Marco Silva needed to show something today — that he understood the problems that have underpinned what has been a horrendous start to the season; that in some ways he has the courage, desire and even capacity to change things up but that, more than anything, he understands the necessity.
What had gone before in the previous seven league games clearly was not working; it had become obvious to everyone… except, it seems, to the manager whose only nod to the clamour for something different came in the form of Alex Iwobi’s return to the starting XI on the left side. This was same old, same old and it can’t continue any longer.
The rigid, unchanging 4-2-3-1 system was retained, with Gylfi Sigurdsson, arguably the most glaringly under-achieving member of the team, deployed yet again in the No 10 role and, proving once again on the road to be a passenger in a dysfunctional team.
Morgan Schneiderlin partnered Fabian Delph as the dual holding midfielder unit that has been a millstone around Everton’s collective neck ever since it outlived its usefulness as a catch-all, full-time solution under Roberto Martinez… three managers ago.
Up front, Dominic Calvert-Lewin kept the role of the isolated, fruitless lone striker before he was, predictably, taken off without having registered a shot on target in the customary reactive substitution after Everton had conceded.
So much about this match played out like a badly directed movie that you’re forced to watch on a weekly basis, the plot points, moves and characters all painfully familiar — the dead-end attempts to play out from the back before the inevitable boot forward from Jordan Pickford or a Blues defender; the flighted diagonal balls floating over the head of their designated target; the failure to find enough ways through the lines of the opponent’s low block; the lack of imagination or ingenuity from either the dugout or the field of play… the list goes on and it ended with another set-piece calamity that cost Everton a game they simply had to win.
Seamus Coleman’s red card, though… that was a different wrinkle but also entirely in keeping with this spiralling mess over which Silva is presiding. Two clumsy challenges with unintended consequences, the first a high foot that raked down Erik Pieters’s lower leg, the second surely avoidable by a captain with so much experience.
And yet, has a red card ever felt less consequential? Silva claimed that his side was on top when the Irishman was shown his second yellow card for catching Dwight O’Neil’s head on the follow-through with his shoulder but Everton were only superior in terms of possession which they again dominated with little to show for it. They might have won it somehow had they kept 11 men on the field but there wasn’t much difference to their play after referee Graham Scott had felt compelled to give Coleman his marching orders.
Their two real moments of incisiveness came either side of half time. First, Coleman dropped his shoulder brilliantly to sidestep his marker, Sigurdsson prodded his pass inside forward and Iwobi controlled before shooting on the turn but Matthew Lowton got his body in the way and deflected it wide of goal.
That came a few moments after O’Neil had had to clear from under his own crossbar when a corner from the right bounced off a team-mate and towards the goal-line.
Then, as the Blues showed flashes of what they’re capable of early in the second period, Iwobi led a neat passing move through midfield that ended with Richarlison driving a shot too close to Nick Pope in the Clarets’ goal.
Other than than, this was a tedious contest, epitomised by the two minutes of aimless long balls from both sides that served as its opening act and that had 0-0 written all over it until Jeff Hendrick punished the visitors for their almost juvenile ability not to heed a clear warning in the first half when the Irish international had almost scored from a deep corner but was foiled by Jordan Pickford’s right leg.
The England keeper was left stranded on the second occasion as Hendrick swung around at the back post and left completely open again by Everton’s zonal marking system to smash home the winner from the angle in the 72nd minute.
Moise Kean was introduced with a quarter of an hour to go and at least injected some direct running, attempted trickery and a little of the unpredictable to proceedings but, apart from Yerry Mina, who was comfortably the best player in blue on the day, the rest of the Everton side looked a beaten outfit as the match dragged to a close.
And so Evertonians head into the international break unsure of what might happen next. Five defeats from six and four Premier League losses in a row for the first time in five seasons is unacceptable form and it rightly puts Silva firmly in the crosshairs of both the inquest into what has gone wrong and what should be done about it.
Farhad Moshiri has suggested the club needs to show patience with and faith in the manager and Marcel Brands is believed to privately hold the same belief but Silva’s position is rapidly becoming untenable; like his two full-time predecessors, his status as Everton manager is in danger of being critically undermined by a stubborn refusal to change.
