Goodison's mood lifted as Blues offer hope for the future

by | 15/05/2016  28 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 3 - 0 Norwich City

Tim Howard signed off with a clean sheet as Everton finished the season with a comfortable victory over relegated Norwich

Everton signed off a miserable season on a high note and with optimism for the future as they comfortably beat relegated Norwich 3-0 at Goodison Park.

Tim Howard bade farewell to the Toffees with a clean sheet and there was a welcome return to the scoresheet for Leighton Baines who slotted home a penalty on the stroke of half-time to double the advantage following James McCarthy's superbly-taken opener.

Kevin Mirallas, looking committed and re-energised from the player who played just a bit part in the campaign under departed manager Roberto Martinez, swept home the third at the end of a terrific move that involved three of Everton's young hopes for the future.

Phil Jagielka returned from a hamstring injury but with Seamus Coleman still out, stand-in boss David Unsworth named Matthew Pennington at right back and handed full debuts to Tom Davies and Kieran Dowell. Jonjoe Kenny, back from a successful loan spell with Oxford United, was also required with less than half an hour gone when Pennington was forced off with an injury.

Ross Barkley's poor recent form was reflected in him dropping back to the bench to make way for Dowell but he would make an encouraging cameo in the second half.

From the off, Everton were energetic and purposeful, in stark contrast to the lethargic performances that have plagued them over the past couple of months. Setting the tempo and signalling their intent to get the ball forward quickly to Romelu Lukaku, they served up the Belgian's first chance as early as the first minute but he didn't get as clean a contact on Baines's ball forward as he would have liked and John Ruddy made the save.

With nothing to play for but pride themselves, the Canaries fed off the hosts' early energy and forced Howard into an early save as Ivo Pinto's dangerous low cross was diverted on goal by Jagielka's out-stretched foot.

Back at the other end, Lukaku was denied twice in the same move by Ruddy, first when he tried to roll Gareth Barry's pass home but his shot lacked power and then when Mirallas picked up the loose ball and set him up again but the goalkeeper was on hand to foil him again.

The first period turned on a pivotal spell in the 19th minute. Graham Dorrans' cross from the right picked Cameron Jerome out unmarked at the back post but he could only steer a header straight at Howard. The American bowled the ball out quickly, it was moved up to Dowell by McCarthy who kept running and when the youngster's path was blocked by two yellow shirts, it fell nicely to McCarthy who drove a crisp, bending shot past the goalkeeper from 25 yards.

Kevin Mirallas went very close to making it 2-0 when he was played in well by Lukaku but his shot flew into the side-netting, after which Norwich started to assert themselves in search of an equaliser. Steven Naismith, back at Goodison for the first time since his £8.5m move to East Anglia in January, saw a close-range shot hit the arm of Davies but referee Lee Mason deemed it accidental.

A few minutes later, Matt Jarvis really should have capitalised on the manner in which the home defence parted four minutes before the break but a smashed over the crossbar.

The first period was ebbing to a close when Barry flighted another ball over the visitors' defence looking for Lukaku and the striker went down with Robbie Brady appearing to pull him by the arm. Baines stepped up and stroked the spot-kick home after sending Ruddy the wrong way.

The game was effectively put to bed three minutes into the second half. Davies, lively and inventive throughout much of his first full appearance, snapped into a tackle to rob an opponent of the ball in midfield, Dowell came away with the loose ball and fed it to McCarthy. The Irishman waited for Kenny to arrive on the overlap and his deflected cross ended at the feet of Mirallas on the other side of the area and he couldn't miss to make it 3-0.

It was largely last-day-of-the-season fare after that. Brady forced a save from Howard at his near post with a hard, low drive while Barkley, on as the third substitute in place of Dowell, had one typically surging run full of determination that ended with him forcing the ball past two defenders on the edge of the box but his shot from a difficult angle was saved by Ruddy.

