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Opinion

Everton fan gives the ‘view from the other side’ on Newcastle United and Saturday’s match

6 months ago
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As our winless run goes on, the last thing we need to be playing a team in decent from, with Europe in their sights.

Yet go to Everton on Saturday lunchtime in desperate need of a win, or at least repeat the incredibly daft 2-2 draw from last season.

Ahead of the game for the view from the other side, I spoke to my good mate and huge Everton fan (born and bred) Dan Haygarth.

Dan is a journalist, with work in Cambridgeshire Live, the Daily Mirror and the Liverpool Echo, he is also editor and writer for the excellent digital publication Main Stand Musings.

We caught up for a video chat about the game, the current issues at both clubs, and who is the greatest player to pull on the shirt of both clubs.

Here is the view from the other side.

Jack: What have you made of Everton’s season so far?

Dan: It has been good on the whole but there are a few regrets. You can almost put it into three phases.

We were superb out of the blocks – blowing teams away and scoring for fun. Dominic Calvert Lewin was unplayable, James Rodríguez was creating so many chances for him and we hammered teams.

After the derby it all went a bit wrong for a while – the losses to Southampton, yourselves and Leeds were big setbacks. With James, Digne, Allan, Richarlison, DCL and Coleman all out at various points, it became a bit of a slog.

We’ve recovered really well since that slump – victories over Leicester and Wolves away from home and at Goodison against Arsenal and Chelsea were fantastic.

It’s made me think that we can do something special this season – I’m actually very excited. The league is wide open and we’re in a very good position for this stage of the season. There’s a real chance to make a proper push for Europe.

It’s thrilling to have Carlo Ancelotti at the helm and see him built his team and instil his tactics. Still hasn’t really sunk in that he is in charge.

Jack: What have you made of Newcastle United’s season so far?

Dan: I feel like I should be polite here but I just can’t. It’s been pretty terrible for your lot.

After you beat us at St James’ earlier in the season, I thought that you would have enough to stay up. We were far from good that day but Newcastle seemed to show a bit of spirit – you were tough to break down and Callum Wilson took his chances.

I was really impressed with what Steve Bruce managed to do last season but now he just looks bereft of ideas. Your loss to Sheffield United the other week was very concerning. I think now might be the time for a change.

Jack: Will Carlo eventually deliver the top four and if/when he leaves who should be the next manager?

Dan: I think this season is as good an opportunity as any to get top four. We’re fortunate to have games in hand, which should allow us to put real pressure on.

If we do fall short of Champions League qualification, I’d hope that we would make the Europa League, which should allow Carlo to continue to build his team so that we can challenge again next year.

I still think that we’re a couple of players short of where he wants to be but he’s only really had one proper transfer window so far and his signings have been magnificent. The club is in a far better position than it has been for years and I do feel that we’re on the cusp of breaking into the big six.

In terms of next manager, I think the decision is vital, but hopefully we don’t have to cross that bridge for a while. I think Carlo will stay for the entirety of his deal and I wouldn’t be shocked if he extends his contract – I get the sense he really enjoys the project.

Many fans will want his eventual successor to be Duncan Ferguson. Although he did a great job as caretaker in 2019, I can’t see him taking it on full-time, especially if Carlo has got us into a position where we can expect European football consistently.

Ideally a replacement would be another prestige name – maybe Mauricio Pochettino will get bored of winning everything in France. He’d probably be my first choice, if I had to name an eventual successor now.

Jack: Favourite Everton v Newcastle memory from your time as a fan?

Dan: Two stand out for me.

Beating Newcastle 2-0 in May 2005, which put us on the brink of Champions League qualification. David Weir scored a smart header and Tim Cahill made it 2-0 with a very smart finish and sent Goodison into raptures. We were one point away from sealing fourth place – ahead of Liverpool – with two games to play. Glory days.

The other was a truly perfect away performance in 2013/14. Ross Barkley scored a great individual goal, Romelu Lukaku and then Leon Osman added the others as we won 3-0 at St James. It was part of a great first season when we played superb football under Roberto Martínez and finished fifth. I really thought he was building something special.

Jack: How about your worst ‘Everton v Newcastle’ memory?

Dan: There are a few to pick from.

