Tom Davies has an identity crisis
Saturday was Davies’ 74th appearance for his boyhood side, an extraordinary amount of game time for a 20-year-old who only made his first team debut in April 2016.
Yet it is easy to see why Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and now Marco Silva have placed their trust in him so frequently; his fearlessness, drive and high work rate make him one of the most likeable and trustworthy members of Everton’s squad.
Silva especially showed an incredible amount of faith in Davies by making him the club’s youngest-ever captain against Rotherham United in midweek. But more substandard performances like today and such confidence from his manager may begin to wane.
Davies looks, and plays, like a player caught between two stools; he burst onto the Goodison scene as a tough-tackling, box-to-box midfielder, but at times more recently it seems as if he can’t decide whether he is a more offensive or defensive-minded player.
It would be unfair to denigrate Davies given his tender age, his Evertonian heritage and his unrelenting willingness to help the team.
But all of this is not enough to excuse a performance littered with stray passes, and Davies looked a mismatch up against the particularly physical midfield of Huddersfield.
The sooner he works out what his game is, and sticks to it.. the better.
Seamus Coleman’s free pass
Of all the sacred cows in Everton’s squad - and there a fair few - Seamus Coleman undeniably gets the biggest free pass.
Similarly to Davies, some of the right-back’s shortcomings are perhaps overlooked by Evertonians because of his impeccable attitude, but the Irishman simply has not started the season well enough, at least from a defensive point of view. Offensively, his crossing has long been an issue and this season it has been brutal to watch when the Blues are on the move.
Is it the weight of captaincy that’s weighing heavily on his shoulders?
Competition for places breeds better players; Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield has looked rejuvenated in the knowledge that André Gomes’ arrival could threaten his place, as did Michael Keane at the back before his injury at Bournemouth following the signings of fellow centre-backs Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma.
Coleman, meanwhile, only really has youngster Jonjoe Kenny vying for his place, and such a dearth of alternatives can only be to his detriment. If there was one oversight in an otherwise positive summer transfer window for Everton, it was not strengthening in this area.
Square pegs belong in square holes
If recent Everton managers have one common failing, it’s playing players out of position. Silva has largely avoided repeating this mistake so far, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin, despite a well-taken header, does not belong where the manager placed him; on the wing.
Calvert-Lewin has also been shoehorned out wide by both Koeman and Allardyce but, as a natural striker, he instinctively looks to play closer to the Toffees’ number nine, rather than providing the width this team so patently needs.
His brace in midweek against Rotherham United and his goal today demonstrate how much the 21-year-old has to offer the Blues, but strikers should be played up front and not forced to deputise on the flank.
Overall, it was an incredibly frustrating day for Everton, but one which may teach Silva a lot about the limitations of the squad he inherited in the summer.