When Everton appointed Sam Allardyce at the end of November, they did so because they had no other choice. A failed attempt to get Marco Silva from Watford, which ultimately expedited his departure from Vicarage Road, meant that a drastic solution was needed.
In hiring Allardyce, the Everton hierarchy knew what they were getting. Allardyce is a relegation fire-fighter who has walked through the flames and emerged unburned on several occasions. In appointing him, Everton were admitting they required a manager who could stop the rot, and prevent the club from getting dragged into a relegation dog fight.
Laying the foundations?
What they also knew was that they would not be getting attractive or progressive football. The fact that majority shareholder, Farhad Moshiri, discussed Allardyce’s leadership skills instead of his football philosophy made that perfectly clear. Allardyce is the man to lay the foundations upon which the house is built — he is not the man to build the house and move the project forward.
Allardyce, though, is keen to prove otherwise. For him, a move to Everton was akin to an early Christmas present. After the England debacle, his career was only looking downwards — that’s how it tends to be after taking charge of the Three Lions. Instead, he was offered the team that finished seventh last season with a squad of expensively assembled players to work with.
To say Everton is the biggest club job he’s had would not be an overstatement. Nor would it be one to suggest that this is the best group of players Allardyce has worked with at club level. At Goodison Park, he has the perfect opportunity to prove all of his doubters wrong and show that he is more than the relegation expert his last two club jobs forced him to be. Sadly, however, only disappointment has been offered up on that front so far. Instead of showing that he has the passion and knowledge to move Everton forwards, he has taken them backwards.
A Story of Regression
At first, things were fine as Allardyce fixed the defence and brought about positive results to move them clear of the relegation zone. Evertonians were willing to accept the poor football in the short term; especially after some of the miserable performances they’ve seen both in the Premier League and Europe this season. They were not, however, willing to accept it for the long-term. Scousers know their football, and they know that this current squad is capable of playing attractive football and challenging at the right end of the table.
Unfortunately, now the time has come for Allardyce to move the team forward, he and his squad have stumbled dramatically. The Blues have gone seven games without a win in and to say the football has been dire would be an understatement. Before Jonjoe Kenny had a shot at goal in the 38th minute of the 1-1 home draw with West Bromwich Albion they had gone a whopping 251 minutes without a shot on target. Had it not been for the youngster’s tame effort that drought could have extended further even with the forward additions of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott bolstering their ranks.
The fault lies firmly with Allardyce. While he can do little about player confidence in the short-term, his tactics have left many scratching their heads. Against the Baggies, a team who have scored 19 league goals all season, the third lowest tally in the division, he employed two defensive midfielders in the middle of the park. It meant Everton were left with no forward momentum as Morgan Schneiderlin, a criminal underperformer, opted to play it safe time and time again. Only the introduction of Wayne Rooney in the middle of the park seemed to change the momentum.
Indeed, it was his inch perfect pass onto Walcott’s head that set up Oumar Niasse to smash home the equaliser. Before then, Tosun had been left isolated and chasing aimless long balls while Walcott was asked to compete for said long balls with the West Brom centre backs.
It was peak Allardyce football at its frustrating worst, and the boos ringing around Goodison Park proved as much. They have already had enough and it’s not hard to imagine the Everton board think similarly. And that is a shame for a number of reasons. With this group of players, Allardyce had the opportunity to show he had more strings to his bow. He could have improved Everton and made a success of his last big chance in English football. Had he done so, his doubters would have been left eating their words.
Instead those detractors are now basking in the warmth of being able to claim they told everyone this is just how it would be. It means Allardyce will likely find himself out of a job come the summer, having wasted a perfect opportunity to prove he is far from done in the Premier League’s upper echelons.
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