I, fortuitously as it turned out, took ill before our beleaguered encounter with Arsenal, and following three additional defeats on the road, and David Unsworth’s battle cry in his press conference, I wasn’t surprised to see Goodison Park was pumped under the lights for our must-win fixture against Watford.
With a 4.30pm kick off time, and Gaz picking me up at 1.30pm, I was conscious of getting some food down me before setting off and had a German bratwurst before getting in the car. Had I have known the pub was giving out free hot dogs I might have chosen differently for my lunch. Anyhow, it was good fun in the pub with a few of us congregated at the bar watching the Manchester City vs Arsenal match, with nobody decided on who our next manager should be. Though we were pretty unanimous in that it shouldn’t be Sam Allardyce or Sean Dyche.
We were clearly having too much fun in the pub and left it a little late getting to the game, bundling through the turnstyle and taking our seats about 30 seconds into the game. On the way in someone was giving out promotional packs of Peperami’s…sausages were becoming the order of the day!
As the sky darkened Everton pressed Watford back early doors and forced a few panicked clearances though Watford did settle. Leighton Baines wasted a great opportunity, shooting tamely straight at Heurelho Gomes when you would have expected him to do better.
Once Watford were firmly settled into the game they were knocking the ball around nicely and playing some good football, though we did nearly gift them the lead when they went a bit more direct, Phil Jagielka getting caught out trying to win the ball on the half way line and Richarlison was away. Jordan Pickford came running out to clear the ball before realising he wasn’t going to get there so he did the next best thing - force Richarlison wide. Leighton Baines also did a good job of making it difficult for the Brazilian who regardless, will have been disappointed not to have scored.
That was the best chance of the half, but such has been our timidness of late, we really went into our shells as half time approached and Watford searched for the half time lead. Thankfully it didn’t come but it was an uncomfortably nervy few minutes before the break.
Into the second half we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing as some 40 seconds into it we were a goal down. Ste, Duncan and I had enjoyed a pretty good natter at half time of which we were still finishing when all of a sudden Richardlison was through on goal. He showed incredibly good composure and intuition to get around Jordan Pickford and finish smartly past a few defenders on the line. It was a well taken goal and we found ourselves a goal line…that crushing feeling returned.
We rallied briefly and, unbeknown to us at the time, there was a key moment in the game when Heurelho Gomes had to come off injured with a gash to his head following a collision with Oumar Niasse. During this incident Gylfi Sigurdsson really ought to have scored when he drive at goal was too weak to really trouble Gomes.
The game was really clicking into life and Watford weren’t content to just sit on their lead and really began to turn the screw. I believe we were already warned when someone else headed wide with a free header from a corner, but when Christian Kabasele headed in from close range following a corner kick to make it 0-2, you really couldn’t see a way back. Indeed a stunned friend of mine text me later on in disbelief as he had left at 0-2.
We were a bit stunned really, sedate, gutted, but then, out of nothing, a hopeful ball from substitute Ademola Lookman had Oumar Niasse chasing what seemed to be a lost cause. Huge indecision between defender and substitute goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, plus great tenacity from Oumar grabbed us a lifeline.
The momentum pendulum shifted straight to us. The players suddenly had their tails up. Goodison Park became a bear pit. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, only on the pitch for seven minutes at this point rose highest to cushion home a header at the back post from a Leighton Baines corner, and it was 2-2. Amazing.
With Watford missing another good opportunity from a corner kick also, while we willed the players on, escaping with a point having been 0-2 down didn’t seem quite so bad, but thankfully David Unsworth had other ideas and threw on Aaron Lennon who got straight to work down our right hand side, pressuring, pressing and forcing mistakes. Aaron got free down the right and with Jose Holebas losing his footing and bundling Lennon over, it would have taken a brave referee to not give us the penalty in front of a passionate Gwladys Street end.
With Holebas doing his very best to take up as much time as possible before the penalty was taken, Leighton did well to keep his cool and find the corner. From 0-2 down, we were now 3-2 ahead...but with an agonising, unbearable 12 minutes of stoppage time remaining.
You knew a big chance would come for Watford, and given how we’ve been, you expected Watford to take it. I don’t entirely recall how somebody got free, but somebody did and all of a sudden Richarlison, who had been a thorn in our side all afternoon, showed great feet to get away from Jordan Pickford, who took him down. A penalty to Watford and no complaints from anyone at all. Just that gutting feeling.
Could Pickford bail us out? Up stepped ex-Blue Tom Cleverley, and to a huge, emotional outburst of joy throughout the ground, he scuffed his penalty well wide. A real let off for Everton.
We thankfully managed to keep the ball up at the other end of the pitch for the remainder of the game, and got over the line in the most unlikely of circumstances. At full time a vividly proud David Unsworth congratulated all his players before saluting all four corners of the stadium. You had to be delighted for him.
