Chew on that, you toffees! A rare win at Everton

Pete Sixsmith. Maybe at the Leigh Arms
Pete Sixsmith. Maybe at the Leigh Arms

John McCormick writes: I almost didn’t go. Will was coming up and I was waiting to hear if he wanted to come with me before I tried to get tickets. By the time I realised he didn’t the few tickets left all had obstructed views. Stub hub had 36 tickets available and I was tempted to press the button but Monsieur Salut suggested I try Pete Sixsmith, who came up with the goods. Even transport worked out. No trains, no soccer specials but my son-in-law dropped me off on his way to Blackburn and an Evertonian friend gave me a lift home. “Days like this” Sobs said after Man City, and he was right.

Pete’s now on his way to Cardiff. How he got the time to write this I don’t know but double well done that man:

Well done Mr.Sixsmith!
Well done Mr Sixsmith!

I have been going to Goodison since 1966 and it has never been a happy place to come away from. A relegation in the 70s, a couple of real whoppings under Reid and Keane and a feeling that, although it looks and smells like Roker (particularly in the Bullens Road, Lower), there are no fond memories of Charlie Hurley, Billy Hughes et al to keep you going.

I was there in 1996 when Craig Russell and Michael Bridges scored the three goals that gave us a welcome win and lifted us to 12th place in the league. Everton fans were gracious that day and commended us on the quality of our play and the performance of Lionel Perez, who made a stunning penalty save from Duncan Ferguson, a save that changed the whole game.

I have to say that penalties and wins were not much on my mind pre game in The Leigh Arms. Two thirds of the Salut! Sunderland editorial staff were there discussing the difficulties of putting the site together and probably wondering why on earth they had left their nearest and dearest at home in order to witness what was likely to be another nail banged in our relegation coffin.

Well, weren’t we oldies wrong? Because what we got was a good game of football between two football playing sides and a rivalry that has a much better chance of being renewed next season than looked possible at kick off time. We played some good football, particularly in the first half and made it very difficult for Everton to play the way that they wanted. After some initial nerves, the two Francophone centre halves settled well and negated the threat of Lukaku, while the midfield controlled the game, nicking the ball from their players and setting up a couple of decent chances before the Big Decision came.

Howard’s way of clearing the ball was to give a pointless short pass to Osman, who then dawdled on it and allowed Ki to nip in and take it round the desperate keeper. He brought Ki down, leaving Lee Probert (who had an excellent game and looked a very good referee on this showing) with no choice but to award a penalty and send Howard packing to the dressing room. The American’s reaction was understandable but thoughtless. Had he let Ki score, they would have been a goal down but still with 11 men; were I Roberto Martinez, I would be furious with him, not for the poor pass out, but for his reaction to it.

Jake prays for a run now to lift the Lads to safety
Jake prays for a run now to lift the Lads to safety

Osman was booked as well and the replacement keeper was well beaten by Ki’s excellent spot kick – and that probably hammered another one of those metaphorical nails into Craig Gardner’s metaphorical coffin.

For the rest of the first half we controlled the game and could have scored again. Celustka had a shot fumbled by Robles but he did well to stop Larsson’s follow up and there were times when we retained possession well but just could not get that final ball or shot in.

They did come at us, but by this time Roberge and Diakite were beginning to show the qualities Roberto Di Fanti and Valentino Angeloni saw in them and, along with increased tenacity in midfield – Colback showing that his selection was a good one by Poyet – we looked relatively comfortable as we tried to tire them out.

We looked forward to pressing home our advantage in the second period.

That we didn’t was due to a very good performance from Everton. That we prevented them from equalising was due to an excellent performance by Mannone and some very solid defending from the men in front of him.

Don Vito acknowledges the crowd as they show their appreciation
Don Vito acknowledges the crowd as they show their appreciation

Ross Barkley replaced Kevin Mirallas (who had nipped off for a poo before the end of the first half) and he pushed Everton forward. They did not lay siege to our box, because we kept holding them in midfield, with Cattermole, Larsson and Colback outstanding here and with Ki picking up a lot of ball and using it wisely.

Up front, Borini was lively and Fletcher worked hard and with a bit more quality than Altidore – although he did miss a good chance when Giaccherini played him in with the best pass of the match.

But it was defensively where we excelled and I was very impressed with Valentin Roberge, who looked a really cool customer as the ball was knocked in from the flanks by an increasingly urgent Everton side. His heading, under pressure from Lukaku, was excellent and, like Brown, he tried to use the ball rather than hoof it away.

His colleague Diakite was also strong in the air but a little more inclined to clear his lines with a solid boot. He also missed a good chance to put the game to bed at the start of the second half.

But the star of the game was undoubtedly Vito Mannone, who made a number of very good saves and one outstanding one from a Barkley free kick. He saw the ball late but got his huge frame across to push the ball round the post, reminiscent of M Salut on Shildon Rec against The King Willy Lads circa 1962.

