Europa night again and, with rain pouring down that would last the night through, we first went to the chippy then onto the Room of Nonsense for a pint and a chat. All in good form with opinions galore and everyone an expert. The main topic being would you rather lose tonight and win on Sunday? My take was "Let’s win ‘em both!"

So 7:30 comes along and being wet on the inside we ventured Goodison way to be made wet on the outside too. Plenty with head bowed against river breeze and driving rain were making the trip and on reaching Goodison Road the fat van and Blue Dragon were awash with custom. One of the lads bought a Russian hat and I got a proey – or ‘Matchday Magazine’ as they are now known – and on into the ground for an early Z-Cars and then the Uefa juggernaut takes over and seems as choreographed as a Bill Kenwright production but without entertainment.

The game started and after just a few minutes you started to wish it hadn’t as we seemed to have adopted a "slow, slow, stop" routine and it was not what the assembled wanted. Rumblings turned to abuse on 12 mins or so when, for some reason, the ball was booted out for a corner in such a way that suggested no-one was talking to each other or maybe not listening as the corner was routine but only a white shirt made a move toward it and just side-footed home. Two things struck me: who the hell was picking him up and why no-one on the post? Must be true they don’t bother with dead-ball routines, offensively or defensively. The fact it looked such a simple goal was what grated.

From this moment, on the more restless the faithful became and watching sideways and backwards passing was grim. Alcaraz under hit one and if their forward had been that bit faster we could have been two-down; as it was Howard hacked away. Then Barry was just standing with the ball and not one player showing for it... the decibels hit the roof on 34 mins. It seemed to jolt the players as tenacity and desire were noted where they had not been before.

We gained a corner and Jags got in a good header and was goal-bound except for a defender stationed on the post headed clear – it sort of hit to home to me that. Still, our tails were up now and Lukaku received the ball some 35 yds out and set off toward goal his great strength took him into combat with three defenders who variously bounced off him; the ever willing Naismith made up ground to receive a good pass from the Belgian bulldozer and, cool as you like, curled his effort around the keeper and we are all square.

From the all corners of the ground, a wake-up call until the break; we had looked as though we wanted it cup-tie fashion rather than any philosophical dream. "Keep it up!" was my cry as the whistle sounded.

Second half and from the off it did indeed look as though we were carrying on from the end of the first. The game was faster now and, where Kiev had looked comfortable, they were now starting to look vulnerable. Everton seemed to have realised the need to get in front and by as many as possible due that horrendous defending for their goal, an away goal and they have been the undoing of many a team in a second leg.

Kiev had started blatant time wasting early, causing the crowd to practice whistling. Mirallas pulled up after a chase to the junction of Bullens and Gwladys and on 63 mins limped away making way for Kone who was soon holding up the ball well and trying to find dangerous lay-offs. We were mainly getting the ball forward more quickly and not just hoofing either as some decent joined up stuff showed. I think the players now still had the sound of the verbal lashing they got first half to want to fanny about this half and to be fair they were changing minds by the minute as fans were ready to verbally reward this time.

Balls were crossed as both Coleman and Garbutt were getting forward and a couple of shots had their keeper either gathering at second attempt or just parrying them away. But time was slipping by and although much effort was being expended that little bit of craft and guile in and around the box was missing. To that end many fans minds were turning toward the introduction of Osman; strange isn’t it that some fans near me who are always telling us loudly that he is well past it and ‘shite’ were the voices most prominent in requesting his presence? Well, on 73 mins they got their wish as he replaced Barkley and almost right away it looked a good decision. He was soon trying to create triangles that got Garbutt clear for a cross as well as creating a one-two with Naismith that led to a cross that Lukaku just failed to connect with.

Osman had been on for just about 10 mins when he danced into the area and put in a cross that saw a defender raise his arm and make contact with the ball, players and fans as one yelled ‘Penalty!’ the ref agreed and pointed to the spot. After a fair spell of wrangling and posturing it was clear that at last Lukaku would take. After the ref ensured he was at last in the correct position for referees he blew his whistle, Rom sort of stuttered and staggered, the keeper flung himself to his right, Rom rolled it down the middle and his team were 2-1 up and his ground rocking and again his own ditty was sung by the same choir who told him he was a lazy idle devil. Goals change minds as well as games.

For the final eight minutes plus three added we strived hard to get one more goal to make the return leg that little bit easier but the nearest we came when Osman glanced a header across goal with Naismith just unable to make up the ground.

Final whistle and the players and the Street end have a love-in. Hope it’s a sign of times to come.

MotM – Jagielka/Lukaku

Overall after the first 30-odd minutes of dross a good game ensued thanks to the forceful demands of the faithful and the players for taking advice from the song and did it ‘My Way’.

