Back to the room of nonsense in quick time after our cup win last week. The chat ranged around the transfer of Jelavic to Hull and who would be the signing in. Some thought it might have been best to keep hold of Jelavic, such is the form of Lukaku at the moment, yet others thought that, along with the reported fee, then it was good business... providing we would spend to prosper. My take was that we have a Chairman and board plus CEO and manager to guide the club and, whatever my preferences may be, we get what they give us and then I gauge my judgement of their efforts by the enjoyment of my match day by what transpires on the pitch.

Today, I thought the efforts of the club to promote Kids Day deserved praise and the free Kids programme handed out had ‘Goal King Coleman’ on the front of an ‘Action Packed Issue’ with among other great things Leighton Baines as the centrefold. We also had a child announcer of subs today. The walk-up was of reserved fashion but, once Goodison Road was reached, the mass of bodies that were either queuing for food, tickets or souvenirs got the nervous pre-match tension and expectation roaring.

Into the ground and an announcement that an important event would take place pre-kick off...

And so it came to pass that one Aiden McGeady was paraded and the announcer laboured the point that he had become an Everton player today rather than any sort of pre-contract stuff. The chat around me was of "Does anyone know much about him?" which I found rather odd for footy-mad fans. He got a good reception from the faithful, yet not euphoric.

Mr Friend got the game underway and we attacked the Park End. We were 5 points and one place better off than this stage last season. Could we build on it? Well we started well enough. Coleman had a dig then Lukaku missed connecting with a tempting cross from Mirallas. We forced a couple of corners and were looking far superior to the Canaries but you just never can tell and, from virtually Norwich’s first attack, a long ball put Hooper in one-on-one but Howard somehow smothered. Hard to know if it was a bad miss or a good save.

After that scare, it was all Everton again as we forced corners that were almost but not quite converted, shots from distance that flew anywhere but into the net. Lukaku seemed at odds with his self-proclaimed billing yet, every now and again, he looked interested — and none more than the 20 min mark when he controlled well, used his strength to hold off his man, and lay the ball off to the excellent Barry who took the ball forward with purpose and then hit a left-foot screamer that left the keeper helpless and Everton 1-0 up. It really was worth watching the three replays on the big screen.

The game then took a familiar fashion that seems prevalent in all games, the side going behind puts the leaders under pressure and causes mistakes and uncertainty that had not been there before. From such a situation, the Norwich striker hit one that Howard did really well to turn around the post whilst at full stretch. This scenario happens in most matches. I wonder why?

We regained our composure and continued pressing forward. Barry was instrumental in anything good and another superb ball saw a deflection for a corner. We really should have been out of sight now but just one ahead always gives the opposition food for thought and, purely due to overconfidence, we gave the visitors some hope when Stones, who was making light of his youth and inexperience, got booked for over exuberance — which in turn put him under the collar for the remainder of the game, as well as taking a chance when Howard spilled the free kick at the feet of an attacker to tackle and clear. We remained on top though and ended the half 1-0 up.

The half-time chat centred on the outgoing and incoming transfers with most of our gang still convinced we need a striker as Lukaku seriously needs competition. My view remains we get what we get and we can’t do anything about it except hope all concerned get it right.

The second half was mostly one way traffic with the ‘Martinez Way’ being applauded loudly as the Blues sprayed passes about, stretching the visitors but without really testing Ruddy. Our possession ensured domination but our finishing within the box was almost non-existent and their keeper was much less worked than he should have been which in turn led to the visitors sensing our frailty and deciding to have forward forays themselves. They didn’t come too much in truth but you just knew one mistake and, hey-hoe, here we go again. The stuff we were now playing was direct from joined-up footy heaven and gaining applause from all sides of the ground but, as the hour mark approached, the faithful were muttering that a second would be helpful!

