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Toffees Mailbag: The Oumar Niasse song, supporting Everton, FIFA 18

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Answering all of your relevant, and irreverent, Evertonish related questions.

What a week it’s been!

Since the last mailbag, Everton have outscored their opponents 5-1 and gone 2-0 in the process.

Besides that, just a few other noteworthy events, like Gareth Barry’s record appearance in the league and Mason Holgate at center back.

Don’t worry....the Toffees survived, somehow.....

Besides that there was one other thing....

OUMAR!!

Oumar Niasse’s resurrection in an Everton jersey, complete with tangible point-winning implications (not just feel-good ones), has been the talk of the Everton community this week.

Well, the talk, and the music.

After watching the match and being on cloud nine, I decided to write a quick tune with a buddy of mine and perform it as sort of a fun way to remember such a crazy 72 hours.

(Watch your ears...you’ve been warned)

The responses were mixed, with a lot of people being very kind about my “singing” voice and enjoying the gist of the tune.

Some found it understandably repulsive, and others were perturbed at the message it sent and how it could be used against them.

Now, I am not at all a sourpuss.

I know that there are all different fans who like to see different content about their team, and assuming they have their hearing, enjoy not listening to off key singing.

So as you will see I love to engage fans from all over, even those who only want to express their disdain for the video or other work I do.

It is THEIR opinion, they are welcome to it (and to share it), and I am always fascinated to hear feedback, as it let’s me know what other fans are thinking and ways in which I can reach new supporters and provide them Everton related content in a way they maybe haven’t seen before.

To be honest though, this whole diatribe is not about the video or the responses at all, but rather a question that popped into my mind as I was engaging with other Everton fans:

HOW are we supposed to support Everton?

Not WHY.

Zach Hicks already covered that.

But HOW.

I don’t know about you, but my Everton fandom feels as though it is just as much a source of anxiety and anger as it is a source of joy.

So how are we supposed to do this?

Support with blind loyalty and ignore the issues, trudging ahead optimistically into the next match?

Be hyper-critical of every maneuver on and off the field, unhappy with incremental success and only joyful once we win a trophy?

Somewhere in-between?

These questions are rhetorical in nature, of course, as everyone has their own motivations for rooting for Everton and thus their own forms of expression.

However, it is starting to feel like fans are finding their fandom in negativity.

No, this is not a new phenomenon by any stretch of the imagination, but the social media experience has certainly enhanced the volume of the negativity.

It’s just the nature of people to feel aggrieved and want to express it, and right now many fans feel let down by a club falling short of their expectations.

Which is the problem, I think.....

Expectations are the root of disappointment, and the expectations for this season were incredibly out of whack for the talent on hand.

Fans can point to a failure to sign a striker etc.... but no matter what way you split it fans had unrealistic expectations for individuals and the team.

(Don’t confuse HOPE with expectations. I HOPE we win the title, I don’t expect it.)

You see, fans are becoming more like movie critics:

“If this doesn’t end how I want it to and meet my preconceived notions I will be unhappy”.

than movie-fans:

“I hope this is a good movie!”

The thing is, is when the movie is OVER, both critic and fan alike can form their own opinion, which at the end of the day is the only one that should matter to an individual.

The critic may be able to say ‘good, it met my expectations’ or ‘what a piece of trash’, but no matter what happens in the movie they are only there to analyze it, not experience it, depriving them of the basic joy that drew them to be a fan of movies in the first place.

So as you prepare for Thursday’s Europa League match and Sunday’s Premier League contest, I would challenge to be excited about all the good things that might happen.

Grab your drink and snacks, settle in for the game, and root on your beloved Toffees with the same joy that brought you to our beloved club.

And if they stink the joint up?

Then come back here and we can tear apart the poor tactical, personnel, and on-field decisions together.

For what it’s worth...THIS is what I think sports are about:

TO YOUR QUESTIONS!!


Let’s start at the back:

Assuming we only play one keeper, we will begin with the..

DEFENCE

BIG QUESTION: BACK 3 OR BACK 4???

Answer: Back four

With limited options at center back, it makes little sense to stretch the squad thin and risk losing another CB option with Jags and Keane already nursing (slight) injuries.

(WE HAD TO WATCH MASON HOLGATE PLAY THERE!!!!)

As for outside back, the right side has more depth than Meryl Streep (and getting MUCH stronger soon)

while the left side Leighton Baines left side is more like Kristen Stewart, it’s only got one look.

Alas, the Toffees will forge on and hopefully bring in the left-sided reinforcements Koeman has so badly craved.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD

BIG QUESTION: HOW MANY CENTER-MIDS CAN KOEMAN SQUEEZE IN?

Gueye, Schneiderlin, Davies, Klaassen, Besic, Sigurdsson.

The depth in midfield was always going to be a strength for Everton coming into the season, and picking out a consistent lineup has been made difficult by a number of circumstances from injuries (Klaaassen) to red cards (Schneiderlin).

(Seriously....what is going on with Morgan’s propensity for a nasty tackle this season? Is there some type of yellow card quota that each team has to meet and he is taking on Gareth Barry’s share himself? Without another TRUE holding midfielder/metronome/#6 his absence is felt worse than any other position on the field. So just calm it down, alright Morgan?)

