Merry Christmas Everton

Were Everton really that bad?

Jurgen Klopp obviously thought so. After all, he could have put out a so-called weakened side against Brighton last Saturday rather than field several ‘reserves’ for the derby of all games. And make no mistake, there were plenty of dubious expressions amongst fans beforehand! In truth it was the ultimate slight on the Bitters.

The feedback from Everton’s injury time defeat at Leicester was positive; they’d been unlucky to lose so late on. Those reports, allied to how the Reds were on the cusp of breaking a host of records, were ample justification beforehand for this instinctive pessimist to believe that form was about to go out of the window.

In the event, I don’t recall England’s goalkeeper Pickford making a single direct save in earnest despite having to pick the ball out of the net five times and being fortunate not to concede more.

The first half was highly combative and local referee Mike Dean had to use all his experience to keep a lid on things. During that period Liverpool had gone hell for leather, but after the break they slowed the game down completely and made Everton chase the game. Their abrasiveness basically disintegrated before our eyes.

Still, that’s speaking with hindsight. A 2-goal lead is always an awkward one and Mane contrived to miss two of the most outrageous sitters imaginable before Wijnaldum put the result to bed right on time. Only then could the Kop choir break into all the old songs with gusto.

“Happy Christmas Everton!” is certainly one that the Gwladys Street hordes would unlikely join in with. Indeed many of them had left long before the end.

In the first half, Everton sought to replicate their Leicester tactics with a back five, but any hopes of an effective blanket defence were torn asunder as early as the sixth minute.

Liverpool’s four first half goals were wonderful to behold, on each occasion the Everton defence, though strong in numbers, was left ragged by the speed of movement and some incredibly accurate passing.

For the first, Mane broke fast and found Origi with a slide-rule pass which brilliantly dissected two defenders; the second was an equally clinical pass as Sadio picked out Shaqiri’s diagonal run; the third was a lofted ball forward by Lovren which Origi took ever so skilfully on his toe from over his shoulder before lobbing Pickford all in a single movement; the fourth – my favourite – started deep in the Reds’ penalty area. Suddenly Trent was breaking at speed down the left wing of all places before slipping the ball sideways to Mane, who took the ball in his stride before planting it first time wide of Pickford’s right hand.

At that moment, the keeper’s arms seemed decidedly short and when he arrived at the Kop end, the fans had their own special song which alluded to the fact he couldn’t reach the crossbar! (Reference to last season.)

Gini finally finished expertly to give a scoreline a more reflective appearance, but when was the last time any team could claim five goals which were equally memorable. Not a single mediocre one amongst them. Wonderful stuff.

Meanwhile, it will be a surprise if Silva is not on his way before Everton’s weekend game against Chelsea. Speculation last night was that Moyes would be returning to Goodison with Tim Cahill as his sidekick. Good luck to them. It strikes me that they’ll need far more than the ‘new manager bounce’ to turn this present team of blues around.