Everton 0 - 3 Manchester City

As Dan was unable to make today's game, he kindly offered me the tickets he and his son usually use in the Top Balcony. This gave me the rare opportunity of bringing my son along for the game.

The times I've taken him previously, it hasn't been a lot of fun for him. As I sit, or rather stand, in the Lower Gwladys, it's been difficult for him to see what's going on and he's found the noise a bit much. The ability to sit down and have a good view of the game is much more favourable.

Prior to that, we met in the usual pub for a couple. The unavailability of Vitalii Mykolenko was a shock and the thought of Mason Holgate up against Riyad Mahrez did worry us.

We arrived at Goodison Park in good time, up several flights of stairs and into our (Dan's) seats. We began the game ever so well and it's a strange feeling to come out of a 0-3 result with a feeling of calmness. On another day we take the lead.

We certainly should have done when Mason Holgate somehow hoiked over the crossbar from very close range from a corner kick. Had that have gone in, it would have been richly deserved at that point. We had plenty more openings though the pass was always overhit or we took the wrong option, but you had to be impressed with the teams' efforts.

Manchester City, on the other hand, were not fazed by this and from Minute 1 just oozed calmness. They play with such an arrogance regardless of how things are going. They seem to think that the goal will come… probably because it nearly always does...

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It felt hard on our boys to concede like that. Our shape was good and we'd defended well, and up until the 37th minute, Jordan Pickford had been largely untroubled. And then, kind of out of nothing, a beautifully improvised volley by Ilkay Gundogan found its way into the net. It was a bit gutting but, at that point, at least you thought that we could stay in the game.

That hope was destroyed within 2 minutes when, with Nathan Patterson caught too far upfield, Manchester City got in down our left and an exquisite cross by Ilkay was buried unstoppably by Erling Haaland to make it 0-2.

Despite the best efforts of the players out there to gee each other up, you felt that was the game gone. And it was tough on Everton after a good first half that deserved better.

Still, I was enjoying spending time at the game with my son and half-time went pretty quickly. As we watched the substitutes warming up, we saw Neal Maupay with his tracksuit stripped off going through his paces. Maybe I was thinking way too positively, but the reality is I was hopelessly naive in thinking he was going to withdraw a midfielder and go 4-4-2.

The thought didn't occur to me once that Dominic may be injured, especially as he'd had a brilliant first half and looked really fit and up for it. The substitution announcement hit me like a sledgehammer. Not really in the context of this game as getting back into it would have been a heck of a stretch anyway, but he not being available for the next two games could be catastrophic for our survival chances. I was numb.

And if the game wasn't over at half-time, it sure was on 51 minutes when Ilkay Gundogan – the game's Man of the Match by a mile – clipped in a free kick to make it 0-3. I haven't seen it since so have no idea if Jordan should have saved it or not, though with them I guess you kind of set your wall up and say "If you can get it over there, then you've scored". 

Things were getting difficult for us out there and I felt for poor Mason. Most players struggle to contain Riyad Mahrez, let alone our fourth option left-back who has never played there before or had very limited game time this season. It was tough for Mason and he didn't deserve the boos and ironic cheers when he was hooked.

While Manchester City had taken their foot off the gas at this point, the changes made by Sean Dyche were good ones and it was good to see Everton at least make something of a game of it and give the crowd something to enjoy. The three-at-the-back system worked pretty well, the centre-backs did well on the ball, and we created good space around the Manchester City flanks.

We came close to grabbing a consolation goal from a succession of corners with James Tarkowski's header tipped onto the crossbar and out for another corner by Ederson. It wasn't to be, but big kudos to the Evertonians for staying behind and giving the team a good send-off. They'll need all the encouragement they can get at Molyneux.

On the journey home, we read Sean's comments about Dominic. If he has felt a slight twinge, it was the right decision to pull him out. At 0-2, it would have been very unlikely to get a result in this one, and he really needs to be fit for the next one. Let's hope and pray that Dominic is fighting fit for Saturday. 

We'll need him to be.

Player ratings:

Jordan Pickford: Some of his distribution was pretty poor. I don't know what he could have done about the goals, and on another day he might have given away a penalty. Let's hope he's back on top form next weekend.

