Saints defeat and selection problems throw up early-season issues for Ancelotti

Injuries, suspensions and, perhaps, an emerging dilemma over how best to accommodate James Rodriguez are some of the things that will be on the manager's mind as he prepares for Newcastle

Lyndon Lloyd 27/10/2020 50comments  |  Jump to last

As Everton exploded out the gates to set the early pace in 2020-21, Evertonians were suddenly faced with the possibility that they might need to revise their expectations of the campaign. On the whole, there was well-founded optimism that finishing back among the top eight was a manageable target and, perhaps, a few thoughts were entertained that the top six and beyond might be achievable if things went really well.

As the season develops, it’s becoming clear that this could be as wide open a Premier League as any in recent memory and that something truly special is on the cards for the team (or teams) that can put together a run of form to rival that of Leicester City five years ago. If that is to be Everton, though, quite a few things need to go their way but over the last couple of games, the League leaders have already encountered obstacles in their path.

Jordan Pickford may have escaped what would, in the context of the derby, been a disastrous red card after just five minutes but Richarlison was not so fortunate, the Brazilian being deservedly sent off late in the game against Liverpool and picking up a damaging three-match ban in the process.

In the same game, Seamus Coleman aggravated the hamstring problem that had forced him off against Brighton just before what was (from Everton’s perspective) a disruptive international break and he missed Sunday’s defeat at Southampton.

Meanwhile, of course, Lucas Digne became the second of Carlo Ancelotti’s first-choice starters to get his marching orders when he was dismissed by Kevin Friend for catching Kyle Walker-Peters at St Mary’s, although his suspension has, thankfully, been reduced to one match.

Fitness Concerns at Full-Back

Niels Nkounkou will be an able deputy when the Toffees travel to Newcastle this weekend and it might well be just the kind of game in which the young Frenchman can thrive. Having emerged as a scintillating attacking presence in the Carabao Cup ties against Salford City and Fleetwood Town, he brushed off any doubts over his defensive capabilities against West Ham in the fifth round with another fine all-round display. The Barcodes pose potentially similar opposition.

If Jonjoe Kenny doesn’t recover in time for Sunday, though, the right-back spot will be a greater source of concern for manager and supporters alike. Ben Godfrey acquitted himself well enough as a makeshift fullback when he replaced Coleman in the derby but he struggled when targeted by Southampton and largely had an afternoon for forget.

Ancelotti won’t relish having to pit his new signing against what is arguably Newcastle’s greatest threat in the form of the tricky Allan Saint-Maximin. The French winger has looked dangerous at the start of his second season in England and will need to be contained by an Everton defence that will hopefully be going through extra defensive drills at Finch Farm this week aimed at shoring up a back line that hasn’t kept a clean sheet since that win over Salford on 16th September.

As competent a deputy as Kenny is, he can’t yet adequately replace Coleman who began the season in terrific, age-defying form. Still able to fulfil the duties of the modern full-back with aplomb, bombing up the right flank to help support attacks while defending tenaciously at the other end, there is no like-for-like swap in the squad. But if even Kenny is ruled out, is the manager better off moving Godfrey inside as one of three at centre-back and finding someone to operate as right wing-back or putting someone like Tom Davies in at full-back?

Accommodating James

Of course, compounding Godfrey’s inexperience playing out of position was the lack of cover offered by James Rodriguez. The Colombian isn’t averse to tracking back and helping out the defence but he’s not consistent in that respect and there’s an argument to be made that his injury record means that he wasn’t ever going to be able to sustain that kind of intensity over a full season anyway. Already a doubt for Newcastle with a hamstring strain of his own, James is showing how much and how carefully his fitness might need to be managed.

It begs the question whether Ancelotti is better off taking most of the former Real Madrid star of his defensive responsibilities off his plate and giving him more of a free role behind the forward line. His propensity to roam means that he is playing that way anyway but by formalising it as part of the game plan, Ancelotti can ensure that someone is taking up the slack on each side in front of the fullbacks.

For that to work, however, it makes more sense to these eyes to have three players with similar mobility across the centre of the park with Allan instructed to sit in front of the back four and Abdoulaye Doucouré and Fabian Delph able to shift towards the flanks when the opposition have the ball.

That would leave no room for the more one-paced Gylfi Sigurdsson or André Gomes but it seems as though having the luxury of someone like Rodriguez in the side is going to mean selecting a certain profile of midfielder elsewhere in the side. It might not be an issue this weekend if James doesn’t recover from that hamstring niggle but, just as Ralph Hasenhuttl did, opposing managers will quickly figure out how to nullify the Colombia favourite and exploit the spaces behind him if he remains in that right-sided role.

Replacing the Irreplaceable

Then there’s the conundrum over how to compensate for the absence of Richarlison, another member of the team without equal in his role. Given his work-rate, his ability and willingness to track back, and the threat he poses in the final third, the 23-year-old was the most missed player against Saints and Ancelotti will be without him for the trip to the northeast as well as the clash with Manchester United the following Saturday.

