The effort was there

Paul Traill 07/11/2021 30comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 0 Spurs

I was fortunate enough to be abroad and thus miss the first-hand pain of the Watford collapse. I was therefore a bit more excited than probably most to get to Goodison Park for Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur, particularly given our recent alarming drop in form.

Dan picked me up and we were in the pub in plenty of time and it was nice to kick back with a few beers. It was great to see Gary and Sue also, the first time I’ve caught up with Gary this season. Great to have him back at the game… and in good form as ever. “Ah Ha!” he yelled with arms outstretched in his best Alan Partridge impersonation when he saw me. Yes, a private joke.

After the pub, we headed on to Goodison Park in time for kick-off. It was good to see the usual guys around us. I was disappointed to see Rafa Benitez continued with two players in central midfield as I thought that, without Abdoulaye Doucouré, three midfielders would be a solution. However, it is fair to say that, in this instance at least, the midfield combination of Fabian Delph and Allan did a much more competitive job than has been the case in the last couple of games.

We gave as good as we got throughout in what was a feisty encounter. Games at home to Tottenham Hotspur almost always are. Son Heung-Min getting the boos from the Goodison Park faithful epitomised the bad-feeling from the last time we played Tottenham Hotspur in front of a crowd.

The game was niggly throughout but we held our own. The effort was there from all. Yes, that’s the minimum you should expect, but there was a determination about Everton with everyone playing their part. The biggest frustration from the afternoon was that, despite plenty of balls into the penalty area and attacking intent, Hugo Lloris was barely tested. Two shots on target apparently and I don’t remember them. Better than Tottenham Hotspur’s none I suppose.

That, despite not hitting the target with either, Tottenham Hotspur did have two handy opportunities to take the lead in the first half, one when someone, I can’t recall who, headed a good chance over the crossbar I think from a corner kick; the other when Emerson Royal volleyed over on the stretch with a presentable opportunity. All square at the break.

The second half was rather similar – a lot of huff and puff from two out of form teams with neither able to convert possession into meaningful opportunities. But it was enjoyable to be at. The effort was there.

Things could have been very different of course if not for poor refereeing and VAR officiating. Chris Kavanagh, who you may remember disallowed a Manchester United own goal in the last Goodison Park game before the Covid pandemic, was up to his old tricks.

Richarlison was in on goal and took the ball around Hugo Lloris who grabbed at the ball with his hand. Richarlison went over, Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot. However, Richarlison and Hugo had carried on playing, and Everton were in a position where Richarlison may have been in business to score into an empty net. But the referee had given a penalty so play stopped… until Jonathan Moss on VAR intervened. Chris Kavanagh therefore went to the monitor and deciphered that Richarlison had actually dived and awarded a free kick to Tottenham Hotspur.

This would have carried water had Richarlison not carried on playing. I get that referees make mistakes but, if he makes a mistake, why do Everton not get a drop ball at the end of it? Why is it a free-kick to Tottenham Hotspur? Why are we punished? And by the way, would that decision retrospectively be overturned with VAR for other certain teams? Of course not.

This didn’t deter Everton, if anything it put a bee in our bonnet, and we continued to probe for the win though alas it never came. We very nearly, and probably should have, done it when substitute Tom Davies and Lucas Digne combined well down the left to present a great opportunity for Demarai Gray, who poked wide when well placed. Everton a shade unlucky.

Though despite the feeling that we should have won, we can’t ignore that we could have lost. Mason Holgate, who had a dreadful 10 minutes, ceded possession which eventually resulted in Giovani Lo Celso curling at goal. It looked wide to us in the Gwladys Street, though then surprised us by how rapidly it curved back towards goal and we were grateful for the intervention of the post to keep us level.

Impressively, despite Mason’s red card, Everton still had a bit of a crack at winning the game but it wasn’t to be. I just wish the penalty would have stood, or never given as either way we would have had a good chance of finding the net there.

At full-time, we shared the spoils but a good effort from the players stopped the rut. A good effort from the crowd too, who encouraged Everton throughout.

