Everton 3-1 Swansea: Despite a somewhat flat performance Everton marched on to the last eight of the FA cup. Mark Ellis still has the Champagne on ice!
By Mark Ellis
Getting to Wembley is all about the results, that is the most important thing. At home to Swansea there was a sense we may get the performance as well, with the players fresh from a postponement and smarting from a painful defeat at Tottenham.
Rarely do you get both with Everton. After a first half packed with so much anxiety we could have done with a counselor more than Roberto’s half time team talk.
Everton started slowly and with a frustrating lack of urgency, in a game all the more important after damaging league defeats at Liverpool and Spurs. The atmosphere as flat as the performance simply did not help.
With our league aspirations now limited it was somewhat unexpected that the tempo to the first half was so pedestrian. This despite an early goal from debutant Lacina Traore, cleverly improvising to back heel Distin’s composed pass into the Park End net from 3 yards.
It was a dream start for Traore, who made a Yakubu-esq debut. Scoring after 5 minutes and doing little else before being subbed in the second half. His opener was quickly cancelled out by the impressive De Guzman’s flying header. 1-1.
The silence inside Goodison was deafening as the atmosphere remained flat. For such a big game I found this amazing. Fans need to take the initiative from time to time, willing the team on gives such a lift to the players.
Everton were disjointed and frankly sleepy in the first half, the half time break was welcomed. Martinez to me is the opposite of Moyes in what he does at half time. On far too many occasions under our former manager we came out asleep for the second half, not so under Roberto.
A trademark of Martinez’s first season with us is our ability to regain control of a football match. Notably at home to Hull and away at Villa and countless other occasions. Martinez’s in-game management – he seemingly has an ability to see what’s going wrong – had allowed us to take control once more.
How the manager has managed Naismith, turning him into a potential match winner from the bench has also been a revelation. Since Christmas, the sometimes maligned Naismith has seen his season transformed. He looks a threat and bringing a player on with great movement while the defenders around him are tiring has been a masterstroke.
The Spaniard’s tactical nous was rewarded as Naismith, replacing the ineffective Traore, displayed an energy and desire alien to
the match going on around him. His willing running and alertness was rewarded with a goal; seizing on Neil Taylor’s poor back pass to finish confidently.
Martinez deserves much credit for the players turnaround in fortunes. I’m not sure you would find an Evertonian reacting negatively the next time the Scot is introduced to the proceedings.
With Swansea looking like a team becoming increasingly effected by a side that had made 8 changes before kick off. The chance to finish them off was there for the taking.
Everton were in the ascendancy and an improved second half was rounded off as Naismith was brought down in the area. Allowing Leighton Baines to step up and put the tie to bed. 3-1.
A good day for Everton and my fantasy football team!
A win in the cup is always enough but a performance lacking in tempo and quality needs to be addressed. Hopefully once Barkley and Deulofeu regain full-match fitness, along with the return to form of Lukaku once back, I think we shall see a more ruthless Everton.
The draw at Arsenal gives us a chance of progression whereas had Liverpool prospered,our chances of getting past them at Anfield would have been zero on every conceivable level. We simply can’t perform there.
If we get through the next round I believe we will win the FA Cup. I’ve spoken before about the importance of a trophy and this season has felt like the 1983/84 season under Kendall. Martinez is building belief, building confidence, and a major trophy in the bank could be the catalyst for an era of domination.
I truly believe we can be that optimistic under Martinez. The progression we have made this season while the players have had to adapt to a totally new philosophy, has been remarkable. This makes us a frightening prospect for next season with the players fully integrated and new quality coming in.
Performances as at Old Trafford and the Emirates shall become the norm in my opinion. The quality is there and players will have had more time to fully adapt to the managers vision.
Martinez has a long term strategy and will already be thinking about next season. We are only going to get stronger under the best little Spaniard we know.
The unmistakable waft of Wembley is tantalizingly close. We all want to be back there, and we have a manager who knows what it takes to win it.
Moreover we have seasoned players yet to win anything with the club and a hugely promising manager who will be fiercely determined to regain the FA Cup with his new club.
I hope were all on the steps of Wembley singing:
“Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
Allez, Allez, Allez Oh
We’re Everton F.C
Roberto’s Blue Army”
If that becomes a reality our sixth FA cup win shall be no longer a dream!
Follow Mark Ellis on Twitter @Markthablue