EXPERIMENT TIME

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As we prepare for the final nine games of the season what should be the objective for the toffees. Beating the spawn of Satan goes as a given but apart from that what else is there to play for. Yes we want to win all our games but objectively we are mid table in the league, in no danger of getting dragged into any perilous situation while European qualification has become a pipe dream. So now is the perfect time for Carlo to enter the laboratory and experiment, its time to shake things up.

This essentially for me surrounds seven players. The first three are Moise Kean, Anthony Gordon and Alex Iwobi. With the final nine games it seems a perfect time to give Kean more playing minuets, getting him more use to the Premier League and priming him for what will be his big chance next season. For Anthony Gordon the playing time he has been given this season is a scandal. He is a player of real talent and while everyone at the club talks him up, he has hardly had a look in this season. These final nine games are the perfect time to unleash Gordon and give him real game time, gaining first team experience for what hopefully will be his big break out season next term. As for Alex Iwobi to say his season has been stop start has been an understatement. He actually started well early on before injuries and loss of form disrupted his first season at the club. Is he good enough? Think the jury for all blues is still out on that but with him now fully fit it is time for Carlo to give him some game time so we can all make our minds up on him.

Which brings me to the next batch of four players Dennis Adeniran, Benni Baningime, Nathangelo Markelo and Lewis Gibson, names associated with the Under 23’s it seems for an eternity. As I have wrote before about the Under 23’s, Everton as a Club hold on to young players, who are never going to make the first team far to long, either loaning them out or keeping them such as Markelo and Adeniran wasting their time playing for the Under 23’s, when they have clearly moved on from that level of football.

First up is midfielder Dennis Adeniran. Signed in Summer 2017, Adeniran has been along with Anthony Gordon and Lewis Gibson the stand out talent for the Under 23’s. In my opinion he was the best player in the Under 23’s 2018-2019 double winning season and again has been the stand out player for the Under 23’s in the curtailed 2019-2020 season. He has even added a new string to his bow by being played out wide for a large part of the season scoring goals to boot. Adeniran is now 21 years old and moving into his final year under contract at the club. He has been training with the first team this season and along with Anthony Gordon is the one player who I think has a real chance. I would put him in midfield over Sigurdsson, Schneiderlin Davies and Delph. It is time for him to be given his chance and the next nine games are the perfect opportunity. If I was Adeniran and I did not get a chance in the final games then I really would start to look somewhere else for my career.

Benni Baningime seemed to be a player destined to become a first team player following his impressive debut for the blues in the Carabao Cup game at Chelsea during the short period when David Unsworth took charge of the first team Baningimme has actually made 12 first team apperances, but injuries, including an injury wrecked loan spell at Wigan Athletic scuppered what seemed an upward trajectory. Back playing for the Under 23’s Rhino was quoted as saying

“I think he’s getting back to the levels he was at. I don’t think he’s at the level just yet, it’s a work in progress. He had a disappointing season last year which happens sometimes. We have to rebuild him and we’re certainly rebuilding him.

(https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/everton-boss-admits-midfielder-needs-16931612)

As the final games of the curtailed Under 23’s campaign played out, Baningimme was showing signs he was getting back to the level he first showed when he got his fleeting first team chances. Baningimme like Adeniran is now 21 and is contracted to the club until June 2022, but like Adeniran really has to question the blues if he is not given a chance in the final games of the season. With the departure of Gana and the unprecedented injuries to Gbamin, Baningimme is by far the best player to be given a defensive midfield berth for the blues and should be given his chance. It is time for both him and Adeniran to be given their first team opportunities instead of the dross we continually have to endure watching.

The third player I am pinpointing is Nathangelo Markelo. But I am taking a different approach here. Markelo joined Everton from Dutch side FC Volendam in the summer of 2017 and has been a more or less ever present for the Under 23’s since his arrival. But unlike Adeniran and Baningimme I have not been as impressed by Markelo whenever I have seen the under 23’s, and to be frank don’t think he will make it at the blues. His contract is up in June but I have seen a couple of reports saying that the club are looking to hand him another one year contract. I think this is a mistake and he should be let go. But if the Club are willing to give him a one year extension then he needs to be given a chance in the final games of the season to try and prove himself. Don’t think he will make it myself, but he is clearly to good for the Under 23’s. Markelo is now 21, if he is given another contract and then just sent out on loan it will be a waste of time for both the blues and Markelo himself. The Premier League agreed to allow players whose contracts are up in June to sign short term contracts to the end of the season, this would seem more appropriate for Markelo, and give him some game time in the final games.

Finally we have Lewis Gibson who may or may not come back to the blues from his loan spell at Fleetwood Town. With the injury to Mina this would seem a perfect time to blood the young Centre Back but with Fleetwood being one of the teams in a play off spot following the curtailment of League One it is yet to be decided if Gibson stays with them for their play off campaign. From all reports he has been a success at Fleetwood so he may stay with them, but if he does come back he certainly should also be given a chance in some of the games.

Its time for Ancelotti to experiment in the final games

NEW WINDOW

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The next transfer window is going to be a trial for the blues, how will we fair is anyone’s guess.

Firstly there is no guarantee when the next transfer window will actually open, and will it be changed to meet the problems caused by the Covid19 pandemic. With the economic problems faced by all football clubs during these times, financial experts seem to think that transfer prices will plummet by 30 to 40 per cent once football returns. This may well give some solace to Everton, as with FFP to be considered not to mention Bramley Moore, the further transfer prices drop would seem to actually help the blues. This being the case it would seem prudent that any transfer move, even agreeing a transfer price and move in principal should only be made once the lay of the land of the next transfer window has become clear. Why would you agree a transfer for say £20 million for a player now, when in all probability the price of the player you are signing will drop by 30% once the window opens. That’s why I find the reports that the blues have agreed a £30 million deal in principal with Lille for the transfer of Centre Back Gabriel Magalhaes strange. Yes put yourself in the box seat for the player, but why would you agree a price now when that price will probably be less once the window opens?

