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Toffees’ Tuesday Mailbag

Answering all of your relevant, and irreverent, Everton questions.

What a bummer, huh?

With top six teams dropping points like Hansel and Gretel trying to find their way back to this point in the season, Everton had a chance (albeit a tough one) to legitimately enter into the Champions League conversation.

Our Toffees, hindered largely by some poor individual performances, however, were unable to capitalize on the opportunity and left Everton fans everywhere with the feeling this season might just be wrapping up.

With just about three months left of work to do, the chance for Europa League remains, though it feels as if it is mostly out of the squad’s hands.

That means the rest of this season will be spent analyzing individuals, identifying weaknesses in the squad, and preparing to address them in the upcoming summer window.

Some positions know they are essentially getting a tryout (keeper), while other positions (center back) know that the arrival of their competition (replacement?) is inevitable.

How those (and other players) respond to the end of the season will reveal a lot to the manager about them personally and professionally and set the groundwork for next season to be even more successful than the present one.

There will be plenty of tactical and personnel breakdowns of this past weekend’s match, you aren’t feeling super cheery, and I think you could probably use something a little different to start your Tuesday, so let’s kick off this week’s edition with a a bit of a curveball!


Yes.

I decided to offer up a minute-by-minute run down of my emotions during the match. (Note: I have gone back and edited my points and added pictures etc....I don’t work THAT fast)

1’: At first I thought Barry was going to sit deepest in the midfield, but I forgot that Morgan doesn’t like to share his space. I already have a bad feeling about this midfield spacing.

2’: Davies is already in the box…..good sign for the game plan. Can he make something magical happen?

3’: My stomach hurts.

4’: Lukaku is actually finding the ball early. Hopefully won’t be a game that he only gets on the ball once or twice in.

5’: Dele Ali must hang out with that Tom guy from the British Dive team……he’s an expert…and Eriksen is terrifying over a free kick

6’: Lukaku one-on-one......I’ll take it. Also, Tom Davies can really pick a pass

7’: What a play by Baines. Still has another gear when he needs it…not a Walker-level gear mind you, but with his speed and intelligence he can still match up with anyone. I still wouldn’t be surprised if Everton sunk 5-6 million on a legitimate backup for him. Unless they aren’t worried about Brendan Galloway’s disastrous loan spell and think he is the long term answer.

8’: Ugh.....we seem nervous

9’: Michael Oliver has to change out his spray. He obviously used it to shave his peach fuzz before the game, overestimated how much he needed (he’s new to the practice), and had to change it out.

10’: We aren’t stepping to the ball like we normally do....

11’: ugh........

12’: We are sitting a little deeper than I would like us to, though if Lukaku can keep getting chances on the break it may be worth the risk. It’s nice when your attacking midfielders are Gana and Davies though, willing and capable of tracking the entire match.

13’: The more I watch Davies, the higher I believe his ceiling to be.

14’: I don’t like the mood....

15’: It’s too quiet

16’: Funes Mori calmly knocks down a cross with his chest to Robles. Koeman’s influence on the Argentinian has never been more evident. You can’t count on Funes Mori, but he can be a solid third/fourth option moving forward.

17’: Eerily quiet still....these spells never work out in our favor it seems

18’: If I have any confidence it is FALSE

19’: ........

20’: I HATE Harry Kane.

21’: Oh coach is going to be mad at half-time!! At first I was upset with Barry, but a second look shows Gana allowing Kane to get goal side and get his shot off. Barry is left trying to cover two options. I wasn’t happy about his inclusion, but blaming him for the goal is harsh.

22’: Oh Joel!!! You are better than that!!! (Right??)

23’: That one hurt. Robles positioning is awful, footwork is harried, and his dive is WAY late.

Soooo many things wrong with the keeper here:

1. Should be closer to the near post

2. The ball is in flight and his weight it still on his left foot

3. He is too late to dive at a positive (forward) angle and therefore must dive laterally, losing both the angle and strength in his save

Make no mistake, this is EXACTLY the type of goal that will have Everton searching for a new keeper in the Summer.

As for Everton fans who say I’m being harsh, just imagine if Timmy Howard would have given this goal up last season. He would not have been granted reprieve, but rather attacked by fans and pundits alike as unfit for the job. The front office would have been chastised for keeping him around.

Why is Joel any different??

24’: (still fuming)

25’: This match has early sub written all over it, though I have my doubts Koeman would pull Barry before halftime (too much respect). I get the concept of Barry’s inclusion, but everyone is trying to divvy up the space he can’t cover. The game is just too fast. It’s odd that Koeman sees it with Phil but not with Gareth. Oh well, they are smarter than I am!

26’: Our midfield is soooooo flat

27’: THERE’S the old Funes Mori....getting in a solid karate kick on Kane. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching that happen. (He’s ok)

28’: Maybe a back three at halftime? Is halftime close?? Please??

29’: If we escape down 1-0 I’ll call it a success!!

30’: Spurs are getting sloppier, they might just let us off the hook. Koeman is good and making useful changes. Going to need it.

