While things in the mailbag tend to stay light-hearted, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the passing of Leicester’s owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (VS) in a terrible helicopter accident this past weekend.
Beyond paying respects to another member of the Premier League community, Srivaddhanaprabha’s ownership of Leicester deserves extended acknowledgement. For me, this is a man who did more than fund a soccer team; he gave hope to millions around the world.
After battling to get Leicester City promoted, it was his leadership that created the one-off fairy tale season in which Leicester won the Premier League title. Sure, the title-winning 2015-2016 Foxes had luck on their side.
But luck is the residue of preparation, and it was evident that the Foxes owner had put plenty of work into the season. From hiring the right staff to signing the right players the owner’s fingerprints were all over the team.
Just look at how Kasper Schmeichel spoke of Srivaddhanaprabha after his passing. This type of relationship between players and owners is NOT the norm.
It’s quite obvious that Srivaddhanaprabha invested as much emotionally into his team as he did financially. He epitomized everything we Blues have wanted from our owner as well.
I’ll end on this note.
There are a lot of people with money in the world. Some invest to bring joy to themselves, others in those they love.
Then there are people like Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who invest in their own passions not in order to indulge themselves, but to help spread joy in the world in one way or another. His chosen path of spreading joy, owning a soccer team, allowed him to reach across borders and language barriers to put smiles on people’s faces.
I may be an Everton fan, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for the Foxes week in and week out that season in hopes they would make the impossible come true.
And they did.
Thank you for bringing joy into my life Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
I am certain you won’t be forgotten.
To your questions.
How many squad moves and at what positions do we need to get over the hump against the top teams?— Matt Clevy (@MattClevy) October 31, 2018
I believe the saying is...
I mean things ARE different
Everton have had 12 shots on target against the "Top 6" teams away from home in the Premier League this season - 3 more than last season, despite playing against only 2 of the teams so far this season. #EFC— EFC Statto (@EFC_Statto) October 31, 2018
but they are also very much the same
While the Toffees did play well at Old Trafford, they still lost.
I’m not going to make the argument that the Toffees DESERVED to win, but Martial’s penalty was anything BUT.
However, as it always seems in matches with the Top 6 clubs, the breaks went against the good guys in Blue.
So how do you change something that feels so inevitable and unavoidable at times?
Well, to be honest, you would do exactly what Silva has done, ship out the lightly motivated and under performing and bring in players who have high levels of both personal and interpersonal motivation.
The next step is to have the players consistently execute at their highest levels against the top teams, which at this point the Toffees have failed to do.
Theo Walcott and Bernard both exemplify this with their missed opportunities at Old Trafford.
Theo not only failed to finish his own chances, but also failed to make the correct decision when the English winger shot instead of laying off to a wide open Richarlison at the back post.
So what type of signings would help put Everton over the top against quality sides?
First I would say the team could use a dominant ball carrier. Andre Gomes may be that player (I SURE HOPE SO!) but until the Toffees have a touch of forward thinking quality in the midfield they will struggle to play heads up against top teams for 90 minutes.
The second position would be right back (more on that later).
Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are nice, and Richarlison is fine as a forward (and better as a winger) but if Romelu Lukaku was still leading the line the Toffees would have beaten either Arsenal or Manchester United, or both.
Having a player who can single-handily win a game gives the team room for error, a luxury the Toffees currently don’t have.
If Everton are to win against a Top 6 side, especially on the road, they will need to show the type of quality in the final third Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal) and Martial (French 3 meter spring board champion) showed while knocking off the Toffees.
However, for the first time in a long time the Toffees feel poised to establish themselves as more then perennial ‘tough team to play’ and I for one am ready for it!
One of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen. pic.twitter.com/9bgctLsLFg— Brandon Couch (@Coach_Couch44) October 31, 2018
How come we don’t try Theo as ST? Arsenal did it and I could be wrong but I think he success playing there. Then we could put Richarlson on the left where he belongs and lookman or Bernard on the right.— Jon Hein (@jdhein13) November 1, 2018
I think there are worse ideas.
Now I am not saying he is any type of long-term solution, but should Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin continue to fail to establish themselves as week in and week out strikers by failing to score consistently enough Marco Silva will almost more then certainly be searching for other options than Richarlison up top.
