What Everton can learn from Tony Bellew – Chelsea (A) preview

Patrick Gillen 09/11/2018 20comments  |  Jump to last

Caught flush by the strong left hand of Ilunga Makabu, the WBC World Cruiserweight title seemingly slipped from boxer Tony Bellew’s grasp. Time stood still as the Evertonian hit the canvas just three minutes into his dream fight. The Goodison Park faithful were left breathless, gasping in disbelief as their hero was downed in his spiritual home.

Any of the 15,000 people at The Old Lady that night suspecting Bomber’s defeat simply did not know the man they came to support. Tony Bellew’s unrelinquishing desire to win saw the scouser quickly rise to his feet, ready for the next round.

It didn’t take long to turn things around as a barrage of blows from Bomber, including a huge left hook and right uppercut, saw Makabu fall unconscious against the ropes in the third round. Tony had done it, becoming champion of the world in the first ever boxing match at Goodison, in what was a proud moment for all connected to the club – the elation was there for all to see.  Bellew dropped to his knees as the crowd roared in celebration in a fashion much akin to the raucous cry of a late Duncan Ferguson winner at the Street End.


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There’s a lot to be said about the sporting mentality that Bellew continues to bring to the ring. This is a man who stepped up weight divisions to fight a man in David Haye, whom a lot of the boxing world thought may seriously hurt Bellew, and knocked him out. Twice.

Tony Bellew is a man who doesn’t know when he’s beat, and that’s exactly what Marco Silva must instil into this Everton team.

For too many years the blues have suffered from ‘Everton, that’ syndrome; a phrase uttered after a sigh of acceptance that defeat was inevitable in any big game for this once great football club. The syndrome has been a slow-worming parasite infecting the club since the 1990’s and it’s time for the much needed mentality shift to take Everton back among the elite.

Under David Moyes, a sense of identity returned as the Scot built a team willing to fight - and the fans recognised that. But there was still a lack of belief against the top sides (especially away from home) and a problem in delivering when it really mattered. The FA cup final of 2009 encapsulated Everton’s lack of belief, where a depleted Moyes outfit faced this Sunday’s opponents, Chelsea. Louis Saha’s record breaking opener was met with fears that we’d scored too early and, as we all know, that proved to be the case.

The mentality of the club must start from the top and the fans, by and large, met the arrival of Farhad Moshiri in February of 2016 with huge excitement that glory could soon be on the horizon. A couple of questionable managerial appointments and an ill judged ‘expected losses’ quote since, and the Iranian now seems be getting things right.

There is now a clear direction that Everton want to go, and it’s something everyone involved with the club can get behind. An owner prepared to back the manager financially, a director of football with a clear vision with regards to recruitment, a squad full of quality and depth and, for the first time in years, a manager that does not stand on ceremony with team selection. Not to forget the prospect of a new home beaming blue across the banks of the River Mersey.

Last week’s 3-1 win at home to Brighton was one of the most dominant home displays from an Everton side in recent times and offered a teaser of what this current squad could achieve. Silva’s side showcased fast, attacking football with real quality on and off the ball and a front-line to be feared by any Premier League defence.

The next step is to put an end to Everton’s horrendous record away at the ‘top six’ clubs, starting with Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. Since the turn of the 21st century, the Toffees have won only nine times out of 110 games away at the current top six. This staggering statistic must end before the blues can see themselves as serious contenders to regularly break into the European spots.

In fairness to Marco Silva, this season’s two defeats away at Arsenal and Manchester United provided much more reason for encouragement performance-wise. Everton started each game on the front foot, creating many clear chances in both matches, perhaps showing that the self belief Tony Bellew clearly possesses is already there for this team. Alas, a magnificent Petr Cech performance and an imposing display by Manchester United’s Jon Moss scuppered Everton’s chance of a statement victory.

Sunday’s game will be a test even tougher than Arsenal and United as Everton travel south to Stamford Bridge to face an unbeaten Chelsea side brimming with confidence. Maurizio Sarri’s team, featuring former blue Ross Barkley (boooo), are playing a scintillating brand of football, with each attacking wave conducted by the technically assured Jorginho in the middle of the park. Next to him is the ever-energetic N’Golo Kante and beyond them both, amongst an array of potent attacking talent, is the fit again Eden Hazard. The Belgian, as ever, will prove very difficult to stop.

