According to the nice people at Newsnow, the reason that stories from this website haven’t been appearing on theirs is because they filter for cuss words and won’t publish articles that contain them. Which is fair enough, although if the worst things that kids are seeing on the internet is a potty-mouthed match preview you have to think that their parents are getting off quite lightly.
Still though, it’s their site so they makes the rules. However, it doesn’t exactly feel like the right time to get all puritanical when you have just suffered your first defeat of the season and witnessed something of a disastrous refereeing display. We’re always up for a challenge though, so let’s crack on with the delicate sensibilities of the little kiddywinkles foremost in our thoughts.
With Gareth Barry ineligible to play and Darron Gibson apparently only fit enough to start on the bench, Robert Martinez opted to add Steven Naismith to the attacking trio supporting Romelu Lukaku. You can’t help but pull a little nose-wrinkling expression when you see the Scot on the teamsheet but he ‘puts in a shift’ which is all you can really ask of him. To use boxing parlance, and not for the last time in this report, it’s all about levels, and you suspect that Naismith’s is slightly below Premier League. That said, he put Lukaku through with a great little first-time ball in the opening moments, only for Joe Hart to smother at this feet.
The gaff-prone England keeper has the spotlight on him at the moment, which is perhaps why he has replaced his Vyvyan off The Young Ones haircut with a much sleeker ‘do. With the pressure on him then he wouldn’t have appreciated the way his defence left him exposed on 12 minutes for the game’s opening goal.
Everton looked the far more composed side in the opening stages, with City showing that familiar unwillingness to put the hard yards in, and it really came as little surprise when Lukaku, looking electric again, beat an embarrassing offside trap in pursuit of Phil Jagielka’s slightly hopeful long ball. Joleon Lescott did well initially to recover, only to get bamboozled by the Belgian whose low shot had enough power on it to find the back of the net despite Hart getting a fairly solid touch on it.
A perfect start then, and all Everton had to do from that point was keep hold of the ball, one of the strengths of Martinez’s teams, and pick the home side off as they became desperate.
What they almost certainly didn’t want to do was concede an equaliser from the kick off.
Guess what they did.
A rare heavy touch from the masterful David Silva saw the ball break to Yaya Toure just outside the Everton box. Despite being surrounded by royal blue shirts the former Barcelona man showed his class, changing direction like another Raheem Sterling court case and threading a perfect ball inside Seamus Coleman who, despite his pace, couldn’t close down Alvaro Negredo before the Spaniard got off a low shot that beat Howard with its power, much like Lukaku’s at the other end only seconds earlier.
Everton continued to look threatening, especially on the counter-attack, but a number of promising moves broke down thanks to poor decision-making. Granted, there are few players who couldn’t learn from Silva, but Ross Barkley in particular would do well to observe the Spaniard’s pass selection and his economy in terms of touches. To go back to the pugilistic parallels, Barkley is guilty of headhunting at times, looking for that one knockout blow whereas Silva breaks opponents down with the accuracy of his jab, confident in the knowledge that if he keeps doing the right thing then the openings will present themselves eventually.
And indeed one did right on half time. With Negredo and Coleman arguing after the striker dived in the box, the Everton defence was all over the place. Silva fed the ball into Sergio Aguero and the Argentine, who for much of the first half appeared to have left his ‘shooting boots’ at home – he actually fouled himself at one point, with only Howard to beat – took advantage of the goaly and Sylvain Distin’s dodgy geometry and fired low into the far corner.
Still, Everton had done more than enough during that opening 45 minutes to suggest that they could come back into the game. And that is what made the second half so disappointing.
City more or less cruised to victory after the break. Not for the first time this season, Lukaku played like Eusebio early on but then after his milky tea and half an orange came out and looked ‘a bit Jonathan Walters’.
Likewise Barkley no longer posed a threat while Kevin Mirallas, one of the senior players at Everton now and one of whom big things were expected this season, again failed to make much of an impression. During a start to the season that’s been almost entirely positive, the wonky-haired wing Walloon has probably been the biggest disappointment so far.
Martinez, along with pretty much anyone with eyes in their head, recognised that his side were fading fast and, in a move akin to taking the batteries out of your telly remote and then rearranging them before pressing the buttons dead hard, attempted to get more from the team by replacing Mirallas and Leon Osman with Gibson and Gerard Deulofeu on 63 minutes.
Unfortunately for Everton though, they never got to see whether the change could give them a second wind because City, or more to the point referee Jon Moss, killed the game off five minutes later.
This clown not only broke Boy George’s heart but he’s been banished to the Championship since the start of the season for a phony decision he made at Old Trafford and this was his first game back in the big time. So, if it was the equivalent of a wrong ‘un at school returning after exclusion and signing one of them weird behaviour contracts well, Moss set off the fire alarm, gobbed a physics teacher and then drew a big knob on the blackboard before first break. His bookings were utterly random – City got away with some shockers and Silva was very lucky not to get sent off – but his crowning moment was the penalty award when Pablo Zabaleta went down after Coleman brushed his sleeve.
Justice was done when Howard saved Aguero’s low spot kick, but then it was undone straight away as it rebounded off the post, hit the keeper on the head and went in.
The rest was a formality. We are clearly not Bayern Munich just yet and City remain a team packed with really good players who, when they are in the mood, are a match for anyone. The first half of this game showed that questions remain over their attitude and defensive capabilities though.
As for Everton, there were plenty of positives early on but youthful daring can quickly start to look like careless naivety when things aren’t going your way, and the second half was something of a chastening lesson. Only really James McCarthy came out of it with much credit, for his never-say-die attitude if nothing else. He could be a little bit more positive on the ball – even Giovanni Trapattoni has said that he needs a bit more arrogance – but you can’t fault his effort. He looks like one of those fellas who realises how fortunate he is to be playing top flight football. Coleman’s similar – he just happened to have a bit of a poor game in this instance.
There are certainly lessons to be learned from this performance, but ultimately you have to look at the standard of the opposition. A few more second half capitulations and people are going to start raising questions about fitness, but it’s too early for that just yet. A lack of concentration and experience in some positions look more likely at the moment.
So, in summary… Actually, do you know what, bollocks to it. Jon Moss is an incompetent, fat fuck-stump who goes the David Lloyd in a Marksies vest, Hi Tec Silver Shadow and a massive tubigrip on his knee. He always has a ratty bath towel around his neck and gets talc everywhere in the changies.
We’ll try again next time.