Imagine a world in which Everton spend upwards of £150 million, bring in 8 first team players and people STILL think Everton is no better off than they were in May.
#Everton spent 150 million ! wtf ! And are still no better !!!!— garypjbyrne (@garybyrne999) August 29, 2017
I get it, deadline day was a disappointment for fans.
After Ronald Koeman spent the better part of August articulating his desire for another striker and left-sided defensive cover, there was an assumption that one of (if not both) would be taken care of on the last day of the window.
When neither position was ultimately filled before the close of the window, Toffees fans felt sick.
The team is DOOMED!
How will we score goals?!?!
What happens if Leighton gets injured?!?!
There are plenty of complaints to be made, and some with validity to them (see Baines), but there are also a large swath of Everton supporters who feel the inability to lock up one or two more players is going to make ALL the difference in our season.
If that WERE the case, I would happily join in the chorus of fans expressing concern over the ability of the club to hit it’s goals for the season (presumably a Top 6 finish domestically and at least the semifinals of Europa League).
Luckily for Everton fans, that is NOT the case.
At forward, for example:
While the loss of Romelu Lukaku was certainly a big blow to the side, the lack of a deadline day striker does not spell doom for the Everton attack.
I've seen enough of Calvert-Lewin against City and Chelsea to convince me he can lead the line for us. Get behind this kid he needs us #EFC— Paul Brown (@PaulBrownEFC) September 1, 2017
Look, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is not Lukaku (YET!), but the Toffees were never going to find a like-for-like replacement with the Belgian.
No £75 million dollar striker was moving to Goodison. #fact #justsaying #championsleague #$$$
However, when fans complain about the lack of a big body to lead the front line, I am incredibly puzzled. The attack was always going to be ‘by committee’ this season. Koeman made that amply clear multiple times, starting last year.
While Calvert-Lewin has yet to score in the league, (though he did wrap up a Europa League series with an away goal), he does have 2 assists against domestic opponents.
DCL has shown the ability to bring his teammates into the play AND produce in the final third.
In fact, I will go as far as to say that Calvert-Lewin’s holdup play is superior to Lukaku’s.
Yes, Rom can score, but how many matches against top teams have Everton fans watched over the past few seasons and been INCREDULOUS at the inability of Lukaku to hold the ball up and allow for overlapping runners?
The answer: almost all of them.
Sure, Lukaku created some magical moments like this one via his individual brilliance:
However, whenever the Belgian was asked to play the role of target forward, usually against top sides, he struggled.
DCL, on the other hand, has shown himself to be incredibly adept at holding up the ball with the intent of either:
- finding a teammate
- getting fouled
In that category of skills, the young English striker is beyond his former Everton teammate.
He was the difference in the match against City and his introduction against Chelsea gave our side a respectable finish.
(He also has some chemistry with another young Toffees stud, Ademola Lookman).
Now, does that mean the integration (promotion?) of Calvert-Lewin into the first team neutralizes the departure of Lukaku, especially as it pertains to goal-scoring?
So how did the board go about addressing the loss of Rom’s 25 goals?
Well...here’s 9 (plus a bucket load of assists).
Gylfi Sigurdsson 16/17 PL stats:— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) August 30, 2017
Alex Ox-Chamberlain PL stats up to 16/17:
Look, I found 8 more!
Hold on......I’m digging through the couch cushions...
Look! 14 more!
Oh...I’m not done....
So, after losing a 25 goal striker the Everton board responding by signing players who scored a combined 45 league goals (and 25 assists to boot).
Let’s put this another way:
All of Everton’s signings could perform at HALF of their level of efficiency as last year and the Toffees won’t see a fall off in goal production.
Don’t forget, the Toffees second leading scorer last season was Ross Barkley with a whopping six, so it’s not as if Everton have lost anyone else of note in front-end production.
I’m not going to argue that Everton wouldn’t have been better off with Olivier Giroud on the team, but missing out on targets is just par for the course for a club looking to overhaul their roster in one window.
The Toffees will be just fine in the attack.
Now, to address those who think Everton just haven’t had a good window overall...let me start off by saying.....
If you would rather have Tom Cleverley, Gareth Barry and Ross Barkley manning the midfield as opposed to Morgan Schneiderlin, Idrissa Gueye, and Tom Davies / Davy Klaassen then there isn’t much I can do to convince you otherwise....because you are out of your mind.
Want some more evidence?
Kevin Mirallas or Gylfi Sigurdsson?
Ramiro Funes Mori or Michael Keane?
Tim Howard or Jordan Pickford?
Not only have the Toffees UPGRADED at these positions, they have also gotten considerably younger!
The last year has seen the biggest changeover of players in Everton’s history, and Lukaku notwithstanding, have all been moved on the basis of a lack of ability or poor attitude.
The message is clear:
If you don’t want to be part of the long-term ambitious goals set by Farhad Moshiri (who sounded like a Bond villain during his Sky Sports call BTW), Ronald Koeman and the rest of the Toffees decision-makers then you are getting sold on.
