Everton v Manchester City: further post-match analysis

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 31: Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton and Wayne Rooney of Everton look dejected during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on March 31, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 31: Dominic Calvert-Lewin of Everton and Wayne Rooney of Everton look dejected during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on March 31, 2018 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images) /

So Everton went down to a defeat to Manchester City at the weekend that was far more comprehensive than even the 3-1 score line suggests. It was an embarrassing day for the home team at Goodison Park.

Facing a City side in that kind of mood and form was there anything that Everton could have done to avoid defeat?

The gulf in quality between the teams was very much in evidence. City have developed the ability to produce a first 45 minutes of brilliant, relentlessly attacking play that allows them to build a strong lead and then ease off in the second half.

This is an approach they adopt particularly away from home. They did the same for example against Arsenal at the Emirates last month.

First of all as I argued, I think the Blues would have done better playing three at the back and bringing Mason Holgate into the team.

That would have given more balance and protection defensively. At the very least Holgate would have offered some much-needed pace at the back, something that Everton badly lacked. As it was City cut through the Blues like ribbon.

Although Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines have been outstanding servants for the club, both are the wrong side of 30 and need to be replaced. Their lack of pace was all to evident on Saturday.

Worryingly there was also a sense that the team lacked urgency and determination, something that was characteristic of earlier in the season when Everton got off to such a bad start.

It was almost as if the side were reconciled to defeat and couldn’t cope psychologically with the challenge of playing City. This has very little to do with systems or tactics but is something that ultimately only the players themselves can sort out.

There don’t seem to be any leaders in the team who can take control and drive the side forward. That might not have made much difference in the end or averted defeat but when you are facing such a good side as City at the very least you have to show some fight.

It’s also ridiculous to keep hitting long, hopeful balls up to Cenk Tosun. He certainly put in a shift up front but was often isolated and unable to link up effectively with anyone.

Theo Walcott and Yannick Bolasie were unable to support him properly and so the Blues looked toothless again in attack.

And all these tactics did was just to give cheap possession back to City and put Everton on the defensive again. This is football from the dark ages.

What those teams who were most effective against City, (Bristol City and Liverpool), showed was the importance of playing a high-tempo pressing game up front and making effective use of your own possession. Everton did neither.

So can Everton bridge the huge gap in class that was on show on Saturday?

In the short-term the answer of course is no. The Blues are a long way from being able to attract talent like Kevin De Bruyne or Leroy Sane or a manager of Pep Guardiola’s calibre.

But its clear that for the club to progress there can’t be a regular repeat of performances of that nature.

Sam Allardyce has to go in the summer and Everton need to bring in a younger manager with drive and hunger who can shake up the team and who also wants to see his sides play effective, attacking football.

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The Blues have been linked with several foreign managers such as Paolo Fonseca but I think Sean Dyche at Burnley and Eddie Howe at Bournemouth are ideal candidates.

They have plenty of Premier League experience something that someone like Fonseca doesn’t.

Its true Dyche isn’t renowned for his flamboyant football but actually his sides do play some good stuff and especially away from home have been scoring goals regularly.

He would also sort out the defensive inconsistencies that have plagued the Blues this season.

Taking over at Goodison Park would represent a good move from Burnley and I think he would be a very good fit for Everton.

As for Howe his teams certainly play attractive, attacking football even at the expense sometimes of defensive solidity. Like Dyche, Howe has done a fine job making his Bournemouth side a fixture in the Premier League.

He might also consider a move to Everton the right next step and he is apparently an Evertonian as well.

There has also been talk of Everton bringing in another talent scout in PSV Eindhoven’s Marcel Brands. He would presumably replace Steve Walsh in his position at the club.

To be honest I’m not sure these backroom Director of Football-types really work too well. After all Steve Walsh hasn’t exactly been a barnstorming success has he!?

Next: Three takeaways from Blues defeat

Getting this managerial appointment right is critical.

Lets hope whoever the Blues bring in this summer (assuming they do make a change!) proves to be the ideal person to provide leadership and stability and help the club attract the playing talent needed to lift Everton out of this malaise.