As Everton’s strategy takes shape, Andros Townsend’s transfer indicates Rafa Benitez’s realization.
Trevor Steven flew down the right wing at Goodison Park in the 1980s with such ease that Andy Gray remarked, “If he passed through a puddle, he wouldn’t leave a ripple.”
Kevin Sheedy’s wand of a left foot could whip, curl, and rifle the ball into the area on the other side of the pitch.
That wing duet was very magnificent.
Andrei Kanchelskis would slalom down the pitch on another marauding run a decade later, while Steven Pienaar and his near-telepathic connection with Leighton Baines provided the Toffees tremendous joy down the left flank this century.
However, the Toffees haven’t had a true wing wizard to adore in recent years.
Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott had plenty of pace but lacked the technical mastery of Steven, Sheedy, and Kanchelskis, while Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Kevin Mirallas had plenty of potential but should have been put in the center.
Andros Townsend, who came on a free transfer on Tuesday, and Demarai Gray, who had a medical on the same day, are hardly the high-profile signings that many Blues had hoped for.
However, their arrival might be massive. Because they make up for their lack of true quality with what they can offer this Everton side.
The Toffees have lacked true balance in the team for far too long, but it appears that manager Rafa Benitez and director of football Marcel Brands have made this a priority.
The right side of the field seemed stale last season. Seamus Coleman, who turns 33 this year, is getting older, and Alex Iwobi is becoming more successful in a central role, so reinforcements are needed.
It felt like the team couldn’t function at times because one side of the pitch was so empty and lacking. Everton’s play was stifled, and they were predictable, having only used two-thirds of the field.
There was no recognized right winger in the squad, and recent results and performances have been hampered by a lack of depth and, more importantly, a significant reliance on players who can do a job in a position rather than players who are experts in that position.
Townsend and Gray will make Everton tick, even if they aren’t Neymar or Gareth Bale.
Townsend is going to do it. “The summary has come to an end.”