Rut stopped. For now at least.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: His distribution and handling was good. He had little else to do in truth. 6

Lucas Digne: Was very good I thought. Committed and carved out some opportunities. 7

Michael Keane: I like Michael. He’s always committed. He makes mistakes at times sure, but he doesn’t hide and is probably our most capable defensive distributor. He had a very good game, kept us solid and kept us moving forward. A good effort. 8

Ben Godfrey: Much better from Ben, probably his best game so far this season. Much more like his old self. Let’s hope he kicks on from here. 7

Seamus Coleman: The increased effort from the players was epitomised by Seamus who set the tone for the rest of the lads. Well done Seamus. My Man of the Match. 8

Allan: Had a very good game. I assumed he was substituted with injury, though Dan, who sits in the Top Balcony and has a much better view than me, told me after the game that Allan seemed as bemused as anybody to depart. Anyhow, he was excellent today. 8

Fabian Delph: A much-vilified figure at Everton, the reception he got as he left the field goes to show – play for the shirt and the crowd are behind you all the way. Fabian was excellent. Let’s hope this signifies an end to his injury woes at Everton, or at least a reduction in such. 8

Andros Townsend: “Industrious” is a word you will always associate with Andros, and he demonstrated this again today in abundance. 6

Anthony Gordon: He did well to survive the game as I felt he had become ineffective after around 70 minutes but he kept on plugging away. He seems to have added a better element of aggression to his game, which is very welcome. 6

Demarai Gray: Not as effective as he can be and missed a good late opportunity, though always a threat. 6

Richarlison: I like Richarlison, he gives as good as he gets. He lead the line well up there and should have had an opportunity to score. Great to have him back. 7

Tom Davies (for Fabian Delph): He got better as the game went on and was unlucky not to have contributed towards a win late on. 7

Mason Holgate (for Allan): Where to start? When he took to the field, I was saying to Ste how I was looking forward to seeing how he does in midfield live at a game, as both his previous midfield performances I’ve watched from TV. It is safe to say it was disastrous. He lost possession a few times, once which easily could have cost us a goal, and then got himself sent off. I’ve only seen the one replay of it at the time on the big screen and it looked like more of a follow-through to me, but I’d need to see it again. But a VAR intervention seemed harsh as he clearly took the ball first. It’ll be quite a while out of the squad now for Mason, particularly with the international break. How that leaves him with his Everton career, I’m not sure as he is out of favour anyway. It’s a shame for Mason; I like him, he seems a good character, fingers crossed things can improve for him. 3

Jean-Philippe Gbamin (for Demarai Gray): Not on long, can’t judge.

Reader Comments (30)

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Paul Burns
1 Posted 08/11/2021 at 09:51:04
How you can be excited with anything to do with Everton in this era is beyond me. The ratings are way over the top as well.

"The effort was there" says it all. This is the bare minimum expected from the multi-millionaires masquerading as footballers. When it's become that rare that it deserves comment, you know the club is seriously ill.

Danny O’Neill
2 Posted 08/11/2021 at 10:35:07
Good write-up, Paul.

The crowd and team united yesterday. As you say, the reception the players got as they were substituted and their response told that. Although, I did note Allan not being best pleased. But I don't mind that. What player should be or is pleased with coming off? Did you note that Benitez called Allan over a few times to relay instructions? I get the impression he could be the manager's man.

The 2 midfielders (Delph & Allan) were the pick of the bunch for me and I thought Gray gave us an outlet. I'd also give Gordon a mention. Again, nothing spectacular but steady. Let's see how he develops. With Calvert-Lewin on the pitch, we win that.

Strangetwo bunch the Tottenham fans. I always have to travel back with the London fans. I found West Ham entertaining and had a good laugh with them even though we lost and they won. There was something a bit more sinister with the Spurs lot.

They spent most of the trip arguing amongst each other in-between waving Italian flags and singing "Antonio". I actually thought they were singing for the West Ham player, not realising that's Conte's first name.

