It wasn’t the most convincing of wins or indeed performances but more points on the board and maintaining a presence in and around the top six is perhaps currently more important. Performances have been there in flashes this season and if we can just find that consistency and, more importantly for me, stop pratting around with the ball inside our own 20-yard line, we might well be set for a very positive campaign.
We certainly began the day in positive spirits – it’s nice to arrive in the pub pre-match to find Liverpool are trailing 1-0 – with Gary, Sue, Ste, Gaz and some old mates from university all in quite early and everyone in good form. It was a shame Newcastle Utd couldn’t quite get over the line against Liverpool but, with the Reds drawing, the opportunity was at least there to get closer to them in the table if we could overcome Hull City.
Moving onto the ground and it was ‘Retro Day’ at Goodison Park, this reflected by many wearing older ‘NEC’ and ‘Hafnia’ sponsored shirts, a beautiful retro-themed edition of the match day programme and ‘Subbuteo’ themed player announcements over the tannoy. It all contributed to quite a bubbling atmosphere pre-kick of with Hull City supporters playing their part too, nearly filling their two-tiered allocation in the Bullens Road.
As for the team, with Pienaar only fit enough to start from the substitutes' bench, Leon Osman was deployed on the left-hand side with Mirallas operating from the right. Despite pre-match ramblings on Twitter from John Heitinga, there was no place for him even on the bench… the days are surely numbered at Everton for the Dutchman. Hull City’s team included Danny Graham, Tom Huddlestone and Alan McGregor in its ranks though I was hard-pushed to recognize too many players in their squad. Perhaps due to the bright sunshine, we switched ends prior to kick off and attacked the Gwladys Street in the first half.
Unlike some of the matches I’ve taken in this season, the tempo was rather fast and vibrant with both teams fired up for the battle. Everton were probably edging things in the opening sparings and this was reflected by our opening goal when a cleared corner eventually got played to Mirallas at the edge of the box who drove at goal, the ball maybe clipping off Barry, maybe not, but nestling into the corner regardless. Steve Bruce was complaining after the match about Barry’s role in the goal as he was in an offside position. He does have a case though I hope for his sake he hasn’t overlooked Alan McGregor’s complete lack of attempt to save the shot. It should really have been quite a routine save.
This wasn’t all Steve Bruce was complaining about with Gareth Barry post-match and again, I have to say he has a point as he could easily have been shown his marching orders for two bad tackles, the first which finished Graham for the afternoon, the second which could have finished Sagbo. It’s fair to say he / we got away with that one.
We didn’t get away with our continued ‘tying-ourselves-in-knots-trying-to-play-the-ball-out-from-the-back’ however, and invited way too much pressure on ourselves, thereby encouraging Hull City who built up enough momentum and went and scored. It was deserved, had been coming, and, on 30 minutes, Sagbo finished too easily and levelled the scores. We had been warned when Faye headed narrowly wide with a chance from a corner after Distin and Howard had gotten themselves in all sorts of trouble.
Chances were really at a premium for the remainder of the half. Lukaku forced a save out of McGregor but that was roughly it and we needed half time to regroup before the whistle went.
Sir Geoff Hurst, Ray Wilson and Derek Temple all received a stupendous reception on the pitch at half time as they stood covered under umbrellas… the weather had by now taken quite a turn from gleaming sunshine to quite a downfall and this added to the spice for the second half with both teams continuing to play competitively with a lot of zip on the turf…James McCarthy was particularly impressive both with tackling and ball distribution.
The key moment came on around 55 minutes. We felt the introduction of Steven Pienaar may reap it’s rewards if he was fit enough to perform and, when Osman picked up a sensible yellow card by taking out a player and stopping a break from Hull, it also seemed a sensible time to introduce Pienaar to replace Leon… Nobody could have anticipated an impact quite like that however. Mirallas got free down the right-hand side and played in a good ball which Pienaar exquisitely flicked home with his first touch, some apparent 10 seconds after taking to the field. What an impact and what a goal!
This certainly acted as a catalyst to pump up the volume at Goodison Park and it was some atmosphere for the remainder of the game. We could, and should, have put more gloss on the scoreline when substitute Arouna Kone was gifted with a great opportunity after Coleman had set him up nicely. He seemed composed and took a good touch though then somehow managed to smash the ball against the post with pretty much the whole goal to aim at. It was a quite dreadful miss which won’t have helped his generally low popularity amongst the Evertonians. It’s a good thing that miss didn’t cost us. He then followed this up with a not-quite-as-easy opportunity which he also missed, hitting straight at McGregor when he should have done better.
