Sam Allardyce

Making sense of the Silva firing: Should’ve let him walk?

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Watford fired manager Marco Silva on Sunday, blaming Everton’s recruitment of the Portuguese boss for his failure, and it seems his replacement has already been identified as Javi Gracia.

I mean, holy smoke: So much for “easy like Sunday morning.”

The Hornets have been poor for some time, and their drop from chasing an unlikely European position to a spot on the fringes of the relegation race does stretch back to time Everton was repeatedly asking to hire Silva.

Funny thing: Perhaps letting him walk would’ve been the right decision.

What Silva did in the first quarter of this season and his lauded attempt to save Hull City last season may recall his overachievement at Estoril in Portugal, but the 40-year-old worked wonders at league powers Sporting CP and Olympiacos.

In the case of the latter, Silva led Thrylos to an absurd record of 38W-3D-7L before quitting after one season.

There’s another piece of the puzzle to consider, too: Watford under owner Gino Pozzo has been quick to change manager, which is a sign the club values — to quote longtime Buffalo basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon — “Jims and Joes more than x’s and o’s.”

As Sam Allardyce, the man who was hired by Everton, has joined Ronald Koeman as bosses unable to get the Toffees’ talented roster humming, it’s worth asking whether both Watford and Everton would’ve been better off had the Silva “transfer” went down at Goodison Park.

Watford has eight losses in 11 matches, handing three points to a variety of teams who’ve struggled to find wins this season: Swansea City, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Huddersfield Town. The Hornets have also drawn Southampton.

Everton under both Koeman and Allardyce has done the opposite: the Toffees have too much talent to religiously fail against the lower clubs. This season, which also saw a short run for caretaker boss David Unsworth, their wins are over Stoke City, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle and Swansea.

The Toffees big slump has seen a pair of draws with woeful West Bromwich Albion and a loss at Bournemouth.

Which brings us back to Watford under Silva. Despite its long slump, the club is performing in a way more suited for Everton’s talent than the Hornets’ bunch (which certainly isn’t poor). Consider:

Consider that Watford has 49.5 percent possession on the season, behind only Man City, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Southampton (Everton has 46.4 and that number has regressed under Allardyce).

Also, Watford is ahead of Everton in pass completion percentage, shots per game, goals, shots allowed per game, and dribbles per game.

All this with the Toffees getting some of the finest goalkeeper performances in the league from Jordan Pickford. His 81 saves are second to Lukasz Fabianski and his seven in the six-yard box are joint-top with Mat Ryan.

So, yeah, Everton probably had the right idea in trying to get Silva, who was obviously interested in the job. The Toffees’ buys of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott are only going to up the ante at Goodison Park, and Allardyce does not have the record of getting talent to reach its potential (at least not in a decade).

Everton’s top performers this year according to advanced stats sites WhoScored and Squawka are ranked 82nd in the Premier League (Mason Holgate) and 103rd in the league (Ashley Williams), respectively.

All this goes to not just say that Silva has done a decent job at Watford, but beg why they’ve decided to fire the boss midway through a transfer window. And considering the Hornets would’ve received compensation of some sort for the move, it’s even more of a head scratcher

Pardew, Allardyce react to gruesome McCarthy injury

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West Brom forward Salomon Rondon had a fine match with a fearful moment in the Baggies’ 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday, days after trailblazing club legend Cyrille Regis passed away at 59.

“He was the outstanding player on the pitch today and big Cyrille Regis would’ve been proud of him out there today,” Pardew said. “It was a fitting tribute and a great performance from Salomon.”

The Venezuelan nearly scored a few times and deserved an assist, too, but it was his fierce shot attempt that caused a double leg break for would-be shot blocker James McCarthy. The injured player was stretchered off and given oxygen during an extended pause in play.

Toffees boss Sam Allardyce said it’s a double fracture for McCarthy, blaming his players for the injury (“It was our own fault and our own stupid play in that area, James recovered brilliantly to stop a goal but suffered because of it,” he said).