I ended up speaking to 2 of the more sensible ones, but even one of them spent most of his time trying to wind me up about Sigurdsson. Until he fell asleep. Odd bunch and I've been down here for years.

Chelsea = arrogant. Tottenham = strange. Arsenal = boringly passive. West Ham = probably the most sensible collective fanbase in the capital.

Back to the match. Yes, we didn't get the win, but we got a response following the Wolves and Watford debacles. And it could have gone so wrong with the script written for Conte.

Christopher Timmins
3 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:02:29
Let's take the positives;

A clean sheet
A point
Back four much better as a unit
Ben back where he belongs in the middle of the back four
Delph's contribution

The manager has got a lot of stick recently for his choices and substitutions, however, he deserves great credit for stick with Ben yesterday and moving him into the middle of the back four. There were many who wanted him benched after the Wolves game.

Until we get Mina, Doucouré and Calvert-Lewin back, it's not going to be pretty, unfortunately.

David Pearl
4 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:14:22
Yes, l enjoy your write-ups too, Paul.

However, we played a 4-1-4-1. Especially without the ball. So that makes 3 midfielders. Unfortunately that contributed also to a toothless attack. In fact, from what l saw going forward it was a disjointed performance... yes with lots of effort.

Townsend does try hard, works for the team... but l thought he was the reason things didn't click as much as they could have. We had no runners into the box.

Gordon kept picking the ball up deep from Coleman and standing still. Townsend also tried to do Gordon's job on that right-hand side and kind of got in Gordon's way. Weird set-up but it kind of worked... I guess.

John Raftery
5 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:33:17
Thanks for your report, Paul. When a team has lost successive matches, it is incumbent on the manager to set the team up to stop the rot. Benitez did exactly that and we saw the team responding with a committed display. Unsurprisingly, with the emphasis on defence from front to back, it was a game of few chances.

This week may hopefully prove to be the turning point in Godfrey's season. He has generally been in very poor form, culminating in his crass error on Monday at Wolves. That might have been the wake-up call he needed. He owed the team something, the manager kept faith with him, moved him into his natural position, and the player showed a huge improvement. Credit to both the manager and the player.

I thought Kavanagh was cowed by the presence of a senior referee, Jon Moss, in the VAR room. Once Kavanagh was invited to the pitchside monitor, there was only ever going to be one outcome for each incident. Were the refereeing decisions clear and obvious errors? I didn't think so. VAR remains as capricious as ever.

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:38:51
I'd give Michael Keane MotM for yesterday, because by positioning himself at least 15 yards higher up the pitch, he enabled everyone else to get on with their job in a much better manner, and this was reflected in our industry.

I said it last night and have just googled it for confirmation, but remembering when Kavanagh sent Ancelotti off, for contesting Sigurdson's goal against Man Utd at Goodison just before the lockdown, when his deflected shot had totally wrong-footed De Gea, that same cheating bastard Moss was also the VAR assistant that day as well.

A coincidence or an agenda?

Steve Hogan
7 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:54:22
Holgate once again showed his crass immaturity in throwing in a tackle like that, particularly as the team had worked so hard throughout the game to be competitive.

I'm not sure how many times he has been sent off in his Everton career to date, but he was extremely luck to stay on the pitch a few years ago in the Anfield derby when he assaulted Firminho by pushing him head over heels into the crowd following another rash challenge.

Simply displays a lack of intelligence on the pitch and should be one of the first out the door as soon as we can strengthen in that department.

David Pearl
8 Posted 08/11/2021 at 11:56:00
Danny, what do you reckon on the Palace fans? They are always very vocal no matter what.

I'm following West Ham more now because of Moyes, l'm enjoying similarities to us under him.

Tony, you weren't one of those doing windmill arms trying to get the team to push forwards?

