First of all, I want to thank Ed for the opportunity to let me indulge some thoughts on the great Everton Football Club, he is a true gentleman for opening up his site to my musings. I am excited to share my thoughts on game reviews, previews, and general club discussion. I can only promise to keep you mildly entertained.
Europa Recap: The Game That Ruined My Spell- Check and Infected My Laptop
As I repeatedly clicked on the giant red “X” button on the third- party Slovakian betting advertisements whilst streaming yesterday’s game through some eastern European server it made me think about the lengths I was willing to go through to watch this game. This game, this was supposed to be the summation of a dynamic summer transfer window, a lens into the great future of the club. On this day Ruzomberok would unfortunately need to serve as the dignified doormat as our newly minted team would steamroll through on our inaugural step towards European glory. This was to be a statement game, the game that will be shown at the end of the season, when Rooney scored two goals on his Goodison debut for the first time in 4,000+ days, Sandro would give the Slovakian defenders vertigo trying to keep up with him all day, and Davy would humiliate any attempt to stem his midfield creativity. The beginning of the coronation of Everton’s season; the coming out party.
As it is for most of the fruits of our naivety, however, these ideas did not (fully) come to actualization. Wayne Rooney tantalizingly offered glimpses of what could be on display in the future, with some clean touches, turns, and later in the game some fine attack- advancing passes to Davy and Sandro. These passes and touches, did seem somewhat of a moot point with his weak, point- blank shot on goal and noticeable high- altitude shots into the Mersey sky. The “old guard” of the squad served as the catalyst to what eventually broke the dam of the Ruzomberok defense. A Leighton Baines deflection put the mind at ease for the victory, and the several chances following the goal *somewhat* lends optimism for the second leg of this tie.
Some thoughts emerged following this somewhat confusing game from my vantage point. The first of which is the question of why Everton could not convert more chances throughout the game, the possession battle was never in much doubt, and Everton’s buildup chances appeared confident. These questions, as anticipated, appeared in the final third as Ruzomberok parked in the middle and only offered chances from frustrating side angles (see the ending of Davy’s beautiful give and go). The key to breaking this needs to be the creativity of Ronald Koeman finding a spot for Rooney in which he can draw defenders higher, giving more space for the wings to cut inside and take better chances on goal on a stretched defense.
Sparing the monotony of going down the rabbit- hole of game analysis it is crucial to point out that “a win is a win is a win,” the job was done, and that the Toffees are in the driver’s seat heading into the away fixture in the beautiful confines of the northern Slovokian region of Liptov. Make no doubt about it, this game was a hiccup and a reality check for both the club and its supporters, there were more questions than answers after that final whistle. The good news? Koeman is a manager that relishes these questions, and will seek to use them as a tool for squad improvement and motivation; better these wakeup calls occur in July and not in August. All in all, this game left me with a feeling of very cautious optimism, my anti- virus software upset at me, but a renewed sense that the process is in motion for the season.
Songs From the Lower Gwladys
It is my intention in this section to scour the Internet comment sections for some of the more honest assessments of the club, and give our readers the opportunity for additional perspective on recent events.
I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Zielstra’s assessment on Davy’s inaugural game at Goodison, he employed several other players with attack opportunities and even so early in the season he had a wonderful understanding with Sandro. I’m very excited to watch those midfield relationships are nurtured and move forward into the return leg.
Although not prefaced with, “With all respect to Ruzomberok,” this insightful commenter makes a good point that there is reason to be excited for the second leg, as the game should open much more offering more passing lanes which were stymied at Goodison. Everton should’ve done better to Them’s point, but it is still an experimental time for the squad and things should smooth out.
There is much to unpack here, Lisaj has a point about the rampant ancillary concern of Kopites in assessing the Toffee performance from yesterday’s match. Sandro was impressive, but still did leave some things to be desired. The pace of the squad will indeed need to improve to create more chances for the attack, which could in turn lead to additional goals Lisaj and I both believe the squad can achieve.
Sil has a good point about the holding mids against the Slovak’s defensive philosophy throughout the match, I think this is certainly going to be a strategical point of emphasis for RK moving forward, and that the lack of pace was due to fitness concerns for the squad, there is clearly room for improvement in this department.
Not too much to add here, Merseyside Derby can’t come soon enough.
Premier League: Saturday 12 Aug (TBC); Stoke City at Goodison
Saturday 19 Aug (TBC); Manchester City at Etihad Stadium