Well slap me on the ass and call me Barry.
The standard spiel here is something along the lines of: Carlo Ancelotti was looking for a reaction from his players at Elland Road after the disappointment against Newcastle at the weekend.
And he got it!
The 2-0 defeat at Goodison was an absolute horror show. The manager categorically got his team selection wrong and his players were outworked and eventually outplayed.
The stakes seemed pretty high then, following that up straight away with a visit to face Marcelo ‘Marco’ Bielsa’s famously hard-runnning Leeds team. Let’s face it, Evertonians are permanently on the brink of throwing their hand in and resigning themselves to being, well, ‘Everton’, and another timid display would have just started to confirm a load of deep-rooted doubts.
Ancelotti was bold though – he went for players who would match the effort of the hosts, including Gylffi Sigurdsson, who was fucking awful against the Geordies, replacing James Rodriguez, and Andre Gomes starting in midfield.
When Gomes plays, Everton play. There are obviously question marks over his ability to stay fit for any length of time, but when he’s anything approaching his best he makes us a different team. His ability just makes everyone around him look better, and for all his smiles and lovely-lad vibes as well he is one right horror when it comes the fouls he dishes out. Not two-footed Kevin Muscat efforts – there’s something even more contemptuous about them than that.
They’re like when you played footy with older kids to make up the numbers and you flukily nutmegged one of them. There’s a massive piss-taking cheer and a smile starts to break across your earnest little face and then suddenly the world becomes a silent-movie whirling-aerobatics-Go-Pro display of sky-grass-sky-grass-sky and then there’s taste of copper and the sting of tears and that slippery wrestling for breath.
‘You little twat.’
That’s what they’re like.
The biggest call though wasn’t bringing Gomes back in, it was at centre-half, where Ben Godfrey replaced Michael Keane and was absolutely outstanding. The decision to replace him with Lucas Digne on Saturday looked the right one – as the Frenchman is simply a brilliant fullback – but the team definitely lost something just in terms of attitude and aggression. From now on, as long as Digne is fit, it’s between Keane and Yerry Mina who partners Godfrey in the middle. He won’t get dropped again.
The opening goal came on nine minutes when Digne seemed to have ventured into something of a dead end, only to dig out a devious low cross that found Sigurdsson ghosting in like a ghostly ghost to finish from close range.
Leeds were obviously lively, and Ezgjan Alioski volleyed brilliantly against the post but Everton always looked a threat, especially on the break. Richarlison even showed up for a bit, which made a welcome change. He’s got previous for fading form around the time of the transfer window, and at times lately, for such a powerful, athletic lad he just looks utterly pathetic. Like near the end of ET when they find him in that ditch.
Patrick Bamford, the music teacher who fronts a band made up of sixth-formers for an impromptu ‘gig’ for the whole school – they call themselves The Vagabond Kafkas and he drops to his knees singing ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ – fucking hell, I’ve forgotten what I was actually saying there. Anyway, him. He headed one onto the top of the bar.
The second goal came just before half time. Bielsa can prepare as many dossiers as he likes, the crank, it couldn’t stop Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the back post, heading home a Godfrey flick from a Sigurdsson corner.
Seriously, if that goal had a pencil it would have voted ‘LEAVE’.
After the break, before you could say ‘Oh here we fucking go’, Mason Holgate messed about juggling the ball in the box, got dispossessed, and Raphinha pulled one back.
Then Robin Olsson, fresh from standing silently in his overalls, waving impassively at a passing car in a David Lynch film, made something like a quintuple save that basically won the game.
Transfer deadline day signing Josh King even made an appearance and the Toffees saw the game out.
As easy as that really.
Sing us out, Paddy.
‘…..two worlds collided. And they can NEVER…’