Brighton tell Everton the value of a bold appointment
Potter’s playing style gets better of under-fire Silva Holgate fumes at crucial VAR call in late 3-2 loss
On Saturday evening #Silvaout was once again trending on Twitter. Bullish pre-season talk and plenty of investment led many Evertonians to believe that this was the season to crash the top-six party. They still might but, with a meagre 10 points from as many games, Marco Silva’s side are in the bottom, not top, six.
Despite renewed optimism following a convincing home win over West Ham United, Everton’s travails continue away from Goodison Park, most recently seen in their dramatic and controversial 3-2 defeat by Brighton and Hove Albion, whom they now trail by two points. They have collected only a solitary point away from home so far this season.
Those supporters calling for change may be casting envious glances towards the Amex Stadium, where Graham Potter is bringing about a new culture and playing style with the early signs encouraging.
Appreciative of his achievements but increasingly restless with Chris Hughton’s more pragmatic approach, Brighton gambled and went for a man untested at the highest level.
Should the Goodison hierarchy make a change, then an equally bold appointment may be needed if they are to truly disrupt the Premier League pecking order.
The party line is holding for now. “One hundred per cent” said Mason Holgate when asked whether the players were still behind the Portuguese manager.
“That shows in the last two performances we’ve put out. Last week we were all unbelievable and then this week we were doing really well and then there was a decision that just completely put the game on its head,” the defender referring to the harsh decision to give Brighton an 80th-minute penalty, the first awarded by a video assistant referee.
Potter, too, had his opposite number’s back, saying that it was clear the Everton players were “absolutely” playing for the manager.
“They had great intensity and structure and a great work ethic,” he said, before acknowledging:
1 Goal more Brighton have scored after 10 games this season under Graham Potter
“Sometimes if you spend money it does put a bit of pressure on and you have to get results quicker.”
As quickly as tomorrow for Silva. There has been no silverware on the blue side of Liverpool since 1995 and a League Cup tie against his former club Watford at Goodison Park presents them with a route to the quarter-finals.
The headlines from the Amex were all about VAR. As Aaron Connolly fell after a coming together with Michael Keane, there were few protests as the players resumed their positions for Everton’s goal-kick.
But Connolly confirmed that he said to Andrew Madley that he should award a penalty and, after Lee Mason, the VAR, checked the replays, that is what happened.
Clear and obvious? Not to many at the Amex, and Holgate and his team-mates remained aggrieved long after the final whistle.
“It showed when everyone was running back to their positions that nobody expected it,” he said. “Obviously we need to look at the third goal, but that was a huge turning point.”
“It’s a penalty,” countered Brighton striker Connolly. “He’s trod down on my foot. He’s probably not looking at me, but I think it’s a penalty and VAR thought that, too. If he didn’t tread down on me I’d have got on to the ball at least.”
2 Points better off Brighton were at the same stage last season under their previous manager, Chris Hughton