MotM for me was Delph. Always showing for the ball, looking for the forward pass, reading play. He looks fit for the first time since he joined us.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 08/11/2021 at 12:04:39
Good call on Palace David. Living in west London, I don't see or meet many of them but know a couple. If I was to stereotype, I'd say they are about 75% family club (so a bit like Fulham) but have 25% who are like Italian or East European ultras!! They make the noise, the rest sit and clap politely.

But it's better than Leicester with those annoying clappy things.

Jay (BRZ) may call me out for mentioning Keane again, but I'll back up the positive performance yesterday. He defended well and looked commanding. What a difference having the confidence to play on the front foot and not be worried about the opposition can have on a player and the team. No rabbit in the headlights from Michael yesterday. He played very well.

Steve Brown
10 Posted 08/11/2021 at 12:53:52
Tony, Kavanagh was the referee who awarded the penalty at Anfield last season and stuck to his guns when VAR intervened (again!). So, I am a bit conflicted about the bloke and expected him to stick to his guns yesterday.
Gaute Lie
11 Posted 08/11/2021 at 13:06:22
Thank you for your reports, Paul.

In Norway we are used to ratings, for movies, music, shows, sports and for product review. So I am always looking forward to your review. Keep up the good work, my friend.🌷

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 08/11/2021 at 13:14:46
No crowd at Anfield that day Steve, and was Moss, his sidekick that day?

Yes David, Delph was very good, but I'm not sure this would have been the case if our defenders never stayed higher. 👍

Steavey Buckley
13 Posted 08/11/2021 at 13:34:41
11 games 15 points so far, not looking good. But Everton's winless 'run' has coincided with Everton losing 4 of Everton's best players in Richarlison, Dominic Calvert Lewin, Yerry Mina and Doucoure through injury.

Yet, once they are all back from injury, Everton can be a very exciting team again. But how long can Everton carry on without winning even at Goodison will 'see' Everton plunge around the relegation area of the league.

If any team can't win their home matches before their home crowd, relegation is always a possibility. The 2-5 debacle against Watford at home is still a warning sign of worse to come when Everton take on the top 6 in the next round of league matches after the international break.

Niall McIlhone
14 Posted 08/11/2021 at 13:44:32
Thanks for sharing your ratings, Paul, and whilst appreciating where Paul (#1 on thread) is coming from, in terms of good effort being a "bare minimum", it was nonetheless a more cohesive performance than of late, and the Spurs threat was minimised.

Another international break giving another opportunity to get the walking wounded fit again, and, for me, we should only seriously offer critique of this manager when we have our spine back in the team and he can finally bring in competition at right-back, hopefully in January.

You (Paul) and Danny O'Neill, present as enjoying the experience of going to the game, meeting friends and opposition fans alike. It is important to remember that it's not always about just the game, and the fortunes of the team: it's about the cumulative experience of following Everton FC, for better or worse, be it attending matches in the UK, or following from afar. I feel ToffeeWeb gives a platform for this, keep up the good work, Lyndon and Michael.

Barry Hesketh
15 Posted 08/11/2021 at 13:53:44
Steavey @ 13
Another seven victories or equivalent points, for Everton, between now and the end of the season should see us safe as 36 points or more has been enough to keep relegation at bay for the last five seasons. It's not something to get excited about, but given the injuries and lack of talent in the squad, it's something to occupy our minds.

It will be telling to see if the team can continue with the same intensity on show yesterday, for games against the lesser clubs in the future as it's easier to be motivated when the big guns come calling.

It's those lesser clubs that we will have to find a way to beat to ensure that we stay in the division, any points we can get from the others this side of Christmas will be bonus points.

Stu Darlington
16 Posted 08/11/2021 at 16:39:15
Steavey @13 warns about the dangers of taking on the Top 6 after the international break and Barry @15 believes it is the lesser clubs we will have to beat to stay in the Premier League.

Does that leave anyone around us we can beat??

Just joking, gents – I get what you mean.

Justin Doone
17 Posted 08/11/2021 at 16:44:21
Cheating diving players don't deserve anything!

