Fans vent anger as Ever­ton lose at home again

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - By Si Hughes at Good­i­son Park

Had it not been for Sea­mus Cole­man’s ghastly miss with the last kick of the match, Ever­ton would have res­cued a draw here and maybe then, the scorn would not have cas­caded from the Good­i­son Park ter­races like it did at the fi­nal whis­tle mo­ments later.

Francesco Guidolin’s de­but as man­ager of Swansea City could not have been bet­ter: a first win over Ever­ton in the Premier League era, and a ro­bust per­for­mance to boot – one which just mer­ited vic­tory.

For Ever­ton, though, who face Manch­ester City in the se­cond leg of the League Cup semi-fi­nal on Wed­nes­day, the out­come could prob­a­bly not have been any worse: con­ced­ing two goals at home for a sev­enth time this sea­son, un­der­lin­ing why they oc­cupy a place only in mid-ta­ble; a fact that au­di­bly ir­ri­tates the crowd, re­in­forc­ing the bur­den on Roberto Martínez.

The Spa­niard must re­alise that City is a game that could de­fine Ever­ton’s year if not his reign. He will go to the Eti­had with a de­pleted squad and more in­juries were sus­tained here: Muhamed Besic and Kevin Mi­ral­las ex­ited within the open­ing half-hour and Martínez con­firmed they would be un­avail­able.

Play­ing away might suit Martínez and Ever­ton. He ad­mits that he must find a so­lu­tion the mood at Good­i­son, where Ever­ton have won only three league games this sea­son, all of them against op­po­nents at a low: Chelsea, As­ton Villa then Sun­der­land.

Martínez de­scribed Ever­ton’s play as “slow” and “pedes­trian”, es­pe­cially in the first half, ad­mit­ting to a lack of in­ten­sity, even “en­joy­ment”. The man­ager spoke of a “fear­ful as­pect”.

“I don’t think we’ve found it that easy this sea­son to play at Good­i­son,” he con­cluded, with­out re­ally be­ing able to of­fer a rea­son why.

By con­trast, Guidolin later re­vealed the rea­son why he de­cided to leave Italy for South Wales, cit­ing “the good at­mos­phere of Swansea”, in spite of the club’s po­si­tion near the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

A glance at Swansea’s team sheet re­vealed their most ob­vi­ous prob­lem: with no striker, who would score the goals? And yet, Guidolin may have al­ready dis­cov­ered a so­lu­tion. He was re­warded for us­ing a mid­field di­a­mond – for po­si­tion­ing An­dré Ayew in an un­fa­mil­iar pocket of space to the right of a front two – with the match­win­ner. Ever­ton strug­gled to reg­u­late the move­ment of play­maker Gylfi Sig­urds­son, who could have had more than one goal from the penalty spot.

A glance at Ever­ton’s team sheet and their prob­lem was laid bare as well: there is so much ex­pec­ta­tion on John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori to re­place the in­jured Phil Jagielka and the de­parted Syl­vain Dis­tin. Be­hind them is a fad­ing goal­keeper, Tim Howard.

In only the 17th minute, Stones, un­der no pres­sure, tried to find Howard with a back pass, which was ex­e­cuted too ca­su­ally. Howard was flat-footed and square and brought Ayew down. Sig­urds­son was able to hoof the re­sult­ing penalty high into the net.

Ever­ton equalised through Jack Cork’s own goal, but Swansea were nev­er­the­less lead­ing at the break. Anx­i­ety spread across the sta­dium in re­la­tion to the risks Ever­ton were tak­ing at the back, a con­se­quence of con­ser­va­tive pas­sages of play where the ball ar­rived at the same place it had started: with Stones.

It was Bryan Oviedo, how­ever – a left-footer un­easy at right-back, and se­lected in the ab­sence of Cole­man, who was fit enough only to start on the bench – who sur­ren­dered pos­ses­sion in the build-up to Swansea’s se­cond. Al­though Ash­ley Wil­liams han­dled to start the move, Ever­ton did not re­act quickly enough to the dan­ger posed by Neil Tay­lor, whose cross found Ayew in space to sneak a shot past Howard, with a de­flec- tion from Stones prov­ing de­ci­sive. Martínez used an­other hand­ball go­ing un­pun­ished – this time in­side the Swansea box by Tay­lor – to high­light Ever­ton’s mis­for­tune with big de­ci­sions. There were also other scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the se­cond half, when Ever­ton were bet­ter.

Ul­ti­mately, though, Guidolin got it right tac­ti­cally and emo­tion­ally. “I want work, at­ten­tion, fo­cus and the qual­ity of per­son­al­ity from this team,” said the 60-year-old, whose man­age­ment ca­reer spans four decades. “I know I am not young but maybe I can help.”

Game over: Ever­ton’s Sea­mus Cole­man misses a last-minute chance from close range. Left: match-win­ner An­dré Ayew

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