Leighton Baines’ final match
It’s a shame that Leighton Baines’ illustrious Everton career had to end in this match, with this collection of players, but endings in sport rarely go the way we’d like. Baines’ final match deserved to be so much more than 20 minutes of play in a meaningless match in an empty Goodison Park. But regardless of the end, we have to commend a man who will go down as a Everton legend and one of the greatest left backs of his generation.
There was some hope that Baines may stick around for another season, but fortunately it appears likely he will remain with the club in some capacity moving forward. The final match of such a great player deserves more of a retrospective than I can give here, so please check out our article on his retirement.
Promising start and eventual collapse
Everton didn’t look too bad throughout most of the first half of this match. Carlo Ancelotti opted for a 4-2-3-1, with Richarlison back on the left wing and Moise Kean starting up top. This kind of set up usually doesn’t allow either player to be at their best, but at this point in the season it doesn’t exactly matter. But despite some initial shortcomings with the line up, the offense was clicking more than usual.
Everton had some early chances down the wings, but were ultimately put on the back foot thanks to a silly handball from Richarlison than put the visitors up by a goal. And after sustaining some pressure from Bournemouth in the middle stages of the first half, Everton seemed to get in their groove. The fullbacks were attacking well, passes in the midfield were crisper than usual and Moise Kean finally got another goal. Things were looking good for a draw at the minimum and maybe even a rare win.
But as they often have this season, everything fell apart for Everton. Shortly before halftime Everton conceded a goal off of a set piece and they were never really able to get back in the match. A final nail in the coffin was added at the 80 minute mark and just like that this roller coaster season was over.
Consequential off-season begins
This upcoming transfer window is one of the most important in recent memory. This is not just a case of a new manager trying to get a few players to fit his style. This team is fundamental broken from years of previous rebuilds and poor purchases. Forget qualifying for Europe next year, a serious overhaul is needed just to make this side competitive. Ancelotti and Marcel Brands need to figure out which players are sticking around and buy players that can be a real foundation that can be built off of for years to come.
Under previous regimes, Europe and top table spots felt close at times.At least close enough that a few players here and there could finally push Everton out of the mid table. But several coaches and a sporting director later, this team is a mess, a hodgepodge of players that fit different systems. Ancelotti and Brands need to be truly united in bringing order to the chaos that has been Everton’s transfer strategy in the past. If that process doesn’t at least start this summer, then we are likely in for more seasons on the coaching carousel and more mediocrity.