What a month December was for Everton Football Club. Anger and unrest amongst large sections of the fan base following November and the deafening silence from the club in the aftermath of the home loss to Norwich was hardly the best situation for Marco Silva and the squad to embark upon eight games that were arguably the stiffest month of games the club has faced for many a year.
And things got off to the worst possible start with a disheartening added-on time loss away at Leicester City having led and played well for over an hour before a demoralising 5-2 reversal across the park against what amounted to a second string Liverpool side.
The defeat and the manner in which it came proved to be the final nail in the coffin of Marco Silva as the next day, Thursday, majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and the board of Everton descended upon USM Finch Farm and after a series of meetings throughout the day, the news was finally revealed that Silva had been sacked and Duncan Ferguson would be the stand-in manager for the Chelsea game.
Originally expecting just one game in charge the big Scot, a massive fan favourite of the Goodison crowd, filled the managerial hot seat for four games taking an enormously creditable and largely unexpected five points from a possible nine courtesy of a rip-roaring victory over Chelsea and draws against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Arsenal at Goodison. In between times, Ferguson also took charge as the Blues fought back valiantly in the Carabao Cup tie with Leicester to earn draw and force a penalty shoot-out before exiting the competition.
As well as securing those valuable points, arguably the most impressive thing Duncan Ferguson did was to re-awaken and ignite the passion and commitment in both the players and the crowd in the lead-up to the staggering and media baffling appointment of Carlo Ancelotti as the new manager of Everton Football Club. The multi-trophy winning manager, whose last appearance at Goodison ended with him being dismissed by Chelsea, was clearly impressed with the Goodison atmosphere for the Arsenal game, visibly mouthing ‘Wow’ as the teams to to the pitch.
Ancelotti effect couldn’t quite turn that game into another victory but
his persona and influence were quickly on display in the Christmas
games, as a dour and defensive Burnley were eventually beaten by a
terrific diving header from Dominic Calvert-Lewin – to maintain the
Italians record of never losing his first game in charge of a new club –
and a thoroughly professional, all-round team performance in taking
three points and a second straight win away at St.James’ Park with DCL
again in goal scoring form with a brace.
days, eight games, three managers, three wins, two draws and two
losses, and a draw/shootout loss in the cup, December was a month full
of numbers. After the Norwich fiasco, very few would have predicted
Everton taking eleven points from a possible 21, nor have seen the team
climb from the bottom three to the top half of the table and Blues fans
heading into the New Year now looking towards European qualification
being a possible target.
With such a heavy
fixture list, it’ll come as little surprise that a total of 21 players
played some part during December including a first team debut for
Anthony Gordon in the Carabao Cup tie, but only five appear in all eight
games and only two – Jordan Pickford and Mason Holgate – playing every
minute, a credit to their fitness and commitment to the cause.
Our Man of the Match
polls across the eight games saw five players top the respective polls;
Djibril Sidibe with three, Leicester away, Arsenal and Burnley at home,
DCL with two from Chelsea at home and Newcastle away, and one each for
Richarlison at Anfield, Mason Holgate at Old Trafford and Leighton
Baines in the Carabao Cup loss.
As we always say, we do our utmost to post our match reports and MotM
polls as quickly as possible after the final whistle each game, and we
encourage all our forum members and readers to continue to support the
effort and vote.
So, if you’re reading this
via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform and
you’re not a GOT member but want to vote each game, simply register to
join the Forum – https://www.grandoldteam.com/forum/ – and cast your
vote every game… and join in the myriad of discussions on the
award-winning, biggest and best Everton Forum on the internet.
Having dispensed with the ubiquitous plug for GOT, the forum and polls, let’s get to the golden envelope business and on with the top three vote recipients and the PotM result, and in time honoured fashion, here’s the result in ascending order of the votes cast.
Maintaining excellent form for the last three months, in third place… Mason Holgate