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Five reasons to be worried following Everton’s shocking start to the season

Rob Meech

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Everton

Everton had been tipped to challenge the Premier League elite this season, following their huge summer spending spree. However, that wave of optimism has been crushed by negativity following the Toffees’ opening seven fixtures, which have yielded just two victories and seven points.

Currently down in 16th, the pressure is already mounting on manager Ronald Koeman, of whom much more was expected. Here are five reasons why Everton supporters should be concerned.

Romelu Lukaku’s goals have not been replaced

Everton were over-reliant on Romelu Lukaku last season and his departure has been keenly felt. The Belgian, who joined Manchester United for £75 million in the summer, scored 25 times for the Toffees last term. Despite having splashed out more than £100 million in the transfer window, Koeman did not replace Lukaku with a proven goalscorer.

The Merseyside outfit did sign attacking players, including former England’s all-time record scorer Wayne Rooney and Sandro Ramirez from Malaga, but they don’t have a player who will guarantee 20+ goals. With just four from seven matches thus far, it is abundantly clear where their major issue lies.

Ronald Koeman doesn’t yet know his best team

Such has been the overhaul of Everton’s squad that Koeman appears to be unsure of his preferred starting XI. Particularly in attack, the manager has trialled several combinations and formations, none of which has borne fruit. Rooney has been deployed as a number nine and number 10, to varying effect, while Gylfi Sigurdsson has yet to hit the heights he reached for Swansea.

Furthermore, Koeman has too many attacking midfielders who perform similar roles – and shoe-horning them all into the side has not worked. As such, many of Everton’s displays have been disjointed.

A lack of confidence has infected the squad

Miserable results give rise to a lack of confidence, which makes it even harder to get out of a slump. It is a vicious circle and one in which Everton are presently trapped. Confidence issues are often manifested in the brand of football being played. As quoted in The Guardian, following their disappointing 1-1 draw with Apollon Limassol in the Europa league, Koeman said that his side were ‘scared to play’.

Instead of trusting their ability, the Toffees are fearful of making mistakes – causing them to take the easy option. It is a mindset from which they need to free themselves. One positive result might be all it takes to break the cycle, however.

Ashley Williams looks out of sorts 

As well as their failure to find the net regularly enough, Everton have also struggled at the other end of the pitch. Although it would be unfair to single out any individual, it’s fair to say the form of Ashley Williams is a cause for concern. The Wales skipper has looked off the pace this season and failed to forge a solid partnership with new arrival Michael Keane.

Now 33 years of age, could it be that time is beginning to catch up on a player who was a wonderful servant to Swansea? Unfortunately for Koeman, who made Williams one of his first signings as Everton manager, he is short of options in central defence with injuries to Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes-Mori.

European adventure is a negative distraction

By virtue of finishing seventh last season, Everton qualified for the Europa League. Although playing in Europe should be embraced, it can sometimes be to the club’s detriment – as illustrated by Tottenham Hotspur in previous campaigns. Playing so many matches in far-flung places across the continent can take its toll, both physically and mentally.

The congested fixture list has afforded the Toffees no escape and no chance to put things right on the training ground. Playing on Thursday nights has also disrupted their domestic schedule, with Premier League games having to be moved to Sunday. There has been no rhythm to their campaign thus far.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Everton

Everton should forget Luis Muriel and target his team-mate Wissam Ben Yedder instead

Everton are said to be interested in the Colombian striker again this summer.

Mathew Coull

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Everton are reportedly interested in the signature of Sevilla striker Luis Muriel. It is being reported in Spain that the Toffees are keen on signing the Colombian international this summer in order to strengthen their attacking options.

Fichajes and Estadio Deportivo in Spain have both reported the news and Everton have of course been linked before. Last summer, before Muriel made his switch to Spain it was reported by numerous sources, including Marca, that Everton wanted to bring the forward in from Sampdoria.

On the one hand, Everton fans will be happy the club are looking into new recruits for next season. However, Muriel is not the player at Sevilla that Everton should be targeting.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

The 27-year-old managed just nine goals and four assists in 46 appearances for the Spanish side last season. That sort of form should hardly have Everton reaching for the chequebook.

If Everton are going to look at a forward from Sevilla, then they should be targeting French striker Wissam Ben Yedder instead.

The 27-year-old has been a far more impressive player this season, despite often coming on from the bench. He scored 22 goals and assisted five in 42 games, a much better rate than the man Everton are apparently chasing.

