Rooney isn’t the answer for Everton. But no manager who could do the job would touch it…

Editor F365
DC United coach Wayne Rooney and under-fire Everton manager Frank Lampard.

The Mailbox piles in on the shambles at Everton while pondering who the hell might fix it. Also: plenty more fallout from Arsenal’s stalemate with Newcastle.

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Lampard out. But who next?
Read Ian King’s article with interest and he hit most of the nails right on the head. For Evertonians, much of this started with Bill Kenwright’s reign. We were hopeful the someone like Moshiri, with much bigger financial resources that Kenwright, would get us back to the upper half of the Premier League. Sadly, Moshiri has been shown to be out of his depth as much as Kenwright has been. Eight managers in ten years? What club survives that sort of mismanagement?

One thing Ian failed to mention (maybe he didn’t feel like piling on) was the 500M of funds we’ve utterly spunked away during Moshiri’s reign. Show me another club who’s spent that amount of money and has absolutely zero to show for it on the pitch. I don’t think it’s possible. Sure the big spending clubs (the “Big Six”) spend those types of amounts but for every bad buy, they’ve got another one or two world class players playing for them. Remember when we hired “transfer guru” Steve Walsh. He along with Koeman set this club back years. Who do we have that honestly, when we go down, would be quickly picked right up by another Premier League club? Pickford? Onana? Those are genuinely the only two I could think of. The rest of our players? Championship level at best. We spent good money on players like McNeil and Maupay. We have zero ideas of recruitment anymore. Gone are the days where we’d find a Tim Cahill, Joleon Lescott, or Mikel Arteta, players who thrived and excelled at a club like Everton. Director of Football at Everton, Kevin Thelwell, hasn’t had a good start.

As for Rooney, you won’t find any Evertonians who think he’s the answer. We need a manager who will give these substandard players a kick up the backside and can tactically take it to the teams we play against. Who out there fits that bill? Sure we’d love a manager like Tuchel but would manager like Tuchel come to a club that’s in a state like Everton. Not just no but hell no. No to Moyes, no to Big Sam, just no, no to the usual suspects. We need to take a risk on an up and coming manager at this point, one who can set us up properly on the pitch. I’ve seen a lot of shouts for Sean Dyche but would he really be the answer? I don’t know.

Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough. If we go down this season, we will not be coming right back up. I imagine we’d pull a Leeds or Nottingham Forest in this respect. Worse? League One beckons after another year or two.

The toxic rot that has been institutionalized at Everton since Moyes left us for Manchester United is ingrained in every part of the club’s fabric. The only way you get rid of it is by starting with the owners and the board all the way down. This is the same board that did a “strategic review” and found that we’re doing just fine. Changes must occur at that level for Everton to slowly but surely work its way back up. Evertonians rightly understand the situation the club is in and won’t sugar coat our current plight. It’s bad, really bad, but unfortunately, deserved after all Kenwright and Moshiri have done.
TX Bill (it hurts just to write this but sometimes the truth hurts) EFC


Frank failing is fine for football
As a Newcastle fan I’ll avoid getting into arguments with Arsenal fans about penalties and just say that you were the better team, both penalties would have been on the soft side but we rode out luck a bit.

But the main reason I wanted to write in is about the absolute mess that is Frank Lampard and Everton. Of course, Everton are badly run and appear to have no coherent plan – but that doesn’t mean Lampard with his £85m spend (thanks Mediawatch) should be let off the hook.

Whenever I’ve watched Everton this season they look awful. What’s the plan? How’s he coaching them to set up? It’s really poor management – just look at the success that the two managers in our game last night have had with their squads – improving players, playing a style, a system.

It’s not Lampard’s fault, he’s just not a proven football manager and shouldn’t be in the job to begin with. English football has a weird obsession with hiring names because they were good at playing football – it’s like me saying because I’m the best shelf stacker at the supermarket I should be the CEO.

It’s a problem, because it’s these managers – both a new era of ex-players getting to skip the queue and the old hands who get a job because they “know the league” that are stopping young, talented, English managers coming through. Eddie Howe and Graham Potter have done great jobs but Howe started in league 2 and Potter started out in Sweden – not being gifted a Championship job just because of their name.

It’s also striking that you look at the last few PL teams to upgrade from one of these types to a “real” football manager, the improvement has been amazing. Man U (Ole to ETH), Newcastle (Bruce to Howe) and maybe Villa (Gerrard to Emery). Even managers dealing with the same players can dramatically improve them.