We survived Hull’s attempts to salvage though they did have one good opportunity when one of Huddlestone’s delightful corners was put wide by a Hull player with a free header. Cheers greeted the full-time whistle after an entertaining, if not exactly inspiring, victory against a reasonably disciplined Hull City team. We marched on to Kirkdale Station after the match and met friends and family in Liverpool for a few drinks before heading on to a friend's 30th Birthday Party at Tranmere Rovers FC Function Suite… I suppose if you’re not happy with Everton you need only look at the dire mess Tranmere Rovers have found themselves in – they lost 0-4 at home to Leyton Orient yesterday and sit 22nd of 24 teams in League One.
Things are going well for Everton… Hell, they could be a lot, lot worse.
Howard: This passing it short from the back is killing me. It’s not all Howard’s fault obviously because he’s being asked to do this, but I feel sometimes we have to mix it up. We have as good an outlet up front as we could wish for and I wish we would utilize it more. We really are lucky not to have leaked more goals with the danger we sometimes put ourselves in. I’m not totally adverse to building from the back, I just think we should chose our moments better on how to do it. Otherwise, Howard was fine. 6
Baines: Perhaps slightly at fault for Hull’s equalizer but he had a pretty good and consistent match overall. 7
Distin: I thought he had a poor game. He seemed sluggish. I’d hate to think that’s age catching up with him... more likely it may have been due to a knock he was carrying. Either way, I hope that’s just a blip as he can be a colossus at the back and is needed. 5
Jagielka: Did well at the back. Marshaled very well. 7
Coleman: Not one of his better games, particularly defensively, but he got through it. 5
Barry: Lucky to remain on the pitch after some pretty awful tackles but aside form that he had his usual, consistent, solid game. 6
McCarthy: Outstanding. We’ve got a cracking player there. He works tirelessly, doesn’t mind a scrap and works the ball very well. I was very skeptical about him at that value but I was immensely impressed with him yesterday. My Man of the Match. 9
Osman: Didn’t do anything wrong at all but Pienaar just offered that something different. He’ll likely drop out of the team for next weekend's visit to Aston Villa at the expense of Pienaar but he will stay involved under Martinez. I’m quite sure. 6
Mirallas: Surely his best game so far this season. Seemed to have that bit between his teeth again. We need more of that. He could really be a key cog in the team if only he could focus better. Hopefully the goal will help kick-start his season. 7
Barkley: Did OK. Still maturing and will only get to where we need him to be with games. 6
Lukaku: Is always a handful for defenders but appeared a little sluggish at times before being replaced by Kone. 6
Pienaar (for Osman): What an impact that was. I’m pleased he’s returned as I think he’s one of our most important players. Technically fantastic, he can fit into Martinez's desired mould and certainly has the required work rate. A great goal. Hopefully he can kick on now. 8
Kone (for Lukaku): Was every bit bad as Pienaar was good. He doesn’t appear popular amongst the fans already and I think most, certainly myself, would much prefer to see Jelavic get given opportunities over Kone. He’ll certainly put more of a shift in. A quite dreadful miss from Kone and not a great cameo at all. 4
Naismith (for Barkley): Did OK if nothing spectacular. 5
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509 Posted 20/10/2013 at 21:19:42
510 Posted 20/10/2013 at 21:22:41
511 Posted 20/10/2013 at 21:51:56
513 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:06:00
514 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:10:40
515 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:17:57
518 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:46:19
519 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:47:14
For Villa, I suspect that Pienaar will retain his place and that Osman will play instead of Barkley. Barkley replacing Osman after 65 mins, giving the team a lift and going on to win the game.
I question fitness levels. Yes it was a tough and a bit fast and furious at times, but I don´t expect to see the pros flagging for tugs at this stage of the season.
We have been picking up points without playing particularly well. Now is the time to turn it on and show some consistency.
520 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:02:52
521 Posted 20/10/2013 at 22:58:08
As for pratting about with the ball in our own half, what do you suggest? A return to the NFL-style punt, thus giving away possession every few seconds?
We are doing just fine but some of our lot don't understand that not only is Roberto trying to win games playing proper footy, he his having to re-educate the whole squad. The Moyes shadow is still here, it even hangs over some of the fans who want balls pumped forward whenever they feel the game is too slow... Aimless hoofing never got us anywhere in the past. It wont work now.
523 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:19:18
You have got to be kidding. This was arguably Jags worst game in a blue jersey. Would not rate him more than a 4. He could not find a team mate with his passing and looked tired and well off the pace.
525 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:21:21
It still takes something special to put Thierry Henry in the shade, but Tim Cahill is proving he is as sharp as ever.
The New York Red Bulls midfielder is celebrating the fastest ever MLS goal against Houston Dynamo... after just SEVEN seconds.
Cahill, 33, has now scored 11 goals in 26 appearances for the Red Bulls this season.
What chance a Premier League side try to bring him back on loan in the transfer window?
Would Everton take him back - personally, not sure he would fit in this team at all.
