterly turgid, negative, passive style of play. With the same players.

Reply 7 Likes

There needs to be a root and branch clear out of the playing staff
Young hungry players with a point to prove and a few experienced heads to help them along
We have the experienced players now we need a few more like Godfrey or give it 2 years and he will be gone

Reply 11 Likes

If you keep playing the same players that fail you then you can expect failure.
Absolutely nothing to lose in playing 4/5 youth players and everything to gain.

Reply 7 Likes

I wouldn’t even know what youth players to put in. Most of them seem to be injured which is another huge problem at Everton. I’m not sure what’s happened to Nkonkou.

Reply 2 Likes

Dunno either. Whitaker? Small?

Can't keep rewarding failure, dropping them for whomever would send a message.

Reply 3 Likes

My worry too.

Doucoure and Rodriguez don't look match fit to me.

Reply 4 Likes

Bang on for me

We complain about stinking as a club for years, even more so in the last few years, yet we seem to want it all fixed in 17mths and a couple of transfers

At least this time im comfortable and very happy that those in charge will be 100% backing the manager vs the players

Reply 12 Likes

I have absolutely no worry about that, but completely agree with your point.

I'm going to question why Davies was playing somewhat decent, and was dropped for Doucouré, who against Villa was dead on his feet after 60 mins, but continued to play the full 90 twice, in 4 days, when he clearly was not ready for it.

James, Allan, Godfrey and Doucouré all improve our squad. Sadly, we're absolutely lightweight in pace, and attacking bodies. We need to address that really, and in reality even though it must sound like a broken record, we need to overhaul that in the summer. A Central Midfielder, Right back, Right Winger, Left Winger and Striker are absolute minimum requirements to improve this squad.

For me, you've got to look at players who are not contributing "enough", and how we move them on that for me is Holgate, Bernard, Iwobi, Sigurdsson, Delph, Gomes, Coleman (backup is fine), and then possibly Keane for me.

I genuinely believe the signings we've made have been really promising this season (bar King, but lets not even go there), and I feel what we're missing is a big time player who can grab the game by the scruff of its neck and win it for you... was Arteta or prime Baines the last we had? Maybe Lukaku. We're absolutely toothless, and there's no fight, urgency or real energy to the side.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin needs support, he cannot play every minute of every game, Richarlison needs a dose of reality, but equally needs support. Every decent side had a powerful midfielder in the middle running the show, and bags of pace everywhere, we haven't had that for so long.

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