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Onwards And Upwards

Radio City's Alan Irwin, 21st August 2009 - 13:46

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Alan Irwin is the Voice of Everton for Liverpool's Radio City 96.7. An experienced radio journalist, Alan commentates on all of the Blues' matches and is well placed to provide insightful blogs on the progress of the team.

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It’s difficult to know where to start really after last week’s opening day debacle.

Strange isn’t it how you look forward all summer to the new season and the big kick off and within the space of 90 minutes (or 45 even!!!) you can then feel totally deflated, wishing you were back on a beach somewhere in the Med!

To be fair, I didn’t think Everton had played too badly in the opening half hour against Arsenal. There was a definite lack of bite in attack but generally there was no vice-like grip on the game from the visitors. The first goal was class though and from then on in it was just awful defending, no communication at the back and a side being drained of confidence as each goal was shipped.

But I have to agree to with David Moyes and state that these are the same players that finished fifth in the Premier League and reached an FA Cup final – they don’t become poor players – or a collection of - overnight (or during the course of one summer even!).

Thursday night’s European victory did a lot to prove the manager’s point. The players responded and delivered when it mattered, although it’s fair to say that we were a little lucky in the opening twenty minutes or so. Sigma should have had a penalty and Tim Howard made one excellent save.

Decisions went our way and you could feel the relief inside Goodison once Saha netted the first. From then on in there was only one result really, although even the most optimistic of us wouldn’t have put too much money on heading to the Czech Republic with a four-goal lead! Now even the most pessimistic fan won’t be worried about the return leg because – and I’m willing to state this - there’s no way we’ll lose by five. After all they’re not Arsenal, are they?

The group stages of the Europa League are all but assured and longer term this can only do the Club the power of good. There are some very good sides in the competition, a number with a decent European pedigree and this will surely benefit our players in terms of gaining valuable European experience. Having said all that, I’d love us to progress on from the group stage. It’s a long competition and to win it would be quite an achievement, but one we should be aiming for nevertheless.

Stand out positives from Thursday were obviously Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha. Young Jack does have a great future and he could yet prove to be an influential figure for us this season, never mind years to come.

However, there’s no escaping from the fact we need all the fit players we can muster and once again we’ll be keeping a careful watch on transfer activity over the next week or so!

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