Playing Devil's Advocate

By Paul Traill 30/11/2017 13comments  |  Jump to last

Gaz kindly picked me up from work, and on we went towards Goodison Park, picking up Dan and then Ste on route. My wife warned me that the Birkenhead Tunnel had been busy on her way back from work, busy it was, but thankfully we didn’t panic and divert to the Wallasey Tunnel from there. With that we were in the pub in plenty of time for kick off, or at least I was, the other three had no cash and so had to go the cash machine. Such was the queue, I was there nursing a few pints on my own until the fellas returned.

Frankly, we were all rather aghast at Big Sam taking over as Everton manager and we discussed a lot of possible permutations in the pub. Should Ronald Koeman have been given more time? Why on earth was Koeman sacked with no replacement lined up? Why throw David Unsworth into the firing line with such an imbalance of away games to home games? It seems both the decision to initially Ronald Koeman, and now to give the job to Sam Allardyce were both rather knee-jerk.

That said, why the sudden upturn in performance? Has David Unsworth finally found his best team, albeit too late? Has the penny finally dropped what is required for the players? Or, is this simply the reaction to a new manager coming in? If the former, then you worry we now have a manager we don’t need. If the latter, then shame on the players. Until tonight they haven’t done enough at any point this season.

We marched on to Goodison Park, somewhat nervously, though excited…there’s nothing better than Goodison under the lights.

With a patched up defence we were all relieved to see the Andy Carroll-less West Ham Utd team. We were also surprised to see Mason Holgate in defence, deputising for the injured Phil Jagielka, and with Leighton Baines and Michael Keane succumbing to injury, in came Ashley Williams and Cuco Martina. Wayne Rooney played midfield alongside Idrissa Gueye, while Tom Davies was also recalled replacing the seemingly disinterested Kevin Mirallas.

Though nervy, we began OK, and as we settled, Wayne Rooney grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and dictated play. This continued throughout, especially in the first half. On 18 minutes we won a penalty when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was brought down by Joe Hart. Wayne Rooney stepped up, Joe Hart saved, but Wayne was able to head in the rebound to put us ahead.

10 minutws later it was 2-0. Kenny and Davies combined and the ball back into the box by Davies was mis-hit by Kenny, but fell invitingly into the path of Rooney who tucked home smartly. Everton 2-0 ahead, the players visibly gaining in confidence and putting in a shift for the new manager…whether that be departing or incoming. You decide.

The moment of the game of course came when Wayne Rooney completed his hat-trick. All his career, be that at Everton or Manchester United, his goals tend to come at the Park End, so I’m glad he was saving something special for the Gwladys Street. Joe Hart’s clearance only found Wayne on half way, and he struck instinctively first time from about 50 yards out to seal the game for Everton. A phenomenal goal by Wayne.

The goal was needed too. We’d began the second half poorly, nervously, and had West Ham United have scored during that period, who knows how the game would have ended up. Amidst nervy defending and indecision, Aaron Creswell came close to scoring when he rattled the crossbar with a venomous strike. The real turning point however came when Ashley Williams gave away a penalty with a brainless challenge. Manuel Lanzini stepped up, but Jordan Pickford guessed right, and made a solid save to keep us 2-0 ahead. A really big moment in the game.

Later in the game at 3-0 and with their defensive mainstay WInston Reid off the pitch with injury, West Ham United’s discipline was long gone and though a good header it was, Ashley WIlliams was able to rise, practically unchallenged to add some gloss to the scoresheet.

It will have been a nice moment for David Unsworth to soak up the applause from the Gwladys Street, and well deserved too. He’s handled himself commendably these last five weeks or so, and whether that be from the board, or the players, or both, he deserved better. Thank you David.

On we move then to another new chapter in the clubs history with Sam Allardyce. Like it or not, he’s here, let’s get behind him and hope for the best.

That’s about as positive as I can be.

