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Renato Sanches 'far more damaged than I thought' - Paul Clement

Renato Sanches 'far more damaged than I thought' - Paul Clement


When Everton manager Sam Allardyce joined in November, majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri praised his strong leadership, great motivation, and ability to get the best out of players.

But a 5-1 drubbing at Arsenal on Saturday showed that Allardyce is failing on all fronts. Only self-preservation exists where leadership should as Allardyce accepts praise for wins but blames players for defeats.

There is also no motivation, as there is no incentive for players to perform. Players move in and out of the team at random. While some fade from the first-team picture for weeks before returning for one-off matches, others stay in the team despite poor displays. Good performances seem to guarantee nothing.

As for getting the best out of players, Allardyce repeatedly mentions consistency but offers no platform for it. In the last nine games, 40 changes to the starting XI and eight different centre-back pairings underline absurd team selections. Everton have now used 38 players in all competitions this season.

This season has descended into a succession of people shirking responsibility, on and off the pitch, offering up excuses rather than actions. Everton need structure, identity, and the chance to build partnerships, not a repeat of the chaos that saw Ronald Koeman sacked after losing 5-2 to Arsenal earlier in the season. Allardyce went one worse here, and the end of his tenure cannot arrive quick enough.


Tom Davies entered the action at half-time and departed at the final whistle as one of the select few worthy of the shirt on their back. Buzzing around midfield and trying to link the play, the midfielder played his part in the build-up to the consolation goal.


Even on a good day, Everton might struggle to contain Arsenal, but this was an Everton defence also contending with three personnel changes, a new formation and a centre-back making his debut after two days with the club. To throw Eliaquim Mangala into a game of this nature on such short notice defied belief.

Elsewhere, the wing-backs seemed unsure whether to push wide or support the three centre-backs, while the midfield neither helped Oumar Niasse in attack nor protected the defence. Each outfield player appeared unaware of their role in the first half.

Manager rating out of 10

0 -- Overseeing the worst first-half in recent memory was merely the beginning of this horrible episode.

Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jordan Pickford, 6 -- Almost kept out the deflected third, but the Everton goalkeeper had no chance with the other four goals as the defence crumbled around him.

DF Jonjoe Kenny, 5 -- Not what he had in mind on his return to the starting XI. Solid work ethic put him above the majority as he mostly escaped censure for the five goals conceded.

DF Michael Keane, 4 -- One of the best players in midweek but lasted only until half-time in this match. Among those at fault for the second goal as Everton fell apart.

DF Ashley Williams, 3 -- For a player of his experience, there are far too many days like this. Rash decision-making resulted in poor positioning for the first two goals as Arsenal wrapped up the game inside 20 minutes.

DF Eliaquim Mangala, 4 -- Missed a straightforward cross for the opener before turning his back and deflecting in the third. A nightmare debut in a match he should not have started.

DF Cuco Martina, 5 -- Stuck to his task defensively and offered more attacking threat than Yannick Bolasie in front of him, setting up the Everton goal with a nicely weighted cross.

MF Theo Walcott, 6 -- Close to a goal in the first half before an excellent cross handed Niasse a clear-cut chance in the second. Removed after an hour with an eye toward preserving his fitness.

MF Idrissa Gueye, 4 -- Unusually poor, conceded too much space in front of the defence and never got close enough to the marauding Arsenal midfielders breaking forward.

MF Morgan Schneiderlin, 3 -- Strolled around like it was preseason and watched Aaron Ramsey scored the first hat trick of his career. How he remains in the team in this form is quite baffling.

MF Yannick Bolasie, 3 -- Aside from the occasional stumble over the ball or senseless run down a blind alley, the worst part of his performance was his work rate. Another who barely broke sweat.

FW Oumar Niasse, 5 -- Should have scored but hit the post with his only sight of goal. With service nonexistent, the isolated striker at least offered the application absent elsewhere.


MF Tom Davies, 7 -- Put the rest to shame in his 45-minute outing and has to start next week.

FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 5 -- Scored the consolation before later handing Arsenal possession for their fifth.

FW Cenk Tosun, NR -- Screwed a shot wide during a brief cameo.

Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.

Rafael Benitez is confident he will match Roy Hodgson and still be a manager at 70.

The 57-year-old Spaniard will go head to head with the former England boss on Sunday as he takes his Newcastle side to Selhurst Park for a crucial Premier League clash with Crystal Palace.

