Everton analysis - Fan scenes speak volumes as duo conspicuous by their absence

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Fan feelings shown

The post-match period showed scenes that the Everton board cannot ignore.

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It would be wrong to say that it’s the whole fanbase but there’s a growing amount of discontent in the stands and that was evident long after Craig Pawson had brought Saturday’s match to an end.

A banner was flown over the stadium, a number of supporters stayed in both the Gwladys Street and Park End, and Bill Kenwright was confronted by fans outside the main reception of Goodison Park.

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This feeling of unrest was apparent before the sacking of Rafa Benitez – and anyone who thought it would simply dissipate with the former Liverpool manager’s departure was naïve.

The sentiment that the club is not being run in the right manner has been prevalent in some quarters for a while but has started to come to a head over the course of this season.

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Anger in some supporters is palpable but it hasn’t got to that stage for everybody yet. Even the writing of this column might spark some disagreement – either with the message or the methods used to get it across.

There will hardly ever be a true consensus among fans for something so contentious.

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What must be said, however, is that this protest made a much bigger impact than the walk-out in the 27th minute of the game against Arsenal.

Both protested the same thing – the running of the club. These fans are urging Farhad Moshiri to make changes to the Blues’ structure – including the personnel on the board of directors.

None of those people stayed behind after the game to see the fans and hear the chants from both sides of the stadium.

Those views can’t be ignored, however, with Moshiri’s statement earlier in the week being seen by this group of supporters as shirking around the issue.

The failures that Everton are showing on the pitch are a direct correlation of a scattergun strategy above them. How many managers signed the 11 players that took to the field for Everton against Aston Villa?

Some fans are sick of and this will probably not be the last protest before the end of this season if nothing changes.

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Communication has to be a cornerstone of improving things in the future, and that comes from everyone involved with the club. You can’t turn a blind eye to the views of these supporters, even if it is true that not every Blue is of the same view.

Kenwright was confronted by fans after leaving the stadium, who attempted as best they could to speak one-at-a-time to get some points across to the chairman.

Meanwhile, inside the stadium, as the players filtered out of the ground, Seamus Coleman refused to go over to the smattering of fans still left on the Gwladys Street – and he was met by boos for that decision as he talked with someone in the family enclosure.

Jonjoe Kenny then came out of the tunnel and did speak to the fans. It’s not clear what he said, but he was applauded for his gesture.

Communication is key. Understanding all supporters should be key for a football club, and if some have problems with the way things are run then they should at the very least be listened to.

Duncan Ferguson said it himself in his post-match press conference, remarking: “Fans for me can protest and say what they want, because it’s their club at the end of the day. I know how sick they are, believe me, I’m gutted as much as them.

“There are fans that are not happy, that’s their right.”

We’ll wait and see what happens next.

Defensive conundrums

So, turning to matters on the pitch, similar issues were still cropping up for Everton.

Conceding from a set-piece is not uncommon to Blues fans this season but they probably didn’t expect Lucas Digne to be supplying the dangerous cross into the box working against them.

It’s, of course, interesting to note that the Frenchman was taken off set-pieces earlier in the campaign by Benitez.

But, the defensive line-up still is not where many Evertonians expected it to be, with the personnel taking to the field on Saturday perhaps being a surprise to many.

Kenny took up a position at right-back with Mason Holgate taking a place in the centre of defence, with Michael Keane dropping to the bench as many might have expected.

The pair who came into the line-up were solid enough, in a no-nonsense kind of way.

Perhaps the message across the side might have been to play the percentages and not take too many unnecessary risks, as there were some moments in which players chose to go backwards rather than attempt a forward pass.

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Kenny particularly irked some supporters in that sense, but he did play some nice passes into the final third on other occasions too – not least finding Abdoulaye Doucoure inside the box in the second half with one.

Holgate has been out-of-form this term, but he seemed to look more comfortable in a system which had him playing back to basics.

One particular interception very early in the second half, stopping Villa getting dangerously in behind, was the highlight of his game.

But there’s still something missing from the defence. There still wasn’t a real sense of collective organisation or solidity about them as a unit.

Perhaps Nathan Patterson and Vitalii Mykolenko can provide that in the future but they were conspicuous by their absence on Saturday afternoon.

The latter certainly travelled with his team-mates but neither were eventually part of the squad with Ferguson providing no hints as to why in his post-match press conference.

Whatever the missing link at the back is for Everton at the minute, they need to find it fast.

Some positives

There were some positives to take from this display despite the scoreline and the general mood that was left. It’s worth highlighting them.

Anthony Gordon is the standout after he once again impressed with his display from the bench.

He’s fast becoming one of the first names on the team sheet for many fans. His physicality is improving every week, he puts his heart and soul into every display, and he’s a nightmare for defenders to deal with.

His cross into the box for Dominic Calvert-Lewin really should have been buried by the striker – and you hope that with match-fitness that sharpness in front of goal will come for the England international once more.

With Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison getting back to their best levels after injuries, it will certainly make Everton more of a potent attacking force, if they can find a way to regularly supply the strikers with chances.

A note in this section needs to be saved for Jordan Pickford as well.

In many ways, it’s so unlucky that he got fingertips on Emiliano Buendia’s winning header, as Andros Townsend was ready on the line to head it clear.

However, Pickford had produced a number of top quality saves in that first half to keep the hosts at bay, not least from an attempt which would have been ruled out for offside anyway.

When the ball was chipped to Ollie Watkins at the back post, you were just waiting for the net to bulge. But the England No.1’s lightning reflexes made sure he kept it out with his leg before the flag went up.

Again, he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

Managerial need

Everton head into the break with some hugely important decisions to be made.

Do they appoint a permanent manager quickly? Do they give Ferguson more time to see what he can get from the squad?

These are crucial questions that need to be asked, because realistically the club cannot keep going in the way that it is.

Everton are mired in a relegation fight as things stand. They might have games in hand on some teams around them, but they drastically need to turn those into points on the board.

The club has a break to assess its options and decide what to do in the near future but this has to be the right decision.

The upcoming run of games against sides in the bottom half of the table are where the Blues can potentially make their climb out of trouble – and they need to capitalise on that as much as possible.

It hardly bears thinking about what might happen if the wrong choice is made.

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