Everton ended the pre-season campaign under Marco Silva with a defeat at home to Champions League hopefuls Valencia as the boss played what will be his strongest eleven – barring Jordan Pickford.
As is traditional these days, NSNO were among other fan media as guests in the press box to report on the match, and we hope that our readers enjoyed our sporadic live updates.
As for the rest of pre-season though, you’d have pushed your ladbrokes online account to the limit if you’d tried to win on correct scores!
But it all started so well in Austria. Winning 22-0 in Marco Silva’s first game got the pulses racing before we realised it was in a game that even 10 years ago may not have been even reported on, let alone streamed live online. But still, 22-0 is 22-0, right?
Then it was on to Bury, where in the past fans have mobbed record new signings (Andy Johnson was virtually stripped naked here in 2006) and even Victor Anichebe could score against these in pre-season. It ended 1-1 under Silva this term whose players weren’t interested in the rough and tumble being offered up by the hosts so early in pre-season preparations.
A mini-tournament in Portugal then offered the Blues a chance for some sunshine, but it only delivered it off the pitch after failing to beat Lille on penalties and falling against Porto in Faro.
The players were all getting a good run-out, however, and Silva was exploring his options by giving the likes of Kevin Mirallas plenty of opportunity to prove himself before being shipped out on loan to Fiorentina. You have to wonder whether giving a youngster like Kieran Dowell more minutes might have proved more fruitful in the coming months.
The results weren’t going to get much better though, as the Blues went to Ewood Park, usually a happy stomping ground when Blackburn were in the Premier League, and the newly promoted Championship side put Everton the sword.
A short trip across the channel saw Everton visit Rennes where the French ran out 4-1 winners with a worryingly familiar set of goals scored on the break. Marco Silva has added to the Everton attack but the defence still needs a lot of attention, even with the addition of Lucas Digne.
And so Valencia were the last chance to win another game in pre-season. A 19,000 or so crowd at Goodison Park welcomed Silva and the new signings into the fold, and for the first 20 minutes or so it was free-flowing football from both sides. Valencia, though, went ahead after Rodrigo was left in far too much space on the left and given time to control a cross before firing into the Gwladys Street net. Theo Walcott showed why he will be vital to next season’s front line as he beat five Valencia players to set up Cenk Tosun to equalise.
Again, though, it was down the left that Everton were undone and neither Keane nor Jagielka covered themselves in glory as the cross came in and Valencia went 2-1 up thanks to a free header.
Keane went some way to making up for the defensive woes by heading home a corner at the near post to draw level once again before a raft of changes in the second half slowed the game down and made it difficult for anyone to impose themselves. It was Valencia who did though, courtesy of a mistake from Sandro Ramirez playing on the right wing after Walcott’s removal, and the game ended 3-2 with the win in Irdning still Everton’s only pre-season win this year.
Still, it can only get better, right?