Two games, two wins, two results we should be happy about, right? Well yes we should. Except Tuesday night among the Everton fans you’d think we’d lost. Conceding the much vaunted “away goal” in a stupid manner- we’re looking at you Rodwell and especially you Distin– and right at the end of a game Everton had controlled throughout, left a sour taste in the mouth. While there is still everything to play for in the return leg in Portugal, and certainly Moyes & Co. will not be in any way giving up on the tie, you got the sense that some blues had already written off Everton. We should all know by now that with Everton nothing is ever easy and that tension, doubt and uncertainty come with the contract you signed at birth in your own blood when you became an Evertonian.
So next up for a not entirely convincing Everton comes Manchester Utd. Clearly United this season are not the team that have won three titles in a row, but without the talismanic Ronaldo, one Wayne Rooney, formerly of our parish has stepped up and seems intent on carrying a good-not-great United team all the way to the title. Not since Cantona in 95-96 has United’s run at a title been so dependent on one player.
Ah Rooney- the emotions of Evertonians with regard to Rooney run the gamut from studied indifference to visceral hatred born of a sense of betrayal. Truth be told he haunts our collective blue psyche like that woman that messed with our minds and left to marry some douchebag hedge fund manager who can bathe her in asses milk and cover her with gems. Seriously some of us need to get over ourselves. David Moyes is obviously over it.
And given what played out on Saturday you have to wonder if Moyes’ mature reflection and admiring words for Rooney didn’t take the edge a little off the boy wonder. Oh he tried hard enough but was I the only one who thought his heart wasn’t really in it? I know that’s what the psychobabblers call “projection” but I’ll throw it out there anyway.
It matters little. The Rooney saga was but a sidebar to a magnificent Everton performance, highlights here – on a par with the recent mauling’s of Man. City and Chelsea and the heroic game at Arsenal and nothing like the toothless display at Anfield.
Especially pleasing was that Everton went a goal behind and responsed immediately, with a great goal by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and then pushed on for a second goal from Dan Gosling- keep scoring those important goals lad. Unlike what happened against Sporting, Everton continued to stretch United’s shaky defence and sought a third which came late in the game- a magnificent solo effort by Rodwell. Tellingly Moyes mentioned after the game that Rodwell “was making up for a small mistake he made in midweek”.
I get the sense that Everton as a team are making up for mistakes- the dreadful start to this campaign, the cup defeat to Birmingham and two disastrous derbies against the Whingers. There is still much to be played for, maybe even some silverware. Play with this verve, precision and determination against Sporting in Lisbon and we’ll advance to the next European round. What price a chance of full redemption against Fat Rafa’s dull-eyed yard-dogs further down the Europa road?