Goodison Park was absolutely rocking come the final whistle as Everton dismantled Fergie’s title favourites. Against all odds Marouane Fellaini’s headed goal after 57 minutes was enough to finish off Manchester United and give Everton a well needed confidence boost before the new season gets into the full swing of things. There were a few things which really stuck out for me tonight.
1. Our Dependable Defence.
When it comes to Everton, there’s one thing you can pretty much always count on – we’re going to be strong and well organised at the back.The days of David Weir, Richard Gough, Alec Cleland and Micheal Ball are now well and truly gone.
This is a defence which has gelled over many years and now has a perfect, almost sub-conscious understanding on where everyone needs to go and what they need to do.
Tonight Manchester United’s ‘super attack’ was unable to break them down, Distin looked absolutely incredible at tracking back and Phil Jagielka put his head where most players wouldn’t put their foot.
I’ve watched a lot of Tony Hibbert pre-season and it looks as if he’s finally worked out where to position himself on the pitch. I can’t see him being caught in no-mans-land anymore – he proved this with his exceptional display against the United wing.
A good defence means that you don’t concede goals, and when you don’t concede goals – you don’t lose.
2. The worlds introduction to Marouane Fellaini.
Marouane Fellaini’s £15m transfer from Standard Liége in September 2008 came under a bit of a haze. Only the world’s most knowledgeable football fans knew who he was, and at first we as Toffee’s didn’t really understand why we had broken our transfer record for a player who had no previous experience in the Premier League.
At first he looked slow, ungainly and a bit too aggressive – all signs pointed another Per Krøldrup. He had trouble communicating with the rest of the squad and also match officials – this meant that he amassed 10 yellow cards in 17 games.
For this he served a lengthy ban, yet after his English started to improve so did his performances on the pitch. So much so that he was voted Everton’s Young Player of the Season after his first season at the club.
He’s repaid Moyes’ loyalty and has become one of Everton’s finest players.
However up to tonight, not many people were aware how much of a good footballer he actually is.
He was Everton’s engine – he possesses the ability to keep the side ticking over, he gave Manchester United’s defence real problems as he turned them inside out and consistently looked to be open for a pass. An Everton fan which I spoke to about him after the game said –
“It was as if he had a funnel from his head to his feet, that’s how clinical he was at taking the ball down”.
It’s a fine sight for our club that we have a player that can give us different options, whether it’s onto the head or down on the floor, he’s technically good enough to deal with any situation.
Unless we sell him of course…
3. Forward thinking tactics from David Moyes
I’ve been watching Everton for a few seasons now, and I have to say that this is easily one of the best attacks we’ve been blessed with.
I know most people believe that our side of 2007/08 which consisted of James Vaughan, Andrew Johnson, Aiyegbeni Yakubu and Victor Anichebe was our strongest front-line we’ve had during the Moyes era – though they also seemed to forget that neither Johnson nor Yakubu were able to gel together.
Because of this David Moyes was restricted to a 4-5-1. This meant that we were unable to really use the ball with any real attacking intent.
Now we have the likes of Nikica Jelavic, Steven Naismith, Apostolos Vellios and Victor Anichebe to look at if we need a goal or two. These players plus the creative flair of Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas and the hard work from Marouane Fellaini will give us chances – and chances mean goals.
Jelavic’s fine performances last season had shown that he is able to score goals on a consistent basis – something which we haven’t had for quite some time at Goodison Park.
Apostolos Vellios looks like a player who can grab a few when needed, especially from the bench.
Steven Naismith is a similar type of player to the departed Tim Cahill, he also has good experience with playing with Jelavic during his time at Glasgow Rangers.
After tonight’s showing, I can’t see why we would have any issues when it comes to goals, we have so many creative attacking players now.
5th place has to be a target for us this season, we need to move on from the past 3 stagnant and frustrating years and push on – become competitive again and give a few clubs a run for their (poorly spent) money.