With Silva's approach and team effectively unchanged and the inevitable goal conceded from a set-piece, the performance and result differ only with the dismissal of Seamus Coleman, plunging Everton to the brink of the relegation zone.
Macro Silva, cautious as ever, made no real change to the side, with Iwobi starting now in place of Walcott, rather than replacing him after 1 minute, as happened last weekend. The dynamic duo of Schneiderlin and Sigurdsson start together in Everton's sluggish midfield.
Gomes is fit... but only for the bench. Walcott does not make the squad, while Gbamin is still on a long path to recovery from his thigh muscle tear.
Everton get an early opportunity, Gylfi Sigurdsson firing a free-kick towards the top corner but Nick Pope gets across to push the ball behind for a corner that is wasted.
On the whole. it was a bright Everton start but Burnley began to threaten, particularly down the left. Dwight McNeil broke down the wing and won a throw-in level with the Everton box. Eventually the cross was driven in for Gudmundsson, who headed straight at Pickford.
At the other end, a shot from Iwobi is deflected inches wide of the post. But the pace of the game was nothing if not pedestrian at best: no tempo, mo urgency, just two poor lower-mid-table teams feeling eachother out. Coleman won a corner for Everton and Sigurdsson this time found Mina but the ball bounced off the top of his head and over the bar. Tarkowskicomes off worst in impeding the towering Colombian, needing some treatment.
Calvert-Lewin escapes with a foul on McNeil, then Keane is all over Bares, and gives up a free-kick 35 yards out, but Everton clear with ease. No real chances after 30 minutes.
Tarkowski put Richarlison's teasing low ball behind for Everton's fifth corner of the game. The ball was flicked on at the near post where Iwobi doesn't get a good connection and Burnley can clear their lines.
Another Everton corner deflected off Tarkowski and McNeill was in the right place at the right time to hack the ball off the line. Iwobi then got in close and fired on the turn but Lowton got across quickly to block the shot away.
Coleman stretched for a loose ball but ended up planting his studs into the lower leg Erik Pieters, who hobbles off after treatment, bringing a pretty uninspiring first half of poor Premier League football to a close.
A careless pass back was almost pounced upon by Calvert-Lewin, but Mee hooked it clear. A clever little flick by Calvert-Lewin sent Sigurdsson through but his first touch was heavy and he couldn't keep the ball in play./p>
Coleman, already on a yellow card, gets himself sent off going in late and heavy on McNeil.
A mad scramble inside the Everton box, Pickford came out to punch, the ball glancing off his gloves but he managed to gather the loose ball before a Burnley player could pounce.
It's Burnley who finally break the deadlock, doming Everton to another ignominious defeat, another goal from another set-piece, Maroc Silva's famed zonal marking still all at sea. The corner is sent deep where Hendrick is unmarked, and thumps in a brilliant volley. It's a simple goal, but the finish is superb as he manages to fire in from a very tight angle.
Everton tried to respond but Keane could only head just wide from a corner. Kean replaced Calvert-Lewin with barely 15 mins left to come up with some Italian magic, Silva's substitutions nothing if not predictable.
Everton win another corner but play it short, and Pope catches the ball in with ease. Burnley break at pace, and Delph is forced to foul, giving away another threatening set-piece. Gudmundsson drove it into the wall off Iwobi for another Burnley corner that Pickford fails to catch.
With Everton now pressing, Burnley look to threaten again whenever they can break, but this time Pickford is able to make a comfortable save.
5 mins left and the final masterstroke from embattled Everton manager, Marco Silva, is to bring on Andre Gomes in place of the uninspiring Morgan Scneiderlin. Everton huff and puff through 6 minutes of added time to another ignominious away defeat.
Scorer: Hendrick (72')
Burnley: Pope, Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters (55' Taylor), Gudmundsson (84' Lennon), Hendrick [Y:64'], Westwood [Y:86'], McNeil, Wood, Barnes (73' Rodriguez).
Subs not Used: Brady, Hart, Vydra, Long.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:44';R:56'], Keane, Mina, Digne, Schneiderlin (85' Gomes), Delph, Richarlison, Sigurdsson (59' Sidibe [Y:87']), Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin (74' Kean).
