Alright, that’s a wrap.
Pack up your things, inventory the goods and head for home.
The 2016-2017 Everton reached its unofficial conclusion Sunday when the Toffees meekly capitulated their perfect 2017 home record to the (now all but confirmed) league champions.
Some fans were less than happy with the Toffees efforts, but I don’t have much interest in dissecting the match.
As a much wiser man than I once said:
Facing the best team in the league, the last minute news that Morgan Schneiderlin would miss the match due to an injury suffered in training served as an ominous warning.
The squad battled, but the gap in talent was noticeably evident, and the substitutions just drove home the point of how far the Toffees have to go.
Chelsea brought on Willian. Everton brought on Arouna Kone.
So instead of lamenting the loss, let’s see how far we’ve come compared to this point in last season’s abysmal campaign:
- Currently 14 points better off (58 to 44)
- 4 places higher in the table
- Scored five more goals
- Given up 9 fewer goals
In fact, would the Toffees have racked up their current point total last season, they would find themselves in 5th, only two points out of Champions League positions.
In fact, let’s play a game.
Pretend that it’s January 1st 2016. The Toffees are struggling, there is no major money to be spent, the mood around the club is terrible, Roberto Martinez is still using the same two adjectives, and then….
A car driving by kicks up a rock that hits you square in the head, knocking you into a deep coma.
You are in this coma until May 1st, 2017.
After checking on your family, and finding out what the world has been up to, you ask about your beloved Toffees.
HOW ARE WE DOING? STILL IN THE TOP HALF AT LEAST?
Bracing for the worst, you get this reply:
“Well, actually, since you were last with us things have gone pretty well. They fired Martinez, and then got the man they wanted in Ronald Koeman from Southampton.”
WHAT?!? THAT’S GREAT!!
“I know, and there’s more. Koeman was able to pry Yannick Bolasie away from Crystal Palace, and though he ended up tearing his ACL he shone brightly in his time on the field. We also signed Ashley Williams, who captained Wales to the Euro semifinals, the leading tackler in Europe in Idrissa Gana Gueye, and replaced Tim Howard with Maarten Stekelenberg.”
HOW’D THAT GO?!?!?!
“Two out of three ain’t bad. I would expect us to spend a lot this summer on a keeper.”
US SPEND MONEY??? YEAH RIGHT, I WASN’T COMATOSE THAT LONG!!
“You see, Everton finally got an investor in Farhad Moshiri. He has poured his money into the club, including single-handedly paying off the debt with no expectation of repayment. He has also lent his financial backing to our recruitment efforts, letting players know they will be paid appropriately when they sign with the Toffees.
“In January we even signed Morgan Schneiderlin from Manchester United, and with Gueye on board and 18 year old Academy product Tom Davies exploding onto the scene (wait until I show you his goal against City), the midfield is pretty much set for the foreseeable future.”
OK, SO THEY MADE SOME GOOD SIGNINGS, BUT WITH FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY IT WON’T MATTER SINCE WE DON’T BRING IN ENOUGH REVENUE
“Well…..that’s actually being taken care of.”
“Finch Farm is now sponsored by USM, and the rumor is that the next shirt sponsor (Sportspesa? USM?) will DRAMATICALLY increase the money we make on our kits.”
“Oh, and you know Bramley-Moore docks?”
“We got approval and are on course to build a new stadium. We even have an architect”
“I know, right?”
OK, SO WE HAVE A SUGAR DADDY AND SOME NEW PLAYERS…HOW’S THE SEASON GOING?
“The news just keeps getting better.
“Lukaku stayed on board and is leading the golden boot race, we have a +15-goal differential and 14 more points than at this time last season.
“Oh, and we have already qualified for Europe.”
SO WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE TOFFEES FANS COMPLAINING ABOUT?
“While presumably excited about the direction of the club, I have seen complaints about the following:
- Lack of left-back depth
- The distance Romelu Lukaku runs
- Tom Davies grooming choices
Just to name a few.
Some people are never happy.
THAT’S CRAZY! THE WHOLE CLUB HAS CHANGED IN A YEAR!! I’M SO HAPPY!
“Glad to have you back, friend!”
JUST ONE LAST THING…..I KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO THE NEXT MATCH, SO COULD YOU DO ME A FAVOR WHEN YOU SEE MY FAVORITE PLAYER SEAMUS COLEMAN...JUST TELL HIM TO BREAK A LEG?
“Get some rest.”
ONTO YOUR QUESTIONS!
With Romelu Lukaku scoring goals at a historic pace, the assumption has been that Everton are in need of a playmaking midfielder.
While I do agree that the Blues need more keys to unlock all of the doors they face in the Premier League, I do wonder how close to an actual #10 Koeman will actually recruit.
Looking back at his Southampton teams, there seems to be a dearth of “creative” midfielders, and instead we see a squad composed of physical ground-covering central midfielders (Wanyama/ Schneiderlin), and dynamic wide players (Mane).
What is absent, however, is a #10.
So what gives, and who fits Koeman’s designs?
Well, a simple look at Ross Barkley reveals how the Dutch manager seeks production out of his attacking players. Instead of ball-circulating/ slid-rule slipping #10s who take up positions centrally and distribute, Koeman likes his creative players to start wide and work their way in.
This has allowed Barkley the freedom to find the best space to exploit and has totally reinvigorated his career. I would argue that to keep this position long-term Ross will have to find the back of the net more consistently, but he otherwise fits the bill.
So who would be a good target for the Toffees?
There are a lot of names in and out of England that I would love to see join Everton, but no one makes more sense than Gylfi Sigurdsson.
In fact, while Sigurdsson and Mane (now at Liverpool) have contrasting styles, they couldn’t have more similar results.
Very similar in key passes and chances created, Mane has an edge in goals (though Gylfi does have 9), while Sigurdsson averages twice as many assists.
When you consider the disparity in talent between their supporting teammates, the Swansea man’s numbers are that much more impressive.
Check out his performance against Manchester United:
The Icelandic man was everywhere!
Receiving the ball in a number of areas, Sigurdsson created four chances and scored a goal on a wicked free kick, another area Everton could use an upgrade on.
This direct, yet creative player, is exactly the type of proven (obtainable) talent that Koeman and Steve Walsh should (and probably will) be after.
The thought of Sigurdsson (or a comparable talent) joining the Toffees should get every Everton fan excited for the future and beyond.
Ross rocks a ‘sweet’ perm
Though fans hope he sticks around
The ‘do can hit the road
Normally balloons and some Werid Al Yankovich get me out of a bad mood, but silly string and “The Office” can also do the trick.
Joking aside though, I am assuming you are discussing the roiling apathy that seemed to pervade Goodison Park on Sunday.
In that case, I am going to give the team and fans a break.
It’s May 2nd and we are just dealing with the first home league loss of 2017!!!
We made it almost half the calendar year before succumbing to a visiting team, and it took the likely league champions to do it at that.
So while I can appreciate the concern for the crowd around Goodison, I am going to assume it is a blip on the radar due to the fast-approaching end of the season and the palpable tension as we approach the summer window and what fruits it may bear.
While I believe fans are content with the on-the-field success, I do get an overwhelming sense of (understandable) fear that the board is not going to be able to deliver on supporters sky-high expectations even with legitimate financial backing.
Everton is hanging out in the big kids’ pool now, and it’s time to sink or swim.