First of all, apologies for the lack of updates over the past week, things have been a bit hectic up at RBM towers.
It is nice though to return with Everton back to winning ways, even if it was hardly a win that inspires much enthusiasm.
‘Gritty’, ‘determined,’ and ‘committed’ were the words used after this win - Though I would also throw in ‘dull’, ‘turgid’ and ‘scrappy’.
However, their defence to be fair was extremely well organised. Christophe Berra and Roger Johnson got their heads on cross-after-cross, while the team as a whole were willing to put their bodies on the line to block goal bound efforts.
We could have made things a little harder for them had we actually sent players into the box on a regular basis. We got the ball in wide areas on several occasions but when the ball came in there was no-one there to profit from it.
The Wolves penalty was a punishment for Everton’s failure to turn possession into chances rather than any reward for Wolves’ attacking endeavour.
Was it a penalty? Technically I suppose yes, though Stephen Ward definitely made sure his leg clipped Fellaini’s, who was actually pulling out of the tackle.
Up to that point – and for the rest of the game – the referee had also let a number of niggly fouls go in an attempt to keep the game flowing, much to his credit it has to be said.
On this occasion though, it was given, but thankfully Everton got the equaliser just before the break to save the players an uncomfortable 15 minutes with David Moyes in the dressing room.
It was hugely disappointing then that the second half followed the same pattern, with Wolves offering nothing up front but Everton looking laboured in attack. It was here that Pienaar and Arteta were sorely missed; Everton desperately needed someone to keep hold of the ball and create things. Instead, with space at a premium, we were too static and relied on getting the ball to Leighton Baines to put crosses in.
It looked a game that would only ever be decided by a penalty and so it proved when Saha was pushed in the area by Ward. Stephen Hunt had a whinge after the game about the decision, but given theirs was soft and Cahill was denied a blatant spot-kick in the first half, I don’t feel his case holds much water.
The ever reliable Baines stepped up and sent Hennessey the wrong way to give a nervy Everton the points.
All the talk after the game was along the lines ‘the result is what mattered’ and ‘points first, performance second’, all true stuff, but I don’t believe that this win will inspire the players to perform any better.
The glaring lack of creativity and stale malaise over the team was there for all to see and makes it hard to even drum up enthusiasm for what should have been a routine win anyway.
But given the summer departures and tight finances I guess we all have to lower expectations and remind ourselves that no-one is safe in this league. Securing enough points to ensure safety has to be our first priority so if scrappy wins over Wolves helps us on our way, then I guess that is the way it has to be.
The game was preceded, of course, by a protest by the Blue Union, again seeking to highlight the stagnation at the club with regards to investment. It also highlights the division among the fans, with those both for and against the BU bickering amongst themselves. The leaked emails showing Ian Ross criticising Robert Elstone highlighted a club similarly divided, making the whole situation a sorry mess.
Bill Kenwright spoke to various media outlets after the game where he revealed that three or four parties were interested in buying the club, but that these deals take time and urged patience. He also said he agreed with the intentions if not the actions of the BU and confirmed that David Moyes will have some money to spend in January.
Given we raked in £13million on deadline day alone I would have been horrified if we didn’t have cash to spend. I am not expecting it to be significant, but the two names heavily linked with a return to Everton – Landon Donovan and Andy Johnson – would give us pace and trickery upfront. It is Donovan in particular that gets people most excited. He surprised everyone with just how well he settled into the club two years ago and the fans have been desperate for him to come back ever since. With LA Galaxy winning the MLS Cup final over the weekend - with Donovan netting the winner – he certainly has some credit with his full-time employers should he ask to return to England again. Everton forum NSNO report that a deal has apparently been done; if this is the case then it would be a real boost. Some, quite accurately, claim that Donovan will be 29 and may be starting to lose that yard of pace, but I feel his arrival will inspire others to greater heights, give the fans a lift and freshen up the aforementioned stale first-team.
For now though we can at least be grateful that the side won and, as Kenwright pointed out, there are things to be positive about with regards to Everton – with Fellaini’s contract, the approval of an Everton ‘free school’ and a England debut for Jack Rodwell proof the royal blue heart still beats true, even if other parts of the club are in desperate need of major surgery.