12 months ago to the day, Everton appointed Sam Allardyce as their manager much to the dismay of some Evertonians. Others were prepared to give him a chance, afterall we were struggling to get results and did not look able to defend at all.
Allardyce came in and there was an upturn in results. The Blues dispatched West Ham United 4-0 in David Unsworth’s last game in charge, Allardyce was present in the stands and tried to take some credit, and then beat Huddersfield Town 2-0 at Goodison Park a few days later when Allardyce was in charge.
A 1-1 draw at Anfield followed before Everton beat Newcastle United 1-0 away to record their first away win since the previous January. A 3-1 win over Swansea City at Goodison Park followed that before grinding out a 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Goodison Park a few days before Christmas. Things were on the up results wise with Allardyce claiming 11 points from his first 15 available. Maybe, he was able to improve both the team and his own perception as being a fire fighter, was the rhetoric at the time.
However, it was what followed that first raised question marks. On boxing day, Everton went to Alan Pardew’s West Brom who had 1 win in 20 games and we played 5 at the back and ground out a disappointing 0-0. A few days later it was off to a Bournemouth side without a win in 10 and Allardyce opted for 3 defensive midfielders including Gana who had been a slight fitness doubt, he went off injured, in his starting line up and the Blues suffered their first defeat under Allardyce going down 1-2 to a last minute goal. After that came defeats against Manchester United, Liverpool (FA Cup), Tottenham Hotspur, draw with West Brom at home and then a 5-1 spanking at Arsenal. During this period Everton managed about 5 shots on target and the discontentment grew. The results improved slightly and the Blues finished the season in 8th position and it was job done for Allardyce.
However, the manner of the football was poor and the man himself was not gaining much backing from Evertonians. Following a final day 1-3 defeat to David Moyes’ West Ham, Allardyce was sacked and we all rejoiced. The media however, saw it differently. How could Everton sack a man that had single handedly kept them up? What more do Evertonians want? Everton should be grateful to Sam that they are still in the Premier League! They were 17th when he took over and they finished 8th!
The final statement is one I will address very briefly here because it is nonsense and was peddled by Allaradyce himself. Everton were 16th on the night of the West Ham United game at Goodison Park. Everton were being managed by DAVID UNSWORTH that night, following the 4-0 victory Everton moved up to 13th place. Sam Allardyce was officially appointed Everton manager the next day, just to clarify Everton were in 13th position in the Premier League. After the Huddersfield victory 2 days later Everton were 9th ! So the nonsense that his mates in the media have peddled since his sacking is exactly that, nonsense!
Anyway, Marco Silva and Marcel Brands arrived at Everton in the summer and a black cloud was lifted from the club. There were, are, still question marks over them from some quarters but their work so far has been excellent. Brands has proved an excellent negotiator and Silva is proving an excellent coach, it’s early I know but the signs are very good.
Everton’s performances this season have been entertaining and we now seem as though we have a plan and a structure to take the club forward. Farhad Moshiri wanted both of these men and has backed the pair of them and it is now becoming clear what kind of vision he had.
On the pitch, I have been really impressed with the transformation I have witnessed from a slow lethargic and at times clueless side to a bright, fast and inventive football team. Yes the 6 new signings have helped that but they have had to integrate themselves into the squad then the side and it is only very recently that all of them have been available. However, it has been Silva’s ability to get more out of the likes of Michael Keane, Gana and Gylfi Sigurdsson which has caught the eye.
The statistics behind the improvement shows a startling upturn from what Everton were producing last season and again that only backs up what your eyes are seeing and why the fans are enjoying this new Everton.
Silva’s side have won five of their last seven games playing an attractive brand of football, which is highlighted by some of Everton’s attacking statistics. The leap from last season – when Everton recorded the second-fewest shots in the Premier League, and the fewest by any side during Sam Allardyce’s time in charge – has been impressive.
This is taken from a Sky Sports article :
No set of supporters is currently seeing a bigger improvement from their side in terms of shots. Everton are attempting almost 50 per cent more per game – the biggest increase in the Premier League this season.
After the attacking lows of last season, this improvement might have been expected by some. Such progress at the other end, however – where Everton are also the most improved side in terms of shots faced – is more than anyone predicted, especially with last season’s managers favouring more pragmatic playing styles.
Each new summer signing has made an impact, too. In defence, Kurt Zouma has been a perfect fit for Silva’s high line, as has Yerry Mina, while Lucas Digne has quickly provided the attacking impetus fans have enjoyed from Leighton Baines previously.
Bernard has created more chances from open play than any of his team-mates. His creative numbers already place him alongside the Premier League’s very best playmakers.
Stylistically, key changes have also worked well for Silva. His high-octane, adventurous style greatly contrasts with last season’s laboured approach. Everton are pressing far more aggressively. They have won possession in the attacking third more times than any other side – and by a remarkable margin.
Overall, Everton now win the ball 6.6 times per game in the attacking third, almost doubling the return of 3.8 last season. Some of Opta’s advanced metrics further emphasise Silva’s tactical shifts, specifically in terms of moving the ball forward faster, and with better end product.
Source : Sky Sports
As you can see there are some really impressive turnarounds in our general play, particularly our transitions from defence to attack. All in all, it has been a joy to see following last season’s negative football. The plan appears to actually have foundations now unlike previously which when you actually examine it was a disaster waiting to happen. We had Ronald Koeman who thought he was too big for the club and Steve Walsh, bless him, who was never in a million years a Director of Football. Thankfully, in Marcel Brands we have a DoF who has been there and done it and has numerous contacts throughout the world, he knows how to negotiate and knows how to work alongside the Manager to ensure that they pick the best options where the players are concerned.
It really is a far cry from where we were 12 months ago. This week the club finishes it’s Public Consultation regarding Bramley Moore and this week has also seen the club light up the Liver Buildings Blue as well as the Liver Birds 🙂 tangible progress on and off the pitch and I for one am grateful that we are in a much better place on November 30th 2018, than we where on November 30th 2017 ! Now a derby win would just top it all off !!