Well what a terrible day Saturday turned out to be…
A match day that was expected to be a great occasion and a certain 3 points for us against a team we love to beat was pretty much flattened with the terrible news concerning the passing of Howard Kendall.
It’s fair to say that for many, including me, Howard Kendall was Everton Football Club. His trophy haul as a manager will be one that any Everton manager in the future will find hard to top as he took our unfashionable club to the brink of being the best in Europe, if not the World. And that’s not including his fantastic career with us as a player as part of the ‘holy trinity’ with Ball and Harvey. If you hadn’t gone during the match I’m sure you would’ve finally teared up watching MOTD and seeing Colin Harvey breaking down during the minutes applause.
I’ll talk about Howard much more in a separate article later in the week including the impact he had on Liverpool as a city and Everton as a club. I’m thankful that Roberto Martinez embraced the past and brought HK back into the fold after David Moyes had decided not to encourage his attendance (for reasons which were his own about not wanting to look back). He died as an Evertonian that was welcome at Goodison at all times and loved by all fans, including those of rival clubs as has been seen in the response across football (credit to United for their appreciation before the game).
In terms of the game… well as most people expected we started slowly yet again. Going two goals down early to Barnsley or West Brom is one thing, but United? Always a risky game to play. The crowd were as noisy as they could be under the circumstances but after such an emotional minute’s applause we just didn’t get going. And if you think about other teams/occasions where emotion is connected to the game the results are always the same. The 50th anniversary of Munich – United lost; The 25th anniversary of Hillsborough – they lost. It’s kind’ve obvious really. The staff and players will get caught up with the occasion and can’t raise themselves to battle as hard.
Ironically a battle is exactly what the crowd wanted so as to allow the memory of Kendall’s horrible 80s team to be remembered properly, but instead the players disappeared. Not one player showed anything like they can normally apart from perhaps Lukaku who has started fighting for the ball a lot more in recent weeks.
Martinez for me dropped the ball (normally Tim Howard’s job) by brining Coleman and Stones back at the same time. Funes Mori had a long trip back from South America later in the week so Stones coming back was excusable but Coleman could have been rested for another week. United exploited this by putting Martial on the left to run Coleman up and down the wing just a few days after the Irishman had returned from injury to play 90 minutes against the Poles.
With us unable to get anywhere on the flanks we then started to pump the ball long and Lukaku did his best, but Barkley looked knackered, Naismith looked poor (again) and Lennon seems to have referred back to his Spurs form that saw him pushed out of the club. It was only after Kone came on that we stared
God knows what Kevin Mirallas has done to upset Martinez – we’ll look at that later in the week – and actually this game was crying out for someone like him and – don’t judge me – Leon Osman. A bit of guile and creativity from him might have been the clever thing to do as opposed to just running at players and hoping. James McCarthy seems to have forgotten how to play football recently so maybe he could’ve come off and Barkley dropped back?
As for Tim Howard, I think he’s actually now recognised as the worst goalkeeper in the division. He fell over and gave Schweinsteiger all the time he needed to score the first and just lay down for their third effort, watching the ball drop over him at knee-height. It really did seem like Rooney again didn’t want to score and just kicked the ball softly at the keeper but in it popped just around the time that we were looking like getting back into the game.
So where do we go from here? Well it’s the Emirates next and a potential battering against an Arsenal side that are playing some lovely stuff and scoring loads of goals. If we write that one off we’ll have the same number of points from 10 games as we had last year, and at that point we were screaming at the manager to do better. I know we’ve had a harder start this time around but it puts more pressure on us to kick on from here within the next ten matches.
We also have an important cup game versus Norwich in ten days. I’m sure we’ll see some fringe players in that match such as Mirallas step up. That being our next home match we’ll certainly be demanding more under the GP lights.
COYB and RIP Howard.