No surprise, then, that the question of how to replace him is uppermost in Evertonian minds this week but the answer may revealed itself, ever so briefly before Digne’s sending-off killed any hopes of late surge at Southampton, in the performance of Anthony Gordon. The teenager stepped off the bench at St Mary’s with half an hour to go and provided one of the few positives to come from the game.

In addition to youthful exuberance and a certain fearlessness that goes with it, Gordon possesses unpredictability and pace, two attributes that are proving to be invaluable in this season’s Premier League. Indeed, it was Everton’s ponderous posture on the south coast this past weekend that stood at odds not only with Southampton’s quick thinking and movement but also with the Toffees’ own early season displays.

If they appeared to offer almost no threat in transition against Saints, with Alex Iwobi profligate in possession and too often hemmed in by the touchline, Gordon would restore that attacking danger on the counter-attack against a Newcastle side that will, if their recent defeat to United was any indication, leave a lot more room at the back for Everton to exploit. The Academy product’s mobility means that he could also give Dominic Calvert-Lewin a lot more support up front.

Big Test

Newcastle’s erratic start means that the Everton of the first four games of the Premier League season should have little to fear from the Barcodes but with the selection and fitness concerns outlined above combined with the psychological blow Everton took in the manner of that defeat to Southampton, this weekend’s game will be a bigger test than might have been envisioned a couple of weeks ago.

Ancelotti has as much work to do in re-focusing the players’ minds on how they achieved their early-season success as he will in tightening up the defence but if he can settle the side, find a functioning solution to the absentees, and get back to winning ways, the confidence should quickly flood back ahead of a different kind of test against Man United.

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Peter Mills
2 Posted 27/10/2020 at 22:27:16
If and when all the players are fit, there are plenty of options at centre back. I wonder whether an answer to accommodating the flair of James will be to incorporate him into a 5 man midfield, with 3 at the back and 2 up front?

That is not always an easy defence to play, but it is massively helped by having a covering player with speed. Both Holgate and Godfrey may fit the bill.

Steven Astley
3 Posted 27/10/2020 at 22:43:32
More Pickford gaffes to come this Sunday. He won't be able to help himself in the enemy's back yard!
Dick Fearon
4 Posted 27/10/2020 at 23:06:46
If Pickford's critics are successful in driving him out of the club there would be no shortage of big clubs chasing him.
The question is, where can we find an affordable and better replacement?
Mark Andersson
5 Posted 27/10/2020 at 00:01:15
Hope this thread dose not become a another Pickford bashing thread...

Carlo is still tinkering thinking and looking for the magical formular..

An other interesting colum thanks Llyndon

Jack Convery
6 Posted 28/10/2020 at 02:54:22
Not for this Saturday but If and when everyone is fit and available I reckon Carlo may well decide his best 11 will be 3 at the back, 2 wing backs, 3 in midfield and 2 up front.

Holgate to the right, Keane in the centre and Godfrey to the left.
Coleman and Digne wing backs. The 3 in midfield Allan Doucoure, James, with Richarlson and DCL the forwards. That line up gives us pace and height at the back, 2 wide players with stamina, pace and the ability to cross and link up play. 3 midfielders,2 of which cover in the front of the defenders and the other to supply assists to the forwards, without having to cover. Plus 2 forwards who know where the goal is and have pace, power and height. Everything is so simple on paper.
Robin covers Pickford, JJK covers Coleman, Nkounkou covers Digne, Mina and Branthwaite cover the defensive positions, Gomes / Bernard covers James position, Davies and Delph cover Allan and Doucoure. Gordon covers Richarlson and someone we may get in January or next summer will cover DCL. ( though for now that would be Richarlson ). Siggy and Iwobi would not get much game time and will likely be shipped out sooner or later.

For Saturday I hope Nkounkou and Gordon both play, with Delph on the left side of a 3 in midfield - I expect Allan to be rested as he hasn't been fit since the Brighton game. Here's hoping for a prompt return to 3 points for the Blues come the end of the game. We need it as a queue is building up behind us. I wonder if Moyes will finally bloody the Red Noses. If Antonio is fit he may well do.

Derek Knox
7 Posted 28/10/2020 at 03:14:23
Peter @ 2, yes I like the idea of playing 3 centre-backs, because Nkounkou hasn't really been tested defensively, he has the speed to get forward and cause problems and deliver decent crosses, likewise if Kenny is selected as expected too, another better at going forward than defending.

If we were to play with only 2 centre-backs, I think they could be overtaxed, assuming that is that Newcastle are playing their A game. We have enjoyed mixed fortunes at their ground, and they themselves have mixed the good with the bad in recent games.

I know playing 3 at the back, eliminates one in midfield or attack but still think we should have enough to cope, let's get another 3 points and try to stay on top of the pile.

Bobby Mallon
8 Posted 28/10/2020 at 03:40:37
Derek Knox,

Didn't Nkounkou have Yarmelenko in his pocket

Derek Knox
9 Posted 28/10/2020 at 04:07:54
Bobby, agreed he did well in that Cup game, but I'm not downplaying the lad in any way but one good game doesn't guarantee he will do that in every game against experienced Premier League players. Better to be safe than sorry.

Iwobi played well in the Cup games, and look what happened on Sunday! He was like a fish out of water.

