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Toffee’s Tuesday Mailbag

Answering your most pressing Everton questions.

So……….how was everyone’s weekend?

Anything exciting happen?

I jest of course. Just like every other Toffees fan, I have been living on cloud nine since Sunday afternoon after Everton whooped Manchester City 4-0.

Yes, you read that correctly: 4-0.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton scored four goals in a match from the run of play, AND kept a clean sheet! It’s as if for one fleeting day the soccer gods smiled down on Goodison and gave Everton fans everything they wanted, and needed, to put their FA Cup failures in the rear view mirror.

Whether it be a dominant attack, an impregnable back line, academy-groomed youth shining on the biggest stage, or two new signings making impacts on their debuts, it seemed as though everything seemed to fall into place at Goodison.

Now, while I am sure that much like myself you have spent the last two days happily indulging in articles full of praise for our side, I promise to continue to approach Everton from a purely analytical standpoint, free of bias.

I’m not going to pretend that one result is a major turning point for the club.

It would be ridiculous to think that the addition of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman, and their subsequent stellar debut day performances (and goal for Lookman!) show the pure genius of our new front office.

I would be out of bonds to declare that our midfield woes are over and that we will now run ragged through the league, building anticipation for a blockbuster 2017-2018 campaign.

So I won’t.

I will say, however, base purely on his appearances so far, that Tom Davies is going to be in the World Best XI for 2017.

Now to your questions!


How would you describe how you felt on, and since, Sunday?

Eric B. Brooklyn

Are we sure that Sunday’s match was only worth 3 points? It sure felt like it was worth 10.

It wasn’t so much THAT we won the match, it was the manner in which we won.

Pundits will say that Man City had the ball far more than the Toffees, but that is of little consequence.

What Everton WAS in possession of the whole match was belief. With Lukaku lurking and the midfield engine humming along, it felt like only a matter of time before the team would strike.

It was weird. It was an odd sense of self-belief that Everton fans haven’t had in a while.

It was if we fans reached into our bags of cynicism and found them empty.

The squad felt balanced. The players looked motivated. The fans sounded ready to play their role.

The excitement of the early January window additions and the solid run of league form were hoping to serve as a sweet juxtaposition to the sour end to our cup seasons.

When the Toffees capitulated on the pitch and started to put the Citizens to the sword, it was one of the first times in a while that supporters felt in sync with the team, and the addition of the 12th man pushed the home team even further on.

By the time Ademola Lookman capped off a dream day with a composed touch and finish to introduce himself to the Goodison faithful, it felt as though nothing could go wrong.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

As a fan, it seemed as though for the first time the vision of the new manager and front office were playing out on the pitch.

By no means does Sunday solve anything, but with only 17 more matches to play in the season, each match carries with it extra weight and influence on the squad moving forward.

So how do I feel after Sunday?

Very optimistic.


The way that Tom Davies has performed the past few matches, especially Sunday, do you think Koeman made a mistake by not introducing into the side earlier?

Alex M.

There are a lot of Everton fans who have been yearning to see the young midfielder get more time with the first team, especially as it has become increasingly apparent that Gareth Barry’s status as a day-in and day-out midfielder are long over.

The addition of Idrissa Gana Gueye immediately helped paper over Barry’s physical limitations when paired together, and let Everton distribute through Barry, accentuating his stellar passing range.

(This ultimately slowed down our attack to a crawl, made us imminently predictable, led to A LOT of flat and backwards passes, made the Toffees boring as hell to watch, and infuriated fans, but more on that another time.)

The team still lacked dynamism in the attack, and Davies inclusion for Barry seemed an obvious solution.

Great background…..now answer the *bleepin’* question!

Ok ok….

It’s important to know that it is Barry ahead of him because he exemplifies the reason Davies hasn’t been starting.

What?

You see, when Koeman came into the squad he ran through it like a hot knife through butter.

If he didn’t think you were up to par, he let you know it by not giving you a locker (Niasse).

Or he was actively shopping you like ticket scalper at kickoff:

CLEVERLEY!! ANYONE NEED A CLEVERLEY???

Sure. Those aren’t as bad as my (insert Watford midfielder’s name).

What do you want for them??

You know what? Why don’t you just take him and keep him if you like him. Later!

HEY MORGAN!!! MORGAN!! I HAVE ROOM FOR YOU NOW!!!!

What Koeman did not do, however, is throw caution to the wind and just plug in Holgate and Davies every match, live with their growing pains, but at least have an easy out.

He could just note that the tough losses and inconsistent outcomes were just part of breaking in young players, and the 9th or 10th place finish would at least feel like it had been with the long term in mind.

But he didn’t do any of that.

When a new manager is brought into a club, they set the standard for the club with the effort and focus they accept, and when your manager is someone like Koeman who has achieved nothing but success in his playing and managing careers, that bar is high.

After a few months it was obvious that Koeman was not happy with the daily efforts of some of his players in training, and that lack of discipline was showing in poor results.

Whereas Roberto Martinez would speak poetically after a tough loss about the mental gains made by our young players (Ross Barkley etc…) and massage what he perceived to be their fragile egos, Koeman does not.

To completely oversimplify it, Koeman has 2 BASIC expectations:

1. Give 100% effort in both the physical and tactical preparations for the match.

2. Implement both aspects above during a match on a consistent basis, with the understanding that mistakes should be predominately physical in nature (ie… missed passes).

