From My Seat: Southampton (H)

By Ken Buckley 03/01/2017  20 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Third game in seven days, two away and one at home takes its toll on players and fans alike but the Room of Nonsense was heaving and full of good cheer. The main topic seemed to be player transfers and if you were to believe some of our dedicated ‘rumour’ watchers then it seems we are signing about eighteen and jettisoning fifteen. I keep well away from rumours as they are merely hope builders or doom mongers. The January window is always an awkward one as almost every team has something to play for and will not want to lose their best players and with the money sloshing around in the game now only silly money seems to get you anything and that might be second or third best.

Still it will be entertaining watching the countdown to Jan 31 as all those with supposed inside knowledge regale us with fanciful tales. This topic keeps us occupied until the teams come through and most are delighted to see Dom (19) and Tom (18) get a start otherwise it was as you would suspect after the Hull game. I was interested to see how the players selected would respond to each other because as at Hull we spent a fair part of the game playing like we had just met each other.

Time for the walk up and on a clear crisp winter’s day the sky seemed that much bluer and provided the perfect spotlight on the Old Lady as she hove into view. Goodison Road was awash with fans and with the queue for the Café stretched out right across the road the words ‘excuse me’ were the most used. Well you didn’t want to be seen as a queue jumper.

In for Z-Cars and prior to kick-off we paid tribute to remember those Blues who had passed on in 2015 and there were a lot of them and I wondered how many more there were that the Club had not been informed of.

Kick off and off we went on another journey of discovery. Saints seemed to start the quicker and were pressing forward and probing probably trying to replicate the start they had at their place. Well, we defended and although not pretty to watch, it was effective. If you could play out well OK but it was also evident that ‘Hoof’ is not a dirty word.

After about five minutes we started to press ourselves and the and the pace and strength of Dominic Calvert-Lewin was starting to excite but just a further five minutes and that spark was extinguished had he had to succumb to an ankle injury and leave the fray to be replaced with Mirallas. I hope he soon mends as in that fleeting time scale I said to my mate ‘Maybe — just maybe — he can complement Rom. There was just something that said I would like to see more of the lad.

Slowly we started to pick up the pace and Ross was definitely putting more into it and soon had a shot that the keeper saved. They went up the other end and won a corner that saw every Everton player back and although cleared came straight back at us but this time Williams found Mirallas wide. Then we had a corner and the same thing happened and that is how that first half went, a game sort of played between their back line and our back line in equal measure. Both teams had a man off injured early doors as Cedric had collided with an advertising hoarding in a tackle with Baines. Neither team could raise their own fans. No singing of ‘When the Saints’ and Everton’s contribution was the odd EV-ER-TON chant but for long spells you could hear other people’s conversations!

I contented myself by watching Tom Davies who I think could have a good career in the Premier League if he negotiates the teenage years unscathed. He was doing fine by keeping it simple but with a slick forward pass that put both Coleman and Rom in, plus he showed that edge that said you kick me I kick harder. He ruffled one or two feathers as the half came to a close. A poor half but not a boo to be heard. Although not the best of halves by us the players were looking like they were taking more on board from the manager and the faithful may be realising that patience may be not just a virtue but an essential.

H/T 0-0

The second half soon settled into the same pattern but we were looking the fitter and Ross was running the show from midfield. He wanted the ball and was always looking for the chance to play people in. He does need encouragement though and this was demonstrated when he saw no ball on forward so came out to the half way line and then probed the opposite wing and got Baines in. Most clapped him but some called him for going backwards the fact that he had kept possession for us and set up a forward move seemed lost on those that moaned.

Something needed to change and around the hour mark Valencia was sent on in place of Lennon who hadn’t shirked the work but his creativity was missing. Valencia started fast and showed strength and had been on the field for just ten minutes when Ross took centre stage again. It all started with a superb, expertly timed sliding tackle by Baines — you don’t see many of those these days. He slid the ball to Barkley who looked up and played the fast arriving Coleman down the right. His cross was superb and the high climbing Lukaku got a good head on it and the keeper saved with his feet, from my seat there seemed a scramble but the upshot was Valencia was Johnny-on-the-spot to shoot home. Now we came alive; a goal can do wonders for all those that it benefits. We looked sharper, Saints more fatigued and we had a stride in our step. Tom was taking more responsibility and I had the hope that maybe he can cover for Gana for a month. Rom was now bullying people and showing his pace to the extent he got himself in and stung the keeper.