Which brings us to players who the club may want to move on. With the expected drop in transfer prices any little the blues may have hoped to bring in from the sale for instance of a player like Gylfi Sigurdsson would be even smaller. With clubs being economically challenged once football is back, would any club sign a player such as Sigurdsson, even for a minimal price when he has such ridiculous wages? Indeed in the new era after football returns surely wages for any new signings will need to be less than the financially wanton times, which preceded it. All clubs it would seem, except for the mega rich will have less money to play with, so surely salaries for any new signings and any new contracts or contract extensions for players at clubs will need to be much smaller.

When you add in that the broadcasting landscape may change if games are played behind closed doors, supporters not being able to attend games plus the financial constraints which Bramley Moore will place on the blues, it is clear that the next transfer window will be a testing one for the Club. It will be a window were Marcel Brands will need to use all is much vaunted experience.

Will the new transfer landscape be one, which can be advantageous for Everton? Or will it be one which will just be one were the mega big clubs can still operate and hoover up the best talent for even cheaper prices?

Over to you Marcel

HIATUS TIME

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As we sit out an unplanned break to football it is the perfect time to review Carlo Ancelotti’s start at the blues. Has he really lived up to the Carlo Fantastico song in his early tenure?

Taking over from the Duncan Fergusson interregnum Ancelotti started with a Boxing Day win against Burnley at Goodison and followed it up with a 2-1 win at Newcastle forty eight hours latter. Three other wins have ensued; two against Brighton and Crystal Palace both at Goodison and a last ditch win away at Watford. No one has a god given right to win football games, but these victories are not against the most stellar cast. Lets compare this to the losses, 2-1 at a weakened and under performing Manchester City who don’t even bother to play Aguero up front against us any more. The absolute disgraceful Anfield debacle in the FA Cup against a team of crèche kids, a 3-2 loss at Arsenal and the latest humiliation at Chelsea. Throw in the ridiculous draw with Newcastle and the absolute turgid display in the 1-1 draw at West Ham and things are not so magnifico. A credible draw at Goodison with Manchester United, which the blues could have nicked in the second half is the only other game. When you look at this run of results it needs to be asked were is the mentality shift in this group of bottlers when it comes to playing away at the so called big six. That’s the first thing Ancelotti has to fix if we are to get anywhere under him. Tottenham Hotspur may be in a bit of a mess this season, but when we eventually get down there does anyone really think we will win? Our record against these clubs is shameful. Don’t usually agree with the (they are real football people !!!!!!!) telly pundit idiots, but the comments by Gary Neville after yet another defeat at Arsenal, that Everton always bottle it when travelling to the so called big six is spot on. The response of Kevin Ratcliffe on twitter trying to defend our pathetic record at these clubs was just surreal, (we are not back in the mid 80’s when you were in your pomp Kevin).

Tactically Ancelotti is sticking with 4-4-2. I agree with him when he said that football teams need to be able to play in different systems, so why has he so far doggedly persisted with 4-4-2? Playing this way either sees the god awful Sigurdsson out on the left, which Marco Silva got dogs abuse for when he did it, or in the middle were he is to slow. Delph has been a joke signing, Tom Davies is starting to run out of chances while Gbamin has been out injured all season. It comes to something when the best player in the middle with Gomes in a 4-4-2 is Morgan Schneiderlin, who at least can sit in front of the defence and is able to find Gomes with a pass. With him out for the rest of the season, (and he is not any sort of answer going forward), we apart from Gomes, have nobody who can play in a middle two in a 4-4-2. In this system, when it comes to the so called better teams we get overrun in midfield. The Chelsea game was a true embarrassment. Outclassed by two kids and Ross Barkley!

Under Carlo we play out from the back (nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t constantly do it), especially when you have Michael Kean playing as one of you Centre Backs!!! Ancelotti said he will rotate Holgate, Mina and Kean for the rest of the season, but surely he must have made his mind up on Kean by now. If he still wants to give Kean game time do it with three at the back, but in doing this, if we have Sidibie playing as a wing back I would be filled with dread. Maybe for now we could go to a 4-5-1 with Richarlison on one wing and Anthony Gordon on the other, and sometimes Bernard if he is on song, (please no one suggest Walcott !!!!!).

Ancelotti’s substitutions have also not been glowing in these early games, the Newcastle home game for example. No matter the witless way we imploded in the last 104 seconds it was Ancelotti’s substitutions, which threw away the two points. At Arsenal it was apparent that the Sidibie-Iwobi partnership was not working in the first 10 minuets, but no attempt to change this, get instructions onto the field were given, it was not till the 2nd half that changes were made. It was obvious that we were not up to it after the first minuet at Stamford Bridge, something that Ancelotti admitted himself in his post match press conference, well if it is that obvious Carlo then make some changes, no matter how early in the game.

Which brings us to the under 23’s. The number of players coming through from the tutelage of Unsworth is depressingly low, if not none existent (see “Blocked Pathway”). The shining light of the young players, Anthony Gordon needs to be given more playing time in the team when the season resumes, (whenever that ay be). At the same time with the crock of shit we have in midfield it surely is time to make decisions on Baningime and Adeniran. Give them game time to the end of the season, (they can’t do any worse than what we have). Will they make it as first team players, probably not, think the boat has sailed for both of them, but give them the chance. If they don’t cut it let them go and make a career somewhere else, instead of wasting their time constantly turning out and usually being the best players for the Under 23’s.

