Rooney, Williams wasteful as Allardyce sets up Everton for failure at Watford
Everton manager Sam Allardyce wants more responsibility from his players but continues to show none himself. A 1-0 defeat at Watford was the latest example of Allardyce passing the buck.
Two weeks without a game and warm-weather training in Dubai offered many opportunities to conjure a plan to tackle abject away form, but this was just more of the same as Everton fell to a fifth successive away defeat in all competitions.
Allardyce curiously blamed the loss on a failure to convert chances, conveniently forgetting that chances need creating in the first place. Everton did not muster a single worthwhile effort on goal, nor did they ever look like doing so.
The manager champions defensive ability but has fashioned a team that excels at neither that nor any other aspect. Away matches consist of sporadic pressing and nothing else, just a disorganised team passing time before the opposition inevitably score. The home team has scored first in all bar three of Everton's 14 away league games this season.
Watford began the match with the worst home defence in the league, having conceded 26 goals in 13 games, but the final whistle sounded with the hosts untested in every sense and Allardyce once more shifting blame.
The only shred of comfort is Everton moving another step closer toward consigning this miserable season to history. The first order of business at that point should be the appointment of a manager fit for a club of this stature.
Allardyce defended his agricultural style of play earlier in the week, saying his team has "produced proper football in terms of what we have tried to achieve," which raises the question as to what Allardyce exactly hopes to achieve playing like this because Everton are easy to nullify in possession and even easier to play against. The visitors struggled to string consecutive passes together throughout the match.
With a sweeping through-ball in the first half and a late header when pushed up for a last-minute corner, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had more of an attacking impact than most of his outfield teammates.
Manager rating out of 10
2 -- Prepared to bring on a defensive midfielder to protect a 0-0 draw with 15 minutes left, only changing the substitution because Watford scored in the meantime.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 7 -- One misdirected clearance aside, Pickford kept the visitors afloat with a handful of saves late on, while also playing the pass of the match in the first half.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- The task of filling the sizeable void created by Seamus Coleman proved a stretch as the 20-year-old struggled with his distribution and decision-making.
DF Ashley Williams, 4 -- Experienced centre-back received and wasted another opportunity in the starting XI. At fault for the only goal and must be running out of time as a genuine starting option.
DF Michael Keane, 6 -- Strong in the air and the most convincing among an unsettled defence, the summer signing only wilted in the latter stages after Watford broke the deadlock.
DF Cuco Martina, 5 -- Defended well in one-on-one situations after a few early scares against former Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu, though the makeshift left-back was among those culpable for the Watford goal.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 7 -- His importance to the team is never clearer than during these lifeless collective outings. Won a game-high nine tackles while trying to plug the gaps left by others.
MF Wayne Rooney, 4 -- Too cheaply conceded possession throughout, often misplacing simple passes. His spatial awareness and decision-making need drastic improvement when within sight of his own penalty area.
MF Theo Walcott, 5 -- Lively on the fleeting occasions his teammates brought him into the game, the former Arsenal player spent too much time on the periphery to be able to continue his impressive recent form.
MF Tom Davies, 6 -- The young midfielder marked his 50th Premier League appearance with an intelligent first-half showing, lacking only the final pass to match his sharp movement. Faded in the second half as Everton lost the midfield battle.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 5 -- Struggles whenever the opposition right-back pushes forward as poor defensive positioning becomes an easy target. Brighter than most in possession but well below the level expected.
FW Oumar Niasse, 5 -- Ineffective in every sense, recording no shots in his time on the pitch. Clumsy performance supports the view that Niasse is best as an impact player.
FW Cenk Tosun, 6 -- One of the few who did not seem petrified by the sight of the ball.
MF Yannick Bolasie, NR -- Two of his three attempted passes went to a Watford player.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, NR -- Almost injured Tosun during a goalmouth scramble.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.