31’: Me every time Funes Mori is near the ball

32’: We are playing very direct, but with our current tactics we have no other choice. Lukaku will definitely find one in these circumstances,right? Can we keep them out though??

33’: Can I breathe yet?

34’: It’s still only 1-0, right?

35’: That’s better.....a real string of passes!

36’: Is it the second half yet??

37’: Sometimes I think we all forget to thank Ashley Williams for bringing a calming influence the back line. He has been a HUGE pickup. Not without his flaws (and miles), but a perfect player for this transition year.

38’: Ok....things aren’t so bad

39’: Have to give our side credit for offering a counter punch after the goal and ensuing push by Spurs. Still creaky in the back, but we are offering something going forward at least.

40’: Spurs have a bit of weariness about them...Lukaku tends to do that to teams

41’: Almost there.....

42’: Can I look yet?

43’: The game has definitely settled down, though there is still an anxious feeling in the air with both sides weary of the dangers the other side offers.

44’: Oh come on!! This taking forever!

45’: HALFTIME WHISTLE

How I felt trying to make it to the whistle.

Not a great half, but it could have been worse. I am interested to see what changes (if any) Koeman will make at the break. With the players currently on the pitch, he has the flexibility to change the team any way he sees fit. Maybe Mirallas for width? Lookman to offer something in behind and push the Tottenham back line deeper? McCarthy for more athleticism?? Kone for wis....just kidding!!

SECOND HALF

46’: Ok. So no changes in personnel, can an adjustment of tactics do the trick?

47’: Seconds into the half and Tottenham are playing through an advantage from a Barry foul on Kane…my hopes aren’t very high for a different tune this 45.

48’: You can accuse Everton of a lot of things today, lacking physicality is NOT one of them. They are stepping into EVERY challenge.

49’: But we are still losing

50’: Sometimes I wish the Premier League was like ancient battles. We could just send our biggest/ best warrior (Lukaku) to determine the victor. I would take that setup now. (I know I said McCarthy would win a battle royale but intimidation counts extra in this hypothetical.)

51’: Doesn’t appear to be any major tactical changes. Though the Toffees are pressing a bit higher.

52’: I can’t figure out if Davies being constantly offside is a really good or a really bad sign.

53’: Spurs wing players are giving us a heck of a time...do we need more width?

54’: We need SOMETHING

55’: Mirallas or Lookman coming in would be able to hold the outside backs a little bit as opposed to letting them run free. I am really shocked Koeman hasn’t made major changes yet. It may be too little too late.

56’: If I wasn’t right about Robles before I am now

57’: What an idiot.

58’ Classic case of doing too much.

59’: WHY ARE YOU ROLLING THIS BALL OUT!?!?!

60’: WHAT WAS HE THINKING????

61’: I mean look at the setup!! Williams is on the wrong side of Schneiderlin (AND NOT LOOKING AT THE BALL), Funes Mori is too wide (so wide you can’t see him), and Dele Alli and Kane are both already in their high press position. JUST GET THE BALL FORWARD!!!

62’: The most frustrating part is that as poorly as the Toffees were in the first half, they should still be in the game, if not tied! Robles has been terrible.

63’: Lukaku has been working his butt off today. No complaints about his effort. He must be fuming....

64’: Davies off for Mirallas and McCarthy on for Barry. Why couldn’t he do the job Koeman asked Barry to do (but couldn’t) from the start? I’m sure I’m the only person to have that thought.

65’: Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

66’: Mood check:

Moving on.

67’: I expect us to have a positive reaction the final 20. If only because they guys are terrified of Koeman.

68’: The difference between this Tottenham team and previous version is that they aren’t going to give Everton a way back into the match, the Toffees are going to have to earn it, and right now, they can’t.

69’: Mirallas looking dangerous…it’s nice to have options off the bench. If he is in the same role next year we will be in a good spot. Love Kevin, but not consistent enough to start for a top four team.

70’: Booooooooring......

71’: This is so frustrating

72’: Tottenham is doing a great job killing off this match

73’: 7th place isn’t so bad

74’: I hope Lukaku stays......WE LOVE YOU ROM!!!

75’: (Trying to come up with positive spin)

76’: Schneiderlin makes a great run and Coleman draws the foul. The ensuing free kick is flubbed and the chance is lost….story of the match…..

77’: We need reinforcements

78’: This match will go down as a 90 minute advertisement for Everton’s need to sign 2 new center backs and a goalkeeper in the summer. It’s why Barry was on the field (Koeman doesn’t trust them against the top sides) thus the Toffees imbalance, and Robles is directly at fault for both goals (with slight assists from his teammates).

79’: Rom looks fresh. Is he in shape or just been cut out of this game? I’ll go with the former.

80’: Only 10 minutes left....

81’: GOOOOALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

82’: Oh Romelu. How I love you so!!!!! Some will say that Vertonghen slipped but that is only because Lukaku’s first touch was so perfect it froze the Spurs man and caused him to fall.

83’: Robles gets in the way again, as Kane puts it into his chest for the second time today.

