Calling BBC Radio Merseyside, “Jim” said he thought he’d been to a different game to everyone else. He said we were one notch above abysmal in the first half, but we came flying out of the traps in the second half. He said our first goal was lucky (don’t think he mentioned the excellence of Bolasie’s cross), and he also said that in his view, the world is flat, not round.
Well, sorry Jim, I’m not sure which match you were at, but it certainly wasn’t Everton vs Brighton. Oh, and bad luck to his ‘mate’, a ST holder who sits near me in the UG who booed at HT and went home. Great supporters. “I’ve paid my money and I’ve a right to say what I like”. Yes, you can. I’ve paid my money too, and even if I hadn’t, I’d be entitled to say what I like too, and both Jim and ‘Early Departer’ were fundamentally wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve been in the pits of despair just like any Blue recently, and I reserve the right to return there next week, and I’m not naive enough to think that yesterday’s light at the end of the tunnel is not just a train coming in the opposite direction. But let’s call it for what it was: an improvement, and actually, a pleasant and significant enough improvement at that. We shouldn’t get overly excited about beating Brighton say some, but given the context of where we are, then of course we should celebrate with at least a crafty swig of Grandma’s sweet sherry, if not a full night out on the lash. “We should be beating Brighton” says Jim, and of course we should. But we haven’t beaten Watford, Burnley and a rather too lengthy a list of 11 other defeats so let’s put that victory in the context of where we are, rather than where a sometimes misplaced arrogance says we ought to be. We are 9th, and that, I’m afraid is where we deserve to be, and frankly where some of our performances would surprise us to be. We’re not ‘safe’ and even writing that on 11th March sums up the disaster that is the 17/18 season, so, again, context is everything here.
Dare I say it, but we actually played two decent halves, and even better, they were in the same game. Not often we’ve said that in the last year or so. A lively enough start, Bolasie with some wing trickery; some long balls pinpointed to the ever willing runs of Walcott and Sigurdsson from our resident deep lying midfielder Rooney; a bloke with a left foot at Left Back (it’ll never catch on); and a wide right full back, keen as mustard to get forward and act as an auxiliary winger. Add to that some old lag back at Centre Half that made the Young Wag alongside him exude confidence, and Jag(s) completing my pi**-poor attempt at poetry and rhyming couplets, made us look a half-decent defensive unit. This has to be our regular back four for now, unless we want to throw in Holgate alongside Keane to see if they could ever be our first choice pairing, but I’d like 45 points in the bag before that happens!
But the best part of yesterday, without question, was Cenk Tosun. Frankly, I don’t care how you pronounce his name, I just want to hear our, or frankly anyone else’s, stadium announcer trying to get their false teeth around it as they announce yet another goal from our not-so-Young Turk. Sorry Graeme if you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve still got all your own teeth. Positive. Definitely.
Tosun was superb yesterday, and not just because of his goal. He was everything we love at Everton, chasing down ‘keepers and defenders, not all the time but enough to keep them guessing and making punts forward not passes, linking up well with Bolasie and Walcott, flicks and dribbles, a great target for the midfield to aim at with intelligent runs, and most important of all, a great goal too. And 94 minutes as well. Delighted to see it come good, and all we need to see now is consistency, which I’m sure will come. It will, the raw material is there, it’s now up to him and the coaches.
Consistency is needed from one or two players too. Walcott was good yesterday, and not the shadow of a player he was against Watford or Burnley. We’ll wait and see what this injury is and whether he’s due a spell out of the side (his injury record is not that great after all), but he was a pleasure to watch yesterday. Always looking for the space, linking up well with Coleman, absolutely first class first touch with some of the balls pinged at him (take note Tom Davies), and intelligent back post lurking to either score (we all thought it was him not Bong from our vantage point 100 yards away) or knock back across for Tosun to toe poke it in (see what I nearly did there?). He’s a bright lad Walcott, and allied to other brighter sparks rather than some of our XI who may be a sandwich short of a picnic, he has the quality and leadership skills to take this team on to a different level (upwards, just to be clear).
Another of the Bright Brigade of course is Baines, and not just for the alliteration. From a footballing perspective, his calmness on the ball, his left foot for goodness sake, including a great ball up the line for Bolasie, and his all round sound defensive qualities shows just what we’ve been missing, with apologies to the right footed left back who has tried hard, but who has been playing at a level far above his station. Baines’ quality was also brought home as Knockaert lunged in to almost kneecap him after 80 minutes. A flick back of his standing leg to minimise any possible injury, and a shrug to Roger East, rather than rolling around in apparent agony as many would have done, all enough for the Ref to do the right thing and send the errant Frenchman from the field of play. Perhaps Baines was angry, but he probably felt Coleman’s anger in Knockaert’s face was enough for the lad from Roubaix to cope with. Coleman’s anger was obvious and heartfelt, and completely understandable. It was nice of Seamus I thought to explain his ‘disappointment’ no doubt in fluent French all the way to the sidelines.
There we are, ‘Bong bonged his hamstring’ was the only other line I was playing with, but it turns out the Cameroonian has suffered enough with an OG, so I won’t mention it.
We won a game, it doesn’t make everything bad go away, not for ever, but at least, at the very least, until 3pm next Saturday. Celebrate just a tiny bit, just for that.