Everton 1 - 0 BrightonThe 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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1 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:27:04
I hope we'll see more of this from you.
2 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:27:35
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.
3 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:30:02
4 Posted 12/01/2020 at 20:38:43
I agree about the stadium but will certainly miss Goodison but equally the surrounding area ( St Lukes church memorabilia, greasy spoon cafes, Winslow etc etc ).
Pretty much agree with your scores too!
5 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:09:53
6 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:10:02
Let's hope for a few signings this month.
7 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:10:03
Let's hope for a few signings this month.
8 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:18:39
9 Posted 12/01/2020 at 21:39:00
10 Posted 12/01/2020 at 23:20:47
11 Posted 13/01/2020 at 01:40:10
Ive 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 dont care as much...
12 Posted 13/01/2020 at 05:19:28
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.
13 Posted 13/01/2020 at 09:34:00
I think its a bit of both. Duncans 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?
14 Posted 13/01/2020 at 12:03:36
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!
15 Posted 13/01/2020 at 14:12:35
16 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:24:50
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
17 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:47:18
18 Posted 13/01/2020 at 16:58:49
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.
19 Posted 13/01/2020 at 20:25:36
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 cant 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. Its 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.
20 Posted 13/01/2020 at 21:15:25
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