Everton gave caretaker boss David Unsworth the perfect send off as Sam Allardyce watched his new side comfortably defeat one of his old ones. A Wayne Rooney hat trick was the catalyst for a massive Everton victory over fellow strugglers West Ham United which moved the Toffees up to 13th place.
The new manager watched on next to Farhad Moshiri as his former side took on his new club in what was already a bottom half six pointer. I think all Evertonians gave a collective sigh of relief when they saw that Andy Carroll was not in the West Ham squad, the thought of the watching the ponytailed prince bully Everton’s flimsy defence was certainly a vision I couldn’t get out of my head for the last day or so.
Everton’s defensive issues have been a mainstay throughout the campaign so far and have been consistent even if the four players at the back haven’t been. Tonight’s back four was another variation with the dodgy Cuco Martina and equally hapless Ashley Williams making up the left side and a partnership on the right side totalling just 41 years of age with Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate in from the start. The relief at the exclusion of Carroll only heightened by this makeshift rear guard.
However Everton were fortunate enough to be facing a side statistically worse than them, with the Irons starting the evening in the relegation zone. They rarely threatened in the opening period with Jordan Pickford’s only real tasks to collect a couple of dangerous crosses. Arthur Masuaku was the only player to cause any issues, getting forward well on the left. However The Hammers were very poor and after a slow start, Everton were handed some much needed luck. As Gylfi Sigurdsson put some pressure on Cheick Kouyate in the middle the ball managed to pop out straight into the path of Dominic Calvert-Lewin who quickly took the ball in his stride and looked to round Joe Hart, however he was brought down by the England number one in the process and referee Michael Oliver immediately pointed to the spot. In the absence of Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney stepped up and fired the kick low to Harts right. Hart got down well to save but the ball bounced up into Rooney’s path and England’s record goal scorer nodded past his helpless former national team mate and gave the Toffees the all important lead.
To say that goal sparked the visitors into life would be a bit of an overstatement but they did attempt to get forward and put the notoriously shaky Blues defence under the cosh. However they failed to create anything of note and David Moyes would be left cursing the side he spent 11 years with as it once again looked like he was set to endure another torrid return to Goodison Park when Rooney doubled his tally just before the half hour mark. Jonjoe Kenny decided to venture forward and drove through the heart of the West Ham midfield, playing a quick one-two with Tom Davies who intelligently continued his run and was fed again by Kenny. Davies played a low first time ball into the area which Kenny nearly got on the end of to complete a tremendous double act, however he missed the ball and it instead fell to Rooney who did what he has done for 15 years and tucked the ball home in the penalty area, a huge lead for Everton to take into the break with the West Ham players visibly distraught.
Diafra Sakho was introduced by the Hammers at the break as David Moyes opted for a more direct approach and he used his strength to cause some early second half issues for the Blues with a few crosses being less than convincingly dealt with. Aaron Cresswell was slipped in by Manuel Lanzini and the wing back cannoned a terrific effort off the crossbar in another scare for the Everton back line. They seemed to content to sit back and try and defend the lead in typical Everton fashion and as many would expect this cost us as the visitors were allowed a route back into the game when Williams inexplicably decided to lunge in on Cheick Kouyate in the penalty area. Oliver pointed to the spot and Evertonians were left wondering once again just what on earth goes through the Welsh captains head. Lanzini stepped up and in an almost identical manner to Rooney’s earlier spot kick, he had his penalty saved lowdown to the keepers right, however Pickford managed to push it away from goal and preserved the Toffees two goal lead. What happened next was the stuff of dreams!
Calvert-Lewin, who worked tirelessly all evening, chased down what looked like a lost cause after a hopeful long ball from the back. His efforts led to Hart racing out of his area and clearing the ball back into the Everton half and right into the path of Wayne Rooney who reaffirmed the old saying “You never lose it” as he beautifully stroked the ball from inside his own half and into the open Gwladys Street goal for his hat trick and his 14th Premier League goal against West Ham. A truly magnificent goal from one of the best players in world football over the last decade, form is temporary but class is permanent. Fans of most sides would have been ready to relax and believe the job was done, but us Evertonians know nothing is impossible when it comes to this club. So when Williams glanced a brilliant header past Hart from a Sigurdsson corner to make it 4-0, we could finally sit back and enjoy what was a wonderful evening and a perfect send off for David Unsworth, a man who stood up and put himself in the firing line all for the club he loves. A true gentleman, a fighter and an Everton man if there ever was one, thanks Rhino!
Big Sam watched on from the stands tonight and must have been pinching himself at the final whistle. Wayne Rooney’s virtuoso performance has done Everton’s new boss the world of good as he comes into the job ahead of the visit of Huddersfield this Saturday. He may not be everyone's cup of tea but what he will do is weed out anyone who isn’t prepared to fight for every result like the boys did tonight. He’ll tighten up a poor defence and get the squad pulling in the same direction. After tonight’s positive result it’s time for everyone to stand up, get behind each other and work together to continue improving and attempt to salvage something from this season, good luck Mr Allardyce and welcome to the best club you’ll ever manage.