Everton’s 2-2 draw against struggling Crystal Palace was cited as a positive by stand in manager David Unsworth. Everton were behind twice in the game and the way the draw was achieved was in some ways impressive. However, Everton should be overcoming these challenges if they wish to get back to were they once were. Many problems are apparent at the club and the new manager that comes in, whoever that may be, faces a big challenge to turn the club around.
“It’s horrible for any coach to be sat there after one minute 1-0 down, but the lads were terrific and showed great fight and desire to come straight back and I’m very proud of them.” (David Unsworth)
Decline since 2014
While it is easy to look at recent issues the club is paying for a few seasons peppered with bad decisions. The 2013/14 saw manager Roberto Martinez finish 5th in the Premier League. Martinez improved the squad with 3 loan signings – Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and most importantly Romelu Lukaku. The on loan Belgian striker would prove vital for ‘the Toffees’ over a period of time. In his season on loan he top scored for Everton with 16 in all competitions.
Both Barry and Lukaku made their moves to Goodison Park permanent in the summer of 2014. Samuel Eto’o joined on a free and Brendan Galloway and Muhamed Besic made the move to the blue side of Merseyside that summer also. That took their summer spending to £36 million which is low for the quality of players they brought in.
Only 12 games were won in the Premier League for Everton in the 2014/15 season leaving them in 11th place. They were knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup in the 3rd round and they reached the last 16 in the Europa League.
This represented a failure. No European football next season meant that Martinez was already under pressure going into the new season.
The same place finish, 11th, in the 2015/16 season saw Martinez’s employment with the club come to an end. Sub par recruitment and no sign of improvement were the reasons Martinez could not continue. While there was an improvement in the domestic cup competitions, Everton reached the semi finals in both, the lack of success in the league and failure to qualify for Europe was simply not good enough.
The new man coming in, Ronald Koeman, joined from Premier League rivals Southampton. Fortunes improved but certain problems were apparent. Lukaku had grown as a player, improved and was depended on highly by Everton to score goals. Koeman’s first season in charge saw Lukaku score 26 goals in all competitions. The closest rival he had in terms of goalscoring was Ross Barkley with 6 goals. Improvement in the league proved that the club were focusing on league objectives as they went out in both domestic cups in the 3rd round.
2017/2018 – A disaster so far
Interest in Lukaku was present for a long period of time. The summer transfer window saw him switch to Manchester United and Koeman had a serious problem. Money in the bank but teams knew they had it. Prices inflated and deals stalled. It was a tough time for the club and manager.
The biggest frustration during this period is the Ross Barkley situation. A real talent who was vital to Everton in recent times trying to force a move away and Koeman taking a hard stance. He made an example of Barkley and the situation was negative for the player, club and the manager, fatally, suffered from.
Now sitting 16th in the league and struggling for form David Unsworth is taking on managerial duties. Some time has gone by since the sacking of Koeman and still Everton have not replaced him with a permanent successor.
What went wrong?
A lot has to be said for the recruitment in the summer. There were some good signings in Koeman’s defence. Keane came in from Burnley. He is a good age and had been excelling at his previous club. Pickford is a superb goalkeeper and is only getting better. If Everton can build a solid defence in front of him they have the making of a solid unit at the back.
The big issue that ultimately found Koeman in trouble was the lack of income splashed out on a goalscorer. Lukaku had carried the team since his arrival. Without his goals the club would have found themselves in danger earlier. He scored goals and is a great hold up player. Holding it up brought players in deeper roles into the game and offered them space.
Rooney came in and given recent form it was clear he was not in a position to fill the void left by the Belgian. Sandro Ramirez came in from Malaga, but at 22 years of age and with little experience it would be too much to ask of him to start scoring regularly instantly. The signing of Olivier Giroud could have changed this, a move that Koeman said was close.
Creative players Klaassen and Sigurdsson have failed to make an impact. Klaassen has played 11 times in all competitions and failed to score and Sigurdsson has the single goal to show for his 16 games for his new club.
A major issue in the Everton side at the moment is the lack of pace. The front players are not the quickest and Rooney and Sigurdsson both drop deep and it can ease the pressure on the centre backs knowing that that space is vacant.
What does the future hold?
It will continue to be a difficult season for ‘the Toffees’. There is a real unbalance in the squad and goals will be difficult to come by.
Will they survive? Realistically there is far too much experience for the team to be relegated. The quality of the players at the club will lead them to a mid table finish and another season losing ground to the teams at the top of the table.
The new man coming in will have a job on his hands. It looks likely that Watford manager Marco Silva is the favourite, even though Watford are rejecting advances from Everton, but Unsworth is also fancied by the club. First choice for Everton was Sean Dyche but they have had no luck in luring him to Goodison.
It will not be a season to remember for Everton fans. This season will be a battle. If they can bring Silva to the club the future will be something to look forward to. The club has money and a decent foundation to build around. A manager of the calibre of Silva will bring fresh ideas and a stylish type of football. Whoever the new manager is their main priority will be bringing goals and pace to the side.
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