clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Have Everton finally turned the corner?

The crowd turned on the players but Martinez is pleased with their response

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

It may have taken a near mutiny at Goodison Park on Thursday for Everton to finally re-discover their dynamism, but their come-from-behind win against Dynamo Kiev has given hopes for brighter things to come.

We have been here before, of course. Everton have now won as many games in the Europa League as they have in the Premier League this season, with each promising European display followed up by a worryingly inept domestic performance.

Just three of those six Premier League wins have been at home, reflecting in the edgy atmosphere among supporters worn down by a succession of ineffective performances.

It’s not just the lack of wins that is grinding the fans down; it’s the fact the team don’t appear to be learning from their mistakes. Time after time they have overpassed in their own half, lacking width and attacking intent, while at the back they have gifted soft goals to the opposition.

So when Dynamo Kiev scored from their first corner of the match you could forgive the fans for voicing their disapproval when Everton continued to labour with the ball inside their own half. Groundhog day at Goodison once more.

I have not seen the supporters be so vocally hostile towards their own team before and it clearly got to some players, Antolin Alcaraz in particular having a nightmarish first half.

I do have some sympathy for them as they are clearly stuck between the instructions issued to them by the manager and the will of the crowd to get it forward quickly.

However, last season proved they were capable of combining both styles of play and on Thursday we finally saw glimpses of it once more.

Their response, inspired by Romleu Lukaku, was impressive and didn’t involve a dramatic change on personnel or tactics.

The buzzword on social media and in the TV studio was ‘tempo’. Everton showed a distinct lack of it in the opening half hour but shifted up the gears for the remainer of the game.

All of a sudden we were the ones forcing the issue, pushing the Kiev defence back and giving the ball to the likes of Lukaku, Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley in dangerous areas.

It was like something had finally clicked, with the memories and dynamism of last season coming flooding back.

The crowd responded, producing an atmosphere that has been heard all too infrequently this season, in sharp contrast to the toxic, poisonous atmosphere that has worryingly become the norm.

The challenge now of course is to finally transfer their Europa League form into the league, something they have proved utterly incapable of doing so far.

Martinez’s recent admission that his side are in a relegation battle was a vital first step on the road to recovery and their performance for an hour against Kiev another encouraging sign.

The Spaniard declared Thursday’s win as a ‘turning point’ and one that could inspire greater success in the league. However, we have been down this road too many times before to truly declare Everton as on their way back.

A European win has once against given Everton a platform upon which to build their Premier League survival bid. But only at full time on Sunday will we know if that platform is made of something substantial or will once again tumble down like a house of cards.