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An Eventful Start

Joel Durkin, 6th November 2012 - 14:00

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Joel Durkin

Joel Durkin

Posts: 4

I am a student Journalist at the UCLan in Preston, and a passionate Evertonian. I currently write for fanzine 'speke from the harbour' and a number of football websites and hope to pursue a career in sports Journalism.

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The newspapers, the pundits, the man in the pub… everyone is raving about Everton at the moment.

We find ourselves fourth in the Premier League after 10 games, Marouane Fellaini is on the back pages more often than Lance Armstrong, and David Moyes is rightfully getting the credit he deserves for the 10 years he has put in at the Club.

But, despite the acclaim from the media, from the point of view of most Evertonians, it has been a mixed start.

A prime example of this was the reaction to this weekend’s game away at Fulham. The team received the now-customary positive review on Match Of The Day, who highlighted it as another game we dominated playing attractive, flowing football.

But Match Of The Day also showed Moyes’ reaction to the draw. For anyone who didn’t see his face as he left the Craven Cottage touchline, it was somewhere between frustration and anger.

There is something of a discord between what the rest of the Premier League believes is achievable to Everton this season and what Evertonians believe is achievable. I remember being a pessimistic Evertonian but nowadays expectations on the blue half of Merseyside are for results week in, week out. Hence the frustration at Fulham, a place where no team gets an easy ride.

That is a credit to the transformation Moyes has spearheaded. The league finishes in his first few seasons when he and the team consistently obliterated logic mean that the fans now expect a good finish every season.

Everton began the campaign picking up maximum points in August. We picked up seven points from a possible 12 in September, while October delivered three draws from three games.

The start to this season has been so different to recent seasons gone by. In past campaigns there has been a pattern; struggle until Christmas, stabilise ourselves around the New Year, and somehow race into a competitive top-half placing, pushing for Europe each May. This time around, an opening weekend victory against Manchester United set the bar high.

The bar is now stuck there.

The triumph over United was what some might consider a tactical masterclass by Moyes and what others may have deemed mere common sense; using high balls and crosses from deep to Fellaini to exploit a makeshift back four.

If the football wasn’t attractive against United it certainly has been in the other nine games. This season is the first I can remember us regularly dominating possession for full games and majorities, rather than in small pockets.

The statistics proved Steven Gerrard’s comments after the derby about Everton’s playing style were misguided and his decision to apologise was the correct one. But the fact he was wrong and that Everton were in fact the better team also leaves a lingering disappointment.

Everton made 100 passes in the final third at Goodison, compared to Liverpool’s 63. That is perhaps one of the most telling statistics. Over a third more passes patiently plugging away outside Liverpool’s area waiting for an opening. Gerrard was angered by his team’s disallowed goal, but Everton’s players can feel aggrieved their derby effort yielded only a point.

The Blues have also gone 1-0 down in their last five games now, and the last four of those have ultimately ended in draws. The team is playing good football, and we need to convert that into points, as Phil Neville acknowledged after the Fulham game.

Evertonians know this is one of the best teams we have had in recent times, and what this team is capable of. It will be interesting to see how the games running up to Christmas pan out and whether the team can deliver the results the fans crave.

If they can, who knows where it might take us?


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