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Just not very Goodison: Explaining Everton's recent struggles

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Roar Rookie
20th March, 2019
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Everton football club. Formerly known as St Domingo’s FC, established in the city of Liverpool, England.

Since their creation, ‘The Toffees’ have always been looked down upon and in the shadow of their neighbour, Liverpool FC.

Liverpool (nicknamed the Reds) were and always have been, a more successful club on and off the pitch.

To this day, Everton (nicknamed the Blues) supporters have had to live through countless disappointing performances and seasons in general, while their bitter rivals are having their lasting period in the limelight.

Before discussing the current season struggles, it is worthy to also recount the Blues almost as disappointing previous couple seasons leading up to now.

Throughout the modern era of the English Premier League, the Blues have experienced a fairly, bumpy ride. There has been a couple of highs, but some major lows to come along with as well.

After, let’s say, an ‘interesting’ couple of years with head coach Roberto Martinez leading the front lines, the club came to a decision to bring in Dutch manager Ronald Koeman. Koeman came hot off an amazing season with Southampton, finishing seventh.

And with him, a lot of promise and hope came along with his appointment as head coach.

The former Valencia manager was given the permission to spend big bucks that summer, forking out a whopping 135 million pounds on improvements to the team after the selling of superstar Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.

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Romelu Lukaku of Everton F.C.

Lukaku during his time with Everton. (Photo: AAP images).

At this point in time, Everton fans believed that this could finally be the beginning of something special, a belief that was soon looked down upon as an absolute joke and embarrassment of a season, as the Blues ended the year below expectations.

This led to the sacking of Koeman after just over a year in charge.

All the eight major signings made by the Dutchman during that transfer window were each not replacements for departing star Lukaku.

Instead, Koeman decided to bring in:
– an ageing Wayne Rooney,
– a waste of 23 million pounds for midfielder Davy Klassen (who ended up departing the club just a season after his arrival),
– an unused but promising wide midfielder in Nikola Vlasic (who’s talent being wasted out on loan at CSKA Moscow),
– an inconsistent but good ‘on his day’ Gylfi Sigurdsson (who was brought in for a highly overpaid price of 45 million pounds),
– last but definitely not least, the one shining light looking back on that spending spree: now England’s number 1 keeper: Jordan Pickford.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney may be an Everton boy, but his latter spell with the club wasn’t impressive. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After a ‘less than impressive’ previous couple of seasons, with coaches coming in and out of the club – and with all hope lost throughout the club and the base – a saviour was needed to drag them out of a deep hole.

Enter Marco Silva. A huge summer transfer window was needed and as it seems at this point, Silva did his best to improve the side – besides signing a replacement superstar calibre striker.

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He brought in a young superstar from Watford in Richarlison, a big improvement at the left full back position from Barcelona – Lucas Digne, an influential player in the midfield – Andre Gomes and a promising young defender in Yerry Mina.

It seemed as though Silva had finally done enough to allow Everton to take the step forward that was meant to occur many seasons ago.

Fans had the belief that Silva would take Everton to finally challenge the bigger clubs of England’s top flight and become a top four regular. And unsurprisingly, like many other times in many other previous seasons, Everton underperformed according to the expectations set at the beginning of the season.

At the time of writing, the Toffees aren’t just outside the top four or the top eight, they are sitting outside of the top half of the Premier League table and for the first time, it doesn’t seem to be ‘entirely’ the manager’s fault.

According to Tim Keech from StatsBomb, Everton have decreased in offensive/attacking production as the season has gone on, which proves Everton’s obvious attacking struggles this season.

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This could be due to the side consistently putting out line-ups in the exact same 4-2-3-1 formation in every league game to date, with the attacking players lacking threat and the team’s leader in assists being Lucas Digne, a defender.

All in all, a change in formation could create an improvement in the performance of the team, or at least could give the players some variety compared to what has been an overused line-up.

With increasing numbers and averages in “quality chances created by the opposition,” the blame cannot just be placed on the attacking end of the pitch.

The Blues conceded 21 goals in 21 home games, 18 goals in 18 away games, in total conceded an average of 1.39 goals per game and conceding at least one goal in 75 per cent of 2018-19 Premier League matches (home and away), meaning the Blues’ dodgy and lousy defence has definitely cost them throughout the league season.

Silva’s summer defensive signings have shown promise but an improvement to a defensive line that is struggling to string together consecutive clean sheets in the Premier League would be signing a more experienced Premier League veteran (on a short-term deal) to mentor the younger and more promising defenders to become more confident and solid at the back.

Everton versus Liverpool: The Merseyside derby

Everton manager Marco Silva gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Everton, a club with a storied history throughout the 20th century have had a rollercoaster ride throughout their time in the Premier League era.

A team that had experienced greatness before and have the potential to reach the top of English football again, but much has to be improved to raise the Blues from mediocre and unfulfilling mid table back up to contending for a title against teams including their long-time rivalled neighbours in Liverpool.

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If the Blues want to return to the top, improvements are needed on the pitch. Fans have gone through too many atrocious and disappointing seasons to deserve another mediocre season again.

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