Everton travel to Newcastle United on Saturday having won just one of their last five Premier League games, but most talk on the blue half of Merseyside has been on events further afield than the North East, with rumours of a takeover by Indian company the Jain Group gathering pace.
In truth, there appears only slightly more substance in these whispers than in the kind of gossip that usually originates on the internet, but that is enough to get Evertonian minds racing given the depressed state of the club’s finances. The Jain Group are said to be searching for investment opportunities in Britain and, after Lakshmi Mittal at Queens Park Rangers and Venky’s at Blackburn Rovers, are considering a sports organization as a prime contender.
A report in the Calcutta
The same newspaper quoted Jain as saying: “We do not want to put all our eggs in one basket. We also want to be international.” Jain’s comments would appear to lend more credence to the idea the company are interested in loaning Everton money as opposed to embarking on a complete takeover. Given Everton’s already mountainous debt and inability to pay it back, the question must be asked: do the Toffees really want to be owing more people more money?
Away from the boardroom shenanigans, Everton’s prospects on the field are currently just as murky. Defeat to a Manchester United side that merely looked to contain Everton exposed the team’s failings for all to see. The champions made little attempt to add to their single goal lead, instead making themselves difficult to break down, and Everton duly failed to do so. With a Newcastle side whose early season success has been based on an impenetrable defence next on the agenda, Everton’s own personal Groundhog Day looks distinctly likely.
Against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side Everton toiled but never truly disturbed a shaky visiting defence. For much of the campaign, Newcastle’s backline has looked far more solid than that of Everton’s previous opponents, and for a side struggling to create chances – tactics blog Executioner’s Bong revealed this week that Everton play only one through ball per game, the joint-lowest in the division – an organised back four represents a sizeable challenge.
Everton would do themselves a world of good, however, if they corrected two other statistics revealed by Executioner’s Bong this week – the lowest number of shots on average in away games, 10, and the nine percent decrease in their shooting accuracy from last season. The bare numbers confirm what supporters have seen for themselves – that Everton’s attacks are too few and too lightweight. How David Moyes goes about correcting those problems will determine what the future holds at Goodison Park.
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