Koeman should not be coaching for his job
Despite the rising tide of hot takes and brinksmanship in the Everton Twitterverse, the blame for this team’s early season struggles cannot be laid solely at the feet of the manager.
An infusion of cash and a summer of record spending has turned large portions of this fan base into reactionary thinkers, victims of expectations that were probably too high to begin with. Now it should be said that is team is certainly better than it’s current position in the table. But talk that this current squad was going to light up the Premier League right away always came across as a bit overeager.
If we’re going to blame Koeman, then where is the outrage for Steve Walsh or some of the players themselves? Doesn’t Walsh, as Sporting Director, share some of the blame for signing three players in one summer who are best suited to playing central midfield? Who do we blame for thinking that signing three players from bottom table squads for over £100 million was going to catapult this team into the top six? What about the signing two more players from other European leagues with no Premier League experience? Is it Koeman’s fault that they’ve taken more time than predicted to adjust? And finally do we blame Koeman for the nearly botched transfer of Gylfi Sigurdsson and his total lack of a preseason?
Koeman deserves blame for plenty of things, many of his line-ups and tactical decisions have been downright poor. His moving players out of position has harmed this team. But the rate at which this fan base has turned on Koeman is somewhat alarming. Only a few months ago he was heralded as the man who would finally shepherd Everton into a new era of top-six glory, a man with a vision. Now suddenly he’s Everton’s biggest nightmare.
Inability to break down organized defenses
With that rant out of the way, let’s get to somethings that happened in the match against Brighton.
We saw this issue against Burnley and it will rear it’s head against other teams like West Brom, but this Everton squad has so far been unable to break down teams with a well organized defense. Under Koeman, Everton have typically been dangerous on the counter attack. Success has been found against team’s who play an all out attacking style like Manchester City, or teams whose defense is poorly coached. But when tasked with breaking down a team that likes to sit back, Everton have found no success this season.
Even with Sigurdsson in his preferred attacking midfield position, Everton were unable to make anything happen in the middle of the pitch. The addition of pacy wingers like Vlasic and Calvert-Lewin were also unable to break through. This situation inevitably leads to Everton pumping cross after cross into the box. Without a true aerial threat like Romelu Lukaku on the squad, this strategy is doomed to fail against certain teams.
Gylfi looks better in attacking midfield
It took long enough, but Gylfi Sigurdsson finally got an extended run in his preferred position and started to look like the man who cost £45 million. While he may not have scored or assisted a goal, the little things he does well were evident in this match.
When players like Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen have been in central midfield there has been a real lack of urgency and quickness in their play. Both have so far had a tendency to loiter on the ball for too long, missing the quick openings that opposing defenses have presented them. Sigurdsson seems infinitely more confident on the ball and several times in this match showed a type of vision not found in other Everton midfielders. He seems to be able to see slightly different kids of passes and openings that other Everton midfielders have missed.
With a tight run of matches coming up SIgurdsson will hopefully stay in his preferred position and continue to build on the flashes of great play that have shown up so far.