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March 2021

Everton v Arsenal: a case study of changing managers

By Tony Attwood

Last month every media outlet this side of Proxima Centuri told us at least 15 times that November was Arsenal’s worst month.  Only one outlet (this one) gave the reason why November was Arsenal’s worst month.

The reason is that whereas in the olden days, the fixture list was drawn at random subject to specific agreed rules (such as Arsenal and Tottenham not playing at home on the same day, clubs generally alternating home and away games etc), now it is deliberately manipulated.

This manipulation is organised for media and promotional purposes so that designated “big” games come up at times of maximum attention, while games likely to get less publicity are shunted into midweek matches in December.  Arsenal have tougher matches in November.

But this time (just before Xmas) is the time for getting rid of unwanted fixtures.  Today we have Everton v Arsenal (which is designated the highlight match of this round) and Bournemouth v Leicester.  Tomorrow it is

West Ham United
Crystal Palace
Manchester United
Manchester City
Stoke City
Tottenham Hotspur
Hull City
West Bromwich Albion
Swansea City

Hardly a highlight among them, and of the top teams Arsenal has the most difficult of the matches, although to be fair we have only lost one of the last 18 against Everton and they are in a bit of a dodgy run.

Everton drew with the Tiny Totts in the first game of the season and then won four in a row to take them ahead of ourselves (which shows how stupid the “only as good as the last game” commentaries are).  After five the table looked like this…

They had three more points than us and a considerably better defence.

Since then they have won just one (against the State Aid Utd club) of the last ten.  Defeats to Bournemouth, Burnley, Chelsea, Southampton and Watford have taken them down the table although amazingly after such a run they are still in the top half.  Just.

Ronald Koeman, who did a fairly nifty job at Southampton has upsized and found out that the Everton team really is a mid-table outfit, with a not particularly balanced squad and a propensity of the board to give into fan protest and sack the manager.   But he is seemingly quite a mild chap and his commentary, “We won’t win every game but one in 10 is under-performing by everybody, including me,” was about as strong as it gets.

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His comments since the last game – a 2-3 away defeat to Watford – thus also make interesting reading and suggest that something is not quite right…

“The problem is now, we have to solve the problem now and we will see if we will fix it,” he said. “We need more balance in the team between individual qualities, football qualities and also physically and mentally. That is what we need to fix but that is not done in one day.

“What does it help if I talk about January or I talk about the summer? What helps the problem right now? That is trying to get the balance of the 11 that start. That is what I need to fix. If I don’t fix it, then you can criticise. No problem.”

That sounds fairly reasonable, but where I wonder about Mr Koeman is with some of his more detailed commentaries in which he has often spoken about the need for his forward line to be more productive (they have scored 19 this season, the same as Swansea) and where he has also be openly critical of individual players – and I am never sure that is the right thing to do.

Ross Barkley, the manager claimed, needs to improve “in all aspects” while Romelu Lukaku’s needs to adapt to a pressing game.  But then Mr Koeman is also quoted (truly or falsely, one can never tell) as saying, “I don’t criticise my team. I protect my players. We need all the players. What you think? That I am criticising all my players? I criticise them now when they need to start tomorrow?… You don’t resolve a problem in two weeks… You think they don’t listen to the manager?”

Everton finished 11th in each of the past two seasons, which makes the whole managerial merry-go-round that the aaa are so anxious for Arsenal to join, look rather silly.  As a result Roberto Martínez was pushed aside Koeman came in.  And for what?   For a manager who seemingly (according to the journos who interviewed him), said, “OK, I understand, but I don’t understand you.”

So how has Everton bought into the mess that the managerial merry-go-round invariably delivers?   The obvious reason is by believing the journalistic tripe that some fans honestly believe which says changing managers works.  Here is a list of Everton managers since 1990.  The final column shows the relative success position of all the permanent managers measured by win percentages.

Manager Started Ended P W D L Win% Pos
Howard Kendall Nov 1990 Dec 1993 162 63 40 59 38.9 4
Jimmy Gabriel* Dec 1993 Jan 1994 7 0 1 6 0.0
Mike Walker Jan 1994 Nov 1994 35 6 11 18 17.1 8
Joe Royle** Nov 1994 Mar 1997 123 48 39 36 39.0 3
Dave Watson* April 1997 May 1997 7 1 3 3 14.3
Howard Kendall June 1997 May 1998 42 11 13 18 26.2 7
Walter Smith Aug 1998 Mar 2002 173 56 50 67 32.4 6
David Moyes Mar 2002 May 2013 516 217 139 160 42.1 2
Roberto Martínez August 2013 May 2016 140 60 39 41 42.9 1
David Unsworth* May 2016 May 2016 1 1 0 0 100.0
Ronald Koeman June 2016 Present 15 5 5 5 33.3 5

* Temp manager

** Won FA Cup and Charity Shield

Looking at this table above we can see that in terms of league win percentages Roberto Martínez was the most successful Everton manager during the reign of Mr Wenger (which is what the table above covers).  Yet on 12 May 2016, Roberto Martínez was sacked by the club following protests by the Everton version of the aaa (presumably the AEE).  And that after he had taken the club to the semi-finals of both domestic cups in that season.

