Everton continued their wretched form this evening with an embarrassing performance as they were soundly defeated in Northern Italy. Atalanta won quite comfortably 3-0, but could have easily had half a dozen just like Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea before them.
If I could choose one word to sum up tonight’s game it would be ‘embarrassing’. Atalanta were all over the Blues from the word go, putting a toothless Everton team under constant pressure, pressure they couldn’t handle. They were energetic, enterprising, creative, clever and hungry, everything Everton weren’t. The rare couple of times Everton did attack they either pumped an over-hit ball up to Dominic Calvert-Lewin to chase or sluggishly advanced forward before eventually losing possession cheaply.
I could sit here and lament about the Everton defence, and to be honest on tonight’s showing they probably deserve it, but going forward the Blues have been indescribably bad and having such a lame attack puts added pressure onto the back four.
Atalanta took a deserved lead just before the half hour mark as centre back Andrea Masiello tapped in from a corner that was flicked on at the near post. Masiello actually won the corner himself after forcing a great save out of Maarten Stekelenburg. But this warning was not heeded by Everton as they stood like statues and just watched as he poked the home side ahead, Morgan Schneiderlin having lost his man.
Often, conceding a goal will spark a team into life. Unfortunately for Everton it did the complete opposite like against Spurs, as they struggled to string two passes together, lost possession time and time again and left Atalanta attackers in all sorts of space. It was only a matter of time before the Italians scored again and they did on 41 minutes. Argentine attacker Alejandro Gomez was chief tormenter for the Everton defence and he doubled the home side’s tally with a sensational curling effort, after he was allowed to cut onto his stronger right foot.
Just three minutes later and the game was well and truly over. Atalanta played a routine ball over the top for Andrea Petagna who had all the time in the world to pick out central midfielder Byran Cristante who neatly tucked his finish past Stekelenburg and put an exclamation mark on what was a horrific half for The Toffees.
Much like the Spurs game again, the damage had already been done and the second half was a dead rubber. Atalanta were happy to sit back and save their energy after getting the job done in the first period. Everton huffed and puffed like an asthmatic grandma trying to blow out her birthday candles but never really threatened the Italians goal. The one positive from the 2nd half was we didn’t concede any more goals, but that was more luck than anything as La Dea continued to create chances.
On a serious note though, Everton’s failure to create any real opportunities was unacceptable and it is not what those brilliant 3,000 or so travelling supporters deserve. Paying hundreds of pounds of their own hard-earned money and then being subjected to that absolute rubbish is not on and the least the club can do is refund their match tickets.
Tonight all our issues came crashing into us like an out of control freight train into a garden shed. A defence that started out looking okay but for three games now have performed well under par. A painfully slow midfield that doesn’t seem to have a clue what they’re meant to be doing or what system they’re in.
A non-existent attack made up of a 20-year-old with one senior goal, a 22-year-old experiencing his first season in Britain and a man once ridiculed as one of the worst strikers to ever pull on the royal blue shirt and has spent the last year as an outcast, out on loan or playing with kids 10 years younger than him (Niasse isn’t even in Everton’s Europa League squad). The lack of options up top for us is criminal and it’s quite frankly astounding that Ronald Koeman has looked at that frontline and thought it was decent enough to begin a Premier League season coupled with a Europa League campaign.
Koeman’s tactics have been rightly questioned over the last couple of weeks, conceding eight goals and scoring none in our last three games is woeful. The manager doesn’t seem to know his best system or his best starting line up, which again is very worrying considering the season is now well underway.
Everton can’t score, to be expected after losing Romelu Lukaku and not replacing him, which was always going to be an issue but it is now being amplified by the serious shortcomings in defence over the last few weeks. Now take a team who can’t defend and can’t score and it doesn’t take a professional data analyst to come to the conclusion that you’re in quite a bit of trouble.
The worst possible start to our Europa League campaign. Ronald Koeman was asking for a response after the weekend’s dreadful performance against Spurs and he didn’t get it. Everton were unimpressive on the opening day and barely squeezed past Stoke City, they were terrible at Chelsea, dreadful at home to Spurs and tonight was worse than anything I’ve seen in quite some time, stretching back to the David Moyes era.
Such abject displays will come under more scrutiny when you highlight the fact that Koeman has spent around £150 million in just one summer, a figure David Moyes and Roberto Martinez would struggle to reach combined in their full tenure as managers of the Toffees. Up next is Manchester United at Old Trafford, free-scoring and full of confidence......God help us!