Opposition Focus: Everton


Image: Everton FC via Getty

In this week’s Opposition Focus, Matt Wiggins spoke to John from The Toffee Blues to get an Everton perspective ahead of Sunday’s lunchtime kick off at Craven Cottage…

Fulham vs Everton, what comes to mind when you think of this fixture from years gone by?

Fulham is always a funny old fixture to me when ever it pops into my head. For some reason I always tend to think of the last game of the season in the 08/09 season Leon Osman scored both in a 2-0 win for us, it must of been because of the FA Cup hype that season since we played Chelsea in the FA Cup final 6 days later. Less said about that the better. Probably Royston Drenthe’s Everton highlight scoring a wondergoal at Craven Cottage too in the 11/12 season.

It’s been nearly eleven months since Carlo Ancelotti was appointed. How would you describe his time with the club so far?

Carlo’s time as Everton manager I would sum up pretty easily as “A project”. The fact we have Carlo Ancelotti as our manager still amazes me and pretty much every Evertonian. Carlo needs time though, he has just had his first actual transfer window to bring his own players in and he is still dealing with a lot of players who probably aren’t ones he wants to keep. Patience is needed from the fanbase as a whole, we have already seen just how good Carlo can get us playing we just need to give him the time to get us fighting consistently again against the “top 6” in the league.

Everton arguably had the best summer transfer window which saw some big signings such as James Rodriguez and Allan arrive at Merseyside. Are you happy with the business you did and are there any areas that still need improvement in January?

Everton’s summer transfer window was probably the best I have seen in a very very long time, if not maybe the best. We signed players in key areas that we needed and added some much needed quality with the signings of Allan, Doucoure and James. You also have our signings later in the window with Ben Godfrey who is a very sensible signing I feel as well as the loan signing of Robin Olsen from Roma adding some more competition for Jordan Pickford. Not forgetting French youngster Niels Nkounkou either. Credit has to go to Marcel Brands our Director Of Football who worked incredibly hard and even managed to get a few of the “deadwood” off the books. I think many Evertonians would have liked to see us strengthen on the right wing and get some better striker cover than Cenk Tosun. Doesn’t make things easier when Moise Kean is tearing it up for PSG.

You won your first 4 League games but have followed that up with 1 point in your last 4 games. Is this a good time to be playing you and what do you put the contrast in results down to?

We started the season amazingly well, the best start I have ever seen Everton have to a season but I was realistic I knew the bubble would burst at some point and it was disappointing when it did but these things happen. Is it a good time to be playing us? It’s difficult to say as Everton have Richarlison returning to the team now after his 3 match ban he picked up against Liverpool. Not that I would solely blame our poor form due to Richarlison being banned but Everton haven’t won a game when Richarlison hasn’t played. Overall the squad without Richarlison really misses that spark and extra bit of creativity.

What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of the season?

Hopefully this season Everton can be fighting it out for a European spot, minimum I would be happy with is 6th. We had a very poor league finish last season which is on Marco Silva showing just how poor he had us playing. I would just like to see some consistency and ideally some more wins against the Sky 6.

Our current loanee Ademola Lookman spent a couple of seasons at Goodison before moving to Leipzig. What do you make of him as a player and how would you sum up his Everton career?

Ahhh Ademola Lookman, a young lad with lots of talent. Lookman had a strange Everton career, he started off amazingly getting that debut goal against Pep’s Man City in our 4-0 win over them at Goodison but after that a few goals here and there and not much else. Don’t get me wrong though, Mola was a player who was in an Everton team who were going through the motions, the sale of Romelu Lukaku, the fall of Koeman, Sam Allardyce taking over. I remember Allardyce was adamant about sending him out on loan to Derby when he had an offer to go to RB Leipzig. He has bags of talent as he has shown in his loan at Leipzig and flashes of it at Everton too. If he gets some consistent playing time he will show what he’s got. I wish him the best.

There are a number of other players to have played for both sides, who is the first player that comes to mind that you’d associate with both clubs and why?

Andy Johnson. Andy Johnson broke my heart moving to Fulham, he was the first name I had on an Everton shirt and he ended up going to Fulham about a month or 2 after I got it.

What are your Top 4 and Bottom 3 predictions?

Overall I am awful for predictions and rarely do them. A couple picks which won’t make some people happy I imagine.

Top Four: Liverpool, Man City, Spurs, Chelsea.

Bottom Three: I think will be very tight, and I can see Sheff United, West Brom, you guys and Brighton really fighting it out down there. I don’t wish relegation on any team so I wish each club the best of luck and I think the quality and depth of each squad will truly show come the end of the season if they are good enough for this league.

Finally, how do you see the game panning out and what do you think the score will be?

Like I have said not amazing with predictions but I will go for a 3-1 Everton win, hopefully us having Richarlison back can help give our team that little bit extra to secure the 3 points. Wishing all the best to Fulham this season though, just not against the blues!

Thanks to John Barlow from The Toffee Blues for answering our questions. Check out their match preview show on YouTube where Focus’ Matt Wiggins discusses our upcoming game. Click here