Football – back after the International break to a ‘Retro Theme’ with lots going on in the Fan Zone. However, our match day ritual built up over what seems like a million years won the day: we all assembled in the room of nonsense and, over a few bevies, all things Everton where discussed and argued over. With it being ‘Retro day’, my Brown over Bitter seemed to suit the theme... Time for the walk to the ground and getting in just before Z-Cars, cans of Coke being given away by Everton 1. And the Fan Zone being in full swing didn’t stop the patrons of the ‘Fat Van’ – ‘Scarf and badge stall’ – ‘Blue Dragon’ and ‘The Café’ having to form queues. Shame to see the ‘Winslow’ boarded up. Through the turnstile and a rack of shirts and other merchandise on sale. After scrutiny by a youngster I heard his Dad exclaim "50 quid! Yer 'avin' a laff" as I made my way to my seat.

Over 38 thousand of us gathered and gave the players a warm welcome and, on the ref's whistle, we were underway; strangely, after appearing to win the toss, we attacked the Gwladys Street end. Right away, we looked a touch jaded and out of sorts as Hull came storming forward and some of our keep-ball play was a touch off, shall we say... But, in true footy fashion, nothing is as it appears to be; within 10 mins we were one-up when we forced a corner which Baines played in – not very well, I need to report – but the upshot was that the cleared ball fell to Osman who, with spatial awareness, fed Mirallas who clipped a daisy-cutter home via the upright. Much celebrating and noise ensued, amongst which, I wondered why the keeper didn’t make an effort and after watching our big screen could still find no answer; one of those things, I suppose.

I said to my mate, "We need a good 10 minutes as they are now bound to throw things forward" and we did manage that, thus allowing things to settle a little. Hull were looking decent and not like a team that might go straight back down and we had more than a few nervy moments. As I wished for Lukaku to burst into Rambo mode, he seemed to fade away more than a little and the back-line wasn’t looking that calm either; but for McCarthy and Barry in centre-mid, they would have been under more pressure. Barry got booked for what appeared from my seat no more than winning the ball... yet the Hull striker Graham was stretchered off and replaced by Sagbo. Aluko then had a couple of goes at lying on the turf to get the game stopped each time he was robbed, which infuriated the faithful, but our players did the modern thing and kicked it out.

We had a spell of looking more than shaky from set pieces; twice in a short space of time, Faye wasted two good opportunities to level the scores. On the half-hour mark, we buckled after another lying-on-the-turf incident, Aluko went past the sleeping Baines and from the by-line whipped in a cross that the unattended sub Sagbo rifled home. The goodly number of Hull fans present enquired as to who we were. The Park Ends grasp of ‘Anglo Saxon’ was demonstrated.

The remaining 15 or so mins of the half in truth belonged to Hull who had the best of the chances, especially from corners where we looked vulnerable, Baines headed off the line and Distin deflected a dipping rocket over the bar. Hull players were still lying on the turf as 4 mins of added went up and the exodus for bars and bogs missed nothing.

Half-time and, in keeping with the retro theme, we had the great Ray Wilson also Derek Temple and Geoff "Was it over the line?" Hurst presented to us. They received a tremendous if wet reception as God opened the heavens and Everton opened the sprinklers!

Second half started and most agreed we needed to up our game as the opening half had been sort of half-throttle with many citing the international duties of many being the cause. Well, we did start the faster and with more coherence but were soon brought back to earth as Hull almost took the lead with a shot that just evaded the upright with Howard nowhere. The manager had seen enough and didn’t hesitate to swop Osman for Pienaar before the hour mark; "Good on him," I mused...

What a sub it turned out to be as, within seconds, a move begun by Howard and through proper joined-up stuff found its way to Mirallas out wide right. He cut in and out and fed one across goal to find the in-rushing South African who slotted with some aplomb. Much celebrating by players and fans alike took place down the Park End culminating with a raucous rendition of ‘Who are yer’ 30-odd minutes still to go and with Hull looking dangerous from corners and free kicks the 12th man tried a rallying call but that just sort of died away. Although not playing badly, we did look vulnerable which transmitted to the fans and the playing of the ball across the back was starting to be frowned upon.

Barry and especially McCarthy were doing sterling work all across the park and some of McCarthy’s lung-busting work reminded me a little of Tommy Gravesen in his pomp. Corners were always a scary time for fans assembled and Hull came close a couple of times.

I don’t know if it’s a Belgian thing or not but, yet again, both Lukaku and Mirallas were looking shot just after the hour mark. Our new manager noticed this and replaced Lukaku with Kone before the 70-min mark. Mirallas was left on and given encouragement. We still played the ball about at the back up until the point where Hull had pressed right up on us and someone had to hoof! A bit of fine tuning required, methinks.

