The international break is upon us and that usually gives us some time to sit back, take a breath and think about the Everton season as a whole.. just kidding, as much as we love the Toffees international break is the time for us to forget how miserable this team can make us some time.
Still, if you are interested in a couple of opinions about Marco Silva’s side this season, read on as we talk about three things: one that you like about the Blues this season, one that you don’t, and one thing about Silva’s team that you just don’t #@%&$ get.
What I like -
In the few instances we’ve seen the Everton attack in full flow, it’s been an absolute delight to behold. Invariably one or both of Lucas Digne and Bernard are involved, with the pair starting to look like they’re building the kind of rapport and silky skills that the Blues last saw when Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar last patroled the left - is Dignard the new Bainaar?
The Blues have certainly shown they are quicker in transition moving the ball upfield, something we haven’t really had since the Roberto Martinez days. Issues still remain, especially when playing opponents that set up in a low block as the Toffees pass the ball aimlessly around the ‘umbrella’ at the bottom of the attacking third, but things are certainly better when attacking and the only teams to have scored more than the Blues are in the top six this season.
Considering that we are a side with no ‘figurehead’ striker in the mould of Romelu Lukaku, that is still impressive but also worrying considering that of the 43 Premier League goals we’ve scored, 24 have come from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, and the next highest is Dominic Calvert-Lewin at six goals.
What I don’t like -
This is aimed more at the squad in general, but the players have no ‘bottle’. As soon as the going gets tough they seem to pack it in. We saw it very early in the season when they gave away cheap goals at Wolverhampton and AFC Bournemouth relinquishing late leads, and then in case you thought things had gotten better after the Goodison leg of the Merseyside Derby, they promptly fell flat on their faces in the disaster of a second half at Newcastle recently.
It just appears that there is little mental strength in the players, no strength of will to keep fighting. There is still a lot of old blood in this team that needs to be weeded out, but as we see so often, it’s easy to talk a bigger leadership game in front of the cameras after the game but not one we see displayed often enough on the pitch where the game is won, and so often, lost.
In fact, I’ll lump in another major issue here that is a symptom of this weak-willed attitude. Zonal marking at defending setpieces, when done well, is an incredibly effective tactic. However, the debacles we’ve see this season stem from both Silva’s inability to adjust (more on that later) and many of the players showing no verve when defending.
So many of the setpiece goals conceded this season have been from second balls, with the Blues defenders and midfielders usually looking around lost, hands on their waists or else pointing at someone else, and the ball behind Jordan Pickford in the net.
What I just don’t get -
Marco Silva is so adamant that all of the Blues attacking initiative needs to go down the wings. Just about every game Adam’s tactical analysis talks again about how much the Blues have relied on the wingers to move the ball forward, and that’s fine because we do have some pretty good wingers.
If that doesn’t work for any reason, Marco Silva’s Plan B is usually.. oh wait a minute, what is Everton’s Plan B?
Don’t beat yourself up too much if nothing is coming to mind because there isn’t one!
Throwing on an additional forward or centerhalf depending on whether you are chasing or closing out a game is not what counts as a Plan B. When ‘running down the touchline and swinging in a cross that is promptly cleared by the centerhalves’, Silva appears completely bereft of ideas.
Against teams that bunker against the Blues and don’t allow us to stretch the game vertically, Silva has no answers. The ball gets moved around side-to-side and then eventually pinged hopefully into a crowded area where it’s usually cleared.
To be fair, this is an issue that most of the bigger Premier League sides face, but Silva’s utter inability to do anything different, or even worse, unwillingness to even try, is what really grinds my gears.
Your turn readers, name one thing that you like, one thing that you don’t like, and one thing that you just don’t #@%&$ get about this Everton team this season.