Darren Hind
10 Posted 28/10/2020 at 06:12:39
Good talking points, Lyndon.

It's been rather amusing to listen to so many people use the absence of three of the players who were here before, as an excuse for the abject display at St Mary's, especially in light of all those claims that that the players Carlo inherited were simply not good enough. For me, that claim has already been laid bare.

Carlo inherited two of the hottest young forwards in the world. He has inherited international centre backs, a top-class left-back. He has inherited a captain he himself compares to all-time greats. Yeah, he inherited a few lame ducks too... but he keeps playing them.

People talk about the use of "hindsight" when the selection errors were pointed out after the St Mary's debacle, but the dogs in our street were barking it was a bad idea to use James and Iwobi as protection for their full-backs, long before kick-off time. Particularly as one of them isn't even a full-back.

Let's not blind ourselves to the evidence of our own eyes here. There is no point in crying that our second string isn't good enough when eight regular starters (including the four players brought in this season) all turned in rotten performances.

Those who lauded the transfer window as some sort of miracle need to think again. The failure to get a more reliable goalkeeper in will come back to bite us on the arse this season. The decision to let one of three strikers leave without replacing him was just plain stupid.

When Ancelotti signed two players who have played for him before, and whose situations were known to him, he was not using some sort of mystical magnetic power. He was simply doing what hundreds and thousands of managers had done before him since professional football began.

If failure to sign adequate cover in key positions was due to the kitty already being spent rather than ineptitude, then we must accept the mythical "pulling power" only extends about as far as Moshiri's wallet.

We've had a decent start to this season. We are top and we have progressed to the business end of a cup competition (largely using the players deemed not good enough). Carlo Ancelotti must take a great deal of credit for that. But a start without a middle and an end is worthless. If we are ever to dine at football's top table again, performances like the one we witnessed on Sunday have to be called for what they are: Unacceptable.

I don't subscribe to the theory that the manager is above criticism or question because of his past exploits. I'll leave those notions to people who are too lazy to think for themselves. Nor will I belong to a club whose members want to credit the manager for every win and blame the players for every defeat. Carlo's had a complete Weston this week and he should be called on it.

Marcel Brands is another who needs to be called out. It takes a little more than an ability to give players away for nothing to make a Director of Football... What was going through his head when he allowed young Kean to leave without a replacement? Some of his purchases have been the worst since Jack went to market and came back with a bag of magic beans.

It would be fair to say the successes of the last window is one of the reasons we are top. But it does not take hindsight (that word again) to realise that it is the failures which will prevent us from staying there.

If Lyndon Lloyd had suggested we play a young winger up front six months ago, we would have all thought he had lost the plot. Nobody is thinking that now. Most of us will recognise it's one of the very few options we have. The position we are in is not the result of an accident; it is the result of negligence.

Lyndon also asked "What do we do with James?" It's a very good question. If we are to lift a cup or have a decent crack at winning a European slot, then James will surely have to play a huge part. He does have the rare ability to make our hearts sing, but – as often is the case with players like James – there is a price to pay for that and we saw what it is on Sunday.

I tend to lean towards Lyndon's idea of giving him the afternoon off when tactics are being discussed and give him the freedom to do what he wants when the games come around.


Ricky Oak
11 Posted 28/10/2020 at 06:53:19
Can we stop dismantling our own players, pretty please?? It's obvious that the powers that be (media & pundits) constantly nit-pick and undermine our great club, why then do we (as fans), help them at every opportunity to criticise our own?? It really must deflate players, manager etc, to see even their own 'fans', rip into 'em at every chance,

Where's the 'Dogs of War' mentality that I for one absolutely adored? And before that, the 'us against them' – whomever 'they' are? Seriously please, let 'our' team be human; they're not perfect. First things first, though... they're ours! A siege mentality will cover many a mistake... you know it, I know it... they know it.

So come on, for fuck's sake, please. No matter what, let's lift 'em up. Always show love, always, to our Team – that means you!!

Tony Hill
12 Posted 28/10/2020 at 07:06:19
Allan's sluggishness is a worry, I suspect it's an injury. I don't think Doucouré has been consistently good either I'm afraid. Midfield always matters most.

But we're okay. No more of the ponderous, defeatist stuff which Lyndon identifies and which was the most disappointing aspect of Sunday.

Duncan McDine
13 Posted 28/10/2020 at 07:15:57
Our most creative player is by far our biggest weakness defensively. Playing James on the right-wing gives whoever is at right-back one hell of a hard time. I wonder if Carlo might go to a back 3 and slot James into the more central free role behind the striker(s). It still poses the question of who plays right-wingback (if Jonjoe isn't ready) and who partners Calvert-Lewin. It won't be an easy line up to pick this weekend.
Robert Tressell
14 Posted 28/10/2020 at 07:28:00
We got beaten by a well drilled team on their own turf - after their manager did a tactical job on an injury hit side.

There's nothing broken about our set up - Carlo just needs to figure out a way of getting by for the time being.

Not sure fundamental changes of formations or personnel are required apart from the enforced changes.