Player ratings

Pickford: They say top keepers can gain you an extra 10 points per season. Jordan is certainly doing that. You actually wonder where we would be without him. 8

Martina: He’s not comfortable at left back, and you couldn’t say he had a good game, but credit to him for standing up and being counted and getting rid of what he had to. A good effort. 6

Williams: More solid and committed than he has been probably for the whole season. He had a calamitous moment with the penalty, and he can thank Pickford for bailing him out of that one, but he did score a good headed goal and his general performance level was good. 6

Holgate: Looked very relaxed and composed, it was as if he’s never been out of the team and has been bang in form. A very impressive display indeed. 7

Kenny: His work rate and defensive solidity continues to impress me. After two tough games away at Leicester City and Lyon, he seems to be getting better each game. Good on him. 8

Gueye: Not quite as sharp as he was at times last season, but he got about the pitch well. 6

Rooney: Though ultimately frustrated by the team’s failings, I thought he had a good game in midfield against Atalanta, and was surprised to see him completely dropped at the weekend. Well he certainly exorcised some demons in tonight’s display. From the first whistle he was outstanding. Not only did he score an outrageous hat-trick, but he controlled the game, especially in the first half. It looks like we’ve found his best position. Outstanding Wayne, well done. Unsurprisingly, my man of the match. 10

Davies: Seemed to be given license to drift between midfield and attack, and had an effective game doing so. Whatever you say about Tom Davies, he certainly stands up to be counted and never shirks his responsibilities. Had a good, effective game. All five midfielders have made it very tough for Sam to leave them out on Saturday. 7

Lennon: A shift full of desire. It was a good call by David Unsworth to switch he and Gylfi Sigurdsson around in the second half, as they both ultimately had more success when this was done. A great effort from Aaron Lennon as always. 7

Sigurdsson: Probably his best game yet for us. He was involved throughout, and did well making interceptions, winning back possession and creating opportunities in attack. Is perfect foil in midfield for Wayne Rooney. 7

Calvert-Lewin: Perhaps lacking in a bit of quality, but certainly full of heart. A real effort. 6


Baningime (for Rooney): Will have enjoyed more minutes on the field. 6

Lookman (for Lennon): One shot on the run in the last action of the game very nearly brought us a goal. 6

Vlasic (for Calvert-Lewin): Got involved in the short time he had on the field. 6

Follow @paultraill

Reader Comments (13)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Derek Thomas
1 Posted 30/11/2017 at 09:22:16
Yes it was a great night, well compared to some of the recent ones. Goodison under lights, 4-0, a hat-trick, one an outrageous GotS contender... what's not to like???

But, as you allude, why now? Which manager were they playing for?

How long will it last until they get back to, for whatever reason(s) CBA.

Brian Garside
2 Posted 30/11/2017 at 10:31:21
I was expecting Garbutt to be given a game as Baines´s replacement as Martina is not a left back. If Unsworth won´t pick him who will? Doesn't look good for Luke.

A good performance but the result flatters. They hit the bar and missed a penalty before that magnificent third goal. The second goal was marvelous play down the right but notice that Rooney ran forty yards to get there.

Well done Unsworth and thank you. He has started the process of re-instilling attitude. This was removed to a large degree by the slow and lifeless Martinez.

Paul Smith
4 Posted 30/11/2017 at 10:38:51
Brian we can't play Garbutt in the first team as he is an over age player who wasn't registered in our 25-man squad. This can be changed in January when the transfer window opens.
George McKane
5 Posted 30/11/2017 at 11:09:09
A good evening at Goodison – lovely atmosphere in The Dark House. I did several Radio Interviews regarding our New Manager and was on Granada Reports which went down well (!!!!!!!) in TDH.

Rooney (who I had "taught" as a young boy) scored a tremendous hat-trick and I put my ٟ Bet on for 4-0 came in at 50:1 – and then a pretty emotional "farewell" to Unsworth.

So regarding my post yesterday on why it will take more that the current goings on to stop me going to watch Everton – I had a great night and am certainly looking forward to Saturday.

Up The Cosmic Blues.

Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 30/11/2017 at 11:13:19
Paul, Rooney's hat trick guarantees him the MotM but giving him a ten(?) have a look at the game again, especially in the period after half time, he should have been putting his foot on the ball and calming them down, he is the old hand who dictates the game, he was panicking as poor as the rest of the team.

As you rightly say the pivotal moment of the game was Pickford's save from the penalty, they had given the game back to West Ham at that stage retreating mainly into their own half, God knows what we would have been like if that penalty had gone in.