It duly came — but not before Norwich gave us a scare as the striker strode on to a long ball but could not get necessary control. In clearing the ball, we somehow after a passage of quick passes found Baines marauding forward only to be brought down some 25 yards out. The ball was eventually set up as the ref was satisfied the wall was the requisite distance away. Baines and Mirallas were over it, both paced out their preferred yards. Who would it be? ... Baines shaped but Mirallas strode and sent a beaut just inside the post with keeper Ruddy unable to reach anywhere near it. Bedlam and relief in equal measure and oohs and aahs accompanied the re-run on the big screen.

They say 2-0 is a dangerous lead yet I would sooner have one than not but me and my mate Keith really wanted another as we had 3-0 at 18/1 and boy did we think we hit pay dust as Lukaku got onto a long ball and slotted only for the lino to have his flag raised. It must have been close.

Martinez made some subs, Heitinga for Osman and shortly after Naismith for Pienaar. Now it was a case of Spot the Formation — and that was not easy. The best I came up with was 3-5-1-1 which quickly morphed into 5-2-3-1 and at any given time anything you like. It sort of worked but it did allow Norwich to have their best spell of the game so maybe that scenario needs to go back to Finch Farm and be progressed as we saw Snodgrass hit a post plus allowing opposition players the chance to shoot from distance which they quickly took on board. It was a right helter-skelter last 10 minutes when we went from Barca-like to Bacup-like but, in true grit fashion, we held on and we all celebrated a very necessary three points.

MotM: Barry — not just for his great goal but for showing all in attendance the quality needed all over the park if we are ever going to get a look-in with all media outlets. We may be 4th tonight yet all the headline news excludes us.

Still I enjoyed the game and the football played did l at times resembled the flow of the ‘Royal Blue Mersey’. However with that free flowing dominance, it must concern the manager as much as me that we don’t score more goals from such joined-up play.

West Brom next. Will McGeady play, who will be fit, who will be injured that we didn’t know about? Well... best get down there to find out. If we play the football we played today, the three points should surely be ours but only IF we convert the chances we work so hard to create.

See you there!

UP THE BLUES

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Bill Gall
467 Posted 11/01/2014 at 23:06:07
Another good report , do not know what Everton have to do to make the media realise we are team that have the ability to make the top 4.

The game today at times was not that great but the pleasing thing is with all the changes made over the last few games the overall standards are being maintained.

Dennis Ng
471 Posted 11/01/2014 at 23:21:56
Bill, not us. They have to get rid of all the MU/rs pundits.
Tim Jones
533 Posted 12/01/2014 at 02:46:30
The most telling stat is "We are 5pts and one place better off than this stage last season" and last seasons opening stage was the best TGT ever had Everton playing.
Rahman Talib
544 Posted 12/01/2014 at 04:18:46
It's a good result considering Norwich has always been a difficult team for us to beat.
Ajay Gopal
546 Posted 12/01/2014 at 04:56:18
Thanks, Ken. Nice report, but surely being a regular match-goer you should have an opinion on which areas need the most strengthening. Everton are almost there but not quite the finished product in terms of being ruthless and putting teams to the sword. Too many poor decisions in the final 3rd sees some glorious moves petering out into limp efforts on goal or giving away the ball.

Having said that, I think where we are in terms of style and results is amazing considering our resources vis-a-vis our nearest competitors. I hope that our players get back from injury quickly especially for the Derby. If we are at our strongest – with Barkley, Deulofeu, Jags, Distin, Baines, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Lukaku, Mirallas, Pienaar, etc, we could blast the RS out of Anfield.

Matt Traynor
550 Posted 12/01/2014 at 06:27:42
It's strange as I thought the same as you - we aren't finishing nearly enough of the gilt-edged chances we create.

I also recall that being a feature of last season, and why, in all of the draws that we mustered, the feeling was "coulda, shoulda, woulda" rather than "phew" for the majority of them.

This can't be just an Everton thing surely? I don't watch enough of other teams or lurk on their boards to know if they feel they aren't converting enough of the chances they created. The commentators were saying "Norwich deserved a goal" but that was all their effort merited. I thought some of our approach play deserved better – 3-1 or 4-1 wouldn't have been a surprise – but 2-0 was a popular scoreline this weekend.