It's more about organising the players + instilling some belief and motivation into a few under performers.

It's been free flowing. Maybe revert to dull possession, clean sheets and ground out results for a game or two.

Sam Hoare
15 Posted 28/10/2020 at 07:37:37
Digne. Holgate. Braithwaite. Coleman. Gbamin. Rodriguez (not fully fit). Richarlison. Tosun. Kean (sent on loan but not replaced).

That’s nearly a whole team we’re missing. And a pretty good team too!

We were always unlikely to plug all the gaps this summer and missing a dynamic right back to sub in for Coleman. And a pacy, goal scoring winger to sub in on either flank. Without these two elements the team and system that started so well loses balance and effectiveness.

Newcastle will be a tough game, though I don’t think Bruce will have them pressing quite as intensely and relentlessly as Hassenhuhtl’s Southampton.

Ancelloti may have to find a different system as I’m not sure Kenny, returning from injury, will fancy taking on Sant-maximim without support.

Our defense has been breached too often and too easily, fine if you’re scoring 3 or 4 per match but with Richarlison out and Rodriguez not quite fully fit our attacking system is severely diminished. We may have to sit back and tighten up a bit more. I fancy a set piece to possibly prove pivotal.

Will be interesting and revealing to see how we react to our first loss.

Bob Parrington
16 Posted 28/10/2020 at 07:41:50
Article by Lyndon is a good dissection of was, is and can come in terms of the performance of this squad. Thanks Lyndon. As usual your articles lead to substantial discussion that outlines the differing views of your audience.

In a way, I'm drawn towards Ricky Oaks' comments. Negativity never works positively, if you get my drift, which I am sure is what Ricky is trying to get across.

Hopefully the players don't follow ToffeeWeb otherwise some of them would need to call "Beyond Blue" on occasions.

However, I can't truly say that everybody has different views but there are many differing views and I like this about TW. As long as we each accept that others can see things different to ourselves, this is good.

For example, without posting on the subject, I was objecting to Bill on another thread - to do with the 3 or 1 game suspension of Lucas Digne. He saw it from a totally opposed position to me. Then I thought, is he or was he a referee himself? In previous years I might have posted a less than polite comment.

OK - to be honest, I think our fully fit squad is OK but, on the occasions that we lose key players, we are quite ordinary. I would like to see us use the ilks of Gordon & Branthwaite and maybe Simms rather than same old, same old such as Sigs and Bernard as vs Southampton. Watching closely, as soon as things didn't go his own way, by his body language Bernard had given up. Sigs started well but soon slowed. Another under-performer was Iwobi. There is a decent player in there somewhere but can we please see it?

Jim Bennings
17 Posted 28/10/2020 at 08:19:10
It will be interesting to see how it goes having two rookies playing fullback on Sunday.

Nkoukou looked the part in the Cup games but bear in mind the opposition, this will be the Premier League and against some tricky players.

Godfrey looked a fish out of water at Southampton and I understand he's not a f

right back but he'll most likely play there at Newcastle so it's imperative he and James can get something going.

I'd be tempted to play Delph and Allan with Doucoure as he will plug some of the holes that were exposed so many times last Sunday.

Newcastle have a very up and down kind of team but they have players capable of hurting us and if we start off anything like we finished at St Mary's then we are in for another long day.

The left hand side of our midfield concerns me because no matter who we play there nobody offers what Richarlison does in terms of work ethic, he's almost like an all-in-one wide midfielder, left back and striker at times, he's good in the air too which sometimes goes unnoticed.

Let's hope for a better result and performance so we can go into the Manchester United game with the confidence restored.

Brian Williams
18 Posted 28/10/2020 at 08:25:05
Nkounkou Jim.
Peter Mills
19 Posted 28/10/2020 at 08:49:06
This season, more than for many years, there is a need for the dreaded word “patience”.

The signings made over the past few months all look to be good - 3 established players and 3 who seem excellent prospects. There is a need for another forward and a right sided full-back/winger, and I suspect Carlo will want a calm, reliable goalkeeper. Some of the unwanted players have gone, more will follow, there will also be a battle to keep hold of our two forwards.

So there will be ups and downs. The performance at Southampton was poor, but we should not forget the impact of knocks and travelling on some of our key players since the derby.

Having advocated patience, I’m already looking ahead to the 3rd round of the FA Cup. I’m trying not to mention other teams on an Everton website, but I’ve been keeping a watching brief on potential opponents. One of them, Marine, had another excellent 4-0 win at home last night, they are to be avoided if they make it through!

Tony Abrahams
20 Posted 28/10/2020 at 09:40:27
Looking at the interview after the game, I got the feeling Ancelotti knew he’d made mistakes with the team selection, which should be obvious anyway for a man with his experience.

Only people who got carried away, will be “overly disappointed-imo” but until we can get our best eleven on the pitch, I think the best way forward might be a bit more pragmatism?

Good point by Peter@1, maybe Ancelotti, might change his formation once he’s got real pace at the back? Who knows, but we lacked speed, we lacked physicality, and we lacked energy on Sunday, and probably because Richarlison never played, and he possesses all three of those attributes.