There is a tendency for sport pages to contain a section called 5 things we learned I just hope Roberto learned two, the first being don’t impose systems on players that can’t carry them out to the level you require and secondly put them in positions they know, understand and are familiar with. I believe if he did that then the Newcastle and QPR games could get us the points to virtually ensure safety plus a solid gritty performance in Kiev that gives us another night under the lights curtesy of Uefa.

On the walk back from the game many a conversation was the manager’s position along with gaining enough points for safety and this theme was carried back in the room of nonsense and the answers were many and various with a consensus impossible. I reckon the ebb and flow will continue with each passing game allied to other results and we have not got long to wait for the next result, fascinating stuff, see you there to witness it all.

UP THE BLUES

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Reader Comments (24)

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Clive Mitchell
1 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:12:28
Spot on as usual Ken, especially your two lessons for RM and recognition for the magnificent Jags.
Bill Gall
2 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:10:23
As I get to watch the games on T.V. over here in Canada your reports all ways give the feeling of being at the games .Last night's game to me proved that we have a team that, if they get away from the restrictive slow build up possession game, they are capable of winning most of the remaining games.

If it is as most supporters perceive happened, and that is the players decided they had had enough of the tippy tappy slow build up play, and encouraged by the crowd took matters in their own hand and started to play with more faster forward play and tenacity, then I do not believe that it will change a number of supporters mind on the future of Martinez come the end of the season.

Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:20:51
Good report Ken, if only you could get Roberto into the room of nonsense before the game. Our crowd was slaughtered for booing during the QPR match, as anyone praised them for last nights efforts yet?
Iain Love
4 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:23:58
Always look for your reports and if we have lost yours is the only one i'll read.
I thought Coleman had a decent game and haven't we got someone else to replace Stones apart from Alcaraz ?.
Jay Harris
5 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:35:20
Very enjoyable report as usual Ken.

I used to always maintain that the "professionals" knew better than the supporters but last night should be a lesson to Roberto that the crowd won us that game and certainly not his tactics.

Mike Childs
6 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:18:03
I do love all the reports as many do but Ken I am at the games in your report and the pictures you paint in a single sentence make me want to dissect every one and explain how I felt exactly the same way. Thanks again.
Tim Michael
7 Posted 13/03/2015 at 19:50:02
Iain #4

Yeah, Sylvain Distin. Martinez talks about no substitute for the experienced player e.g. Howard but then doesn't include Distin. He's been overused in the last couple of seasons and the pace of the game has caught up with him but Martinez has treated him poorly and basically as a scapegoat. How many other players in this team have performed poorly yet retained their place?

In an emergency Distin can still be called on to put in a shift. He's been a real asset to EFC and if this is the way he is going to be treated in final season, in my eyes it's unacceptable

Iain Love
8 Posted 13/03/2015 at 20:11:30
I'd prefer Distin to Alcaraz any day but he seems to be off the radar ATM.

Stones is supposed to be back Sunday but as long as Alcaraz is the back up I'm concerned.

As for Martinez's comments, I take them all with a pinch of salt.

Andy Crooks
9 Posted 13/03/2015 at 21:19:08
Ken, excellent report. I watched on TV but, no doubt, you offer a view that adds a superb new dimension.
Dave Abrahams
10 Posted 13/03/2015 at 21:43:58
Tim Michael (7) agree about Distin, if he's fit, he should be in ahead of Alcaraz, seems his face doesn't suit Martinez.
Andy Crooks
11 Posted 13/03/2015 at 22:13:21
Dave, I thought that Alcaraz improved as the game went on. With game time I think he will improve.Whether or not we like the Martinez way, I think Alcaraz suits it better. I fear a rusty Dustin would be liability.
Dick Fearon
12 Posted 13/03/2015 at 22:08:46
Despite the 8 hour time difference does having its draw backs my viewing contract allows our league games on live TV and where they do not clash I can also watch FA Cup, Capital Cup, Euro Championship games and any amount of La Liga.

Sadly and for lord knows what reason I cannot get Europa League games. I have tried some of those odd free view channels but they came with all kinds of warnings from my security programme so I dared not risk it.
I mention the above just to stress why Ken, Paul, Michael and Lyndons reports are specially important for these games.

I have tried using TWs live forum but it is totally useless as a descriptive of what is actually happening in the game. Postings such as 'Wow,' etc, without any descriptive of whatever it was that was 'Wow' is bloody frustrating.
To each of those good folk mentioned above, you have no idea how much your reports are appreciated. Keep up the good work.

