It’s coming down to the wire, isn’t it?
With only a few more days left in the window, it would be an understatement to say that Everton fans are nervous about the ability of the Toffees board to acquire Ronald Koeman’s last two targets: a striker and left-sided defensive cover.
Everton’s lack of depth striker does not come as news to anyone who has even a passing interest in the Toffees, making Everton’s last minute scramble for someone to rotate with Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the #9 all the more frustrating.
In defense of Everton though, strikers are incredibly difficult to sign as teams look to squeeze every penny they can out of the team in need, in this case Everton.
Other teams are well aware of the Toffees pressing need, so it would make sense for them to drag out negotiations, hoping the looming deadline will loosen the Toffees purse strings.
Unfortunately that is just how things operate in today’s Premier League and so while I am not surprised to find Everton in this situation, I AM nervous about how it will play out.
After being left at the altar on deadline day by Moussa Sissoko last year (in a stroke of MAJOR luck as it would turn out) I know that I am not alone in trembling in trepidation for what deadline day may hold.
Needless to say, if a Enner Valencia-esque last minute loan deal is all the club have to show for their efforts, Toffees fans are not going to be a happy bunch coming out of the international break.
However, with our new leadership having already reshaped the future of the club for generations to come I am going to keep faith that Everton will come through and September will shape up to be an even better month than August was.
That’s right, I said it.
August was a good month:
- One (miracle) conceded in two European elimination series.
- A 1-1-1 start in the league despite an incredibly difficult opening triad of matches.
- Discovery that Jordan Pickford is a demi-god
All of this was done while a team of relative strangers worked through a truncated preseason and the increasing weight of expectations that come with the amount of money spent to acquire them.
While the frustrations about the inability to sign a striker and more defensive cover earlier in the window are valid, they HAVE to be considered in conjunction with the work the club DID take care of early enough to have the aforementioned successes the Toffees have had at the beginning of the campaign.
Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Sandro Ramirez and Wayne Rooney were all brought in to ensure their ability to contribute in the early season matches.
Which they did!
Those five players (and have to throw in Cuco Martina for good measure) have been core members of a new-look Everton side they themselves joined just months ago that has progressed twice in Europe.
The rapid integration of these new players has been something to behold.
So between the hand-wringing and anxious moments caused by the stress of work left to do in the transfer market, just remember that things at Everton are heading nowhere but up.
Now, AND for the foreseeable future.
Onto your questions!
6 shots on goal in 3 matches. Can it really just be personnel or the way we set up. Even if a real CF arrives does it fix all our issues?— MBP (@Philatty) August 28, 2017
It’s fair to say that there is going to be a theme to this mailbag.
The first few matches have brought a mixture of excitement, puzzlement, frustration, and anticipation.
Excitement for the immediate and resounding impact Wayne Rooney and the other new additions have made.
Puzzlement at Ronald Koeman’s choices of personnel and tactics.
Frustration at watching the team struggle at key moments due to lack of depth in positions identified by Koeman as needing strengthening MONTHS ago.
Anticipation of what the last few days of the window and the rest of teh season will bring as new players continue to file in and integrate.
All of these emotions are valid, as each is kindled by the possibly seismic positive and negative consequences of the situation at hand.
Unfortunately, unless you used to be Brandon Stark, you will have to wait with the rest of us to find out what happens, and even he is having trouble seeing what the future holds.
Thanks a lot Night King!
Now to actually answer the question, I DO think the addition of another true forward to the squad will make a noticeable impact.
With the addition of another #9, Koeman will no longer be forced to juggle his lineup and tactics due to the lack of a healthy striker to lead the line.
While I think Everton will maintain some level of flexibility with their formation, I am fairly certain Koeman would like to be able to play the same formation (presumably a 4-3-3) to let the players get settled in and learn each others habits and tendencies.
When DCL (who is a fantastic striker) is unavailable to due to injury or exhaustion (see: Chelsea match) Koeman is required to reconfigure the whole team, often times resonating all the back in the defense as a shift between 2 and 3 center backs, depending on what the opponent and available players allow/call for.
