Everton conclude their pre-season preparations with a friendly back at Goodison Park against Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv.
After a shaky start to the summer, featuring a winless and goalless US tour, things have really picked up over the last week. On the pitch the Toffees won 4-2 at Championship Blackpool last Sunday which included a brace from the much maligned (from outside Goodison at least) Dele Alli and a promising performance from Nathan Patterson.
Off it Everton did what they have rarely do, wrap up two signings in the space of a couple of days with the minimum of fuss. Rumours of a deal for Ruben Vinagre broke a little over 24 hours before the deal was done and by the time reports of Dwight McNeil broke the winger was having a medical at Goodison Park.
I could get used to this.
My theory is Kevin Thelwell lined up several deals but waited for Frank Lampard to give him the final sign off when he returned from the States. After the muddled windows of the past it is more important than ever that the manager and director of football are closely aligned. The signings so far suggest that is the case.
The new arrivals are a timely boost to the fans who were starting to get a bit edgy as the new season approached. But with three new faces on board and the promise of more to come there is suddenly a bit of optimism brewing among Evertonians.
Here we go again…
All our worries about wins, losses and transfers are put into perspective when you look at what is happening in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion and the ensuing conflict is now into its seventh month with no end in sight. Unsurprisingly the 2021-22 Ukrainian Premier League season was ended early in April and the exiting league positions would determine European qualification.
Dynamo Kyiv were second which meant a place in the Champions League qualifying round, where they overcame Turkish outfit Fenerbahce over two legs in midweek to set up a third round clash with Sturm Gratz.
What’s all the more remarkable is that there are plans to begin the 2022-23 domestic season at the end of August. The games would be behind closed doors, with a large military presence and mainly in the west of the country, but the very fact they are talking about playing at all is testament to the resilience of the Ukrainian people.
Friday’s game will of course be an emotional occasion for Vitalii Mykolenko, whose family are still in Kyiv and only left Dynamo for the Toffees a month before the war began. The fixture has been called the ‘Match for Peace’ and will raise funds for the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Dynamo Kyiv 5-2 Everton – March 19, 2015
You don’t have to go too far back for the previous meeting between the sides, but it wasn’t a happy occasion for Everton. Roberto Martinez’s Toffees took a 2-1 lead into their Europa League last-16 second leg back in March 2015 but were taken apart in the Ukrainian capital, eventually losing 5-2.