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Fitness Update – Lukaku, McCarthy and Mirallas


Ronald Koeman has provided a fitness update on Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas.

Koeman expects all three to be available for the visit of Sunderland.

Koeman: “They [McCarthy and Mirallas] are progressing well. We knew that they would not play in the friendly this Friday but next week, from Tuesday on, they will be available for all the training sessions.

“Normally they would be fit for the weekend of Sunderland.”

On Lukaku, Koeman said: “We know that for 10 days Rom has had some problems with his calf. He has a lot of confidence in the Belgian doctor and I gave him permission to go to Belgium and recover.

“We expect him, normally, next Tuesday to be joining in the training session. He will be fit and available for the weekend.”

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The Stats that show how Koeman has made Goodison Park a Fortress



In many ways, Ronald Koeman has had a rather varied start to his Everton career. His opening 8 months have contained moments of magic, madness and mayhem, with the 4-0 win over Manchester City, the 5-0 thumping at Chelsea and the 6-3 barnstormer against Bournemouth being perfect examples of each. What has felt missing, at times, has been that all-important consistency.

This is by no means a new problem for Everton. In recent years they have regularly pulled off big wins over the Premier League’s elite, only to fail to capitalise against the so-called minnows of the division. Eleventh place finishes in the last two seasons are testament to this problem.

Look a little deeper, however, and you will find that Koeman’s plan to reinvigorate the club may actually already be paying dividends, as the club begins to benefits from hiring a manager with extensive Premier League knowledge.

Home Form

In every Premier League season since 2002/03, the side with the best home record has gone on to win the league. It is a genuine marker for success, and Ronald Koeman is well aware of this. Since arriving at the club he has set about making Goodison Park a fortress once more, and it’s working.


So far this season, Everton have won 7, drawn 4 and lost just 1 of their 12 Premier League home games, taking 25 points in the process. It’s the 5th best record in the division (only Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Burnley have bettered it) and more importantly, it marks a significant improvement on past Toffees performances.

In their last 10 Premier League campaigns, Everton have only matched their current points haul after 12 home games once. That was in the 2013/14 season when they finished 5th, above the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United, and even the 2004/05 side that famously gatecrashed ‘The Big 4’ to gain Champions League qualification could not better this season’s record.


It may seem obvious to say, but this upturn in fortunes is down to two very simple factors – tightening up at the back and being more ruthless up front.

Currently, 22.9% of shots taken by Everton at Goodison Park are hitting the back of the net. It’s a level of clinical finishing that few in the Premier League can match, and it’s a massive improvement on records in the last 2 seasons of 17.7% and 15.3%.


At the back, things are also looking much more secure during home games. In 2014/15 Everton were conceding on average 1.1 goals per game, and in 2015/16 that went up to 1.6. This season, however, they’re conceding just 0.8 goals per game, and have kept 4 clean sheets in the process.


Overall, things are looking bright at Goodison Park for Everton. Koeman has his team delivering at both ends of the field, and the rewards are beginning to arrive. Everton away is once again a fixture teams fear, and that can only lead to success in the years to come.

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Boro 0-0 Everton



Everton extended their unbeaten Premier League run to eight games but will be disappointed to leave the Riverside without three points against a resolute Middlesbrough.

Romelu Lukaku went closest for Everton in the first half but Victor Valdes rolled back the years and saved superbly.

After the interval, Boro captain Ben Gibson saw his header cleared off the line by Leighton Baines, before Valdes made another excellent stop to deny Ademola Lookman.

Joel Robles produced a stunning save to deny Rudy Gestede late on as the game fizzled out to a 0-0.

Report by Groucho;

Everton started well. As the snow and rain and sleet fell, both came back into it a bit. Robles made some good saves and Lukaku nearly scored but for a good stop by Valdes.

Lookman looked lively too. 0-0 at the break.

Half time, and we can cut to an exclusive video of Ronald and Erwin’s team talk;

Look closely and you can see Duncan Ferguson doing the balloon dance in the background. Blizzard conditions for the second half.

First substitution was Enner Valencia on for Gana. Shortly after Boro have an effort headed off the line.

Lennon and Barry came on but still we could not find the net. Clean sheet though.

That Boro fan with the drum too :mad:

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Lukaku WILL sign new Everton deal



Romelu Lukaku’s agent, Mino Raiola has this morning confirmed that Lukaku will sign a new deal with Everton.

Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White from Los Angeles, Raiola said: “There are no problems right now between the player and the club.

“Talks are ongoing. He WILL sign.”

Romelu Lukaku WILL sign new #EFC deal and will NOT leave in the summer, Mino Raiola tells talkSPORT

Full story:

— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) February 9, 2017

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10 Years Old


GrandOldTeam is 10 years old today.

Ten years. It’s a long time…

From our small team of volunteers – thank you all for your tremendous support of GrandOldTeam over the years and for making GOT what it is.

GrandOldTeam began on the 5th February 2007 with the intention of providing a ‘sound’ forum, a user-friendly online platform which would allow Evertonians from across the world to log on to and discuss the Toffees – and anything else for that matter!


An early version of GrandOldTeam

In our first year, 950 Evertonians made 97,810 posts in our forum. 10 years later, over 500 of these still continue to login to GrandOldTeam, joined by over 30,000 other Evertonians who have now contributed over 5 million posts.

Every single year we’ve had increasing number of Evertonians visiting and engaging across our platform. We now average between 8 and 12 million page visits per month with over 270,000 social media fans and 30,000 active forum members.

While our aim was never to become the biggest Everton community, our priority from day one has always remained the same – to endeavour to Nil Satis Nisi Optimum in providing the very best place on the web for fans worldwide to congregate to discuss Everton Football Club.

Along the way, we’ve won countless awards for doing just that – winning the best football forum in the UK on numerous occasions. More importantly – in our ten years as a community we’ve raised thousands of pounds for charity, from Lucas’ Legacy to Alder Hey, to pioneering work on mental health in our forum – although we try our best to avoid directly representing Evertonians, when we do by inadvertently, we ensure we do so to the highest standards.

We really hope to be here for a few more years yet. It will be a challenge – escalating costs, legalities around access to basic club material, media companies operating under the pretense of genuine fan sites with the infrastructure to out-muscle the genuine fan site and above all – time and resource make operating a fan site a challenge. We’ve got some way to pass the legendary Blue Kipper’s 15 years

Thank you all for your tremendous support over the last ten years. Here is to another ten…

It’s a GrandOldTeam to support…

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Everton’s Summer Plan



As February brings about the close to the January Transfer window circus, Everton fans are analysing Ronald Koeman’s squad with intrigue. Gone are the “Deadwood”, the crocks and flops who turn up to Finch Farm every day, collecting thousands of pounds a week for doing seemingly very little. Koeman has expelled the passengers from his squad, culling the group down to only those talented and hungry enough to bring success to the football club.

However, there are now holes left within the team. The squad is unbalanced, and it will need addressing. The January window is always deceiving, as the real top targets that clubs identify are generally not available for sale at such a crucial stage of the season. Its something that Koeman has accepted, and it’s a trap he didn’t fall into. It would have been needless to merely add mediocre personnel, especially when there are numerous bright talents to come through from David Unsworth’s special group of U23s.

Everton will no doubt be pinpointing summer targets right now; in the domestic leagues, as well as in Europe and beyond. Here, I have broken down a list of potential targets that could be of interest to Steve Walsh and Ronald Koeman. These are players in positions that need strengthening, with 3 different types of targets per position; A big money and ambitious target; a more affordable and realistic target; and a young exciting prospect who could become a potential star for years to come.


Big Money: Jack Butland (Stoke City)

Butland will be 24 by the summer, yet he already seems to have been around for years. The 6ft 5in stopper was loaned 6 times over a three-year period, before cementing his place in the Stoke side in 2014. Since then, Butland has been one of the Premier Leagues best keepers – and he still has plenty of time left to improve. He knows the league well and is proven to be a top talent. Any potential move would command a huge transfer fee for the England International, most probably around £30+ million.

Realistic: Joe Hart (Manchester City)

Still only 29, Joe Hart is approaching the peak of his years as a goalkeeper. Unfancied by Pep Guardiola, Hart took the commendable decision to move abroad to Turin’s second club. He has been busy this season for Torino, pulling off some stunning saves to make Guardiola blush as he sits and watches Claudio Bravo play as a statue in the Etihad nets. Hart’s quality remains undoubted, and would be a logical option to take over duties from the less prestigious Joel Robles. He’s available, affordable and reliable, and must be considered seriously.

