Despite a home win against Newcastle on Monday night, Everton fans have reason to be frustrated by the tedious and dull football that was on display. Sam Allardyce has become the focal point of the disappointment of the supporters, but it’s his sheer impudence in claiming that the Blues are better than they really are is what has been driving Blues crazy.
Since he has taken over, the Toffees have gone pretty much to the bottom of the table in most attack-oriented statistical categories. That is almost understandable since he has always projected himself as a defence-first type of manager, and things have gotten better on that front (not counting the collapses against Arsenal and Tottenham), but the sheer lack of ambition in the style has been very visible.
Allardyce had been summoned to Farhad Moshiri’s offices in London this week, and most of us assumed that would be to complete the formalities of sacking him. In fact, the media reported that things had not gone Big Sam’s way and the Board had pulled their support for him.
But the next day during his pre-match press conference he claimed that he’d received whatever job security assurances he needed, going to the extent of insisting he’d still be in charge next season when asked point blank.
Low fan morale and lack of confidence in the team is approaching some of the 90’s levels and as good as Everton have been in fan engagement and community work, the club appears to be completely tone deaf to the concerns about how far away Everton are from the top six.
Plucky Huddersfield Town have done well for themselves in fits and starts, and can consider themselves virtually assured of staying up in the Premier League. The Terriers came up just last season and now sit six points clear of Southampton in 18th place.
Former USMNT player David Wagner has been manager since November 2015, and has been hailed as one of the revolutionary managers in the League, but has struggled to impart his vision to his squad. There have been plenty of comparisons to Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp, who was a teammate of the German-American since their days at Mainz in the early ‘90s.
The two remain good friends and Wagner was even best man at Klopp’s wedding, before joining him at Borussia Dortmund and taking over the reserve team.
After finishing in 19th in his first season in charge, he rebuilt the team with the help of a number of additions from the German leagues, and went on to guide Huddersfield through the playoffs to Premier League promotion.
A self-professed fan of Klopp’s ‘heavy metal football’, he has built his Terriers side around midfield lynchpin Aaron Mooy, a loanee from Manchester City.
There was some more bad news today after Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled out for the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his back. The youngster has had a long hard season that started with winning the Under-20 World Cup last summer, but is expected to recover in time for pre-season training.
Leighton Baines sustained a bad cut to the face late on Monday night, while Morgan Schneiderlin left that game with a dead leg early in the second half, but both are expected to be play after late fitness tests tomorrow.
For Huddersfield, Wagner has three long-term injury concerns in Elias Kachunga, Danny Williams and Michael Hefele, while winger Tom Ince is close to a return but likely to miss out with hamstring problems.
The big question about Everton all season when playing away has been about which side will show up. The hosts will want to lock up the points to guarantee their spot in the Premier League and will be hungrier.
The 2-0 win at Goodison Park in the reverse fixture was Allardyce’s first game in charge (not the win over West Ham, that he wants everyone to believe). The fans would dearly love to show some coherence in the side especially when attacking, so there is certainly a possibility a football match could break out, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.