February heralded the start of the Frank Lampard era at Everton Football Club and what a mixed month it was for the man who more than once was something of a nemesis for us. Suffice to say though that irrespective of the up and down nature of the performances and results, he’d quickly endeared himself to the Goodison faithful and here’s to many more renditions of “Super Frankie Lampard” ringing around the Grand Old Lady.
Five games in the month and his Goodison baptism ironically, given his history against us in the competition, was the FA Cup 4th round tie against Brentford, and he got the almost near perfect opening to his Everton career as the London side were consummately swept aside on goals from Yerry Mina, Richarlison, Mason Holgate and Andros Townsend with only a penalty from Toney to put a minor dent in the day.
On the back of this morale-boosting victory, the team and the usual fanatical away following schlepped up to the frozen badlands of Tyneside in good spirits for a Tuesday evening clash with Eddie Howe’s horse-punching Toon Army. For some inexplicable reason though, the team lacked the same intensity and confidence that had overwhelmed Brentford and without wishing to appear overly brutal, were given the runaround by Alain Saint-Maximin – even the Blues goal was an OG off Lascelles the Newcastle skipper.
Needing to heal those wounds, Everton lined up against Leeds United just four days later with the rallying calls amongst the fan base imploring everyone to get on board and make Goodison as hostile as they could for Marcelo Bielsa and his struggling side. And brother did Goodison respond, with an atmosphere reminiscent of April 25th, 1985 with every tackle cheered like a goal, every touch of the ball by an opponent jeered and whistled… hostile summed it up perfectly. And Leeds simply couldn’t cope with it nor an Everton team determined to correct the wrongs of Newcastle. First half markers from Seamus Coleman and Michael Keane set the Blues well on their way and Anthony Gordon completed a thoroughly deserved first Premier League win for the new manager with a telling deflection to a shot from Richarlison.
A whacky, wind affected journey for the team and fans alike to Southampton was next up and again, the Jekyll and Hyde genes in the Everton DNA reversed roles and another perplexing performance ensued, the least talked about probably the better. But it has to be said that just four games into his tenure and Frank Lampard had seen the best and worst of what he’s having to sort out in order to maintain top flight status for next season.
The final game of February saw champions Manchester City saunter down the M62 and into the cauldron of another highly motivated Goodison Park. And for 45 minutes, Everton matched their opponents with the level of commitment and effort that had been on display against Leeds. City, to be fair to them, upped their intensity after the break and pegged Everton back but, it took an unfortunate slip by Michael Keane to allow Phil Foden to break the deadlock inside the final ten minutes. However, the drama wasn’t over as moments later, Everton got forward and City defender Rodri clearly used his arm to control the direction of a ball into the City area and Goodison, as one, appealed for the penalty – the decision a formality… surely. But incredibly, the VAR official Chris Kavanagh decided against the blatantly obvious and the match referee went with this decision rather than reviewing the video footage for himself.
The fallout from this absolutely astonishing non-penalty decision saw Frank Lampard suggest his three-year old daughter could have made the right call, so either the VAR official was incompetent or ?? Everton were rightly furious about the decision as it denied the Boys in Blue the chance to draw level and as a result the game was lost, and to rub salt into open wounds Mike Riley subsequently apologised to Lampard and Bill Kenwright, and yet Kavanagh was okayed to referee the Burnley vs Tottenham game less than 48 hours later.
Five games, progression in the cup but only one win and three points from the twelve on offer in the league, with probably the biggest plus being the tremendous support for the team especially in the Goodison games – if that partisan atmosphere can be maintained, Premier League survival should be that little bit easier to achieve.
February saw no fewer than 24 players used with seven play in all five games with the defensive foursome of Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Michael Keane and Mason Holgate play every minute and feature heavily in four of the eight goals scored in the month.
To the individual Man of the Match winners, and for the cup victory over Brentford, Andre Gomes proved the runaway vote favourite. Anthony Gordon was the overwhelming winner of the Newcastle poll and that brought us to the closest ever vote for the Leeds game with Alex Iwobi edging out Donny van de Beek by just one vote! Jordan Pickford won a totally one sided poll for the Southampton game with Brazilian midfielder Allan taking the plaudits for his efforts against City.
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And so to the podium placings for February and we’re delighted to confirm that in third place with a fine contribution in the early days of his loan period with the club – Donny van de Beek.
In second place and his third podium placing in the last four months is Englands’ Number One – Jordan Pickford.
Top spot on the podium after another impressive series of performances, 21% of the total votes cast, and making it back to back victories, the GrandOldTeam.com Player of the Month for February is – Anthony Gordon.