Better to be lucky than good.
In Julen Lopetegui’s debut in the Premier League, it appears we might have a manager who is both.
The Spaniard’s pedigree was beyond question before we finally landed him in November, the evidence of which could be seen in a late change in formation that stymied Everton in the latter stages and assisted our smash-and-grab winner at the death.
But even more encouraging was him benefiting from a generous dollop of good fortune, because we’ve been light on it in recent times and moreover, we were crap.
Call it the gravy on the turkey or the brandy butter on the Christmas pud, it tasted delicious and we need lashings more of the ingredient until our Spaniard can weed out a few of these failures and replace with much better in January.
Matheus Cunha is an excellent start and will surely offer infinitely more than the leaden footed carthorse Costa, who we should never have touched with a bargepole in the first place.
Some other additions with much needed leadership qualities wouldn’t go amiss either, as we sold the few we had to begin with, didn’t replace and now have a flaky side who I wouldn’t trust to put the bins out, never mind mark a player from a corner. Mina’s free header after seven minutes being a stark reminder of why.
In fact, the 88 minutes thereafter were a sobering post World Cup reminder of why we plunged to the foot of the league before the tournament began. Amid the garbage was surely Podence’s best performance of the season in a heartening showing. He was one of few who really caught the eye and deserves praise, irrespective of his well-taken goal.
We are incapable of keeping the ball and are too-often overrun in midfield, our defence is laced with errors and we don’t have nearly enough cutting thrust in the final third. Our game management is awful and we don’t work hard enough when we don’t have the ball.
Collins’ profligacy in the first half and Hwang’s revolting lack of effort to track back thereafter gave three examples of the above in the space of 5 seconds. Everton’s Gordon should have scored and on another day, he would have.
Collins also resembled a baby giraffe when the ball hit his heels which allowed Maupay a clear sighter at goal which he’s buried against us in one or two previous fixtures.
Thankfully he didn’t and in fairness, Everton operated at arm’s length in the second half for the most part, although we still needed a goal line clearance from Neves to preserve what looked like a handy away point.
It would become all three when we showed an unlikely ruthless edge with the last attack of the game, Ait Nouri firing home from a deflected Traore cross, aided by a lovely Nunes through ball in the build-up.
For Lopetegui, he couldn’t have dreamt of 5pm scenes like these. A performance littered with the same old errors, featuring the same flaky failures who prompted his mercy-dash to Molineux to begin with, and three priceless points as a reward for watching it all…
…The lucky old devil.