It’s clear that Ancelotti wants his team to play good football, but you can only do this if you can match the energy of your opponent, and this is something we just never got to grips with, last time out.

Jerome Shields
21 Posted 28/10/2020 at 09:59:16
I don't think the selection problems are that bad. Gomes instead of Sigurdsson will sort out a lot of them. Gomes will cover the space in front of Godfrey better, giving the necessary support that was completely absent against Southampton. Godfrey will have someone to interpass with. I think even Seamus would have had a problem with those acres of space.

This will also do away with the Sigurdsson lazy sideways pass, which had Iowbi on the back foot most of the game, giving Southampton more time to get organised defensively. Digne was unable to overlap as a result.

Even if Ancelotti is thinking Iowbi is not up to it, he has Gordon. Hopefully James is fit but, if not, Bernard can slot into a similar position. I know he won't be as good, but he does have a high tackle rate.

Gomes will also work better with Allan and Doucouré, interpassing and taking up part of the playmaking responsibilities. I know Gomes isn't a great tackler, but as least he makes an effort. Better to have a free-kick than an opposition midfielder waltzing through the defence.

Digne is well covered by Nkounkou. Pickford had a relatively solid performance and he will ignore the Geordie taunts. Add to that some pretty pissed-off Italians at Finch Farm, along with the word out to stay clear of Big Dunc. There will be no problem with motivation.

Franny Porter
23 Posted 28/10/2020 at 11:00:32
FOOTBALL MANAGER KLAXON!!!!

My team for Sunday in case you ask (which you don't):

Pickford
Davies
Keane
Godfrey
Nkonkou

Allan
Doucoure
Gomes

Gordon
James
DCL

I like the above suggestion of three at the back should we have all available players.

Id say a CM has become quite apparent now in the next window, once Allan or Doucoure are out we are very thin on talent.

Jim Bennings
24 Posted 28/10/2020 at 12:15:44
I don't think Carlo will bring Gomes in on Sunday somehow nor do I think he'll start Sigurdsson again.

The manager will have looked at how we got dragged out of position in midfield against Southampton and I feel he'll want to plug gaps especially given the fullbacks being inexperienced.

Allan seemed to be pulled about out of the usual sitting position in front of defence and with Sigurdsson not being any great defensive player it made us exposed.

Delph would offer protection in fullback area's and Allan is disciplined enough to just hold that defensive position.

What we need is Doucoure breaking forward to support the striker and the wide midfielders.

Bob Parrington
25 Posted 28/10/2020 at 12:57:24
Can't understand why some would have doubt about starting Gordon. He's shown vitality, common sense, smoothness of body movement, offensive flair, ability to side-step a player, speed, passing ability etc etc etc.

Let's give the guy a starting line-up position and not just shrug our shoulders and say, 'well, he's too young!'

Andrew Clare
26 Posted 28/10/2020 at 13:08:12
We should man-mark Saint Maximin who is their most dangerous threat on Sunday.

Too often over the years, we have played teams who have one outstanding player and failed to man-mark them with the result being that they have a great game and we lose. I appreciate that Newcastle have more than one good player but Saint Maximin is undoubtedly their most dangerous threat.

We have to play with two upfront or Calvert-Lewin will be totally ineffective again. It's definitely a game we can win and one that we certainly don't want to lose.

Will Mabon
27 Posted 28/10/2020 at 13:31:20
I agree, Bob. There's always a risk with "New" (and young) players, as seen with Godfrey albeit the poor guy was tossed into the fire at right back.

Seems as time goes on there is more and more caution in starting such players. Understandable to a point but it has to start somewhere. Begin the game then change if it doesn't fly – the player himself will know full well how he performed.

Ancelotti knows ultimately. If Gordon is "Ready", hope he gets a go.

Also agree that we need to play two up front in some way or another. Would be too cautious to not go at them. It's Newcastle and we are top of the league.

Jerome Shields
28 Posted 28/10/2020 at 13:51:48
Jim #24,

Delph maybe the alternative Ancelotti might go for. He does cover the weak areas you mention, which Gomes also covers. Delph would be equal to Gomes with pace and is better under pressure. Gomes performance in the Derby and Sigurdsson performance at the weak end may count against them both. Can see Ancelotti going down the last risk option with Delph, though I would prefer Gomes.

Conor McCourt
29 Posted 28/10/2020 at 13:54:55
Darren@10-Personally I think the criticism of most of Carlo tactically for that defeat is way over the top. I think we were poor all over the pitch and no tactics, players in, players out would have made a blind bit of difference. We had too many players off their game and the frequent blaming of Iwobi, Siggy, Godfrey and Pickford makes no sense as they were superior in every department and most notably in midfield which you rightly pinpointed. Indeed we were never really in that game. The left wing only became a problem because Redmond kept getting serviced unlike our front players.

I haven't been as impressed with other performances as most Blues bar the Spurs game which I thought was a really classy, exceptional display but we have had a magnificent start and are three or four points ahead of where we would expect considering our fixtures and now we must go again and forget this result.