There was no hint of irony in the Manchester City supporters singing "What's the point in VAR" after the ridiculous Rodri handball they got away with last season, by the way. Weirdly against Manchester City and despite losing 0-3, Jordan actually had little to do. It was quite a strange game. 5

Mason Holgate: He was like a lamb to the slaughter at left-back today and I felt sorry for him. Perhaps it would have been a different story had he have scored that great opportunity early on. Maybe in hindsight, Dwight McNeil should have played there and we gave Demarai Gray a game further up the pitch. The reality is there probably isn't a lot we could have done, but it was tough on Mason, and I felt for him with the reaction from the crowd. Don't boo or ironically cheer your own players. 4

James Tarkowski: He did fine out there, unlucky not to score. 6

Yerry Mina: He did okay. He seemed more settled and better on the ball when in a three-man defence. 6

Nathan Patterson: A bit caught out for Manchester City's second goal perhaps, but he had a decent game otherwise. 6

Idrissa Gueye: He was good and disciplined in the first half and made a lot of tackles, and then was substituted early in the second half in the tactical reshuffle. 6

James Garner: Did okay and worked hard. He gave away the free kick which led to the third goal but the player had to be stopped. 6

Abdoulaye Doucoure: Kept on working but was a bit hit and miss I thought. 6

Dwight McNeil: Our best player out there over 90 minutes, both in effort and output. My Man of the Match. 7

Alex Iwobi: Effort was there throughout and he did okay. 6

Dominic Calvert-Lewin: He was splendid first half, very high quality. It hit me for six seeing him not emerge for the second half. I really think we're doomed if he's not fit for the next two games. He really is that good and that important. 7

Neal Maupay (for Dominic Calvert-Lewin): He was quite anonymous in truth in difficult circumstances. 5

Conor Coady (for Mason Holgate): He did well and played some good balls out of defence. 6

Amadou Onana (for Idrissa Gueye): The odd nice pass but didn't get as involved in the game as I'd have liked. 5

Demarai Gray (for James Garner): He struggled to get going and probably didn't do enough to suggest inclusion in starting XI on Saturday... unless Dominic doesn't make it, of course. 5

Reader Comments (16)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 15/05/2023 at 06:18:59
Don't think any of them played terribly, Holgate aside (and as you say, I'd have gone with McNeil at left-back).

The only problem is that none of them really did anything special either and to have got a result against Manchester City you need to be special and the work needs to be 200 percent for the full 90 minutes.

Our next two results probably hinge on having a centre-forward, notably our missing man, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, available.

If he's not fit again this season, I struggle to see another win, as the team just cannot play or look a threat with Maupay in there. As we pretty much expected though, it will go down to the last game of the season now, I imagine.

Prepare for the false information coming from all corners of the ground about what's happening at Elland Road and Leicester… lol.

Ajay Gopal
2 Posted 15/05/2023 at 07:22:42
Agree with you, Paul, I don't see the point of abusing one of our own players. Holgate had a few hairy moments early on, but I thought that he was settling in well in an unfamiliar role, and none of the 3 goals could be attributed to his mistakes.

Mason Holgate and Tom Davies (BTW, why wasn't he even on the bench?) need to get out of this club and build their careers elsewhere. Strangely, Ben Godfrey's and Yerry Mina's faults are forgiven more than Keane's and Holgate's, I don't understand why?

Yes, if Calvert-Lewin is unavailable the final 2 games, then I fear the worst. In that context, I don't understand why Maupay was brought on instead of Simms. Simms would have got some valuable minutes under his belt playing against one of the best defensive sides in the league, and that would have stood us in good stead for the upcoming matches if the worst were to happen and Calvert-Lewin does not play. Simms is a closer one-to-one replacement for him than Maupay is, so that was a mystifying decision by Sean Dyche.

Tony Abrahams
3 Posted 15/05/2023 at 07:42:21
One proper centre-forward on the club's books, and he gets slaughtered when he's injured.

One natural left-back on the club's books, and whichever central defender is asked to fill in and cover when he's not available usually gets slaughtered because they are coming up short.

Whatever happens with regards to what leaguewe will be playing in next season, our football club needs a complete reset, because we need much more efficiency throughout.

The game panned out how it was expected, Everton battled but City had way too much efficiency, and two fresh wide players who just ouse with unadulterated class.

When I saw Maupay warming up with a lot more gusto than anyone else at half-time, I was guessing which midfielder might be making way so, when I saw every midfield player coming out for the second half, I was hoping that taking off Calvert-Lewin was just precautionary. I hope it was.

Derek Thomas
4 Posted 15/05/2023 at 08:19:03
Another fine report, Paul. I'm putting the free kick goal firmly down to Pickford.

City put a 2-man dummy wall in front of ours, the theory being that the 2 men move apart and the ball goes though any gap and in the net. Rather than the usual – your wall guards half the goal and the keeper covers the rest.

Pickford, off his own bat or on pre-issued Instructions... I wouldn't know if it's a regular City ploy, but Dyche would.

Anyway, Pickford is 100% committed to cover the 2-man false wall gambit, three-quarters of the goal away from the other post.