Exciting: Alban Lafont (Toulouse)

Making his debut last season, Lafont became the youngest ever Ligue 1 goallkeeper, aged just 16 years and 309 days. An impressive stat indicative of his talent, as keepers rarely debut until they are much older. Now 18, Lafont already looks calm and assured, as he has nearly 50 games under his belt with a ratio of 1 clean sheet in every 3 games. His unflappable, cool persona is reminiscent of fellow French starlet Anthony Martial. Compared to famous teen sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma at Milan, Lafont is not nearly as talked about, despite being arguably just as talented a prospect. It certainly would be an exciting move if Everton signed such a young keeper who could fill in between the sticks for the next 15 years or so.

Centre Back

Big Money: Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton)

Evertonians look at Virgil Van Dijk’s performances for Southampton with a mixture of admiration and frustration. A player of elite ability, Van Dijk really is the complete defender. The frustration emanates from the memory of Everton’s failed pursuit of the Dutchman before he signed for the Saints for £13mil last season. Since then, the Oranje defender’s performances have been sensational, and his price tag has tripled. Everton’s chances of signing the cultured centre back lie with the manager, who has a strong relationship with his former player. His fee remains a problem, as Moshiri may be reluctant to justify paying £40+ mil for a defender, especially when taking into account financial fair play rules. Additionally, there is plenty of speculation of a potential move to Manchester City, who as we know are more than willing to spend silly money for a defender.

Realistic: Michael Keane (Burnley)

The one that got away in January, if reports are to be believed. The former Manchester United man has been linked with the blues for months, and it is highly likely he will move on at the end of the season. Koeman expressed his public intent on signing the Burnley defender, and a move for the England International would be expected to happen sooner rather than later this summer. Keane alongside Holgate, Williams at al. would certainly be an exciting proposition.

Exciting: Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen)

The German defender has emerged as one of Europe’s most sought after defenders. Linked this January with a move to Liverpool, Tah, 20, is thought to be one of the next top ball playing centre halves, alongside John Stones and Raphael Varane. The 6ft 3in German international would be a major coup if Koeman could snap him up, avoiding fierce competition from Premier League rivals.

Full Back

Big Money: Luke Shaw (Manchester United)

The United left back has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford, with Jose Mourinho believed to be losing faith in the England man. Once tipped to become the world’s best in his position, Shaw has suffered from a combination of injuries and poor form in his spell at Old Trafford. He has also come under criticism for his apparent weight issues since joining the club. A change of scenery may be in order for Shaw, who at 21, still has time to improve and plenty left to offer.

Realistic: Kieran Tierney (Celtic)

The young Celtic full back is hotly tipped to become a future star, with some claiming he is one of the best in his position in Europe already. The 19-year-old was linked with a £10mil move to Sunderland this window, however the move was dismissed by the Glasgow club and fans alike as “unrealistic”. A move to Goodison would no doubt be more tempting for the young Scot, who could really thrive under Koeman, playing in an exciting young side at Everton. He would be a fine long term understudy and replacement to the experienced Leighton Baines.

Exciting: Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)

Sessegnon gained plenty of admirers after he tormented Hull City’s defence in Fulham’s FA Cup fourth round rout of the Tigers. His skill is more reminiscent of a forward than a left back, and combined with his express pace, Sessegnon looks to be a real player. Born in March 2000, Sessegnon was just 9 years of age when Fulham were embarking on their famous Europa League journey, as they reached the final of the competition before being defeated by Atletico Madrid. The 16-year-old has attracted interest from the Premier League’s elite clubs – as he is yet to sign a professional deal with the whites. Everton would be wise to take advantage of the starlet’s availability in the summer.


Big Money: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

A contentious one, however there’s no doubt in my mind that Wayne Rooney would add a huge amount to this Everton team. Aged 31, Rooney’s experience and intelligence would be an invaluable asset to an Everton side that lacks those particular qualities up top. Playing just off Romelu Lukaku and in front of Barkley, Davies and others – He would certainly make Everton a feared force. Rooney would bring so much out of Lukaku’s game in particular, as he can hold the ball up whilst expertly dictating play. Seeing him play at Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial 18 months ago was enough to wet the appetites of many Evertonians for a long awaited return to Goodison Park. His wages would be the only issue in striking a deal to bring Rooney home.

