What a win. What a performance. We demolished Manchester United yesterday to build on our recent run of good form, which goes like this:
W 4-0 v Manchester United
L 2-0 v Fulham
W 1-0 v Arsenal
W 2-0 v West Ham
W 2-0 v Chelsea
That’s a sequence of results which includes three wins against teams directly above us and a solid win away against West Ham. Other than the performance against Fulham, Marco Silva’s Everton are on a great run of form, currently sitting in 7th place (with possibly Europa League football next season) and are playing attractive, high paced football.
Here are my main thoughts following the win against Manchester United:
This performance epitomised what Everton should be about. Grit, hard work and determination in abundance. Players lunging into challenges, winning the second balls, out-jumping and outrunning their opponents. Never stopping, never letting them settle.
During the current run of matches, however, this team has combined that doggedness with delightful attacking football. When the moment is right, they get the ball on the deck and play with a purpose and an incisiveness unseen in recent Everton history.
Added to that, Goodison Park is starting to see players that can produce moments of pure magic do so regularly. Yesterday, Sigurdsson created another moment of genius to go alongside his ridiculously good goal against Leicester earlier this season, Digne’s goal was sublime and Richarlison struck again with a ruthlessness that only a few players in the league possess.
Perhaps the craftiest of them all is the little man on the left. Bernard looks like a wizard from a sci-fi fantasy film and he plays like one too.
Has Silva hit on the right formula? Uncompromising without the ball, assertive with it, dashes of Brazilian flare and Icelandic cool. Let’s hope so.
The dominant narrative following the game was that Manchester United played badly. Gary Neville, in particular, was livid with their performance. However, the overemphasis on them detracts from how good Everton were in preventing them from getting any footing in the game and playing effective football with the ball.
In his post-match interview, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer essentially repeated what Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini have said following recent defeats to Everton: ‘That was our worst performance of the season’. This isn’t a strange coincidence, nor a huge slice of fortune in which Everton play successive games against some of the best teams in the league on their off day.
We made them suffer, we didn’t give them a chance, we forced them to play badly!
Credit to Marco Silva
Those fans calling for Silva to be sacked look rather silly now. Perhaps their passion for Everton affected their judgement.
They were right to draw attention to Everton’s bad run of form through December to February but were wrong to think that Silva could not change that poor run around.
For those slightly more optimistic among us, the brilliance of yesterday’s performance could be seen in flashes earlier on in the season, particularly in the results against Burnley (5-1), Fulham (3-0), Leicester (2-1) and Brighton (3-1). Good performances without the results came against Liverpool (0-1), Chelsea (0-0) and Man Utd (1-2).
At this high point of the season, the fan base must remember that it is inevitable that this young side will stumble through a bad run of games in the future, like they did in the middle of this season. We must stick with them because it is the only way for the club to grow, for the manager to get things right and for the first team to get more emphatic wins like this.
Following the game yesterday, I watched Marcel Brands’s first interview as Everton’s Director of Football. During which, he emphasised the importance of building a solid club structure filled with good, honest and hard-working people. That process takes time and trust.
Silva clearly has the virtues Brands highlighted and his trust; it’s time the fans give some credit too. Crushing more big teams and potentially European football could follow.
Yesterday, the team played brilliantly, Silva and the boys should be proud. Just don’t let the standard drop against Crystal Palace. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum.