Saturday, 28 February 2009

Everton 2 West Brom 0 – Job done, just.

“Some people judge you on results, I judge teams on the way they play. I know what is right, and if you get relegated, take it on the chin. We will play exactly the same next season."

Admirable sentiments from Baggies boss Tony Mowbray, who refuses to change his sides to style of play even if it is at the expense of results. But how long will the fans’ patience last if the Baggies keep sinking out of the top division like a stone? I haven’t watched West Brom too much this season but I imagine the game at Goodison summed up their season.

At times a leggy looking Everton were bewitched by the Baggies quick and neat passing, but as soon as they got near Tim Howard’s goal the move would crumble. When they did got a shot in, it more often or not drifted wide or over.

For the blues, it was their first outing PA (post Arteta) and if this performance is anything to go by, David Moyes has some work to do if he is to hit on a winning formula for the remainder of the season. Fellaini in particular looked a little lost in his deeper position and I suspect is not yet fully fit. Osman and Pienaar looked bright in patches and I think a lot of the creative responsibility will now rest on their shoulders. But all in all it was a pretty disjointed performance.

Yet that was all that was required to come away with the win. From a simple Baines free-kick West Brom decided to mark absolutely no-one and Cahill nodded home (again) though Fellaini, Yobo and Jo were all on hand if Timmy had missed it. We needed the goal because our frustration - and West Brom’s confidence - would have grown the longer the game went on.

The game quickly reverted to type after Cahill’s strike with the away side’s neat interplay outside the Everton penalty area continuing. But their lack of quality in front of goal was emphasised by the touch of class at the other end.

He may have an injury record longer than the Mersey but when he is on the pitch Louis Saha’s quality is undoubted. His control, turn and finish for the second goal was sublime, and I only hope he can keep himself fit until the end of the campaign.

The remaining 20 minutes saw West Brom dominate and actually fire in dozen or so efforts towards the Gwlady's Street goal. But, apart from a Luke Moore effort that cannoned off the bar, the fans sat behind Tim Howard were in more danger than the Americans’ next clean sheet. They could have played till midnight and they wouldn’t have scored and in the end Everton held on for a solid, if unspectacular, three points.

West Brom boss Mowbray maybe determined to stick to his principles but there will be a time when the Baggies stop boinging back to the Premier League after each relegation. Membership of the top division is a privilege and to accept relegation from it with no more than a shrug of the shoulders is frankly baffling. No-one is expecting them to completely abandon their footballing principles. But at a more solid backbone and an ability to mark at set pieces is urgently needed if they are to have any hope of staying in the division for more than a year at a time.

For the Blues it was the classic ‘sign of a good team’ by winning without playing well. They will however have to up their game for their trip to Ewood Park on Wednesday as a better team would have beaten them today.

But walking away from Goodison I couldn’t help but think I wasn’t the only one whose mind was already on a certain cup match next Sunday...........................

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