It’s why so many people want people like Lampard to fail – he didn’t deserve that role and that weird form of football nepotism is ruining our managerial conveyor belt. It’s why I’m sure many neutrals want to see Potter succeed at Chelsea, Jones to keep Southampton up, Cooper keeps Forest improving (what a job he’s done!) and Howe to hopefully keep us in the top 4. Hopefully that keeps the door open to more proper British making moves up the leagues rather than recently retired players and the old guard standing in their way.
James (NUFC)


…He didn’t deserve the Derby gig. He definitely didn’t deserve the Chelsea gig. To give him the Everton gig on all that evidence was nonsensical. He is a sh*t manager. The country has surely had enough of mediocre private schoolboys hasn’t it?
Jonny, MUFC


Swan fake
James Tarkowski for that Brighton third goal.

Just love his attempted header / swan dive.


Enjoy 2023,
Wik, Pretoria (Lampard is obviously getting through to his defenders), LFC


In Conte’s corner
Jim – Conte has earned the right!! He knows what it takes to win and has done it as recently as 2021 when he won the league with Inter Milan. He also beat us to the league with his Chelsea side in 2017. He’s not a dinosaur he’s as good as it gets.

He said, and I quote: “My task here is to build a solid base, then try to improve. “If you ask me if the challenge is to win the Premier League or the Champions League, this is not the task here. If I want to stay here then I have to accept this. Otherwise, if I do not want to accept this, then I have to go.”

Pointing the finger at Conte for a bit of a drop is pathetic. He’s worked wonders with that desperate squad and as you know most of the good new signings (Richarlison, Bentancur, Romero and Kulusevski) have all been injured for a lot of the season. I’m actually delighted that there’s a manager willing to be honest to the fans. Remember where we were when he joined and after all the rejections from managers who, you know, wouldn’t go near us with a barge pole?!!

We were – and still are – unbelievably lucky to have Conte. He’s being forced to manage with one hand tied behind his back. I’m amazed we are where we are with the same awful players still sitting in our moribund squad due to our stingy approach forced on us by Levy.

We have an owner squeezing every last drop out of our heritage so he can eventually bag a profit. A man who is only prepared to do the minimum to make top4. If Conte sees no point, nor will Kane and so will everyone else. We are on the precipice of a massive drop unless owners invest or sell. It’s that simple. We need to sing loud like against Villa winning or losing to get Levy and ENIC out, and singing from the rafters for Antonio.
Dave (it’s been 20-odd years of this – wake up!!! Winchester Spurs)


Kane can
Unplayable on his day is our Harold.

Jon, Lincoln


Living with lousy Liverpool
Watching us descend from almost Quadruple winners to absolute liabilities in the space of months has been both confusing and unenjoyable. But considering I’ve seriously enjoyed watching us under Klopp for more than a few years and we’ve won literally everything in that time – I’m many moons from slitting my wrists yet. Crikey we are bobbins right now though.

No this mail is about watching Arsenal and Newcastle being the two best teams in the table – very deservedly – and wondering how we managed to journey into this bizarro universe. I expect City to win the League because, y’know, that’s what they do. But if either Newcastle and Arsenal come top three or even win it, that will be a long way from amazing right now. Truly very different times but much credit to Arteta and Eddie.

And Man U are now managed by a grown up actual manager who knows what he’s doing. So they’re back. Which is also weird and disappointing- I was hoping for another 15 years of mismanagement from them. But losing Ronaldo, coming out stronger and still winning a bunch of games? I tip my hat to Ten Hag, I suspect he’s going to be a serious success there.

All of this means that while Liverpool are looking like being on the outs for a stretch, the rest of the League is very enjoyable and very interesting.

And I can live with that.
James, Liverpool (New Year, new general air of bonhomie)


Timewasting management
I’m not going to add to the predictable outrage in this morning’s mailbox from fellow Arsenal fans livid at last night’s officiating. I left the stadium more or less content; Newcastle look phenomenal at the back and any hopes of a controlled win for Arsenal were snuffed out once we failed to capitalise on our high-intensity start. Newcastle got a grip on the game thereafter and deserved their point as far as I’m concerned.

No comment on the ‘penalty’ decisions. No complaints about being short-changed by a dreary minutes of ‘in play’ football to pounds spent on ticket ratio.

What I did want to offer as an open question to the mailbox, however, is this: how does a referee decide how to manage time wasting? Is there an actual process, a set of rules/guidelines for this, or is it a contextualised decision made ahead of/during any given fixture?

