Everton must find a way to play a more modern game

Everton (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images) /
3 of 3

Because of the lack of quality and depth in the squad, as soon as some or most of the first-choice six or seven players are out – who make up the central spine of the team – there is no plan B and no ability to adapt the way of playing to cope.

I’m also coming to a view that part of the problem is in fact the attributes of two of those key attacking players. The players I’m referring to are Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin.

Both are certainly talented forwards. They have pace and power, either playing off the centre-forward and running from deep in Richarlison’s case, or battling up front and occupying defenders as Calvert-Lewin does, and both are decent finishers too.

However, there are issues with them. The Blues’ Brazilian ace has persistent problems with discipline and while to some extent that is a question of reputation and how referees treat him, he doesn’t always help his case with his sending off in last season’s Goodison derby a perfect example.

More fundametally though is that Calvert-Lewin’s strengths are also a part of the reason why Everton can’t play a more modern, flexible, higher-tempo game.

In many ways he’s an old-fashioned centre-forward or number nine very much in the tradition of the Toffees’ past history. He’s a great target-man who is superb in the air with an almost Michael Jordan-like ability to leap high and hang.

This makes him very well-suited the sort of football that was in vogue twenty or thirty odd years ago, but it’s perhaps not best suited to the modern Premier League.

The game has moved on to a much more high-tempo, pressing game with an interchangable, fluid attack such as the sort of football played by Liverpool and Manchester City in particular.

I’m not saying the Blues’ can simply transition to playing this way. It will take time and a change in football culture and no doubt new and better equipped players.

While it might sound slightly heritical to some, it may be that if as rumoured a club like Arsenal are preparing a bid for Calvert-Lewin, that the club should consider selling him if they can get £60-70 million. After all, his injury problems have become chronic and he has been absent for long periods of the last two seasons anyway.

Can the team be so reliant on him and have their shape and football tactics so dependent on a player with increasingly worrying injury issues?

I also think Richarlison will certainly want to leave this summer and again a fee in that region would give whoever was in the manager’s hotseat ample resources to re-shape his team.

I think this is a necessary move for the team to gain a new indentity and a more relevant and sustainable strategy for improving the competitivness of the team on ther pitch.

That probably won’t happen though under the current manager. And, while again I’m not saying that removing Benitez is the panacea for this club’s problems; it certainly isn’t, I don’t think his approach is one he can or will modify.

The coach I wanted Everton to try and get last summer was Ralf Rangnick. The German is effectively the ‘father’ of the sort of pressing game that Jurgen Klopp has perfected at Liverpool.

He’s now gone to Manchester United and it looks like they have also realised the need to upgrade and modernise their approach to try and catch up with City and Liverpool.

If there is any prospect of the board sorting out their problems and identifying a coach with a similar football philosophy, then perhaps progress in this direction can be made.

It seems a forlorn expectation of course and it might well take a catastrophy like relegation before this can be done. I sincerely hope not.