Dennis Ng
560 Posted 12/01/2014 at 06:56:42
Matt, its a symptom of possession football in general. You're always going to create much more chances than you can take. It's then comes down to efficiency.

Reminds me of Holland, Spain, Barcelona on different days. On a good day, they run riot, hitting 5-6 goals easy. On a normal day, they will hit maybe 2-3 goals, maybe concede 1. Of course, then you have the horrible day when the ball just doesn't want to go in, you let in an easy goal and just go on onslaught mode with no returns.

I feel our 1-0 loss to Sunderland is comparable to the 1-0 loss of Spain to Swiss in 2010. Of course, minus the glitter and shine of the spotlight.

Anto Byrne
595 Posted 12/01/2014 at 08:50:02
I took my seat at 2:30 and savoured every moment until leaving at 5:10. I really thought we played well for 75 minutes but the two subs were not like for like and this exposed our general strength in depth.

I didn't see anything in Naismith that makes me think he is a Premier League player, Heitinga looking composed and refreshed and somewhat fitter. Stones was a target of RM when at Wigan so I can see why he is so highly rated.

The future looks bright and to think the vast majority of the squad was assembled by DM, it's just a pity he didn't have them playing with such style and class. Okayy, what time's my flight back home?

Mark Dunford
598 Posted 12/01/2014 at 09:28:14
The relative stability of the club is probably the main reason why we drift under the media radar. There is no star player chewing his way into publicity, no underachieving Manager dithering about who to spend his loot on and no high profile owner sacking managers at the drop of a hat.We're just playing nice football and the new guy is building impressively on his inheritance. Moreover, he represents us well when he appears in the media. I'm happy with this situation and hope the glare of publicity continues to shine elsewhere
Sam Fitzsimmons
608 Posted 12/01/2014 at 10:03:06
Mark, agree there's nothing wrong with Everton flying below the media radar for a little while longer. Come March, April if we're still in the hunt for a CL place then it'll be time enough to burst the proverbial bubble of the sky and bbc RS cohort of pundits.
Paul Harnett
615 Posted 12/01/2014 at 10:32:27
Thanks for that - I'm really interested in what formation we had after Heitinga came on. At first I thought we were 3 at the back but then as you say that would morph into 5 at the back at times. Anybody else know what was happening? Anyway - we were certainly less assured after all the substitutions. Also thought that Nathan Redmond for Norwich is a handy prospect.
Harold Matthews
671 Posted 12/01/2014 at 12:41:39
Yes Ken. We do need to be more clinical in front of goal but I'm sure they work on it. As Laudrup recently commented. " You don't get seven chances against the top teams. You might get one or two and you have to put them away."
David Ellis
684 Posted 12/01/2014 at 13:38:08
I thought we became disjointed once we moved to 3 at the back (and Pienaar came off). Having said that I thought Naismith played surprisingly well.

We seemed quite vulnerable at the back throughout - I can see why Stones is going to be a great player - he has very good touch. But his decision making was a bit off at times (not surprising given his lack of experience) and that was unsettling. But he's going to be a cracking player in the next year or two - and he's pretty good now.

Jim Bennings
808 Posted 12/01/2014 at 18:06:56
I have never been one for subscribing to all this "Why arent we noticed by the media 'hype. I personally couldnt give a monkeys what the nation thinks of Everton Football Club as long as WE know we are actually doing well.

I have stated for a long time it was the media that turned us into David Moyes Football Club, having pundits actual predict relegation come May after the Messiah (haha) had left us.

On to the here and now... It was a good first half performance yesterday and I am very happy with the win but like a lot of fans, I wish we could be a tad more ruthless in games where it's blatantly obvious that we are head and shoulders above our opponent.

I feel we lack a top quality goal poacher. I love Lukaku but he does seem to be missing chances that you would want him to stick away at the minute, for a start that header he missed looked a lot worse on Match of the Day than during the game from the Gwladys.