The walk back to the coach was a pleasant one, slightly tempered by the fact that others around us had also won away from home – although both Villa and Norwich look to me like sides that will be dragged in to the relegation scrap before much longer. Villa in particular look like a managerial change waiting to happen.

Catch Monsieur Salut on tour to Goodison and at ESPN:


When Everton’s final corner was beaten out and men in red-and-white stripes raced forward with Robles only just ahead of them, having gone forward to boost chances of a last-ditch equaliser, the response to Lee Probert’s final whistle was as if Sunderland supporters’ ironic earlier chant — “We’re going to win the league” — had just come true.

And so, off we go to Cardiff, a club that has sold its soul to a Malaysian devil and are now reaping the less positive rewards of foreign ownership. I suspect that MacKay will be gone by Saturday (correct – ed), which should lead to an interesting atmosphere inside the City of Cardiff Stadium should we emulate Southampton.

No Salut reunions at this one and no Durham Branch coach, so the report may be a little later than usual. I think that the readership can live with that.

There is hope – isn’t there always as a Sunderland supporter?

Jake: 'let us pray he stays'
Jake: ‘let us pray he stays’

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6 thoughts on “Chew on that, you toffees! A rare win at Everton”

  1. Great to read positivity in reports and comments belief is coming back and is being welcomed with open arms. There is a long hard struggle ahead and whether or not we up to that challenge is open to question but under Poyet we will have a full go and with a little fortune and a titanic effort maybe this can be the start of a long and happy relationship. The Malky McKay issue could work in our favour if we can score early or keep the Bluebirds quiet for long periods, make no mistake Cardiff expect to win this one

  2. Pleased to see the once much maligned Don Vito is developing into a more than competent Premiership keeper. It’s easy to forget that he was very young when he arrived at Arsenal and was one of their ‘ones for the future.’

    Good to hear that both Roberge and Diakite proved competent replacements for John and Wes. Maybe Di Fanti isn’t such a bad judge of players after all.

    I have a feeling that if we are clever in the January window we might just stay up.

    • I thought Roberge looked excellent on his debut but unfortunately his one error, highlighted by Di Canio, led to the Fulham goal. Because of this one (admittedly costly) error there are some who have decided he is not good enough to be at the club.

      Similarly, there were cries to get rid of Mannone after a perceived blunder against Chelsea. Not how I saw it but everyone is entitled to an opinion I suppose. Of course if Mannone’s critics had had their way we would be seeing Jordan Pickford in goal at least until the January window.

      Every squad can be improved, of course it can, but Poyet has to work with the players at his disposal and any realistic signings that will agree to come to the club. I just wish some people could see the positives instead of constantly writing players off because of one or two errors. This isn’t complacency but reality.

      There are also those who think that because Mandron has been scoring goals against players of non-league standard, he’ll do a better job than experienced seasoned internationals in the Premiership. Well Wickham has been scoring in the Championship but on balance he’s not an improvement on Fletcher or Altidore. And we all know Ji is held in high regard in the Bundesliga but how effective has he been? Mandron may well develop into a first team player but I’m pretty confident the coaching staff are better judges of his readiness to step into the first team than those who only see his name on the score sheet on the Echo website.

      It seemed obvious to me that we were doomed with PDC at the helm. Poyet looks like he knows what he’s doing. Yesterday’s results at other grounds weren’t great for us but things would have been a lot worse had we lost. I still believe our current squad is better than Palace’s, West Ham’s, Cardiff’s, Norwich’s, Aston Villa’s, Hull’s, and Fulham’s and no worse than Swansea’s or West Brom’s.

      We need our team to find their scoring boots but so do most of the others I have mentioned. I said that if we beat Norwich we’d be safe. We didn’t of course but then I wasn’t expecting a win at Goodison so we’re back on track. How Cardiff’s players will react to today’s news is anybody’s guess. They could easily be deflated by their owner’s actions but just as easily they could be determined to prove something to Mackay. Tomorrow could be another season defining moment and one where Mannone, Diakite and Roberge should again have the opportunity to prove their doubters wrong, although it would be nice if Mannone’s contributions were restricted to taking goal kicks.

    • Reports in this mornings papers seem to suggest there will be only one incoming during Jan – Alonso (ex Bolton) from Fiorentina on loan – and Fletch out. Let’s hope the journalists have it wrong yet again.

      • I would think Wickham more likely to be released than Fletcher but Bruce has his eyes on the Scotsman which might mean Danny Graham returning! Can’t see Poyet sanctioning that but how much say does he really have? If clubs come in for Vaughan, Ji and Wickham there may be more scope for new players but few of quality are about in January.

      • I wouldn’t really like Fletch to go but I thought he should have been taken off earlier at Goodison. He looked to be getting more and more distant from the game as the second half progressed. I’m wondering how well he has recovered from his injury and if he came back too early.

        And don’t forget, our forwards didn’t do enough to keep us up last season, and they’re even worse this time round. We certainly do need him to shape up or he might as well ship out.

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