For instance, you often hear pundits talking in the context of a heated derby about letting a few fouls go without caution in order to keep the game from boiling point and to maximise the chances of keeping 22 players on the pitch (as it happens Andrew Madley has been accused by many of falling into this trap last night: booking players for a series of fairly innocuous challenges early on and supposedly making a rod for his own back in how the rest of the game was to be officiated). That, to me, confirms the existence of at least a de facto license for referees to interpret the rules in the context of any given game.

Does the same apply to time wasting? Is it an accepted rule that an ‘underdog’ is given more leniency in practicing the art of time wasting, while the bookies’ favourite – dare I rephrase that as a member of the ‘Big 6’ – is expected to refrain?

Last night’s game is the trigger for this question, with Joelinton, Willock, Trippier and others spending roughly as much time sat on the floor as they did off it, but this isn’t an attack on this excellent Newcastle side (who, let’s face it, will be underdogs for not much longer, if at all).

Take Arsenal’s game against Brighton last week; Gabriel was booked in the first half (the first half!) for taking too long over a free kick once Arsenal were 0-2 to the good. In my decade plus of being a season ticket holder at the Emirates, I cannot recall a single example of an opposition player being booked in the first half for time wasting. On the contrary, it’s widely accepted that opposition teams – specifically those ‘plucky underdogs’ – will run down the clock from the first minute, and will accept an eventual booking at some point after the 80th minute. That card will be flashed at one ‘unlucky’ player, chosen by the referee seemingly at random as a signal to the home crowd that they are indeed paying attention; a sort of sacrificial lamb who takes a yellow card on behalf of the team’s collective time wasting.

I know it’s not just Arsenal. I’m absolutely certain supporters of Man City, Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, and Tottenham will be familiar with this pattern (yes, I know: violins out for the poor ‘Big 6’. Although, ironically, it’s something Newcastle will need to get used to as the ‘Big 6’ adds another to the ranks).

Is this right? And I don’t mean ‘right’ in the moral sense; I mean quite literally: is this how the game is supposed to be managed? Can any mailbox referees help to clear this up?
Dane (In the North Bank)


Dark arts
Having seen a good amount of great sh*thousery in the fixtures since the world cup (Leeds at Newcastle, Newcastle at Arsenal and Everton in every game this season) it still confuses me why managers conveniently forget when their teams have done it and bemoan anyone who does it to them.

Unfortunately, it’s a part of the game and every manager uses it when required. I wish every manager would just accept this or all of them instruct their teams not to do it (not gonna happen).

On a side note, watching Arteta losing his stack (mini pep in the making) and salty jurgen cry about being well beaten by Brentford reminds me why we need underdogs to bloody some noses and why managers should just admit “we weren’t good enough”.


Howe to do it
The Newcastle sh*thousery against Arsenal was pretty funny to be fair. Watching Arteta frantically lose his shit on the touchline was a particular highlight. I’m not sure Arsenal fans can be too surprised though as its now 3 away games at big 6 rivals where Howe has deployed the same game plan and tactics.

At Old Trafford in October they walked away from a 0-0 draw with 37% possession, a total of 9 shots, and an xG of 0.91. At the Emirates it was 33% possession, 8 shots, and 1.06 xG. At Anfield they narrowly missed out on a point due to a 98th minute winner after only 28% possession, 5 shots, and 0.72 xG.

Eddie clearly has a plan for these games, stay solid in defence and play for the draw nicking a goal if they can. The time wasting and disruption is part of that plan, can’t really attack him when it works so well. Newcastle on paper have the least quality of any of its contemporary rivals and they’re still at the point where a hard fought 0-0 against these teams is a resounding success, this will change in time but for now maintaining the performance levels and not losing these games is more important to their season.

There are quite a few Newcastle fans that refuse to accept the financial investment over the last 12 months has had anything to do with their teams success so far this season and that its all down to Eddie. I think that’s a bit silly but at the same time its clear what a remarkably good job he’s doing. A few losses, especially if close together, could disrupt the wave of confidence his squad is riding and lead to a sustained drop in form. Playing it a bit rough and dirty to maintain the high is the right thing to do.
Dave, Manchester


…The genius in modern time-wasting is time-wasting when the ball is out of play. It’s also very annoying if you’re a fan of the team being on the receiving end.

Not one team in the history of the Premier League can state, “oh we’ve never time wasted”, because it’s not true. If you are protecting a lead, or if you are up against a super talented team, then yeah sure, you’re going to do what you can to wind that clock down.