84’: This is the underestimated part of Lukaku’s game: he leans on his man all match and in the last 10 the defenders (sick of carrying 200 pounds of Belgian) give him half a yard of space that he turns into opportunities. Difference is, this year unless previous years he is converting them. Happens EVERY match.

85’: CORNER!!!

Barkley is really trying to take account for himself this match. He isn’t going to hide from the responsibility this match. He has covered a lot of grass. Carried that ball for 75 yards to draw the corner.

86’: Moussa Sissohko comes onto the pitch. Which team is happier to see him playing this match in a Tottenham kit? (Hint: they don’t have a pigeon on their crest)

87’: We couldn’t scratch out a point? Could we??

88’:You have to think there is one more chance for the Toffees here. Or at least one more CHANCE for a chance.

89’: Maaaaaaaaybe?

90’: Nope. Another bad goal to concede. Poor communication between Baines and Morgs. I don’t want to rewatch it right now.

How that goal felt:

We might do it....we might actually do it!!

91’: Did I mention how much I dislike Harry Kane? Gifted him two goals today. He should send Robles a thank you card this week.

92’: Valencia has definitely been a spark.

93’: GOOOOOOOOOALLL!! Now he is a goal scorer! Man, that late free kick goal hurts even more. Costs us a precious point on the road.

FULL TIME: It will be interesting to see what (if any) blame Koeman takes for his teams selection and tactics today. Once Barry went off the team looked totally different. Gaza’s addition screamed of a manager expecting to have his side a bit overwhelmed, and the side he chose capitulated with their performance. Barkley showed a new level of maturity. The response in the final 20 minutes is a reminder of the true heart of this team, but the Dele Ali free kick goal, ultimately the winner, will keep the Dutch manager up tonight. Lots for Toffees fans to be frustrated with, but also plenty of reasons to keep their heads up.


With Isco likely to leave Los Merengues in the summer, do Everton have any remote fleeting hope of bringing him to Goodison? Do you think he could survive the Prem (love him, but have some doubts about that)?

Jeff

Great question Jeff.

While you may have concerns about Isco in the Premier League, the fact you even see a direct (and realistic) route for Real Madrid fringe players to Goodison speaks volumes to the changes underway at Everton.

Isco is undoubtedly a talented player, but whether or not he would fit into the Premier League is a legitimate one. We need only look at our beloved Geri Deulofeu to see how raw talent can suffer in the ultra-physical ultra-competitive Premier League.

So how would Isco fit in? Let’s investigate!

The details:

So he can play anywhere across the attacking line, likes to beat people off the dribble, gets fouled often, and doesn’t like aerial duels.

Most Everton fans would admit that we could definitely use more players able to beat people off the dribble and get at goal.

In Spain there never seems to be a lack of those, so let’s put Isco to the litmus test.

How much ground does he cover? Here is his heat map in a 2-0 win against Espanyol in which he picked up two assists.

We should note that he started as a wide midfielder in a 4-3-3.

While we certainly can’t assume anything based on his heat map, we CAN tell he is not afraid to run and cover space. On a team allowed to move freely in the attack like Real Mardid does, it is imperative that players are aware of and create their own space. Seems like Isco is a willing runner.

When he is on the ball though, is he limited or one-dimensional? What’s his pass chart from that same match against Espanyol?

What is evident, besides his ability to pop up all over the field, is his varying styles of passes.

Flat, short, long, backwards, and incisive, the Real Madrid man seems quite comfortable distributing to and from anywhere on the pitch.

You’ll notice his assist was from a deep position, just the type of ball into the forwards Everton can use more of to keep defenders on their heels.

Can it translate into the Premier League?

Much like the reader who asked the original question, I have some serious doubts about his physical capabilities in England, though the current Toffees lineup does ease some of my concerns.

With Gana, Schneiderlin and Davies, Everton have plenty of bite in their midfield. Assuming at least two play, the Toffees will find themselves in the unfamiliar position of considering ‘luxury’ players, or rather players who (outside of our strikers) can be allowed to operate free of strict defensive or tactical assignments.

I think that this summer will see Everton invest in at least one player solely for their offensive output, and in spite of all other metrics.

Will that player be Isco? I can’t say for sure, but I for one wouldn’t be upset if we picked up a player who can do this.


Down from the Spurs loss?

Don’t forget how far we have come

Kone did not play!


Speaking of good news, this morning brought more in the form of a much-needed contract extension for Romelu Lukaku.

While this news makes me happy, it’s not because it means Lukaku is staying (barring a miracle CL push he’s not), but it means when he does inevitably exit Everton stand to make a MAJOR windfall.

I really can’t overstate how impressed I am with Lukaku’s professionalism. This move is mutually beneficial, but Everton were certainly the ones with more to lose should he not sign and leave on the cheap, or even worse, free.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe he sticks around another season, but either way Romelu Lukaku’s time as a Toffee will be remembered for his selflessness and willing to help out the club however he could.

With Walsh and Koeman, I have no doubt the large financial gains from a possible Lukaku sale will be intelligently reinvested to strengthen the side and move the Toffees towards their ultimate goals.