Subs not Used: Lössl, Holgate, Davies, Bernard.
Why do we deserve this, Evertonians?
Gaz rolled up more or less on time and we navigated through Liverpool towards the M58 for the relatively short trip to Burnley. If only I’d have known that some eight hours later we’d be coming home in fury, I really wouldn’t have bothered. A really horrible afternoon at the game.
We were both pretty optimistic we could win and build on our good showing against the champions last weekend as we chatted travelling up. We parked up nicely and headed towards Turf Moor, calling in at The Bridge Inn (a cracking little boozer by the way) for a few welcome jars and some food while watching Tottenham Hotspur do an Everton against Brighton. We got the team news and I was certainly satisfied enough with effectively the same team that performed well last weekend, starting this weekend.
We arrived at Turf Moor in good time, time enough even for a quick beer, and got to our seats in time for kick off, Everton attacking towards the far end in the first half.
What proceeded was stalemate, plain and simple. Both teams negated each other and there was little to shout about in the first half with neither goalkeeper nor defence seriously extended. I don’t know what happened with the first yellow card for Seamus but apparently it could easily have been a red card. You could argue that Marco should have withdrawn Seamus given he was walking a tightrope but let’s be realistic here, as I have seen the second yellow card - that in a zillion years is not a yellow card. That is two players jumping together, one headbutting another’s shoulder, and then hitting the deck like he’s been pole-axed. Disgraceful playacting from Dwight McNeil and if that’s a yellow card then the game is done. He should be ashamed, especially as I’ve always seen Burnley as a fair team to play against.
I was disappointed with Graham Scott for most of the game. I thought he had a good first 30 minutes when he largely ignoring Burnley’s over-the-top reactions and protests, only to for sudden switch and give them everything they asked for.
There was still a lot of time left and you had to hope Everton could defend stoutly when they needed too - not leave a player in the box completely unchecked when you have eight players in the box to their four.
There was still time left in the game to respond but you never felt we would. Actually the longer the game went on, the less you felt we would. I question why Marco took so long to introduce Andre Gomes. I question why Marco didn’t have our most natural goalscorer (Tosun) on the substitute bench when he did instead have Tom Davies and Andre Gomes, when he was never ever going to need them both. I question why just after going behind he took off Dominic Calvert-Lewin. I question why our corners were so bad throughout. Why have Digne and Sigurdsson both over there for every one even though its obvious you aren’t going to use them both? Why didn’t we at least send Yerry Mina up there for the final few minutes?
I’d really rather not change managers again. I like Marco Silva. I want him to put it right, however watching today I was dismayed by our predictability and how rudderless we were. Even as we chased late on, we didn’t seem capable of raising it a few gears. I felt sorry for Marco at the end when he came over applauding the supporters. At least he fronted up while his own fans chanted "sacked in the morning" to him.
I’m always up foe giving managers as much time as possible but at what point does enough become enough? You simply can’t keep losing every game and I believe that if we don’t beat West Ham United in a fortnight Marco will be gone. I think it would be a shame but I can well understand why that decision may be made. There’s been fine margins in a lot of these games, and the red card today was another one.
On the way back Ste and I were messaging back and forth our despair at being a blue and he made some good points. We’re a very committed fan base who back their team time and again, yet get disappointment served up time and again in a plethora of different ways. Liverpool meanwhile have fans you love to loathe. You can’t go anywhere in the world without running into them. They are loved by all, and get stuffy with results in a plethora of different ways, time and again. Today’s game against Leicester City being another apparent ludicrous example of such.
It really makes you want to pack it all in sometimes bur you know you just can’t. I don’t know how many more times you come back again for more.
What did we do to deserve this Evertonians?
