If defeat to West Bromwich Albion earlier in the season dampened down Everton’s expectations, then the superb victory over Swansea City will have raised them to levels surpassing even the pre-Hawthorns reality check. It is easy to see why when David Moyes and his players dominate one of the campaign’s most impressive sides so far, on their own ground no less.
In a performance even more commanding than the Toffees’ last away win, at Aston Villa, Everton were rampant in South Wales. For much of the first-half in particular, Swansea had no answer to Everton. And while the opening goal came via a helping forearm from Marouane Fellaini, no one could deny that the lead, if its controversial circumstances are ignored, was fully deserved. By the end of the match Everton were strolling, three goals ahead and having played some of their best football in recent memory – Kevin Mirallas’ strike a particular highlight.
The manager has been at pains to stress that Everton have not yet had a decent start, that it is too early to ascribe such a description to their opening results. While it is true that 10 games will give a much better indication of what Everton’s expectations for the year should be, it cannot be denied that, if nothing else, the atmosphere around the club is substantially more positive than this time a year ago.
There is not a huge difference in points between Everton then and now – after five games last season Everton had seven points, three fewer than today. But the club was in a depression, on the back of a summer of rancour between board and supporters and a transfer window that came and went without Everton adding the players they needed. The football on show was dull and uninspired too, which made an already miserable situation a great deal worse.
Points are not the major difference between then and now. It is more the cumulative effect of a strong end to last season, capitalised on by the permanent return of Steven Pienaar and the retention of Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini in the transfer window. From there, Everton worked diligently and smartly.
Jack Rodwell was sold but there were few complaints, less a reflection on Rodwell than an acceptance that his potential was worth sacrificing to bolster elsewhere. Mirallas was bought for half the money received from Manchester City and it seems more than a fair swap.
The confidence running through the players and supporters since February was carried into the new season, heightened by a transfer window in which Everton undoubtedly came out a stronger team and sent sky-rocketing by the opening weekend win over Manchester United. West Brom aside, it has been good news since.
Having ridden out the storm of last summer and guided Everton into calmer waters in January, Moyes is reaping the rewards of a fine pre-season. The supporters are as well, treated to football and goals that could grace any stadium in the country.
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