Aside from not having had much of a moment the Everton game has left me a bit confused. I think I’m guilty of forgetting how bad we were quite recently, but I’ve been a bit surprised at how positive people have been about the Everton performance.
But I didn’t really see a team that looked completely at the races. The defence is shaping up fairly well and Aaron Hughes seems to have found some important form. The midfield looked pretty good at times and when Parker and Karagounis switched at the start of the second half Fulham certainly enjoyed a good spell. Sidwell had another “good Sidwell” game.
Ahead of them it was harder. Dejagah and Kacaniklic weren’t the factors you might have hoped and Berbatov flickered rather than shone. True, we were away somewhere we always struggle, and I love how we’re building a coherent approach (4-3-3 with a bit more directness) but it feels to me as if saying Everton were flattered flatters us. No, of course it wasn’t a 4-1 defeat in the truest sense but equally there felt like quite a big gap in class to me.
What I’m reaching for, I think, is one of those cup ties when a lower league team briefly frightens a big club before falling away inevitably at the end. Harsh perhaps but that’s how it feels.
What did we learn?
The back four’s alright. I guess you wouldn’t say no to reinforcements but I quite like the general flavour of the current setup.
Every time Meulensteen picks Karagounis I’m happy because the latter always plays quite well, but disappointed that he feels this is the only option. It also seems to mean that he’ll need a late sub and if we don’t have a like-for-like (which we don’t really) then it means changing something quite a lot after 65 minutes, which is probably not a big deal but feels like it could be.
Kasami’s still young and a bit of a break isn’t the end of the world. He has a lot of positive attributes and has surprised me this season but is probably deserving of a break.
Nice to see Kacaniklic get a run in the team. As we’ve said so often, young wingers are almost bound to be inconsistent and it felt weak to drag him off or drop him every time he had a quiet match. You either decide that he’s going to develop into a major player and give him the time to become that or you do something else. I don’t think Kaca was well served by the neither/nor approach of Jol. He had a quietish game but earned the penalty so his work was far from wasted.
Ruiz must be off in January. No reason to not bring him on on Saturday. I like Duff as was but at this point I’m not sure he was going to make something from nothing, which Ruiz might have done. (Bent felt like the right substitute for the time but nothing came his way.)