Everton 1 - 0 WolvesLike us all, on Sunday evening I was totally deflated following our pitiful defeat to Sheffield United. The sinking feeling, compounded by Liverpool getting themselves on course for a Champions League position by doing what they do - benefiting from a referee making up the rules, a terrible VAR call in injury time and then a winner well after the four minutes of time added on. Honestly I couldn’t sum up the two clubs better if I tried. When the going gets tough, Everton find a way to fail. Liverpool find a way over the line by hook or by crook… in this instance, crook.
We shouldn’t talk too much about “them” I know, though I find it very frustrating, given we are aspiring to ultimately challenge the top teams; the lack of a Champions League cash injection would have really hampered them next season, and would make them a lesser draw for players. And moreover, they don’t deserve it. Anyway, enough about “them”. Grrr.
Fast-forward a couple of days and I couldn’t have been giddier to return to our beloved Goodison Park. I counted down the minutes and seconds of working my half-day and was out of the door barely a minute after 12:30 pm. I couldn’t contain my excitement as my mask hid my broad grin while on the bus over the water.
Usually, a few of us head over to the match together, though I was on my own for this one. With loads of time to kill, I found a nice bar on Castle Street in the sun with a couple of slow beers and my copy of When Saturday Comes for company. A friend of mine works at a restaurant nearby so I visited there for a bite to eat before heading back to Castle Street for a quick pint. Time had caught up with me quicker than expected and so I jumped onto the train at Moorfields at around 4:30 pm.
The club had requested attendees get to the stadium a whole 90 minutes before kick off. I was conscious of getting there on time though, as I walked past the various watering holes between Kirkdale and Goodison Park, it certainly didn’t seem as though most other Evertonians were in much of a rush, so I swung into The Leigh Arms for a quick pint on the way, and arrived at Goodison Park around 45 minutes before kick off… which is about 40 minutes earlier than I usually do.
You couldn’t help but smile, walking down Goodison Road. It was great to see so many people back as Goodison Park basked in the sunshine. I felt lucky to be back. I bumbled through the turnstyle – initially outwitted by the ticket scanner – and was greeted by a steward offering complimentary water bottles and Mars bars.
Ordinarily I sit in the Lower Gwladys though this time I opted for a more central view in the Top Blacony, and what a view it was. With plenty of time to kill, I chatted to those around me, and we were all pretty disappointed to hear that James Rodriguez was unavailable with “fatigue”. Like everybody else, I was really looking forward to seeing James play. Like everyone else around us, I feel that is the last we’ve seen of him.
Time continued to zip by and it felt like no time at all that the players had gone back in from their warm-up and the sirens blared before Z-Cars. I’ve missed that special feeling when you see the players come out and Goodison Park roars, and it turns out that even 6,500 Evertonians can make some noise.
Along with James Rodriquez, Mason Holgate made way from the starting XI and in came Yerry Mina and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
For Wolverhampton Wanderers, Conor Coady was well-reminded of his Liverpool FC roots by the crowd, Joao Moutinho similarly so for his botched transfer saga from many years ago. Evertonians sure have long memories. In goal, it was nice to see a familiar face at the back in John Ruddy… even if it did take myself and the fella near me most of the half to realise it was he.
Both teams settled into the game rather quickly albeit without any early opportunities. Wolves soon got into their stride and tested Jordan Pickford on three separate occasions with Morgan Gibbs-White, Adama Traore and Fabio Silva, but the England stopper was equal to all. At the other end, Richarlison headed a good opportunity straight at John Ruddy.
Although the crowd encouraged the players, you could feel the frustration from our supporters at another slow home performance from Everton. As the half wore on, Everton eventually awoke, and finished the half a lot better than they had begun it, and almost scored from a goalmouth scramble following a corner kick, but Richarlison couldn’t quite capitalise.
I spent most of the break queuing for the bathroom as only three people were allowed in there at any given time, though I had precious little else to do in the 15 minutes with no kiosks open, of course.
