Everton 2019/20: The Law Firm of Keane, Kean, and Digne: Call 1-800-SEVENTH

OilCanShotTupac

Sunny von Bulow
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Jan 10, 2004
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The latest SoSH installment of "fan of mid-table team talks to himself."

Interesting times for the Toffees.

We'll start with a recap of last season, which divides into three sections.

Weeks 1-13: Good Day Sunshine

6W 4D 3L. 22/39 pts.
Good results: LEI 1-2 eve; CHE 0-0 eve
Bad results: eve 0-3 WHU; EVE 1-1 hud; EVE 1-1 (3-4) sou (League Cup 3rd round, eliminated)

Buoyed by acquisitions Richarlison and Lucas Digne - who quickly supplanted Everton legend Leighton Baines at left back - the Toffees started strongly. Yerry Mina, the massive CB who had starred for Colombia at the WC (nodding an equalizer past Jordan Pickford late in a quarterfinal) featured only intermittently due to injury,. Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma stepped in and formed a strong partnership with Michael Keane, who after a terrible first year on Merseyside had rounded into form. Other new boys Bernard and Andre Gomes (loanee from Barcelona) did not feature until October due to match fitness. Once Gomes got into the side, he established himself as a rock in midfield in front of stud defensive mid Idrissa Gana Gueye.

Cenk Tosun gradually lost the strikers' job to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, whose work rate, pressing, and holdup skills were excellent but didn't ripple the net all that much. Still, with Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, and Theo Walcott contributing, the Toffees scored at a decent clip and played solid defense. Two played-better-but-didn't-win games, at Manu and Arsenal, gave signs of improvement but also reinforced that Everton still were not beating the top teams and had a ways to go yet. Still, after Week 13, the Blues sat at 6th, two points behind Arsenal and just ahead of a floundering Utd.

Week 14: Misery

LIV 1-0 eve
Origi: 90+6'

you all saw this movie. let us not speak of it again.

Weeks 15-27: I'm A Loser

3W 2D 8L. 11/39 pts. 8th in table.
Good results: BUR 1-5 eve
Bad results: EVE 2-6 tot; BHA 1-0 eve; SOU 2-1 eve; EVE 1-3 wol; eve 0-1 WAT; eve 2-3 Millwall (FA Cup 4th round, eliminated)

Awful. Only two sides had worse records over this stretch. While the start was strong enough that relegation never seemed a serious threat, the Toffees dipped as low as 11th and there was no end in sight.

The conventional wisdom is that the Atrocity at Anfield caused a hangover. There's something to that but IMO it was squad depth and fitness (or lack thereof). Once the weather turned the two-a-week matches started in the festive period, the Toffees faltered badly. New boys Gomes, Digne, Bernard, and Mina had not featured in full seasons for their various sides last season, and were unused to the cold, damp English winters. Mina again got hurt. Gomes was ridden into the ground and looked terrible. The lack of depth showed. Seamus Coleman's form regressed and there were whispers that he was too old and would never recover from his horrible leg break. Worst of all, the side just looked lost. No cohesion, no aggression, no fight.

The low point was FA Cup 4th round. With any other positive achievement out of reach, and a field where many heavy-hitters had already been upset, Everton faced a winnable fixture away to Millwall, then in the drop zone of the Championship. But on a miserable January night, with the Millwall crowd howling and a Lear-on-the-heat monsoon lashing the pitch with wind and rain, the Toffees drowned in the muck. Both Everton goals were answered with equalizers within a couple of minutes. Millwall scored the winner late and that was that. All three Millwall goals started with set piece balls - defending set pieces had been a weak spot all season. Lucas Digne, who had established himself as one of the best LBs in the league, fouled needlessly to set up the winner.

After a dismal loss at Watford, whose fans showered Watford exiles Richarlison and Marco Silva with abuse, Everton faced a seventeen-day break. Silva's job was in jeopardy. Fans were screaming for Silva to take the team away to a warm-weather locale for boot-camp drilling. Instead, he gave them five days off, and then walked them through their paces in ordinary training. The next game after the break was away to Cardiff - and the word was that Silva would get sacked if they lost/

Weeks 28-38: It's Getting Better All the Time
6W, 3D, 2L; 21/33 pts
Good results: CAR 0-3 eve; EVE 0-0 liv; EVE 2-0 che; EVE 1-0 ars; EVE 4-0 mun
Bad results: NEW 3-2 eve; FUL 2-0 eve

