Everton are one of those funny teams — not funny ha ha, of course (unless having your wheels nicked by a load of Scousers on a day out is your idea of fun), but funny in the sense of results. We tend to be crap at Goodison Park and they tend to return the favour on their ‘shopping’ trips down south. Today was no different.
Ranieri named what looked like a reasonable side — well, apart from the enigma that is Stanic of course — and Carlton Cole took his place on the bench for the first time. He was given the number 39 shirt, which seems appropriate as that is around the number of goals he has scored in the reserves and youth team this season. Just a shame he did not have number 175 when you think about it.
The first half was a strange affair. We had lots of the ball, but failed to create many opportunities. Whereas the Toffees, often on the back foot, tested Carlo on several occasions. Thankfully, once more, he stood up well to the test. We did blow three reasonably good chances prior to scoring. A shot from Jimmy Floyd, which I think was aimed at Uncle Ken’s apartment, a narrow miss from Bolo and an almost free header from Stanic that somehow managed to go wide of the mark. Maybe it is the stupid head band that he has taken to wearing that caused the problem. But, then again, maybe he is just crap.
Gravesen, who was so aggressive at times that even Elleray decided he had to book him, forced a good save from Carlo and Alexandersson (who makes these names up?) had another golden chance that was once more brilliantly saved by Carlo. Pistone had a go at a one to one with the Spider, but he would have been better using his mobile as the league’s top ’keeper (in the humble opinion of this writer) saved us once more.
Did the Everton keeper touch the ball in the first half? Yes, twice. Both times to pick the ball out of the net. The first time from a delightful chip from Jimmy and the second from a deflected free kick from the flying (and not so whining today) Dutchman. 2-0 at half time flattered us a little bit I think, but do we give a stuff? Do we heck.
The second half saw some lovely flowing passing, almost back to the days of Ruudi in fact, but once again, very few efforts on target. We were treated to the sight of Radzinski (my spell check will be bust at this rate) trying to outdo his miss of the season last week when he went round Carlo and somehow managed to place the ball wide of the far post, albeit from a tight angle. Big Duncan put down the knuckle dusters long enough to head a good effort against the bar before Franco wrapped it all up by firing home Eidur’s cross.
As for an overview, well it was good to see Carlton come on with about fifteen minutes left. I hope he turns into a better player than the crap TV station. He looked full of running, although a little nervous, and being given this chance will only have given a massive boost to his confidence. We need him to do well as there are so many songs that we can sing about a lad called Cole.
We lost John Terry with what looked like a head wound (and not a bouncer in sight) forcing the dreadlocked Mario into central defence and the headbanded Mario into the right back slot. In fairness to him, I thought he did pretty well there. He actually made more challenging runs down the right hand side from there than he did when he was actually playing in midfield. I will not say he was playing out of position though, as I (and a few thousand others) have not actually figured out what his position is – or should be.
Moan of the match? Apart from Elleray being the Referee? The bloody booing of Joka when he came on. The purpose of booing your own players still defeats me. Last Monday in the carrot field at Ipswich he was probably our best outfield player. Yet he gets booed. He wears a Chelsea shirt, and yet he gets booed. Moan about him in the pub for sure, but why not try to actually encourage our players instead of pissing them off before they set a foot on to the pitch.
So another three points, which take us back into the Champions League spot. All we need now is Fulham to do us a favour by beating the Geordies on Monday night and we might be back in business. Taxi for Dave, I hear you cry. Well you never know. It’s a funny old game.