Another sub, Lennon, wasted the last chance by blazing over with Lukaku hoping to be played in in the middle but it was a job comfortably done in the end of Everton who saved some face after a dreadful couple of months.

The result, combined with Swansea's draw with Manchester City, ensures that the Blues finish with the same points total — 47 — and in the same position as last term but with hope for next season given the players' response following Martinez's departure, the terrific displays by the youngsters, and the attempts to bring in a high-profile manager for next season.

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Reader Comments (28)

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Jay Tee
1 Posted 15/05/2016 at 20:30:40
Better today. Barkley needs to forget everything that Martinez and crew told him and become the player he was 3 years ago. He looked confused at times about what he needs to do. Had a good run through though.
Gavin Johnson
2 Posted 15/05/2016 at 20:37:43
I see the fat Spanish waiters votes are creeping up on the TW manager poll. I can actually see someone like Moshiri with no real allegiance to the club going for Benitez. The pundits all seem to think he could do the job. It's always easy to say that though when it's not your club.

Funny if it was actually BK who stepped in and saved us from that happening.

Colin Glassar
3 Posted 15/05/2016 at 20:45:44
That's probably just him and his missus voting, Gavin. But not to worry, he basically said he's staying in toonland for the foreseeable future.
Paul Kossoff
4 Posted 15/05/2016 at 20:46:08
I wonder how long it will be until Everton genuinely shake of the shackles that Martinez bound them with, and get back to free flowing football which we all want to see.

One swallow dosnt make a Summer, but this week the skies are Blue. Coyb.

Michael Connelly
5 Posted 15/05/2016 at 20:58:48
Think we need to stop being so sensitive about Benitez. Look at the honours he has won at various different clubs. Would we pass up getting him on board and giving us probably our best chance of winning a trophy or two just because of our current general disdain for him? We'd soon get over it if he brought success.
Kase Chow
6 Posted 15/05/2016 at 21:49:44
Great win and pleased RM no longer in charge
Ian Burns
8 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:01:51
Good report Lyndon - was hoping you might have given young Kenny a bit more of a pat on the back but Davies in particular and Dowell showed they are next season's first team players.

Mirallas's performance; Baines' smiling face, told us all we needed to know about the outgoing manager.

Les Netherwood
9 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:13:49
That's better...more like the Blues before Bobby brown shoes. Did not see it but reports are good. Baines taking penalties again is a good sign.

Howard gone is also good news. Some close season activity is something to look forward to as well.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 15/05/2016 at 22:55:59
Ian, Jonjoe, did really well didn't he? He must have stopped more crosses in 60 minutes, than any Everton fullback, has done for a long time. I'm made up for him, Dowell, and my man of the match, young Tom Davies.

Davies, looked really good. An all action midfielder, with loads of awareness and energy. Early days but this kid looks top class, a real players, player.

John Roberts
11 Posted 15/05/2016 at 23:52:22
Makes you wonder where we may have been now if this regime had taken over before the semi-final.
Jamie Crowley
12 Posted 16/05/2016 at 02:10:12
Massive credit is due I believe to David Unsworth for infusing some youth into the lineup and somehow getting everyone playing not only organized and excellent football, but...


Seriously... didn't expect that. There was a palpable good vibe present today and isn't that a refreshing change?

I don't know what his managerial future holds, but for one game I was very, very impressed.

He didn't sit idly on the sidelines as a caretaker today. He carries himself very well in interviews. He oozes charisma.

Ok, man-crush over. But I think Unsy has one hell of a bright future ahead of him.

David Ellis
13 Posted 16/05/2016 at 03:02:48
Not too surprising to see a smile on everyone's face as the camp had obviously been unhappy for a while (as it had been from time to time under who we used to refer to as OFM, but now must be called our OFFM??) - and the yoke has been lifted.

Norwich were pretty dreadful. But we do see to have some talent in the youth ranks and I hope that two or three (or more?) become first team players in the next couple of seasons.