He also clearly loves English opposition. He scored a famous double against Manchester United to knock the Red Devils out of the Champions League and also scored three times in two appearances against Everton’s Merseyside rivals Liverpool in the Group Stage.

(Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Everton do need to make improvements across the camp, but it is hard to see how Muriel would make a significant difference to the Everton strikeforce.

Ben Yedder, on the other hand, would be a much more impactful arrival and he could hopefully continue his fine form against English sides but in an Everton kit.

With talk of Everton flop Sandro Ramirez heading the other way as part of the Muriel deal a fee could easily be negotiated to bring in the French forward.

If Everton are targeting a Sevilla striker this summer, then Ben Yedder is the man they should be going for, not Muriel.

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Everton’s pursuit of Tom Pearce shows lack of confidence in Antonee Robinson

Everton are in the hunt for the Leeds youngster but already have a player of similar ability.

Mathew Coull

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It seems as though change is afoot in the left-back position at Everton. Leighton Baines could be ending his 11-year stay at Goodison Park and Luke Garbutt is also set to leave the club. Everton were already low in the left-back position, so new signings need to be made.

One player who has been linked with a move to Everton is Leeds United youngster Tom Pearce. The 20-year-old is out of contract at Leeds and Everton are hopeful of convincing the Ormskirk-born talent to head back to Merseyside. He spent his youth in the Everton academy, before leaving for Leeds in 2014.

Pearce has performed well for Leeds since entering the first-team and it appears Everton are ready to bring him home.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

But the pursuit of Pearce must surely not sit well with one of their current talents. Antonee Robinson looks like being a potential future star for Everton if given the right opportunity.

This season has been something of a breakout for the 20-year-old. He played 34 times for Bolton Wanderers during a loan spell this season. His form was so impressive that he even received a national team call-up. He was in the United States national team squad for the March fixture with Panama but did not receive his first cap for his country.

But the pursuit of Pearce certainly sends out the wrong message to Robinson. Both players are the same age, play in the exact same position and had breakout years in the Championship last term.

(during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Leeds United at Villa Park on April 13, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

Everton however, instead of giving Robinson a chance in the first-team next season, were prepared to replace him with an identical player.

Robinson may need another season out on loan to eventually go on and become a regular for Everton. But bringing in someone who would, effectively, replace him makes little sense.

It is hardly a strong tactic toward building up the confidence of one of your young talents.

Robinson should be getting the chance to show what he can offer before Everton bring in another player and push him down the pecking order.

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Everton must swoop with Milan set to let Ricardo Rodriguez go

Everton are looking for a long-term replacement to Leighton Baines.

Mathew Coull

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It seems as though Ricardo Rodriguez could be on his way out of AC Milan after just one season at the San Siro. According to a report from Calcio News 24 the Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso is not convinced by the Swiss international and is prepared to let him go in the summer. Tutto Mercato Web also reports a similar view. They believe Milan will sign Cristiano Biraghi from Fiorentina this summer to replace the left-back, with Rodriguez a target for Borussia Dortmund.

Rodriguez was signed last summer from VfL Wolfsburg. Rated as one of the best left-backs in the world during his time at the German club, Milan paid a fee in the region of £13 million to bring him to Italy, as reported by the Daily Mail, potentially rising to £15.6 million.

(Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

That was seen as a bargain at the time and, even at a more expensive price, Everton should be taking note.

It seems that after 11 years Everton legend Leighton Baines has decided he will leave Goodison Park this summer. He is said to be keen on a move to MLS and will leave as perhaps one of the club’s greatest ever full-backs.

But his exit leaves a chasm in the left-back position. Everton are believed to be keen in Leeds youngster Tom Pearce, but still need a first-team replacement for the departing England international.

(Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Rodriguez is almost a carbon copy of Baines. A left-back who can do his defensive duties, but also adds an extra dimension in attack.

The Swiss star has an excellent delivery and will chip in with assists in a similar style to Baines. He is also a set-piece specialist, like Baines. Free-kicks and penalties often represent a chance for the 25-year-old to get on the scoresheet.

This season has not been Rodriguez’s best. With just two assists, both coming in the Europa League, the defensive style of Milan’s play has stifled his attacking streak.

But Rodriguez is perhaps a better defender than Baines and would fit into the Premier League with relative ease.

If Everton were looking for a replacement for Baines, then Milan have just handed them the perfect option on a plate if they move fast.

Securing Rodriguez’s signature before the World Cup would be a massive coup for Everton, and perhaps solve the problem of replacing Baines in the long-term.

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