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Toffees Mailbag: Barkley future, Lukaku exit, Rooney potential and more

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

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s mailbag you can check it out here!

We continue with your questions in the second installment of this week's Toffees Mailbag.

While I did hang up my Ross Barkley Magic 8 Ball career last week, partially on the idea that he was bound to say, last night brought more news to fuel the Ross is ultimately heading out the door.

Sorry.

Everton have officially listed him as having a hamstring injury, or a calf strain, or a case of the Mondays.

Whatever it it there is mounting speculation that Ross will be exiting this week (to Tottenham?) while Gylfi Sigurdsson will be joining the Toffees.

Elwyn, I would love to be able to tell you that I think that Ross is going to re-up with Toffees and have a fairy tale career as we reach for new heights, but the reality is that Koeman frankly doesn’t believe Barkley is necessary to have around in order to win, so he is therefore expendable.

Koeman isn’t someone who is going to ostracize a player who can help him over some type of personal vendetta or general dislike.

If he is willing to jettison Barkley off, you have to believe it is because it is what Koeman thinks is best for the club.

Yes, Ross is talented, and perhaps in a different environment can become the player everyone thinks (thought) he could be, whatever that is.

However, at the current time, it appears the club sees more value in the money they will receive by selling Ross than they do in his on field contributions.

As sad as it may be to say, I expect to see Ross playing in a different kit this season.

Maybe sadder, I’m totally ok with it.


Romelu is gone

We will now score in numbers

Woke from our slumber


When word came down that Romelu Lukaku was officially moving on from Everton, it came as no surprise to anyone who has followed the saga of the big Belgian.

What WAS surprising, however, was the club he ultimately joined, Manchester United.

Now, it’s not surprising that he would join a club like Manchester United as far as size goes, lord knows Lukaku’s over-sized ego will fit in perfectly in the land of the Red Devils.

The reason that Lukaku joining Man U is so surprising is because of who the manager is, Jose Mourinho.

The manager of many teams, but believer in only one formation, the (e)special(ly annoying) one and Lukaku have a history that I frankly thought would make Lukaku steadfastly refuse any move to a Mourinho team.

With a relationship dating all the way back to their time together at Chelsea in 2013, Lukaku and Mourinho have taken part in a winding tale of mutual respect and hatred that has wound itself around so many times that the former adversaries now find themselves working together again, except in a new environment.

When he arrived in 2013 Mourinho was insistent that Lukaku, coming off 17 goals for West Brom, would be a big part of his plans.

Then Lukaku went on loan.

That season, Mourinho had wonderful things to say about Lukaku:

It is one thing to play for Everton and another thing to play for Chelsea. There are no regrets.

Later, when Lukaku was vexed as to why Mourinho hadn’t been in touch:

He's a young boy who likes to speak.

And my last contact with him was to tell him exactly that: 'Why do you never say why you are not here?'

What we start to pickup on is that perhaps Lukaku was given an opportunity to stay and Chelsea and fight it out, but stated he would rather be first choice with Everton and playing week in and week out.

That would explain Mourinho’s willingness to let Lukaku leave permanently for the Toffees in 2014, he didn’t like Rom’s attitude.

Romelu was always very clear with us in his mentality and his approach was not highly motivated to come to a competitive situation at Chelsea. He wanted to be clearly the first-choice striker.

After two years of taking digs at Lukaku, you would have thought the Belgian was getting tired of the Special One. However, on his way out the door to Everton, Rom made sure to compliment the Portuguese manager.

Profusely.

It is really sad he has to go. He is a great character and a great man. Even though there were words said in the media, I never looked at it because I know what he did and not a lot of managers would do that.

I never got the chance to say it but I would say thank you to Jose Mourinho.

It’s weird isn’t it??

1.They have a private meeting in which Mourinho says Lukaku asked to leave so he could go be a #1 option in a world cup year.

2. Mourinho belittles Lukaku for lack of ambition and competitiveness. Dismisses his chances of becoming an elite level striker.

3. Lukaku thanks Mourinho profusely.

See why I am confused?

What is it about Mourinho that makes Lukaku so desperate to prove himself to the Portugese mind-bender?

Lukaku has had a career that has been incredibly impressive to date, with all of it happening outside of Mourinho’s tutelage.

Rom is so psyched to get back to work with someone who was an assistant at Barcelona he forgot to completely value his time playing for one of the LEGENDS of Barca.

As of last year, Rom was setting himself up for a reunion, when he can presumably win the affections and approval of his apparent pseudo-father-figure Mourinho.

"Some people will say that I need to convince him but it's not a question of that. Three years ago I was 20 and I wasn't ready to be immediately effective in a top team.

What Lukaku doesn’t realize (or maybe he does?) is that he is basically proving Mourinho’s initial assessment all those years ago as correct.

Can you imagine if Wayne Rooney would have walked into Sir Alex Ferguson’s office after initially signing with him and told him that he wanted to go back to Everton so he could be first choice?

He was only a teenager then.

NO! Wayne Rooney has the self belief that has led him to the amazing career he has had.

He was by no means a polished diamond when he arrived at Old Trafford, but mentally he was equipped with the tools necessary to reach the heights he did.

That’s why Sir Alex signed him, and exactly why Jose let Rom leave Chelsea.

So having said all of that, what do we make of Rom’s reunion with the Special One?

Has Rom suddenly developed the mindset needed to carry a big club to glory?

No.

His return to work with Mourinho affirms what I have always believed about Rom, that he NEEDS to know that everyone thinks as highly of him as he hopes they do.

Who was going to question him at Everton?

He had 4 TIMES AS MANY GOALS AS THE 2ND LEADING SCORER!