Richarlison and Townsend need to stay on there feet more until a 'real' foul against them is felt.

Not blaming Gray, (good player, good buy), but he's had some good goal scoring opportunities in the last few games. Score them and its a very different story.

Much better battling performance. Crowd also louder.

Our midfield 'the engine room ' is why we are an average Premier league team. Lack of quality, pace, leadership, discipline, creativity.

Sadly injuries have not helped as their is no consistency to build a reliable engine with.

That could be Delphs farewell performance. I think Mina is due a game before Christmas. Gbamin, maybe in a midfield 3 but very inexperienced for Premier league.

Satisfied with a draw. Hopefully a few better player's available in a couple of weeks.

Jerome Shields
18 Posted 08/11/2021 at 18:13:22
Interesting perspective from someone who was at the game. The backline did put in the effort and seem to have learnt the value of a high defensive line. This helped support the midfield and Allan and Delph benefited a lot.

The attack was well supplied, but were weak in getting into position to finish. There was a lot of great balls into the area, across the 6-yard box, with no anticipatory runs by Everton forwards.

Bill Rodgers
20 Posted 08/11/2021 at 20:37:34
If bringing on either Davies or Holgate is the answer, then God alone knows what's the question.
David Pearl
21 Posted 08/11/2021 at 21:01:40
If Davies wants to see out his career as a squad player, that he can do at Everton. Preferably in a 3. He learned a lot from Gana and could pick up some things from Allan. Although l always thought he would benefit learning to play right-back.

Holgate is a funny one. I don't think he has reached anything near his potential. I thought he got caught up in the emotion of the game on Sunday when we needed a calmer more mature head. Who that was l don't know. Although Gbamin needs minutes off the bench when we are comfortably leading, and when that will be l'm not sure.

Shame that at home Rafa couldn't have brought on an attacking player to play closer to Richarlison. Just that 2 points from 15 ain't good. Our finishing position will tell Calvert-Lewis and Richarlison if their futures lie with us or if they need to move on. We should be so much closer.

Even though Gray and Townsend are good signings, l would rather they be options off the bench than first names on the teamsheet.

Jim Bennings
22 Posted 09/11/2021 at 06:57:55
Hmm… seems a tad over the top with some of the positivity regarding the player ratings.

We battled well at home to a fellow average side at this moment that are also at rock bottom.

But the lack of creativity is alarming, nothing ever comes from the middle of the park and that's a worry for a Premier League side that should have aspirations.

I doubt Allan will ever score a goal for us and, while Delph has played well lately, he won't be involved enough and again he'll probably never score a goal or create.

Holgate… I'm sorry, mate, but he's a walking disaster and I sussed it out a good 3 years ago when some were comparing him to John Stones.

For me, Holgate is out the door now, that's his last act, Branthwaite can't be much worse, time to blood the lad in.

A point stops the rot but glancing at the fixtures tells me we will be potentially having "must-win" game's very soon.

Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 09/11/2021 at 09:55:27
I'll defend Paul's ratings here, Jim, as he often writes these up in the relatively short aftermath when emotions and matchday experience are probably still running high!

I'd say (from my seat) that most left the ground satisfied with the effort shown by just about all of the players. Not jubilated, but satisfied.

The Tottenham fans had a similar, if not more damning view as I listened to them bickering on the train. Convinced in their own superiority, they were fuming they didn't beat us.

I don't think we'll be playing with much creativity any time soon. It's going to have to be about getting forward quickly and using the outlets that Gray and Townsend give us. With Calvert-Lewin back, it will give us more options when we do get into forward positions. Doucouré has the engine and Allan likes to play a forward pass when the option is on in front of him.

Next 3 games. On paper, we lose to Man City, beat Brentford and get a draw against Liverpool.

But it's Everton, so I'm going for a draw at City, lose to Brentford and beat Liverpool. Either way, 4 points and end that 3 game run on an estate high!

And we'll do Arsenal. Arteta will get Manager of the Month and their impressive run will come to an end soon just as we pick up. That's how seasons go.