Everton will be armed with a real threat on the counter through the pace of Richarlison and Theo Walcott, although starlet Ademola Lookman may feel he’s done enough recently to earn himself a start. Centre back Kurt Zouma is ineligible to face his parent club, so Colombian Yerry Mina will be thrown into the deep end to make his competitive full debut for Everton, after a comfortable 90 minutes against Gor Mahia in the Sportpesa Cup victory on Tuesday night.

If Everton can stay off the ropes and weather the inevitable Chelsea storm, then perhaps Marco Silva’s side, marshalled in midfield by the tireless Idrissa Gueye and the composed Andre Gomes, can find a way to get a foothold in the game and take the fight to Chelsea. One of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott or the new Brazilian heroes will be hoping to land the Londoners with a knockout blow and secure a win at Stamford Bridge for the first time in the league since 1995.

Here’s hoping for an Everton double at the weekend as Tony Bellew will try to find a way to win against the Ukrainian monster Oleksandr Usyk to become the undisputed world cruiserweight champion on Saturday night. It should be a cracker.

Up the Toffees!

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Reader Comments (20)

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Thomas Lennon
1 Posted 09/11/2018 at 13:40:56
An article that seems to say 'if only plucky Everton can stop them scoring we might get a point'.

That isn't top 6 thinking!

We should have the players and belief to go anywhere and win. If not, why not? Best of the rest for ever more?

James Marshall
2 Posted 09/11/2018 at 14:10:45
I won't be able to watch the fight on Saturday night, but will watch the re-run later in the day on Sunday, and since I'll be in the away end can I ask all travelling blues not to mention it at all on Sunday please?
Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 09/11/2018 at 14:15:47
Thomas (#1), not sure what article you were reading. This one says nothing of the sort.
Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 09/11/2018 at 14:20:24
No Thomas, it’s an article saying we won’t be going anywhere, until the players find real belief.

I’ve never understood it myself, I can’t believe that eleven men might go out onto the pitch thinking that the other team is well better, and this is the reason Bellew, has became a world champion, because he’s got so much pride, so much belief, and so much desire.

No disrespect to Tony, but if he had as much natural talent, as the things I’ve mentioned above, then we would be talking about him being the greatest boxer, ever to come out of these shores, but the fact that he hasn’t, never stopped him becoming a world champion, and I hope he goes and wins all those other belts against the odds tomorrow night.


Fran Mitchell
5 Posted 09/11/2018 at 14:29:44
Chelsea are a hell of a team, and Sarri is a brilliant manager. Hazard is the best player in the league, and Barkley is surely to play a blinder.

Will be a tough game, and we may well be without Richarilson, and Mina making his full debut.

But in Gueye and Gomes we can win the midfield battle. I just wonder who will play centre forward if Richarilson isn't fit.

Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 09/11/2018 at 14:49:26
Great article Patrick, telling us, or at least me, that we've been down for too long with no real fight or belief. But like Tony Bellew getting up off the canvas and saying " Is that all you've got " to his opponent " come on mate I"ll show you that the fight's far from over. It's just beginning" and getting into him and letting him know he's going to get as much as he gives.

This is the way we've got to strive to be, that's what Patrick is saying to me and he is saying we are on our way back, and getting better with Moshiri, Brands and Silva. With the way Silva has got them attacking and starting to believe in themselves it is giving new hope to loads of supporters. I for instance believe we will go to Chelsea looking to score goals, not just defending and stopping Chelsea from playing. Like the home game with them last season, we stopped them from scoring.

But what an embarrassing 90 minutes under Allardyce that was, mostly on our knees. Sunday, we will be up on our toes and having a real go, just like Tony Bellew.

Jay Wood

7 Posted 09/11/2018 at 15:14:56
A very eloquently penned article, Patrick. An excellent read.

And Thomas @ 1, I must echo Mike Gaynes @ 3.

The gist of Patrick's piece seems to have sailed way over your head.

