I didn’t expect Everton to win this match. You couldn’t really hope for that, no matter what lineup Sam Allardyce used, right?
To take on Manchester City, the soon-to-be champions, minus Idrissa Gueye and Gylfi Sigurdsson — it was always going to end one way.
So, I’m not upset with the result. But, I am utterly and astoundingly mystified that Sam Allardyce has once again proven his footballing IQ to be equal to that of the average house cat.
Against the best Premier League team of this decade, Big Sam trotted out a 4-4-2, with the intention of sitting the two blocks of four deep and playing on the counter attack. Now, I think that playing with only four in the midfield against City is suicide, but I can see the draw to the tactical simplicity of setting up this way — so I won’t waste my time railing against the setup itself.
The bigger issue was the midfield personnel selected — somehow, Sam Allardyce thought a midfield four of Yannick Bolasie, Wayne Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin, and Theo Walcott was going to provide protection from a team that had scored 85 goals in 30 Premier League matches coming into Saturday.
In this weekly column, I usually try to explain things that are complex or some viewers may not have caught at first glance, to add something to your experience as an Everton supporter going forward. But, this personnel group was so obviously incapable of doing the job it was asked that it’s frankly difficult for me to say much more about it without insulting your intelligence.
You know these players. Bolasie and Walcott are more true wingers than wide midfielders, and certainly shouldn’t be asked to do a significant defensive job. Rooney hasn’t gone any legs left at this stage of his career, and is prone to costly turnovers when played in a deep midfield role. Schneiderlin is most effective when utilized in a central midfield three with at least one player capable of covering significant ground ahead of him.
What more is there to say about those players, and that setup? They never had a chance to keep the Manchester City attackers from getting right at the Everton backline — you know it, I know it, and surely Pep Guardiola knew it as well.
So, how did Sam Allardyce not know?
How did a man managing Everton Football Club, a man watching these players train week in and week out, not recognize that he was utilizing a Swiss cheese of a midfield against a Champions League favorite? How could he leave two ball-winners in Tom Davies and Beni Baningime on the bench while Wayne Rooney toiled in a role he’s not fit for?
I don’t have any answers for you.
But what I do know is this — if there was any doubt about Sam Allardyce before this game, it is certainly gone now. The man is not simply a tactical dinosaur afraid of allowing his team to play attacking football. No, the truth is much more simple than that.
Big Sam plainly isn’t a capable football manager in any capacity or sense of the term. Everton was a potential proving ground for him, a place where he could show he was more than just a Premier League survival specialist. Indeed, he has proven himself at Everton — proven that he’s little more than a sham.