Will finishing well mean starting well?

By Paul Traill 29/04/2018 19comments  |  Jump to last
Huddersfield Town 0 - 2 Everton

Having spent four years as scholars at the University of Huddersfield several years ago, upon their first appearance back in the top flight, Gaz and I were always going to head to to West Yorkshire for a day and night out in our old home, and what an enjoyable trip it was too. We brought with us Ritchie, who also studied in nearby Leeds back in the day, and a friend from work Andrew, for what was an excellent win for the Blue boys.

Departing at around 10am with a few pick ups on route, we made good time on the M62 and were at the hotel for about midday. We settled on The Warehouse for food and pre-match football as we watched Liverpool and Stoke toil to a goalless draw.

On we walked to John Smith's Stadium and, after a bit of a queue, we made it into the ground just in time for kick off, Everton, looking smart in all purple, attacking to the opposite end in the first half with Nikola Vlasic the only change for the recently frustrating Yannick Bolasie.

Everton began strongly with Nikola Vlasic forcing a corner kick within the first minute, but after that initial burst it became rather huff and puff for Everton in what became a sluggish encounter in which neither side were able to get a foothold in the game. Huddersfield Town threatened briefly when Terrence Mongolia blazed over when he should have done a lot better, but otherwise it was poor from both teams in a game lacking any real quality, so much so that I could not see anything happening and with 10 minutes to go until the break I decided to make a run for it and queue for a beer.

Typically enough Everton then went and scored in what must have only been two minutes after I left my seat. I couldn't see us even getting out of our half at that stage, let alone score a goal, and a good one it was too, Theo Walcott searching, and finding, Cenk Tosun with an excellent pass which the Turk despatched clinically with a surprise drive into the far corner. An excellent goal of real quality in a game which offered none.

The rest of the lads eventually congregated and we enjoyed a beer at the break, bumping into a few familiar faces. It says a lot about our current supporter unrest that the goal was greeted with chants of "Fuck off, Sam Allardyce".

Back to our seats for the second half and if Everton were lethargic and cumbersome first half, we were anything but in the second and really stepped up a few gears in a dominant display and could have put the game to bed long before Idrissa Gueye's well-struck 77th-minute goal. Nikola Vlasic and Seamus Coleman both could have scored whereas Jordan Pickford was very much a spectator throughout, however, Gueye's strike ensured it was party time in the away end in the last five minutes. We then took that party into the night, and what a laugh we had too. Great to re-live our youth somewhat though I don't recall sampling quite that much Jaegermeister as a student.

We're experiencing a strange end to a difficult season. It's great to see us finish strongly. I think a settled back line has really helped us push on and had we not missed so many chances at Burnley in the cold winter we would still be in with a shot at Europe. In any other season, such a strong finish could be a very good catalyst to hit the ground running with pre-season and start the next season well, however, with so much managerial and player uncertainty, you feel it might well count for nothing come August once we are over with what will surely be a very busy summer.

I hope if nothing else the remaining players will somehow clasp some confidence and a winning mentality from these final games. Time will tell if this proves to be the case.

Player ratings

Pickford: Won't have had many quieter games than that in his fledgling career to date. 6

Baines: Nice assist for our second goal and stuck at his task well. 7

Jagielka: He, along with Michael Keane, kept us solid and organised throughout. Good to see them both communicating well with the team. 7

Keane: See Jagielka. 7

Coleman: Might have done better with a few opportunities, but like his fellow defenders, stuck to his task well. 7

Gueye: Took his goal well and it was nice to see him celebrate it with his teammates both on the pitch and on the sidelines. Otherwise was solid in the midfield, if a touch wasteful with his passing. 7

Schneiderlin: It was good for Morgan to get out there and play in a game which he probably could have sat out of with injury. He was hobbling a bit throughout so he did well to last the duration. The crowd even sung his name towards the end which, even if done so in irony, is a far cry from getting booked onto the pitch against Crystal Palace. Good on him for sticking at it and contributing when it would have been easier to wilt. 7

Rooney: Had an effective hour or so before being replaced by the more energetic Tom Davies. 7

Vlasic: Nice to see him get game time and he did okay too. I hope he retains his place for next weekend game against Southampton. 6

Walcott: My Man of the Match. One great assist and he gave the full-back a torrid game. It was good, and dare I say, brave, tactics by Sam to leave Theo high up the pitch throughout the second half as it effectively diminished their left-side full-back threat as Huddersfield Town couldn't risk pushing on enough down that flank. Two Man of the Match performances in a row for Theo, and with the unfortunate injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, could this present an opportunity for Theo to make the World Cup squad? He's certainly giving himself a chance. 7

Tosun: Lead the line well and took his goal expertly but my, after about an hour, he was absolutely spent. Looking forward to seeing a fully fit Cenk raring to go next season. 6

Davies (for Rooney): Buzzed around. 6

Niasse (for Tosun): Did ever so well and his tenacity forced our second goal. Well done, Oumar. 7

Funes Mori (for Vlasic): Helped shore up the back line. 6

Reader Comments (19)

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Tony Everan
1 Posted 29/04/2018 at 21:22:39
I agree with Walcott as Man of the Match, Paul. The one thing that has improved us more than any other this season for me is signing Walcott. His pace and directness has changed us more than any manager or player. He gives us a goal threat, defenders are weary again when the play us home and away.