Frankly, Everton have yet to barely play their best midfielder, Gylfi Sigurdsson, at his natural #10 position. Though every time he does, he and the team look measurably better.

Hopefully the return of Yannick Bolasie will allow the Icelandic distributor to settle in and show the skills the Toffees paid so much to Swansea for.

So as it stands, I expect to see the Toffees run out three midfielders, though I am crossing my fingers for a rotation of the triangle. (More on that in a second.)

ATTACKING PLAYERS

BIG QUESTION: Why does Wayne Rooney still start?

So the answer is obviously 3 attacking players, but who to start is a weekly concern for fans and Koeman alike.

Which leads us to Wayne Rooney and why he starts for the Toffees.

No, why does he?

It’s not that Rooney has been particularly poor, it’s just he is no longer the best option at any position on the field.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a markedly better #9 than Rooney, and most fans would argue that Oumar Niasse has earned a run of games with his recent game-winning antics.

Rooney can be useful dropping deep, but as noted above the Toffees have a number of creative midfielders, all of whom can run the attack better than Rooney at his age.

So with DCL or Niasse starting at striker, that leaves two wide attacking positions to fill.

Koeman has used Rooney (PLEEEEEEEEEEASE NO MORE WIDE WAYNE!!!) and Gylfi as part of a parade of options that have yet to find consistent success in the final third, though Sandro Ramirez and Nikola Vlasic have shown flashes of their talents.

Which brings me to Ademola Lookman:

No Kevin, he does not understand.

Match after match Koeman has failed to include players who can be a danger to the other team with their speed and width.

(Yes Everton fans, if you aren’t aware our team is allowed to run past the other team and get in behind their players, despite what you have seen.)

It is completely understandable that Lookman is still an unfinished product, but his skill set is needed DESPERATELY.

It seems every time Lookman is included he is able to create for himself AND other players.

His ability to beat opposing defenders off the dribble and run at the next line of defense (sometime the goalie) forces the other team to turn and retreat back to their own goal in order to get back behind the ball.

These are the moments when players like Gylfi, Sandro, and DCL can make intelligent runs into the spaces created by a suddenly transitioning defense.

As for Bolasie, he continues to inch closer to a return, to include finally getting back onto the field this week!!

Once he returns, Bolasie will be expected to offer some of the fast-paced, unpredictable wing play he brought to the side before his injury.

Is he the answer though?

Perhaps.

If the question is: Who can remind Ronald Koeman that wing play is important?

Then yes, Koeman’s obvious inherent trust in Bolasie could prove to be key in getting Lookman (and Aaron Lennon) back onto the pitch on a regular basis.

THE FORMATION

So after all of that, what is the best way to lay out the Everton team?

Here’s my preferred formation:


I did some pretty Niasse photoshopping if I do say so myself......


I’M READY

Now that I am in full Koeman mode and my favored formation is known, there is nothing to do but get to the team selection!


They were partners.

They were best friends.

Until one of them got sent away under suspicious conditions.

And as soon as his left, his partner back home got taken.

Now it’s up to him to figure out how he got shipped out, save his partner, and slay the bad guys.

See Koeman and Niasse in:


Ok...the full release isn’t until 29th, but with EA Access offering a 10 hour demo and other editions being released today, FIFA hysteria is in full swing.

So let’s get right to it....

Here’s the ratings for the entire team:

A few quick thoughts:

  • Gueye is right where he should be
  • The Toffees have quality CM depth (7 players >75)
  • Michael Keane is rated below Ashley Williams.........ok..........
  • Wayne Rooney is the highest rated striker :(
  • Kevin Mirallas must have family that works at EA Sports
  • Why is DCL so low???
  • Lookman’s numbers (64 rating/ 82 potential) just about sum him up
  • Pickford will be an 80 by February
  • Sandro is going to end up being an 82 in FIFA 19

Finally.....

Mason Holgate is 10 POINTS BETTER than JonJoe Kenny!!

I could write for days analyzing the possible lineups and appropriate (and inappropriate ratings) but for now I will give you three possible lineups to use, depending on your preferences:

STRENGTHS

  • Well balanced team
  • VERY strong in the center of the park
  • Outside backs can bomb forward

WEAKNESSES

  • Rooney at the #9
  • Lack of ‘top-notch’ speed on the left
  • Did I mention Rooney at the #9

STRENGTHS

  • Sandro/ Rooney lack of pace is negated in a two front
  • Baines and Coleman can be the width
  • 3 CB help cover lack of pace in back

WEAKNESSES

  • Space in behind wing backs can be exploited
  • Lack of pace
  • Are more CB really a good thing??

STRENGTHS

  • Varied attacking patterns and skills
  • Width for days
  • SOLID midfield base

WEAKNESSES

  • Speed??
  • Can be counter-attacked
  • I have to root for Ross

There are TONS of ways to play with this Everton team, and I have no doubt I will be exploring the VAST possibilities over the next few weeks.

However, I will say that with the additions to the squad, this season’s team selection will be more varied and exciting in years past!