If that’s at the other end of the pitch…

Paul Traill 27/02/2022 6comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 0 - 1 Manchester City

With the match being an evening kick-off, and having found myself at something of a loose end, I headed over the water into Liverpool for a couple of afternoon beers in the Ship & Mitre, before heading on to our usual pre-match pub to meet Gary and Sue. When I arrived at the Moorfields train platform, there was still a 15-minute wait for the train to Kirkdale, so I instead took the Southport line and got off at Sandhills and walked the 15 minutes or so to the pub.

We got the team news while at the bar. Vitalii Mykolenko was understandably kept aside with Jonjoe Kenny given another opportunity at left-back. Abdoulaye Doucouré also made a welcome return to the starting XI and excelled in what looks to be a very promising three-man midfield with Allan and Donny van de Beek.

We arrived in our seats in time to see the excellent banner in support of Vitalii Mykolenko and Ukraine. The Everton players all took to the field with Ukraine flags draped over their backs, while Manchester City players wore ‘NO WAR’ sweaters. And Everton blasted out "He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother" by The Hollies. It was very poignant by Everton. The club are always excellent at capturing the mood with situations such as this, take Hillsborough and the late Gary Speed tributes for examples.

As with the Leeds United match a fortnight ago, the crowd were in the mood and did their part, cheering the team on unreservedly throughout. This certainly helped the players who really put up a brave fight. In the first half, we went toe for toe with the Champions, and you couldn’t ask for more than that, the only frustration being that we couldn’t put the ball in the net during this period. Jonjoe Kenny and Richarlison both had decent half-chances, though neither were put away. It was a gutsy effort in the first half.

That’s not to say the second half was less courageous, but Manchester City found another gear and we spent much of the second half on the back foot. We dug in manfully under increasing pressure, but the midfield three and Jordan Pickford were resilient and continued to repel Manchester City.

As often the case, we were undone with some dreadful luck. Michael Keane has probably taken the brunt of Evertonians' disappointment, though I felt he was unlucky. The deflection wrong-footed him. Yes, perhaps he didn’t sort his feet out like he should have done and it looked a little clumsy, but I’d say he was unlucky that the ball trickled just beyond him, and on another day he might have just got some studs to it.

With 8 minutes still remaining on the clock, Everton weren’t prepared to throw in the towel, and the real flashpoint occurred shortly afterwards when Rodri clearly handled intentionally in the penalty area. I sit on that side of the Gwladys Street and had a very good view of it. It was obvious. It was intentional. And it wasn’t given.

I don’t understand why Paul Tierney couldn’t distinguish that it was handball in the first instance, but when Chris Kavanagh looked at it for what felt like an eternity, you felt that surely Paul would be asked to take a look at it, and would probably then award us the penalty. But inexplicably it wasn’t given, much to the outrage of us all. Everton kept on plugging away, but the play-acting by John Stones and then Ederson as the clock ticked down was enough for me and I stomped off pretty furious towards Kirkdale station to catch an early train. Which I missed.

So Everton don’t get a penalty against Manchester City when it was clear to everyone we should have got one. Who’s surprised? The same thing happened to us last weekend against Southampton too. And away at Newcastle United, Jonjoe Shelvy should have been red-carded for a terrible lunge on Anthony Gordon. That’s three very bad calls against us within the short time Frank Lampard has been manager. I guess he’s quickly learning its very different to what you get when you’re at one of the TV darlings like Chelsea.

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Because that’s where my fury with all this comes from. Are Everton dealt with by the FA any harsher than any of the other teams outside of the media fanboys? Probably not. I don’t watch all other teams anywhere near enough to say either way, but I’d bet most of the others can also reel off several incidents when they have been wronged. Them three incidents I mentioned above, everybody knows that, if they involve any of the media favourites, they will have got them decisions, no question. And if they somehow didn’t get them, boy would we hear about it.

It’s corrupt. We all know it. And we know even more, that nothing will ever be done about it.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: Jordan was probably as unlucky as anyone to be on the wrong end of the scoreline as he made some very good saves. 8

Jonjoe Kenny: He did very well. One crucial tackle in the first half on I think Kevin De Bruyne sticks in my mind. Good to see him making the most of his opportunity. 7

Michael Keane: He had a good game. I don’t see any use criticising him for the goal, he was rather unlucky. And like it or not, we need Michael Keane right now. Get behind him, he’ll be better for it. 7

Mason Holgate: He also played well, and was also unlucky to see the ball deflect past Michael. As with Michael, get behind him. 7

Seamus Coleman: He did well and stuck at it. Will we finally get a look at Nathan Patterson on Thursday? 7

Allan: I thought Allan was excellent. He was everywhere and will have been a real nuisance for Manchester City throughout. My Man of the Match. 8

