Ben Godfrey could be part of the magic number

With the deeply worrying carnival that is Everton’s latest current manager search being conducted by the seemingly farcical board in charge of the Club, it is even scarier to ponder the very serious on-field matters that are in urgent need of addressing.

It will not have escaped the attention of any Everton fan will have how devoid of any fight, belief or idea to compete in, let alone win a game of football, the team currently is, matters at boardroom level are having a detrimental effect on the men currently charged with ensuring the Toffees remain in the Premier League. Not that the players should be excused for their often lacklustre, gutless performances.

At the time of writing, Everton are still in the somewhat convoluted process of appointing its sixth permanent manager of the Farhad Moshiri era. Whoever takes the Goodison hotseat will be working with a squad made up of the ideas and philosophies of several others who have tried, and failed, to make a team that will realise the ambitions of the nine-time league winners and appease a loyal fanbase that has simply run out of patience.

Everton’s current plight means that survival is the number one ambition. A cup run may well be a welcome distraction, but points on the board and securing divisional status will be the overwhelming priority for the next boss. God bless him! From the great escapes of the 1990s to the stability installed during the David Moyes era, we have firmly regressed backwards and spent half a billion for the privilege.

Focusing on pitch matters alone, although it is hard not to detract as the very soul of Everton gets torn apart, I often think what teams attempt to do when searching for those vital points. The Blues have a multitude of problems on the field, but the next man in the dugout may do worse than looking at ways to make Everton a little bit harder to beat. If you don’t concede, then at least you don’t lose.

Defensively, the inability to defend set pieces is costing us dear. Hopefully, if Yerry Mina can stay fit, as well as the next manager not being a fan of zonal marking, then surely that will be something that can and will be rectified. Watching the Blues this season, the lack of defensive protection from the midfield is so evident, teams are simply outnumbering what is often a duo and running through with ease.

But that, is something that may be an easy fix as well as a chance to rejuvenate a player that many last season were touting as a future Everton captain.

Signed in 2020 from Norwich in a deal worth around an initial £20m, Ben Godfrey’s no nonsense, all-action style quickly won the admiration of the Goodison faithful. Versatile, vocal and energetic, the 24-year-old, who was initially signed as a centre-back, quickly assumed the role of marauding full-back whose tackles often fired up the crowd in ways similar to speculative efforts on goal forcing saves from opposition goalkeepers.

Fast forward to this season and a bout of COVID has led to a dip in form for the former York City man. Godfrey’s height and often a tendency to be out jumped by a number of opposition players, have seen questions of whether he is the one who will marshal the heart of Everton’s defence. With the arrival of two full backs, coupled with Everton having other options at centre-half (I still think we need another by the way) is this an opportunity to utilise the very attributes in Goodfrey’s game further forward?

As the 4-4-2 fades into footballing obscurity, the majority of teams nowadays utilise a three-man midfield. The trio is something that allows a number of sides to dominate the middle, protect the defence and also allow full backs to play further forward and hurt opponents in the attacking areas. With Abdoulaye Doucoure currently sidelined along with Fabian Delph, options in the centre of midfield are becoming desperately short. Andre Gomes performs better in a three, while Allan, ferocious in the tackle and with an exceptional work rate, would only benefit with the engine and mobility of Godfrey alongside him. That, in turn, would free up the third man, be it Gomes, Anthony Gordon, or Doucoure upon his return, to influence matters further forward. The back four (because three centre backs doesn’t work with what we have) would enjoy that extra bit of protection, while Demarai Gray, arguably Everton’s standout player this team, would be able to rejoin an attacking trio that allows him the fluidity to receive the ball and run at defenders, while linking up with the likes of Gordon and Richarlison.

With the transfer window slamming shut in the coming days, we can only hope that a new manager is installed and already has his shopping list ready to go. Whatever reinforcements are acquired, if any, I sincerely believe that three, in midfield, is the magic number.

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