Although by Saturday evening and following Everton's 100th home defeat, since the inception of the Premiership in 1992, many Evertonians may have wished for another week at the beach rather than enduring the torrid affair that unravelled over 90 minutes against QPR, a team who had not previously been a part of the English top flight for 15 years. Afterwards I had to check the team sheet again because I thought our cash rich opponents from West London had purchased Xavi overnight, only to realise it was veteran journeyman Shaun Derry who had been masquerading as a world beater through the centre of the field.
Perhaps another poor start to the footballing year had been anticipated by those in attendance, as the only thing damper than the streets around Goodison Park was the atmosphere in it. Everton have amassed a less than feeble seven points from opening day fixtures in the whole of David Moyes' tenure, with the Goodison Park faithful not tasting victory since a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic in 2007\08. One probably would have assumed that with an extra week’s preparation time and the opportunity to face a newly promoted side, who a week earlier had been brought crashing back down to Earth after an unceremonious home thrashing at the hands of Bolton Wanderers, would have worked in our favour. However, our record was not to improve this year as we fell at the 1st hurdle again, although I realise at this stage of the campaign it is not a massive issue, it is hugely disappointing. Especially in the week where Everton's financial woes were confirmed by the Chairman, everyone was hoping for a lift by those taking to the pitch at 3pm.
When I received the notification of who would be in the starting line up, myself and those I was with were a little surprised at the selection of 5 recognised Central figures taking up all availability across the Midfield, leaving the perhaps more diverse Mikel Arteta and Victor Anichebe to take their places on the bench and await the Manager's call. It certainly was one strangest selections I'd witness for while, considering the talent that joined the afore mentioned on the sidelines, Marouane Fellaini, Louis Saha and Apostolos Vellios. 3 of these 5 available to the Manager would be used at sporadic, unfathomable intervals in the 2nd half, leading to a perplexed home crowd vocally questioning the tactics.
The original XI did allow us to take a closer look at 17 year old Man\Boy Ross Barkley, this time in the competition he will be attempting to ply his trade in, rather than notoriously misleading pre-season games. Now don't get me wrong, Everton on the whole were truly appalling on Saturday, but Barkley was outstanding, a confident swagger about him, strong in the pass as well as the tackle, he wasn't afraid to shoot, albeit a tad wayward, but at least he was seeking opportunities. I would presume he will keep his place now for either the midweek League Cup fixture, the following Saturday or both because, he earned it.
Wednesday's 2nd Round match of England's lesser trophy, against League 1 opposition in the form of Sheffield United, could be huge. This is a competition Everton have never won but one that we could win, often dismissed until the latter stages by those already in Europe, excelling in this should be seen as a priority, with a Semi-Final appearance at the very least more than achievable. We host South Yorkshire's fallen giant Sheffield United, who are riding high in the 3rd tier dropping only two points in their opening 4 matches and currently lying 3rd in the table. Our record over the years against The Blades has been relatively successful, in 64 meetings at Goodison Park Everton have won 38, with a 2-0 victory in our last meeting back in 2006, when a certain Phil Jagielka was playing for the visitors.
Everton fans have a special place in their hearts for midweek matches played under the floodlights at Goodison, if we want to see more of them this season we'll need to get behind the team on Wednesday, roar them to a win and watch the rest of the campaign take off from there.
Thanks for reading
Jacko. Follow me on Twitter @jackdoggydogg
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