Everton’s first defeat of the new campaign – and so our season can finally begin. 3,000 travelling Everton fans were let down by poor finishing in a first half dominated by the blues. And then they watched Fulham outsmart us in the second 45. Business as usual in the league cup then.
It was Fulham’s first home win since April and more than 3,000 loyal Evertonians made the long journey to Craven Cottage to watch a wasteful Everton give away the tie to Fulham. There were many positives to take from this showing on a balmy, foggy London night though. The on-loan pair Lukaku and Barca starlet Deulofeu impressed with their movement, skill and pace in the first half.
Deulofeu, who should get more games just to hear how many times his name will be mangled by dullard pundits, skipped around the pitch like the best player in primary school. He was never afraid to run at people and sold more players than Barry Fry, with a shimmy here and a shoulder drop there – but often he showed his years with the wrong final pass, or by running it too long. That may be a little harsh on him however; he created loads of chances and did well to slot it through for Naismith who scored on 12 minutes. There are many good games ahead for Deulofeu, the force is strong with that one. He must be worth about 200 points in footy Scrabble, if such a thing exists.
Lukaku’s legend continues to grow, but it wasn’t his/our night. McCarthy, our big money buy, the kid who looks like the unseen older brother from Gentle Ben, was quiet as hell. Coleman should’ve equalised late in the second half, but he never gets those does he? The team passed it around quite well, as usual, and it was encouraging to see us have so many chances, if not take them, and we got out of the starting blocks very early. But it was far from enjoyable to see hangdog millionaire Dimitar Berbatov finish from close range 10 minutes into the second half
Why exactly hasn’t the Bulgarian ever lived up to the ability he obviously possesses? It’s a mystery. I was a little disappointed Everton didn’t come in with a bid for him when he was no longer wanted at Old Trafford. Even though he’s often branded ‘lazy’ by expert summarisers and fans alike, he can still pull a goal out of his a***. He’s a slightly guilty transfer fantasy team player of mine, someone I’d love us to get our hands on for a season. He makes chances out of nothing, even though his body language sometimes look like he’d rather be feeding squirrels in a park somewhere, anything else instead of giving his all to win a football match.
I should probably ease off with my desire to get him to Goodison, last time I did the same, I got my wish and Vinny Samways turned up in the mid-90s. That wasn’t a glorious few years, but Vinny did pop up with a bizarre winner in the 1995/96 Charity Shield win against Jack Walker’s Blackburn Rovers.
So, last night our Zenith Data Systems dream died when Berbatov scored and then Darren Bent finished so easily, a few minutes after coming on as a sub in the second half. A low free kick was sent in by Giorgos Karagounis and the veteran striker pounced. From then on, despite some lovely play by Everton, Fulham desperately clung on to their third win of the season and throttled the life out of the game. They pressed us hard up the pitch and we tried to hit them on the break, with no goals to show for it.
At the final whistle, Fulham fans cheered their team off the Craven Cottage pitch, just days after some had called for the head of boss Martin Jol. You could hardly blame them for the change of heart, they last reached the fourth round of this competition in 2004.
Over and out then for Everton, but do we ever expect to do well in the league cup? No, we do not. On the plus side Deulofeu shone brightly and we could’ve won easily if we’d put some of those first-half chances away. I think that’s a good thing anyway. And this was despite putting out a team of some very inexperienced players, chief among them 19-year-old defender John Stones.
On the negative side, we failed to kill off a very unsettled Fulham team, with an under-pressure boss. Martinez admitted afterwards that we lacked composure in front of goal and that some of the players would hopefully have learned a few things from this game. Overall it was a sparky, competitive tie dominated by loanees and a few fading top flight stars.
Up next, Newcastle at Goodison – let’s hope the killer instinct returns.