Pickford: Couldn’t do anything with the goal and was otherwise fine. 7
Digne: Well out of sorts. 4
Mina: Easily man of the match. Certainly the biggest positive. Was very composed and commanding at the back. 8
Keane: Also had a good game. 7
Coleman: I’m yet to see the initial foul which he got booked for bur the second one is never a yellow card. Not ever. I thought he did OK otherwise. 5
Delph: He’ll be dismayed at how he’s come from the champions to this. One of our better ones out there. 7
Schneiderlin: Average really. 6
Richarlison: Did pretty well, especially second half. 7
Iwobi: Was disappointing. Needs to gel into the team more. 5
Sigurdsson: Never really got going though I’m not sure he’s the one I’d have sacrificed for Sidibe. 5
Calvert-Lewin: Not his finest hour. 5
Sidibe (for Sigurdsson): Didn’t let anyone down but it was tough for him to be thrown into that. Big opportunity for him next Saturday. 5
Kean (for Calvert-Lewin): Got involved and did well. I think he may begin the next game in what will probably be make or break for Marco. 6
Gomes (for Schneiderlin): Didn’t really get going. 5
Everton will make the short trip up the road to Burnley this weekend for a match that has taken on huge significance for their season.
With four defeats in their last five Premier League matches and having sunk to 15th place in the table with seven games played, the Blues and their manager find themselves under a fair amount of pressure to take advantage of another relatively favourable run of matches between now and a daunting December programme to get some points on the board.
Certainly, the next three league fixtures, against Burnley, West Ham and Brighton, before the meeting with Watford in the Carabao Cup at the end of the month will be viewed as must-win for a team that came into the season eyeing a place in the top six but which has been massively disappointing so far.
Marco Silva's task will have been boosted by André Gomes's return to training and the news that he, along with Theo Walcott, will be in contention for this weekend's match.
Gomes has been sidelined for the past month with a rib injury while Walcott had to be withdrawn just after less than a minute's worth of action on his first start of the season against Manchester City last Saturday when he was struck on the head by the ball.
“Really good news for us,” Silva said. “Andre resumed training at the start of the week and Theo started do some individual work as well and today they did the session with the team.
“Now it's up to us to keep working hard with him (Gomes) and to put him on same level as the others and if we decide, he will be ready.”
There was good news as well regarding Jean-Philippe Gbamin who has been running on grass for the first time having been ruled out since late August with a torn muscle in his thigh.
Asked where Gbamin was on his recovery timeline from a thigh injury, Silva said that the Ivorian was back on a pitch for the first time today, working on running with Bruno Mendes.
“Let's in the next few days see how he reacts and we'll take it step-by-step but it's a good sign for us.”
In terms of the clash with the Clarets, Evertonians will travel to Turf Moor with a degree of trepidation given how effective Sean Dyche's team can be with crosses and from set-pieces, talents that will almost certainly be targeted at the Toffees' Achilles heel in that regard. Three of Burnley's last four goals were scored from headers while Everton have struggled to deal with dead-ball situations and aerial deliveries all season.
Since Samuel Eto'o grabbed a brace on this ground a little over five years ago, this has been a tricky fixture for the Blues. After Dyche steered them back into the top flight, Burnley won the next two meetings between the two sides at Turf Moor, beaten Ronald Koeman's and Sam Allardyce's sides 2-1. The Boxing Day goal glut in Everton's favour last season was a welcome change of the script but it's hard to see a repeat of that performance on the evidence of the season so far.
Much will depend on which team Silva deploys and whether he opts for his preferred 4-3-3 formation now that Gomes is fit or persists with the 4-2-3-1 system that has struggled against teams content to be compact and deploy the low block to stifle what remains a team devoid of much collective creativity.
Bernard should be available again after missing the defeat to Manchester City with a virus, one that almost forced Lucas Digne out of the starting line-up and may have also been affecting Alex Iwobi. There has been a clamour from some quarters for Iwobi to start given his instant impact after signing from Arsenal and perhaps be tried in the No 10 role but it's more likely that he would start on the left if selected.
Silva's men will need to gather all the confidence they gleaned from a spirited performance against Man City last weekend and the win over Sheffield Wednesday in the cup that preceded it for this one. Burnley, who come into the game two points and four places better off and having lost to just Liverpool and Arsenal, promise to pose robust opposition but anything other than a win for Everton will surely ratchet up the debate about Silva's future at Goodison Park.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 5th October, 2019
Referee: Graham Scott
Last Time: Burnley 1 - 5 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Digne, Gomes, Delph, Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin