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Direction and Identity are top of Everton’s Christmas list

Direction and Identity are top of Everton’s Christmas list

A month has passed since Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties at Goodison Park, and yet we are still no closer to knowing who will take up the reins as his full-time replacement.

A lot of speculation has been made in the press over two men in particular who have both made storming starts to the season with their respective clubs. But who, if either will be unveiled as the next Everton manager.

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

The men in question? Sean Dyche of Burnley & Marco Silva of Watford.

Two men with contrasting methods and approaches to coaching but both who have proven to be shrewd tacticians and have excelled at getting their teams to perform to the best of their abilities consistently this season.

Make no bones about it, one of Everton’s biggest problems with their pedestrian approach to this campaign is a major lack of identity. Mr Moshiri splashed the cash in the summer almost £150m of it, but for what?

By not adequately replacing hitman Romelu Lukuku and almost bulk buying No.10’s has left the Everton squad looking very thin in certain departments.

The toffees historically have been a club that has used its fullbacks well, with the crossing threat of Leighton Baines and the acceleration of Seamus Coleman as key figures.

The gamble to sign Wayne Rooney & Gylfi Sigurdsson hasn’t worked so far. Koeman hoped that they could dovetail off each other, instead, they have clashed, with both wanting to lead and dictate the tempo of games.

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

Someone needs to decide what direction the club is going to go from here before relegation becomes a real prospect.

Let’s take a deeper look at the two men who have been made the bookies’ favourites.

Marco Silva

If Messrs Kenwright & Moshiri want a quick fix, Silva is your man. He has breathed new life into Watford. After a lacklustre season under Walter Mazzarri, Watford fans are now having the time of their life, what a contrast of emotions.

In a matter of months, Silva has taken a team who narrowly avoided relegation to arguably the most improved side in the league. He’s re-installed fight and passion to an uninspiring Watford and made smart signings like the impressive Richarlison and Will Hughes.

They play expansive football, it’s fast, dynamic and end-to-end action. It’s been all positive for Watford fans this season bar the 6-0 home defeat at the hands of Manchester City.

Watford FC Formation. Image courtesy of Fantasy Premier League

It’s clear to see that Silva is an ambitious man who has big plans for his future, so the opportunity to take over at Everton, a club with a glorious history, a fantastic fan base and an owner who backs his manager must be incredibly appealing. Only time will tell if he leaves the Hornets, but Watford fans must know that his time at Vicarage Road is numbered, as his stock continues to rise with each victory.

So far in his short managerial career at Watford, Silva has favoured flooding the midfield with a solid back three in defence which can allow the more creative players such as the aforementioned Richarlison to wreak havoc on the opposition. A big difference to Watford this season compared to last is the intensity which Marco Silva has installed, they are also getting many more touches on the ball.

Jose Holebas was the only Watford player to break into the Premier League top 50 for touches during last season’s campaign, and he came 40th in the list. This season Abdoulaye Doucoure is taking Watford to new levels, sitting 11th in the same listing.

 

Sean Dyche 

Man of the moment Dyche has certainly proved his doubters wrong. After a superb start to his coaching career with Watford and ensuring their best-placed finish in 4 years, Dyche found himself fall foul of Watford’s ‘manager a season’ approach.

Watford’s loss led to Burnley’s gain. It’s been refreshing to see a manager be given considerable time to set in place his philosophy and tactics and see them come to fruition. Even more impressive is that Burnley stuck with him even after relegation from the Premier League after 1 season, what a decision that has turned out to be.

Burnley currently sit 7th in the league on the same amount of points as Arsenal, quite the turn around from Championship football only a few years ago.

As much as Burnley fans like to dream, Everton would be a major step up for Dyche. He would bring with him a stability that Everton crave, but without the attacking gusto and intensity that Silva would install.

He’s made his Burnley sides hard to beat and often praised for their herculean effort in terms of distance covered in games. Although sometimes it’s fair to say style has been sacrificed for the result, something Everton supporters would relish to see now from their beloved Toffees.

Do the Everton board go down the pathway towards attacking flair or welcome the stability that Sean Dyche will undoubtedly bring with him.

If it was my decision I’d go for Silva, but make sure he signs a very long-term contract because it won’t be long until Europe’s elite will come calling for Marco.

 

A nation’s hopes resting in Roy Hodgson’s hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just around the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion, too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre-half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me, Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament, it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield, England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefits from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both players lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jermain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second-tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter-finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe

A nation's hopes resting in Roy Hodgson's hands?

 

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of godin2017, flickr.com

On Tuesday night, ‘boo’s swept round Wembley for the second time in five days. Two defeats at home is hardly reason to be optimistic as we look towards next summer’s World Cup. When the shortcomings are this obvious – and with the World Cup draw just round the corner on December 6th – one thing is for sure; Roy Hodgson has plenty to consider with just one game remaining before he names his preliminary 30 man squad.

I suppose the only consolation is that, unlike in previous years, nobody actually expects us to win the World Cup this time around. And so at least we will be saved the embarrassment of a nation heaping unrealistic expectations on an England team ahead of a major international tournament.

Just over a month has passed since England secured their qualification with a win against Poland and the team’s performances in the last two games are certain to leave Roy Hodgson with a pounding headache.

When you’re playing teams like Chile and Germany, first and foremost you need to be competitive. And, in phases, you have to say that England were. That said, as is often the case in international football, the winning margin was decided by such a fine line.

The concern though – aside from both results – was the lack of ideas, imagination and creativity that England displayed in both games. Surprisingly their vulnerability at the back has also been exposed, which is strange, given that only Spain conceded fewer goals than England’s four during qualification.

In my opinion too many players were used. Yes, Roy Hodgson wants to review players like Lallana, Henderson and Rodriquez on the international stage but with just one friendly game remaining against Denmark in March before Hodgson must name his initial squad, it’s clear that he still doesn’t yet know what his best starting eleven is. And that, to me, is worrying. I wonder if the same can be said for the likes of Spain, Germany or Brazil.

Will Joe Hart be England number one? Does Roy Hodgson go with Leighton Baines or Ashley Cole at left back? Who partners Phil Jagielka at centre half?

Phil Jones struggled against Chile and the same can be said of Gary Cahill. Meanwhile on Tuesday night Chris Smalling didn’t perform at his best.

Who plays at right back; Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker? For me Kyle Walker is fantastic going forward but he leaves the side exposed at the back. Before a major international tournament it is crucial that a manager settles on a back four. Roy needs to make this decision and whoever he picks needs to play together to develop an understanding in advance.

To me, though, it is clear that England’s defence at the moment is missing a big name like John Terry or Rio Ferdinand; someone who is going to be the leader we need and will bring experience. But would a call from Roy Hodgson change either of their minds about coming out of retirement?

 

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of danae47, flickr.com

Put simply, there are too many questions and not enough answers.

In the Germany game, England did not even manage a shot on target; the first time that has happened at home since the Scotland game in 1999. In the absence of shooting accuracy, a solid defence becomes even more crucial.

In midfield England were certainly left exposed against Germany. The likes of Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze played well and showed their class. And with players like Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger not even on the pitch, Germany has creative midfield match winners in abundance. Alexis Sanchez offered a similar threat in the Chile game.

England, on the other hand, benefit from the pace of Andros Townsend, who did play considerably well in the game last night. And when Theo Walcott is fit he can strike fear into any defender….but question marks remain in place around the quality of the final ball. Yes, we can call upon the experience of Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, but both player lack that added creativity and explosiveness that we became accustomed to seeing earlier in their careers. That creative spark over time, could, I believe, come from someone like Jack Wilshere but a lot will depend on whether he can stay fit.

Wayne Rooney, on a good day, remains one of the world’s best players. He is by far one of England’s most important players. With Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck injured, Jemain Defoe benched and Rickie Lambert relatively inexperienced, the question of who partners Rooney up front remains unanswered.

 

Given his form so far this season Daniel Sturridge is in the best position to wear the number 9 shirt in Brazil. But for me, he needs to offer more in an England shirt and he lacks consistency. Playing alongside Suarez week in week out should certainly help here!

I think that, as a nation, we realise that we are no longer part of the world’s elite and that, more realistically, we find ourselves part of a group of second tier teams that, with a favourable draw, could make the quarter finals at best. So do we accept that we are not going to win the World Cup (in all honestly many of us already have!) and opt to give younger players vital tournament experience, building for the future?

One thing that Roy Hodgson has learned in the last two games is that the task facing in him Brazil is going to be incredibly tough. Unlike in previous tournaments though, when England were expected to win, this England side is a work in progress and the expectation of the nation remains grounded; all be it firmly in Roy Hodgson’s hands.

Who knows what will happen in Brazil, but all eyes will now be on the draw on December 6th. Let’s hope for a group of hope rather than the dreaded group of death.

Put yourself in the shoes of Roy Hodgson now and pick your England team for the World Cup. Here’s mine:

Joe Hart
Fraser Forster
Ben Foster

Ashley Cole
Leighton Baines
Kyle Walker
Glen Johnson
Gary Cahill
Phil Jagielka
Phil Jones
Chris Smalling

Theo Walcott
Andros Townsend
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain
James Milner
Steven Gerrard
Frank Lampard
Jack Wilshere
Michael Carrick

Wayne Rooney
Daniel Sturridge
Danny Welbeck
Jermain Defoe

The return of the Premier League, a welcome relief for England football fans

For anyone and everyone that follows football, the return of Premier League football this weekend will be a welcome one.

There’s something about international breaks that stop the blood from flowing and create an air of inevitability for England. Cue a 1-1 draw with Ukraine on Tuesday night in front of a frustrated, half-empty Wembley stadium. “Same old England” were the words echoed around all four corners of the ground after another less than convincing performance.

You would think that the sell-out crowds at the Olympic stadium over the last month would have inspired people to go and support their national football team and would have gone some way towards reigniting that sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, this might be the start of things to come for a World Cup-winning England…. I’m afraid we’re not feeling very confident.

While there is undoubtedly an emergence of young talent coming through the ranks, with the likes of Oxlade -Chamberlain, Welbeck and Cleverley all making names for themselves, we are all too often witnessing players who promised so much, delivering, in reality, very little in an England shirt….Wright Phillips, Lennon and Walcott to name just a few.

This has arguably been the greatest summer of sport for Britain. London 2012 unearthed some of the finest Olympic and Paralympic athletes who epitomised the ‘Great British’ spirit, courage and determination. Add to this Andy Murray’s heroics at Flushing Meadows to end the elusive wait for a men’s singles Grand Slam champion for 76 years, and it is difficult to deny that 2012 has, so far, been the year of UK sport. But the nation was brought crashing back down to earth on Tuesday night when it was reminded just how frustrating it can be to watch the three lions in action.

Whatever happens in Group H you would expect England to qualify for the World Cup in Rio in two years’ time.  England should be competing at major international tournaments, so to even debate whether they will or not seems wasteful. Qualification should be a relatively straightforward task.  But with that said, it is difficult to look far beyond another quarter-final, or a semi-final exit at very best in Rio 2014.

Not since Euro 96 have England reached the semi-finals of a major tournament (and if Paul Gascoigne was two inches taller we would probably have gone on to win it). Of course, everyone remembers the heartache of 98, losing to Argentina on penalties. Yet most of us seem to forget that England should have been out of sight in that game, had it had a full complement of players on the pitch for the entire 120 minutes…..(mentioning no names, Mr Beckham). And then there was that famous rush of blood from Phil Neville, conceding a penalty in the dying seconds against Romania to send us packing from the group stages at Euro 2000.  At the 2002 World Cup, there was genuine hope that Sven’s men could finally go all the way but they came up against champions Brazil and were beaten by the cross come shot from Ronaldinho.  Sigh. ‘Oh, what could have been’ we hear you say…

Defeats to Portugal in 2004 and 2006 on penalties will be remembered for the involvement of one player, Wayne Rooney. The injury in 2004 probably cost us a place in the semi-finals; the curse of the metatarsal striking again. And the reason for what happened two years later? Only Rooney will know. Another error, this time in the form of Rooney stamping on Portugal defender Ricardo Carvalho, resulting in a sending off and suddenly England were in the familiar position of being sent packing, just as our penalty voodoo continued. In 2008 we didn’t even qualify, lest we be reminded, is that rain we hear?

In 2010 we were outplayed and outclassed by Germany, despite a Lampard shot clearly crossing the line (and yes we are still waiting for goal-line technology Fifa…..)

You can see the pattern that’s forming here.  In football, you make your own luck and there is no denying that England has had its fair share of bad luck in recent times. But the likes of France, Italy, Holland and Spain – serial underachievers in the past – have all delivered in the past and won the silverware that their talents deserve. England, meanwhile, have not even come close.

The third best team in the world according to Fifa. Keep on dreaming, we say.  Back to the Premier League we go, the best league in the world…

 Words by Dan Apostolos