Sam Allardyce and Marco Silva: English chalk and Portuguese cheese.
“I think you can sense the style we are playing is completely different to what we are used to and I am thoroughly enjoying it,” said Theo Walcott recently.
The Everton winger, and Toffees fans in general, may be interested to see the Football Whispers persona radars for the two spells, with Marco Silva’s brief time on Merseyside (yellow) the one more characterised by long balls.
It’s clear, though, that Everton aren’t just a continuation of an Allardyce side. Their possession share has shot up from 45 per cent to just over 50, despite having played a fair amount of time down by a man.
At the same time, Silva’s side are the team to have won possession in their attacking third the most in the Premier League this season – six times per game, almost double their 3.79 per game under Allardyce).
Whereas last season, the long balls would be the typical Allardyce fare, in the current incarnation they’re more likely balls into space for Theo Walcott or Richarlison (although they won’t be for the latter for the next few games…).
Still, it’s interesting to see Everton as a combination of high pressing and long balls, a surprising mishmash, but probably a sensible route to take. Better to keep some of what the old manager did instead of trying to start completely afresh.
But behind this confusing identity lies some problems.
If you look at both their attacking and their defending, there’s a difference in Everton’s favour of 5.39 expected goals between reality and what the stats suggest is the most likely outcome. Six goals scored against 2.88xG and three conceded (in open play) against 5.27 open play xG faced.
A degree of this will probably be down to playing while down to ten men and with a result to protect – teams understandably take fewer chances and concede more when they’re hanging on.
But things could look a lot different if the bobble of the ball went a different way on just a couple of occasions. The Toffees sit on five points; everyone from eighth downwards has three or fewer.
A Southampton equaliser and Wolverhampton Wanderers or Bournemouth nicking a winner and, far from the promising start it looks like now, the narrative around Everton could be one of Silva in trouble and laughing Sam Allardyce gifs.
Style of play, disciplinary record, results against underlying stats – it all looks a little messier than the table suggests for the Toffees.