It is so important to have such a player; Lookman may offer similar for us. Recruitment needs to be looking at 1 or 2 top quality players with damaging pace to push into the top 6.

Andy Crooks
2 Posted 29/04/2018 at 22:26:05
Good stuff as usual, Paul. Do you think Allardyce should go?
John Raftery
3 Posted 29/04/2018 at 23:57:42
Rooney was poor. Worth a 5 at best. Tosun was clattered before he went off with a knee injury. That did not stop our knowledgeable fans in the away section booing the manager for taking him off.
Bill Watson
4 Posted 30/04/2018 at 01:28:26
Our midfield never takes control of a game and potentially good moves break down with a sloppy pass. Consequently, all season, we've been incapable of putting the opposition under any sort of sustained pressure.
Will next season be any different? Probably not unless we make 2 or 3 astute signings
Jerome Shields
5 Posted 30/04/2018 at 09:39:17
We have an aged squad which shows in the performance of players and the team. The lack of commitment to remedial training in comparison to other Premier League older players, means they are not fit to play in a Premier League squad. This situation will get worse if they are kept for next season.

We have a squad who in most cases are being paid more than they are worth. Those bought in are now worth less in the Transfer market in most cases. This depleting of resources means that we will have difficulty buying potiential players and have a squad that can perform at Premier League level.

Our youth program has been been wound down.

Potiential incoming players and management will look at Everton's performance over all the season before they decide to come to Everton. The performance has been poor.

We still have Big Sam in place. Everton are in a worse state than this time last season.

Jer Kiernan
6 Posted 30/04/2018 at 09:46:12
Please I know its hard when supporting this club not to be an eternal optimist but we need to be weary of it creeping in this summer

There are /will be no grounds for optimism if this joker is in the dugout next year, The "SA out" chants warmed my heart as we need to expect more from ourselves and our Club going forward

Let us not "make nice" with this guy as he is scrapping a few points in games that DONT matter, There was more than enough time to show if this dinasour could bring anything but rugby league style football to the club,

Show him the door

Dermot Byrne
7 Posted 30/04/2018 at 10:10:29
"Please I know its hard when supporting this club not to be an eternal optimist but we need to be weary of it creeping in this summer"

It can be a dangerous disease optimism. Creeps up on you and before you know it you can end up hopeful!

Just kidding...I do take your point Jer but equally let's not get into a habit being permanently miserable sods and never come out of it.

Without naming names, there are some on here whose first words as children were "Oh bugger" and it has been down hill ever since!

Jer Kiernan
8 Posted 30/04/2018 at 10:22:37
I agree Dermot as there is always extremes in every demographic but there is also alot on here who meet anybody showing ambition with the "steady on there" mentalilty which holds the club back and has done for 30 yrs and is the mediocrity that BK feeds of

Its been a miserable season so I for one will wallow in my misery thanks all the same for the proverbial pat on the back etc etc

I want this guy gone the club the board and more important the fans need to think that "this is not good enough" and they need to let the board know at every opportunity

A couple of meaningless wins and some sunny weather are a dangerous mix I have pinned my flag to the mast and said before on here and indeed in an email to Elstone last week that I would look away (after 30+years)should this jackass be in charge start next season

So I will have no club to watch next year if he is not launched, Keep up the boo-ing and the SA OUT chants please, I don't want to have to be stuck doing the gardening of a Saturday !!

Any optimism is misplaced I believe and needs to be nipped in the bud :b

Dermot Byrne
9 Posted 30/04/2018 at 10:35:06
I see a bright future with sun in the sky and Jer still watching the Blues. The exact month the sun comes out, I am not sure but if (and it is a big if) fans have any influence, I think strangely the media disapproval of Everton fans complsints recently.has helped get a clear message to the Board along with the survey.

I do think they will be working on a replacement but after last 3, I think they will want to avoid another messup.

Hope (sorry Jer) it happens sooner not later as the spectacle and process of nipping optimism in the bud is as depressing as the current football.