Everton thumped Cardiff 3-0 and then went on a tear, especially at Goodison - fighting the Reds to a tough draw then reeling off wins over Chelsea, Arsenal, and ManU (a 4-0 drubbing punctuated by the Gwladys end fans chanting at a listless Lukaku "Fatty, what's the score? Fatty, fatty, what's the score?") - outscoring those sides 8-0. The Toffees posted six clean sheets in a row at home to close out the season. The attack solidified in a formation of Calvert-Lewin up front, and Bernard-Gylfi-Richarlison. Calvert-Lewin still did not score much (six PL goals on the season) but excelled in abusing opposing CBs and holding up to enable the wide attack. Digne led the PL in crosses and also buried a couple of screamers. But the defense was the key. Pickford, a Sunderland native, melted down at Newcastle under taunting from the crowd - he got wrapped up in taunting them back, and the Toffees blew a 2-0 halftime lead as the defense fell apart. Otherwise, the back four plus keeper could have walked into any side in the PL save Liverpool over that stretch.

Optimism was high at season's end. On all meaningful measures, Everton improved over 2017/18:

25863

Still, Everton didn't budge in the table, and lost the Everton Cup (aka 7th) to Wolves. This may not be a bad thing, since it seems to be a poisoned chalice, judging by the struggles of the recent winners (Wolves this year, Burnley last, Everton year before that).



Transfer business

In:
Andre Gomes, CM (Barcelona - loan made permanent)
Moise Kean, striker (Juventus)
Jean-Pierre Gbamin, DM (Mainz)
Alex Iwobi, F (Arsenal)
Fabian Delph, CM (Man City)
Jonas Lossl, GK (Huddersfield)
Dgibril Sidibe, RB (Monaco, loan)

Out:

CB Kurt Zouma (loan expired, back to Chelsea)
DM Idrissa Gana Gueye (PSG)
CAM Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow - loan made permanent)
CB Ashley Williams (Bristol City)
CB Phil Jagielka (Sheffield Utd)
LW Amendola Lookman (RB Leipzig)
LB Antonee Robinson (Wigan)
CM James McCarthy (Crystal Palace)
LB Henry Onyekuru (Monaco)
RW Kevin Mirallas (Antwerp)
RB Jonjoe Kenny (Schalke - loan)
F Sandro Ramirez (Real Valladoid - loan)
CAM Kieran Dowell (Derby - loan)
DM Muhammad Besic (Sheffield Utd- loan)
LW Yannick Bolasie (Sporting CP -loan)
CB Matthew Pennington (Hull - loan)

Job 1 for the Toffees is clearing the deadwood from the disastrous Koeman regime. Much progress here, although found-object striker/random-football-movement generator Oumar Niasse could not be moved.

DOF Marcel Brands gets an A- for his incoming business - the only shortcoming being a failure to bring in another CB, where the bench is thin, especially given Mina's injury history. However, Mina and Keane have started strong and seem to be forming a tight CB pairing.

Season so far:

CRY 0-0 eve
EVE 1-0 wat
AVL 2-0 eve
Lincoln City 2-4 EVE (League Cup)
EVE 3-2 wol

7 pts, 7th in table

First two games were strong defensively but only one goal scored. Loss at Villa was terrible - nothing going forward. Sigurdsson and Richarlison were in poor form. Calvert-Lewin offered nothing - blasted a shot from the six-yard box right at the Villa keeper with the whole goal mouth open to him. Only Iwobi and Kean, thrown on as last-minute subs, looked decent. Conceded at 0:22 of the League Cup game away to League One side Lincoln and we all thought, here we go again. But Digne scored a beautiful free-kick, and the Toffees twice fought back after Lincoln took the lead, with Iwobi and Richarlison putting the game out of reach. The Wolves game was hugely entertaining - a Richarlison brace, and a powerful Iwobi header set up by a gorgeous cross from Siggy. So after two ponderous but defensively sound games, the Toffees have shown some vulnerability at the back but have unleashed an uncharateristically robust attack.

Prognosis for the season-

GK - Pickford seems to have gotten over his immaturity and has been solid. Several big saves, no howlers, strong command of the box, good distribution.

Back four - Digne continues to excel in attack, but was abused by the very physical Traore in the Wolves game. Coleman has been solid but unspectacular - loanee Sidibe has been brought in to challenge but has not inspired in limited action. Mina has been a beast. Keane whiffed on one of the Villa goals but has been sound otherwise. This unit will be a strength but lack of depth at CB (the only backup is Mason Holgate - they'd have to dip into the U23s beyond that) is a big issue and not addressing that weakness was the failure of the transfer window (we played footsie with Chelsea over Zouma but they wouldn't sell - maybe not a bad thing since Zouma has been poor).

