We need to talk about Kevin…
…and Yannick, and Aaron, and Gerard.
Our wingers are inconsistent.
And yes, this has been a problem for a while, it’s nothing new.
We boast a long list of frustrating but skilled wide boys at Everton. From Andy van der Meyde to Jesper Blomqvist to Aiden McGeady and Royston Drenthe, all capable of jaw dropping skill and tear-your-hair-out profligacy.
Our current crop are in that mould too… If you could permanently coax their potential out of its shell we’d be lodged in the top four. But we can’t. Is it a fruitless quest? Can the conditions ever be right for them to succeed? At times it seems like we’re trying to get fussy Pandas to f*ck.
For me Kevin Mirallas is the trickiest of the lot. He can do so well and offer so much, and that’s the problem with all these players. No matter how ineffective they are we can’t forget their moments of brilliance. His solo goals, his outrageous long distance shots, his assists are so exhilarating, but are often outweighed by his patchy form and his silly – often violent – tackles when he feels things aren’t going his way.
Bolasie doesn’t have a cool head either, but it takes a different form. His final ball is often final, ending attacks and ballooning out of play. Yet he’s already doing better in terms of assists than he did down in South London, and I suspect that Koeman is gambling that he can get even more out of him. Bolasie also has the additional advantage, not enjoyed by the other three wingers mentioned here, of being a Koeman signing.
Quite what our straight-talking 53 year old European Cup winning Barca legend makes of the enigmatic Gerard Deulofeu is open to debate. Martinez used reverential tones when talking about Barcelona, but for Koeman it is a reality. Being the latest great wide hope to come out of La Masia won’t impress him as much as it did Roberto. I’ve never seen a player get into such fantastic positions and then blow it. Skilled, fast, unpredictable, and acclaimed by Lukaku as “the supplier” – when he’s good he’s very, very good. But when he’s bad, he’s horrid.
Last of all comes Aaron Lennon, he of the miserable photos and ridiculous pace. I’m a Lennon fan, I think he needs to be played more, and since Martinez brought him in he has broadly been our best and most consistent winger. Then Saturday happened. Brought into the starting lineup after the Chelsea disaster, you’d think little Aaron and his chin fuzz would grasp the chance with both hands. Frustratingly, Lennon was anonymous against Swansea, perhaps giving a small window into why Koeman seemed so reluctant to pick him in the first place.
Koeman’s recent comments* about our attack being more worrying than our defence also add to this, and surely he’s eyeing some January reinforcements.
In some ways this has been a decades long search, featuring a long list of recalcitrant wingers. In truth, only a few true Premier League successes in that position come to mind: Andrei Kanchelskis, and perhaps Anders Limpar?
If Ronald doesn’t get these pandas in the mood soon, or some could well be heading for the exit…
Premier League: Saturday 11 February (15:00); Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium
Saturday 25 February (15:00); Sunderland at Goodison