Toffees’ January travails suggest winter signings not the answer

Marco Silva has warned his Everton side to expect a tough game when they make the trip to Newcastle United on Saturday.

The January window can be a fickle place and some managers have already said they will swerve any winter deals unless something special comes along.

Usually reserved for clubs at the bottom of the table, any January excitement often surrounds relegation candidates paying over the odds for reserve players. Alternatively, ridiculous money can be splashed on mediocre stars who have come from nowhere to have brilliant opening halves of the campaign or mysterious overseas talents whom other clubs have looked at before opting to avoid.

Everton are a team who fall into this category and Marco Silva has hinted he could head to the sales to reinvigorate his team’s ailing campaign.

The Toffees sit 17th in the Premier League table after 14 games and look a team in danger of going down, despite spending £114m in the summer.

Incomings, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Fabian Delph have been plagued by injuries, while Andre Gomes, who saw his loan from Barcelona made permanent, is unlikely to feature again this season after breaking and dislocating his ankle in November’s 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

However, are January signings the way to go? Recent history would suggest, probably not, when you consider Everton have been stung more than once.

In the 2015-16 campaign, Oumar Niasse was the main arrival from Lokomotiv Moscow. Still on the books at Goodison Park, he has managed just eight goals in 31 appearances.

Uninspiring loan spells at both Hull and Cardiff have done little to whet the appetite and after joining on February 1 2016, he could be on the way out having not appeared this season.

Swiss forward Shani Tarashaj also joined at a similar time but is still to play for the club, and at 24, is unlikely to enjoy any sort of success on Merseyside.

Fast-forward to January 2017 and the Toffees paid a combined £30m on Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman.

Schneiderlin, a French international whose form at Southampton persuaded Manchester United to spend £25m on him in 2015, remains a player with talent. However, his form has waned in recent years and Silva’s signing of Delph, Gbamin and Gomes could have helped boost his confidence.

Lookman was also hardly lacking ability but couldn’t get a regular game under Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and then Silva, much to the bemusement of many neutrals and joined RB Leipzig in the summer following a previous loan in 2018.

Onto January 2018 which was arguably the annus horribilis for the club as far as winter business goes.

This time they went big as Sam Allardyce purchased £47m worth of talent in Besiktas’ Cenk Tosun and Arsenal’s Theo Walcott.

Tosun lasted about an hour of his debut – a 4-0 defeat at Tottenham – before Allardyce decided he wasn’t good enough despite pushing for his signature, while like at Arsenal, Walcott has shown pace, energy and little end product in his two years on Merseyside.

What do all these players all have in common? They have all flopped in an Everton shirt.

It seems spending around £90m on players in January has not brought Everton happiness and maybe that is why owner Farhad Moshiri decided to keep his money in his pocket last winter.
Silva apparently wants to go big again to patch up his squad but any signing comes with a risk, especially in January.

Without a pre-season to adapt, language, food, culture, weather and everything else can hinder any new arrivals. Pause for a second now to imagine the shock of stepping off a plane from Brazil and into a dark January English evening.

As Everton have shown, it is not a recipe for success, while it is also worth mentioning the elephant in the room.

Silva looks a coach on borrowed time, with numerous sources suggesting he is still only in his job due to a lack of alternatives, with former boss David Moyes’ name bandied about.

Defeats to Norwich and Leicester have piled on the pressure and Wednesday’s Merseyside derby with Liverpool is followed by games against Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal before Burnley head along the M65 on Boxing Day.

The 42-year-old will do well to retain his job going into the Clarets clash and having in the past appeared a coach who appears to favour throwing money at problems, the board may be wise to avoid going big again in January.