In conclusion if/when the season does start up again, any hopes of Europe (which I never had or wanted this season) are gone. It is time for Ancelotti to experiment more, not just stick to 4-4-2. It is time to give more playing time to Anthony Gordon and Moise Kean and to assess Baningime and Adeniran. It is to be hoped while this hiatus of football is taking place Ancelotti is doing a lot of thinking about how he wants to play, and puts this into action in the final part of the season, (whenever that is). It is also to be hoped that he and Marcel Brands are sitting down together daily planning incomings and outgoings for the next transfer window.

I wrote in “Stars in his Eyes”, that Ancelotti was not the man for Everton. I also said as Manager of the blues I want and hope he will succeed. Carlo cannot really be assessed until next season, but I think the adulation he has received since he has turned up at Finch Farm, compared to his early record with the toffees has been totally over the top. He has a lot to do to convince he really is Carlo Fantastico.

FULL BACK ABYSS

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With Carlo Ancelotti being reported that he would like to give Leighton Baines another one year contract and hope he decides to stay on at the blues for another season, this briNgs into focus the lack of quality we have in the full back/wing back spots. As we now know Carlo’s position on Baines lets look at the left back position first.

The signing of Lucas Digne in 2018 has proved to mainly be a success and he had a very good first season for the toffees wining player of the season (which he was not, that accolade should have gone to the greatly missed Gana). But we can all agree that Digne has been a relative success and links particularly well with Bernard when he is in the side. This season Digne has not hit the heights of last season and still for my liking gives away to many cheap free kicks, but as a first choice left back at this present time in the blues development he is good enough, which brings us back to Leighton Baines.

Baines has been a great servant for the Club and has not let us down in the few games he has played this season. But what you want in all positions at a football club is two players to challenge each other in every position. Do we really think that at 35 Leighton is actually a challenger for Digne’s spot in the team? The answer to this is emphatically no. Baines is nowadays at best just cover, he can fill in for a couple of games. But if Digne was out injured for any length of time could Baines fill in for a long stretch in the team. The answer must be he could not. Age and time stands still for nobody. At 35 Leighton is nowhere near the player who use to bomb up and down on the left, maybe he can do it for one or two games but he is nowhere near the whippet of his youth. Added to this his very questionable fitness record over the last two seasons, he now constantly picks up knocks, niggles and strains where before he never did. I think another contract for Baines would be a mistake which would ultimately come back to bite us next season. A new youthful left back is what is needed to come in and challenge Lucas Digne, who at present knows that if he is fit he walks into the team. But at least we have one player in Digne who can do a job on the left, which is at least something compared to the worrying situation we have in the right back/wing back spot.

First lets get the Jonjoe Kenny question out of the way. Once seen as a shoe in to be the natural successor to Seamus Coleman, Kenny never grasped the chance in the first team when he had starts, especially in the period when Seamus had his broken leg. To many mistakes came from him and the marauding down the right, which he produced for the Under 23’s seemed to vanish from his game. Still only 22 Jonjoe has been packed off to the Bundesliga and Schalke this season. Schalke seem happy with him and admittedly has played some good games. But when you read ridiculous thinks, especially in the Liverpool Echo of how great he has been doing at Schalke, when it is clear the reporters writing this have not even watched any of his games, it amazes me. It’s not hard to catch Schalke games. I have seen Schalke live must be at least 10 times maybe more this season. Jonjoe’s attacking wing back instincts are back in his game but defensively he still lacks the highest quality. He had an awful game in just his 2nd game for Schalke against Bayern Munich giving away a penalty after being turned inside out by Kingsley Coman in a game Schalke went on to lose 3-0. He also gave a penalty away at bottom club Paderborn in a game Schalke eventually won 2-1. He has struggled against Monchengladbach and has been awful in the two 5-0 defeats which Schalke have suffered against Bayern and Leipzig in the last few weeks. The way Danilo went past him for Leipzig’s 4th goal a few weeks ago was particularly concerning. To be fair to Jonjoe the wheels have come off Schalke since the Winter break and the whole team is out of form, but his mistakes still should be noted from an Everton perspective. At the Clubs January AGM Marcel Brands name checked Jonjoe and it seems clear the blues see him coming back in the Summer. I am not against this but I think during the pre season it will be decided that he is not the answer for right back. If Schalke put in a bid for Jonjoe than I think we should bite their hand off for a deal.

Brought in on a season long loan while Jonjoe was sojourning in Germany Djibril Sidibé is quite frankly nowhere near good enough. In the article “Marks on a Window” I wrote this on Sidibé

He switches off in games, has no positional sense and has been injury prone over the last few seasons”.

Although his injury record has mainly stood up this season his awful positional play were he is constantly caught out of position, Brighton’s winning goal at the Amex anyone, not to mention the horror show at the Devil’s playground in December being just two examples. For god’s sake he can’t even remember to put his socks on !! A great crosser of the ball who can be a threat going forward, his first port of call is to defend and he is just not very good at it. Even when he gets forward he constantly gets caught out up the pitch if the opposition win the ball back and spring a quick counter attack. Monaco are asking a price of £12 million if we want to sign Sidibie when his loan ends which is £12 million too much for me.

So we are left with Seamus Coleman, who can still do a job defensively but has been in decline for the last three seasons, a decline which has increased since his comeback from his broken leg. Like Bainse a great servant to the Club but whose time with the blues is rapidly running into the sand. Which in my view leaves us with not one right back/wing back of sufficient quality. Kyle John at just 19 is making good progress with the Under 23’s but at 19 he is still nowhere near ready for the first team, although is one to keep an eye on for the future.

So although the debate has been around signing a Centre Back, Midfielder and Right Winger in the Summer, the void at left back, we have one fit for first team duty player Digne on the left and more worryingly in my eyes none of sufficient quality at right back may well come back to haunt us next season if not fixed during the summer. Emergency call to Zeki Çelik please.

