Everton have been in dire form in recent weeks.
Marco Silva is under pressure. The Times report that his job is safe, but the club have won just three games since the end of November – and it appears that they are ready to slide down the table.
The talent in the team is there, though. Silva is relatively young – he is 41 – and is seen as a progressive manager, but how can he stop the rot?
Football FanCast outline our suggested solutions for how Everton can instantly return to top form…
This is relatively basic and, really, it should go without saying. But Everton have been absolutely dire at defending free-kicks and corners.
A report from the Belfast Telegraph outlined just how bad the numbers are: Aymeric Laporte’s headed goal for Manchester City in their 2-0 win at Goodison Park in midweek was the 12th league goal Everton have conceded from a set-piece, and their 17th in all competitions. That number does not include penalties, either.
Former Wigan & Fulham man, Jimmy Bullard recently showed that he’s still got it! Check out the video below…
Silva needs to stop this, and one obvious way to do so would be to ditch zonal marking and start going man-to-man at free-kicks and corners in a bid to stem a tide that is threatening to drown the Toffees.
If they continue to concede sloppy goals they will forever be on the back foot.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been a beneficiary of Silva’s reign, and has made 24 appearances in all competitions, but he is not really good enough.
He has scored four goals in the top-flight, but he does not offer the presence of a proper target man nor the pace of a lithe No.9.
Against City, he offered precious little in his role up front; per WhoScored, he had a pass success rate of just 58%, was dispossessed three times and committed four fouls, the most of any player on the pitch.
The experiment of playing the 21-year-old must come to an end – Silva would be well advised to restore Richarlison to a centre-forward role where the Brazilian continually thrives, and place Calvert-Lewin back on the bench.
Phil Jagielka may be 36 but the Toffees could certainly use some experience and natural leadership right about now.
Silva confirmed, per HITC, before their FA Cup game against Millwall that the veteran centre-back was not yet fit to play but claimed that he could be in “one or two more weeks”.
Everton need to make sure that, as soon as he is fit, he is back in the team.
He has played twice for the club this season and they took points from both of those games, against Wolves – though he was sent off in that fixture – and Chelsea.
Restoring him into the XI could also facilitate a change to a five-at-the-back system that would allow Jagielka to slot in beside Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane, thus giving more freedom to the full-backs and adding an extra dimension to the club’s attack.