Tom Davies looked the part when he came on as a sub a few weeks ago - and was the same today. Like Barkley but he can tackle. Like McCarthy but he can pass forwards. Like Peter Reid but he can run around a bit. Actually the player he really reminds me of is Scott Parker. He could be a real gem.

As for the others who knows? They all did well. I've seen so many young lads come on and done well, only to disappear without a trace, but this does seem to be a talented bunch of youngsters.

Mick Davies
14 Posted 16/05/2016 at 04:13:51
McCarthy looking like the box-to-box midfielder we all hoped he'd be after his first season – even scoring and creating goals; Mirallas fighting for the ball and running 50 yards to tackle back on our goal line; Lukaku having a few decent shots on goal; a couple of 'real' right backs who Martinez had been hiding and the defence looking like they knew each other... what happened?

Well, free from the constraints of a rigid, demoralising system, the team looked like they enjoyed themselves for a change. The likes of Ross and James may be talented footballers but – and I don't mean to be disrespectful – they don't appear to be the sharpest pencils in the case: maybe too much useless information cluttered their natural thought process (in computerspeak it's GIGO – garbage in, garbage out) and coupled with the lack of a proper fitness regime, resulted in the obvious.

I expect a new manager, worthy of the position, will bring these two back to where they should be, and bring the best out of Davies, Dowell, Kenny, Pennington, Walsh etc. And, if Mirallas, Stones, Mori, Lukaku, Coleman and Baines are all here for a season or more, then the future of Everton FC could be a very exciting one, especially with Moshiri's millions... just as long as the Fathead Corrie Clown is pushed into a back seat, where he can do no more damage to the club
Saegaran Kana
15 Posted 16/05/2016 at 04:35:57
I'm dreaming of a similar team to United's class of 99'. A batch of graduate MU youngsters combined with leadership qualities and experience of senior players got them on a roll for a fantastic trophy laden 2 decade history. We need the right Manager to realize this dream that I'm sure many Evertonians share..
Nev Renshaw
16 Posted 16/05/2016 at 07:21:42
We'll all be full of hope and wishes again when next season starts. I wonder how long that will last. It's purgatory being an Everton fan. I'll still say it though, COYB.
David Milner
17 Posted 16/05/2016 at 08:04:37
The kids did well, but Unsworth knows what they can do & it showed.

It was nice to see the fast free flowing football that seemed to have disappeared under the previous regime.

The words 'senior players' should not be used again. If they are good enough then they are old enough.

John Crawley
18 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:03:50
Saegaran 15, we've got a great crop of youngsters at the club, the best we've had for decades. Nice to hear Unsworth say that there are 7/8 who are either ready now or will be in 12 months. Now we need to find a manager who can blend them in with some top senior players. Over to the board.
Phil Bellis
19 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:41:58
Davies and Dowell were completely at ease with each other, their interplay was Baines/Pienaar at times
The rightbacks also looked comfortable and up to speed; credit to all the youngsters and Unsy
Alastair Donaldson
20 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:52:59
Inevitable Baines would have / score a peno... should have had a bet on that. Why he was ever taken off is a mystery.

Hope an appointment is made sooner rather than later and the summer is not wasted...alot of work to be done, but great to see some of the U21s doing well.

Sam Hoare
21 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:55:53
I wonder what Martinez thought if he was watching yesterday, fairly clear condemnation of his reign given how happy and free everyone looked!

Wary of getting excited after one good game against poor, relegated opposition but even just the energy and feel of the place and the players felt like a different team. Really like the look of Davies, Dowell clearly has flashes of genius in him and Kenny looks like the new improved Tony Hibbert (he made one diving header near the end to clear what would have been an excellent chance for Norwich otherwise--the lad can really defend but also got an assist).

There's also the likes of Ledson and Walsh (who both excelled on loan) as well as Garbutt, Browning, Holgate and Henen.

