On Tuesday night Everton suffered a very surprising 2-0 home defeat against Championship Norwich City in the third round of the EFL Cup.
The loss will have come as a shock to many, including the visitors considering the Toffees stellar start to their campaign.
The reality is that the six changes Ronald Koeman made to his starting line-up cost the Toffees dearly.
Everton have been very solid at the back and good going forward in the Premier League, but there is a major question mark remains over their squad depth.
Just not good enough
Norwich deserves credit, as the Canaries boss Alex Neil also made ten changes to his team. The side from Norfolk’s priorities lie in regaining their top-flight status, so Neil probably felt like sacrificing this competition.
Fortunately for the Canaries, the starting eleven that Koeman put out were just not good enough. The dynamism and solidarity of the league campaign went out of the window and exposed Everton’s relative lack of squad options.
There are some players that probably cannot believe their luck by being at Everton, for example, former-England midfielder Tom Cleverley. Not only did he come through the United youth system he managed to secure a move to Everton as well, having enjoyed a brief spell on-loan at Aston Villa.
A number of Everton fans were asking the same question as me last night, what exactly does the midfielder offer a team? He is not a defensive midfield destroyer and he is definitely not a dynamic attacking midfielder. What is his purpose?
Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia joining Everton on loan on deadline day was greeted with delight, by the West Ham fans that is.
One of whom just happens to be a good friend of mine said ‘He would drive him to Merseyside himself’ offering a further quip of ‘He can’t shoot, pass or tackle, but apart from that he is okay’
Those words were not exactly encouraging for me as an Evertonian. The striker was brought in as a back-up to first choice striker Romelu Lukaku and hopefully, he will not see much game time, because so far he is not doing a very job of disproving my friend’s assessment.
They were not the only players to disappoint against Norwich and Valencia had an effort cleared off the line, but in my humble opinion neither will be good enough for Everton in the long-run if the Toffees are going to move forward in the future.
Koeman is right to calm expectations
Everton boss Koeman had to recently move to dismiss suggestions that the Toffees could be in the title race, stating that other teams had more quality. The Dutchman is right. Everton are in far better shape than they were under Roberto Martinez, as they can defend and attack, instead of just attacking and forgetting about the defending part.
Everton’s first eleven now has a nice balance, but the problem is beyond the first 15 or 16 players in the Toffees squad there is little quality cover. Last night’s defeat will have taught Koeman a lot of things about his squad and some players are unlikely to be picked again in a hurry.
It is difficult for Everton fans not to get excited about their team. They are second in the Premier League table, having won four of their five games this season, albeit with a kind run of fixtures.
Koeman may have improved things within the team, but the Dutchman will not be able to work miracles overnight. In many ways the defeat may be a good thing, as the players will not be complacent for Saturday’s game at Bournemouth and Koeman will no doubt be working the players even harder in training.
A top six finish is realistic
I know we live in an age where Leicester City won the Premier League, but us Evertonians are generally realistic about our team.
The Toffees have an outside chance of making the top four in the Premier League, but a more realistic aim is a top six finish, which the Merseysiders are odds of 7/4 to achieve.
Ronald Koeman has made a good solid start on Merseyside, but he will know that the work has only just begun as he attempts to awaken a sleeping giant of English football.
Will defeat against Norwich derail Everton’s season?