Liverpool Echo

Everton analysis - Nightmare prediction comes true as Carlo Ancelotti gets early decision wrong

Liverpool Echo logo Liverpool Echo 17/05/2021 06:00:00 Adam Jones

No surprise

Everton should be embarrassed with themselves.

That's the long and short of it, and Carlo Ancelotti said as much in his post-match press conference.

This was the latest disgrace in what has been a long string of absolutely abysmal performances at Goodison Park. And that is the worst aspect of it all.

There was hardly any surprise involved in this match.

The side at the bottom of the Premier League, who had their relegation confirmed a month ago, picked up their sixth win of the season against an abject Everton side - and how many sat at home were honestly shocked?

This was supposed to be different. The Blues were unbelievably fortunate to find themselves still in a reasonable position in terms of trying to secure European qualification despite their dreadful displays on their own turf.

With three games left to go this season, they desperately needed to win both of the home matches on their plate to realistically have any chance of securing their aim for the season.

Instead, they let it slip away in a manner only they could.

Evertonians looking at the team-sheet before the game would have all had their eyes on one player. They'd have jokingly put a comment in their group chats, or said something to the family members they were watching the match with.

A 17-year-old making his full Premier League debut? Well of course he's going to bag one against the Blues, isn't he?

It took all of seven minutes for that fear to be proven right.

Every aspect of this match was so frustratingly predictable from Everton right down to the man who eventually got the winner.

Even after that there was little response from the Blues. Sheffield United had clearly done their homework and they knew exactly how they could pick up all three points here.

In very simple terms, it just boiled down to letting the hosts have the ball. Because they didn't know what to do with it for the vast majority of the game.

All in all it goes down as another truly pathetic display from Everton, ever more annoying in just how unsurprising it really was to witness.

Wrong tactics

Not all of the blame falls onto the players here, although clearly a huge portion of it does.

Before we get into the tactics on show from Everton a little bit, it must be said that the players on the pitch should have had more than enough quality to see their side through to victory here.

Especially in a match they should have been able to have full motivation for, they should have been able to outplay their already-relegated opponents in every area of the pitch.

That being said, things could have been a little different from Ancelotti.

Against Aston Villa on Thursday evening, Everton didn't really step onto the front foot and really try and affect the match until the final 15 minutes and they paid the price.

Setting up a defensive base is one thing, but the hosts on that occasion were without both their lead striker and their best creative player. Surely Everton could have gone with a more attacking setup?

So, quite understandably, Blues supporters watching at home would have been a little perplexed to see five defenders again named in the starting line-up for this match.

There was no striker on the bench, as it was confirmed that Joshua King had suffered a slight problem in training and would miss the match, but there were certainly attacking options available.

However, focusing too much on the defensive aspect of things shackled Everton too heavily right from the start. James Rodriguez's return was great, but there's only so much the Colombia international can do.

Mason Holgate was eventually replaced at half time in what was essentially a show of mercy from Ancelotti, but did he need to be on the pitch from the start?

Why didn't the Blues go with one of their more attacking options to try and open up their opponents a little more?

Bernard, Alex Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson - all three of those, while out-of-form in some cases, would have surely tipped the balance further up the pitch for Everton and would have led to more opportunities being created.

Even putting Tom Davies in midfield would have vastly improved things, allowing a 4-3-3 setup which had previously served the side so well at the beginning of the campaign.

Instead, Ancelotti opted for what was altogether a more conservative option.

The boss will claim that he hasn't got the options to play in a more attacking manner, or that his side have built the majority of their strong performances this term on a solid defence.

But to play five defenders against a team that was already relegated does not fill anyone with confidence right from the start of the game, surely.

This was a game in which Everton needed to come out swinging as much as possible, and they ultimately failed to deliver on that front in some fashion.

A portion of that blame has to fall on the manager as well as the players.

Missed chances

It could have been very different for Everton, of course.

In one of the only moments of quality they displayed in the first half saw James Rodriguez clip a fantastic cross into the box and directly onto the head of Richarlison.

The Brazil international had a great chance to score, but could only direct his header straight at Aaron Ramsdale - who produced a decent stop to keep it out.

However the ball bounced straight to the waiting Dominic Calvert-Lewin just a few yards out from goal, and with almost the entire net to aim at.

With the form he's been in this season, Evertonians would have staunchly backed their forward to bury the chance without question and drag his side undeservedly back into the game.

Instead, he followed the lead of his teammate and could only shoot straight at a very grateful Sheffield United goalkeeper, who kept his clean sheet intact.

Everton do not create enough opportunities throughout a match for glaring chances such as that to go begging.

Had the Blues managed to get themselves back into the game at that stage it could well have been the jolt they needed to go on and win the game.

Instead, it goes down as another missed chance in a dreadful performance. Home disappointments recently have contained too many of those.

Fan reaction

One thing is clear, Everton can thank their lucky stars that Goodison was empty on Sunday evening.

In fact, you could say the same for the majority of their performances on their own turf throughout this sorry campaign in L4.

The debate will rage on over what the real reason behind that horrendous and shambolic record is. Maybe at the beginning the absence of fans would have been an understandable explanation, but not any more.

This has been a continuous and distinct failure in both tactics and attitude. Everton just could not get it right at Goodison throughout this term and they have paid the price.

If fans had been inside the stadium for this match, the atmosphere would have been truly uncomfortable to sit in. It was bad enough to watch that display in an empty ground.

From now on, Everton will not have the luxury of putting in displays as dreadful as this one without the immediate repercussions that usually come with it.

Supporters have made themselves very vocal on social media after every horrendous home display this term, but it's not the same as being able to share their fury from the stands.

This group of players are very, very fortunate in that sense. If fans had have been in Goodison, perhaps there wouldn't have been as many abject displays at Goodison.

We'll never know, and it's besides the point. Everton cannot use that as an excuse and they shouldn't need 30,000 fans shouting at them to put in a respectable performance against a side bottom of the league and already relegated a month previously.

Disgraceful, shambolic and insipid doesn't go nearly as far enough to describe the display the Blues actually mustered in their latest abject home showing.

This was the last time that they'll be able to get away with such a dumpster-fire of a performance without anyone in attendance.

6,500 supporters will be back at Goodison on Wednesday evening when Wolverhampton Wanderers become the last team to visit the stadium this season.

When they were successful in the ballot, those fans would have been delighted and looking forward to being able to shout their side towards their European ambitions.

Now, though, it will be very interesting to see what the reaction will be.

The supporters will all be delighted to be back at Goodison and the atmosphere will no doubt reflect that from the start. Regardless of what has come previously, they will be right behind the squad.

But if another performance like this one comes along, the reaction will really be eye-opening to these players.

lundi 17 mai 2021 09:00:00 Categories: Liverpool Echo

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