Alot this Summer will depend on who stays and goes but i'm pretty sure that we will be stronger at least for having the likes of Davies, Dowell, Kenny, Pennington and the rest instead of Osman, Hibbert, Pienaar, Gibson etc none of whom quite have the legs to get around as quickly and as far as the energetic youngsters.

Barry Pearce
22 Posted 16/05/2016 at 09:59:36
So made up for the youngsters that played. They all acquitted themselves very well, none looked out of place.

Hopefully not too much expectation will be steeped on them too soon, but the future looks much brighter.

Noleen Daya
23 Posted 16/05/2016 at 10:37:49
Happy days are here again
The sky above is blue again....

Hee ha! Upward and onward we will march.

Brent Stephens
24 Posted 16/05/2016 at 11:15:08
A veil has been lifted. The last few months have been depressing. Thoroughly depressing. Today I'm on a real high in terms of the way things are being turned round. To see our lads playing with a smile, positive body language, tempo. And the new kids (Davies only 17 years old! 17!) Now can't wait for possible transfer dealings in summer (as well as the manager decision) next season, and next season. Can't wait.
Nathan Rooney
25 Posted 16/05/2016 at 11:19:50
2 training sessions.....just 2 training sessions is all Rhino and Big Joe had?

Ill pinch a bobby word...phenomenal!

It was night and day. No square pegs in round holes, a slightly different formation (looked 4-1-4-1 in the main, but was dynamic and fluid) a sprinkilng of youth (shame on your Martinez for overlooking these lads when we were bare bones), but pressing, working together and closing opposition down. Basics done right.

Credit to Unsy for his work with the kids and what he did on Sunday. Loved his press conferences too, again, night ansd day to OOFM pressers!

Due to Rhino/Big Joe, I have hint of a smile on my face regarding our chances going forward, regardless of who is out the next transfer window.

Rhino is definitely one to watch for the future, as others have said previously. I am sure he will be back at Everton as Manager one day.

Dan Murphy
26 Posted 16/05/2016 at 12:17:46
Unsworth in!

I'm not excited by any of the dutch or south american names being bandied about.

Unsy's the bloke who's brought these young lads on, got a great record this season with the youth team, as an Evertonian appointment will improve the mood and he's true blue.

You know it makes sense.

Ian Burns
27 Posted 16/05/2016 at 14:29:47
Colin - 28 - Few would disagree with your sentiments but as yet Moshiri doesn't know enough about EFC (or the city of Liverpool) to make the sort of decisions we are praying he comes up with, with regards to stadium site; manager; structure etc, as to date one suspects he has been relying on BK for such background information.

I suspect this will be the case for some time to come yet but I believe he will have the final decision on the new manager coming in, which I am praying rules out both Moyes and Benetiz (I doubt BK would give the green light to the latter anyway).

Jamie Crowley
28 Posted 16/05/2016 at 14:35:36
Dan -

I thought the exact same thing and then, a little voice popped up in my head.

"The Villa effect."

Villa basically went the same route with Lambert. He brought up some kids and played a very young team. Results didn't come, the fanbase became impatient, and they cut the cord with Paul Lambert.

They then went on to chuck shit against a wall and see if anything stuck, which it did not.

Then, relegation.

If we go the route of youth and Unsworth, we'd better be prepared to be incredibly patient and see it through. And I'm not sure, after the last two years, the Everton collective can exercise that level of patience.

DeBoer for me is clearly the man to blend youth and experience and have us kicking up the table.

I've no problem actually giving Unsy the reigns, but again we'd better be prepared for a rocky road. Yesterday was wonderful, but it surely wouldn't be that sunshine, feel good vibe after every game playing such a young squad.

Billy Fisher
29 Posted 16/05/2016 at 18:03:41
Koeman deffo . Been a fan of his as player, then coach and has settled well in the Prem and done a top job with Southampton, a club that is a selling club.
But if they do go for De Boer, then sit Joe Royle and Unsy next to him.

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