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Know Your Opponent: Q&A with Royal Blue Mersey

Big Sam and Company await Spurs on Saturday.

2018 FA Cup Football 3rd Round Liverpool v Everton Jan 5th Photo by David Blunsden/Action Plus via Getty Images

After a comfortable victory in the FA Cup over AFC Wimbledon this past weekend, Spurs turn their attention back to the Premier League schedule. This week’s opponent are Everton, led by everyone’s favorite nutty manager, Big Sam Allardyce. It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for the Toffees, so Chris from Royal Blue Mersey stopped by to chat about it, what’s in the future for Big Sam, and apparently a signing that is just like Harry Kane.

CFC: So....Ronald Koeman finally got the axe. What was the final straw for him at Everton?

RBM: The reality is it was more like final straws. Serious injuries to major players like Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman, and Yannick Bolasie certainly didn’t help, but Ronald lost his ability to organize the defense, and could never work out a way to have Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson on the field at the same time.

Furthermore, some things came to light after his sacking that couldn’t have helped - not letting players eat without permission, the dehumanizing treatment of Oumar Niasse, etc. It was ugly, and there was never a way back after the team got blown out by Arsenal.

Replacing Ronald is Big Sam, which undoubtedly makes the league more entertaining. What are the true expectations for Sam?

Frankly, Sam’s already met them. The main goal was to get the club out of the relegation fight, and he did that with a 7 game unbeaten run to start his tenure. Getting dumped out of the FA Cup was unfortunate, but given the draw, not a surprise.

Sam will now look to make a run at 7th place, and hope that Everton can retain their status as “best of the rest”, while praying a top six team wins the domestic cups and the Blues can back-door into Europe again. The trouble is that if that happens, he’ll have a reasonable argument for sticking around into next season, which I think everyone agrees wouldn’t be good for Everton’s long term prospects.

Is there any movement on Everton’s new stadium?

Yeah - backwards. At the annual meeting this week, it was announced that the stadium opening would be delayed until at least 2022, which is a year beyond what everyone was hoping for. The City of Liverpool is now financing 2/3 of the ground (the Reds love this, let me tell you), and it’s generally been an excruciatingly slow process. I’m sure you guys know all about that, though.

Romelu Lukaku is thinking about hiring a lawyer for some comments made by Everton’s owner/chair. What the hell happened?

The short version is that at the aforementioned meetings, majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri told a story about Rom being about to sign a new Everton contract - for allegedly more than Chelsea had offered him - and called his mum to say (and this part is probably forever lost to translation) that “a voodoo” told him to sign on at Stamford Bridge. He left Finch Farm that day without signing Moshiri’s offer.

Now, Lukaku disagrees with that version of the tale, and who knows what’s right. The big man ended up vacationing in Los Angeles with Paul Pogba, and never came back. That, of course, is his prerogative, and at some point it would be nice if some of the Everton figureheads stopped talking and got to work.

Ross Barkley finally left, and only got Everton £15m. Final thoughts?

The transfer fee ended up being a result of Ross only having six months to run on his contract, and also the whole deal with him not having any hamstrings. The way that it played out - abandoning his Chelsea medical in summer and using Everton’s facilities and paychecks to rehab - irked nearly everyone, but it’s hard to complain about the result. If he gets healthy, Chelsea got a good deal, and Everton’s fee simply speaks to the nature of the situation.

I’d have rather seen Ross join Spurs - who knows if he’d have fit the tactical system, but it would have been exciting to see what kind of magic Pochettino could work with such a physically gifted player.

There’s this guy joining Everton named Cenk Tosun who you all are pretty excited about. Talk to us about him and why we should fear him.

Interestingly enough, Cenk Tosun has been widely compared to Harry Kane in terms of style. Obviously, that’s not to say his accomplishments or ability are even on the same planet, but Tosun appears to be very well rounded.

”The War Bull”, as his name translates, is good with both feet and never met a shot he didn’t like. Believe it or not, Everton’s problem hasn’t been creating chances this season, but converting them. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is probably going to play for England one day, but he hasn’t yet learned how to shoot straight. Tosun should help the team’s conversion rate if he adjusts to the English game.

Author’s Note: “The War Bull” is a damn fine nickname.

What’s the lineup looking like for the Toffees Saturday?

Assuming that the FA suspends Mason Holgate either for violent conduct (the shove on Roberto Firmino) or his unacceptable teenage tweets, it should be as follows.

XI: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Williams, Martina; Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney; Sigurdsson, Tosun, Bolasie

Subs: Robles, Keane, Davies, McCarthy, Lennon, Vlasic, Calvert-Lewin


I’ve got this one down as a 2-2 draw. I’m not crazy about how Spurs have been playing, and with only one competition left and eight days of rest I expect Everton to play their best game in some time. Tosun’s debut should boost morale, too.

As always, we want to thank Chris and RBM for stopping by to chat. Their interview is up over on their site as well, so check it out when you get a chance!