About ten minutes after the goal Ross was at it again and fed in Baines who paled it into the feet of Valencia just inside the area, as the ball reached him for some unknown reason Yoshida floored him. Definite penalty, Rom got the ball and then Baines asked for it off him. He seemed reluctant. Oh, hell, here we go again, I thought, but with the weight of the players’ and crowd’s persuasion he let Baines have it. A wise move as even if the giant keeper had gone the right way he would not have stopped that. Game over – yes but could we get the icing on the cake?

Well on 89 mins – I will enjoy typing this – the ball came loose near their penalty area and Baines slid in again when he was second best but won it and slid it to Tom who controlled in an instant and slid a perfectly timed and accurate ball into the path of Rom. He sped forward and, right footed, shot; the keeper didn’t see that missile which almost took the net into Gwladys Street. Big roar was heard as Rom celebrated and my mind went back to our penalty when Baines netted and all the lads piled on except Rom who walked hunched back to the centre circle like a little lad who has just had his dinky nicked.

To me it summed up Rom. He just loves scoring goals and likes all the chances to break records but if the least thing goes against him he sulks and goes missing yet when in the right frame of mind is unplayable. Perhaps Mr Moshiri can arrange for a ‘Right frame of mind specialist’ to attend on matchday.

Three minutes added which we played out with ball retention and the Saints let us.

MotM – Barkley

Coming off the ground there was an atmosphere of wellbeing with many opining that you can’t knock a three nil win and I wonder who we will get in? Back to the Room of Nonsense and thoughts turned to our cup game next week but no three members could come up with the same team. I think Holgate looks a cert and Maybe Tom of the young brigade only one way to find out so we all have tickets and then once the ball rolls who knows. It was a good day out and as we went to the ground in bright sunlight and clear Blue skies as we walked back the wonderful sight of GOODISON bathed in blue and white light. Some sight, some ground, some team!

My New Year footy resolution is to have patience and give this manager and players old and new the time to allow for a reasonable assessment. My New Year wish is for the new ground issue to have a completion date.

All the very best to you all for 2017.


Reader Comments (20)

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Paul Hughes
1 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:13:25
And a Happy New Year to you, Ken.

And thanks, as ever, for an excellent report.

Sam Barrett
2 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:30:21
Great report, as usual Ken, but they are so much better after a victory!
Eddie Dunn
3 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:42:36
You paint quite a picture there Ken...let's hope for more days like that this year.
Mick Davies
5 Posted 03/01/2017 at 19:46:47
Another interesting read, and a well balanced report on a game off two thirds, thanks Ken. I can't help wondering if the festive spirit has made you lose a few days, or even months: we paid tribute to remember those Blues who had passed on in 2015 – ???
Danny O'Neill
6 Posted 03/01/2017 at 20:38:20
Thanks, Ken, always appreciated by us who rely on watching events unfold on social media or the internet from afar.

Yet another one who gave Ross MotM (ToffeeWeb & non-Everton sites); I wouldn't have guessed that from some of the comments I saw on the Live Forum. Always great to get some balance and context.

Jim Bennings
7 Posted 03/01/2017 at 22:45:12
A final 15 minutes that didn't fit the previous 75 but, after a resounding 3-0, who cares?

It hasn't always been stylish football this season in fact it rarely has been, but one positive this season under Koeman is we have cut out the vast majority of the stupid self-destruct goals that were rife on a weekly basis last season.

We have got a better knack now of clearing the ball into Row Z and not pussy-footing around; yes, we still have vulnerabilities from crosses and corners but there's been some improvement at least.

Lets hope now for a positive transfer window, I'm hoping for two top quality acquisitions maybe more to have a solid end to the season and build a platform for a top 4 assault in 2017-18.

Andy Crooks
8 Posted 03/01/2017 at 23:19:37
Thank you, Ken, for another year of balanced, thoughtful, lyrical reporting. Your work, along with Paul's stuff, gives a perfect fan's view.
Peter Creer
9 Posted 04/01/2017 at 02:19:35
Thank you, Ken, for another report. I watch the games live here in Canada but cannot possibly get the view that you present.

As a young boy, I would drop off my Mum at my Nan's house and drive with my Dad to the match. After parking the car, we would run past St Luke's and onto Gwladys Street, past the police on horseback and into the gate. I would sit on the bar and watch Alan Ball, Brian Labone and the rest of those great players with my Dad stopping me from falling off. A memory I will never forget.

Every time I read your reports, you bring the experience of going to the game back to life for me.

Happy New Year to you and all Evertonians!