Abdoulaye Doucouré: I was a bit surprised he was thrown straight back into the game, and even more (pleasantly) surprised by his performance. He was right at it, as if he’s never been away. That was a really good shift from Abdoulaye. He’s an important player to have available again. 8

Donny van de Beek: He also put in a heck of a shift and made one very significant probable goal-saving challenge to, at the time, keep us level. He possibly injured himself doing it too. As Frank Lampard has suggested, let's hope the injury is cramp, as Donny can really be a key component of what looks a promising three-man midfield. 7

Anthony Gordon: Full of vigour as always though not his best game. His decision-making was a bit off, but these are all things he is learning from each game, and you have to be patient with young players. 6

Alex Iwobi: He wasn’t very useful with ball possession, and he seemed to be flailing a bit at one point but then seemed to up his efforts and he did a decent job of protecting Seamus as Manchester City’s pressure grew in the second half. 6

Richarlison: Full of effort as always. Without Dominic on the pitch, would he have taken the penalty, I wonder? He was waiting by the penalty spot so certainly wanted it. 7

Dele Alli (for Donny van de Beek): That was probably his best cameo yet. He’s cup-tied for the Boreham Wood game of course, but I wonder if he will begin the game against his old club the following Monday? 7

Demarai Gray (for Anthony Gordon): He got involved and did okay. Good to have him back available. 6

Anwar El Ghazi (for Alex Iwobi): Though not on for very long at all, I thought he got into the game quite well. He seems quite a calm player, if we can get to a position of reasonable safety with games left, I’d like to have a good look at him. 6

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Reader Comments (6)

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John Maxwell
1 Posted 28/02/2022 at 01:33:04

Thanks Paul, always good to read your write ups.

I was actually expecting us to lose and really looking at our games after Spurs... Wolves and Newcastle at Home, then Watford Away... we are in big trouble if we don't come away with anything less than 5 points.

That handball was so blatant, simply a shocking decision.

The team played so well and contained Man City and we were the better team first half... very unlucky.

Surely we are too good to be in this situation and a matter of time before we climb up the table.

I personally think Leeds and Brentford are in the worst position than us.

Andrew James
2 Posted 28/02/2022 at 12:44:13
Paul - always like your reports and you are a generous soul so your anger with the decision tells a story in itself. I've not heard anyone at the match say different so it looks like we've been done by the officials again.

I've always thought Kenny could make it in this league as his brief spell under Allardyce suggested. The revolving door of coaches has probably been to the detriment of him, Holgate and Keane.

@John - I agree that Leeds and Brentford are worse placed than us. Leeds have surely left it too late to change things. Brentford have seemingly been found out after a good start. Plus both are wedded to a very specific style which they live and die by. Frank is a bit more flexible so I am hoping we get some hard fought points on the road soon.

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 28/02/2022 at 13:00:59
Great write up as always Paul. It's always good to hear it from the street so to speak. I'll return the favour next Monday evening from North London!

No dispute with your player ratings and agree with your MotM. In the first half in particular, Allan was outstanding. Awful mistake from Keane, but he played very well.

A 3-man midfield is how this Everton team needs to set up.

It's not like we haven't done it in the past. Look at the statue between the Goodison Supper Bar and St Luke's for a reminder!!

Allen Rodgers
4 Posted 28/02/2022 at 20:54:54
Good write up as per. Keep meaning to call in the Ship & Mitre but never get there. The Denbigh Castle is becoming well known to us Blues pre-match and quite close to Moorfields station.
Bill Hawker
5 Posted 01/03/2022 at 03:35:47
I still am livid at the infamous FA diving panel that punished a grand total of TWO people the entire season a few years back for diving.

First was our own Oumar Niasse. Two-match ban. The next was Lanzini for West Ham. Don't recall his punishment but after those two, not one more player was punished for diving/simulation.

It's been very clear to me that the officials rule one way for one set of clubs and another way for the rest.

Graeme Beresford
6 Posted 01/03/2022 at 19:42:04
Does my head in, these decisions. I've never been the type of cry about decisions because I just think "Ah well..." but the three you have pointed out are just so so obvious. Even worse is it's obvious Everton.

For as long as I can remember, we seem to get a rubbish ref, a bad decision or something completely against us. We are never given a fair rub of the green. Even in the Man City game itself, their defenders fouled our forwards so many times, any bookings given? No.

What about Brentford…. Rondon's shirt was dragged over his head. Isn't this what VAR is for? It's a clear and obvious error that the ref has missed… VAR should bring it back.

It has completely failed us this season. I wished we complain every time this happens… and publicly complain every single time because it's not fair and it's not right.

I still remember the season in which Andy Johnson should've had about 10 penalities. We complained half way through the season with video evidence and the FA went "Yeah, sorry, you should've had all those penalties." Still annoys me to this day.

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