A good break on the left saw Kone come infield at pace and into the six-yard box. He shot with venom and beat the keeper but not the post; he did retrieve the ball but this time fired at the keeper who parried away; drat – a goal would have done him the world of good.

We were now playing the clock down but still time for Mirallas to hit the ball into an opponent and Distin to head over from a corner when more could have been expected. Final whistle and I am sure most in attendance put it down as three points gained from a patchy performance – but you take these wins no matter what.

MotM – McCarthy.

Overall, a good day out... albeit, to watch, a game that never reached any heights. The Martinez Way was well tolerated with understanding until about three quarters of the way through the second half, when – after one spell that became more than hairy as Hull closed us down – the faithful reacted and a fan near me succinctly put it: "Stop piss-balling about, Everton!"

I enjoyed the combination of McCarthy and Barry in midfield as they played with a commitment to join up back to front and Barry, although receiving a yellow early on, never shirked any tackles or tussles.

It will be interesting to see how we handle Villa away as we will need to be more ‘at it’ than we were today. Hopefully after a week’s rest, we should have shaken off any lethargy that may have been caused by the international excursions. We have had a fair start to the season in my book and I will be interested to take my first meaningful look at the league table come beginning of December which usually gives a good indication of possible league finishes.

Plenty of games to go and plenty to play for — Bring it on!

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Brian Garside
336 Posted 20/10/2013 at 00:30:23
Thanks Ken.
We are easy to read and a high pressing game by the opposition will cause us problems.
Today I found the choice of subs very interesting.
Oviedo and Heitinger missing.
Soon to be sold?
Brian Garside
338 Posted 20/10/2013 at 00:47:03
Oh yeah. We don´t look fit enough to be able to control/dominate a game for 95 mins.
Mike Gaynes
344 Posted 20/10/2013 at 03:23:14
As always, great reporting, Ken. I was really impressed with our effort except, as you point out, for our shambolic defending on corners. It has been a season-long problem, and it is going to get us killed sooner or later. Had Davies been halfway accurate on several uncontested headers, we could have lost this game.

I would also point out that Jags/Distin continue to be well off their game, and we benefited from two huge no-calls by the ref. Barry was clearly offside on the first goal and was caught on the replay admitting he had touched the ball, so it should not have stood. And Barry's yellow card (which was for a challenge on Aluko, not the injury to Graham) should probably have been a red.

How many times is it this season that Martinez has put on a sub who has scored immediately? Today it almost happened twice when Kone hit the post after Pienaar scored. Roberto is starting to look almost clairvoyant.

Forgive the query from one who has never been to Goodison, but would you please explain what "Anglo Saxon" is? Thanks.

John Haldane
348 Posted 20/10/2013 at 03:42:40
Anglo Saxon is a euphemism for cursing.
Peter Leslie
356 Posted 20/10/2013 at 05:52:09
Just watched the full game and have to concur we looked a but shaky at the back, but Hull had a good game plan and played surprising well: they will give many teams a hard game .

Just on the main points of contention, which mostly armed to involve Barry: the challenge on Graham was a but ugly/clumsy and definitely a yellow, but not malicious at all. The one on Alouko was a solid block on the ball, but his front foot, after contacting the ball, diverted over the top and caught the player in the shin - a painful one but not even a foul in my book . For the goal, the ball was going wide from Mirallas' shot, and that's why the goalie didn't dive - Barry deflected it in off his ankle; but what nobody is seeing is that a defender trying to close down Mirallas also got a tiny touch on the ball - so not offside, and Barry's goal in my view.

Overall, a game we should have won, and we did, and despite it being a but patchy, we were by far the better side and deserved the three points.

Very pleased for Pienaar: thought Ossie had a decent game up to the yellow - but it was the right time to sub him; its great that we have two decent inside-lefts , both a bit lightweight, and neither can play the full 90 effectively anymore but they each add a lot to our attacking play, if not so much in defence.

And I had to laugh when he turned the flag around after scoring - the funny thing is that it was still wrong - the SA flag is supposed to have the red on top.


Mohammed Horoub
364 Posted 20/10/2013 at 07:37:06
Thanks for the report Ken. I think most of the comments since yesterday feel the same way. Agree that McCarthy was MoM with Pienaar a close second purely for the class of his touch for the goal...

Although I agree that we were poor on set pieces throughout the game and that is something we will need to address over the coming few weeks I want to point out that forcing the opposition to continuously press us high up the pitch really helps when we get to the final 10/15mins. I thought yesterday Hull ran out of steam and we really closed the game out well. Jags and Distin were both having an off day and playing the ball out from the back isn't really built into their DNA but we need to stay the course and RM needs time...