Anto Byrne
10 Posted 04/01/2017 at 04:39:28
The signs have been there for a few games where they play absolute dross for most of the game with hoofball and then burst into life with 15 to 20 minutes of nice delightful joined up stuff.

Overall we were better than Hull and had the chances to win it. The derby game is always a non event and for as long as I can remember lady luck must be a red. Southampton played well and looked dangerous and had several very good chances and on the play for at least 70 minutes I thought they would get the goal and win it.

My preference is to get the goals early and then control the game conserving energies and giving players time off the bench. I thought Davies complemented Barkley very nicely and was prepared to run with the ball at pace and with Gana winning the ball it looks like a decent midfield.

However, we need other players to stand up and be influential when things aren't happening for other players who are being closely marked. I would like to see Mirallas driving the team or even the big fella showing a bit of Dunc aggression. We live for this.

Christopher Timmins
11 Posted 04/01/2017 at 06:53:57
Happy new year, Ken, it looks based upon your rule of thumb that we will finish somewhere between 6th and 9th. Given the points gap between Manchester United and us, it looks as if 7th is our most likely finishing position.

Hopefully between now and the end of the season we can narrow the points gap with the 6th placed team. That would show improvement.

Rob Hooton
12 Posted 04/01/2017 at 07:40:23
Happy New Year, Ken, and thanks for your wonderful report as always, never fails to put a smile on my face (even when we lose, you add balance and humour).

All the best for 2017, let's see what January brings for starters. Cheers!

Ken Buckley
13 Posted 04/01/2017 at 09:22:22
Mick @ 5

2015... oh dear.

I have told them about the ale in our pub.

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 04/01/2017 at 09:37:16
Or maybe you're just like Hyman Roth, in The Godfather Ken? A man who wants to live forever, just so you can go and watch Everton!

Great report as ever, along with some very good words of wisdom Ken. All the best mate, I can't wait to hear how you describe the walk up to Bramley-Moore Dock!

Chris Williams
15 Posted 04/01/2017 at 09:41:34
"...like a little lad who got his Dinky nicked."

Lovely image.

Brian Furey
16 Posted 04/01/2017 at 10:38:51
Any more thoughts on why Rom looked so unhappy after the goals? Even his own goal he didn't seem that pleased.

I read some thought it was the anniversary of his best friend who died last year but, from reading this report, is it not more likely to just be that he wants to be the main penalty taker and he's not happy that he didn't get his way?

Barry Pearce
17 Posted 04/01/2017 at 11:15:04
Happy New Year, Ken.

All the best for 2017.

Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 04/01/2017 at 12:09:04
A great report, Ken, normal for you though because they are all great. I hope this game gives some much needed confidence to Ross Barkley; he played well and at the end. He couldn't get enough of the ball.

I don't begrudge him your MotM award but would have given it to Valencia, who got a goal and a penalty and in general his arrival on the field livened everything up for Everton. But a win is much more important than a MotM award.

As you say, let's look forward to Saturday and the start of a good and memorable cup run.

Terry Underwood
19 Posted 04/01/2017 at 12:24:07
I reckon you hit the nail on the head regarding Rom... He does tend to sulk if things don't go his way, he doesn't need berating; he needs an arm round the shoulder telling him he is a valuable asset. Some players need this reassurance; others are more robust.
Brian Dagnall
20 Posted 05/01/2017 at 03:37:11
Yes, I noticed the Lukaku sulk too, Ken. He'll get over it in time. No player will score 100% of penalties, but I feel more confident watching Baines hit them than Lukaku.

To be honest, I thought Lukaku had one of his best all-round games for us and his hold-up play and distribution were much improved. Without wishing to be picky, I seem to recall the lovely pass to Coleman which led to the first goal was from Lukaku, not Ross, but maybe I'm wrong. Ross also played well, I agree with you.

Jay Harris
21 Posted 05/01/2017 at 17:17:15
Ken, Happy new year to you and the family and to all Evertonians.

I live in Florida now but went home for Xmas and upon seeing a sell-out thought the atmosphere would be great. However, I was so disappointed with our 12th man. It was like they were all hung over from New year. I've heard more noise from Prenton Park. Very disappointing boys and not the thing to get us in the top 4.

Thought the team played OK without being outstanding its as if we are now relying on special moments from individuals rather than a "team" pattern of play. I'm hoping that once we get some decent players in and a settled side that will come.Thought Ross and Mirallas were constant threats and young Tom Davis put a real shift in.

Worried about losing Gueye for a month. Valencia did very well when he came on and looks much more mobile and effective than Kone ever was.

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