526 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:26:33
527 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:27:03
528 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:26:37
with all due respect, Jagielka was the worst player on the pitch by a country mile. And I am saying that as somebody who wears a Jagielka top. I can't recall how often he mispassed and looked totally out of sorts. I assume International duty took it's toll and one ought not be too harsh, but giving him a 7 is a piss-take.
I also felt Barkley was poor and guilty of many stray passes and poor positional sense, although not on the level of Jags.
Finally, I find that many fans are being very harsh on Koné. When he was at Wigan I always admired him and wished we had him as a striker. I still believe he can be a 15-goal-a-season striker. He just needs to get his bearings. I still have a lot of confidence in him.
532 Posted 20/10/2013 at 23:43:00
Neither Jagielka or Distin were comfortable trying to use the ball and played us into danger on a number of occasions. I think Barkley was learning yesterday, that he can't just waltz through a defence every time he goes forward. He was in really good positions to pass a killer ball; and took it on too far. But he's 19 and he'll learn. As for Osman. Yep, he does some neat football but gets brushed off the ball to easily, gets caught in possession too many times, and gives away needless fouls. I think he's got a good football brain but his body just can't react quickly or strongly enough.
I also think it's not that accurate to say that Kone was as poor as Pienaar was good. He troubled their defence, had two shots on target and worked hard. I think he should have scored with his first shot but he was in there, ready to take the shot. I think he will be a decent player for us. I can't believe there is a section of the crowd already on his back.
That's a real good way to help his confidence.
538 Posted 21/10/2013 at 01:03:31
I agree that it does have the potential for disaster (if it hadn't been for Barry vs Chelsea for example).
However, there is that old saying that the opposition can't score if they don't have the ball, and by playing this way, we are starving them of 5 - 10 minutes of time with the ball with which they could otherwise be doing us some damage.
I don't think that overall our attacking threat has dimished as a result of this tactic, but I do think our defensive resolve has been tested less frequently. So thereofore, on the whole, I don't mind it too much.
Having said that, mixing it up a little bit more might be the way to go. We have already been rewarded by a few punts up field and if you are going to lump it forward, there aren't many better than Lukaku to lump it to (see goals vs Newcastle & City).
540 Posted 21/10/2013 at 01:49:40
543 Posted 21/10/2013 at 05:49:38
545 Posted 21/10/2013 at 06:31:20
Overall a decent start to the season. Not looking forward to next transfer window though.
566 Posted 21/10/2013 at 09:59:16
I agree that Jagielka had arguably his worst game that I can remember for some time, it was not just his woeful attempts at passing (we have known for years thats not a strong point of his) it was more alarming that for a supposed commanding centre half the amount of headers that Jags lost out on, Hull won virtually every header from corners, goal kicks you name it.
I know it was hardly just Jagielka, Distin equally was as average as I have seen him for a while, sometimes I just wish we had a Dave Watson type defender there, or dare I say it John Terry, I think most fans would admit they are a bag of nerves every time an opponent has a corner kick against us, its been like that for years, especially last season, the amount of corners we lose the header on is unreal, contrast that with the fact we never score direct from a corner these days.
I would be concerned if our two centre backs don't perforn next weekend as they simply will not be allowed to get away with it against Benteke and annual bogey man Gabby Agbonlahor..
For the record I thought McCarthy was fantastic on Saturday.
Osman is yet again proving his lack of worth to the starting 11, was never involved.
Mirallas got Man of the Match in several newspapers, to be honest I am not sure why, he was better than he has been lately but nothing that outstanding still.
Pienaar coming back and linking with Baines cannot come too soon.
Keep it up Blues, onwards and upwards.
569 Posted 21/10/2013 at 10:10:35
Sure he should have buried that chance that he had Saturday and maybe the ones he had against Stevenage but what I do like is the fact he is getting in the position to miss, and I do quite like the fact he is willing to have a little run at defenders, contrast that to watching Jelavic the last 9 months, a player who has hardly even had the chance to miss let alone score.
Regardless the issue with both Kone and Jelavic respectively is a major lack of confidence through not scoring goals, it must play on every strikers mind when you go such a long time without hitting the net.
571 Posted 21/10/2013 at 10:11:01
588 Posted 21/10/2013 at 11:23:26
643 Posted 21/10/2013 at 15:32:50
664 Posted 21/10/2013 at 16:31:46
711 Posted 21/10/2013 at 18:55:58
822 Posted 22/10/2013 at 09:55:33
845 Posted 22/10/2013 at 12:30:51
936 Posted 22/10/2013 at 18:24:46
Probably a 5 for Coleman & Osman both, but that ain't much.
I too thought Jags had another very moderate game.
As far as Kone is concerned, get off the lads back, he found space & opportunities better than Lukaku did in this match, he'll be fine as soon as he gets his first goal, just needs more playing time.
Agree with McCarthy being motm, he's money well spent.
Why all our defenders fell asleep every time they took a corner I've no idea, very strange & schoolboy stuff from experienced players!
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