What on earth can we make of such insanity?   You have a club that has been going nowhere for a long time, you find the most successful manager in terms of league win percentage for a long time, a manager who also gets the club to two semi-finals, and then sack him.   Because some of the fans say so.

It is as if the Everton board had looked at Tottenham’s approach and thought “we’ll have some of that” and then got the same result.  Yes eventually you might get a winner, but most of the time you just get more of the same.

The latest in the long line of Everton managers however has described in detail his team’s failings at Watford in the last game saying, “First of all, you must understand that, in the Premier League, physicality is an important factor.   It doesn’t start with quality on the ball and these kind of teams are different to ours. Or course we can do more, we need to do more, we need more aggression, I agree, but we have different players to Watford or Burnley or others.

“Every team who doesn’t have that physicality will struggle. The best example I can give you is Manchester City. I don’t compare Everton to Manchester City but Everton is selected on the qualities of the players and not about the physicality of the players. That’s the way of football, that’s why we struggle against these kind of teams.”

Everton will now probably change their line up – they have Bolasie, Besic and Pennington out on long term injuries but that’s it.   Ross Barkley, Aaron Lennon and Enner Valencia might return, or maybe not.

Interestingly both Arsenal and Everton have one thing in common.  Arsenal are unbeaten away since last March when we lost to Barcelona.  Everton are unbeaten at home since last March when they were beaten by Arsenal.   Here’s the current league table to contrast with that one above…

Arsenal with five wins and two draws away, Everton with three wins and four draws at home.  Arsenal scored 18 and let in five away, Everton scored 10 and let in five at home.

A final note

  • Everton have not conceded a goal in just one of their last 11 Premier League fixtures.
  • Mr Koeman is unbeaten in all five home matches as a manager against Arsene Wenger for Ajax, PSV, AZ Alkmaar and Southampton.
  • Romelu Lukaku has scored nine and had three assists in Everton’s last 15 goals.

Maybe it won’t be so easy.

Next up, the teams.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 


Everton v Arsenal Tuesday 13 December 2016. The Match Officials

Wenger May Not Be Special But He’s Definitely Something More …

The live report of the CL draw

What are the actual benefits of topping the Champions League group this season?

Over half the important decisions made by Premier League referees are wrong.

The most grotesque appalling display by a referee; the most disgraceful awful fans.



5 comments to Everton v Arsenal: a case study of changing managers

  • A very good comprehensive observation.
    What you omitted: Martinez had taken Wigan into the Champions .
    Everton were being taken into a relegation struggle. Everton fans wanted a change of manager long before it happened as most did not want Martinez to begin with.
    In a similar situation a any club, the manager might have walked, before he was pushed.

    Had Everton replaced the manager earlier the present situation might have been averted , with a new management team having more time to access and replace failing players. Bobby

  • razac

    nice write up Mr Tony……lets keep the faith tonight

  • Stefan

    Everton will meet Arsenal in today’s game played at Goodison Park Stadium. In their last meeting, Arsenal won the match with 0-2. I wonder if Wenger’s team prepared us with a surprise for today. Based on the past results of the two teams, I would expect for Arsenal to perform well during this meeting and win this game. It should be interesting to see if Alexis Sánchez will score during this match as he has a good average in terms of goals scored / match. If you have some knowledge regarding football, you can share your opinion using the Betsafe review.

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    I think the main reason behind Everton replacing Roberto Martinez with Ronald Koeman was they went overboard in their ambitions to get a forth place finishing in the table. And thought Koeman will do that for them. When Martinez had a problem on the field as his team became relegation threatened, the Everton board got a disguise excuse to sack him instead of to be patient with him to turn things around.

    In as much as Ronald Koeman is thinking of having a balance in his starting XI and couple with the facts he’s yet to lose a PL game at home this season and he hasn’t yet lose a game at home to Le Prof in his managerial career, I have bad news for him. For tonight, all these his unbeaten home records he’s been holding on to, will all be blown off in a puff of smoke tonight at the Goodison Park as the Gunners will for sure dealt his Toffees XI a blow before his own very eyes with a crushing scoreline defeat of, Everton 0-3 Arsenal @FT +.

  • Yommex

    Eddie Howe is the second longest serving manager in charge of a Premiership side (4+ years), although it is just his second year in the Premier League but he is not doing badly. The point is that you sometimes may have to be wrong before you get it right. Managers should be given time to make mistakes and learn from them so as to be able to move the team forward. Unfortunately, the trend is for instant success as with most other things in life now and not many chairmen are wiling to buck the trend. They always adopt the seeming easy road to success by pumping so much money that they cannot afford into the team to buy success which obviously does not last.
    All the clubs cannot be Arsenal anyway