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Toffees Mailbag: Mina, Schneiderlin, Lookman and Everton striker conundrum

A seriously light-hearted look at all things Everton.

Happy Weekend Everton fans!

While most of the league is playing Saturday, the real offerings are all on Sunday.

Yeah yeah.. Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City SHOULD be interesting, but more importantly Everton take on the other half of Manchester when they travel to United and for the first time in what feels like a long time there is a genuine belief the Blues could win a match against a Top 6 side (last happened in 2014).

Now, assuming most fans are like me, they have been going between moments of optimism and overwhelming fear that the ‘old Everton’ will show up to bottle it.

It’s natural.

While it would be nice to be completely confident going into the match, the reality is that the club has failed to produce in these situations for YEARS.

You’ll notice I said club however and not team.

While it IS true the club hasn’t produced, the current iteration of the Blues seem to have separated themselves from the perceived limitations of past teams and carry with them a quiet confidence fans are hoping will build into a swagger, earned from taking the scalps of a few Top 6 opponents.

For now though, Everton fans are left to balance guarded optimism with warranted fear.

To your questions!

The Yerry Mina watch has officially begun, but that’s not a bad thing.

Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane have been incredibly impressive in the last few matches, and there isn’t a coach in the world who enjoys breaking up successful center back pairings.

Zouma and Keane have struck a nice balance that allows Keane to focus on his ball-winning while Zouma provides cover. (Not that Zouma is afraid of stepping up, but the Frechman’s impressive speed obviously allows him to a better job of tracking runners than Keane.)

So when will Mina get a chance to show why he was the Toffees top target at the position this summer, even prior to his heroics against England at the World Cup?

Here are the three ways it will happen:

  1. An injury to Zouma/ Keane: Let’s just not talk anymore about this one.
  2. A dip in performance by either one of the two.
  3. A logjam of matches that forces Silva to rotate the squad.

Assessing these options, there are a couple of variables.

For example, how long of a leash do Zouma and Keane have from Silva? Having put together a good run would the Portugese manager yank one of them after an off day? (Obviously a complete howler of match WOULD be grounds for removal but THAT won’t happen.....hopefully).

I would love to see SIlva give whoever dips in form a chance to play through the rough patch, but with Mina on the bench it will be hard to justify not giving the Colombian a chance when things get dodgy at the back.

In this situation, Silva is left to balance hurting one players confidence with giving another player a chance. That’s why he gets the big bucks.

The best situation would be to have Mina rotate in during a busy run of matches, whether it be due to cup games or worst case scenario over the always busy holiday period.

Of course with no bunch up of matches in the immediate future, Everton fans will continue to have to be patient.

Don’t worry. Yerry will be worth the wait.

One last note on this topic.

You know what you HAVEN’T heard? A peep out of the players, Mina included. who have not had as many opportunities as they may have desired.

Not only does Silva seem to have gained the trust of his players, but also their respect and in doing so have given Everton fans a renewed hoped for the club.

Let’s just start with the simple facts:

Andre Gomes looked gooooood in the Everton midfielder.

I don’t think the Spanish midfielder is the PERFECT solution for what ails the Toffees in the middle of the park, but he was an improvement over Morgan Schneiderlin, who as Adam noted is going to be suffering for playing time with the rise of Gomes and Davies.

Tom Davies has slowly but surely settled into being serviceable if not solid midfielder whose ability to run and run and run makes him a better fit for Marco Silva’s setup, despite the young Englishman’s struggles in distribution.

Schneiderlin is much more of a metronome, keeping the side ticking over when in possession and sitting deep when the opposing side has the ball.

This suited former coach Ronald Koeman’s ‘style of play’ but is not nearly as suited to Marco Silva’s approach.

This means the bromance of Idrissa Gana Gueye is reaching it’s inevitable conclusion.

Gana and MS have been the most consistent midfield pairing for the Blue over the past two seasons, and to be honest I think in the long run the pairing will be remembered for it’s industry if nothing else.

In a perfect world, the addition of Gylfi Sigurdsson in 2017 would have perfectly balanced the midfield, but the lack of a ball carrying/ attacking starting middle man has continued to plague the Blues.

Enter Gomes.

While he is not a physical specimen who sheds opposing players as he carries the team forward, Gomes does see the game in a more aggressive fashion than Schneiderlin.

His tendency to look more forwards than Schneiderlin, who often keeps possession with lateral passing, may make Gomes the Luke Skywalker of the Toffees.

He brings balance to the Blues.

Every Everton fan was hoping NOT to have to engage in a weekly who should play striker debate, but it appears as though this is going to an ongoing theme for the season.

I, along with what I assume is the vast majority of Toffees fans, hoped/believed that Cenk Tosun was going to hit the ground running ans would score enough goals for striker debate to go quiet for the first time since Romelu Lukaku called Goodison home.

While Tosun hasn’t played poorly, and has in fact scored in his last two matches, he wasn’t scoring early in the campaign and Richarlison’s moved to the forward spot coincided with the Toffees current run.

So who should start up top against Manchester United, DCL or Tosun?

Part of me wants to go with Tosun due to his superior hold up play, while another part of me is excited by the thought of Calvert-Lewin using his speed to stretch the United back line.

If forced to choose, I would have to go with Tosun. For me, playing DCL is a signal that we expect to have to counter and do not anticipate being in control of the match.

Tosun’s ability to bring Everton’s wide players into the match, giving us our best chance to score, is a talent I would like to see Silva assume he is going to need.

Speaking of wingers, let’s hear it for Ademola Lookman!

After facing a number of obstacles, including a few of his own creation, Lookman seems to be getting his feet underneath him and was the game changer for the Blues last match.

So should the youngster get a start at Old Trafford?

No.....and yes.

Lookman is obviously a confidence player, and right now he is feeling good about himself. Starting him at Old Trafford would gave the Toffees a completely different look than they have been rolling out during their win streak.

Lookman’s abilities and style are unique on the Toffees, and would give Man United something to think about.

However, starting Lookman would mean either keeping Richarlison at striker (not a great idea against Man United) or playing him on the right for Theo Walcott, who hasn’t been great but hasn’t been stinking the joint up either.

While I wouldn’t be COMPLETELY surprised if Lookman got the start, I think the youngster is more likely to be in the first XI against Brighton next weekend,