‘A dark horse’ and ‘if Leicester can do it’ were just a couple of the flattering things said about Everton during the summer. Ronald Koeman was apparently investing cleverly (which previously included selling the Tom Cleverly) and there was a buzz around Goodison Park. 5 games in to the league season and Everton sit in the relegation zone. The list of Everton problems is still addressable for Koeman, who is now under pressure to find solutions
1. Ashley Williams
Is Ashley Williams past it? The former captain of Swansea was considered a savvy acquisition last summer. Last season he performed admirably as Everton finished strongly. However, the start of this campaign has been one to forget. The mistake on the weekend against United, where he literally passed to a red shirt, showed how his confidence is shot. Perhaps it’s time to drop Williams. He’s 33 so could probably do with a break after an intensive start to the season. He also must find time to get a haircut.
2. Goal scoring
Lukaku reminded Everton of his goal scoring prowess on the weekend, and the fact that he’s a plonker (see: goal celebration). However, the goals the Belgian guaranteed the Blues every season are being sorely missed. Everton have scored 2 goals in 5 Premier League matches. The caveat is that their opening schedule was tougher than most, but only 2 goals is a terrible return. Rooney can play and important role this season, but is it time for him to sit on the bench for a few games? Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the enigmatic, Kevin Miralles, are decent alternatives.
3. Lack of pace
Rooney, Jagielka, Williams and nearly the entire midfield lacks pace. If Gareth Barry was still lining up for Everton, they would have perhaps the slowest team in the entire football league. There is no momentum to the Blues approach at the moment. On the weekend, they sacrificed any real pace when choosing Rooney, Sigurdsson and Davies as their three most attacking players. While Mourinho also takes a similar approach in his central positions, he utilises extreme pace on the wings plus a quick centre forward, who we won’t mention again.
4. Number of games
The Europa League really is a curse for teams with smaller squads. Man United bucked the trend last year but Mourinho was happy to rotate. Koeman doesn’t have the same luxury. Even after the spending spree this summer, they went for quality over quantity which means there aren’t two players competing for every position. They will now start their League Cup campaign. Add in another 5 Europa League matches plus a Premier League campaign that will intensify on the lead up to 2018. Could Koeman blood youngsters in the Europa League to save energy?