West Brom manager Alan Pardew was left to comfort a tearful Rondon after the injury, and said the striker experienced the gruesome injury with multiple senses. From the BBC:

“I saw his reaction [to McCarthy’s injury] straight away, he must’ve heard something, sometimes it does really affect you and it did it take us a while to get him round and focused again. It took him a little while, but he got there in the end and almost won it for us. Our thoughts go with James and we wish a speedy recovery to him.”

Everton completes move for Walcott: ‘I’m dead excited’

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Everton continues to supply its managers with top-end talent, adding Theo Walcott to its expensive season of boys which includes Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney, Cenk Tosun, Jordan Pickford, and Michael Keane.

[ MORE: Plenty to prove for Big Sam ]

The deal is reported to be near $28 million for Walcott, who’s made only a half-dozen Premier League appearances this season but did nab three goals in five Europa League matches.

Walcott, 28, scored 108 goals in 397 appearances for the Gunners. His 19-goal campaign last season was his second-best — he scored 21 in 2012-13 — but Walcott dipped down Arsene Wenger‘s depth charge and is leaving to pursue regular football.

And his comments will be lapped up by the #WengerOut brigade at his now former club:

“The Club has won trophies but I want them to win trophies now. The manager is very hungry and it’s just what I need. I’ve had a couple of chats with him and straightaway I felt that hunger and that desire that he wanted from me. I need that and I wanted that

The move is another exciting one for Everton, which has underachieved under Ronald Koeman and now Sam Allardyce. And it’s another sale from Arsenal which gives pause: Are the underperforming Gunners going to regret the move?

In the 2005-06 season, Walcott made his Southampton debut in the Football League Championship at the age of 16, and moved to Arsenal the next season.

Walcott has eight goals in 47 caps for England, and won two FA Cups at Arsenal.

[ MORE: Montreal nabs Algerian DP ]

Here is a useful quote from Sam Allardyce:“His physical output is excellent, he would be one of our top players in that area as well, which will hopefully bring us a lot more excitement and more ability to get forward quicker and create.

And here is an utterly useless one: ““If you analyse his goal record, then we are looking at a player who contributes goals on a regular basis.”

You don’t say. To paraphrase: If you look at all his goals, he regularly scores goals. Here’s more from the player on his move.

Time for Allardyce to prove himself as Everton manager

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It was an easy decision for Sam “never been relegated” Allardyce to take over a talented Everton ship that was not in the drop zone and was never going to be sent down to the Championship.

If it was easy for the Toffees to settle on him, however, it shouldn’t have been, and now Everton is reaping the problems that come with hiring the embattled English boss.

Everton has lost three-straight matches to dip seven points behind the seventh place, the same amount of points it sits above the drop zone.

[ PL PLAYBACK: Man City blueprint, Alexis, VAR, relegation ]

The club’s last match before Allardyce took over saw the Toffees smash West Ham United 4-0 to move into 14th place in the Premier League.

It started a run of decent results, including three wins and draws against Liverpool and Chelsea.

Upon further review, however, there are some alarming notes in the results.

— Everton’s three wins under Big Sam are against Huddersfield Town (14th), Newcastle United (15th) , and Swansea City (20th).

— It’s also drawn West Brom (19th place) and lost to Bournemouth (13th).

Allardyce’s last two losses, to Manchester United and Spurs, are of course totally understandable.

[ MORE: Spurs 4-0 Everton | 2 Robbies discuss ]

But any dig into traditional statistics should be frightening to Toffees supporters, who have seen their club fail to register a shot on target in 2018, and in three of nine league matches under Allardyce.

They’ve out-attempted the opposition just twice in that span. Overall, these are numbers. First is shots attempted, the second is shots on target, the third is possession.

Huddersfield (H) – 6-5, 4-3, 47 percent
Liverpool (A) – 3-23, 2-3, 21 percent
Newcastle (A) – 7-16, 4-4, 45 percent
Swansea (H) – 12-8, 7-3, 51 percent
Chelsea (H)  – 5-25, 0-8, 32 percent
West Brom (A) – 7-17, 3-3, 47 percent
Bournemouth (A) – 6-18, 1-7, 47 percent
Man Utd (H) – 12-21, 0-6, 40 percent
Spurs (A) – 7-20, 0-10, 38 percent
TOTAL – Outshot 153-65, 47-21 on target, 40.8 avg. possession

Those numbers are awful.

West Brom (H) and Leicester City (H) are next, followed by a three-match February against Arsenal (A), Crystal Palace (H), and Watford (A). Given the talent on Everton’s squad and the club’s clear ambition, there isn’t a game outside of Arsenal — whose strength in February is a variable — in which the Toffees should not have have a chance at, if not a probability of, most of the ball and most of the shots.

Again, Everton is not going down. Any discussion of this, especially from its manager, is a huge bit of misdirection. Given the tight nature of the league and the teams angling for seventh — Burnley, Leicester, and West Ham among them — Everton has a legit shot at Europe (assuming a Top Six team wins the League Cup or FA Cup, which looks 99.9 percent certain in the case of the former).

[ MORE: Liverpool 4-3 Man City | 3 things ] 

Is it reasonable to think Allardyce should be able to outperform Burnley by eight points the rest of the way? Reasonable, yes. Better than Leicester by five? Iffy. But being caught by Watford, Crystal Palace, or West Ham would be a failure.

When you consider that Allardyce received so much credit for Palace’s turnaround last season after a number of influential January buys, and that he also led West Ham under similar criticisms to this post, that failure could be magnified in a significant way.

Allardyce considers his record beyond reproach, and it’s a decent one to be sure. Additionally, it’s no secret that this writer has long been skeptical of his record salesmanship.

But these next few months, with new striker Cenk Tosun in tow, are one of the bigger tests of his career: taking a talented group and turning it into a very good team. Nothing else should be acceptable. Remember: Everton was out of the drop zone when he took over and relegation concerns were almost always laughable.

“Never been relegated?” That’s fine, but Allardyce is a decade removed from leading Bolton into Europe and hasn’t won more than 38 percent of his matches at any stop since leaving the Wanderers. At some point, more people will mention the emperor’s lack of clothes if he can’t don some fine fashion.

Allardyce: We better get a scorer, or we’ll have to grind out points

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Sam Allardyce is dealing with his first difficult run as Everton boss, the Toffees now winless in four matches following a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United.

His side has scored once in those four matches, two against relegation battlers, and Big Sam’s putting it down to Everton’s lack of a top class striker.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho reacts ]

“No shot on target? That’s normal for us,” he said. “We know where our problems are, the club knew before I got here that was the problem. We’re trying to cure that in this window by getting a frontline that can threaten and score goals. Until then we have to be a team who can only win if we get a clean sheet, for me.”

Everton was in 13th place when Allardyce first hit the dugout for a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town. The Toffees have since, in no order, drawn Liverpool, Chelsea, and West Brom, beating Newcastle and Swansea, while losing to Bournemouth and Manchester United.

They’re still ninth, nine points clear of the drop zone, and have Spurs, West Brom, and Leicester next, the latter two at home. If form follows and Allardyce sees his men lose to Spurs but beat West Brom, that visit from Leicester City will be huge in separating the two sides (as well as 10th place Watford, who has a match-in-hand and will play the Foxes in that span.

Allardyce has done a very good job at shoring up what was a porous defensive unit, but hasn’t found a way to manufacture goals. Winger Yannick Bolasie agreed:

“It’s been known we probably need a striker,” he said. “It’s a difficult job for any club to replace Romelu Lukaku. It’s obvious but I’m not the manager.”

He says he’ll know within 24 hours whether the club’s big Cenk Tosun recruiting push comes through for him.

The latter is going to be enough to keep Everton up, but the latter may put Alladyce in the same position he was at West Ham: unable to make an ambitious side into a top performer.