Jer Kiernan
10 Posted 30/04/2018 at 10:52:10
Here here :)
I think this is one of the biggest and most important appointments any Everton board will make looking at the RS and even Spurs they appear to be playing a different sport to us right now. The thoughts of the board not acting horrifies me

This gap will only widen and I feel will be very hard to make up should we not act quickly and decisively, Lets make Simeone or somebody of his ilk an offer they cannot refuse

That being done, I swear I will be a happy bunny :)

Carl Taylor
11 Posted 30/04/2018 at 11:02:43
I was asked by a Sheffield Wednesday fan at work today why I want Allardyce out when he has got Everton as high as they can be in the premier league. He believes 8th is our expected position. I explained it is about playing style (obviously), ambition and perception.

If a club appoints an Allardyce (or Hughes, Pulis, Moyes, etc) then it is stating it's ambition is to stay in the league and when acting in the transfer market the perception of any transfer target is the club has no true ambition.

So ask yourself this, good end of the season or not, when a bright star is born at this summers World Cup and premier league clubs come calling to his agent, will Everton be perceived as a great choice for the agents client or will we be perceived as a 'wait and see' option, who will have to pay extra wages, signing fee, etc for his client to even consider us? Perception of the club and it's ambition has been a boot placed firmly on the throat of Everton for over 20 years. (The last time we signed a player that truly showed ambition and improved our perception was Kanchelskis, in my opinion)

So will Allardyce improve how the club is viewed by us and others? Quite simply, no he won't. Moyes turned us into plucky little Everton, after Walter Smith squandered a bit of ambition when we signed the likes of John Spencer along side John Collins. Joe Royle was our last truly ambitious manager and he won a trophy, what a strange coincidence!!

I am sick of being asked, and then told, by fans of other clubs that we can't expect more than we currently have, but the club acts as if that is true. Ambition wins trophies and drives clubs forward, Everton need to start showing some ambition or we can look forward to meeting everyone else's expectations of our club.

Frank McGregor
12 Posted 30/04/2018 at 15:14:18
Carl (#11). The appointment of a new manager is going to take a miracle to get a top notch candidate in due to the miss manage ment of the club and the supporter current attitude.

You mention managers like Pulis, Moyes, and Hughes are not acceptable and I agree, but with the current climate at the club it would have trouble recruiting Glenn Pardew or Micky Mellon from Tranmere Rovers.

Any top notch manager with any self respect would not entertain Everton approaches.

Phil Walling
13 Posted 30/04/2018 at 18:56:31
Phil Walling
14 Posted 30/04/2018 at 19:22:22
Carl, Burnley is a one-off with the Clarets likely to be struggling against relegation next season, whilst any half-decent manager will have us back to our natural seventh in no time.

Of course it's not wrong to have ambition but that's all it is or ever going to be with our set-up! And I include the dopey Moshiri in that statement!

Joe McMahon
15 Posted 30/04/2018 at 19:37:25
Carl Taylor - how dare you call Sir David Moyes! The man is an awesome top manger to many Evertonians. They ignore such things like no with an Anfield in 12 attempts. Sunderland Fans are still on a high at signing Rodwell, Anichebe and Darren Gibson, let alone relegation. The Wednesday fan though was just being honest about Everton.

It's so frustrating, but we have to remember why people have such a low opinion of Everton – won zero since 1995, very-very dated ground, never played in CL and stuck with a dull boring manager for 11 years. Like many, I feel Kenwright has brought all this on us and has lowered expectations.
George Stuart
16 Posted 01/05/2018 at 07:13:24
Being a fair minded guy and seeing that we're grinding out these easy wins at the tail end of the season and bearing in mind the truly heinous fixture list at the beginning of the season (deliberate if you ask this bitter), I am giving to wonder if Sam shouldn't be given a chance. Note he signed Walcott and Tosun. And I don't have to regularly watch the fare offerd up.

Then he opens his mouth.

Iain Love
17 Posted 02/05/2018 at 11:44:29
To me, finishing well is by playing good football. If we do that, then the other team has to play better to win. What we are doing is winning games by being not as bad as the opposition.

Klopp (I know, I know) has just said he will not go to Roma to defend their lead as it will hand Roma the high ground. Can you imagine Sam doing that?

Bottom of the league on shots, shots from open play, chances created etc etc – boring football, especially when I read that Tosun has a better strike rate per chance than Salah!
Matthew Williams
18 Posted 03/05/2018 at 17:26:22
Erm... don't know for sure,the really sad fact is neither does Moshiri !.

Unless we really give both domestic Cups a real go (for once),next season will be another right off for me.

I only want to see the lads busting a bollock to win the Cups,they can turn in half-arsed performances for the Premier League games we'll still hit the magic 40 pts...we ain't gonna do a Leicester folks,we need to crawl before we run the fucking marathon !.

Matthew Williams
19 Posted 03/05/2018 at 17:36:20
No doubt I'll be texting my familar post in mid September on a Tuesday/Wednesday night..."Season over".

Sadly it seems,I'll be the ONLY Blue on the planet that cares.

Any Cup that Man.City deems worthy of winning is good enough for me !.

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