The last few matches have seen Everton’s season turn around from utter and catastrophic failure back to respectability.
After firing Ronald Koeman and watching David Unsworth bail out a sinking ship for over a month until help finally arrived in the shape of Big Sam, the Toffees have seen their season improve by almost every statistical measure.
From posting clean sheets like a laundromat to finally scoring like a Premier League side, the past month has seen improvement for the Toffees in every facet of the game and by every measure, both qualitative and quantitative.
Except one that is.
Not since Kevin Mirallas made a spectacle a few seasons ago by taking the ball from Leighton Baines and subsequently missing the kick (a la Christian Benteke for Palace last week) has the subject of penalty taking been so in the forefront of conversation among Everton fans.
When the season started, fans wondered if Baines would give up his penalty-taking duties in order to make way for the likes of Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson, natural goal scorers who have made a living off of their ability to strike a ball.
With seven spot kicks taken this season, fans would have assumed this question had been answered by now. Unfortunately, the circumstances around Everton’s penalties have allowed the manager (whoever it has been at the time) to avoid making a tough decision.
When Everton were awarded their first PK this season, late in the match against Brighton Hove and Albion, Rooney was the designated taker, but Leighton Baines wasn’t on the pitch, having been subbed off earlier in the match.
The next two penalties the Toffees drew, against Watford and Crystal Palace, were left to be converted by Baines, but Rooney was not on the field for consideration.
Baines converted both.
By the time Everton got another chance from 12 yards, it was the West Ham match and with Baines out injured, Rooney re-assumed duties.
Rooney missed. (He converted the follow-up).
In the Merseyside Derby, Rooney was left to take the HUGE kick.
Finally, in the match against Swansea, Rooney was given two chances from the spot.
He missed. (Luckily, DCL cleaned up his mess.)
Then he converted.
That leaves the count so far as follows for the season:
So with Rooney converting at only 60% (follow-ups don’t count), now is a perfect time to point out a simple fact:
WAYNE ROONEY SHOULD NOT BE TAKING PENALTY KICKS!
This will explain it:
These stats prove my statement pretty clearly.
Not only is Rooney not the BEST penalty taker, but he isn’t even SECOND best!
You see, for all of the debate between Baines and Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson may be the best of the bunch. At worst, he is as good as Baines, and MUCH more consistent than Rooney.
There is something to be said for the ‘captain’ or leader of the squad taking the responsibility for the team, but not when it is not in the best interest of the team.
Just imagine how much different things would be if Everton would have been unable to convert Rooney’s misses. Big Sam’s tenure would be steeped in much more trepidation.
Luckily, Big Sam has the opportunity to do what is best for the squad and retire Wayne Rooney from penalty-taking.
If Baines is not available, or chooses to remove himself from the conversation, then the only logical decision is to give the job to Gylfi Sigurdsson and his perfect Premier League PK record.
It may not be an easy decision, but it’s the right one.