For a player like Gareth Barry, doing both of these things come naturally to him. He is, and always has been, a consummate professional. (Despite my statements on his demise, I have nothing but respect for Gareth).

His failure to execute a task is almost exclusively attributable to his rapidly diminishing physical abilities, while the fact he is still a viable option (however limited) in the Premier League is a testament to his mental acuity.

A player like Tom Davies, however, while prepared to apply himself unabashedly to his physical and mental preparations, has obviously been unprepared (according to Koeman) to consistently apply himself during a match, and will be prone to making costly errors.

Note that Koeman has said nothing but positive things about our youngest squad members. He has never attacked and of their work ethics like he has other players. (More on that later)

Instead, players who should be able to be consistent performers in the league (Barkley, Deulofeu etc…) have been lambasted for their inability to execute AND their focus on training.

They have been excluded from matches, and in Deulofeu’s case the squad entirely.

Now that Koeman has been with Everton for roughly half a calendar year, he has obviously determined that Davies can be trusted to consistently execute in midfield at a level equal to Koeman’s ultimate ambitions.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin followed a similar path, and were it not for his injury would be a full-fledged squad member.

Other players, however, can’t make the cut.

Cleverley: Hard worker, can’t produce the final product up to par.

McCarthy: Hard worker, can’t produce the final product.

Lennon: HARDEST worker, can’t produce final product.

(Work rate is why Lennon gets time as well until he is replaced. He is a pro like Barry. Sets a standard in the club).

Deulofeu: LAZY! CAN produce final product. (See below)

Jagielka: Hard worker, can’t produce final product consistently enough anymore.

(See Lennon for reason for continued presence. That and being the MAN!)

The point is, is that by making the young players meet his standard for performance without giving them passes for their mistakes he makes it known that there is no compromise with him when it comes to his standards.

That’s how you succeed.

That’s what makes the addition of Schneiderlin, who used to play for Koeman, so exciting. Koeman knows how he performs AND how he trains, and obviously trusts him implicitly.

Everton v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

He treats other professionals like Cleverley and Jagielka accordingly. He does not throw them under the bus, but rather gently guides them out of the side and helps them find a place where they can meet their personal goals.

Davies has obviously grown by leaps and bounds, and has shown that he can be trusted to perform consistently enough to get in the side.

Koeman should not be chided for waiting so long to bring Davies into the squad, but rather commended for showing the young players that only full commitment will be tolerated and letting us all reap the rewards.

As for Geri….


Can you explain why in the world Koeman is looking to offload Gerard Deulofeu? We need wingers and he is one. He should be starting!!

Josh D. Colorado

I think this question is a perfectly reasonable one, and most of the answer lies in my response to the previous question about Davies.

It is quite apparent that while Koeman is complimentary of Deulofeu’s talents, it is his effort on the training pitch and off the ball during matches that apparently perturb the Dutchman.

Much like Barkley, Geri was shielded from major criticism by a manager obviously enamored with the young Spanish winger’s footwork.

Oh wow, Geri, great step over! I’ll ignore the fact you spend more time hiking up your shorts than you do tracking opposing full backs to help out the team!

You are too talented to leave out of the team even though you are a major liability! You might get a sweet looking cross off.

Unlike Ross, however, Geri has not responded to the increased demands on the training ground.

From all reports, Deulofeu has an Iverson-like aversion to training, but unlike the diminutive baller, Geri now has a manager who does not tolerate this mindset.

Regardless of his ability to beat people off the dribble and cross (sporadically), the Spaniard has shown himself to be allergic to consistent defensive efforts when necessary, and petulant when feeling unimportant during a match.

Regardless of his ability to get the ball to Lukakau, Koeman has obviously decided that the club is better off shipping him off to another club then keeping his less that acceptable attitude around the squad.

This may seem harsh to some fans who enjoy his pockets of wizardry, but for those who are truly Toffees, we appreciate our new skippers unwavering pursuit of greatness.

Plus we don’t have to see this look anymore.

Watford v Everton - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images


If the team had a winner-take-all last-man standing brawl, who do you think would be the last player standing?

Rhett Z. California

Ok, I’ll bite.

I figure there are really only a handful of players who even merit consideration. In no particular order they are:

- Romelu Lukaku (BIG)

- Ashley Willams (Scary)

- Phil Jagielka (Strong)

- James McCarthy (Irish)

- Seamus Coleman (Irish)

- Darron Gibson (Irish)

- Ross Barkley (Teenage-like Angst)

- Marteen Stekelenburg (Tall)

So, who would win?

Stekelenburg is big, but has proven to be fragile. So he’s out.

Same for Gibson, who would get hurt tying his shoes.

Phil would get REALLY tired. SO the captain’s gone.

I love Seamus, but he’s a little guy. Tenacious, but small. Out.

That leaves Romelu, Ashley. James and Ross.

Ross would get ganged up on (Steven Gerrard would say so at least). Out.

Romelu is a forward and would take a dive.

Down to Ashley Williams and James McCarthy. Man, that’s though.

McCarthy looks like he is angry at the world, and is VERY Irish, while Ashley Williams is more two-faced.

Seems like a lovable guy, he’s just terrifying when he is angry, and is no nonsense about getting a job done.

When it came down to it though, I think McCarthy would find a way to get the job done.

Why?

Ashley is still a Swan at heart.