You might have a particular thing that you walked away from this match irritated about. I’m happy to hear about the specifics of your concerns in the comments, but this week, I really want to focus on one precise issue Marco Silva encountered — primarily because it’s among my biggest pet peeves in the sport.
Around the 60th minute, Marco Silva brought on his two shiny new attacking toys — Moise Kean and Alex Iwobi. I didn’t mind that he didn’t start either player at this stage of the season, and agreed that it was time to bring both players in.
Everton, after all, had struggled to create any clear-cut chances despite a hefty possession advantage for most of the match. At the time the duo entered the match, the Toffees still hadn’t even generated a single shot on target.
So yes, bring on a shot-generating forward and your new creative winger. But Silva opted to remove both Bernard and Gylfi Sigurdsson to make room for Kean and Iwobi, taking out the two best playmakers he had on the pitch to that point.
The result was a 4-4-2 that just didn’t make any sense.
It’s all well and good that Everton had three goalscorers (insofar as you want to call Dominic Calvert-Lewin a goalscorer because he’s a striker) on the pitch — but how was a team that already couldn’t create scoring chances going to make them now?
Sure, Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi are very good creative players, and proved as much periodically throughout the final half hour of the match. But there was only one way Everton was going to be able to create chances and it was down the left wing.
So much of the talk after the match was about how bad Andre Gomes was — criticism that was largely fair. But he and Morgan Schneiderlin spent the final 30 minutes of this match looking at each other 30 yards from the Aston Villa goal, saying “well I can’t make the final ball, can you?”
The result was...bad. If you have a weak stomach, avert your eyes from the upcoming passmap for Everton for the final 30 minutes of the match — after those subs were made.
Just hopeful crosses from the left, because neither Schneiderlin nor Gomes have the creative ability necessary to make anything happen from the central channel. And that isn’t on them! To be upset with the pair’s inability to find a final pass against a deep block is akin to being upset Moise Kean wasn’t on hand to prevent Aston Villa’s second goal.
And what blows my mind — constantly — is that managers pull this shit all the time. It shouldn’t be rocket science that “put as many goalscorers on the field at once and hope for the best” isn’t a legitimate tactical strategy, regardless of the game state — and yet here we are!
And perhaps the only reason that my furor at Silva is only an 8.5 out of 10 is that he’s far from the first manager to completely gut his midfield in favor of a striker in a late-game situation, just to handicap his team by not giving the newly-added striker any way to actually get the goddamn ball!
Iwobi and Kean both showed some promising things regardless of Silva’s idiocy, and I still have reasonable faith that overall Silva will be able to get what he needs out of this group of players in the weeks and months ahead.
But make no mistake — he committed among the most common and rudimentary errors while trying to spur the Toffees on in the second half, and he should absolutely be called out on it.