With the incredibly high number of new first team players trying to gel together, having an established formation, thanks to depth at every position, will allow the team to become even more cohesive in a short amount of time.
So, when it comes down to whether personnel or tactics are to blame for a less than inspiring start in the attack:
However, if the board can sort out the personnel issues the tactical ones will follow them out the door.
Y did we sell lukaku b4 we replaced him? Did Everton bring Rooney in for that purpose and if they did they need to give their heads wobble— debbie (@debbiewright197) August 28, 2017
Thank you for your tweet @debbiewright197!! Keep them coming!
There is a lot packed in there so let’s break it down and attack it piece-by-piece
- Why did we sell Lukaku before we replaced him?
- Did Everton bring Rooney in for that purpose?
- If they did, they need to give their heads [a] wobble.
- It can seem frustrating to see Lukaku settling in at Manchester United while Everton chase more reinforcements late in the window, and I dare not claim to know all the nuances of the transfer market, but buying forwards is incredibly tough and it becomes a game of never being caught with too few or too many at the same time.
For example, if Everton would have purchased say, Olivier Giroud from Arsenal, in mid-June it would have sent a signal to any team considering a bid for Rom that Everton were preparing for his departure.
This would cause teams to slow play their hands and hope to get Rom for much cheaper than he is really worth (and what eventually went for) as the window closed and Everton had too many strikers and an obvious need to cash in on the big Belgian.
Of course, the flip side of that is where the team stands now, late in the window without a physical, if not scoring, replacement for Rom and scouring leagues throughout the world to find a player who can produce in the Premier League.
2. Was Rooney signed as Rom’s replacement?
Rooney may be shown as a lone striker at times but Koeman has already shown a propensity/desire to drop Rooney deeper in matches to help control the tempo.
He will obviously chip in to the committee of scoring to replace Lukaku, but he is NOT Rom’s replacement.
3. As I just stated, they did not bring in Rooney to replace the Belgian whiner Lukaku, so no heads need wobbling.
If the window closes with players added at striker and CB/LB, does the squad have enough depth for the congested schedule?— Norman R Groves (@NormanGroves) August 29, 2017
As I pointed out earlier, while the squad was certainly stretched the last week with three games in six days, the Toffees ultimately survived with respectable, if not impressive, results.
So do I think that the addition of another striker and CB/LB will ultimately allow Everton to deal with a Europa League schedule that is as cruel as it is beautiful.
With suspensions and injuries already testing the depth of the squad, the international break (and presumable additions to the squad) couldn’t come at a better time.
Assuming Koeman does get his wish and adds players at the two aforementioned positions, Everton will be a very strong position for the glut of games (28!) between now and the new year.
When the team has it’s full (or almost full) compliment of players there are (positive) selection problems all around, and like last week when the team needs to dig deep and rely on players who may not normally see the field, it has shown the ability to do that too.
Toss in a few more quality players to the mix?
Who is our leading goal scorer at season's end?— K B (@kjbert) August 28, 2017
If and only if because he got a head start.
Considering our limp attack, is a formation change the answer? Or a part of the answer?— Deckard Trebuchet (@xianorton) August 28, 2017
My first question would be to ask what formation we were changing FROM.
If you are referencing the 3-back system deployed against Chelsea, then YES, it is the answer.
As I said before, that’s not to say that Koeman has been choosing formation willy-nilly, it’s just that he has had a pileup of matches he has had to navigate and in doing so has adjusted his tactics a bit to suit the strengths of the players who are on the field.
Once Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman return from their long-term injuries, they will go a long way in continuing the move to the 4-3-3 it is assumed Koeman is ultimately heading towards.
If after a few weeks you find yourself asking yourself these same questions, especially under the pretenses or ever-changing lineups, then you know that the side is still unsettled and will continue to be for the more than immediate future.
However, the international break and new additions should breathe fresh air into the side and after the international break the Toffees will be a rested, raring, machine.