24 hours or so after that disgraceful effort, or rather lack of it, by Everton against Wolves, and the question is how do the Blues move forward now?
This season is obviously a right off. Yesterday’s dreadful game at Molinuex was quite possibly the worst performance by an Everton team during this entire season and that’s saying something.
The near total lack of effort on the part of so many of those players yesterday must represent the final straw and mark the end of their careers at Goodison Park.
I mentioned previously a number of players I thought should be either replaced in the first team or be out of the door altogether this summer. Those are Jordan Pickford, Micheal Keane, Yerry Mina, Tom Davies, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott, Alex Iwobi and Bernard.
All these individuals should not be playing for Everton next season, or at least not starting certainly. That’s a lot of players to replace though, especially all at one fell swoop.
The key area then that must be priority number one is the midfield, again something we’ve touched on before. The Blues simply have to sort this crucial part of the team out before the new Premier League season kicks off, whenever that will be.
I would even go so far as to say that I wouldn’t bother much with trying to sign any more defenders or forwards if that means the Toffees can get all the players they need in the middle.
Of course ideally, Everton do need another quality centre-back and a new goalkeeper, if they can get them, but the majority of resources must go to resolving the chronic weakness in midfield.
If the Toffees can’t do this, then next season will be just the same as this one and the one before that. It won’t matter how decorated a coach you have sitting in the dugout, there won’t be any real and sustained progress. Once again, the Blues will be facing another wasted campaign.
Carlo Ancelotti is fully aware of this and has spoken about the urgent need for more energy and creativity in midfield.
As we’ve repeatedly documented there have been a constant stream of rumours about midfield players joining the Toffees for next season.
After yesterday and the previous matches against Spurs and Southampton, which were hardly much better, the need to get this part of the team sorted out is only even more urgent.
Ancelotti ideally wants his former Napoli charge, Allan, to join him in England. The Brazilian would certainly be a massive step up in quality on any of the current crop available.
However, this transfer always seemed a little unlikely. And given that the Blues are going to be languishing in the bottom half the the league by season’s end, persuading a player like Allan to come to Goodison will prove tougher still, even with Ancelotti as manager.
I’m not even sure signing a player like Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will be possible this summer, as he’s likely to want to move to a team that finished above Southampton this season!
But even getting Allan or Hojbjerg won’t be enough. Everton basically need an entire new midfield. So if a player like Allan is unrealistic, what are the other options to strengthen the centre?
One possibility is the Aston Villa player John McGinn. The Scot is a good attacking midfielder who has been excellent for a very average Villa side this season. He hasn’t had the press and praise that team mate Jack Grealish has gained, but he might be very affordable if Villa go down.
McGinn though isn’t primarily a defensive player, so Everton will still need to ensure they get at least one more player in that can provide that energy, work rate and commitment.
One possible option that could provide that energy, is a player that Marco Silva wanted to sign last summer; Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure.
The 27-year-old Frenchman was excellent last season and Silva was very keen for him to join his then new signing Jean-Philippe Gbamin in a new look Everton centre midfield.
But given his and Everton’s acrimonious relationship with Watford, that transfer didn’t happen and then as we know Gbamin got injured and was eventually to become a write off for the season.
I can’t help feeling that if Silva had got Doucoure and he had formed an effective partnership with Gbamin, the team would almost certainly have had a better campaign and ironically, despite his defects, Silva might still be the Blues manager.
Anyway that’s all speculation. Doucoure hasn’t been quite as impressive this season, but he is a powerful, athletic midfielder who could also be available at an affordable price as Watford are not out of the woods as far as relegation goes.
What about some other candidates in European leagues? There are lots of options in Europe, many of them younger players perhaps lacking a lot of experience but likely to be relatively affordable if Everton want them.
One player worth looking at is Manuel Locatelli who plays for Sassuolo in Italy. The 22-year-old is a solid all-round midfielder who could offer both defensive strengths and real creativity, much like Allan.
He might also be tempted to try his hand in English football if the right offer came in, especially at a club with a high-profile Italian coach in post.
Moving onto Germany, and another young dynamic player is the Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria. He currently plays for Borussia Monchengladbach. Zakaria is primarily a defensive player and would offer energy and plenty of protection in front of the Blues backline. He looks exactly what Everton have so badly lacked for so long.
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All these players though are possibilities and maybes etc. And of course I haven’t even begun to address the lack of wide players either.
But as I’ve previously said, I still think Everton’s best option is to adopt a 4-3-3. Then they can play some combination of new defensive and attacking central midfielders, say Anthony Gordon and a combination of new signings like those mentioned above.
The Toffees could then perhaps use the attacking qualities of full-backs Lucas Digne and Djibril Sidibe, (if he stays), or even Jonjo Kenny if he comes back, to provide the width and creative input. This seems much more economical and realistic than trying to find new wide men too, at least in this window.
There’s also the continuing uncertainty about Gbamin’s future. If, and its a big if, he can come back from all his seemingly endless injuries then that might give Everton effectively a brand new player, save the club a small fortune and help create that new-look midfield.
Finally there are the youth team products. Surely players like Beni Banningime deserve a chance? Perhaps they could be given starts in the Blues remaining games. So a lot of questions and much for Anclelotti to ponder as the transfer window approaches. He must find the answers.