Leaving the ground there were a few slapstick moments. Some bloke spontaneously picked up a traffic cone just outside St. Luke’s church and shouted “BARRY HOOOOORRRRNNNEE” down it as loud as he could, and as we walked towards County Road somebody opened up hid car window and played, of all songs, Orinoco Flow by Enya at full blast!
I then met Gary back in the Medlock Hotel for a quick pint and then jumped on the train into the city centre to meet a mate Dan, a Watford fan, for a few drinks at the Ship & Mitre. It was a nice way to finish the evening with a few ales, and before getting on my bus home I went the Lobster Pot and got, you guessed it…fish and chips.
A splendid day out at the game. Them fun days only ever happen about once or twice a season so I was glad to make the most of it, even if I paid for it a bit in work today.
It’s great to go into the international break out of the bottom three, and whatever happens now in terms of manager - thank you David Unsworth. We were certainly all proud to be Blue yesterday.
Pickford: The odd rush of blood to the head aside, he did well. He’s a very good goalkeeper. Very imposing and confident in his ability. 7
Baines: Sluggish at times but stepped up when it mattered: 7
Jagielka: Had a bit of a struggle but I think he and Keane are the best bet at the back. 5
Keane: A bit at fault for Watford’s first goal but coped well otherwise. 6
Kenny: While he may lack in quality in attack, his tackling ability in defence was outstanding. Reminded me a bit of Tony Hibbert. He did very well, especially after a difficult couple of games on the road. Well done. 8
Gueye: He’s not quite at his best currently but it’s not for lack of effort. 6
Baningime: He was sacrificed early in the second half as we sought to get back into the game, but he did pretty well on his Goodison Park bow. Looks a great player for the future and shows remarkable composure for his age. Well done. 6
Sigurdsson: Missed a good opportunity but he did show good quality and does put the work in. I think he’ll really click into gear sooner or later…hopefully sooner. 7
Rooney: Faded after a promising first half. 6
Davies: Struggled but what I like about Davies is that he never loses faith in his ability and doesn’t let things get him down. He keeps on going. Jonjo Kenny, Beni Baningime, Tom Davies, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, and Mason Holgate should all learn a lot from this hastening experience we’ve endured this season. 5
Niasse: My man of the match. He worked their defence throughout and showed neat touches and good link up play. He thoroughly deserved his goal and it sparked the turn around. Well done Oumar. Congratulations. 8
Lookman (for Baningime): Influenced the game with his assist for the our first goal and put in a decent contribution. 6
Calvert-Lewin (for Rooney): Took his goal well and brought an extra attacking dimension. Well done Dominic! 7
Lennon (for Sigurdsson): On for the shortest time of all the substitutes but made arguably the biggest contribution. His pressing put Watford on the back foot and he got his reward with the penalty award. Well done Aaron. Another nice story to see him back in the team after the 2017 he has had. 7
Reader Comments (24)
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1 Posted 07/11/2017 at 19:42:58
Agree, on most of your ratings, but I thought Tom Davies 'stunk the place out' on Sunday afternoon. To give him and Jags both a 5 mark, was a little unfair, I actually thought Jagielka was pretty solid over the 90 minutes.
Tom Davies constantly gave the ball away, and his passing was dreadful. Perhaps he needs a break from a side bereft of confidence and short on inspiration.
On a general comment, I don't think most of our fans realise the actual 'damage' Koeman has inflicted on this side over the last six months. He has simply destroyed the confidence in most of that team, hence Baines and Sigurdsson missing fairly simple chances.
I honestly think he has set us back a couple of seasons. It will take whoever the new manager is that long to put this mess right, and probably get a new set of players in.
2 Posted 07/11/2017 at 19:58:38
3 Posted 07/11/2017 at 20:04:19
Certainly, I put the majority of blame for this mess absolutely at the hands of Koeman, he's been an absolute disaster for this club.
You obviously think otherwise.
4 Posted 07/11/2017 at 20:10:27
We do have some good players and some young ones with potential but we don't have any great players including one who we paid over £45 million for. I would like Unsworth to succeed but we all need to reserve judgement before deciding that he is our saviour.
5 Posted 07/11/2017 at 22:36:56
6 Posted 07/11/2017 at 23:33:55
We were outplayed for an hour. Baines and Jags just can't do it at this level any more, and we can't afford to carry passengers like Sigurdsson and Rooney.
7 Posted 07/11/2017 at 23:46:00
Steve (#3), that's not what you said. Koeman definitely deserves massive blame for a whole boatload of stuff. Blaming him for missed goalscoring chances two weeks after he was sacked is just plain ridiculous. So what I do think is that you made a silly comment.
8 Posted 08/11/2017 at 01:28:36
Koeman's got the chop but just who was responsible for the transfer window debacle? The silence is deafening from the club but I hope our next manager establishes the truth before he signs on, thereby making a repetition more unlikely.
As an aside, whoever sabotaged our season deserves to be publicly castrated – or is that still illegal according to the bollock-kissing sycophants still serving Kenwright?
9 Posted 08/11/2017 at 04:01:17
I'm not slating the lad – I just think a lot of these players have suffered during this horrendous Koeman period, and some more than others lack confidence and belief.
