Now this was a lot of fun. This was the type of game you imagined Everton playing all season. Manager-for-the-moment David Unsworth allowed many of the youngsters to take center stage and they were impressive, leading the Toffees to a 3-0 win over Norwich City at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon.
From the kick-off, the Blues seemed free to do whatever they wanted to on the pitch. Without the burden of playing for Roberto Martinez, they allowed their creative juices to flow. No, the defense was still not perfect, but the attack was so good all game that it didn't really matter.
The 17-year-old Tom Davies played the full 90 minutes and did so with great confidence. Jonjoe Kenny assisted on a goal. Kieran Dowell showed ambition on some of his crosses. Matthew Pennington started, but was forced out with an injury after 30 minutes. This was the last game of the season and had no consequence, so it is not a surprise to see the young guys get a chance. But if Everton can incorporate the kids more, it gives them the roster flexibility that they lacked much of this season.
James McCarthy got the scoring started with a laser beam from about five yards outside of the penalty area. It started with a Tim Howard roll out from goal to McCarthy himself. The defensive midfielder dribbled up the field before dumping it to Dowell. The youngster then lost control of the ball but it fell to McCarthy, who smashed it past John Ruddy.
Just before halftime, Leighton Baines doubled the lead by converting a penalty earned by Romelu Lukaku. It was a light penalty to say the least. The ball was played into the box. As the striker went for it, Robbie Brady grabbed his hand and Lukaku hit the deck like a sack of potatoes. From there, Baines easily put it into the back of the net.
And the final goalscorer of the day was Kevin Mirallas right at the start of the second half. In a great bit of football, Everton worked the ball to Kenny on the right wing. He whipped it into the box. The ball made it through a cluster of bodies before coming to Mirallas, who just put his foot through it.
Both Belgian players had great afternoons. No one seems to be happier that Martinez is gone than Mirallas. Kev was showing tremendous effort tracking back on defense and creating chances all over the pitch. Lukaku received more service today than he has in the last two months.
For all the good that there was today, there are just as many question marks and things to worry about headed into the summer. Who will be the manager? Have we seen the last game in an Everton shirt for Lukaku, Ross Barkley and/or John Stones? What about older players like Leon Osman or Tony Hibbert? Is Joel Robles the top choice at goalkeeper? Only time will answer these questions.
What we do know is that Tim Howard has finished his playing days with Everton. Fittingly, he kept a clean sheet in his final game between the sticks. Once a blue, always a blue. Thank you for your service, Tim. You will be missed. Good luck in MLS!
Now, let's get this summer started and see what kind of team the board can put together. Come on, you Blues!