Perhaps against the likes of Manchester City Silva could take advantage of Walcott’s speed in order to take advantage of the spaces left unoccupied by City’s aggressive full backs. Over his career, he has lined up as centre forward in 26 games (all for Arsenal), scoring 14 times and picking up 8 assists, including two hattricks.
While Walcott’s last few performances have been frustrating for Toffees fans, he does possess a unique skill set that Silva could certainly utilize in unique position (#9) to give other teams a look they aren’t expecting.
Speaking of Lookman.....
Walcott on the bench for Lookman?— ⚽️Matt (@Squidwardsson) November 1, 2018
Now it gets fun for Marco SIlva.
6 months ago, with options limited, Walcott would have been given an opportunity to work through a somewhat predictable (he’s always had valleys) dip in form.
However, these are the Marco Silva days and the Portuguese manager has options.
The most obvious switch is the one Matt proposes: a straight swap between Theo and Ademola Lookman.
Lookman has come on as a substitute for the Toffees the last few Premier League matches and has proven to be just the spark plug Silva has hoped he would be.
So is now the time to give him a start?
I think it is.
Lookman has all of the talents of an elite level winger.
When you compare him to Walcott, you are trading off raw speed (Theo) for technical prowess and creativity (Lookman).
Against Brighton, who the Toffees will hopefully pin back in their final third, Lookman’s guile and technical prowess could prove more useful then Walcott’s speed, with the latter not having space in behind and the former not needing it.
I don’t think for a minute that Theo has seen has last good form for the Toffees, but Ademola Lookman has done everything right as a substitute in order to earn a start.
Do we start Yerry Mina alongside Keane this weekend in preparation for the Chelsea game without Zouma?— Andrew Odell (@OdellAndrew) November 1, 2018
My first response was to say NO WAY....but after thinking about it, your suggestion makes complete sense.
With Zouma’s absence imminent, the Brighton match would give Mina a chance to get his feet underneath him and begin to form some type of relationship with Michael Keane.
The only problem is that Kurt Zouma has been one of the Toffees most consistent players and doubling the amount of matches that he has to miss just seems....wrong.
HOWEVER, the nature of professional soccer being what it is I think Andrew is on to something. Even if Mina doesn’t start, perhaps SIlva will have it in his mind to give Mina an extended run, especially if the Toffees can get an early lead.
Hate using the tube the smell of BO sweat and piss is horrible— Neville Southall (@NevilleSouthall) October 31, 2018
Maybe I should have showered
Never mind they will get used to it
Oh Big Nev.
What is our position of greatest need and why is it right back?— Ankur Mandhania (@amandhania) October 31, 2018
Yes and ouch.
I wish I could roll out a list of reasons why Seamus’ downturn in form shouldn’t concern you, but the reality is that it should.
Since returning from his horrific leg break, the Irishman has still shown the tenacity and conditioning to do the job, but missing are the small nuances in both the attack and defense that made Coleman one of the best right backs in the Premier League for the last decade.
Coleman was exposed numerous times by Anthony Martial, and the right back’s service in the attacking end has frankly been terrible.
The obvious answer would be to give Jonjoe Kenny an extended run, but I think the ceiling for Kenny isn’t much higher than what we are seeing out of Coleman right now.
So does that mean the Toffees should sign a right back in January?
Yes. It does.
Ok, January may be too early, but there is no way Marcel Brands and Co. haven’t started to rolodex a few names to prepare for an eventual signing at right back, whether in January or next summer.
For now though, Toffees fans have to hope that Coleman can rediscover some of his magic and get back to being a consistent high-level contributor at both ends of the pitch.
whats the optimum front four— Aidan Perhacs (@aperhacs76) November 1, 2018
If every player was in form I would go with:
A few notes:
Cenk Tosun has finally started to score goals, but more importantly his hold up play and distribution is ESSENTIAL for Marco Silva’s attack to work.
Bernard is almost STRICTLY a left winger, but I think Richarlison is more efficient on that side and with Seamus Coleman not as active in the attack, Bernard would have the freedom to come back onto his left foot and provide service for Tosun and Richarlison.
There are plenty of valid arguments for Theo, DCL and Lookman to name a few, but I’d like to see these four get a run at some point!
Young the Giant