Classic time-wasting methods include the goalie fussing and farting over a goal kick; defenders endlessly playing the slowest one-twos between each other; or taking the ball in to the corner flag. These methods are probably ungentlemanly, but they are perfectly valid tactics. The ball is in play, the clock is ticking, and you have the right to play the game as you see fit.

What teams are doing now, and not just Newcastle but they are the twats-du-jour, is time-wasting when the ball is out of play. Going down with cramp puts pressure on the ref or opposition to kick the ball out of play. Walking to take a corner, the ball is out of play. Having a heated discussion about who is taking a throw in, or a free kick, the ball is out of play. Getting awarded, or conceding, a free kick and kicking off at the officials for seemingly no reason, the ball is out of play.

And of course, the ball is out of play but the clock is still ticking.

One fine mailbox letter yesterday said that for the Arsenal vs Newcastle match, the ball was in play for less than an hour. A third of the game was lost because time-wasting occurred when the ball was out of play, but the clock kept ticking.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite (just dawned on me that “Wengerite” sounds like “Wenger out” in an Irish accent)

Toon’s defence and VAR
Watching the Arsenal Newcastle game last night, you can absolutely see why Newcastle have only conceded 11 goals in 18 games this season. Zero space between the lines, doubling up on Saka and Martinelli and an all round tight unit operating at pretty much 100% efficiency.

The shit-housing? You can see why they started doing it as the ref (in my opinion) had a terrible game. Had no control of the players from pretty much minute 1, was giving fouls for both teams which were not fouls, yellow cards for some and not for others and then the most blatant penalty not given this season.

First of all, I’ve heard Newcastle fans saying it wasn’t even a freekick to start with and it’s a tight one. Maybe Joelington got the ball slightly but tackling from behind is always a risk even if you win the ball and I think given what had been deemed freekicks prior to it, you can argue that it was the correct decision.

How on earth VAR have looked at what followed and decided it wasn’t a penalty is absolutely beyond me though. Dan Burn pretty much ripped the shirt off of Gabriels back. It was obvious in real time (although I can understand why the ref on the pitch didn’t see it) and looking at two slow motion replays, it was even more obvious.

The managers and players have to give interviews after every game. When will we start getting the refs to do the same and explain why they gave certain decisions and not others? The lack of transparency is shocking. VAR was meant to get rid of these ‘clear and obvious errors’ but it seems when it is in the hands of the PGMOL, they are still absolutely abject at using the system. Don’t worry though, if Arsenal lose the league by 2 points, they will come out and apologise for getting the decision wrong….
Mikey, London


…As a brief response to the Arsenal fans whining in the mailbox this morning, I would like to point out two things.

Firstly, for talk of clear and obvious errors, have any of you considered the fact that the free kick from which the Gabriel incident occurred was itself from a tackle which was in no way a foul? I for one am happy to see that error balanced out quickly, even at the cost of two yellow cards.

Secondly, no mention of the farcical diving (and screaming) from Saka, Odegaard, Xhaka and Gabriel throughout which led to a few ridiculous yellow cards in the first half. This diving led to the complete breakdown of the game in the first half when Newcastle were starting to get a foothold in the game and is just as bad as time wasting in my opinion. Ironically I think the diving from Gabriel might have contributed to the penalty being ignored. Watch it again from the side angle, nothing Burn does would make him fall like that.

Shame there’s more salt than the North sea down at the Emirates as I would have preferred Arsenal to win over city. Less sure now.
Tom, York


…Firstly I’d just like to say how impressive Newcastle were, first time I’ve watched them all season and have to say Eddie Howe is doing a great job. They are incredibly well coached with every player knowing what do to and their press was coordinated, well timed and they are most definitely more than the sum of their parts. Maybe it could be argued you’d expect a bit more from the richest club in the world in 3rd but they are early into their transformation and any good team will show you when rebuilding you start at the back and solidify that to give you a foundation to improve further up the pitch.

