At last Everton return to winning ways

Duncan Ferguson (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Duncan Ferguson (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

I thought we’d get a big Dunc bounce and we certainly did, could today have been any better?! Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 at Goodison Park in Duncan Ferguson’s first game in charge as interim manager.

First of all, was that the same group of players who turned up at Anfield on Wednesday night? It was like night and day from that debacle as Everton produced a proper, vintage performance to defeat Chelsea this afternoon.

But we have to ask the question, how is it that they can produce an individual and collective effort like that today and yet show so little of it in so many past games?

We do seem to like playing Chelsea on a Saturday lunchtime at Goodison Park. I remember being at the grand old lady the last time we did when we also won by a 3-1 scoreline, through a Steven Naysmith hat trick.

Today was like watching an Everton team, one we all know and love but have forgotten. It was a real throwback performance as the Toffees played with passion, energy and a stubborn resolution that has been utterly absent for far, far too long.

The big man picked a team that was set up on paper in a sort of 4-4-1-1 formation, with Richarlison playing off Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front.

Midfield was always going to be his most difficult set of choices. In the end he went with a central two of Morgan Schniederlin and Gylfi Sigurdsson.

This wouldn’t have been most Evertonians first choice in the middle of the park. Both these players have taken heavy and deserved criticism for their underwhelming efforts so far this season and many fans might have been rightly worried about this pairing.

However even these players seemed almost re-born under Ferguson, as they produced solid and genuinely hard-working performances.

The new-look attack also impressed, especially in the first half when Everton were more dominant. Calvert-Lewin has too often been a frustrating enigma showing flashes of real potential and then turning in many mediocre and lacklustre efforts.

Today we saw a real Everton centre-forward produce a superb all-round performance. Calvert-Lewin was quick, powerful, physically dominant and confident in front of goal.

He took his first goal well, showing a degree of calmness when finishing he often hasn’t in the past. And his second although it was much scruffier going in off the keeper’s heal, showed a true goal scorers instincts. Now he has to kick on from here.

Alongside him, Richarlison also had a really good game. The Brazil international scored his third goal in the last three games and seems to be finding his best form at last. He appeared to have a good understanding with Calvert-Lewin and his strike from a superb Djibril Sidibe cross, was yet another great header.

Defensively too Everton were better. They rode their luck at times and in truth the Blues sometimes still looked very fragile and lacking in confidence at the back.

But as the game went on and the Blues were under increasing pressure, they grew into the game and there was real effort to put bodies on the line for the cause from all of the players, something we have rarely seen recently. In particular I thought Sidibe had his best game defensively in an Everton shirt.

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Even Micheal Keane, who had such a dreadful evening at Anfield, was solid enough while Mason Holgate returned to the sort of form he had recently been showing.

However when all the emotion has died down the board need to take stock. This was a brilliant day at Goodison Park and one we desperately needed. There is still a lot of work to do though and while passion and emotion can go a long way, in the end it won’t win you every game.

Big Duncan himself has indicated he’s perhaps not ready to take over permanently, I think he’s right. But maybe whoever does get the job should make him his number 2 in order to tap into that connection Ferguson has with our fans.

Interestingly the former Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac was at the ground today to see the Toffees return to winning ways. Might he be the man to take the reigns at Everton? Well we continue to wait and see…