Despite the best attempts of first Ronald Koeman and then David Unsworth, playing Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson together was simply not working. The two Everton #10s seemed to get in each other’s way all the time on the pitch, and more often than not both were caught upfield on a quick counter that left the Blues backline chasing shadows and eventually picking the ball out of their own net.
However, one of the hallmarks of Sam Allardyce’s short tenure at the Goodison Park, aside from the newfound defensive solidity that has seen the Blues only concede once in five games, has been the better performances from both Rooney and Sigurdsson. In fact, yesterday’s win over Newcastle saw what was likely the Icelander’s best performance in the royal blue since his record-breaking transfer in the late summer.
Speaking after the game to evertonfc.com, Rooney was happy to talk about the team’s accomplishments over his own, including his 15th career goal against Newcastle (is highest against any team) on his 100th Everton appearance.
“It was a tough game. We’ve come here and, although Newcastle haven’t been on a great run of form, it’s always a difficult game, especially when you’re looking to pick up three points. We dug in, defended really well and made the most of the chances we had. We’re delighted and it’s a great win for us.
“I’ve scored quite a few goals here - it’s a ground I enjoy playing at. Thankfully today it’s got us three points.
“We know it’s a difficult period coming on, the Christmas period is always difficult. It’s challenging for all of the players. We have to look at these next few games over Christmas, try and get as many points as we can and see how we come out of it. If we come out of it in a higher league position than we are, then I’m sure we’ll reassess our goals for the end of the season.”
Sigurdsson for his part chose to speak out about the positive attitude within the team since Allardyce’s arrival.
“When you’re getting points and you’re getting wins, of course the mood in the dressing room and around the training ground is different. It’s positive at the moment - and that’s how we like it.
“Hopefully we’re turning the corner. Obviously, we’ve had a good few results over the past few weeks. Hopefully things are moving in the right direction and we need to build on it now over Christmas.”
For the Blues to really kick on and make any sort of an attempt at the top six this season, these two players will really need to hit peak form, though arguably Rooney is already doing more than even the most optimistic fan would have expected from him when he was signed this summer.