BLOCKED PATH

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The objective of any football academy is to produce good footballers, some who it is hoped will become first team players for the football club. For the ones who don’t make it as first team professionals, it is hoped they will make it at another club, even if it is in a lower league, many who it will be hoped leave with a transfer fee attached. In the last four years Everton Under 23’s have won the Premier League 2 title in 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, along with the Premier League 2 Cup. All blues can celebrate these achievements but it cannot be lost on the Club that the first and really only priority for the Academy is to produce footballers who can become first team players. Yes only one or two of any batch of youngsters may have a chance of becoming first team players but the whole aim of any Club’s Academy is to produce these one or twos, winning youth titles are just the cherry on top of the cake.

Which brings me to the current state of the Everton Under 23’s. First it must be said that in the last four years four players have come through to become first team players, Dominic-Calvert-Lewin, Tom Davies, Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate. In Holgate’s case it is only this season, after a year at West Bromwich Albion on loan that he has become a first team regular. In Kenny’s case he has made forty apperances for the first team and is at present on a season long loan at Bundesliga side Schalke, who are interested in signing him permanently. So not all is gloomy, although I think the jury is definitely still out on Davies and Kenny. But these four apart, it increasingly seems to me Everton have a reluctance to promote and give first team chances to the most talented of the Under 23’s. More worryingly it also seems that the Club are reluctant to make any real hard choices on Under 23 players who have been part of the set up to long and should be moved on.

First lets look at first team opportunities. We have four Under 23 players who are now, when you go to the Clubs website, part of the first team squad namely forward/winger Anthony Gordon, defender Lewis Gibson and midfielders Beni Baningimme and Dennis Adeniran. We often get good announcements from David Unsworth about the Under 23’s but one must question why none of the above players have been given a chance this season, except for Gordon’s. short cameo against Leicester City in the Carabao Cup and a 2nd half appearance in the league at Wet Ham United (at the time of writing). The strange substitutions in the home draw with Newcastle United was a game were surely Gordon should have been one of the players brought on but no we got Niasse!!! Lewis Gibson as a 19 year old Centre Back is not ready for any first team apperances at present and a loan move would seem to be the next step for him. Baningime is a slight exception here, as at one stage it seemed he was destined to become a player who would get regular first team playing time and he has made twelve apperances for the first team. But an injury wrecked loan spell at Wigan Athletic scuppered what seemed an upward trajectory. With the injuries to Gomez and Gbamin and some rubbish performers (Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Delph) surely he should have been given a chance this season. The same goes for Adeniran who has been one of the better performers for the Under 23’s since he joined the Club from Fulham. With the way we have performed on many occasions this season would our midfield have been worse off if Adeniran or Baningime had been given starts ahead of Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson or Delph? If the Club really does think so much of forward Gordon then give him some starts even if it is off the bench. Look at Manchester United who have given Mason Greenwood starts (and typical he gets the equaliser against us at Old Trafford). We don’t have to go anywhere to see that half the red shites Under 23 team outplayed us in the Cup nightmare as well as progressing to the quarter final of the Carabao Cup. An unrecognizable Arsenal team held us 0-0 in the December bore draw at Goodison. It may just be me, but it seems reluctance is creeping in the Club to blood what is seen as the cream of the Under 23’s. (I do though think Anthony Gordon will become a first team player and will get more game time before the end of the season).

Which brings me to the 2nd and more pertinent point of this article. Although two League titles and a cup have been won since 2016 we have a number of Under 23 players from those successes still playing for the Under 23’s and yet to be honest have never once looked like they would get anywhere near the first team. Some are older than others but I do question why we have never made any decisions on players such as Matty Foulds, Morgan Feeney (a loan move to Tranmere Rovers is near completion at the time of writing), Nathangelo Markelo and Antony Evans. (Evans has finally moved to Bundesliga outfit Paderborn on a free while this is being written), then we have the perennial loanees such as Kieran Dowell and Callum Connolly. Which leads me to think that Unsworth and his staff are not ruthless enough in making decisions on players who will not make it at the Club and need to be moved on for their own careers as well as freeing up spots in the Under 23’s for other up and coming players. Antony Evans in particular at 21 has only now been allowed to leave. Surely a decision on Evans should have been made earlier as he never seemed up to making it as a first team player. Foulds, Feeney and Markelo I would also put in this boat, yet all are still stalwarts of the Under 23’s. Then we have Dowell and Connolly for Christ sake out on loan again, just get rid! No one can think these two have a chance at the toffees yet we have never moved them on permanently. Unsworth and the Club in general are too soft and sentimental because we are all “one big family”. For the Under 23’s two cases in particular stand out. The first being Harry Charsley.

Released last Summer by Everton, Charsley picked up an injury and could not find a Club. To quote David Unsworth

“He got injured on our watch so we felt we had an obligation and we felt we had to do the right thing by offering him a six-month contract which we duly did and obviously got him fit over pre-season and got him a few games and profile in the shop window”.

 

All well and laudable but is this the right think to do? Yes we could let Charsley recuperate and train at Finch Farm but not hand him a six month contract that in reality saw a place in the Under 23’s blocked by a player we had released. Charsley played in 14 games for the under 23’s from August to January.

Then we have the case of former blue Jose Baxter. Suspended by Sheffield United for a failed drugs test, given a ban from the game by the FA and then released by Sheffield United once his ban was served. So step in good old Everton with both David Unsworth and Bill Kenwright coming out with gushing nonsense about giving Baxter another chance as he is “one of us.” So in January 2017 at the age the of 25 he was given a one year contract by Everton to play with the Under 23’s and get his career back on track. No thought about him blocking space for any of our up and coming young players.

