You’ll be wondering if I was so hacked off at a dismal home defeat, on the back of an equally abject home performance against the might of Apollon Limassol, that I wasn’t going to bother writing OV this time around. You don’t get off that easily, but if you’ve had enough ‘Everton’ during the International break, then you probably aren’t reading this, and if you are, you’d be better off doing something worthier with your time, like walking to Lyon, because this isn’t going to make you feel a whole load better….
The reality, as has been well documented by pithier writers than me (I think that’s how you spell pithier…), we seem to have reached a fairly critical time in the relationship between Manager and Supporters. If some reports are to be believed, between Manager and Players too. It would appear that in public at least, Manager and Board is all hunky-dory. I am not going to use up my spare time, or yours Dear Reader, with a fatuous debate about whether we should or shouldn’t keep with the gnarly, humourless Dutchman, who as a player has achieved a great deal, but who has yet to prove he can achieve very much in the hurly-burly of the English Premier League. It looks as if he will be given time, but a defeat on the South Coast at the weekend, and defeat to Lyon the following Thursday, will place Koeman at the pinnacle, literally, of a very high sharp place, as they say. Even two victories will fail to silence all and sundry, and only a run from now until May that sees results turn around and maybe a Cup win (as in winning a Cup, not just winning a Cup match), will convince everyone that we are on an upward trajectory.
The thing that bothers me most at the moment, is that I don’t know what we are.
Are we a sit deep, counter-attacking team? Are we trying to be a fluid, runners from midfield team? What is the identity for which we strive. I can’t tell. All I can see is a narrow trench being driven up the middle of the pitch. We don’t seem to want to employ a great deal of width, with those that can offer it – Lookman, Vlasic, Kenny, even Martina, or even Mirallas, being reduced to bench-warming or bit-part players. Has any Manager ever in history, ever said, “I know, we’ll play really tight and narrow with no focal point in our attack, and you, oy you, left back chappy, whatever your name is, you may well have overlapped once or twice in your career, but if I see you do it again, I’ll drop you”. It’s difficult to work out what the plan is. If we can suss out the plan, we can suss out the personnel required to do the job. But we can’t, and worryingly, I’m not sure the players can either.
Are we playing Back 3, or Back 4? Which line up of our plethora of No10s are our first choice, and in what formation? Diamond, or fluid (aka treading on each other’s toes).
The Manager’s job, amongst many, is to decide what system works best with the players he has at his disposal. If Koeman had inherited a team, he could justifiably argue that he hasn’t got the right players; but he bought most of this Everton team, so that doesn’t wash. He needs to decide his best system, his best team to play that system and stick to it.
Only once this Everton team knows its core purpose and tactics will they start to gel and move forward. I’d rather rotate in the squad once we have that part of the equation settled.
Burnley, for all the Everton expectations of a win, clearly know their core purpose, they play to their strengths, and they’ll probably win more than they’ll lose. They are a team, a squad, at ease with themselves, lots of round pegs in round holes, and it works.
We can learn from that.