Based on some comments on the other threads you would have thought we collected more than 15 points from the first 8 games every season.
Yesterday was a poor performance and we still got the win and that for me is the sign of a winning mentality.
Looking at the bench yesterday was a huge boost and when Heitinga and Oviedo can't make the bench you know we have a real squad now.

Yes there were negatives yesterday but grinding out results will give RM and the team time to get things right.

Ken Crowther
371 Posted 20/10/2013 at 09:02:34
Ken, nice one - as always.

Peter Leslie #356, I had one of my rare (these days) visits to the Grand Old Lady, so didn't even see the Barry 'ankle'; therefore I was convinced it was a good goal. Haven't watched the recording yet, having got home very late, due to the need to visit relatives/friends whenever we get to "the pool"; but I'd be interested to know what other people think.

Phil Walling
380 Posted 20/10/2013 at 09:31:33
Having turned our back on KITANO and variations thereof, it is vital that we come to some agreement on our anagram for the new man's 'filosofy'.

I've already offered PAATB- pissing about at the back- although Ken's -and, I think the Editor's- PBAATB- piss balling about at the back- has more resonance.

By such decisions can Toffeeeweb's influence over managers styles be defined!

Jim Harrison
393 Posted 20/10/2013 at 11:51:55
Hull played very well I thought, using similar tactics to Everton of a few years back, high intensity closing down blood and guts. That said, I don't remember any of our lads being so prone to get "injured" so easily?

The plan worked well for them, causing quite a few uncomfortable passages, not least when Howard spooned a rather pacey and high back pass from Distin. I like the style of play at present but sometimes you just need to put the ball in row z and regroup.
Hull also have a fair few big lads on the pitch.

Would have liked to see the show pony instead of Naismith at the end, and perhaps have used Mirellas as the striker after Lukaku came off as against Chelsea, but I am not the manager!

Ken Crowther
413 Posted 20/10/2013 at 14:48:06
Peter Leslie #356

I've now watched the Mirallas goal, and the replays, three times.

Can't see that the closing defender got anywhere near the ball, although he seemed to try.

So having been convinced that it was a goal, then persuaded that it wasn't, then told (by you) that it was, I'm now sure that the ref would have been within his rights to disallow it.

(Originally that read "should have been disallowed"; but I decided that that made me sound like a luke-warm Evertonian.)

James Flynn
486 Posted 20/10/2013 at 19:07:23
Phil (380) - Don't like this kick-it-around-the-back stuff either.

With our latest additions, especially Lukaku, would prefer we play a few games formed up as we were last season.

Roberto sees it different, so far. Hopefully, he'll manage without fear and we'll see different styles employed.

Jim Lloyd
522 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:54:28
For crying out loud! Ciriticising RM's "philosophy" of, what are they calling it, "pissing about at the back!"

How many years have we had to suffer A fecking great hoof up the field and expected any one of half a dozen lone strikers expected to make something of it!

Usually, we would end up losing it and the ball would be handed to the opposition on a plate and they would start their attacks, courtesy of our prediliction for twatting it upfield to no-one in particular!

What, in my humble opinion, were seeing here, is not a weakness in RM's philosophy. We are seeing how poor Jagielka, Howard and Distin are, in doing anything but the absolute basics in their respective roles.

I'm not attempting to knock them, they are good servants of the club and, if we want to see a stopper, then Pj is a good un. What RM is trying to coach into them, is how to use the ball in some other way than HOOF! and they're not yet comfortable with it. Stirling example is Dizzy's weird attempt at a back pass and Tim's even weirder attempt to deal with it.

So those who accuse Martinez of espousing "tippy tappy" football, I'd say that this season, I'vbe seen more signs of hope in the last 8 or so games, than I've doe in years.

Certainly, Jagielka, Distin and Howard are making errors, and on many occasions, wondering what on earth to do with the ball. But I believe they are slowly improving . They have had years of being told, hoof it. They are comfortable with that route.

This way is putting them under pressure. They have to Think!

Personally. I'm not sure if Jagiel;ka can improve that much in distributing the ball. I thin k his passing is poor.

But I'd rather see him make mistakes, if he learns that there's more to football than just being a really good stopper.

Paul Holden
533 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:52:18
Yep, any team that presses us high up the field and gets stuck in (Milner, Man City) will do us if we carry on tart-arsing with our passes on our own18-yard line.
Jim Harrison
534 Posted 21/10/2013 at 00:13:23
Jim,522, just read on BBC that Jags has the highest pass completion rate of Everton defenders. Can't be that limited.
Harold Matthews
562 Posted 21/10/2013 at 09:50:52
Jim H. #534 With 90% of his passes going across to Distin he must have one of the highest completion rates in the league.

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