The big big test as we know comes on January 28 at the Devils Den. Watching them again today, it is obvious that we can hurt them at the back providing our attacking players are on their game but we need to make sure that we are tight, I hate to admit it but they look more incisive going forward than us, well when you have Suarez that's going to be the case..

Hate the build up to derbies, especially the ones where I expect us to get a result, so many years under Moyes having high hopes yet going to Anfield and barely registering a shot.

Should be different this time....Should'nt it?

Srdjan Sekulic
932 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:05:58
It should.
Paul Smith
934 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:13:44
And it will.

Need to watch them on the break though, they move it fast and direct. Teeth scares me the most.

Dennis Ng
937 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:31:38
Paul, there is a reason he's the top scorer at the moment but rs is pretty much a 1 man team (2-3 if you consider SG and maybe storage). If we can keep the ball away from them and press them out of the ball when needed, I think we'll be fine.
Si Cooper
940 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:40:52
Think you have to add Coutinho and Sterling to that list Dennis. Maybe not as consistently threatening but not to be ignored either.
Peter Laing
941 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:44:00
Depends on how many players we have unavailable against satans spawn, if Barkley and Delboy are missing I won't be going into the game with as much optimism
Patrick Murphy
942 Posted 12/01/2014 at 23:56:24
They are not Brazil or Spain, but they do and have always known how to score goals which is a horrible truth. However if we have enough of our top players available and if Everton play as they did at OT and the Emirates we should have a chance - but don't hold your breath as we often play well over at their place but somehow forget to come away with the points.

Besides which we have a couple of week-ends before that game let's hope we get results in those games before we start worrying about what may or may not happen at the home of the Dark Side.

Dennis Ng
947 Posted 13/01/2014 at 00:01:41
Si, indeed. Sterling did such a great dive today! So obvious, yet given against Stoke. I've not seen Coutinho enough to judge but the formation is fragmented and they often go route 1. It's to a point where its seems they have very limited options.

Peter, unless RM practices misinformation, delboy is out. RB might be in depending on what we hear. Even with full strength they still pose a threat.

Patrick, after this week, zero expectations. I have no faith in the refereeing community. ManC, rs and if I remember correctly MU and spurns also suspicious. It's not the rare occasion anymore. We'll have to wait to see if these decisions come back and hurt them later.

Patrick Murphy
955 Posted 13/01/2014 at 00:47:45
Stephen if we have the good fortune to beat them at their place I want to beat their best available side and I want us to score goals which have no element of good fortune or have been awarded due to poor decisions by the officials - but deep down I would settle for a dodgy last minute penalty against their reserves if it means we get three points off them.
Dennis Ng
960 Posted 13/01/2014 at 01:00:26
Patrick, that dodgy last min pen will do for now. I'll leave the Barca style for next year or one more.
Barry Gee
979 Posted 13/01/2014 at 05:58:23
Derby games are just so unpredictable. At my age, I can't watch them live for fear of a heart attack. No matter the result, if we're are above them at the end of the season, that will do for me. They have an out side chance of winning the league but I still think it will go to Chelsea or Man City.
Jim Bennings
992 Posted 13/01/2014 at 09:45:51
The most annoying almost galling thing about the upcoming derby is that we know, if we had Barkley and Deulofeu to select, we would have had a truly great chance of winning there.

So many times under spineless arse Moyes we went to Anfield and faced a shite Liverpool team which at times included the likes of David Ngog, Jay Spearing, Salif Diao and the woefully over rated Raul Meirelles to name but a few, plus how many times under Moyes did we go there when they had a man sent off in the first half?

It is just so annoying that now we have got a manager who we know wants to go there and give them the same bloody nose that they got at Goodison (they were mighty relieved to get out with that late equalizer), is going to be facing the best attacking Liverpool team over the last 20 years, with key players like Barkley and Delboy missing.

