Today’s guest post is by Craig Hoyland who runs a small Everton blog, go give him a follow: https://craighoyland1.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/is-gueye-gana-play/
Is Gueye Gana Play?
YES, it was the best tag line i could come up with and hopefully you can stop rolling your eyes for long enough to read on. Ronald Koeman has a massive selection head ache ahead of todays game against Bournemouth at Goodison Park but its a head ache he’ll be happy to have.
Idrissa Gueye was arguably the first name on the Everton manager’s team sheet before he left to play for Senegal in the African Cup of Nations almost 5 weeks ago, and rightly so. Before heading out to Gabon, Gueye had established himself as the Premier Leagues top performing defensive midfield player this season and had earned both admiration and respect from Evertonians, team mates and his manager. After watching Sadio Mane, miss the crucial penalty that ultimately lost Senegal the ACON quarter final, he has now returned to Merseyside to discover his place in the engine room of the Everton midfield is no longer guaranteed and he now has a fight on his hands to retain it.
Half of the competition Gueye now faces is Tom Davies. Davies may only be 18 years of age but he’s playing like hes been in the Everton side for much longer than the few starts hes had to date, he stepped up in Gueye’s absence and delivered everything and more than could be asked of him. The teenager adds grit and skill and a touch of snide to the Everton midfield, he can provide that killer ball to open up defences and Yaya Toure can vouch for his pace. The goal he scored against Manchester City was a moment of class that i still cant resist watching a few times most days and a current goal of the month contender. The frightening thing about Davies is he isnt the finished article yet, he will get better and Ronald Koeman knows he has a potential worldie on his hands.
While Idrissa Gueye was busy watching Sadio Mane missing penalties, Koeman was wondering how long Bill The Conductor Kenwright could haggle over two million quid and true to form, we managed to waste around 8 days before we agreed a deal to bring Morgan Schneiderlin into the squad from Manchester United. Worth every penny of the £22m we paid for him, Schneiderlin is a blockade in front of the Everton defence, he can play in different positions if needed and after his first full game v Stoke on Wednesday night, it is abundantly clear he’s a quality player.
When you add Ross Barkley & Ademola Lookman, who Koeman has said he wants to give his first start, into the mix you have to ask the question, who will the Everton manager drop to bring in Idrissa Gueye? Will Gueye find himself on the bench or will he try and incorporate all five players into his starting line up and how well would that work within the style Koeman likes to play? Koeman has recently favoured three at the back with Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman playing wing back roles, i hope this is what he goes with against Bournemouth and goes all out for the win but where does any of this leave Gueye? My guess would be that Davies will find himself on the bench, Gueye & Schneiderlin will start and possibly Lookman to get his first start with Barkley leaving Mirallas also amongst the substitutes with Davies.
After signing two first team players during the January window and seeing so many of the fringe players moved on and off the wage bill you did start to wonder whether we were leaving ourselves short of bodies for the remainder of the season, but are we really that short? Our Bench today could be made up of Stekelenburg, Barry, Davies, Jagielka, McCarthy, Mirallas & Valencia. We also have, should we need to call on them, Lennon, Calvert-Lewin, Pennington, we have Bolasie to come back either at the end of this season or the start of next season, Besic is also not too far away, so are we really short of players or were we just overloaded with players we didnt need? I agree the CF role needs adressing but with Lookman now on board, was it vitally important that we did this before the summer? Looking at the players we now have, the wealth of talented youngsters we have and the players we moved on, I feel that we are set up perfectly for the summer window and we also have enough to get us through the rest of the season and mount a decent challenge for European places.
Whatever side and formation Ronald Koeman decides to start with against Bournemouth, its clear to see the selection dilema that faces him and i have to admit that as an Evertonian, it feels great knowing he has this problem. Before Idrissa Gueye left for the ACON, we’d have laughed at anybody who suggested that he might be sat on the bench for this game because our midfield would be that good. When you think about it like that, the January window was pretty good wasnt it!