The Eagles have dragged themselves up the table since Hodgson replaced Frank De Boer in September and brought his wealth of experience, and Benitez can see himself carrying on just as long.

Asked if he would still be managing at 70, he said: "At the moment, I have to say yes, obviously, because I like the passion of football, I like my job.

"You have managers doing the job for years because of the energy that we have, the passion and the desire for winning that we have. With the desire for winning I have, I cannot see a normal life for myself."

Benitez admits there are times when the subject of retirement is raised at home, but soon discounted.

He said: "My wife and my daughters, but especially my wife, say, 'Hello, haven't you had enough, stay here.'

"But at the same time, when you are at home and you are moving plates and glasses around the kitchen in 4-4-2, they say, 'Go.'

"The main thing is to have health. If you are healthy, you can continue and I am fine, touch wood. I'm fine. Normally I don't drink and I don't smoke, so that's it, I'm fine."

Benitez is currently putting what he has learned throughout his career to date to good use at St James' Park in an effort to keep the promoted club in the Premier League.

He said: "We are in a learning process. People say, 'You have to learn quicker' -- yes we have to learn quickly and we are improving, but the priority for any promoted team is to stay up.

"Next year, you have more experience, more money and maybe you can pick better players up. If you want to compete against Premier league teams, you have to stay there.

"The 52,000, this city, everything we say about the club that is massive, will have more effect because we will be established in the Premier League."

Former Bayern Munich assistant Paul Clement feels sorry for Renato Sanches, whom he signed on a season-long loan at Swansea City, saying the player has "the weight of the world on his shoulders."

Clement had hailed Sanches as "one of Europe's elite young talents" when welcoming him to his squad last summer after Swansea agreed to pay Bayern a loan fee of €8.5 million without securing any option to buy the Portugal international at end of his spell in Wales.

But things turned sour for both Sanches and Clement, who was sacked in December with the Welsh side rooted to the bottom of the table, while Sanches has failed to impress in 15 appearances at Swansea so far this season.

Clement had been hoping to build his team around Sanches, whom he worked with during his first six months in Bavaria as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant, before the Englishman left to successfully keep the Welsh side in the Premier League.

"I thought that was a massive coup for us, to attract a player of that level after what he'd done a summer earlier in the Euros," Clement told the Times.

Sanches, 20, won the 2016 Golden Boy award and was voted best young player at Euro 2016, a tournament won by his Portugal side. However, Sanches has struggled to meet expectations at Bayern since his move from Benfica, when Bayern successfully beat competition from Manchester United for his signature.

"I knew it would take some time," Clement said. "I was with him the first six months at Bayern [as assistant to Ancelotti], and he hadn't played regularly.

"His physical condition was down. His confidence was down."

Sanches only started six Bundesliga games last season under Ancelotti, failing to score or provide an assist in 25 appearances in all competitions, while completing 90 minutes on just a single occasion.

Sanches said in the summer he would like to join AC Milan "if the opportunity arose" in a bid to secure more playing time but, using his Bayern connections, Clement successfully managed to lure the 20-year-old to Wales.

"When I called Bayern, [CEO Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge initially said to me, 'There are 10 other clubs in,' and I left it," Clement said, explaining the background behind the deal.

"It was only a couple of weeks later when I spoke to Carlo and asked, 'Have you got any players for me?'

"Tongue in cheek really, and he went, 'Renato Sanches.'

"Bayern really supported it. They thought he was going to a club who played football, and to a coach who would care and give him the attention he needs.

"He wasn't so keen initially. He thought he was going to go to Man United, Chelsea or Paris Saint-Germain.

"Bayern were saying, 'You're not going there, it would be the same situation, you're not going to play.'

"When he came, he was far more damaged than I thought. It was really sad. He was a boy who had almost got the weight of the world on his shoulders."

"In training, when that pressure is not there, he was the best player. He could do things no one else could do. He's got power, can go past people, got a shot on him. But then in games, I looked at the choices he was making, shooting from 45 yards on the angle, and he kept making those mistakes.

"He had a desire to please and a desire to prove everybody wrong. He got in a vicious cycle of poor choices. The other players were saying, 'He's playing like that and you're not picking me,' so it became difficult to pick him."

Currently sidelined by injury, Sanches hasn't scored or provided an assist in 12 Premier League games for the Swans, failing to feature since the 2-0 home defeat to Spurs on Jan. 2.

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.