Darren you raise the point about being too early to herald the signings as miracles and I would concur with that. No doubt James has been an unbridled success and it's such a joy to watch our front three but we must keep him fit. The others have no doubt brought better mentality, endeavour and drive to that area but we have seen in the West Brom game, the Liverpool game and now this how we have such a weakness defensively that teams are targeting the space in front of our back four because Gbamin is still the only natural defensively minded option we have and who smells the danger before it happens. Have we improved? Yes, Have we solved last seasons deficiencies? I would suggest not.

You have championed playing James in his best position however the dilemma being that we would need to go to a back five then with the players we have. The alternatives Iwobi, Bernard and Gordon are not natural widemen either and so James is a must for me out wide for this campaign.

The problem Carlo has is that his signings were for the here and now to get European football or a cup but now however I feel he has been totally sold down the river in achieving those goals with the late deadline events sending a contradictory message. It's almost like Carlo was responsible for the early dealings and Marco with the latter, without input from the other. Surely Carlo would have wanted Theo and Kean for his aims and saved Godfrey til next summer in favour of a winger? and conversely Brands project has been put on hold with our new experienced hands no doubt increasing quality but stockpiling already stocked areas and types?

It seems to me like we have been trying to please everyone with the result being that we are in danger of pleasing no one if Carlo's objectives aren't met.


Ian Horan
30 Posted 28/10/2020 at 13:59:09
Wow!!! Absolutely wow!! It's been a long 6 to 7 weeks – some on ToffeeWeb have had to endure all those wins and then a fortuitous draw against the current champions, then godforbid a defeat, but at last the critique brigade are back ffs!!!

Let's be clear we aren't the finished article, we will lose and at times not turn up for games but to spit our collective dummies out at one defeat is, in my opinion, disgraceful and akin to a RS entitlement mentality.

Let's see where we are at 10 league games. We are a team evolving, it took Klipperty 3 and a half years to get the RS to the top of the pile and there I say it Rodgers team was decent that Klopp inherited but they couldn't defend.

Do we believe Carlo inherited a team as good as Klopp did... no he didn't stop winging and enjoy the ride, I have had far more enjoyable weekends from the blues this season than I have had for nigh on 25 years.

Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 28/10/2020 at 14:22:32
Bob (25),

I agree with that post, the best right-back n the world would have struggled in the situation Godfrey was left in, looking up his right flank and seeing acres of space and only himself facing it, he did more than okay in the derby game and deserved his start, he should have been protected better by his midfielders and centre backs.

He will be okay, he's a good footballer with pace and can read a game but he can't fly, he would have needed wings to cover the space he was left to mark, if Seamus and Jonjoe are not fit I'd play him again at right-back, but if the other players don't do their jobs the same thing that happened on Sunday will happen again.

Brian Harrison
32 Posted 28/10/2020 at 14:55:33
Ian 30

I agree it has taken 1 defeat for the usual subjects to come on and decry the good start we have had. Just to be clear I think it has been obvious from his first game that James is a highly talented footballer, but he doesnt track back very often. But because he had Coleman behind him we didnt struggle the way we did against Southampton with Godfrey having to cover in a position he wasnt used to. So Carlo has to take criticism for that, maybe he had asked Doucoure to help out Godfrey but that plan didnt work, maybe thats why Doucoure was subbed in the 2nd half.

I also think missing Richarlison had a big effect on this team, he takes a lot on both going forward and tracking back, not to mention his goals and assists. I think DCL suffered as much as anyone not having Richarlison there. Probably DCLs worst game this season. But he wasnt alone there Allan and Doucoure and Digne were not at their best. I am hoping it was a blip, although with both Richarlison and Digne missing on Sunday and possibly James missing we might have to juggle quite a few positions which wont be easy.

David Pearl
33 Posted 28/10/2020 at 15:14:23
It's fairly easy. 3 at the back.

Godfrey couldn't link with James. So we then go Davies right-wingback and Niels left-wingback. This will also take a bit of the defensive stuff out the game for our young left-back and he can give us an attacking option. James can then play more central and see more of the balls so he can feed Calvert-Lewin.

Anyone got any other issues address them to Dear David, North Pole.

John Pierce
34 Posted 28/10/2020 at 15:20:33
We simply will have to be more compact come Sunday. We are playing a far more limited team who will move the team around less and have lost their best passer in Shelvey.

The team Sunday lacked the one quality that had made it sing, balance. I hope the error is learnt from and balance restored. I'm unsure if given what will available if we can play the same way. Gomes will stiffen the system if he comes back and Calvert-Lewin needs a partner. He finishes moves he doesn't beat two and stick it top bin.

I think that nudges me to 4-4-2, James at No 10, compact and functional. It also protects the more vulnerable parts of the team, especially full-backs where we have in experience.

I'm still concerned about Pickford, his record in this fixture is mixed. But here goes.

Pickford
Kenny Godfrey Keane Nkounkou
Gomes Doucoure Allan Bernard
James
Calvert-Lewin

Eddie Dunn
35 Posted 28/10/2020 at 15:55:28
Jerome,

I admire your faith in Gomes to do what Sigurdsson couldn't but, on the evidence of recent weeks, he also stands by, not tracking his man. He was playing in diving boots last game. I would pop Davies in – at least he has energy and gives 100%.

