The curmudgeonly amongst the wonderful supporters that are Blue in colour, heart and soul (and blood….and everything else really – after all, when faced with buying something of any colour, who here doesn’t always pick blue? Really? Only me?), would probably just say that what we got yesterday was a point in an away game.
Actually, that, of course, is perfectly correct, and when it comes to totting up the points from our season, that will be exactly what it was. A hard fought, emotionally charged, gut wrenching (the Gerrard free kick), roller-coaster-that-mainly-coasted-and-didn’t-roll-much, of a game, which had the finale of all finales, a generous shinned tap in from the recently derided Club Captain from all of 2 feet. But still one point.
But of course we know it means far more than that, and the impact it could have on our season. And, not to be over-dramatic, our lifetimes. It fills me with great joy, not just to see Jagielka’s piledriver nestle in the top corner when I thought it would be nestling in Row ZZ on past track record, but also to know that we will see that goal replayed time and time again over the years until I finally slip off this mortal coil, and go to meet Dixie and the Cannonball Kid and ask them “Did you see it boys, did you see it?” The impact could be that we finally realise as a team that we can defend as well as score, that we don’t need to listen to the tripe about our defenders being over the hill, and that many of the goals conceded have had an element of misfortune about them. Let’s use it as a springboard, let’s get that self belief flowing through our veins (actually, not ours, the players), and make sure we start October as we mean to go on until May – winning games.
Not much has been written or included in MOTD highlights that we nearly won the game. Had Barry’s flick been a yard to the left, it may just have won us a game that in all honesty we wouldn’t have deserved, but we would hardly have cared. But that’s back to the ifs, buts and maybes that I talked about after Palace. Lukaku should have buried the header that would have brought us level, and then what an entertaining final 20 mins it would have been; although given how we played in all but 8 seconds of the second half, we’d probably have lost. But he didn’t. And if he had scored, we would have been denied Jags’ tap in.
Lukaku bothered me yesterday, but in a good way. He frustrated many commentators on social media as he lost the ball too often, but he lost it doing what he had been asked to do – play wider, and drive at defenders. A good tactic, but probably not the best one to execute it. Whilst it may have worked against Arsenal last season, he never got as much change out of Moreno as the inflated bank balance he got out of Monreal. But at least he did what was asked of him, and still had a chance to score on at least one occasion.
The plaudits for the game have to go to Stones. To say this lad is improving with every game is like asking is the Pope Catholic. Of course he is (Stones that is). He was superb yesterday, anticipating attacks, supporting Hibbo, taking the ball out of defence. Only once that I can recall was he cornered by two Liverpool players who dispossessed him, a habit we have seen in the past, but the lad is learning, and when that happens next time, he’ll do the simple thing and hoof it out of play! I taught him everything he’s ever known (*I’ve taught him everything he has completely disregarded*). He looks settled alongside whoever he plays with, and the bigger the opposition, the less intimidated he seems, and the more he steps up yet again. I’ve no idea who Krasnodar have got up front, but I can’t wait to see him up against Falcao and RVP next week. Just a shame Rooney is out for that one. Yeh, shame.
It is also time to give some recognition to a couple of right backs. Of course, Ty Browning came on and did nothing but enhance his reputation, and also confirm what Martinez has been saying about the younger players stepping up when needed, and what a place he was asked to do it. With the likes of Garbutt, Kenny and Pennington, we know we’ve got some great defenders emerging which when balanced with more experienced hands, must be brilliant for the future of the Club. But I also want to take my proverbial hat off to Tony Hibbert, who in many ways represents the Club, whilst his own future days are numbered. Ok, his pace isn’t there, but then he was never a greyhound was he? Sterling skinned him, but Sterling will skin almost any RB playing in the Prem, Coleman included. But Hibbert once again proved he can tackle, and can also stand up to Mad Mario despite being a couple of inches off in height and chest measurement (although at least, unlike Mario, he isn’t one sandwich short of a picnic at times). Let’s give the lad credit, he’s given his all for this Club, and he hasn’t flounced off when not in the team or squad (step forward Mr Sakho), and not asked for a transfer. Instead, RM knows what he’s about, what he means to Everton, what he can do to show Browning how to take out man and ball, and signs him up to a new contract last July. Well done Tony.
Enough ramblings. A proud day yesterday, a good day to wake up to today, but let’s remember we now have one more point than we had on Saturday morning, and far fewer than the League leaders. We need to use what yesterday represented and kick on to Russia and Old Trafford and beyond, and make this another cracking season to remember, and not just a wonder strike to taunt our neighbours with for the ensuing years. And on that note, I leave you with Lukaku doing exactly that….
Well, the lad had to show Jags how to celebrate didn’t he?