When all is said and done a 4-0 win was great and totally unexpected but let's see how we fare against much better teams than West Ham, but even they had us on the ropes in that spell after half-time.

Dale Rose
7 Posted 30/11/2017 at 12:56:50
Just a great night, Rooney running around like a Jack Russell on steroids, just goes to show what a bit of confidence will do. The team is there apart from a striker and some work in defence.

Big Sam you had better deliver. The onus is now on you, to take this team where it should be. Make sure you look after our man Mr Niasse.

Dale Rose
8 Posted 30/11/2017 at 12:59:56
Apologies Paul, excellent article.
Tony Wardale
9 Posted 01/12/2017 at 06:53:02
Huge improvement in attitude and commitment from the team as a whole. Rooney outstanding followed closely by Sigurdsson and Kenny.

We definitely got out of jail though with Pickford's penalty save and I would have feared for us had that have gone in as West Ham had us under the cosh big time. We just don't cope under pressure and panic mode sets in as we conceded territory and the ball and a goal looked inevitable. Thankfully Pickford – as good as I've seen as a shot-stopper – pulled off a great save, thank the Lord.

First half was as good as I've seen this season, albeit against a very poor West Ham side. Rooney's holding role allowed Davies to utilise his energy and get up alongside Calvert-Lewin and Sigurdsson showed touches of class we've not witnessed yet since his move to the blues.

A word about Martina – the lad is bereft of talent but I thought he gave his all V supporting Sigurdsson when he could and clumsily but effectively defending. He didn't hide and our fans if nothing they do appreciate effort. We really do need cover for Baines now and it's make your mind time on Garbutt. We can't keep mending and making do when Baines is unavailable.

I was pleased for Williams getting a goal. Another hapless mistake for their penalty but that aside I thought he marshalled us well and Holgate was steady alongside him although he was guilty of giving the ball away – once which really exposed us. Kenny looks like a mini Seamus at times with those bustling runs forward and he really is one for the (no too distant) future,

So for me 10/10 for effort but still some way to get us steadily back in the top half of the table. The return of Coleman, Barkley, Bolasie etc should help but new CF and CB critical as soon as window opens.

John Hammond
10 Posted 01/12/2017 at 10:09:19
Great article, great night and improvements all over the pitch. West Ham were dreadful in the first half and we capitalised but we were back to the same old Everton for the start of the second half when some pressure was applied. Better teams will be and have been far less generous.

Rooney a 10? I don't think so. Probably his best game for us this season but the penalty was awful and he was lucky the ball fell to him as it did. The ridiculous Hollywood passes straight to an opponent and insistence on slowing things down when we're counter attacking do my head in. Let's see how he fares in a deeper role against better teams...

Why the sudden upturn in performance? West Ham were awful and allowed us to play as we wished.

Tony Abrahams
11 Posted 01/12/2017 at 10:47:00
Maybe Paul gave Rooney a 10 because of his sensational goa,l Dave? I always wondered why I never enjoyed my football as much as I should have done when I was a child, and then I realized why... Dave was on the sidelines giving me loads of stick every week!

Seriously though I was actually calling for Rooney to come off myself and then he went and scored arguably the best technical goal I've ever seen at Goodison. The technique was simply brilliant and reminded me why he was once one of the world's greatest players.

Clive Rogers
12 Posted 01/12/2017 at 13:31:45
It's a pity we can't play a Moyes team every week. He has become a dreadful manager.
Jimmy Sørheim
13 Posted 01/12/2017 at 16:30:15
I am very disappointed Unsworth has been shoved aside like this, no credit from anyone from the club.

Unsworth represents what Everton should be all about, putting through youth players in the first team like Kenny, Baningime and partly Calvert-Lewin.
He also gave The prince Oumar his deserved playing time.

I give a great shout out of thank you to David Unsworth for sticking by this club ethos when everybody else went into hiding!!!

Andy Meighan
14 Posted 01/12/2017 at 17:05:09

Are you and Dave dad and lad Uncle and Nephew Cousins or just related Because one of you talks a lot of sense and Er the other doesn't [ahem]

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

© ToffeeWeb