That let Rom play with the confidence needed to thrive (see 25 non PK goals).

He never had to worry about losing his spot, and now he has built up enough self-confidence to go back and prove to Mourinho that he is the striker Jose wants him to be.

Think about this though:

How will Lukaku react when Man U goes through a rough patch, Jose throws him under the bus, and he is dropped for Rashford?

Will Lukaku says all the right things?

Or will he go back into Jose’s dressing room and ask the manager to somehow rebuild his confidence?

You see, Jose Mourinho has one more year left at Old Trafford before his three year window expires and he completes burning all possible bridges within the club.

At that point he will leave, move onto another club, and Lukaku will be left to deal with the results and reflections upon him.

Best case, Mourinho and Rom find success together, Lukaku elevates himself into one of the Top 3 strikers in the world, and Man United begin another run of success on the backs of ultimate ‘bros’ Pogba and Lukaku.

Worst case, Man United get off to a sputtering start, Mourinho makes Lukaku the scapegoat as their relationship sours, Rashford (or Martial) step in as the lead man at Old Trafford and Lukaku becomes the biggest bust in the history of world soccer.

Lukaku’s need to be wanted by what he perceives to be the best manager in the world may prove dividends as he stands at the edge of an opportunity unlike any other he has ever had in his football career.

Just hope he handles it better than this.


Oh the £150,000 question!

First, let’s start off by saying if you asked 20 interested people you very well may get every number from 1-20 back in response.

There is not only not a general consensus on the expectations for Rooney next season, but there isn’t even a RANGE from which to operate from.

So, how will the diminutive striker do?

We could go back and breakdown how he Rooney has performed over the past two seasons, but there are two very good reasons not to do that:

  1. You have probably read a lot of those articles the past few days/weeks/months
  2. Man United played him so far out of position he almost put gloves on.

With that in mind, all we have left to do it to project forward based on our knowledge of the squad, tendencies of the manager, but mainly, and most importantly our overall optimism or pessimism.

If you have ever read this column, I think you would describe me as equal parts optimist, equal parts pragmatist. (That could be me being optimistic though too.)

So, what kind of season do I think Wayne Rooney will have?

A solid one.

Sure, his leadership, experience etc... will help tremendously throughout the season, but Rooney will also have a significant impact on the score sheet as well.

Not being used as a winger (though possibly still starting stationed wide) Rooney will be asked to do what he does best: finish in the box.

Rooney will be used as an out and out finisher and goal poacher.

I anticipate both seeing Wazza paired up top with Sandro in a 5-3-2 (3-5-2) setup, and being utilized as a true #9 in a front three. Finally, against weaker sides when Everton are on the front foot for long streatches, Rooney can and will be used as a #10 to create and make secondary runs into the box.

In these setups, with proper balance in the side, and a fitter Wayne than we have seen in years, he has the chance to score a healthy amount of goals.

My guess at this point:

13 goals, 7 assists in all competitions.


The first thought that popped into my head what Aguero’s name showed up in the tweet above is that Mr. Lewis must have gotten his team’s mixed up and this was intended for a different midweek mailbag.

Then I saw the bit about Besic and knew Aaron was on the up and up because NO ONE makes mistakes when it comes to Muhamed Besic.

Speaking of the Bosnian, Besic enters the season as one of the team's true enigmas.

Short of stealing a regular spot in the side, all other outcomes seem plausible for tattooed midfielder.

When he is one the pitch he has been the personification of the Everton way, a walking crest if you will. Besic shows some TENACIOUS tackling (though he swears it’s tactical) and an ability to drive the team forward when the side lacks a bit of gumption.

Thus far, the only thing that seems to be able to stop Besic is well, himself and the physio.

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

His injury-riddled career has been tough to follow as fans have been itching to see what he could do with a regular run of games.

Unfortunately for him, he reenters a DRASTICALLY different side from the one he departed from injured early in the season.

Competition at his position has only gotten stiffer, and if rumors are to be believed, more could be on the way before the window closes September 1st.

So what does the future hold for Besic?

Well, I think that Koeman is going to bide his time with Besic. While competition is fierce with Gueye, Davies, Schneiderlin and Klaassen all hoping to be regulars in the side and sitting well ahead of him, Besic does bring a certain bite that I think Koeman is looking for.

If the new additions to the side usher in a new era of mentality across the side, then perhaps Besic’s value in the side is lowered and Koeman loans him out in January to get game time (something the midfielder needs TERRIBLY).

I had quietly thought to myself that perhaps Koeman had designs on using him as additional depth at RB, after Besic has had some..... we will say experiences.... there but the imminent arrival of Cuco Martina later this week tells me my intuition was way off..nothing new.

If I was a betting man, I would say that (barring unforeseen circumstances of course) we will see Muhamed Besic get a few appearances in the early part of the season before being loaned out in January to get the much-needed game time mentioned before.

As for Aguero, the answer is no, it is not entirely inconceivable that we would pursue the Argentinian striker, it’s just NOT going to happen.

It is important, however, to note that prior to this transfer window it WOULD have been inconceivable because even if the player was available (he’s not) Everton wouldn’t have entertained the idea of spending the amount of money necessary to acquire such a talent.

(On a side note, if Aguero IS available and leaves Manchester City for a penny less than Romelu Lukaku was sold for we live in a crazy world.)

Everton now find themselves shopping in a different class, and the idea that we all now root for a club who has the financial, if not yet competitive, clout to compete for a player like Sergio Aguero is mind blowing.

Fantastic, but mind blowing.

Remember, anytime you have a question for the mailbag just hit us up on twitter @foleysthoughts and @rbmersey!! Anything goes!!