Watching Everton this season has been an immensely frustrating experience. Watch us in Europe and you would think we have a counter attacking, free scoring team Managed by a visionary Catalan who is a tactical genius. Watch the same team in the Premier League and you would think Mike Walker was back in charge!
Perhaps most frustrating to many is how obvious the flaws in how we play in the Premier League, particularly at home are and how, seemingly obvious the solutions are. Here are some ideas on how I would address our current Premier League problems:
1: Drop Howard. Apparently Tim Howard is our number one until he proves he isn’t up to the job. I was willing to give Roberto the benefit of the doubt when Howard made his unpopular return. However, he has rapidly returned to the terrible form he was in pre-injury and at the very least Robles should be featuring in the Europa League. The fact is, Howard has and is costing us points. As a huge fan of his it pains me to say it but he’s not up to the task right now.
2: Play Wingers. Watching our wingers is frustrating as hell. Mc Geady has flattered to deceive and now Mirallas has started to do the same. Lennon has come in and offered pace but, as yet no end product and Atsu remains something of an unknown quantity. However, it is clear that when we have wingers on BOTH sides of the pitch we push teams back, we create chances and we give our fullbacks both opportunity to go forward and protection at the back. Martinez has rarely played two wingers all season yet when he has we have looked more balanced and more of a threat. Balance is key.
3: Barkley OR Naismith. Against Young Boys both played centrally while Oviedo played almost as a winger and that worked. However, both of them on the pitch playing on the pitch occupying the same position or even worse, with one of them playing out of position on the left has time and time again failed to produce results. Naismith’s workrate and finishing is unquestioned, Barkley potential and talent is obvious but you have to make a trade off and decide which one of them is needed on the pitch on a game to game basis. It’s a waste of both of their abilities playing them together.
4: Do we need two defensive midfielders? We have struggled to find a partnership that works this season with combinations of Mc Carthy, Barry, Besic, Barkley, Osman and now Gibson producing mixed results. At home and against the so called weaker or more defensive teams there has to be a question as to whether we need to be so reserved in midfield. Against Young Boys Barry played a more attacked role and Besic has tried to do similar. Barkley and Gibson have both shown than can thrive by being allowed to express themselves centrally and this is something that needs to be encouraged. Gibson in particular has shown today that he has the potential to be an important fulcrum in our midfield.
5: Getting the best out of Lukaku. Lukaku has been nowhere near as bad as has been made out by many this season but the fact remains he is almost guaranteed to play week in, week out and often for 90 minutes regardless of tiredness or performance. We have a pacey striker on the bench in the form of Kone who has shown he could be an option when Lukaku isn’t firing on all cylinders. Martinez’s reticence in using him is leading to Lukaku producing erratic performances when there is an alternative available.
These are just a few things that appear obvious to me. What do you think?