I know for a fact that even if Martinez had managed an Everton team within the last four seasons, we would have attempted to win there more. Moyes totally negative shite and atrocious Anfield record should never have been allowed to go on so long, the players always seemed overjoyed to hold them to a 0-0 without having hardly any attempts at goal.

It is sad that Martinez has been deprived of Barkley, as well as the Deulofeu injury, but at least we have been getting used to playing without him for a short period of time now.

I wonder what team Martinez will select for that Stevenage game because we can bet our bottom dollar Ratboy won't play at Bournemouth for them. I don't want us to be careless in the cup tie but at the same time I don't want to end up losing Lukaku or Coleman, or another important player on a twat of a pitch three days before the derby.

Iain Love
996 Posted 13/01/2014 at 10:03:44
Suarez weighs in with over 75% of their goals, through scoring himself or having a huge hand in the build up. When they played Chelsea, they gave him a rough ride and he / Liverpool didn't score. In fact he has only scored against 2 of the top 9 teams. 17 goals against the bottom 7 teams. In other words Top class defenders deal with him. Sturridge has a goal or two in him but apart from that they aren't that great.

I thought we were the better team last time we played them and, even without young Ross, I'm not concerned about them, only about 3 points, which is the same points as against West Brom.

Ray Roche
000 Posted 13/01/2014 at 10:33:59
Stephen Sulliven @ 962

"Physically we have less skill, pace & strength."

Sorry, Stephen, that's bollocks. Pienaar, Mirallas, Osman, Coleman, Oviedo and Baines are as skillful as any of their players. Barry's passing is exceptional and Mirallas, Coleman and, for defenders, Distin and Jags have plenty of pace.

As for strength, Distin, Jags, McCarthy & Stones are a handful for any Prem player to contend with. Take Ratboy and Sturridge out of their side and they are decidedly average.

If we play on Skirtl and we don't have Mr Magoo or Stevie Wonder for a ref — i.e. someone who can see his constant fouling in the box — we can get a result.

Jim Bennings
004 Posted 13/01/2014 at 10:55:28
The big problem in the derby will be the performances of our centre-halves. In the past, Jagielka and Distin have at times resembled Laurel and Hardy when faced with crosses/set pieces that Stevie GBH has whipped in, that cunt is so accurate with set pieces that every ball seem to come in like it was fired out of a cannon.

Suarez always seems to score against us too, so I can hardly get off on the fact that his record against top sides is not great.
The simple fact is Liverpool don't have a great record against the sides in the top half of the table but they DO have a great record against us, almost a psychological stranglehold over us that Martinez is going to have to try and break free from.

It all started when that fuck McAllister scored that free kick at Goodison from a ridiculous distance thanks to Paul Gerrard moving like an overfed cow and, ever since then, mostly down to Moyes years of "let's fear what they have spent", it's always been the same.

I am not sure I would say we have players that are all as skillful as every one of theirs. Again the fact remains, you usually win big games because you have a world class match winner and they have that in Ratboy, he is more likely to score a goal out of nothing than Lukaku on the evidence we have seen: it's not pessimistic, it's reality.

The Goodison derby really summed up what we need to do to get a result, we played great that day but still let them twats escape with a point and somehow score 3 goals here.

However, if Suarez got injured my confidence would certainly rocket up no end. Lets see what happens.

David Ellis
042 Posted 13/01/2014 at 13:42:31
Jim Bennings - cor blimey and you call Moyes negative!!!
Forget the past. The're just another team. Yes they are rolling over weaker teams but they lost the last two against decent outfits and we reeled them into a one point lead as a result.

Man for man we are as good as them - even without Barkley. Suarez is dangerous but he can't win it by himself, and we have multiple threats - Lukaku, Osman, Pienaar, Coleman, Mirallas, Baines......

Pete Hughes
045 Posted 13/01/2014 at 14:00:02
David, I agree with most of what you say! But when you included Osman in your list of threats, I nearly pissed myself laughing! Classic, that one!

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