Midfield - Replacing Gueye at DM was the biggest concern in the offseason. Gbamin looked good to start but went down with a serious quad injury and may miss two months. Morgan Schneiderlin has been poor. Fabian Delph has stepped up big-time. Everton have lacked a leader of his experience, accomplishment, and on-field steel. Even though Richarlison scored a brace against Wolves, Delph was a popular MOTM pick for anchoring the midfield in a chaotic game. Gomes had his worst game as a Toffee in the Villa loss but has been good otherwise. Scouser Tom Davies can't get off the bench, leaving fans to wonder if he's in Silva's doghouse. The outlook here is unsettled - there is quality but depth and consistency are question marks.

Attack - the gradual introduction of Iwobi and Kean has reinvigorated the side. Kean has not yet opened his account. His inexperience shows, but he has hit the post and barely missed another chance, and has shown excellent movement and penetration. Kean has won the starting striker spot, DCL seems to have missed his chance to impress. Richarlison snapped out of his bad start (he contracted a bad case of mumps at the Copa America - I think it wore him out) and ran wild against Lincoln (adjusting for quality of opposition) and Wolves. I was skeptical about Iwobi - please not another Arsenal reject (Theo Walcott is awful now) - but he has been excellent - size, strength, finishing ability, pace, and a mean streak that the Toffees have lacked. He may have supplanted Bernard, which is harsh to the little fella since he was the only decent attacker in the first two games, slotting a nice finish against Watford. Siggy divides fan opinion - he led the team in 18/19 with 13 goals (tied w/Richy), added 6 assists, and was key to Silva's high press, but many got on his case for a tendency to disappear. He started poorly this season, but has looked great over the last two - his problem may have been a lack of quality attackers around him. It's a small sample size but if this unit has really figured it out the Toffees could be formidable.

With Arsenal, United, and Chelsea (and even Spurs) looking vulnerable, if the Toffees are ever going to push higher than best-of-the-rest, this is the time. A few other sides have the same ambition - Leicester, Wolves, and maybe West Ham (I like this Haller guy). I like where we are now. Goodison is once again a fortress - the crowds have been rabid. The side has bounced back from body blows in the Lincoln and Wolves game, addressing a serious weakness in recent seasons where they showed little fight-back. Weaknesses: the best XI hasn't presented itself yet, and the 4-2-3-1 of the past few seasons seems tired and not well-suited to the current personnel mix. Depth is an issue. Kean still looks like a 19 year old in a new country and league - there's a lot of pressure on him and who knows if he'll deliver.

Still, I feel like excitement is justified for the first time in a long time.

This is my only hobby, BTW.

COYB
NSNO
 

kobayashis bail bonds

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Jul 17, 2005
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Thanks for starting this thread, OCST. There's a lot of good stuff here. I'm more excited about this season than I have been for some time now. Especially now that I've appeared (like many) to underestimate Delph and Iwobi.

The depth in the back four remains concerning (I don't know whether someone may be available in January to shore things up, or what the finances would allow for, even). And I'm curious to see how the midfield shapes up, esp. once Gbamin is a healthy option.

And I'm curious what your take is on Gylfi. You mention the divided opinion, but betray no sympathies toward either side of the divide. (Perhaps intentionally?)

But yes, count me among those who are trying on optimism for the first time in a while, and seeing how it fits.
 

OilCanShotTupac

Sunny von Bulow
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I stan Gylfi. He’s one of few in the side who can change a game with a moment of brilliance out of nowhere. Is one of the best in the PL at scoring from outside of the box. His critics say he has a tendency to disappear, that he doesn’t boss the game like a No.10 should, and there is something to that. I think it’s because for many seasons Everton have primarily attacked up the flanks with Baines and Coleman, both among the best attacking fullbacks of their era (and now Digne). And for the past few seasons the DMs have been Gueye and Schneiderlin, neither of whom are good going forward, so Buildup play hadn’t gone through Gylfi enough IMO and he’s been isolated in the middle. Also he hasn’t always had creative attackers in front of him to create for.

Silva likes to play through the middle, Mina is good on the ball, Delph and Gbamin are good passers, and Kean and Iwobi look like they make good runs- let’s see if Gylfi does more with better players around him.
 
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teddykgb

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Jul 16, 2005
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The problem with Delph is health. He’s ultra committed and will do a job but he’s gonna get injured playing multiple times a week and you’ll be exposed.

Everton are a fun team to watch right now. Everyone thinks they can take the points against them so they don’t see a ton of bunkered defenses but there’s very little chance of relegation so Everton are always playing to win. Similar situation to West Ham and Leicester who don’t have top 4 expectations causing them to exhibit more caution.