Good write up.
10 Posted 08/11/2017 at 07:15:41
11 Posted 08/11/2017 at 08:54:14
IMO, Clive has picked up on Davies being heavily involved, with which I agree, but looking lightweight, knocked off the ball too often – feature of several players – looked like our off-the-ball movement was mostly crap so the players with the ball didn't have a clear pass.
Sigurdsson was anonymous for the first 30 minutes or so. Rooney showed some class at times but was caught with the ball too often, leading to counter-attacks by Watford.
Jags was good in some ways but was woeful in defending crosses. Baines was "steady" but is clearly slowing. Gueye was, like Davies, in the action but the "out-pass" was regularly not available because of our "off-the-ball" laziness (or lack of thought).
Jonjoe Kenny (who I think has a bright future) has received quite a lot of praise and so this is going to be counter to the general thought. Much of Watford's pressing was down their left - our right - and IMO Kenny was caught regularly out of position with having to be covered by other players being drawn out of position and leaving big gaps in the middle and beyond to Baines's position i.e. the left-back drawn to the middle leaving a huge gap behind. Of course Kenny also did some damn good work!
Having watched the game only "vonce", meiner herren, I bow to other viewpoints.
12 Posted 08/11/2017 at 11:25:51
I don't think you understand my original post. I won't rise to the 'silly' comment jibe. What I'm saying is the presence of Koeman over a long period has affected the form and ability of both players, hence missing the straightforward chances.
Does that make it any easier for you?
14 Posted 08/11/2017 at 16:08:54
I just think it's nonsense.
15 Posted 08/11/2017 at 16:17:42
Why is it premature to be dissing Sigurdsson?
He's been terrible since he came and shown nothing to justify that ridiculous price tag. Lacks pace, can't tackle, can't spot a pass, can't dribble, can't score... All-in-all, a shocking buy. He may or may not come good under a new manager; my guess is he won't.
Oh, and I forgot to mention he's meant to be a purveyor of set-pieces... Only seen one so far – the assist for Williams.
No, the jury are back in and they are unanimous: Shit!
16 Posted 08/11/2017 at 16:59:15
Both Baines and Sigurdsson "appeared" more concerned with not hitting Row Z with their shots rather than having the confidence to smash the ball into the back of the net.
A confident player may have done better than they both did on Sunday. A confident player takes chances rather than playing it safe, which again I feel both did on Sunday.
17 Posted 08/11/2017 at 17:04:16
Exactly what I was saying; however, Mike Gaynes thinks it's nonsense. Doesn't mess around, does Mike...
18 Posted 08/11/2017 at 17:29:39
Baines and Sigurdsson are both adults but it's still not an instant thing to recover from – no matter what your age.
19 Posted 09/11/2017 at 01:55:00
20 Posted 09/11/2017 at 04:15:49
The style of Unsworth is the complete opposite. The insistence upon the role of the team, the depth of feeling for the club, his dismissal of his own significance, all text-book good man management whether sincere or not, and I believe he is sincere.
If hte future plays out as I would love to see it, Unsy keeps his role until Christmas, see where we are and then, hopefully keeps it until next summer. If a big name (Simeone?) comes in then Unsy stays as assistant manager to one of the best in the game at the club he loves.
There's nothing wrong with hope and faith and sometimes dreams do come true. COYB.
As for Koeman, well I am not usually a spiteful person, but I hope his Barcelona gig is flushed down the kazi together with all the other expensive, arrogant, bullshit he served up for the last year and a half.
22 Posted 09/11/2017 at 08:49:53
It is one thing to build up expectations but, then, to knock them for six insect a small time by utter ineptitude is another thing entirely.
So, I think this aspect of your initial post is smack on the money.
Brian Williams - I've seen this with both of my sons, who showed great promise only to have the guts knocked out of them with some managers/coaches.
My belief is that Unsworth should be given the opportunity to rebuild this confidence even if he doesn't eventually get the full time position. I believe he is ideal for this role. A new manager (immediately) might find this part of it difficult!!??
23 Posted 09/11/2017 at 09:56:29
Appreciate your comments, I was merely trying to point out, that the prolonged 'presence' of Koeman with the Everton squad, even with experienced pro's like Baines and Sygi, CAN have a detrimental effect on player's form.
With Sygi in particular, 12 month's ago, he probably would have buried that chance he had in the Watford game, and that's WHY I laid the blame at Koeman's door.
24 Posted 09/11/2017 at 12:08:16
25 Posted 14/11/2017 at 06:48:06
That opened up their defence and made slowed Watford's attack.
We need to continue doing this every game in and out because it helps opening up defences
26 Posted 14/11/2017 at 06:50:16
Forget about blaming Sigurdsson or Baines etx
Our main problem now is that we give away too.many cheap goals
The two goals Watford scored would not have happened under David Moyes.
We need to plug this hole and quickly.
If Unsworth can do this then I see him as our next permenant manager
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