Realistic: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City)

Sigurdsson is a player most Evertonians have wanted for the last few seasons. Swansea’s only realistic hope of survival, the Iceland international has been directly involved with 55 Premier League goals for the Swans (32 goals, 23 assists). He can seemingly do everything, scoring all types of goals whilst setting up team mates time and time again. If Swansea go down, Sigurdsson will no doubt be looking to move on, with Everton likely to be interested.

Exciting: Julian Brandt (Leverkusen)

Another young Leverkusen player linked with Liverpool, Brandt is a versatile forward with a bright future. German manager Joachim Low highlighted the boy’s talent especially in “one on one situations”. The 20-year-old became Leverkusen’s youngest ever scorer in 2014, and since has become a first team regular for the Champions League side. Bayer sporting director Rudi Voller called him “One of the most talented players in German football” – high praise indeed from a former legend of the game.


Big Money: Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)

Icardi would be an ambitious target for the blues, as the 23-year-old striker has been prolific in Serie A for the last couple of years, scoring 17 goals in 28 games for Inter this season. His off the field antics have caused controversy, as Icardi attacked his own fans in his autobiography, leading to irreparable damage to his relationship with the Nerazzurri ultras. In addition, Maradonna recently labelled him “a traitor”, due to Icardi “stealing” former team mate Maxi Lopez’s wife. Despite these self inflicted issues, Icardi’s performances remain superb, scoring freely for an Inter side that are looking to rebuild under new Chinese ownership. His unstable relationship with the club may result in a possible transfer to another side in Europe – however he would command a hefty fee.

Realistic: Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)

Batshuayi signed for Chelsea for a whopping £40 million just last summer, however first team chances have been hard to come by for the Belgian. Conte seemingly does not trust the young striker, as he instead utilises Hazard as a number 9 in Diego Costa’s absence. With 0 premier league starts to his name, combined with Chelsea’s interest in Moussa Dembele from Celtic, it looks as if Batshuayi may well be free to go elsewhere in the summer, as Everton look to add support for Romelu Lukaku. Batshuayi’s goal record is strong considering his lack of game time, scoring 4 goals in 5 starts in cup competitions.

Exciting: Kylian Mbappe (AS Monaco)

Following in the footsteps of Anthony Martial, Mbappe has unsurprisingly been dubbed the next Thierry Henry. Scoring 3 in 17 this season (1 goal every 200 minutes), Mbappe is one of the most sought after teenagers in Europe. Playing like his Monaco predecessors in a wide left position, Mbappe will become a formidable striker over the next few years. He broke Henry’s record of youngest starter and scorer in Ligue 1 for Monaco, as the principality side have stormed the league this season, scoring more goals per game than any other team in Europe.

The post Everton’s Summer Plan appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Building a squad…



In this second of two articles, AndyC turns his attention to Squad Building…

Building a squad…

During my time in ice hockey, I had the good fortune to talk with many coaches and learn some of their philosophy of squad construction.

Hockey is a squad game that – in the UK – generally comprises two goalies, six defencemen and ten or twelve forwards to make a squad of around twenty.

Basically, hockey is played by five skaters and a goalie on the ice, with the squad split into ‘lines’ comprising two defenseman and three forwards. All teams look to build three strong lines with ‘spare’ players to rotate when required.

In goal, it’s traditional to have a well defined Number One and a back-up. In the UK, it’s very rare for a team to recruit two Number One goalies, and equally rare to recruit two, neither of which is a defined Number One.

If we relate this to the start of our season, I think most Evertonians would agree that in Stekelenburg and Robles, we didn’t have a genuine Number One goalie, rather two back-ups.

Recruiting defencemen, these are graded one to six – three left handed and three right handed players are needed (ideally) and then they’re paired with one being a defensive and the other an offensive defenceman.

In a vaguely familiar way, Everton have Baines and Coleman as the two primary fullbacks with Oveido (up till last Monday) and Holgate as the first reserves respectively.

With forwards, it’s a case of finding three/four left wingers; right wingers and centres. Again these are graded and assembled into groups of three comprising one of each. The trick is to form three equally strong and effective forward lines rather than one brilliant one and two lesser lines as that puts too much demand and expectation on the ‘top line’.