John Raftery
8 Posted 09/11/2018 at 15:44:53
Dave (6), Of the team which played in the goalless draw last December, only four are likely to start on Sunday: Pickford, Keane, Gueye and Sigurdsson. The new signings plus Seamus at right back have considerably strengthened Silva's hand compared with what we had available last December. It was a minor miracle we got a draw at a time when we had no pace or quality to offer up front.
Dave Abrahams
9 Posted 09/11/2018 at 16:18:02
John (8),

Yes, that's fair comment, we didn't have the players we've got now, but Allardyce, on our own ground, had the team defending the whole game with no pretence of trying to win it.

Allardyce over the same period played West Brom home and away, one of the bottom teams, and played the same way; even when we were safe from any threat of relegation, he played the same way.

Silva at Hull made a fight of their relegation battle and beat Liverpool and Man Utd in the attempt. It's not just the players who have changed, the whole club has a different look about the way we are going about getting Everton back to where we used to be.

Jay Harris
10 Posted 09/11/2018 at 22:52:11

Well said I echo every word.

Sarri has had the longest unbeaten run of any manager. His time is up.

John G Davies
11 Posted 10/11/2018 at 06:42:10
The players all know Tony, his never-say-die attitude must have a positive effect on them. Even as a chubby centre-forward he was crash bang wallop. 100% every time he put his boots on.

A thorough, principled gentleman who becomes a dog when he ducks under the ropes. He's got his work cut out tonight but he won't lose because of lack of heart.

David Pearl
12 Posted 10/11/2018 at 20:13:32
Good luck with that James.
Paul Birmingham
13 Posted 10/11/2018 at 20:15:55
Let’s hope that we get a fair referee, and tomorrow is our day.

I’ve a hunch tomorrow, and hopefully a day to remember, break the curse and move on for EFC.

And Tony Bellew, does the business and has the fight of his life and wins, tonight.

The lad has the heart and soul of a Lion.
Common Tony, we are all with you, tonight.

Paul Richards
14 Posted 11/11/2018 at 05:54:52
Tough on Tony. He did well to last until the 8th round. But he was giving too much away, trying to go out with a bang,
Colin Glassar
15 Posted 11/11/2018 at 07:44:25
Tony should’ve retired after the Rocky fight! He was lucky to get past Haye and should’ve hung up his gloves there and then but money speaks louder than words I suppose.

Chelsea 1 Everton 2 btw.

John G Davies
16 Posted 11/11/2018 at 09:31:18
Lucky to get past Haye?

What fight(s) did you watch to come up with that one, Colin?

Micky Norman
17 Posted 11/11/2018 at 10:00:18
"an imposing display by Man Utd's Jon Moss"
Drew O'Neall
18 Posted 11/11/2018 at 11:21:55
Beat me to it Micky! Great line, Patrick.

I would also highlight that he (and Eddie Hearn) capitalised on Bellew's ascendancy to maximise every opportunity put in front of them.

After the failure of the King's Dock, qualification for the Champions League preliminary stages, Moyes establishing a competitive team just missing one £30m striker and countless other ‘nearly' moments over the past 20 years, when the next step was so evident if we could only just take it.

Perhaps this is the biggest lesson Everton FC can take from Tony Bellew's career because opportunities to catch up and overtake the ‘big six' (puke) will arise and the Board of Everton must be bold and also dare to be great.

David Ellis
19 Posted 14/11/2018 at 03:12:12
I think the mentality of the club has definitely changed. We held our own against a very good Chelsea. Could easily have gone either way. They won't look forward to playing us again.

I notice Everton suddenly getting a lot more respect from other fans and pundits now (ex-Mordor residents apart). We are the "best of the rest" and not to be taken lightly. But need to carve out an image as being a proper member of a Big 7 (naff though that is – the simple branding message counts for a lot).

Martin Berry
20 Posted 15/11/2018 at 19:47:53
Everton's players were a credit to the club and made of different stuff mentally than most of the Chelsea team who were petulant and nasty when they didn't get their own way.

As for Tony, he was a credit to boxing, a top fighter, brave and very dignified in defeat and full of praise for Usyk. Great to see Tony getting out of the game intact and with loads of respect.

I wish the bloke every success in whatever comes next.

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