A decent response

By Dave Williams 12/01/2020 20comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 0 Brighton
The alarm went off at 5:45 and, as I padded past the dog, she raised an Ancelotti-style eyebrow at the early hour, having adopted 9:15 as her wake-up time since I retired.

A 45-minute drive and I boarded the West Country Blues coach — not completely full but still 47 diehard fans, the majority of them season ticket holders willing to travel over 500 miles to support their team after the shame of Anfield. Players — take note!!

A very clear run saw us arrive at Stanley Park just before noon, so plenty of time to kill. No ToffeeWebber took me up on my request for company over a beer (miserable shower... joking!!) so I decided to have a tour of the pre-match offerings.

Walking along Stanley Park and glancing across to the scene of shame, it drives home how badly we need this new stadium. I love Goodison Park to bits but, if we are to compete, we simply have to move to a base which levels the playing field.

First stop was a nose around the club shop, then down the road to the People’s Hub. This is very good — a modern, clean and very friendly facility; being so early, it was half-empty. I ordered a very nice sausages and chips (chips were to die for — no one makes chips like scousers) and a half-decent coffee. Staff kept asking if everything was okay; I would recommend this to anyone who is not after a beer (or can’t find anyone to drink with!!).

Next was the Fanzone, where Dave Watson was interviewed; he looked fit enough to play. Then into the ground where I had a quick chat with the very nice bloke who is Graeme Sharp and found myself sitting directly in front of one David Moyes.

I have to say “Dour Davie” he most certainly is not. He absolutely oozed charisma and before the game he lit up the room with his personality and the staff were clearly as delighted to see him as he was them. Nice guy.

Onto the game itself and I thought we played really well until the last 20 minutes when Davies, Sigurdsson and Bernard tired. Bernard was excellent and, as others have said, Digne is much better with Bernard ahead of him.

Sidibé is an enigma: he looked great going forward, his sharp forward passing along the deck is excellent but, in the last 20 minutes, his positional sense was letting him down... hence Seamus coming on.

I decided to watch Tom Davies very closely in view of the stick he gets from some; I was impressed. He drove the team on, controlled the midfield, tackled, passed and intercepted well and kept his position. Okay, he hit a few stray passes towards the end but I suspect he was shattered. He is not so comfortable wide left anyway, and it was noticeable that they were getting too much space in the centre with him no longer there. This is a very good young player who will be better again once we assemble a midfield fit for purpose.

I will have a go at my player ratings here:

Pickford: one fantastic save, kicked well. 7
Sidibé: great in attack, not in defence. 6
Holgate: very strong game. 8
Keane: played well. 7
Digne: better but not up to last season's standard. 6
Walcott: decent, definite penalty, faded. 6
Davies: very good. 7
Sigurdsson: okay... but I'm not a fan. 6
Bernard: skilful, energetic, brave, inventive, great control; my MotM. 8
Richarlison: excellent — and a very good goal. 7
Calvert-Lewin: he got battered by Duffy and his mates but kept going and gave as good as he got. 7
Subs: 6 across the board as no-one had a lot to do.

I thought the booing of Delph was out of order; okay, he shouldn’t have got involved on social media but we needed the points and booing our own is not going to help.

I had a great view of Carlo and the man must have been exhausted at the end of the game. Whether he is coaching much, I haven’t a clue... but boy does he manage his team from his technical area! Constantly barking out orders for players to adjust position or change the tempo of the game — he is a polar opposite of the pursed lips and folded arms of the silent Silva.

Also, very noticeable was the involvement of Duncan Ferguson, who appeared several times in the technical area to discuss something with Carlo and this was something I can’t recall seeing with any other manager.

I may be wrong here but I can’t remember seeing Schneiderlin warm up during the game. All the other outfield subs had a few runs and stretches at some point but not him. If that is right, then I wonder if he was avoiding the possibility of abuse and, if so that is, to use Sigurdsson’s word, 'disappointing'.

