Ross Barkley’s England call-up and exclusion. Barkley’s performances. Barkley being punched. Barkley getting The Sun banned from Everton. Barkley’s contract. Lukaku’s performances. Lukaku’s contract. Everton’s new stadium. There has been a lot going on at Everton but one man is just quietly going about his business – Tom Davies.
He got a place in the Everton side when Idrissa Gueye was at African Cup of Nations duty and Morgan Schneiderlin was yet-to-be an Everton player. When they were both available it was looking likely that Davies may face a spell on the sidelines. We were playing with three centre backs and there was only room for two other central midfielders along with Barkley.
Koeman saw something special
Instead of selecting players into a system that was working, Koeman decided to try a new system to fit more players into it. It seemed from the outside that an 18 year old had forced the Everton manager to find a way to accommodate him. Koeman is a man who takes no prisoners and doesn’t settle for second best, but Davies impressed him very quickly. At the start it didn’t seem to work, but instead of reverting back, the manager wanted to persevere and he made it work.
Davies was making headlines around this time, his goal against Man City especially made the rest of the football community stand up and take notice. Since that time the stories coming out from the club have been relentless. Davies has continued to impress in each match, helping make the midfield tick and providing a vital role in Koeman’s midfield.
In the last few weeks there have been no wonder goals, no extreme pace, no dribbles past 10 men. No tricks or flicks, no showboating. Instead of those things there has been precise and effective passing, increased defensive awareness, control of tempo in midfield and a fantastic connection made with all of the players around him in order to give options in possession. In short, he looks like a 28 year old, not an 18 year old.
A calm among the storm
While there have been various headlines over the last few weeks on a whole range of different subjects, the 18 year old has quietly become a vital member of a midfield that is full of internationals. He is keeping players out of the team with a lot more experience, namely someone who will most likely become the Premier League’s top ever appearance maker, Gareth Barry.
To Koeman’s credit, he had decided to put his trust in the teenager. Davies has repaid that trust with a string of stunning performances and even more impressively, consistency. He has played over 20 times for the club and on none of those occasions have I thought he had a bad game. The signs are incredible. Through the noise of the club’s recent headlines, Tom Davies is quietly becoming a star.