The general concept is to have a strong spine – a solid goalie, a rock-solid stay-at-home defenceman and a quality centre (forward). The offensive defenceman and the two wingers have somewhat more latitude in their roles.

There is generally no hierarchy on who has primary responsibility for the goals, though in some circles, the centre (forward) is the playmaker for the wingers to feed off rather than the other way round.

In Russia for example, the centre (forward) is commonly referred to as ‘the Despatcher’ as the defencemen feed the puck forward to him and he’ll ‘despatch’ it wide to one of the wingers before heading to the net himself to either take the return pass or feed on rebounds.

Right now, Everton are perhaps too reliant upon Lukaku as the primary goalscorer, we need greater depth of scoring aka those halcyon days of Sharp, Gray, Heath, Sheedy and Steven all chipping in.

So having decided on the depth of squad, some clubs may choose to go just with five defencemen and ten forwards – again, largely as a result of budget limitations or from choosing to go with greater quality from less numbers and hoping to avoid any long-term of major injuries – the key then is to sort the players into the most cohesive and effective five man units, lines.

There’s the often misused word ‘quality’. You can have incredibly talented players, but if the character or mentality is wrong, then the squad can be badly affected. Less skilled players with the right attitude and game plan can prevail… look at what Leicester achieved and Chelsea didn’t last season.

A lot is made in hockey of size, but as in footie, little ‘uns are often as brilliant and effective as big ‘uns. The one area generally where big ‘uns are better is the specialist role of the team enforcer, but as there’s no equivalent in footie, let’s park that aspect of hockey.

In compiling the squad, especially the quota of ‘import’ foreign players an enormous amount of time is spent trawling through statistics – games played, minutes per game, goals, assists and penalty minutes. More time is then spent getting references from coaches, former team mates and checking injury records – rarely is the agents’ word taken as verbatim truth.

Hockey is a global game, but another popular phrase is, “hockey is a small world” and as such, it’s rare that coaches and players don’t speak the truth when asked about a player – they know it’ll come back to bite them if they do – we can but hope it’s the same in football.

It’s a time consuming exercise, but using the ‘network’ enables coaches and team managers to build their own database of players to compliment official ones. There’s nothing better than getting multiple personal references and with video footage so widely available, the coach and manager can really go to work compiling a dossier on potential targets.

Players signed, the pairing of defencemen and selecting forward lines that compliment each other can initially be done on paper, but pre-season training is when the final line formations are put together when you see them skate and how they play together as units.

Where all this relates to Everton is that Ronald Koeman has a mental image of the type of game and style of football he wants us to play, and therefore the type of players he wants/needs to recruit. In looking to improve the squad, together with Steve Walsh, they’ll probably have an initially huge list of potential targets.

Experienced players who they’ve seen for themselves and younger, lesser known targets identified by the scouts previously provided with a list of ‘must have’ qualities to look for.

Recruiting the squad for Koeman and his staff to coach will not be a seat of the pants operation. It might appear to be a ‘let’s just sign x from y’ or cheque-book strategy, but there will definitely be science behind the moves they’re trying to achieve in every transfer window. (Footnote)

Walsh and Koeman will spend hours and days reading scouting reports, watching video and taking references before trimming the list of targets to meet the transfer budget, and then opening negotiations.

Footnote – Watch the movie Draft Day – Kevin Costner as a US football GM who expertly juggles and engineers draft picks on the day itself to get the players he wants to fit his game plan.

The post Building a squad… appeared first on GrandOldTeam.

Oviedo and Gibson offloaded


Darron Gibson

Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo have joined Sunderland on permanent deals for undisclosed fees, with reports claiming a combined fee of £7.5million.

Koeman: “It’s a good opportunity for them to play. I’m happy for the boys. For Darron there was a lot of competition in midfield.

“In the situation of Bryan Oviedo, it was difficult. He was the back-up for Leighton (Baines) in the left-back position but finally I changed my mind, I spoke to the player and he was always the perfect professional. I understand his feelings. It was difficult for him. He’s got a new challenge to play in Sunderland. First of all (on him leaving) I said to him, ‘No way, no chance,’ because we need back-up and we need competition. But, as a football man, I changed my mind. I like the boy, he was working hard and that was the reason that he got the chance to go and play.

“It was difficult but I think if we get any problems in that position we have some good young ones and I think we can cope with the players we have in our squad.”

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