Sure, it stinks when a talented player like Lukaku decides to leave, but keeping an unhappy player (especially a striker not prone to distribution in the first place) is even more dangerous for the squad as a whole.
Koeman has solidified the Everton core, traded out old and worn-down players for young and hungry ones, and more than adequately addressed the squad deficiencies the Toffees faced heading into the off season.
Sure, Toffee fans can spend their time lamenting all the signings that they WISHED took place (where’s Messi?!?!?).
Or they can realize the club just finished up it’s busiest, and most successful, window in it’s history and are poised to climb the Premier League table and make noise in Europe.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the latter.
Now to your questions!!
How does Koeman keep integrating youth with the money spent on new players? Does Klaasan or Tom Davies see more time this year?— Joshua West (@WMWest11) September 6, 2017
The battle between long-term planning and short-term solutions is one that has plagued managers for decades, but no more so than in today’s ‘what have you done for me today?” culture.
Managers are often leery of embedding and trusting teenagers into a side that has the loftiest of ambitions.
Nowadays, it seems as though young players from top sides are often sent off to develop with other sides on loan. Based on how they perform the parent club then decides if they are a finished enough product, and if not, they ship them off.
Now while Everton have some players at that stage (Kieran Dowell will come back ready) the Toffees are in an incredibly unique situation in which they have compiled undoubtedly the best collection of young talent in the league.
These young players have not only been successful in their club pursuits (PL2 title, minutes with the senior squad) but also internationally.
With World Cups wons and European Championship runs made behind them, Everton are poised to rely upon that youth to move them forward, which I think they will.
I’ve already gushed over DCL, but Ademola Lookman and Tom Davies are rotational starters who seem poised to take hold of a position anytime now.
All that being said, they find themselves competing for minutes with the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson, men who have proven themselves on every level and expect to play.
So what will Koeman do?
I think he will utilize the obvious, and not so obvious, differences in each players game to match up with the opponent the way that gives the Toffees the best chance for 3 points.
As for Klaassen and Davies, barring injuries I see the two of them splitting time this season pretty much 50/50. Each play the 8.5 role of shuttling midfielder in their own unique, effective ways.
I think this season will see players like Lookman and Davies truly come into their own as they battle day-in and day-out against their talented Toffees teammates and are all the better off for it.
For what it’s worth, this is how I see us lining up Saturday:
Why are so many of our fans a bunch of negative bastards?— Paddock View (@Paddock_View) September 6, 2017
First off, to every single Everton fan out there:
Second note: that doesn’t mean some of you aren’t as negative as my account balance. (I’m a teacher......)
So why does it seem like there is so much negativity out there in Everton land?
Well for me, it has to do with our current lack of identity.
For what feels like an eternity, Everton have been tagged with the plucky underdog tag largely due to the lack of spending power, which has only been magnified in the past few seasons as the big clubs drove the price for success even higher.
As a fan, however, there was a sense that as long as we went out and fought against those sides, picking up some wins along the way, and then aimed for ultimate glory in the Cup competitions then it would be okay.
Sure, some fans might not admit to that, but it’s true.
It’s was easy to know why you are losing to Man City when they had spent £200 million in the previous window and the Toffees has spent no more than £20.
Finishing 7th became a badge of honor.
Best of the rest.
However, the lack of silverware in my lifetime has started to become problematic.
The Toffees have gotten agonizingly close before seeing it all fall apart.
I think it would have been an issue earlier, but the Toffees magical run to the Champions League early in the 00’s was a trophy of sorts and fans rode that wave through the rest of the Moyes era.
When Roberto Martinez arrived he was going to polish the rough edges of an already tough and gritty core and lead the Toffees to new heights. The board even forked over a huge (at that time) sum to get Lukaku long term.
The Spanish linguist did wonderfully his first season, almost qualifying for Champions League, then allowed the team to lose discipline as he stopped emphasizing the qualities that had come to define the Everton team fans had come to love and identify with.
The last two years of Martinez’s reign were sides that Everton fans began to not recognize as talented but inconsistent if not mercurial players from Mirallas to Deulofeu bounced between world-class and rubbish. It was like we turned into West Ham overnight.
Defensive errors, poor attitude and at the end of the day poor results got Martinez canned.
Fans were down, but at the same time as Martinez was deconstructing a decades worth of effort on the field, Farhad Moshiri was riding in to change what the next ten years would look like.
From a new stadium to expensive signings, Everton fans were promised the world.
All with the design of WINNING.
A top-caliber manager was brought in, Ronald Koeman, and he went about signing players for sums never before seen at Goodison Park.
Fans expectations rose, and after some more quality, shrewd additions in the winter of Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman, fans were salivating heading into the summer window with a full year of prep and a full pocket book.
The summer window happened, (as I spelled out in great detail above) and after spending more more than ever before on more talented players than ever before, fans were still salty peanuts.
I think it’s because fans are restless.
Everton fans have been through it all, and after decades of being patient, plucky underdogs, they want to see results on the field.
Their biggest worry is that after ALL the turnover and promises of a brighter future, the Toffees could find themselves in their same 7th place rut, making the efforts seemingly fruitless.
