The cynics amongst you (can’t be many of those in the Everton fan base, surely?) might trot out a version of “You Only Sing When You’re Winning”, as Obstructed View returns after a petulant author refused to write anything after the Southampton debacle. Or after Leicester. The truth is, I couldn’t find it within me to write something that passed common decency laws, as we failed on both occasions to do anything other than capitulate in the most horrendous of manners, and my language was likely only to be on the side of, well, let’s just say “fruity”.
Normal service therefore resumes, at least until after Saturday, you know, not that we’ve ever experienced any false dawns and I’m fearing the worst, no not at all, all will be fine in the Allardyce era won’t it?
Fearing the worst can have its upsides, as in expecting to get beaten 0-3 and end up winning 4-0, life (and the journey home to Nottingham) looks just that little bit rosier. We beat West Ham, an insipid, lethargic West Ham at that, but it’s a win, a big win, and there were some fantastic signs of those elusive recovery shoots. In fact, it’s great to have a wealth of options to choose a Man of the Match. Er, sit down Cuco, not you mate. In fairness, our man from Curaçao (no, I’ve no idea where it is either, I just thought I’d ordered one at that dodgy cocktail bar in Ibiza, and it came with not just a straw but a bloody parasol as well) had one of his better games. As a defender (allegedly), he is to defending what Trump is to tact and diplomacy, but he put a decent shift in and played within his limitations, even if that does mean giving an attacker about 10 yards to weave his trickery and stick in a cross. If we’re being generous……(!)…..we could always remember that he was playing as a Left Back, and he only uses his left foot to keep his right foot company. But let’s not dwell on negatives…..
Pickford: immense; Holgate: much more solid and not caught under the ball for once; Williams: apart from the Penalty (yeh, apart from that…) and failing to clear his lines, a decent outing, and a great goal; Gueye: back to his harrying best, although had little to harry at given West Ham’s mediocre attacking threat; Davies: high energy and some insightful passing again; Sigurdsson: best game in a Blue shirt probably, and looked more settled and composed, the shape of the team suiting him better, especially with Rooney more likely to tread on the Defender’s toes rather than Gylfi’s or Calvert-Lewin; Lennon: work rate superb, and some signs of taking on his man (‘men’ at times) and going outside, another excellent performance and giving Kenny strong support too; and then there’s Calvert-Lewin, another great shift up top, using his pace, and no surprise that two of the four goals were as a result directly or indirectly of his pace and athleticism. He’s a half decent target man, learning all the time, and he’s going to get better and better. He just needs some help, maybe from Oumar, no longer our leading scorer, but more likely from a purchase in January, if we can persuade someone to join us.
Which brings me to my Man of the Match. It would be all too easy to put the winner’s medal around Rooney’s neck, after all it’s not every day you score a hat trick, let alone your first for Everton, one of which is a wonder goal from your own half. And not just because in his deeper lying role, he was far more accomplished than I’ve seen him tis season. It seemed to suit him, and he kept the discipline, and so kept the shape, that Unsworth would have demanded, and didn’t try to do everybody else’s jobs for them. He was there bossing the passing, and not the one always being passed to, which has all too often seen momentum snuffed out in its infancy, as the younger players in particular show the old maestro far too much deference rather than build on their own considerable ability. Having written all that, how can I NOT give Rooney MotM? Well, he needs praise just like we all do from time to time, but if my praise counts for anything (it doesn’t, let’s be clear), it will count more for a young man at the start of his Premier League career, rather than the twilight stage.
Step forward, Jonjoe Kenny. This lad is 20, but last night, he played what I’d be certain was one of the best Right Back performances of his life, one of the best in the Premier League this season by himself or any other RB (I’m biased, indulge me in my superlatives), and showed why Unsworth and the Club rate him so highly. It was actually hard to not think you were watching Coleman in some of his marauding forward runs, especially leading to the second goal, when his feint gave Davies all the extra time and space he needed to put in the killer cross for Kenny to lash home. Oh, hang on, deliberately leave the cross for Rooney to slot home, not an air kick at all. His defending was actually better than Coleman’s latter day performances, and his natural spring enables him to leap higher than you’d expect for a 5footniner. He’s also got a bit of attitude too, only narrowly missing a scythe that would have put Masuaku in to Allardyce’s lap, but also showing that he’s massively committed as an Evertonian. It was fantastic when he and Davies came over to the Gwladys at the end to applaud the fans, and you could see how much in meant to them both. Keep it going Jonjoe lad.
A final point, and its a big thank you, to Unsworth of course. His belief, his courage, his dignity, his passion, his articulate messages, everything about him has oozed class these last 6 weeks. It’s a pity he didn’t win all the games we played, and he turned out to be a world class manager as well as a world class man, but how can you expect that, given his normal role at the Club, to which, thankfully, he returns. Last night, he actually showed immense tactical acumen, somewhat belatedly some might argue, as his 4-5-1 system seemed unlikely ever to be broken down, except maybe for the first 10-15 mins of the second half, and even that was as much about Everton fluffing their lines than West Ham opening us up. Well done Rhino, top man, thanks for doing a half decent job, which might have been even better if the players had actually played for you in more than 1 and two halves of football.
Now on to the new error. Sorry, era. I’m not a fan of Allardyce I’ll admit, and even less of Lee and Shakespeare, but I am a fan of Everton FC, and that’s all that matters. Win games, put in big performances, win us the FA Cup.
Not too much to ask…..is it?