The “Top Six” clubs, and the media, will often refer to Everton as the first outlier. We are always left out of any stats and figures when it comes to any aspect of the game—whether it’s spending, points, or even goals scored, it seems like Everton are just there. It pains every Evertonian, as we know we can definitely strive for however high we wish with our financial backing and coaching staff. Monday night’s exhibition against Manchester City was another chance for us to show how we can hang with any club in England, the club that most Sky pundits have to win the league. Guardiola hasn’t beaten us yet, and their side this season looked to change that. We dug in, managed to come out with a draw, but we weren’t nearly satisfied.
Koeman had a great game plan with the ubiquitous 5 in the back defense. We parried City’s attacks confidently, and seemed to be limiting the damage for much of the game. The fact that we earned an extra man, and still managed to drop points, needs pondering. These matches really make or break how our club is viewed (yet the same can be said for any match). When you figure the season out, most of the games played aren’t against the top 6, yet that is all the pundits like to point out. For example, Lukaku was always seen as a striker that couldn’t bring it in big games (which wasn’t true). It’s aways the results against the top six that matter.
A title winning team doesn’t drop points often, and even so it’d seen as “not so harsh” if a top team loses to another top team. Not to say we are immediately in the title race, but what’s exactly the view of Everton Football Club after playing a hard fought, chippy game against the league favorites? Had we won, is it expected for us to do the double over City? Should we have been labeled favorites? If we want to bridge the gap that Tottenham have seemed to have done, we need to seize opportunities like this. Every game is incredibly important, especially against a top side. We would’ve showed how we aren’t push overs and can really push for a Champions League spot. Instead, we settled back, invited pressure, and let one mistake lead to a late equalizer.
Perhaps that game is a perfect summary of where we currently are as a club—we are so very close to being close to the top, yet so far away. This might seem like some far reaching garbage, but the fact is we couldn’t close out a game with a man advantage. We often looked like the team man down with the way City were pressing and attacking. And it’s great we played so many youngsters and Koeman trusts them so, but our 20 year old striker often times seemed like our biggest threat. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was isolated, and so are we when looking at the Top Six. One mistake away from a great start, but it seems where the great teams lie we just sit outside.
To lighten up the mood, Rooney joined the 200 goal club, the youngsters played well, so our heads can stay up. This gap can be passable. Spurs have done it and remain in contingent for the title. With our current development, as well as the string of results we’ve managed, this gap will become passable. It seemed so ethereal when Martinez landed us in fifth his first season, but those days are long gone. The league is a different beast, spending is king, and our new owners look completely up to back it up.