Last week I sat on my couch watching Paris St. Germain absolutely embarrass Real Madrid. There were many standout performers, ex-Madridista Angel Di Maria was certainly one of them, but what really made my stomach churn was how Idrissa Gana Gueye absolutely wrecked a midfield of Toni Kroos, Casemiro, and James Rodriguez. It underlined to me (who adamantly stated in February that Gana was our best player) that what we lost in that transfer away was nothing less than one of the top ten midfielders in the entire Premier League and the most meaningful departure from Everton since Wayne Rooney left for Manchester United in 2004.
Add to this devastating wound the fact that his replacement, Jean-Phillippe Gbamin has barely featured because of injuries and Gana’s partner, Andre Gomes, has done the same and it is no wonder that a somewhat favorable early league schedule has been squandered with awful results. The midfield options currently available to Marco Silva are just not something any manager could build a coherent whole with.
Pairing the combined lack of pace possessed by Morgan Schneiderlin and Gylfi Sigurdsson (both fine footballers in their own right) is never going to give you a midfield that offers much in the way of mobility, and while Fabian Delph has been very decent in midfield I’m not even sure that he’s playing his best position. Tom Davies is on the bench but literally the only things he’s even above average at are giving effort and being a boyhood Blue, assets prized more by your typical Evertonian than they are useful on a football pitch.
On paper, you would expect these options to beat Sheffield United anyway, but the Blades are midtable with points against AFC Bournemouth, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Everton, so perhaps this is a side who deserves more respect. Folks will want to blame the manager, and I can understand that. Marco Silva has certainly made some odd decisions this campaign, but perhaps a more realistic reaction to our predicament is a deeper appreciation for what was lost when Gana walked out the door and the rather bare set of options left to the manager at this point in the season.
I have no idea if the manager will survive this period, but at this point I don’t hold him primarily responsible for the situation Everton Football Club find themselves in.