Would he have saved it stood where he normally would be? Maybe, maybe not, but he was never saving it once they double-bluffed him.

Pickford gets a pass from me – damned if he does, damned if he doesn't – he's earned his corn this season.

Rob Halligan
5 Posted 15/05/2023 at 08:37:35
Tony, that's what I was saying to the lad next to me when we saw Maupay warming up. Had Dyche already thrown in the towel at half-time, being 2-0 down, and seemingly no way back.

Therefore preventing any chance of Calvert-Lewin picking up an injury, or was it a precautionary measure, taking him off to prevent further damage?

I never saw him limping at any time, or making contact to the bench about a possible injury, so hopefully it was to prevent an injury, rather than prevent further injury, why he was taken off.

Calvert-Lewin is definitely going to be required for the last two games if we're to get out of this mess.

Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 15/05/2023 at 11:37:36
Definitely Rob. It just takes me back to the start of the season, when Lampard played the first five or six matches without a recognized centre forward, even though Neil Maupay, was available!

Not long after we were getting told about a twenty point plan, called OPERATION GULLIBLE.

Everton are a completely different team when DCL, is properly fit, so hopefully it was just a twinge (and don’t say in his minge!) he felt.

Christopher Timmins
7 Posted 15/05/2023 at 12:57:42
Dyche is pragmatic and I reckon he decided to withdraw Calvert-Lewin at half-time as the game was as good as done.

It should be said that Calvert-Lewinn looked really sharp during the first half, close to his best.

There is absolutely no reason why we can't take points from both of the remaining fixtures.

No matter what happens over the next two games, we need a revolution during the summer. This mess will not be sorted by tinkering around the edges, it requires major surgery at all levels.

Board of Directors
DOF and
A significant number of playing staff
all have to go!

John Raftery
8 Posted 15/05/2023 at 17:28:16
Thanks for the report, Paul.

For me, the best thing about the second half was the way the vast majority of the home fans stayed in their seats, stuck with the team even chanting ‘We Love You, Everton' towards the end. I think that was an acknowledgment of the effort the players had made.

The worst thing was the treatment of Holgate when he was substituted. I guess the same people booed McNeil when he was substituted against Brighton in January.

The free kick was a repeat of the one scored by Ward-Prowse in the Southampton game. Gündogan was only ever going to curl it over the wall. That said, we were highly unlikely to recover a 2-goal deficit.

I thought James Garner gave another encouraging performance in midfield.

Martin Mason
9 Posted 15/05/2023 at 19:59:23
Christopher@7 And how do we achieve that?
Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 15/05/2023 at 20:37:07
I also thought Garner was decent John, and I’m beginning to have a different opinion about him now I’ve watched him play a few games.

I think Whoever is coaching Pickford on these set-pieces, needs replacing, because he just doesn’t seem to be learning when it comes to certain aspects of his game?

If you have got to leave over two thirds of your goal unattended, in order to see the ball, then you’re doing something badly wrong imo, especially when the ball is only twenty yards from goal?

I’ve always said the most important position on a football pitch, is your starting position, and this is something Pickford gets wrong on a regular basis, imo.

Mal van Schaick
11 Posted 15/05/2023 at 22:43:39
DCL being fit would aid our cause. We beat Wolves, Leeds and Leicester lose at the weekend, would mean that we are safe. Otherwise it’s down to the last game to see how it pans out.
Pete Clarke
12 Posted 15/05/2023 at 23:20:23
If we win one game, then all of the others have to win both of their remains games and that includes Forest because of goal difference.

It's well and truly in our hands.
Paul Kossoff
13 Posted 15/05/2023 at 23:44:44
Tony 6.

Everyone knows Calvert-Lewin is as tight as a ducks arse, and what's another word for tight? So I guess it was his minge he felt, whatever a minge is.🙄

Ernie Baywood
14 Posted 16/05/2023 at 05:21:30
I did see Calvert-Lewin stop on the halfway line and check himself after he'd just chased a ball down the right channel. I mentioned it to my lads at the time... but he may have just been adjusting himself!

Either way, let's hope he's back in the side at the weekend. Our situation is precarious with him, I think our goose is probably cooked without him.

Danny O’Neill
15 Posted 16/05/2023 at 15:08:24
Agree with you on McNeil Paul. He has been for many recent matches.

I'm glad you got to enjoy that with your son. Forget the result, watching Everton is what it's all about.

As I have said on other posts, my own included, Holgate didn't deserve that.

John Stones springs to mind, only he was better. Peter Reid, Everton legend being hounded by the Paddock to the point of walking over pointing his finger and shouting.

We all support Everton. Always have, always have. But sometimes just hold yourselves back and think before you shout.

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 18/05/2023 at 07:55:32

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