Barry McNally
13 Posted 13/03/2015 at 22:48:57
Great report as usual, Ken. Their centre halves were shit scared of Lukaku and their keeper is very suspect. Shoot on sight in return leg.
Anto Byrne
14 Posted 14/03/2015 at 02:00:00
I really like what Big Sam has done at West Ham. The supporters in no uncertain terms demanded football played the Hammers way.

I wonder what he would do at Everton? Plenty of experience as a manager, generally honest in the way he assesses the games win or lose. Big Sam for Everton?

Either Martinez wakes up and gives us what we want in terms of attacking high octane football or fucks off back to Spain. I think the faithful can influence the next 10games in the league and hopefully we go to the Ukraine intent on winning the game.

Franny Porter
15 Posted 14/03/2015 at 09:44:09
I would hereby like to nominate Anto Byrne (#14) for "Worst Shout of The Season" award.
Trevor Peers
17 Posted 14/03/2015 at 09:48:41
Surely the worst shout would be another season of Roberto's half-baked tactics. Big Sam would cause a purists revolt amongst our supporters so it's a non-starter, Anto.
Ernie Baywood
18 Posted 14/03/2015 at 10:05:35
My status as a football purist is hypocritical. I just want us to win. As often as possible.

I want good football because a limited style limits your ambitions. There will never be a league winner playing long ball football.

Roberto doesn't have it right, but we're more chance of winning a league under Roberto than under Sam.

Phil Walling
19 Posted 14/03/2015 at 10:09:00
In the event of a change of manager – and I don't expect one – my guess is that Lazy Bill will turn back the clock and go for Stubbsy.

God forbid that he should go through a proper recruitment process. That would be like holding a Board Meeting – and he don't do those either!

Trevor Lynes
20 Posted 14/03/2015 at 16:36:24
I would bet that old Distin would outpace Alcaraz every day of the week! Distin is real class and has actually played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other foreign player.

With players like Dunne, O'Shea and Brown still playing, Distin would be my 3rd choice at centre back anytime. Alcaraz is using up valuable bench room IMO.

Great report as usual and I always enjoy it.

Paul Tran
21 Posted 14/03/2015 at 16:55:49
Anto, you might want to speak to some West Ham supporters. I know a few and they don't know anyone who likes him. Hoofball managers always get found out, when they try to progress outside their comfort zone of mid-table.

Unfortunately, I now have to make it clear that these comments are not a ringing endorsement of Martinez, just in case the poor bullying victims are waiting to engage in misinterpretation.

Trevor Lynes
22 Posted 14/03/2015 at 19:56:12
I just watched Burnley do a job on Man City. They earned their win with tremendous heart, effort and some ability. It shows that any side with the right application can shock the big money boys on occasion. Unfortunately these big money teams can buy themselves out of trouble when it arises.

Man Utd are the latest classical example but of course this is never mentioned. One of the Sky pundits mentioned Everton and Newcastle as examples of once great clubs going through years of non-achievement. IMO they are wrong about Everton as we have consistently finished in the top eight despite our lack of finances.Anyway, I just want our guys to roll their sleeves up and start climbing the table. It would be nice to have a run of form and continue to progress in the Europa cup too. Arsenal and Man City look like they will both be out of Europe leaving us to carry the flag!

Tim Michael
23 Posted 14/03/2015 at 19:45:26
Dead right Trevor #20

Distin still has real pace which is a credit to his fitness. I've never seen him outpaced by any opponent. I think that it's his reaction time that is flagging. Understandable at his age in the top flight but I think that he should have at least been on the bench on Thurs night.

I don't have any issue with Alcaraz at all. He did start very rusty and particularly slow but as others have said it's really down to lack of game time. He would have benefited from an U21s game rather than Distin. Alcaraz is cultured and comfortable on the ball but in the two seasons he's been at EFC he's hardly played. For a footballer who is 30+ that's not good. His career at the top level was probably over before he arrived here. A fit regularly playing Alcaraz arriving at EFC four or five years ago would have been a much bigger asset.

The banishment of Sylvain Distin into the shadows at the club disturbs me. At ٣m he has been great value and its a sad end to his EFC career. However, there is no doubt that there has been some kind of confrontation or disagreement with him this season. His running argument with a criticising supporter at the end of last season and his absence from Twitter since August clearly shows an happiness with his current situation, not helped by Martinez's clumsy handing of him after a poor start to the season.

I would massively surprised if Distin gets another first team for EFC again, unless there is a catalogue of injuries or we are safe by the last game of the season and Martinez does the decent thing to give him a proper send.

Au revoir Buzz!

Christopher Timmins
24 Posted 15/03/2015 at 10:00:58
Ken, great report as usual. I am already looking forward to the report on today's game which took on added significance last night after the result at Burnley, now only 3 points behind us.

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