Evan the tale of Brendan Galloway seems strange. After his steep decline following disastrous loan moves to West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland, he came back to the blues were Unsworth said that the Club had to “rebuild him”. Nothing wrong with this as Galloway was still young enough to play for the Under 23’s. But this seemed just another case of letting him play to get his career back on track. Is this what the Under 23’s are for? Once Galloway had played himself back into form he was allowed to leave on a free to Luton Town in the Summer. But the Club had no intentions that Galloway would get back into the first team, so as this was the case he should have just been released on his return from Sunderland instead of being played in the Under 23’s.

The Liverpool Echo quoted Director of Football Marcel Brands at the Clubs recent AGM saying

“Anthony Gordon, a young boy of 18-years-old, is really knocking on the door to get his minutes in the first-team.

“That will be one of the goals for Everton in the future, to allow our young players to develop in our Academy and to create the best environment for them and, finally, to bring them to the first-team.

But Everton must now find a ‘very good solution’, as Brands put it, to the question marks still hanging over their u-23 set-up and the players within.

(Liverpool echo 14 January 2020)

Can’t argue with what Brands is saying although as Director of Football in place since the Summer of 2018 maybe he should have by now come up with a solution to the “question-marks still hanging over their u-23 set-up and the players within.” In my view a good start would be to make earlier decisions on Under 23 players who are not going to make it at the Club, stop sentimental nonsensical decisions such as on Charsley, Baxter and Galloway, and give the few talented players who may have a chance a proper pathway to the first team. Without this it would seem that the much vaunted Academy pathway at Everton is either blocked or just a chimera.

FLOWERS DIE

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“Cold days of Winter have been and gone, wonder what the Summer will bring, maybe a new love to carry me on, but first I get through spring”

(The Only Ones: Flowers Die)

 

The above from the great song Flowers Die seems an apt way to sum up the blues dilemma in this transfer window.

With 13 days left of the January transfer window, as this article is being written, the blues have been linked with any number of players, especially with those plying their trade in Serie A!!!!! But should the toffees dip into the transfer market before the January window shuts? I would emphatically argue no.

First lets look at the recent AGM and the announcement that Everton made a loss in the previous year (which was actually a 13 month year) of £111.8 million. The crazy largess of the early Moshiri era were we splashed money around like confetti on inadequate players who were given ridiculous contracts, plus the paying off of three managers and backroom staff has finally come back to bite the blues. We still have a bloated squad with any number of average (or worse) players on the books with large salaries who the Club cannot shift. As I write Cenk Tosun has been moved to Crystal Palace on loan until the end of the season and the Club is actively trying to move Oumar Niasse and Cuco Martina, and it comes as no surprise without any luck so far. In his presentation at the AGM Director of Football Marcel Brands covered the problem off moving on players and also stated that players for £60, £70, £80 million are to expensive and not in the blues shopping basket. In reality with the account losses, Premier League sustainability rules to consider, players with large pay packets that other clubs don’t want or can’t afford, not to mention Bramley Moore, it is clear that transfers will be tight in the future. The Club will need to move players on to help bring players in. Everton are now looking for players all in the probably £10-£25 million bracket, young hungry players who will have a sell on value. The next couple of transfer windows, not this one, are windows where Marcel Brands will really have to earn is corn.

Secondly Carlo Ancelotti only became Manager in December. He needs time to assess the squad we have and ensure he knows the players he wants for next season. When we look at the cups and the league table we have another season that has effectively ended in January. Some supporters still think we could make a run for a Europa League spot, dream on; we are an average team who are way behind the Shite, City, Leicester, Chelsea, Tottenham, United, Wolves, and Arsenal. All of these teams will end the season above us in the league, maybe we could finish above Arsenal but that is it. The best we can achieve this season is another 8th place finish, which I think we should aim to do.

So what would be the point of brining someone into the Club when finances are tight, we need to move players out to be able to bring players in and 8th or 9th is probably the best league position we can achieve?

With all the scenarios laid out above it seems clear we should let Ancelotti get through the rest of the season with the players we have and let him and plan with Marcel Brands for the Summer transfer window, bringing anyone in before then would be pointless.

SKELETON CREW

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The blues have hit some real depths during the last 25 years and that long ago FA Cup win, but standing at the shithole on Sunday I realised once we went in against a bunch of kids and reserve players 0-0 at half time that we would lose. Every time we turn up against the devils spawn we plumb new depths, but Sunday must finally be the final straw for most if not all of the pathetic, gutless squad, which represents us. We don’t just have deadwood at the Club, they have been here for so long the dead wood has rotted away and become nothing but dead bones. As we now enter the January window it is that time again to look at the squad and hope we can at least ship out some of the rubbish, but this is in hope more than expectation.

Of the current first team squad, those who have half a chance at the Club are in my opinion Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison, Moise Kean, Mason Holgate, Tom Davies, Yerry Mina, Andrei Gomes, Jean Philippe Gbamin. I would also add Anthony Gordon to this list, a player who really should now be given minuets on the pitch, one short Carabao Cup appearance for our supposed academy shining light is not good enough, especially when you consider the dross which are getting starts in front of him. Moise Kean needs to be given his chance with games under Ancelotti, while although overhyped because of a few goals in December, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has shown that he can be a good outlet for holding the ball up, but he really needs more goals after his mini December. Richarlison is our best forward although he now needs to be played full time on the wing with DCL and Moise Kean as the central attackers. The Copa America last Summer and the ridiculous playing in friendlies all over the world for Brazil are taking their toll on Richarlison at present, he is looking tired and could do with a break for a week or two. Tom Davies has put in a few good performances this season and adds work rate and energy in midfield and can still be a valuable asset for the blues. Jean Paul Gbamin has been unlucky with his injury and no judgement can be made on him until next season, although he did show a few good signs in his fleeting apperances this season. Andrei Gomes when he is on form is the heartbeat of the midfield and we have missed him since “He is not that sort of player” Sonny had his way. Mason Holgate has grown this season and has a good range of passing, still a bit lightweight and needs to be stronger but think he can have a future with us. Yerry Mina has quickly become our best defender and, may not be saying much, been to date our best player this season.

