I couldn’t focus on the task at hand long enough to write a match preview and I doubt that I’ll do any better with the match report, so I’ll give you my conclusions to start off with. This was a game played between two sides suffering for confidence one who deserved the win, the other unlucky not to get one. I’m wary of making too many bold statements on the back of this game, but from what I’ve seen and heard it was a much improved performance. Latics had their chances to do better result wise and although you can point to errors in both Everton goals, they were the type that were earned rather than thrown at the opposition.
Everton looked like they were out to prove the adage that all the possession in the world counts for nothing, if you can’t do anything with it. Latics’ newly discovered, tougher edge making it difficult for the home team to break them down and at the same time going a long way to stifle suggestions that they might prove too soft a touch to play with the big boys.
Everton had a point to make too and so a first half of little quality and barely an attacking thought from the visitors actually wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Far from the open progressive football at the core of the Martinez plan, but at the same time interesting in a way that probably only a fan of English football would appreciate.
The second half improved matters and more forward thinking play from the visitors turned it into something of an end-to-end affair but more akin to two tired heavyweight boxers slugging it out than a couple of quick nimble fighters skilfully trying to find the chicks in each others armour. If you wanted an example of what can happen when two sides who are capable of much better suffer from poor form and lack of confidence then it was right there on the Goodison pitch.
Speaking of confidence, one man who never suffers from it is Paul Scharner. I stick by my assertion that he’s be a better player if he weren’t so bold and full of himself, if he didn’t think he was the next Franz Beckenbauer or something, but he didn’t half get a chance to stick two fingers up at us all. He got his start in midfield and whilst I’ve not seen enough to comment on his performance a goal will go a long way to getting him another chance there.
Post match showed that Bobby is quickly learning the Premier League managers’ mantra of ‘denial, more denial, blame the referee’ suggesting that Latics should have won the game, that it was a soft penalty and that maybe Lee Probert wasn’t in the right frame of mind to referee a game after the ‘Wenger incident’ the day before. All he needs is some grey hair, bloodshot eyes and alcohol induced red cheeks and he’ll fit right in.
The players haven’t quiet learned their lessons in the same way yet and as far as balancing acts go, this was too far the other way from the flaccid response to United’s goals and Blackpool pressure in the previous two games. The tackle and foul counts were high and DW can expect a fixed penalty notice from the Premier League for the number of bookings his team received. But maybe that was just what the doctor ordered.
In the end this was a result and a performance that suited the growing camps within Latics support, there was much to be pleased and encouraged by but at the same time there was a lot of huffing and puffing without much of a result. Whilst this was far from the end of the world there’s still a fair bit of work to be done and with a best part of two week break coming up it will be frustrating that most of the squad won’t be around to do it.
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