New-look Ever­ton show strength in depth

Ancelotti’s over­hauled side ex­tended win­ning start thanks to un­sung he­roes – but there is one area of grow­ing con­cern

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By Jim White at Good­i­son Park Brighton

Strength in depth

In the em­bers of last sea­son, Ever­ton had a hole where their mid­field should have been. Slow, weak and thin, the cen­tre of Carlo Ancelotti’s team looked as com­pet­i­tive as a For­mula One car with four flat tyres. Against Brighton, Tom Davies and Gylfi Sig­urds­son, half of that un­der­whelm­ing mid­field quar­tet, came into the side and looked im­me­di­ately bet­ter. Sig­urds­son seems to thrive with bet­ter play­ers around him, re l ish­ing Ab­doulaye Doucoure’s en­ergy and James Ro­driguez’s guile. Even the for­got­ten man, Fabian Delph, got a run out and looked at home. Sud­denly Ancelotti ap­pears to have plau­si­ble choices in the en­gine room.

Sea­mus Cole­man

The cap­tain has been su­perb since the restart. His at­tack­ing zest

Pass master Ro­driguez

Suc­cess­ful passes Un­suc­cess­ful


Di­rec­tion of play James Ro­driguez sprayed passes all over the pitch and most reached their tar­get en­cour­aged, against Brighton he was for­ever tear­ing down the right wing, pass­ing quickly and imag­i­na­tively, his crosses con­stantly seek­ing out the head of Do­minic Calvert-Lewin. Plus he ap­pears to boast the same un­com­pro­mis­ing na­ture of his coun­try­man Roy Keane, chivvy­ing his team-mates, in­sist­ing on main­tain­ing proper stan­dards. The look on his face as he broke up the overindul­gent chore­ographed group cel­e­bra­tion of Yerry Mina’s goal was straight from the Keane play­book. There is to be no mess­ing un­der Cole­man’s watch.

Cen­tre-back pair­ing

At first glance, Mina and Michael Keane ap­pear to be du­pli­cat­ing each other’s roles: both good in the air, both strong in the tackle, but nei­ther the kind of ball-play­ing cen­tre­back that cur­rent or­tho­doxy in­sists is nec­es­sary. Yet they have started the sea­son in per­fect har­mony, blend­ing into a sin­gle unit that is hard to by­pass. Against Brighton, Mina in par­tic­u­lar was ev­ery­where in the Ever­ton box, ex­e­cut­ing timely in­ter­cep­tions. With the promis­ing Mason Hol­gate on the mend af­ter in­jury, Ancelotti has real choice in his back line.

Ab­doulaye Doucoure

While James Ro­driguez and CalvertLew­in have rightly been af­forded most of the plau­dits for Ever­ton’s fine start, Doucoure’s con­tri­bu­tion should not be un­der­stated. The fact Al­lan’s ab­sence was hardly no­ticed was largely due to the French­man’s re­lent­less en­ergy and drive. He was a non-stop pres­ence in the mid­dle of the Ever­ton team, look­ing not only to win the ball but, when he did so, to carry it for­ward at pace. With­out the crowd noise, it is clear he shouts a lot too, is­su­ing con­stant in­struc­tions to team-mates. Ev­ery time Ro­driguez had the ball, the shout would echo around an empty Good­i­son: “James, yes, me.” It is the kind of en­thu­si­asm that must make Ancelotti smile.

Jor­dan Pick­ford’s form

There is al­ways a but. And right now it comes in the shape of the Eng­land goal­keeper. The prob­lem with his howler that al­lowed Brighton back into a game that was slip­ping away from them was that it was a mis­take wait­ing to hap­pen. In an un­for­tu­nate re­minder of the way Joe Hart de­clined, Pick­ford looks ag­i­tated, nervy, al­ways seek­ing to pull off a won­der save to buff up his self­con­fi­dence. Oddly, Brighton did not seem to sense his anx­i­ety and try to ex­ploit it. In­stead of pres­sur­ing him with a con­stant surge of crosses, they played ev­ery cor­ner short, rarely putting the ball un­der the cross­bar to test him prop­erly. But there is no es­cap­ing the fact he needs to find a way to re­lax. Oth­er­wise his hyped-up jit­ters can only even­tu­ally com­mu­ni­cate them­selves to his de­fence.

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