The views in these blogs are those held by the individual blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton Football Club.
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I was pleasantly surprised by our comfortable victory over AEK Athens. I think all of us would have settled for any sort of win and the three points following our disappointing defeat at Fulham on Sunday.
I headed to Goodison Park somewhat apprehensive, believing that the Greeks would provide more than a match for us, particularly with the loss of Phil Neville and the absence of a recognised right back. Dan Gosling though was a breath of fresh air, forward at every opportunity and linking up well with Steven Pienaar. And credit to Jack Rodwell because Phil Neville was hardly missed. The youngster is developing into an excellent player, mature beyond his years and I’d stick my neck out and say if he continues to develop at this rate he could well be a late contender to make the plane to South Africa next June.
Overall the performance was only marred by the silly late sending off of Louis Saha. He knows you can’t raise your arms at all nowadays and petty though it was, referees in European games are always likely to err on the side of an over-reaction from a defender. The question has to be raised though, what an earth were those additional assistants doing? Surely it was their job to look out for exactly those sort of incidents in the penalty area? In my view they were a complete waste of time and it’s a trial by UEFA that surely won’t be taken further than this Europa League. I don’t know the exact cost of bringing these “officials” in, but whatever the outlay, it’s too much. They stood for ninety minutes and contributed nothing. Mr Platini ought to end the experiment immediately and re-allocate the money elsewhere, certainly in an area that’s more productive.
Anyway, more importantly we’re up and running in terms of points on the board in our group. It’ll still be a difficult group to negotiate but we’ve made the best possible start.
We now need to transfer that European form into the Premier League. It’s vital that we start picking up points there sooner rather than later. The longer we are stuck at the lower end of the table the more difficult it will be to scrap our way out of it. I know it’s still very early in the season, but a poor start can be tricky to recover from and we are in real need of three points against Blackburn on Sunday.
They always seem to make life tough for us at Goodison and we’ll need to battle to overcome them. On top of that we’ll need a little guile and it seems to me that Diniyar Bilyaletdinov could well be the man to provide it. He appears to be the type of player that excites supporters, you could almost sense on Thursday something may just happen each time he collected possession. It’s a shame he picked up a slight strain but hopefully it’s not too bad and won’t keep him out on Sunday. Make no mistake, I’d start him against Blackburn, he has match winning potential.
That is exactly what we require right now. A player that can make the difference. I think we’ve found him in Billy the Russian.
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