Besides the above I think we have a few maybes in the squad. Jordon Pickford a good goalkeeper but who has to many inconsistent mistakes and brain freezes to be considered anywhere near a really good goalkeeper. He needs to start eliminating these traits in his game asp or a replacement may be needed. Bernard is another player in the maybe bracket. Incredibly skilled he needs to add goals to his game and improve his final pass as well as staying fit. Finally Alex Iwobi has shown glimpses especially in his early apperances for the blues, although he has also been awful in some games. But he is a player who never hides and will still wants the ball even when off form and it is to early to give up on him just yet

As for the rest they are nothing but dead wood who have hung around so long they are now just bones, dead skeletons and need removing from the Club as quickly as possible.

Defence

Apart from the above mentioned Holgate and Mina and maybe Jordon Pickford the rest of our defence is not fit for purpose. Michael Kean a £25 million mistake, runs like a snail and turns like an oil tanker. Seamus Coleman is clearly past his best and is not of first team quality anymore. He can still get forward but as for defending, it was never his strongest suit, he has been regressing in this area for at least two years. Djibril Sidibie thank god is only on loan. Can put in a good performance one game and then be absolute rubbish the next. Sidibie always has a mistake in him and has no positional sense and was useless in his last couple of seasons at Monaco. Leighton Baines is just to old and way past he sell by date, yet typical Everton gets a one year contract for this season. Lucas Digne is the most over hyped player we have had in a long time. Anointed Player of the Season last term with blues raving about him, when in reality he was not the Player of last Season, that was the (missing you) Gana. Digne was culpable for all three goals in the harrowing night at Millwall in the FA Cup and has been terrible this season, with a brilliant skill of giving away cheap free kicks and hitting the first defender when he takes a corner kick. Martin Stekelenburg is still at the Club, one question, Why? Never good enough when he was playing as first choice goalkeeper. As for Jonas Lössl he seemed at best competent when at Huddersfield Town but at present can’t even get on the bench ahead of the Stek, which may tell its own story. With Joa Virginia’s loan spell ended at Reading and him heading back to skeleton farm, we might as well give him the 2nd choice goalkeeper spot ahead of the above mentioned two.

Midfield

The slugs of Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson need no introduction. It was like watching a snail race with those two in midfield in the disgraceful cup derby. Schneiderlin is a man who gets a contract, performs for his new club for a few months and then does not bother. As for Gylfi I am still fuming over the £46 million paid for this bang average player whose only redeeming factor was that he could (could being the optimum word here) take a good free kick. He has not even done that since he joined the toffees. As for Mr Leadership the man of glass Fabian Delph, were is the leadership from him on the odd time he is fit to play. I wrote in the Summer that he was a gamble with his fitness and that gamble has failed. But in the Summer article I forgot to mention that he is crap.

Attack

Yannick Bolasie £28 million (on loan at Sporting Lisbon)

Cenk Tosun £27 million

Theo Walcott £20 million

Oumar Niasse £13.5 million (now in his last 6 months of contract)

Sandro Ramirez £5.2 million (on loan at Valladolid)

Absolute staggering the amount of money the Club has wasted on these dead skeletons. Yes everyone of us thought Sandro was worth the risk but that soon went pear shaped. As for letting the gravy boat spend £47 million on two absolute pieces of garbage as Tosun and Walcott, just astounding. Although I still get a chuckle thinking of those blues who, when he joined, and there were plenty of them, thought Walcott was a good signing.

LOANS

But lets not stop with the above, don’t forget the ones who have been around for just as long, are nowhere near good enough and are at present plying their trade out on loan, but who will be back at skeleton farm in the Summer, although a couple do have their contracts up in the Summer, small mercy.

Kieran Dowell

Callum Connolly

Mo Besic

Mathew Pennington

Luke Garbutt

Nathan Broadhead

Jonjo Kenny

Korede Adedoyin

Josh Bowler

Shani Tarashaj

I will make an exception here for Adedoyin who at 18 was sent out on loan to Hamilton Academicals, a team which has a reputation for playing young players. Adedoyin has not got anywhere near the first team this season at Hamilton and if possible should be recalled. As for the rest of this list yet more members of the skelton crew who have moved on from dead wood to bones but still take a wage from the club. Jonjo Kenny has been having a good season at Schalke in the Bundesliga, but I have seen him make mistakes in Schalke games this season, two against Bayern Munich and Paderborn leading to goals for the opposition. At least in his case we can sell in the summer.

This dead bone state of affairs actually triclkes down into all areas of the Club. Under David Unsworth the blues have won the Prmier League 2 Title twice in the last three seasons plus the Premier League 2 Cup. But we are now in the fourth season since that first title win and were are the players to come through from that area. Tom Davies, Mason Holgate, DCL all came through in Koeman’s first season as Manager. Anthony Gordon hopefully will be another but he has really emerged quickly over the last 18 months. In reality we still have a large number of players who have been part of the Under 23 set up for way to long, Anthony Evans, Morgan Feeny, Matty Foulds, Nathangelo Markelo, Nathan Broadhead, Josh Bowler for example. The Club seems incredibly slow to decide on young players, leaving them playing with the Under 23’s or out on loan without having the guts to make a decision on their futures, thus blocking spaces for new younger talent, while holding these players back in their own footballing careers. The ultimate folly here is the case of Harry Charsley. Charsley was a player Everton did make a decision on and released him last Summer. But as no Club picked him up what did we do, we took him back as part of the Under 23’s, absolute nonsensical.