Into the second half and Everton were much more on the front foot and were soon ahead. A good corner kick by Gylfi Sigurdsson was well met by Richarlison, who found the far corner of John Ruddy’s net. He peeled away ecstatic, and slid on his knees in the corner of the Gwladys Street. It was simply a joy to see Everton score in front of Evertonians.
This audibly lifted the mood and the atmosphere was brilliant from there forth. This visibly lifted the players who, all of a sudden, were sharper and gutsier into the tackle and swarmed all over Wolves in the second half. Abdoulaye Doucouré perhaps the best example of a player who was poor first half but upped his game several levels once we scored, and the supporters really got behind the players. There were others too.
It's probably no exaggeration to say that this was the best performance of the season from Richarlison. He’ll have enjoyed hearing the Gwladys Street sing his name and consequentially he buzzed around everywhere in the second half and almost set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin with a lovely ball in behind the defender, though Dominic’s effort was comfortably saved by John Ruddy. Hopefully we get to see the Richarlison we know and love next campaign in front of supporters, as this was a great reminder of what he can do with the crowd behind him.
Gylfi Sigurdsson twice came close from distance, one of which I thought had gone in for a moment, but we couldn’t get that second goal. The closest Wolves came was when Adama Traore seized upon a loose ball and charged past three Everton players, all of whom tried to bring him down, though thankfully Jordan Pickford was able to save his effort.
We could do worse than have a look at Adama if we are out of other options come the summer. I’m not sure what his price tag would be but I’d love to have a direct player with power, pace and energy; at 25 years old, you would say his best years are ahead of him.
We got to full-time unscathed and a loud cheer greeted the final whistle. I scarpered quickly and didn’t stick around for the lap of appreciation. I caught both my train and bus pretty perfectly and was home before 9 pm, which I was quite proud of. And Europe is still possible at least. It certainly didn’t feel that way earlier in the week.
It was a wonderful experience to return to Goodison Park with Evertonians. It's amazing what noise 6,500 can make and I can’t wait to hear that Goodison roar from 40,000 Evertonians in around 86 days' time.
Pickford: He did very well. I’m pleased for Jordan that he has found his best form so far in his Everton career. He’s had a rough time from opposing supporters this season, and we were all questioning him earlier in the campaign. It was great management by Carlo Ancelotti in bringing in good competition for his place and taking him out of the firing line for a while. Let’s hope he has one more great game in him this season because he’ll need to be at his best on Sunday. 7
Digne: He had a solid enough game. 6
Godfrey: It was great to get a look at Ben. As we’ve all seen on TV, he carries the ball forward well, has great pace, and is a very physical and committed player. He made a great early tackle which the crowd always love to see. I was impressed. He could be a good player for us for a very long time. 7
Mina: Slotted back in nicely. He may need to be at his towering best on Sunday. 6
Keane: He anchored the back line very well and, if the onlooking Gareth Southgate was looking to make his mind up on one of Conor Coady or Michael Keane as a final centre-back for the Euro 2020 England squad, I’d wager he’d go with Michael based on this display. His tackle on Adama Traore was a particular highlight. He will also need to be at his defiant best on Sunday. 7
Coleman: Seamus does have limitations, especially as the years advance, but one thing he never lacks is fight and desire. Good on him for staying fit and fighting hard these last few weeks, and he fought hard again last night for the supporters. You would assume it's a position Marcel and Carlo feel they need to improve next season, though Seamus would be a more-than-useful back-up right-back and a great character to have around the club for a while yet. 7
Allan: He is tenacious and scraps for everything, but blimey, he is slow. 6
Doucouré: A game of two halves for Abdoulaye. Poor in the first but vastly improved after the break once the supporters really perked up. 6
Sigurdsson: Had a good all-round game, including an assist of course and twice came close to scoring. Not a bad shift from Gylfi in what has been a pretty good season from the Icelander. 7