Jay Harris
36 Posted 28/10/2020 at 16:01:50
David #33,

The problem with playing 3 at the back is that it causes confusion in the middle as to who should be picking up who and it leaves a gap behind the wingbacks which teams like Newcastle who hit you on the break are able to exploit.

IMO, this game calls out for a flat back 4 and a resilient midfield.

Depending on whether James is fit, I would go 4-4-2 and play James or Gordon up front with Calvert-Lewin.

I would put Delph in midfield to marshall the left side with either Gomes or Davies filling the midfield out.

If fit, I would play Holgate at right-back in preference to Kenny (also if fit) as he has the experience and ability to handle St Maxim and get forward with the ball.

Dale Self
37 Posted 28/10/2020 at 16:05:31
I'm with Robert (14). We were dismantled by a disciplined squad at their ground where we rarely perform well. Yes, playing James in front of Godfrey became a problem but we will sort that out. While I see the logic I'm not a fan of three at the back.
Brian Murray
38 Posted 28/10/2020 at 16:25:27
I wish all these people on here who keep banging the drum for Gomes would get real. He hasn't the stamina and definitely not the courage to play in this league. Before and after injury. Same with Sigurdsson. Nowhere near the level we want.
Craig Walker
39 Posted 28/10/2020 at 16:28:19
I agree with Darren @10. It was foolish to let Kean and Walcott go without having a replacement. Everyone could see it was asking a lot for Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison to be available for every game.

Life as an Evertonian eh? Before the derby, we were confident and boasting of being top. Now, James doesn't track back. Allan looks slow and Doucouré looks off his game. Add to that a lack of options at the back, an erratic goalkeeper and last season's underperforming overpaid players. It's never dull is it?

We need a good performance at the weekend.

Tom Bowers
40 Posted 28/10/2020 at 16:42:41
Quite right guys we may now be in a pickle if the last game is anything to go by. I am not saying Kean and Walcott could have made a difference last week but we have another two games to get by without Richarlison and unless the the rest of the team get properly focused we will struggle once again.

I would like to think that there will be a big improvement after the Soton malaise otherwise things could go quickly awry.

I can stomach a defeat now and again but only if a great effort was put in to avoid it which Sunday wasn't.

Darren Hind
41 Posted 28/10/2020 at 18:43:04
"It has taken one defeat for the usual subjects to come on and decry the good start we have had."

In other words; "Carlo has had all the praise for the opening games of the season, but now, for the first time this season, he is getting legitimate criticism which I can't counter... and I can't bear it."

This is how it works: A manager gets his tactics and selections right and his team play well or win. People will generally acknowledge and praise him. If he gets his tactics and selections wrong and a manager earning half as much as him takes him to school with an inferior group of players... Guess what? He will be legitimately criticised... It really is that simple.

This thread is about Sunday's game and the problems which were highlighted during the course of it. That's in the title. Quite why some think its a good idea to drag Klopp into it and dedicate most of their post to the shite is beyond me. They have no place in this discussion.

Conor's @ 29 May not agree with me, but give me his honest assessment of Sunday's debacle all day long over people who want to stick their fingers in their ears and pretend it didn't happen. There has only ever been one thing that upsets me more than a defeat like Sunday's. That's listening to Evertonians trying to excuse or apologise for it.

If you disagree with criticism, the answer is simple. counter it... but if you can't counter it, you really shouldn't be moaning about it.

David Pearl
42 Posted 28/10/2020 at 18:53:45
We can't play 4-4-2 if we don't have a full back passing to and/or running ahead of James because we need a runner to take away one his markers. We also don't have a direct replacement for Richarlison. I think it's doomed to fail again if Carlo sticks to that same game plan.
Ian Horan
43 Posted 28/10/2020 at 19:55:46
DH@41, it was I who referenced Klopp. It's called offering evidence or an example of how you reached your opinion. I enjoy debate and discussion about our team but let's be clear even the best managers can get their tactics wrong, Pep at Man City lost 2-5 to Leicester, Klopp 7-2 against Villa. I won't use Man Utd 1-6 against Spurs as there was a red card in that game.

I as an Evertonian understand the highs and lows and embrace it because EFC are a proper football club. We are fortunate to have Carlo, without him we would not get the international stars we now have gracing our shirt.

At the end of the season, you will be proven wrong or right??? I don't care either way – I will continue to support our club, however the season turns out.

Mike Doyle
44 Posted 28/10/2020 at 20:07:15
Happens sometimes Rob. I remember when Man Utd signed Veron - then a proven international who had been very successful in Italy. Looked a very poor imitation of his former self when playing in the UK.
Lee Courtliff
45 Posted 28/10/2020 at 20:51:26
I've just been reading some of the comments on who should/could start on Sunday and it got me thinking about the days of Baines and Pienaar.

Just let me say that I'm not one for getting carried away about young players (had my fingers burnt with Michael Branch many moons ago).

BUT...I think both Gordon and Nkounkou have definite potential. I also think they should be told to play together as much as possible to develop an understanding.

They're both young and in no position to be demanding a starting place...yet.

