Where February was very forgettable for Evertonians, barring the second half blip at Newcastle March was a much more enjoyable month of Bluenose footie.
Once again four games, interspersed with an international break, was the calendar that produced seven points from two wins, one draw and that exasperating loss at St.James’s Park.
The month began with the wailing siren welcome to the derby against them from across the park and once again, we competed well against the form book that suggested a loss was the more likely outcome. In fact, had we exuded a tad more self-belief and enjoyed better finishing, a victory over those not-so loveable neighbours could have been realised.
We took heart from the second half of the derby into the visit to the Magpies but having raced into a deserved two-nil half time lead including a Pickford penalty save, our enigmatic boys in Blue contrived to relinquish the advantage and we fell to arguably the most annoying loss of the season.
The return to Goodison of Ross Barkley and the second rendition of the sirens ensured another excellent atmosphere for the visit of Chelsea and after an even first half, Everton tore into the visitors after the break and goals from Richarlison and a slightly fortuitous penalty rebound finish from Gylfi Sigurdsson made it a Sarri (pardon the pun) trip north for the west Londoners.
The trick now for Marco Silva and Everton was to marry the first half of the Newcastle game to the second half of the Chelsea game to make a complete ninety minute performance… and the final game of the month proved both the manager and the team could oblige.
West Ham away, saw the Blues looking to avenge the September reversal at Goodison and they did so in consummate style. This latest batch of footballing students at the School of Science dominated proceedings from start to finish with Bernard, Andre Gomes and Idrissa Gana Gueye all in sparkling form, every other outfield player contributing marvellously and Jordan Pickfords’ role reduced to that of being almost a complete spectator.
This was the Everton we’ve been longing to see, dare I say since the first season of Roberto Martinez, the Blues playing confidently, at pace, with precision passing, width, passion, genuine attacking threat throughout and absolute belief in the gameplan. Two nil up inside 35 minutes on markers from Kurt Zouma and Bernard, we really could and should have been further ahead by the interval. West Ham were, quite frankly, dreadful and there to be taken, so if there’s one teeny-tiny criticism it’s that we didn’t score more goals.
Eighteen players donned the shirt during the month of March with four – Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Lucas Digne and Idrissa Gana Gueye – playing every minute of every game while six others appeared in all four games.
Hopefully, this is an indication of a growing level of consistency and stability within the squad, the kind of consistency and stability that encompasses greater belief and confidence leading to constant improvement towards utopia – success and trophies. It’s still early days in terms of the Brands/Silva regime, but if the signs of March are heeded, a bright Blue future beckons.
In terms of the individual Man of the Match voting, we saw three winners. Michael Keane was a massively clear winner of the derby game that coincidently saw the largest poll of the month and second largest of the season to date; Bernard claimed the accolade for the Newcastle game, the lowest poll of the month, and comfortably claimed the West Ham game plaudits while the improving Dominic Calvert-Lewin topped the polling for the Chelsea fixture.
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Having dispensed with the advertising plug for GOT, the forum and polls, let’s get down to the business end of this article and on with the top three vote recipients and the PotM result.
In third place and with recognition of his return to England call-up form was Michael Keane…