Finally... VAR. I was against it from the start as this is a spontaneous game and referees' mistakes are part and parcel. How they can decide that Walcott was not impeded when it was clear he was pulled into running sideways to try to keep his balance is absolutely stupid.

The disallowed goal was 50:50 but there was no way Calvert-Lewin was deliberately handling it. He was trying to chest it over the line with his body at the wrong angle and a yellow card was just senseless.

We had a happy coach for the drive home with five players receiving votes for Man of the Match. One for Pickford, honourable mentions for Mason and a Richi but Bernard a clear winner ahead of Tom.

Incidentally, Richarlison has cleaned up his act, hasn’t he! He will still make out he is mortally wounded on occasion – only to rise again and run his guts out; but the falling to the ground for no reason seems to have gone.

He and Calvert-Lewin took a lot of stick from Duffy, who must have put on two stone or more of solid muscle since leaving us, and looks a very decent centre-half, but kept going back for more and Richarlison's goal really was a superb piece of skill.

My usual thanks to Ron, Mike, Ian and the rest of the people who run West Country Blues and enable people to see their team in pleasant and cost-effective surroundings. A much better performance.

Reader Comments (20)

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Tony Hill
1 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:27:04
Great report thanks, Dave. You're all fantastic supporters travelling that distance week in week out.

I hope we'll see more of this from you.

Derek Knox
2 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:27:35
Good post Dave, and as I have said on previous occasions, I really admire the endurance, the time and loyalty you guys all show every home game to pledge your (sometimes) undeserved unconditional support.

Can't remember if you, or one of your group said they do the same for the away games too, or whether my mind is playing tricks on me. I know it's only early days but the signs are there for a new and long-awaited change in fortunes for our great Football Club.

I think the least said about the blip that was last week at Mordor the better, let's just hope it has been seriously condemned to the past and never to rear it's ugly head again. Maybe, it was the 'kick up the arse' that was needed!

It will be an interesting remainder of the month, both in terms of the possible accumulation of points, which are possible. Also to see what happens if anything, as far as Transfers are concerned. It can't be denied that we are a couple short in midfield and defence, but whether they are permanent or loans remains to be seen.

Keep up the good work Dave, and pass my respect to your fellow Blue Travellers who have my utmost respect.

Paul Birmingham
3 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:30:02
Great support, Dave, fantastic loyalty and passion for the Everton cause.
Stephen Brown
4 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:38:43
Great article Dave! I travelled from Swansea with my 5 year old son! He loved every minute of it!

I agree about the stadium but will certainly miss Goodison but equally the surrounding area ( St Luke’s church memorabilia, greasy spoon cafes, Winslow etc etc ).

Pretty much agree with your scores too!

Ryan Holroyd
5 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:09:53
The booing of Delph was embarrassing
Graham Coldron
6 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:10:02
Great article and I can fully relate to the early start.I travelled down for the first time with the blues based in the North East run by Rachel who does a great job and the group was featured in the match day programme.

Let's hope for a few signings this month.


Graham Coldron
7 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:10:03
Great article and I can fully relate to the early start.I travelled down for the first time with the blues based in the North East run by Rachel who does a great job and the group was featured in the match day programme.

Let's hope for a few signings this month.


Jim Whiffen
8 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:18:39
Ryan, I booed Delph as loud as I could, funnily enough I didn’t feel half as embarrassed as I did coming out of Anfield last Sunday or facing telly clapping Kopites all week...do you live around here?
Peter Neilson
9 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:39:00
Jim I live here and was at Anfield last Sunday. Not embarrassed by the booing just don’t get it.
Ste Traverse
10 Posted 12/01/2020 at 23:20:47
Whilst Delph came across poorly in that social media spat, the booing was wrong imo. What did it exactly achieve apart from creating unrest?
Danny Broderick
11 Posted 13/01/2020 at 01:40:10
Delph had a go back at fans who were having a go at him online. It was clearly misguided, but at the same time, it’s hardly the crime of the century. Did he really deserve to be booed for it?

I’ve got no problem with players having a go back sometimes. Coleman has done it previously. It shows they care. I wish the biggest culprits (Sigurdsson and Schneiderlin) could show a bit of passion sometimes. They obviously don’t care as much...

