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.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images
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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.