Depressingly familiar Everton defeat ends pre-season tour

ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 20: Stanley Mills #56 of Everton dribbles the ball past Jacori Hayes #5 of Minnesota United in the second half of an international friendly at Allianz Field on July 20, 2022 in St Paul, Minnesota. Minnesota defeated Everton 4-0. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - JULY 20: Stanley Mills #56 of Everton dribbles the ball past Jacori Hayes #5 of Minnesota United in the second half of an international friendly at Allianz Field on July 20, 2022 in St Paul, Minnesota. Minnesota defeated Everton 4-0. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

On the evidence of that display last night, maybe it’s a good idea to go to the betting shop now and put some money on Everton to go down next season, before the odds shorten much more.

Displaying the familiar combination of unforced errors, lack of concentration and even the most basic footballing ability, which we have seen far too often in the past, Everton went down to an embarrasing 4-0 defeat to Minnesota United in their final match of the US pre-season tour.

I think the club should consider offering a full refund to all those American and British Evertonians who shelled out their hard-earned cash to watch this dismal team ship six goals without reply in these two games!

Again, I guess before we get too carried away with the result, we must make the point that it is still pre-season and yes Minnesota are actually a good MLS side who are fully match-fit and looked it too.

Under the managership of ex-Blues’ attacking star Adrian Heath, they actually have an excellent chance of winning the now much more competitive US league this season.

So, I’ve put all the usual caveats in. Now for the other stuff.

The first thing to point out is the most obvious; no goals scored. The Toffees’ have been unable to find the net in these two matches and frankly haven’t really looked like doing so either.

What is really concerning too is that Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who after Richarlison’s exit will have to shoulder even more of the goal-scoring responsibility next season, has looked very rusty and out of sorts. He squandered several decent opportunites last night.

The England centre-forward spent most of the last campaign on the treatment table and he still doesn’t appear to be fully match fit yet despite all the rehabilitation and time he’s had to regain fitness.

Once more, perhaps this is mainly due to all that time out and the inevitable recovery necessary for him to return to the sort of sharpness he had at times in the 2020-21 season.

I hope so because unless Everton can find some more goals in the shape of new player signings – which seems a very real doubt at the moment – then the team will clearly have a major problem.

A few chances have been created in the two games, particularly from players in wide positions and that’s something positive in all the gloom.

Worryingly though, these are the sort of opportunities that Calvert-Lewin has thrived on in the past, and as this team aren’t likely to be producing a lot of creative football through the middle of the park without an injection of new talent, he needs to be taking them.

I wonder whether his head is elsewhere too as the rumours of his leaving keep coming up from time to time. You would assume the club won’t be selling him this summer given Richarlison’s departure, but who knows.

As mentioned, Stanely Mills and Nathan Patterson produced some decent balls into the box and the two youngsters offer some real attacking potential on the right flank. Nils Nkounkou also looked alright going forward on the left, but he is a liability in defence and Patterson also needs to improve his positioning and work there too.

This is important because Seamus Coleman, even when fit again, won’t be able to play every Premier League match in what will be an even more hectic and demanding campaign than ususal with the World Cup interrupting it mid-season.

Going back to the attack and it goes without saying yet again, Everton must find some more pace, creativity and goals from somewhere before this transfer window shuts.

Moving onto midfield and it is just as bleak a picture.

After a reasonably bright start the midfielders faded quickly and both Tom Davies and Abdoulaye Doucoure produced very disappointing overall performances.

Lack of match-fitness might be a factor, but Davies is a player who has had his chances and ultimately not delivered consistently, while I wonder if Doucoure will ever again be the player we saw under Carlo Ancelotti and for a short time in the early days of Rafa Benitez’s doomed tenure.

Without fresh legs and some power, athleticism and drive I think the Blues’ are going to get badly overrun in the middle again and again next season, just as they frequently did last time.

Finally, we come to the defence and it’s the same old problems again. Individual errors and collective inability to do the basics right have undone this team so many times it’s like listening to a broken record.

Micheal Keane once more made an unnecessary mistake (something he was so often guilty of last season) and put the second goal into his own net.

Ben Godfrey looked easily panicked and off the pace as well and Mason Holgate was caught out playing at right-back as Minnesota United added another late on.

We’ve seen an almost endless precession of managers and coaching teams come and go at Goodison Park and still these issues are not resolved. Could it be that these players simply aren’t good enough..?

Apart from James Tarkowski who has looked rock solid ever since coming into the side, none of the other defenders provide much confidence at the moment, even Yerry Mina.

Let’s hope again that this is mainly pre-season rustiness on Mina’s part as the Blues’ desperately need him at his best alongside Tarkowski, who is surely a shoe-in to start when the season kicks off.

Frank Lampard will also have to make sure the ex-Burnley man is wrapped in cotton wool and keep his fingers crossed his much-vaunted record of past physical resiliance is maintained.

Well, after what has been a rather pathetic effort across the pond, Everton face the challenge of Blackpool in their next pre-season game at the weekend.

I say challenge not entirely tounge-in-cheek because at the moment I’m not sure if this team can win a football match against anyone.

Time is getting very short to do something about that as that opening day fixture against Chelsea looms ever nearer. And, on the evidence of this tour there is still so much work to be done before that game on August 6th.