Darren Hind
12 Posted 13/01/2020 at 05:19:28
Excellent piece Dave.

I was particularly interested in your observations concerning the exchanges between Ancelotti and The big fella. I hadnt seen that.

Has Duncan's little stint as Manager given him the believe and confidence to have a greater input during the match, or is he being encouraged to give an opinion by a manager who despite all he has won, is still humble enough to take on board the views of his team ? I`d be happy with either. I`d be happier with both,.

Well done to all you West country boys and girls and all those other supporters club who dragged themselves out of bed for this. You all knew it could well have been a long, long journey home if last weeks result still haunted the players. . but you came anyway.

Cap doffed

Dave Williams
13 Posted 13/01/2020 at 09:34:00
Thanks Darren- I’ve been hidden away a bit on the site but pleased you found it!
I think it’s a bit of both. Duncan’s stint must have given him confidence especially with the clever man management of Carlo in praising what he did at every opportunity. It always struck me that previous managers must have told everyone else on the bench to keep quiet because they usually were! Carlo seems to embrace input from Duncan and I do wonder if he has been tasked with training him with a view to his succession?
Steve Ferns
14 Posted 13/01/2020 at 12:03:36
Dave, I did pop into the oak at 1.00pm to meet you, but I couldn't see you in there so I quickly moved on. Good to hear you (mostly) enjoyed the game.

You can use the thread where people offer tickets and request tickets (tickets & travel) to also organise meetings, it says so in the sub-title of the thread, so next time post there and check there for responses. I did say I would meet you!

Dave Williams
15 Posted 13/01/2020 at 14:12:35
Sorry Steve- I was unaware of that part of the site but have now checked it out and will go there next time. Sorry if that messed you about and hopefully we can do it next time.
Tony Abrahams
16 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:24:50
Amazing supporters you and your firm Dave, absolutely brilliant and it’s the reason Everton still remains one of the big boys imo, because of our club’s fantastic supporters.

Evertonians might be hard to please at times but why not? Because they never let the club down.

I was getting told it got pretty embarrassing for Delph at F/F the other day when Ancellotti came into the room and had a proper go at him, screaming his head off right into his face, but the only thing Delph would have understood was that he was getting a proper bollocking, because Carlo shouted every word in his native language, which tells me he must have been one of the few who disagreed with Ferguson last week

Rob Halligan
17 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:47:18
Dave, there is a couple who I think may travel on your coach, Billy and Jacqui. Have known them for a few years now, having met them at an away game, though can't remember which one? They are always in The Brick before every home game, and I always see them in there. They manage every away game, even midweek ones, so kudos to them and every single of you who all travel up from the West country for all games. I suppose though, every game is like an away game for you lot!
Brent Stephens
18 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:58:49
Dave "The alarm went off at 5:45 and, as I padded past the dog, she raised an Ancelotti-style eyebrow at the early hour".

My wife does the same when I'm off to away games.

Good article, Dave. I met a guy in the Spellow at the weekend who travels to all home games from the depths of Lincoln - an awkward journey for him, I think.

Dave Williams
19 Posted 13/01/2020 at 20:25:36
Rob- yes I know them. They have been going for years and always sit in the very front seats. Really nice couple.
The distance is a pain and the entire day is a write off so your other half needs to buy into it if you are to get to most games. Mine can’t stand football hence I pick and choose a bit though having recently retired I think Jane is becoming keener on losing me for a whole day!
Brent- Lincoln must be a sod of a trip. Ours is a long distance but at least virtually all motorway. It’s the season ticket holders who amaze me- all that distance and mediocre performances yet they fork out every year- there must have been around 30 of them on the coach on Saturday. Their devotion to the club shames pretty much all of the players.
Andy Crooks
20 Posted 13/01/2020 at 21:15:25
Brilliant article, Dave. I just loved that. Good Duffy comments, too. As a supporter who gets to few games, I think you and Paul bring it to life. Well done.

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