I'd like to see them given the chance in Cup games (opposition dependent), reserve games and...when our first choice left side are both suspended.

If they're coached and told to watch the combination play of Baines and Pienaar then I think we could have a real pairing on our hands.

Pace, skill, crossing ability, etc. Well worth taking a chance, imo.
Jerome Shields
46 Posted 28/10/2020 at 21:07:09
Eddie #35,

I agree, Gomes did himself no favours with his derby performance, though he still would have at least been in position and trying. Sigurdsson managed against Southampton to turn Everton into a team that looked they were being managed by Silva. I suspect Ancelotti will not be into taking risks against Newcastle, so I expect Delph to be ahead of Davies, but Davies should feature at some stage for the reasons you have indicated.

It's hard not to think that analysis of Southampton prior to the game was way off what it should have been and Ancelotti's team selection was way off as a result. Southampton's tactics were similar to those that they would have used against Everton in the Silva era.

Defensive line pushing into midfield, confident of little central attack play and little third-quarter play, pushing Everton into the wings, where they were easily bottled up. Being able to push into midfield, their attack had more support to pressurise Everton defence, with runs from deep on tracked. The typical template to beat a Silva team.

Any player, whether it be Gomes, Delph or Davies, would be better than Sigurdsson and his Silva temp!ate. I just think that Gomes would be better in front of Allan and Doucouré.

Jim Harrison
47 Posted 29/10/2020 at 10:55:27
At the moment the Southampton result is one bad performance. And it was bad. In no small part because they played their game so well and effectively.

Don’t think Carlo had his best game as manager this season. He certainly made some choices that were questionable.

But is it indicative of a stalling in momentum? Until the next game is played it can only be held in isolation.

Brian Harrison
48 Posted 29/10/2020 at 11:33:26
Hi anybody know why I can only scroll down to post 21.
Gary Hughes
49 Posted 29/10/2020 at 23:36:59
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I had a nasty feeling about last week's trip to St Mary's. Even after so few games, it felt like the red shite threw down the gauntlet the previous night and it was up to us to show what we're made of.

Unfortunately, we responded with the sort of lacklustre shitshow that I've had the misfortune to witness a hundred times before but which I foolishly thought that maybe, just maybe, we'd seen the back of. So where do we stand now? Well we're top of the league yet I've had a miserable fucking face on me all week thinking about Newcastle.

As already pointed out in previous comments, the red shite and Southampton have already found our Achilles heel in that the joy of James is counter-acted by the fact that our right-back is left isolated with no cover. I'm not being critical of James but the likes of Allan and Doucouré have got to do more to accommodate him.

As for selection, we can carry one of Gomes, Sigurdsson or Iwobi but, as we saw at Southampton, if more than one of them play, we suddenly look like last season's lacklustre losers. Looking at the weekend, I would rather see Davies and Gordon come in with Kenny at right-back.

Gary Hughes
50 Posted 29/10/2020 at 23:54:44
Kenny & Nkounkou at fullback. It's tough at the top, I know, but I'd like to see how the red shite would cope without Alexander-Arnold, Robertson & Mane seeing as we have already lost Coleman, Digne & Richarlison.
Darren Hind
51 Posted 30/10/2020 at 05:24:40
Ian Horan.

It all about opinion. But when you decry somebody else's like you have. You have a proper counter argument.

You use the two coaches who currently dominate the English game as examples of how Managers can sometimes get tactics wrong. You drag up two results in a combined total of six years. to prove it. What you fail to mention is that our manager has got his tactics wrong in at least half of the games he has been in charge here.
While their signings competed for shit like the golden boot, the Ballon d'Dor, English players of the year, not to mention trophies. Two of our "International stars" were relegated last season..The other two were not getting a game..

I know you and many others feel Carlo is above criticism. That we are very, very "fortunate" that he has deemed us worthy by accepting the 60m contract Moshiri offered him And therein lies the eternal Everton problem.

Against all my instincts, I have found myself liking Carlo Ancelotti. He is humble and charming. He is also a lot less deluded than the vast majority of his "fans".

He is improving the team, of that there is no doubt. We are harder to beat and we are a much better watch... But, I've seen great Everton teams and its going to take a lot more than a warm smile, an overactive eyebrow and a few sage like mutterings before I feel as "fortunate" as you clearly do.

He has forgotten more than most of us will ever know, but his biggest task BY FAR, is to show the football world he isn't yesterdays man. In order to do that he has got to stop being outmaneuvered by younger men playing with a fresher approach.
This is something that is happening with less frequency this season...but just because its our first defeat of the season. Lets not pretend it was a one off.

Andrew Clare
52 Posted 30/10/2020 at 08:23:25
The reality is that we just don’t have a strong squad.
I am sure that this will be dealt with over the next two transfer windows.
Any team is going to miss players like Coleman and Richarlison as they are two of the best players in the EPL.
Our back up players are nowhere near the level of the first team and that’s a fact.
No disrespect to Newcastle but we really should get a result there even with the above mentioned players missing along with Digne but somehow I still think we are going to make heavy weather of it. Gordon should play and so should Nkounkou.

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