WELL, well, well. Derby day went down quietly and without controversy, leaving us without much to talk about….wait what? Officials disallowed what? Neville dived……but I thought he slammed such behaviour?
Two goals up you say? Wow, has there ever been a quiet, uneventful derby?
The only problem is where to start, but start we must and to avoid verbal diarrhoea (an unfortunate curse I was born with) I have identified some topic areas to focus on.
Performance & Result
This is a hard area to try and focus on with the topsy-turvy nature of what happened yesterday. The elation at our start and two goal lead, followed by the bitter taste of losing that lead and subsequent relief of getting to half-time on level terms, despite the barrage by the Blues. The worry caused by the formation change leading to the hope of a winner as we were able to get a foothold in the game, and then finally the sheer unadulterated joy of watching Suarez score, followed by the disbelief of it being disallowed, followed by the utter dread as Everton then broke away, followed by rage as the nonsense decision became increasingly apparent. How can you even begin to construct anything sensible given that ride?
So I have waited a day and tried to step back and look rationally at the situation. Leaving circumstances to one side I think overall 2-2 was a fair result and for us, an excellent result. As per normal the derby was played in a cauldron-like, intimidating atmosphere that can make or break a player. By my reckoning the average age of our starting Xl was 24.2 in stark comparison to Everton’s which was 28.7, and whereas our Merseyside Derby debutants included the likes of Suso, Sterling and Wisdom, Everton’s included Mirallas who has spent time in Greece with those fervent supporters, and Naismith who has grown up with the Old Firm clashes.
It is well accepted that this is possibly Everton’s strongest side in years that missed only Pienaar, who have started the season on fire, again in stark comparison to a Liverpool side still in the early stages of building a team, with a shaky start missing the calming influences of Reina, Johnson and Lucas. Yet the first 20 minutes belonged to the young Reds as we started strong and counter punched brilliantly and effectively. The two Everton goals can be attributed to a series of individual errors that have punished before, this season and last, yet the blow of conceding the equaliser could have sent us flying and allowed floodgates to open – but we held strong in the face of an onslaught akin to Helms Deep (got to love a LOTR reference).
The most pleasing performance for me was that of Sterling who looked a cert for a substitution or red card in the first-half, only to thrive in that central role second-half (always always been a fan of two up top). As for our other youngsters I thought that despite struggling a bit, Wisdom did ok in face of Baines and Mirallas who were excellent; Suso and Sahin were solid enough; Allen was immense and never backed down from Fellaini in physical battles and Shelvey made a difference when he came on. Considering our young emerging team were away to an established, confident side riding high I felt we performed well and got a good result.
As a disclaimer, yes it is frustrating as hell to lose a 2 goal lead and allow ourselves to be bossed in the way we were in that first half, but it is crucial that we as supporters take positives and leave the rollickings to Rodgers. Times like these, with an emerging side slowly building confidence and momentum, as well as blooding young lads, there has to be an emotional detachment to view constructively. Are we heading in the right direction? I think so.
The Everton goals came from situations that can be addressed in training but the steel, dedication and fight shown in light of losing a 2 goal lead and almost taking the 3 points cannot. You can ‘educate’ a player in where to position himself but you can’t give him fight.
I think we saw a real big test of Rodgers at Goodison Park, and one in which personally I think he passed. He stayed faithful to the young lads which will boost confidence and saw him rewarded with a 2 goal lead. Credit where it is due, Everton then were excellent in their response and by the end of the half we did well to go in level. A key decision in this game was the formation change and introduction of Coates (a man I have a lot of love for, is that weird?), although I’m sure some may disagree. Whilst Everton still remained on top for large parts, I felt we contained the play much better, restricting Everton and taking the wind out of their sails. Had Everton been allowed to continue the second how they ended the first we would have lost.
Rodgers showed serious cojones to change formation, and regardless of what you think of him, it is crucial for any team to have a manager strong enough to make big decisions – nobody likes a ditherer! Is three at the back a back-up plan or possibly the future? Can you imagine the thought process when the opposition is attacking our goal and looks up to see Agger, Skrtel and Coates in his way? I think I would pass them the ball and apologise profusely!
I’m going to steer clear of the obvious beef here, besides saying that talk of conspiracy and cheating officials is wide of the mark; more worrying is that the linesman is either incompetent in that he couldn’t see Suarez was onside, or simply not able to handle the pressure – either way clearly not ready for the Premier League.
The issue I think needs addressing concerns comments, in this instance, made by Moyes pre-match. The FA states that it is an offence that a manager may not talk about the referee in the build up to a match, be it either positively or negatively. Fair enough I hear some say, as it may put pressure on an official. Yet it is perfectly ok for a manager to talk about an opposition player in the way Moyes did? We all know that the thought process behind this is exactly the same as Ferguson, Pulis et al, to put the notion of Suarez being a cheat at the forefront of an officials mind. The end goal is the same, just the approach differs.
I must say it was sweet irony that the only booking for ‘simulation’ (I noted that they called it simulation and not diving as it wasn’t Suarez) was for the Everton Captain.
Seriously, how does this guy get away with it again and again and again?? Aside from all the fouls and niggles, he kicked Allen. That’s right, Allen, who is half his size, when he was on the floor! Bravery that!
If you made it this far then thanks for sticking with me and I hoped it helped with the Insomnia! Haha! I would love to hear your opinions whether the same as mine or different, it whats makes the beautiful game beautiful. Come find me on twitter @timdibs YNWA.