When you consider the above even though Marcel Brands has moved some players on during his time at the Club, the task in hand is still monumental and shows the apalling way the Club has been run since Moshri’s millions turned up. Can we ship any of the above named dross out in January, maybe one or two. But in the next Summer transfer window Marcel Brands will need to pull his finger out. He will not only need to ship out all the above named players but also needs to get a grip of the sentimentally of Unsworth and the Under 23’s and instil a ruthless decision making process on young players.

As well as all this we may bring in a couple of players in January but it will be the Summer were we will have to recruit heavily again with basically half a new squad. With planning permission probably being granted some time around the Summer for Bramley Moore, once that comes on stream the period of Moshri largess in the transfer market will be a thing of the past. Next Summer will be our last big chance in the transfer market. Brands and Ancelotti will need to get it right or we will be in one hell of a mess.

STARS IN HIS EYES

very valid points

TOFFEE FOR TEA

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Everton have got their new Manager in Carlo Ancelotti who has joined the blues on a four and a half year contract. This is in my opinion is something, which does not point to the future but is incredibly short sighted. I doubt Ancelotti was top of any list which Director of Football Marcel Brands may have produced and if he was I would question Brands judgment. I think the Ancelotti appointment smacks more of the hand of the “North West as the Hollywood of Managers” stars in his eyes bungling majority shareholder.

So lets cut straight to the chase. Ancelotti has a high class CV. He has managed Juventus, AC Milan, PSG, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli as well as Reggianna and Parma in his early coaching days. He has won league titles (although not as many as you would think considering the teams he has managed)…

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STARS IN HIS EYES

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Everton have got their new Manager in Carlo Ancelotti who has joined the blues on a four and a half year contract. This is in my opinion is something, which does not point to the future but is incredibly short sighted. I doubt Ancelotti was top of any list which Director of Football Marcel Brands may have produced and if he was I would question Brands judgment. I think the Ancelotti appointment smacks more of the hand of the “North West as the Hollywood of Managers” stars in his eyes bungling majority shareholder.

So lets cut straight to the chase. Ancelotti has a high class CV. He has managed Juventus, AC Milan, PSG, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Napoli as well as Reggianna and Parma in his early coaching days. He has won league titles (although not as many as you would think considering the teams he has managed) and the Champions League three times. But Ancelotti has described himself as a “Light touch Manager.” Ancelotti has gone into Clubs packed with top footballers, basically ready built teams which just needed some tactical direction and tweaks to succeed. The light touch of Ancelotti works perfect in such circumstances.

Which brings us on to Ancelotti’s last two appointments and also to the Blues. Has the game moved on from Ancelotti? Does the more intense pressing game and speed of modern football fit with the laid back light touch style of Ancelotti?

Ancelotti succeeded Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich and won the Bundesliga title in his first season, although it was not a classic season for the German giants. The German Super Cup was also attained but Bayern crashed out, it must be said unluckily in the quarter final of the Champions League to Real Madrid, while Borussia Dortmund knocked them out at the semi final stage of the DFB Pokal. At the end of his first season at Bayern rumblings had started to arise from the playing squad, (use to the intense regime of Guardiola), that Ancelotti’s training sessions were to soft and laid back. These rumblings turned into open rebellion in his 2nd season at Bayern with reports that he had lost the dressing room and players doing extra training sessions themselves. Ancelotti was sacked in September of his second season after a calamitous 3-0 champions League group game defeat at PSG.

Ancelotti soon found himself back in his home country in charge of Napoli. Napoli had been the main challenger to the dominance of Juventus the season before. The project at Napoli built by Maurizio Sarri, who had moved to Chelsea, was probably at its apex with the team having its best chance of unseating Juventus and wining the Scudetto. A Manager such as Ancelotti with his past record of taking the reigns at ready built teams should have been the perfect person for Napoli at this juncture. Yet Napoli finished 2nd and a full 11 points behind Juventus. This season it is clear that the Napoli project had past its sell by date, the team needed renewing and Ancelotti is not a manager to build from scratch. So although problems with the owner of Napoli, film producer Aurelio De Laurentiis, need to be taken into account, it cannot be ignored that Ancelotti failed at Napoli.

So we come to the blues. What has happened to the long term view of building for the future under a progressive manager/coach who could work with youth and players predominantly under the age of 25 with potential? A manager/coach who could work with a Director of Football and was in it for the long haul with a vision and plan for the future. (Although to be fair Ancelotti has worked in the past with a Director of Football and has signed a long contract). We thought Marco Silva was to be such a person but evidently he did not produce. But dose that mean such a strategy is wrong? No it is not, but the appointment of Ancelotti flies in the face of such a vision. We are hiring a manager for short term gain, someone who has done his good work at ready built teams that just need a final light touch to take them onto glory. This by any stretch of the imagination is not Everton. I would also argue Ancelotti has lost his touch at working with big name footballers and ready built teams if his Bayern and Napoli episodes are anything to go by. Either way this is not what Everton are, or are anywhere near at present. Ancelotti does not build teams he comes in as the final touch to ready built teams, or as I have outlined with Bayern and Napoli use to do this. He is not what is needed or suited to the mish mash of a squad at Everton at this moment in time.