Richarlison: He’s had a pretty poor season but it was a joy to see him back to his old self last night. Hopefully he can stick around and be back to his best next season. My Man of the Match. 8
Calvert-Lewin: He did pretty well. It's been a long-time since watching Dominic play live. What was apparent to me which perhaps I don’t pick up quite as much on TV, is how much he occupies the centre-backs. He worked hard last night without much reward. Let’s hope he’s got a killer blow in him on Sunday. 6
Davies (for Coleman): He did okay. It’s been a good season for Tom. I’m pleased he’s proven a few people wrong as he’s taken more flack than he has deserved these last few years. 6
Gomes (for Sigurdsson): He got involved and got on the ball a bit. It's a shame what happened to André with his injury as he hasn’t been the same since. Unless his general performances improve significantly, it's difficult to see where he fits into the team moving forward. 6
Holgate (for Doucouré): He was only on the pitch for a couple of minutes so it's difficult to judge. 6
Reader Comments (13)
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1 Posted 21/05/2021 at 11:17:09
2 Posted 21/05/2021 at 11:32:26
3 Posted 21/05/2021 at 11:43:05
Good report overall, but in my opinion, I think Adama Traore is one too avoid. I mentioned on another thread that he is “The Forrest Gumpâ€ of the Premier League. Give him the ball and he will just run and run and run! If there were no stands behind the goal, I swear he would just run out of the stadium.
When he gets near the opposition goal area, it seems he doesn't know what to do, other than boom a cross to the other side of the pitch and out of play, or hit a shot miles high and wide. Every now and then, he might get a decent cross... but as I say, one to avoid.
4 Posted 21/05/2021 at 12:06:25
I agree on Pickford and said it elsewhere. It's been great to see him mature. Hopefully he can continue in that way as maturity and assurance is what you want in a keeper as well as their natural ability, which Jordan has.
Rob; I'm still laughing at the Eartha Kitt comment!!
Traore - I'd give that one a wide berth personally.
5 Posted 21/05/2021 at 15:09:18
I have to agree with you regarding Traore, even if it is a minority view on the forum: he has pace, power and is direct. Unfortunately for him, their centre-forward has been out for months and he does not have many options when he gets into the final third except to try and do it all on his own.
I am glad you mentioned Seamus Coleman's contribution; if â€“ and it's a big 'if' â€“ things go to plan during the summer transfer window, he should not be a starter when the 2021-22 season commences. However, like you, I still think he has a contribution to make and who better to bring on with 20 minutes to go while trying to close down a game? He has given his all for the club. He helped to turn the tide against Spurs in the Cup and helped to close down the left side of the Liverpool attack in the derby game at Anfield.
6 Posted 21/05/2021 at 20:46:26
I agree with Rob about TraorÃ©. He is an exciting player to watch but when you look at his goals per game ratio it is less than one in fourteen. For a squad which is already struggling for goals he is not what we require.
I reckon that tackle by Keane on TraorÃ© was the tackle of the season. It also demonstrated that once he gets going Keane can sprint as he matched TraorÃ© stride for stride. The problem with Keane is he is slow off the mark and on the turn.
7 Posted 21/05/2021 at 21:20:44
My own worry over Keane, is exactly what you say about him being slow to turn John, and he is also easily beat one on one imo, because he always comes square on.
When a player is slow off the Mark, and not the quickest at turning then he usually wants to drop off, but unless the whole team drop off and defend deep as a unit, then it leaves to much space between the defence and midfield, and this has been a huge problem for Everton this season, and is possibly the single most important thing that needs rectifying?
8 Posted 22/05/2021 at 00:31:02
9 Posted 22/05/2021 at 07:54:37
11 Posted 22/05/2021 at 08:10:33
Like is said above, when you have players who are well aware of their own strengths but equally their weaknesses, it doesn't matter what you tell them or shout at them. A lot of the time, they will default to their own instinct.
12 Posted 23/05/2021 at 13:25:56
13 Posted 23/05/2021 at 16:14:43
14 Posted 24/05/2021 at 00:50:43
I'm hoping next season will see the return of Fortress Goodison, and a collection of your reports telling us all about it.
It's going to be a long 86 days!
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