Everton Now Watford 2.0

No surprise I have been taking some critical feedback about all the negative comments and feelings towards Richarlison. While he showed flashes of brilliance last season for Watford, he felt his career could be furthered elsewhere in the Premier League. Thankfully, Everton seemed to believe that  his £40 million price tag was warranted after a very below average season under Marco Silva, who took control of the Toffees at the end of May 2018.

While I was both a advocate for Silva and supporter of Richarlison, those days have passed. The interest and alleged illegal approach by Everton to lure Silva to Goodison Park hurt the manager’s ability last season, as witnessed by losing 11 out of the last 16 games he would manage as Watford’s caretaker. This also set the stage for a relatively unknown in Javi Gracia to come in and repair the damages, which had been done, winning just four games over the final 14 game weeks. The team had been left in disarray, batted and beaten, struggling to remain in the Premier League.

MARCO SILVA

Through the first eight weeks, it appeared the Watford board made the correct decision bringing in Marco Silva, after he took over at Hull City, but was unable to keep the Tigers in the Premier League. His record in Portugal and Greece were impressive and looked to be the right man for the job. Yet as Watford’s luck turned and the losing started, the attitudes began to change. It appeared Sliva wasn’t the man for the job, as a lack of goals and a lapses in defense became commonplace. Not to overlook one fact, Watford lead the  league with minutes missed due to injury, something Silva had no control over.

Looking at Everton this season, I am reminded of his time in charge of the Golden Boys. It brings back a wide range of emotions, the high of achieving a great start (high as 4th in the table), but being frustrated with the lack of formation or player changes and disappointment as the loses continued to be a common result. The Toffees team makeup is similar, possibly with some higher profiles players through the starting XI. Jordan Pickford and Ben Foster, both quality goalkeepers. A defensive line that features two big central backs, Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma,  with wing backs in Seamus Coleman, Leighton Baines and Lucas Digne, who love to bomb forward. By way of comparison, Watford run out Jose Holebas, Daryl Janmaat and Kiko Femenia, anchored centrally by Craig Cathcart and Christian Kabasele.

The midfield, commanded by the likes of Glyfi Sigurdsson with flyers in Theo Walcott and Richarlison down the flanks. This season at Watford, while we haven’t seen Will Hughes start in that central role, it’s his natural position with Gerard Deulofeu (injured) and Roberto Pereyra wide. In the defensive role, Idrissa Gueye and Tom Davies, while Watford counter with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue. Up top, as it was at Watford all season last year, a single forward who struggled all season long. Toffees have been starting Cenk Tosun, but was replaced last week by Dominik Calvert-Lewin. For Watford, it was Troy Deeney and Andre Gray rotated all season long. The parallels are uncanny to start this season.

This season, Watford has run out a 4-4-2 formation all season, while Silva has remained loyal to a 4-2-3-1.

RICHARLISON

Before the start of last season, I had never heard of the Brazilian wonder kid, Richarlison de Andrade. He made 24 appearances with America Minerio, scoring 9 goals and winning promotion from the Brasileiro Serie B. The following season he transferred to Fluminense, appearing in 42 games and scoring 19 goals over all competitions (just 9 in league play). In August 2017, Richarlison completed his move to Watford, signing a 5-year contract for £11.2 million.

It took just two weeks before supporters saw what Richarlison was bringing to the Hornets, as he scored his first Premier League goal in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth. It wasn’t until game week 6 that he really hit stride and was an unstoppable force down the left flank, posting 4 goals and 4 assists during that period, one in which I backed his play with the captain’s armband from GW10 through GW13! After that game week, Watford would fail to win another game for seven weeks.

By this time, it was game over for Richarlison, rumors of “fatigue” had were being whispered and many Premier League managers had figured out how to defend the Brazilian and his stylistic and exciting play down the flank. In an interview with ESPN Brasil, after a 2-0 Spurs lost in early May, Richarlison said, “I feel a little wear and tear. I’m still young, but I’m a human being, I get tired too. So it’s normal, I think the vacations are coming, I think it’s resting a lot now, next year I’ll come prepared and show more of my talent.

This fatigue was the responsibility of Silva to catch before he was shown the door after a 2-0 loss to Leicester City. It wasn’t until Gracia came in that Richarlison, due to his decision making, poor shoot statistics and fatigue he started to find himself being rested, playing 90 minutes just three times out of the remaining 14 games, with no attacking returns.

Richarlison finished the season with 5 goals and 5 assists. Underlying statistics:

  • Goal Attempts: 95
  • Shots – Inside Box: 74
  • Big Chances Total: 17
  • Shots on Target: 22
  • Shot Accuracy: 23.2%
  • Goal Conversion: 5.3%

CONCLUSION

While there was some resentment seeing him make a big money move to Everton, the Hornets appear to have come out on top of the deal, based on how both teams have started the season. Watford’s coffers are full, which allowed for some new talent to bolster our squad depth and bring in leader for our defense in Ben Foster. Watford now appear to be a cohesive unit, playing as a team, not a group of individuals. There an excitement and positive attitude around Vicarage Road from players to coaches to supporters. Even in our loss to United and draw to Fulham, Watford players have been class through it all.

As for Everton, it looks like dark days, as Silva has Watford 2.0 recreated at Goodison Park. There are some positives to come from an attack that has potential (8 goals on season), but over six game weeks have under performed on the pitch. The Toffees have just one win in their last six games, losing their last two Premier League games by a combined 5-1. Like Watford last season during difficult periods, Everton are in a similar position, but do have some favorable fixtures to turn their fortunes around. Until I see something that doesn’t look like Watford reincarnated at Goodison Park, I will continue to avoid their fantasy assets.

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