The fact that Shearer’s howitzer of volley was scored against us means that I can’t appreciate that incredible piece of footballing skill as much as I should.

The game last season, when Lejeune scored twice deep into added time still stings. We were cruising and had no right to throw that game away. It was uncharacteristically lacking in composure for a Ancelotti team.

Another time that we went 2-0 up and disaster struck was March 2019 under Marco Silva. Jordan Pickford saved a penalty when we were 1-0 ahead but still managed to be the villain as we utterly collapsed to lose 3-2, thanks, in part, to some rather shoddy keeping.

I also remember Nobby Solano scoring a ridiculous goal against us at St James’ back in 2006 – a sumptuous outside of the foot curler. We had emergency loan keeper Sander Westerveld between the sticks and he didn’t get near to it. To be fair, I’m not sure anybody would have.

Jack: Best player to play for both clubs? Stevie Watson? Paul Gascoigne? Peter Beardsley? Gary Speed?

Dan: Interesting question. On talent it has to be Gazza but he showed up at Everton well past his best.

In terms of somebody who has performed well for both sides, Steve Watson is a contender – he was great for us during a difficult time. I also saw him in the Lonsdale quite often when I lived in Jesmond as a student, but I never had the courage to ask him about his hat-trick for us against Leeds.

Peter Beardsley was well before my time and I wouldn’t be comfortable picking a Liverpool legend anyway. I’d have to say either Big Dunc, even though he wasn’t with you for that long, or Gary Speed.

I think both Everton and Newcastle saw Speed at his best – we were relegation-threatened when he moved on and I don’t think anyone could blame him, but by all accounts he was fantastic in the 96-97 season for us and obviously was excellent at Newcastle.

Other than Speedo and Dunc, Dan Gosling, anyone?

Jack: Anyone you would sign for Everton from the current Newcastle Utd team?

Dan: Callum Wilson, for definite. We’re crying out for another striker and I think he’d be a good option for most Premier League teams.

Martin Dúbravka looked brilliant for you during his initial loan deal and I still think he’s a decent keeper, despite his injury problems. We’re not blessed with our first choice keeper, so maybe I’m just being generous.

Allan Saint-Maximin is an exciting player and I think he’d be a great attacking option for us. I’ve always liked Jamaal Lascelles as well but I can’t imagine he’d knock either Keane or Mina out of our team to be honest.

Jack: Who has been Everton’s standout player so far this season?

That’s a tricky one. Michael Keane is playing the best football of his career – he’s become essential at the back. Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey have both been excellent as well, while Alex Iwobi has made remarkable improvements.

Obviously DCL has been on fire. The goals have slowed down a bit recently, but he had a number of games without James in the team, so I don’t think it was a major problem. He now looks every bit the striker that we hoped he could be. Brilliant in the air, so strong, a handful for defenders and a very good finisher. He’ll only get better as well.

However, I’d have to say James is the standout. People worried that he might not adapt, but he just oozes class – I’m head over heels in love with him. He’s begun to boss games again and when he’s not in the team, I really worry where any chances would come from.

He’s so skilful – definitely the most talented player I’ve seen play for us. Watching him on the ball, creating space from nothing, pinging pinpoint balls out to the left wing, making defenders look foolish and unleashing excellent shots – it’s just a dream. Such a wonderful footballer.

Jack: Where will both Everton and Newcastle finish in the league this season?

I’m going to fall into the familiar trap of hope here and say that we’ll finish fourth. It would be a remarkable achievement and I’m not sure that we’ll do it, but a man has to dream.

I’m desperate for European qualification and I can’t say that I’d be unhappy with fifth or sixth, but fourth is the goal.

As for Newcastle, I’m a bit worried that you might get relegated. Burnley’s fortunes have improved and Fulham have shown that they’ve got a good performance in them. I think West Brom and Sheff United are dead and buried, but I think Brighton are the most likely to join them and Newcastle will just about hold on to finish 17th.

Jack: Finally the big one mate, score prediction for Saturday’s game?

Dan: 2-1 Everton.

It’s a vital game for both sides, but on paper it should be a comfortable win for us, especially considering form.

However, Newcastle are one of the sides that I’m always wary of, so I think it will be a close game. We should have enough to win, though. I’m hoping for some nice link up between DCL and James.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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