After a troublesome start to the season, Everton are now unbeaten under Sam Allardyce. But there are they heading?
Everton finished last season as 7th, a solid result providing the Blues with a trip to Europe to look forward to for the next season. Romelu Lukaku carried the team offensively scoring 25 league goals, finishing second in top scorers ranking, just behind Tottenham’s own Harry Kane. This time last year, the Toffees stood at 9th, still looking to find the right identity in-game.
A Bolasie-Lukaku connection just started looking like it’s unstoppable until last summer’s acqusition got a serious knee ligament injury in a draw against Manchester United, leaving him sidelined for 12 months. Still, Koeman’s troops looked like they were in good shape, beating Manchester City and Arsenal (4-0, 2-0 respectively). The season ended on a good note, sitting just behind the top six, and with an optimistic outlook on the future.
In the summer of 2017, something we all knew would happen eventually – did happened. Lukaku was sold to Manchester in a gigantic £75 milion move and the fans were uncertain about the future, but certainly excited with the owner and Koeman announced a fight for the Champions League spots.
In the summer, the board certainly weren’t being stingy, with Everton spending a whoping record-breaking £142.38 million. Long-lost son Wayne Rooney was brought in on free transfer, while exciting Ajax midfielder Davy Klaasen was transferred for £24m. Jordan Pickford became the new number 1 goalkeeper, while a long-term solution at centre-back was found in the shape of Michael Keane who came in from Burnley.
Fast-paced Spaniard Sandro Ramirez was tipped to be the Fernando Torres of the Blue side of Liverpool while the cherry on top of the cake was the signing of Gylfi Sigurdsson, the creative Icelandic midfielder from Swansea. The fans were thrilled, the media projected big things for the new generation, and everything looked like it was time for Everton to be taken serious and that the departure of Lukaku only did good for Toffees.
Where did it all go wrong?
When the fire starts flying trough the air, you know it’s too late. It’s the moments like that you truly appreciate the calm nature of your life and existence, and staying level-headed in situtation like that is rare occurance for everyone.
Everton is no different. If you scratch under the surface, it’s outrageous how putting together a team like this didn’t make any sense.
Koeman found himself in situation where he had plenty of creators in Klaasen, Sigurdsson, Rooney and Barkley, but no strikers! Four players whose main strength is playmaking simply cannot play together, as they don’t have anyone to create for, and there isn’t enough movement to warrant spaces for these players to operate.
Koeman was destined to fail when he offered Rooney a huge contract that the former cannot adjust in the long-term. Sure, Rooney would help the team this season, he would score some important goals and experience, but how does that affect Barkley? Barkley should be the future of this team, but he has been pushed to the brink of an exit.
Take into account Sigurdsson and Klaassen, you’re left with bunch of players who cannot develop due to bad planning and no idea for the future whatsoever.
Nikola Vlasic is averaging more than 2.5 dribbles per game, but does anyone seriously expect him to get much playing time in the Premier League?
The fire looks extinguished for now as Big Sam used his experience and fire-extinguishing skills to put things where they belong. But, for how long? Is the aspiration for next season to be in mid-table with Rooney leading the charge and leaving all the young talent undeveloped and unused? If it is, than Sam Allardyce is the man for the job.
With all the talent this team has, it lacks bravery. It lacks the idea and audacity to take things to next level. You can’t blame that on Rooney, you can’t blame that on Sam – they’re doing their job properly. But sometimes you need to sacrifice the current time for the long game and that’s exactly what’s needed in blue side of Liverpool now – audacity and bravery.
Time to be brave?
It’s hard for some to accept, but traditional English coaches aren’t the way of the future. They are short term fixes rather than long term solutions. Everton need to realise that before they face the fate of the likes of Newcastle, Sunderland, Aston Villa and many other great clubs who lived in the past and ‘we’re too big to go down’ mentality.
All the conditions for creating a force are there – a loyal fanbase, global popularity, great young players and a reputation as a traditional English club. Now, all it takes is to find a true leader, a man not afraid to take responsibility and make changes, a man with vision, a knight on the white horse, be it Thomas Tuchel, Marco Silva or someone else, great things await Everton. Now, all they have to do is dig to find the gold.
Written by Guest writer, Nedim Maric.