A truly marvelous day in the sun for Everton, a day we have been waiting for all season.
Finally an iconic win to headline our league campaign.
Manchester United Beaten As Blues Turn Back The Clock
Let’s forget the off field anxiety for a moment – I’m not just talking about myself here – and take this result and all round performance for what it is.
Since the disaster at Stoke, which had the majority of blues worried that we were plunging headfirst into a relegation battle and a possible date with The Football League Show next season, Everton have turned on the style, collecting 16 points out of 18, title-winning form to ridicule those relegation fears. I just wish we’d played like this earlier.
The Blues recorded our biggest win over United in 30 years at Goodison Park with an efficient counter attacking display and some stellar performances thrown in.
John Stones and James McCarthy were quite magnificent, showing we have a youthful spine of talent to build on in the summer, optimistic glasses on admittedly.
The pre-match buildup was embarrassing to be honest, fans suffering the indignity of seeing stickers on their seats urging them to renew. It’s performances like this that will make people renew, not ridiculously thought out PR disasters.
Blues fans know it’s season ticket renewal time. Being treated like morons was ridiculous, who makes the decisions on these types of things? Maybe Suntan Bob’s UV rays are beginning to affect him?
With my attention having been firmly fixed on the summer it was nice to be able to take time out from an admittedly massive personal campaign to vent my spleen on the chairman and board and focus onto on field matters.
Sunday at Goodison saw the Everton of 2013-14 rear its beautiful head. This was a shot in the arm to say the least and a sense of promise that we can end the season ahead of a massive summer.
Everton got off to a great start. Following a poor ball in from Mata, the blues broke on United, Coleman advanced down the right, his right-sided cross was behind Lukaku but McCarthy anticipated it, rode a few albeit half-baked challenges and kept his composure magnificently to slot home past De Gea.
No mean feat with the quality of United’s keeper, and the blues took an early lead.
Everton’s lack of European football, following the Kiev heartbreak, was certainly noticeable in our play. There was a freshness to Everton, we looked like the pack of wolves we did last season against United. We are at our best when we play with this intensity.
United may have had most of the possession but they could never rest with Everton like a coiled spring waiting to pounce should they lose the ball.
Tim Howard, so often the justified scapegoat this season, showed he has turned a corner in his own performances. Looking much more commanding and clear in his decision-making. It’s taken all season to get there but Howard has finally looked the part in the last few weeks. Hopefully it remains that way for the remaining four games.
United could never rest and Romelu Lukaku saw his left footed drive saved by De Gea. Everton then forced a flurry of corners, the third of which saw the blues take a crucial two goal advantage.
John Stones, magnificent again, rose perfectly to meet Leighton Baines’ pinpoint centre to smash a powerful header past the stricken De Gea.
Goodison erupted and the smile on John Stones’ face, such obvious joy, was a great moment. It was Stones’ first goal for Everton as the blues dealt United a fatal blow.
Half time arrived with Everton looking reasonably comfortable, despite the visitors possession superiority. Fellaini, who let the occasion get to him, despite looking dangerous, was subbed at half time after looking destined to add to his yellow card in a loose cannon style display. Radamel Falcao replaced the Belgian at the start of the second half.
With Gareth Barry and McCarthy excelling, combined with the ever blossoming central defensive partnership of Stones and Jagielka, the blues continued to frustrate the visitors who once again had most of the possession at the start of the second half.
Howard then saved well from Rooney. The American’s return to form clearly helping to regain the defensive stubbornness of last season as the blues made it three clean sheets out of four. Stuff of fantasy earlier on this season.
The blues would not let United settle on a sustained period of pressure and always looked likely to break and add to our two goal lead. Lukaku’s break down the left saw his low cross just evade the impressive Aaron Lennon as Everton looked to put the visitors to bed.
Much credit goes to Aaron Lennon. He has settled in terrifically at Goodison during some tough and testing times. His attitude has been first class and his commitment to attack and defence is helping the team no end.
Lennon’s intensity is something I’d like to see back at Goodison Park next season. His signing, while I would love Deulofeu back, should be a no-brainer in the summer. As long as we don’t have a back of the sofa budget to work with once again.
Ross Barkley, who continued to build on his recent upturn in form showed some great touches – not without the odd mistake – but it would be ridiculous to focus on that when his overall performance was excellent.
Barkley saw a great run, evading a few United challenges end in frustration as he lost his footing just as he was about to pull the trigger. But it wasn’t long before the blues were celebrating certain victory over the Mancs.
Kevin Mirallas, who I have been hugely critical of at times this season, is a sight for sore eyes in this mood. The Belgian sparkled in a cameo appearance and was rewarded with his 11th goal of the season five minutes after coming on for Leon Osman. That is some return given his injury issues this campaign.
The goal, a classic Gwladys Street finish arrived in the 74th Minute.
Barkley’s through ball saw Lukaku in an offside position, the United defence stopped but Mirallas didn’t. Running on and advancing on De Gea, giving him the eyes before slotting coolly home to send the Gwladys into orbit and Everton onto the first page of the Premier League table for the first time in an age.
It’s a point that illustrates that, despite the greatness of this performance and the welcome feel good factor it brings, there is still an overbearing emotion that major changes are needed at Goodison park this summer.
Tthe club needs a massive swill of water to the face. But I digress.
Sir Phillip Carter, who presided over one of the greatest ever Everton sides, sadly no longer with us following his passing this week, would have enjoyed this. And it was fitting that Everton delivered such a positive performance and result to put a smile on our former chairman’s face.
United looked for a consolation and Wayne Rooney saw his header miss the target from Di Maria’s cross. According to Jags, Rooney would love to come back and I totally believe that.
Not sure what it is with Rooney at Goodison Park for United but, by and large, he plays within himself. I’m not saying he’s not trying but it looks like his obvious love for Everton sometimes sneaks its way into his United performances.
Mirallas had the Gwladys off their seats one more time with a gliding run, cutting inside before unleashing a fierce shot heading for the postage stamp before De Gea tipped the ball over in spectacular fashion. Great football all round.
Barkley and Lukaku went off to deserved ovations with Naismith and Kone coming on for the closing stages.
The final whistle blew soon after and the curtain was brought down on a hugely satisfying performance and result for the blues. United, for all there recent good form were out maneuvered by a resurgent Everton. Hopefully we see this Everton until May is out.
A strong end to the season needed to build momentum ahead of a crucial summer.
Now onto Villa away, who will be reaching for the Imodium after a late defeat at City, and are now back to looking over their shoulders in what looks a tasty relegation battle this season. Thankfully, and its barely a consolation, a battle we are no longer part of.
Let’s hope we go and play with freedom and back-up this terrific victory with another positive display at Villa Park.
The feelgood factor and times of prolonged happiness have been in short supply this season so lets squeeze every last drop out of this one.
“Barry and McCarthy were outstanding, but it was a proper team performance.” Roberto Martinez.
Great to see, and let’s hope the players deliver in this manner for the next four games.
Will the board deliver after that?
I’ll save it for another writeup. It’s just great to enjoy a win like this.