As I said in a match thread, Kean seems to have a lot of ambition but I found his touch really heavy. Maybe it was a bad weekend for him, but he was consistently showing way too much of the ball to defenders. Really interested to see how he adapts, I think so much of Evertons season is reliant upon finding consistent goals from the front
 

OilCanShotTupac

Sunny von Bulow
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Jan 10, 2004
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The 718
The problem with Delph is health. He’s ultra committed and will do a job but he’s gonna get injured playing multiple times a week and you’ll be exposed.

Everton are a fun team to watch right now. Everyone thinks they can take the points against them so they don’t see a ton of bunkered defenses but there’s very little chance of relegation so Everton are always playing to win. Similar situation to West Ham and Leicester who don’t have top 4 expectations causing them to exhibit more caution.

As I said in a match thread, Kean seems to have a lot of ambition but I found his touch really heavy. Maybe it was a bad weekend for him, but he was consistently showing way too much of the ball to defenders. Really interested to see how he adapts, I think so much of Evertons season is reliant upon finding consistent goals from the front
Agree re Kean. I think the speed of the game is faster then in Serie A and the defenders close down more quickly- you don’t get as much time on the ball. He’s hit the post one and fizzed another about 6 inches wide so he seems to have a shooters touch. It is a lot to ask to put the season on this kids shoulders. So far he’s handling it well.
 

Rusty Gate

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I am more optimistic for the long term than the short term because the real test will be whether they will be able to keep Kean, Richarlison, Pickford and other young players when the bigger teams think they’re ready for poaching. The new ownership and stadium must create enough enthusiasm (and revenue) so they consider staying. That’s a fragile, several year project, but this seems to be the moment. As OCST said, not qualifying for Europe makes this a year where a trophy and/or a top 4 challenge is a real possibility as the first step towards a new and better era.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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Also re Delph- he is fragile. Everton is not *yet* able to attract truly top shelf talent in their prime- those guys want guaranteed CL.
With the new stadium, which really does look incredible, and a top 4 finish (or FA Cup maybe) that might change.

Edit: what Rusty said re: the stadium. Also, FWIW, Silva seems to have a Moneyball advantage connecting with Brazilian/Portuguese players. Richarlison looks at him like a father. The team genuinely seem to like each other. Silva has a reputation as a job hopper so he’s said that he needs to stick around for awhile. And Brands has done very well in his transfer windows, has a track record of finding and developing young talent, as one must do at a Dutch club, and he has a seat on the board at Everton so he’s likely not going anywhere. To push on, the club most needs a bit of nastiness, especially away from home- too often they would go down a goal, and roll over to have their belly tickled. Looks like that may be changing.
 
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OilCanShotTupac

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A greatest hits album of Everton failures today: poor form away; more possession and more chances but not clinical; failure to defend set pieces; lackluster for long stretches; poor choices for the XI and the bench.

I would like Morgan Schneiderlin to be shot into the sun.

No one is clear from blame. Poor top to bottom.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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Losing 2-0 at home to a promoted side is not pushing-for-top-six material, obviously.

Again, the Toffees had most of the ball against an opponent who were happy to sit back (and who did it very well- Sheffield Utd were compact and disciplined). Again, they did nothing with it. Again, they played only down the flanks and whipped futile crosses into the box with no one to get on the end of them. Again, no buildup through the middle at all. Again, they made two big mistakes and both were punished - since the first Blades goal was an OG off the head of Yerry Mina, they scored two goals while recording only one shot on goal). Again, terrible team selection, with two DMs at home against a side that was never going to attack, and one of those being Schneiderlin, whose timidity is crippling. Again, no Plan B when the first plan doesn't work - Silva threw on three attacking players when chasing the game, with no clear shape or plan, and they bumbled around aimlessly. Again, a listless, uninspired, and demoralized team.

League Cup game away to Sheffield Wednesday this week. If they lose Silva's job is in jeopardy. I've never been in favor of sacking him, since he has produced extended spells of excellent play - and more importantly the job becomes less attractive as they cycle through managers. But this is fucking dire, man.
 

OilCanShotTupac

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Brutal. Awful. Same terrible team selection, tactics, execution, subs. Same apathy. Toothless.

Silva out.
 

Stanley Steamer

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Brutal. Awful. Same terrible team selection, tactics, execution, subs. Same apathy. Toothless.

Silva out.
I know, really. 18th place, after all the optimism of the transfer market this summer, and last, to be fair. What will it take to get these guys up to speed? The league is open this year. It is a lost opportunity.