Michael Lynch
24 Posted 09/11/2021 at 10:01:42
While both teams (or at least their managers) would probably have taken a nil-nil before the game, in retrospect this was two points dropped, as it was when we drew at Man Utd. Sadly, both draws were met with a certain amount of satisfaction, which starkly illuminates how low our expectations have become.

However, I agree that it was an enjoyable match – it always is when the crowd get going, and the positive outcome from the poor reffing was the Goodison roar and how it was reflected in the intensity on the pitch from our lads.

Danny – I didn't even notice any Spurs fans on my train back to London until I got off at Euston and there a few drunken "Yid Army" chants. When will those arseholes pack that in? I don't care if they think they're chanting Yid in a "positive way", I doubt if any of those pissed up fools were Jewish, and anyone found chanting that should get a lifetime ban from their club.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 10/11/2021 at 08:34:36
It might depend on which train you get back or which carriage you sit in. I am probably glutton for punishment as I tend to locate in coach C (Bar) or close to it.

Yes, those chants are outdated and belong in the 80s, when we were no saints ourselves if we're honest. But at least we've moved on and I don't hear that type of stuff from Evertonians anymore.

That said, as posted elsewhere, I'm on a warning order from Wolves for nothing other than attending a match and being reported for cheering an Everton goal in one of the home stands. Nothing said at the time to me in person, by the way, and I swapped decent conversation with most around me, including the stewards.

I get regulations and safety, but it seems many honest traditional fans are still being tarred with an 80s hooligan brush and many modern fans are "outraged" that someone supports another team and sat next to them. Sad.

John Boon
26 Posted 11/11/2021 at 13:32:49
Just found out that Gerrard has gone to Villa. I used to have a soft spot for them. Amazing how you can change your outlook and mind so quickly.
Danny O’Neill
27 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:08:03
Oh that throws a entire new dimension into the already contentious Everton v Villa fixture in the O'Neill household, John Boon!!
Joe McMahon
28 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:14:44
John, I'm on my own here, but I admire him for testing himself continually. He could have moved to the easy money of punditry or even stayed in coaching at Anfield, but he's learning his trade to be a manager. Ferguson and Unsworth really should surely realise they cannot just walk into the Everton job.
Danny O’Neill
29 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:29:44
Oh, don't get me wrong Joe. He is testing himself and pushing himself. At 41 years old as well. It's a gamble but he's taking it.

Ferguson is 50 next month. Unsworth not far behind. Both yet to take on a full time manager job. Probably never will.

Now I appreciate not everyone is cut out for it and prefer the training pitch.

I said to Mrs Danny, it's a gamble for both parties. But they've both taken it. With my West Midlands leaning, my fear for Villa is either way, they lose.

If he crashes and burns, it's a failed experiment.

If he does well, he is Klopps successor when they come calling. And with him in the seat for 4 or 5 years now (??), I don't see that being in the too distant future. And Gerrard will have his eye on it. That will be his goal.

Either way, Villa eventually lose out here in my view.

He's went gone elsewhere, put himself in the hotseat in order to get where he wants to be. Not sit comfortably at the training ground (Kirkby??), waiting for the call that will never come. Putting aside personal feelings, you have to give him credit for that.

He now has two massive clubs on his CV. Although that will depend how this goes. But he has taken the challenge and put himself out there to be judged.

Tony Abrahams
30 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:57:14
His ultimate goal is to manage Liverpool, Danny, and to achieve his dream then he’s got to go and prove himself first, which is how football usually works at the very top level. It’s as simple as that.
Ian Horan
31 Posted 11/11/2021 at 14:59:47
Is it time Duncan Ferguson showed his managerial skill – he should throw his hat in the ring for the Rangers job!!!

Succeed and he has a viable chance of managing Everton one day. Failure would prove he hasn't the skillset to be a number 1, and let's be fair: Gerrard has left a golden opportunity for the next Rangers manager.

Ferguson must know he has to go and prove himself surely?

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