Onto Arsenal, I had a feeling we could be on for a 0-0 before the game but the biggest thing for me was how few chances we offered up and we never really looked like we lost control of the tie, last season we’d probably lose this. The shirt tug non penalty is ridiculous, it’s not a vendetta against Arsenal but how the officials can be so inconsistent is beyond me, the handball was not the sort of thing you want given as it’s pure ball to hand from close range but again they’ve been given this season so just be consistent please and again personally I’d rather half the handball penalties given this season weren’t. We didn’t draw the game because of that though, we had 90+ mins to win it and didn’t, we are incredibly short as a squad in attacking areas but we all knew that and we all know that replacing an entire squad takes time, multiple windows and the correct players for the system to be available. The front 3 is the last area we have to really bulk up on with replacements and Jan and next summer seem to be earmarked to do that. Let’s be honest too we have a squad that can compete for the top 4 which was always only ever the plan but a first team clicking and player like the best versions of themselves have left us top but in no way do we have a squad capable of competing for the title yet.

The biggest compliment I guess is that teams are now sitting deep and giving very little away, it’s a sign you’re a good team and respected on the pitch. Last season and the first part of this season I think teams felt like they could get something out of Arsenal if they played against them giving us space to exploit and overload but that’s changed now and that is the next part of this journey as we will come up against this sort of tactic a lot more moving forward. We didn’t lose the game and it’ll be a good learning experience for the team and management, I’ve got no issue with games like this as long as the club reacts and learns from it. To be fair I expect that x10 against Spuds and United will be interesting as they conceded possession at home knowing they couldn’t compete in an open game so early into ETH’s time but have since been on a good run, started to implement the new managers style of play and so I’ll be fascinated to see how they set up at the Emirates. Come to show their progress or come to win by any means necessary?
Lee AFC Bristol


…All of the Arsenal fans that are so quick to complain about Burn’s grappling in the box are curiously silent about the fact the free kick shouldn’t have stood, the replays showed Joelinton cleanly getting the ball first but then they even dished out a yellow card to him for it, so that evened itself out as far as i am concerned.

Overall though i thought that was a pretty entertaining game for a 0-0, shows how far we have come in such a short time whilst also highlighting how far we still need to go.
Davie, NUFC


The new Jose
I watched the Arsenal – Newcastle match last night with my Gooner supporting son. A few observations on Mikel Arteta’s touchline antics:
He would have run just as fast and aggressively towards the fourth official had either of those penalty decisions been given against Arsenal;
If he’s this worked up after 17 matches, he’s going to be hospitalised before the end of the season;
My son’s reaction to the non awards was heightened when the cameras switched to Arteta, and after his post match comments. So if Arteta is trying to create a Jose Moaninho style ‘they’re all against us’ mentality, it’s working!
Arsenal played well, and I thought they shaded the match. But their squad depth is negligible, and even had Arsenal snatched a win last night, I still think Man City’s strength will sneak them to the title.
Yours, Michael Gibson (LFC, less said about them the better)


Satisfied with seven
Seven points from nine without your number 9 or any sort of attacking options from the bench from the busy Christmas period isn’t a bad return  whoever you are.

Yes, it did sort of stop a pretty impressive run but we didn’t lose and we still sit top of the tree – even though our primary goal remains Champions League qualification.

Newcastle have the best defence in the league for a reason and will be champions over the next five years so we should take it as a compliment that they set up the way they did against us. They didn’t win and they’ve dropped more points over the Christmas period than we have.

We will drop points over the next couple of games and be replaced at the summit but when Smith Rowe and Gabriel return, I’m hopeful we can have a pretty impressive run in.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


I’ve read Sarah’s article about Arsenal signing Mudryk and had to laugh at how ill thought out it is. In the first couple of paragraph’s Man Utd are described as looking like clowns for signing Anthony in desperation at an inflated price after taking too long with low ball offers.

That is entirely fair comment and I don’t disagree with it. However, if all the reports are correct, the only way that Arsenal can now sign Mudryk is if they pay an inflated price well in excess of what they could have gotten him for in the summer. They spent that summer making low ball offers thus delaying the transfer. The only reason they are looking to sign him now is because they are desperate for cover to their thin squad. This was evident before the season even started and should have been addressed then. To try and do so now, midway through the season is the very definition of desperation. What makes the situation even more laughable is that they might actually be beaten to the signature by Chelsea. Instead of labelling Arsenal clowns for finding themselves in a similar (definitely worse) situation as United with respect to a big transfer target, Sarah reckons that Arsenal have shown “impeccable” judgement. I mean, you couldn’t make it up.

I get that Arsenal are flavour of the month (until they inevitably collapse) and that Arteta has great hair but why apply different standards to them? Whatever way the Mudryk transfer goes now, Arsenal have absolutely shat the bed with it’s execution so why pretend otherwise?

Read more: Manchester United manufacture of the ‘Antony scale’ leaves Arsenal with Mudryk dilemma