I ended my last article stating we were going to win the league (albeit jokingly) so I feel our recent change in fortunes is somewhat my fault, however, I couldn’t deny the media that commendation.

That Derby Day ‘Incident’

Everton Derby Goodison 2020

I want to start by analysing the infamous derby. Granted, we were nowhere near our best and that lot played the best they had all season, so its credit to our resilience that we got a point from that one having played the majority of the game with an out-of-position right back, a young debutant who is a Centre Half by trade filling in for our rejuvenated club captain. Having said this, I thought Ben Godfrey was very good coming on for Seamus Coleman in the derby, although it was quite clear from his performance at Southampton he is not a right back. Earlier in that game our Goalkeeper came out for a cross, maybe slightly mistimed and clumsy, but well, well within the laws of football.

The majority of Blues will sympathise with the resulting injury, but, certainly not the circumstances surrounding it. It wasn’t meant. Move on. However, what ensued afterwards was not only a prolonged, embarrassing, scathing attack on his character and family, but also, a tirade of hilarious suggestions of ‘how to improve our game’. Pathetic. That is all I will say on that incident with Van Dijk. It speaks volumes that the rest of the league’s fanbases, effectively, laughed at the 15-day long cry for legal action, lengthy bans etc. Yet again, they’ve shown themselves (from the very top of the club to the fans) to be ridiculously delusional. You can bet your life if that injury happened to someone like Jack Stephens at Southampton there wouldn’t have been half as much uproar.

The media are as much to blame for Pickford’s decision to hire personal bodyguards. As previously mentioned, 15 days. 15 DAYS it took them to shutup and stop asking questions regarding Pickford’s character and even when the news broke about him having to hire personal security, they carried on through various platforms. Where was this uproar and questioning about Mane when he left Ederson with a face full of stitches? Where was it when Ramos injured Salah in the Champions League final? Yes. Right in the faces of everyone associated with football. They just can’t accept any misfortune and even after a, in my opinion correct, red card to Richarlison for his challenge on Thiago in the 90th minute, they still weren’t satisfied. To conclude the derby, he was miles offside. 

‘Dirty Blues’

Everton Lucas Digne Red Card Southampton

The following week showed we were evidently wounded from the derby, having to play without Coleman, Richarlison and James seemingly not himself at all. Add to this, Lucas Digne’s sending off in the 70th minute, we were never going to reach the levels of the weeks that preceded. I don’t think there is much I can say about the Southampton performance beyond this. We were NOT good, we can take one thing from the game and that was the reality check that was, probably, needed. I will discuss Digne’s sending off however. It was very clumsy and could have seriously injured Walker-Peters but by no means was it intentional and ‘another example of Everton’s disgusting recklessness’ as was suggested in some quarters. I said to those closest to me after the Derby that we would be on the back end of a terrible decision against the Saints, and true to form, the referees association decided the same thing. All it took was a look at the VAR monitor to realise that was a yellow card, however, the referee seemed extremely intent on showing the red card as soon as possible.

The media attack on Everton’s discipline (especially from Paul Merson and Graeme Souness) following this was one of many examples of how out of touch they are with football these days and they were, well and truly, put in their place by no other than Jamie Redknapp and Jamie Carragher. Seems odd that Sky Sports still gives time of day to Souness and Merson and how strangely one sided their punditry team is in favour of ex-Liverpool players. Digne is back this week after being very missed against Newcastle. Thankfully. 

No Strength In Depth

Newcastle was another one we cannot dwell too much on as, again, no James, Richarlison, Coleman and Digne, however, it did show a disturbing lack of depth in our squad. As previously stated though, take all the creativity out of any starting 11 side in this league, they’ll struggle. Newcastle were bang average, we just sunk below that. Andre Gomes needs a rest. Iwobi further showed he is incapable of taking a chance in the starting line-up. Delph can’t be seeing much more action this season.

Ancelotti may have got it wrong not giving Gordon a run last week, but, who am I to argue against the Great Man’s decision. He will know he may have made a mistake here, he’s seen it all, we as Everton fans know that it won’t be accepted and we will improve from this. I would like to say it speaks volumes that when we have wingers on the bench and we start 4 centre midfielders, those wingers cannot be training well at all. Bernard and Iwobi should be taking a long hard look in the mirror after seeing Delph and Gomes start on the wings instead of them.

One positive that did come from this game (always looking for positives here) was Robin Olsen. I thought he deputised for Pickford, who it seems was suffering mentally because of the 15 day slander, fantastically. Two or three great saves were made and I am very happy to have him here. It’s inevitable Pickford will have to raise his game but he is at the perfect club to help him through a rough patch. I’ve seen us getting behind him on social media these last two weeks and it’s good to see. The People’s Club, Those Nasty B******s, Dirty Everton, call us what you want, we’re all in it together, we will back our own corner, it’s about time we came to the front, again, as a rough bunch to play.

The Positives

Everton FC James Rodriguez

With United on the horizon, it’s good to see James will be back to fitness, Digne back after having his prison sentence reduced to 1 game, Coleman potentially back and Richy one game away. I think we can see a different Everton, a better Everton for this one. We always seem to raise it against United and with key players back. It’s time to get back to winning ways and it seems rather important that we do. You never know which Manchester United will show up, one week they beat PSG comfortably, then decide to defend like children the next. We just need to worry about ourselves and I can see us getting something here (even if we STILL haven’t won a game without Richarlison since he signed for us). As bewildering a stat as that is, there is a first time for everything and, let’s face it, we’ve never had as good a player as James to take over the creative baton, have we?

Before I sign off, I want to send special praise to Allan. We’ve got such a fantastic player there, he works his guts into the ground for us, even when those around him are doing nothing. He’s consistently been brilliant, hard-working and I can’t say I’ve seen someone (in recent years) work as hard as he does for the team. Let’s appreciate him for as long as we can, I say. Rightly been called into the Brazil squad too even if I, selfishly, want to wrap him in cotton wool every time he’s not in a blue shirt. Delighted for him.

It’s a strange old league at the moment Blues, but, we’d have all taken top 4 after the first 7 games wouldn’t we? We’re at the beginning of something special.

Up The Dirty, Horrible Toffees!!!

Matt Bigley

Images via Everton Official Facebook.