Except now, instead of feeling like the best of the rest, it feels more like being the bottom of the top.
The club have taken twenty steps forward, and then one step back on deadline day, only to have everyone ignore the progress and focus on the setbacks.
The summit that Everton are now trying to climb is the toughest part of the journey. The room for error is smaller, and it takes time to learn the path and ultimately be successful.
I get it, trust me, I want the Toffees to win as much as anyone does, but as Everton try to reach the summit, their gains must be measured in inches, not feet.
As I cast my eyes upon the new look Toffees and consider the investments made in infrastructure and youth squads in addition to the first team, I can’t help but be incredibly optimistic about the years ahead, even if it is a slow, arduous climb to the top.
I have no doubt that as the season moves along that the quality brought in over the off season will be allowed to show itself, and mixed with Ronald Koeman’s commitment to getting back to the hustling, hard-tackling Everton of old will produce results that will make Everton fans as positive as a Wayne Rooney breathalyzer.
Who would win in a WWE-style cagematch between Leon Osman and Tony Hibbert?— Adam Braun (@abraun_15) September 6, 2017
First, let’s meet our competitors:
The bell rings and while Ossie is busy running his mouth Hibbo charges at him recklessly, then hits the ground for a clean two footed tackle that knocks Ossie right off his feet.
Ossie counters by stalking Hibbo around the ring, planning his swift high-kick attacks with the utmost precision, keeping a safe distance from the Harrowing in-between strikes, Osman chips away at his determined opponent.
Hibbo bides his time, and playing a bit more tired then he really is, catches Ossie with his back to him and returns him to the mat with a thundering spear.
The crowd hushes as the competitors try to gather themselves.
Ossie is dazed, strewn upon the canvas trying to gather his wits
Hibbo rises to his feet, soon finding himself lording over his slowly recovering opponent.
This is it!
Hibbo has his chance!
All the Harrowing has to do is FINISH him.
Hibbo grabs Ossie.
The Awesome stumbles....his opponent imminently victorious.....
Hibbo preps him....balancing Ossie for the end.....and as Hibbo goes to hit his finishing move......
WHAT’S HAPPENED?!? WHY HAS HE STOPPED!
HIBBO REALIZES HE DOESN’T HAVE A FINISHING MOVE!
HE CAN’T FINISH!!
Sensing his opportunity, Ossie snaps into gear.
He takes a hard swipe at Hibbo’s preposterously weak ankles, his achilles heel if you will, knocking him to the ground in a fit of pain.
Ossie jumps on top and gets the three count fall for a victory over Hibbo the Harrowing.
In all seriousness though....they love each other.
From the “At Least We aren’t West Ham” files:
I am told West Ham United will be making "no comment" over Bruno de Carvalho's referring to the West Ham owners as the 'Dildo Brothers'.— Jack Pitt-Brooke (@JackPittBrooke) September 6, 2017
An actual email that West Ham sent to Sporting Lisbon regarding midfielder William Carvalho pic.twitter.com/z96TIxMXv5— All Out Football (@AllOutFootball_) September 6, 2017
Tough PL schedule ahead and EL starting. How do you expect the lineup to be balanced? Do we see Mirallas, or... Ross?!— Kevin Foley (@t_bonefoley) September 6, 2017
After touching on the lineup earlier in the mailbag, I want to take a moment to focus on Barkley and Mirallas.
Barkley will probably leave in January for £15 million, with Everton forced to sell him as opposed to see him leave on a free in the summer.
For a young man who has been given ample opportunity by the club and fans alike to establish himself as a hometown hero, Barkley has handled this entire situation with an appalling lack of class.
Regardless of his relationship with the manager, the club has always been their for him and he has decided to end it on terms that make Romelu Lukaku look like Duncan Ferguson. (Not really...but you get the point.)
I am more than happy to see Ross leave, and think we will be better off without his constant need for reassurance and coddling.
Oh...same thing goes for Kevin Mirallas.
The king of the ineffective dribble, Mirallas went all pouty face on social media when a move to Olympiakos failed to materialize.
Of course he is only being moved because his attitude was so poor prior to the Chelsea match (presumably for not starting) that Koeman shipped him off to international duty early.
For an old winger who can’t turn the corner on a good defender any longer, Mirallas sure isn’t appreciative of still being in the Premier League.
A player I was once happy to see become an effective off-the-bench role player, Mirallas now represents the worst part of the game.
Don’t believe me? Here he is after Belgium’s last match:
Kevin Mirallas displayed the Olympiacos badge on his shin pad last night after Belgium's 2-1 win against Greece. pic.twitter.com/sfLs90lTjj— Everton Blue Army (@EvertonBlueArmy) September 4, 2017
Is it important? No
Petty by Mirallas? BIG-TIME
Koeman will either ship Mirallas off to Turkey at the last minute, or will give him the Niasse treatment for the rest of the season.
Like Barkley, the Toffees will be a better side without Mirallas’ harmful attitude and diminishing skills.