With Ancelotti we are going back to the early years of Moshiri with stars in his eyes blinded to what the Club really needed, and what did we end up with, the failed Ronald Koeman experiment. Moshiri again has stars in his eyes and we are ending up with a past his best, up graded Ronald Koeman. I would love to think and hope I am wrong. Ancelotti at 60 years of age may see this as his ultimate challenge, showing he can challenge with a team not in the mega class status. I hope this is the case and I am 100% behind Carlo as he is now our Manager. But i’m afraid what I have outlined above is correct and this is all going to end in a few years time back were we are at this very moment, looking for a new Manager/Coach and having moved on not one jot.

 

CRACKED SCREEN

phone

Marco Silva has been up against it in the eyes of some Evertonians since the day he walked through the door at Finch Farm. To some blues he was the failed Manager of Watford and Hull City. A large number of Evertonians were indifferent to his appointment willing to give him a chance, while still some thought his appointment pointed to a plan for the club over the next three years and I admit I was one of the latter. As we are approaching the half way mark of his three year contract it seems that his tenure in charge is like a cracked window or mobile phone screen.

The 2018-2018 season saw Everton start well beating Southampton at home and drawing at Wolves and Bournemouth in games we really should have won. A slight chip in the mobile followed with a 1-1 home draw against Huddersfield Town and defeats at home to West Ham United and away to Arsenal, plus a damaging home defeat in the Carabao Cup on penalties to Southampton. A 3-0 home victory against Fulham saw the blues then go on a run of seven games, which yielded five wins and a draw with just one unlucky 2-1 defeat at Manchester United. Everton had after this run risen to the 6th in the league. The chip had been fixed.

Then game the depressing ridiculous last second defeat at the shite. Three dark months followed, including the calamitous horrendous night at Millwall in the FA Cup. During this period some blues started calling for Silva’s head. But it was a long-term plan the Club had in place and I for one wanted and expected Silva to stay even if the crack had reappeared and got bigger. A seventeen day break in February, due in part to our early cup exit saw Silva again repair the damaged screen. The 3-0 win away at Cardiff City in late February saw Everton go on a good run at home not losing to the end of the season and finishing in 8th position the same as the awful Koeman/Unsworth/ Allardyce season. Although the home form to the end of the season was good the away form was still abysmal and has been for god knows how long. Yes the blues won five away games last season, which is the best for ages, but these wins were at West Ham (no great feat) Huddersfield and Cardiff (both relegated) Burnley who were deep in trouble when we played them on Boxing Day and a good win at Leicester City. The away form has been awful for season after season and is a damning indictment of the lack of fight and mental attitude of the team when out of the confines of Goodison. Silva like his predecessors has been unable to fix this problem, it has become to ingrained in the Club.

Which brings us to this season. It seems that Silva has been repairing the ever growingr crack in his phone screen since the season started. As we have stumbled along it seemed to be reaching a tipping point before the West Ham home game. But true to form Marco got the tape out and patched up that mobile screen again. Two wins and a draw out of four games. But when we look at those four games maybe all was not what it seemed. Our best performance of the season came in the 2-0 win at home to a West Ham team who were in a nose dive and have not won in their last seven games at the time of writing. We lost at Brighton and Hove Albion after not getting a penalty for a foul on Richarlison and then a penalty given against which should not have been given and a red card for Michael Kean. But even down to ten we should really have seen the game out for a draw but instead panicked collapsed and lost. The home draw against Tottenham Hotspur came when spurs were in free fall under Pochettino and were really there for the taking. We had decisions go against us in the game true, but in reality it was the injury to Gomez and the Son sending off which spurred us on to get a late equaliser. Finally out first away win of the season arrived at Southampton only to be followed by the debacle of the Norwich City home game

The Norwich City game really was a nadir. No fight, no plan, ponderous and lacking in any fight or idea. More worryingly was the team selection. Yes we won at Southampton but it was clear as daylight after quarter of an hour that the same team was not working against Norwich. But Silva seemed blind to this. He persists with Schneiderlin when he had Baningime on the bench. I said Schneiderlin was a waste of space when we signed him, even when some were praising him in his early games. Another I have always thought was a mistake is Sigurdsson. What does anyone see in such a ponderous player in the number 10 spot? At least Iwobi has speed and looks to get forward in that position. He actually excelled for Nigeria at this summers AFCON in the role. As for the two Allardyce signings it hard to find anything good to say about them. A couple of good games from Walcott does not a good player make. He was back to his norm against Norwich while Cenk is clearly not up to it no matter how hard he tries. The most worrying thing about the Norwich game was the substitution of Sidibé with Coleman. When chasing the game Marco decides on a like for like swap d at right back, Clearly Silva had lost the plot in the game, although Seamus did play as a quasi winger when he came on. As for Sidibé I have already stated why this was a bad loan. He is a player with a mistake in him every game and is continually caught out of position.

In mitigation Silva has a three year contract and we really can’t say the squad is fully a Marco Silva squad at present. Against Norwich we had the two Allardyce signings starting along with three from the ill fated Koeman experiment, two in Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson who are clearly not good enough. But the damning thing here is that Silva continues to pick these players (except for Cenk who comes and goes). On Saturday he had Baningime on the bench an upgrade on Schneiderlin, Iwobi a better number 10 than Sigurdsson, Kean and Calvert Lewin both infinitely better than Cenk. Anthony Gordon was in the squad but he never made the bench. He could have easily played and been an upgrade on Walcott. Yes we have injuries but that is no excuse for continually picking the dross fielded on Saturday.

So were do we go from here? The crowd clearly had started to turn against Silva at the Norwich game. I thought Silva was the right appointment when he was brought in. But in nearly one and half seasons have we seen any real tangible progress? I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that we have not. At some point I expect Silva’s tape to come out and cover the cracks in his mobile screen once again. But were will that leave us? Finally you get fed up of a cracked window or phone screen and have to get a new one. I would like to be wrong but it seem that the need for a new screen for the cracked mobile may well be approaching.